Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day of Miracles

The kids and I had another great day together.  Some great notable accomplishments were made.

I finally had time to try out the boys' new boxer shorts today.  Ever since we got them in the mail and washed them up, we've been out and about too much to work with them.  I love them - they are some of the cutest things the boys have worn in a long time.  I also have had high hopes for them because the boys do so well when nude or lightly and loosely clad down there.

So Bubby tells me he has to go peepee on the potty mid-morning, no big deal, they do that quite a lot.  But I went to check on him and help him along and he told me to go away to the living room, like they do when they need privacy for number 2.  So I backed off and observed him from a distance.  He did the entire bathroom visit entirely on his own!  This involves getting his bottoms off, prepping the potty, doing the deed, getting toilet paper and wiping, getting soap and washing and rinsing his hands, then turning off the water and light.  I usually help out with those last few things.  I was so proud of him for taking charge and getting it all done.  He did this the rest of the day and inspired his brother to follow suit.  He is getting very independent lately and it makes me melt inside.

Inspired by the boxer-cuteness and the Bubby-confidence, I decided we were gonna go crazy and make our BJs run like big boys with only boxers and shorts on.  I figured it was the perfect test scenario: BJs is moments from our house, it wasn't a crucial errand (if things went horribly wrong, the items I sought could wait until later), they have large aisles, few crowds, and child-shriek muffling acoustics if we got into an argument about it.

After a couple of in-depth discussions about what we'd do if we needed to go while in the van or the store, we headed out.  I lined their car seats with towels, pointed out the portable potty, and away we went!  We discussed our plans for peepees or poopies countless times on the ride and as we parked.  Soon after we got inside, Popo said he had to go.  So we sped across the store to the potty, all unloaded from the cart, and claimed the women's bathroom for our own.

The rest is history.  They did everything perfectly in there and had no issues the rest of the time in the store or the van.  I gave them a little treat when we got home.  I can't wait to try it again!  Daddy took them out to the mall tonight, but he was too chicken to go without some super-absorbant coverage.

I know this all may seem a little silly, but if you've never been a parent burnt out on potty training from at least a year of it on and off, you have no idea what a thrilling experiment this has been.  If you have, you are probably thinking that I have no idea what a breeze this was, and what true challenges I have ahead of me.  I'll deal and write in detail about them in due time, I'm sure.

Check out my three kiddos with some form of mohawk today (she woke up that way from her nap), and some other cute pics from our day...

Kinda sitting up today.  Almost.

She also tried out and enjoyed her play center for the first time today.  Took to it right away.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Not. A. Single. One.

We had such a great day today. I can't gush about it enough.

This morning, after having a fun goofy time at home, I took the kids to the library for a little bit. It was nirvana. They were so well behaved and sweet. They were quiet, put their puzzles and books away, and shared. I just wanted to crush them with gratitude and pride. It was pretty different from the last time I took them...

Then we went to Firehouse Subs for lunch. Yes, again. That's the only place they'll eat up their whole lunch and it's not fried! They were a little crazy when we first got there, hurling their chips bag (and mine) on the floor until they were sacks of crumbs, but as soon as we sat down, they were angels again. Baby Bear fussed a little with the sleepies, but playing with her kept it manageable.

After some good nap time on their parts, we watched and listened to the awesome thunderstorm that hit just as they woke up. Then we all had super yummy pbj sandwiches for dinner and headed out to the mall. We'd planned on going to the baseball game and were all disappointed when the rain cancelled that idea. So we decided we'd go 'trol the mall.

That turned out to be the cheapest, most fun time for us all. We were in just the right mood for it. We rode the cool elevator, played in the toy store, watched Daddy's gum ball slide down the neato contraption, rode the merry-go-round (we never have money for that, so it was a nice change), and visited the doggies in the pet store. Baby Bear and I entertained passersby with her laughter. She was so jovial this evening that I had her cracking up with anything I tried.

She felt so much better today. She's been having some issues with digestion. Her little body wasn't quite prepared for so much solid food and it gave up trying to do anything with it for over a week! I was finally able to give her some prunes yesterday, and it's done the trick! Every diaper since the night before that has had poopies. And we're talking lots of poopies. Her poor little hiney is suffering, but I think we're almost done. She's definitely in a much better mood anyway. I never thought I'd be so proud to find poopies in a diaper before...

While they napped today, I read up and conversed with God about homeschooling, raising our kids, and His immediate plans for our family. I am so giddy with anticipation of what's to come and the decisions He has for us to get through.

I have no complaints about my life. Not. A. Single. One.

We played with some hats this morning

And Baby Bear hung out on the couch

Some sweet boys loving on Daddy

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Extended Celebration

The view from our beach condo

Yes, we are still alive.

We had planned to update the blog occasionally while we were on vacation, but one of the many mishaps of that week was that we discovered on night one that we didn't have the power cord to charge the laptop battery. Plus, the condo didn't really have dependable internet access anyway.

We had a super fun time on our St. Augustine Beach vacation. I'm going to lay it all out for you, so this might get a little long...

We packed up Tuesday and met Ryan and Steve for lunch so the boys could catch up. They really need a guys' weekend. They never ever have enough time to talk about all the dude stuff they discuss. They are worse than women to get separated. It was a lovely time and the kids had fun running around Five Guys. No cup explosions this time.

After some final (yeah right) shopping and prepping, we finally got to our condo around 6ish.

It was a very nice, new building and our unit seemed pretty sweet. It had a big balcony with a "peekaboo" view of the ocean, and everything we'd need in the kitchen except food. But before long we discovered the A/C was leaking water out of the closet and onto the carpet. We used a bunch of towels all week keeping up with that.

We took a walk through the neighborhood to the community boardwalk, winding around the condo buildings and a couple of pools, to the beach. We decided that no matter what else happened on this trip, it was all worth that beach walk. The breeze was perfect, the sunset was gorgeous, the dunes were romantic, and the kids were hilarious.

The kids were all up way too late and it was a big day, so we were looking forward to sleeping in. So funny. The boys greeted us a little before 7 am, looking at the clock and announcing: "It's six time, time to wake up!" No idea where that one came from. Baby Bear thought it was a good idea too.

Wednesday was super fun. Also super hot. We went to the Alligator Farm, which was a big hit for the boys, as expected. They loved the alligators, turtles, snakes and birds. They fed the baby alligators and explored the gift shop. We were there just a little too long. On our way out, Brandon was showing Bubby the albino alligators again. "Bubby, you see that white alligator?" "No, no more alligators!"

And it got a little hairy in the gift shop. They were so ADD with the toys that we had a hard time figuring out which one to buy. Next time we'll make an executive decision much quicker. Popo had a meltdown so he and I ducked out while Daddy made our purchase. They love the rubber alligator and spinning egg-gator thingy they got.

We all settled down for naps after that outing - yes, we were all five sleeping, believe it or not. But this time of bliss was abruptly halted when the ear-piercing fire alarm went off in our condo unit and the entire building. So we headed outside. It was extremely hot outside, we were barefoot, and grumpy from deep naps. Over five minutes later, the fire truck showed up. The firemen were so disappointed that it was a false alarm that they grumpily, slowly, shlumped themselves down to the control room. So for about twenty minutes we all huddled in the sun, grumbling against St. John's County servicemen.

After we recovered from our super-funk, we headed out to the World Famous Oasis Restaurant for dinner. As was the trend for this week, Baby Bear was sleepy fussy, so one adult was feeding or walking her throughout the meal. It was a good time, though.

That night we ran out of memory on the camera. Without a computer to upload to, we were stuck. So we went to Target again to pick up a memory card. Ours was super tiny anyway, only 128mb, so we were due for an upgrade. It turns out our camera is too old to handle anything bigger than a 2gb card. We bought a 4gb card. Yeah.

Thursday morning we set out to catch the Matanzas Bay boat tour. We had to run by Target (for the third time) for another memory card for the camera, so we decided to go straight to the public parking garage rather than look for a closer spot, since we were running pretty late. We hoofed all three kids all the way across hot, muggy downtown St. Augustine in about 12 minutes, passing dozens of prime spots on the way. We really didn't make it in time, but the nice lady at the booth had them hold the boat.

We were so glad we made it. It was a gorgeous, breezy ride. The boys loved the first 45 minutes or so, then got a little bored. They entertained themselves by climbing on and around Daddy. Baby Bear ate her lunch and then just watched her brothers.

After the boat ride, we all ate macncheese and apples on our patio. The boys enjoyed the novelty of it and they got a kick out of watching the people in the pool. The rainy breeze was so relaxing and sweet.

Then the boys all took naps at the condo while Baby Bear and I drove into town for her 6-month well visit at the pediatrician. Yeah, that's right, we planned a whole vacation around that appointment, totally forgetting about it. It worked out fine though; she got a nap and the drive was pretty smooth. She's in good health and growing just about right. I got some advice on timing her feedings and naps a little better because she's been in an adjustment period lately, getting fussier much earlier in the evening. Praise God, it was actually a transition time to an earlier bedtime! She was asleep at 8 pm all this week!

That night we ate Taco Pie (yum!) while we waited and prayed for the water to come back on in our building. It cut off in the afternoon until early evening. That was depressing. The owner of the condo offered to let us shower in a spare house he had for sale, but thankfully, the water came back on just in time.

The boys spent 90% of their time in the condo working on their jigsaw puzzles. They are obsessed. We are going to get them some more for their birthdays. (Gift idea, wink wink!)

Friday morning started similarly to the previous two days, bright and early. We packed up and headed to the St. Augustine Beach pier. There is an awesome splash pad there for the kids to run around in, with a sand-pit playground attached to it. We got there before the crowds. The boys were so funny as they tried it out and got used to it. Believe it or not, Popo was the one that fell in love with the water jets and was exploring them forever. Bubby never did quite get comfortable with them. We are so psyched that we found this spot.

Then we walked down the steps to the actual beach and hung out for a little bit. The boys are dealing with a pretty drastic fear of going in the ocean anymore. Bubby actually stands there and sobs in fear if anyone in his family goes out into the ocean for more than a minute. He thinks they aren't coming back or something. So they played in the sand and on the rocks a little.

Popo was immediately enthralled by the concept

Bubby was a little more interested in the playground

What joy!
This is as brave as Bubby got for a little while, but he did grow more confident
Consulting about heading down to the beach

Friday night at bedtime

Saturday, after a yummy breakfast out on the patio at the Oasis, we headed home. Oh, and after we got across town, remembered we forgot to return our Blockbuster rentals (Coraline for us, Madagascar II for the kids), drove back and returned them, I fed Baby Bear, and turned back around. She fussed during breakfast, but passed right out in my arms. She really konked out.

We had such a great week celebrating Daddy's return and enjoying each other. God has blessed us so richly and beyond anything we could ever deserve. I have so many more great pictures from this trip but I'll just have to post more later.

Brandon's favorite quote of the week... Me: "I'm so glad we aren't staying in a hotel. This is so awesome, I made dinner, I just loaded the dishwasher, and I have a load of laundry going! Oh wait, everything I just said is work..."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thank you

I'm working on a huge post about our vacation, but my eyes are starting to bug out with all the typing and photo-editing, so I am going to finish it up tomorrow.

In the meantime, I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone that was so sweet to pitch in and help me out while Brandon was gone.  Thank you so much Jen for checking up on me often and providing some adult companionship as well as kid distraction for me several times.  Thank you Mom for helping me keep my house from getting too far behind in the battle against grunge and for taking the kids off my hands a few peaceful nights.  Thank you Mom G. for taking care of my kids while I went to my "sane place" and got some work done.  Thank you Brianna for trying more than once to help me out - we just never quite got it together.  :)  Thank you to my work friends who listened to me gripe.

I'm very blessed to have any family around me, let alone such supportive, unselfish family members nearby.

Hopefully I'll get more and more independent and competent at doing this on my own.  I'll get more practice sooner than expected - he's leaving again sometime in September.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Party Peooooooopppppppllllle!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, he's home.  Big deal.

YAY, HE'S HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God tested the patience of each of us one last time today, and I'm not sure either one of us really did a great job, but we survived.

His flight from D.C. to Jax was supposed to leave at 12:07 pm.  It's such a long story, but after being delayed again every 20 minutes, he finally took off around 4:30 pm.  So I missed several extra hours of work, he sat in Dulles for longer than anyone ever wants to, and the boys kept being put off from going to the airport.  Thankfully he was able to keep me informed from the get-go, so I didn't take the kids to the airport four hours early.  Of course, with his flight 4 hours delayed, I was late to pick him up.  I had such a good plan for his 2:06 arrival, but it all fell apart when we tried to squeeze naps in between.  And that was a huge, frustrating mess.  One kid took a nap, but she takes three or four naps a day.

So the pickup didn't go as planned, but it was so great.

Then we went out to eat, and that didn't go as planned.  We spent almost the whole time with one of us walking around with Baby Bear outside or feeding her in the van.  But, hey, we were all there!  Oh, Baby Bear didn't react well when her daddy first tried to hold her either, but she's already getting better.

We are totally in shock that this day is finally here, and we're all going to sleep under the same roof again.  It's going to take some adjustment to get back to our family-normal, but as you can see, s'all good.

Now we have sooooooo much packing to do for our trip tomorrow.  We were supposed to do that together this afternoon, but, you know.  So we'll be pretty busy tomorrow morning!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sixteen Hours!

This is it, we're down to counting the hours!  The boys are pretty excited, but I don't think they quite get it.  I've been telling them today that he's coming home tomorrow, after Grammie's house, and they get excited, but not as excited as they would if they realized the real Daddy will actually be here, hugable and throw-you-up-in-the-air present.

Church was lovely.  All the kids behaved well.  Then lunch and naptime went well, I even got a little nap myself.  I also got a lot more done this afternoon.  The house looks pretty spiffy!  I have to some final toy shuffling, now that everyone's out of the way - oh wait, a boy and a girl are both crying in bed...

That brings me to my wrap-up of the day.  Tonight has been maddening.  Popo peed on my living room twice.  I let them have their Tootsie pops from their Sunday School birthday bags this afternoon.  Will not happen again anytime soon.  They have some sugar once in a while, but this was apparently hardcore overdosage.  They were bouncing off the walls like I've never seen before.  Maybe it also had something to do with someone's accidents?  Here's hoping.  And Baby Bear has been getting increasingly fussy in the evenings this week.  Daddy's coming home just in time.  It's near darn impossible to get them ready for bed with her needing my full attention from 7 pm to 9:30.  Goodness, I'm tired.

One of the main little things I'm looking forward to having him help with is tooth brushing.  I never did care for it much, and I'm so very sick of it now.

Okay, I'm off to stay up way too late doing every little thing that pops in my head to prepare for tomorrow.  God is so good to me!  All the time!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

So close I can almost taste it...

44 - My third birthday party (ohmygosh, I just now realized this is the age of my boys, yikes!) and there's a super-special someone sitting right next to me!  If I'm reading it right, this is just before everyone sings to me, I cry, and my husband-to-be jumps on my birthday cake.  Good times.  I don't think my boys look like Daddy in this picture, but Baby Bear does.
45 - Me and my sister, being goofy cute kids.  I'm sorry, but I see my boys in this picture.
46 - A cute coloring page I'm working on.  Work in progress.  I may put it up in Baby Bear's room.  In case you don't know, her room is going to be a gallery of sorts, all kinds of pictures in it.

We are in the final stretch here, people!  Only two days left!!  He's sleeping now, and when he wakes he starts packing and doing paperwork to prepare for his flight home.  Then he'll be on native soil Monday morning, to arrive home that afternoon!  One more full day, I really hope I don't explode by then!

Today was nice.  Mom watched the kids for me while I went for groceries - the first time I've done that alone in months.  It was so easy!  Then they all napped well again and I got some more work done and some rest.  I am basically caught up enough to start focusing on packing for vacation, woohoo!

Are there enough exclamation points in this post yet?  Not sure!

I also tried some of my pilates video this morning.  That was shocking.  It was always a challenge, but I barely made it through 10 minutes... maybe.  And at first the boys thought it was all a game and were all over me, and under me, but eventually they left me alone and then were laying on the floor beside me, trying it out.  It was so cute.  I'm going to keep trying, but I can tell it's going to take a while before I make any progress in strength.  S'all good!

If anyone has any specific fun ideas for surprises for Brandon's return, email them to me.  Obviously, don't post them in the comments here since this is a blog mostly for him to read!  I have some ideas but I just know someone will tell me something cool after the fact.

Here's the cute day 43 picture of my niece that got sent to my spam inbox, so I didn't see it until it was too late.  What a doll!

Making some fun plans to celebrate the boys' third birthday (gasp!).  It's going to be pretty low-key, but super fun for them.  I already received their main presents that I ordered online, but have resisted the temptation to open the brown shipping box to see them because once I do, I'll have to find a place to hide the gifts, and then remember where I've hidden them.  That's a risky situation.

I just had a huge showdown with Bubby at bedtime.  I can only assume he's teething, because he's not sick or very tired.  He was doing that completely irrational, downright psychotic, toddler thing.  It sounds terrible, but he eventually cried it out.  I had to feed Baby Bear, and there was no pleasing him anyway.

Oh yeah, I forgot.  He got started because his brother bit him on the arm.  Hard.  You can see each tooth's impression.  I'm so very tired of punishing them for hurting each other.  They fight CONSTANTLY over every possible thing they encounter or discuss throughout the day.  I'm utterly exasperated.

Off to bed, somewhat early for me lately, yay!  And then I actually get to go to church and sit through a sermon, yay!  And then I get to prepare to see my beautiful husband and to go off with my crazy, wonderful family for super fun times, yay!  And then I get to see my beautiful husband and go off with my crazy, wonderful family for super fun times, super yay!

Friday, August 7, 2009


That's my crazy funky boys up there!  This is not quite how I'm going to be styling it - this is how the ladies did it at the kids' salon.  You can tell they had fun!  Popo got pretty nervous when it was actually time to sit in the car-chair, but really did well.  I'm so proud of them both.

That outing was this afternoon, just before we went to Nana's for yummy pasta dinner.

And for lunch today we met with April and Emily at the boys' favorite restaurant, Firehouse, and had a lovely time as well.

In between these outings, they all napped really well and I got even more housework done!

But it turns out I've reached my body's limit for fun action and housework productivity.  I'm so incredibly exhausted.  Tomorrow will be totally relaxing, except for hopefully some grocery shopping alone while Aunt Jen helps me out yet again with the boys for an hour or so.  I can't wait to sit around and color and watch tv with the boys.  Our last full day home alone before Daddy comes home!

G'nite everybody!