Thursday, July 30, 2009

32

When I first started blogging, I tried to do a birthday post each year, but last year the day just slipped by. So, today, as I enter my thirty-second year of life, I will take a few moments to ponder this life. Hmmm...


I saw a quote the other day that said "Blessed is the uneventful life." Some people cringe at this. They detest the thought of being boring. Not me--not anymore. I still crave exciting days and events, still have hopes and dreams to travel the world and increase my education and find some roller coaster that gets my adrenaline rushing; but every night as I lay my head on my pillow, I'm overcome with gratitude that "everything is fine." Eventful doesn't necessarily mean thrilling and exquisite. Yes, my days look very similar to one another (especially during summer, when I'm not working at all) but I'll take some dull days over some of the "eventful" trials I've seen around me. Infertility. Bankruptcy. Job loss. Spouse loss. Parent loss. Very ill children. That last one especially brings me to my knees. Can you imagine if you found out your child had a life-threatening illness? If I were going through that, I would absolutely crave this normal, boring life where my healthy children delight me and sometimes drive me crazy. Why should I wait around for something horrible to happen before I relish in my blessings? I'm blessed by a happy, normal, uneventful life. Very blessed indeed. Best birthday gift ever!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lazy summer days

We've managed to FEEL really busy this summer with camping trips, birthdays, bbq's, visitors, etc. And yet, looking back, it's been a lot of just lazy summer days--trying not to spend too much money. :) Here's some misc. pics from the last couple weeks. This is for all the great aunties and uncles who I know check the blog regularly!
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Someday I will get this on video, because it is hilarious. Carson started playing the "freeze" game during meals, and Sydney thinks it is the most fun game ever. She holds her hands out like this and makes funny faces. Here she is at lunch the other day. This one is perfect! It's exactly her silly "freeze" face!
Also, I wanted to show Jim & Steph how Sydney was able to rock the "gender-neutral" Nike shirt they gave her.
One thing I LOVE about summer is the fresh fruit. This was a scrumptous dessert I made for myself the other night. Under the berries and peaches is vanilla bean ice cream. Can you say YUM?!

And this, ladies and gentlemen, was the first day that Carson dressed himself, COMPLETELY by himself, from head to toe. I didn't help choose a single piece, nor did I help him put anything on. Notice the shoes are even on the right feet! He got the sunglasses from the diaper bag for the icing on the independent cake. He came in to show me his success and said "Mom, do I look like a rock star now?!"



Thursday, July 23, 2009

Perhaps my favorite of the Greatest Hits (vol. 3)

The original post was written when Carson was a little older than Sydney is now, and much stronger in will and physical strength. However, sweet little Bird has been showing her own STRONG dislike for diaper changes lately, making the experience an exercise in frustration for all involved. WHICH reminded me of this explicit description I concocted for your reading enjoyment. Sidenote...I had an "aha" moment recently when I realized that girls like to reach their hands down into the diaper region during changes. I guess they're all curious about what is keeping me rapt with attention.

I've often heard the phrase "I need another hand" or something along those lines when someone refers to a specific task. Well, I've thought that before, but never truly, TRULY ached with the feeling until recently in my life. I've run it by a few other moms of toddlers, and they too feel my pain. Imagine first, if you will, a toddler who is so lacking in reason and logic that he is worse that the most annoying and clueless reality show contestants ever. You know the ones. You yell at them through your TV set because they are beyond the touch of reality and common sense. Also, aforementioned toddler is freakishly strong with an attitude to rival the most rebellious teens. Now imagine the RANKEST smelling poopy diaper, which makes up in QUANTITY what it lacks in pleasant odor. To continue painting this pretty picture, you need to know that said toddler fights diaper changes like I'm about to pull a Jack Bauer and torture the living daylights out of him. And one more thing, I'm sorry, but if you are really walking in my shoes you need to know: this is no solid poop. I have lots of fun sentences to describe the consistency made more horrifying by its mere mass, but I will spare you my fancy wording this time. You get the idea. OH. And one more thing. This is a BOY toddler, whose favorite new pastime is innocently--yet comprehensively--exploring his newly discovered body part between his legs. Now, when you dive into a battle situation like this, it's not like you haven't pulled out all the stops. Bribes. Promises. Threats. Tears. But it's like putting out a fire with a squirt gun. It just continues to rage. So, you buck up, camper, and just do it. (Holla to my Nike boys.) First, pants and shoes off. (His, not mine.) I've learned from past experience that trying to save time by keeping those on just backfires, and who needs poo on their Nikes? Next, hold toddler down with left arm, and unfasten diaper with right hand. Then while toddler is squirming, no: writhing, no: FLAILING with shocking strength, I am trying to hold his ankles with my left hand (you have no idea how strong my left fingers have become in the last year) and keep his twisting to a minimum with my left elbow. I am holding those little legs so tight that I'm praying there are no bruises. My friend Diane works for CPS. Please don't turn me in! With the right hand, I take the actual diaper, which seems to weigh as much as this child did when he came out of me, and try to use the small, untainted portion of the front of the diaper to wipe as much of the offending substance off the bum as possible.

This is PRECISELY when screaming, thrashing toddler decides to explore--DOWN THERE. "NOOOOOOOOO!!!!" I scream, dropping the diaper on the changing table in my hurry, smearing fecal matter on at least the following: changing pad, clean diaper waiting to be worn, the wall, child's leg, container of wipes, baby powder, cute little basket holding clean diapers, AND MY OWN ARM. My frustration is quickly evident and transferred to my offspring, because he resumes his physical protest of the current situation. (Like I WANT to be here?) I'm in the middle of a sumo wrestling match, and all I can concentrate on are his hands, because his expedition is in a land that is UNCLEAN, people. I abandon all hope of doing something remotely resembling the initial objective with my right hand (although left hand still has death grip on kicking ankles in the air) and dive for the wipes. New objective: must. clean. little. hands. before. going. in. mouth.

And then it happens. Well, actually, one of three things happen. A) and most common: one wipe comes out of the little container, and the rest fall down to the very bottom, and can only be retrieved by pressing a clasp and unfolding the wipes, which I don't have to tell you requires both hands. B) While trying to take one wipe, I get about ten, and they are all connected to each other in a long line, like old school dot-matrix printer paper. Again--need both hands to separate. or C) NO wipes left. At this point "I need another hand" is an understatement like when I read that contractions are like a "slight tightening" in my abdomen. Doesn't. Quite. Cover it. Forget another hand, I need ten hands, a new diaper, new clothes for both of us, a stiff drink and a nanny. My frustration and anxiety completely errupts, but by the grace of God (and I'm truly not using that term flippantly) I decide that a room covered in caca is better than an abused child or an acoholic mother. I let go of my death grip, thus getting poopy bottom over changing pad, shirt, me and everything else. I let the child squirm, smearing even more poop, and I do whatever necessary to get those golden tickets: a handful of clean wipes. Or, as has occasionally happened, I ditch the room altogether in whatever state it is in and head for the shower to hose this kid off. (BTW--multiply this horror by 10 if you are on the floor of a changing-table-less bathroom in a fast food restaurant.) As maddening as scenes like this are, there's usually a very sweet one to follow later so I don't completely lose my marbles. Like the other day when I was absent-mindedly singing a song in the car, and when I stopped singing, Carson erupted in applause, yelling, "Yeah, Mommy!" And it's moments like that when I remember another phrase like "I love you" that is also a tremendous understatement and inadequate to convey my true feelings for this precious life.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Conversations


Usually at night I lay down with Carson & sing him a couple songs. Tonight when I started singing some tune, he sleepily said:
"No, Mom. I want the one about how the mommy's gonna buy me some toys and a horse."
He was referring to "Hush little baby, don't say a word, Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird" etc. Greedy little buggers, aren't they?
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The other day we were in the restroom of a restaurant. Carson was pulling his pants down in the large stall to pee in the toilet. I mentioned that I had to go too, so I'd go after him. Drawers down at his ankles, he shuffled to the side of the toilet and seriously--and generously--offered to scoot over so we could both pee at the same time like him and daddy. Knowing there were other customers in adjoining stalls, I brought my head down to his level and quietly reminded him of a previously discussed plumbing lesson, the natural result of which is that mommies always sit down to pee. He tilted his head back, a big, knowing smile on his face, and as he was nodding (and peeing), said loudly, "Oooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhh! I GET IT!"
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This one isn't funny, just interesting.
Carson: Daddy, today we saw a man at the store who only had ONE LEG!
Trent: You know, Daddy works with a lot of people at his work who only have one leg.
C: You DO?!
T: Yeah, I help them learn to use a pretend leg or learn to walk on crutches.
C: A PRETEND leg?!
T: Yeah!
C: Why do they still have one foot left?
T: Because the other foot got hurt really bad or got really sick and they had to take it off.
C: Long, thoughtful pause. Well, where is that leg now?
T: Well, uh, it's...buried in the ground. [He looked and me and kind of shrugged and I nodded my approval of this abridged version.]
C: WHY do they bury it?
T: Because if a leg is not attached to a body, then it just turns into a bone and it doesn't work like a normal leg.
C: Huh.....Can I have another popsicle?
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Carson: Mom, I know what God is thinking about.
Mom: You do? What is He thinking?
Carson: He's thinking that we're gonna have 3 kids in our family and that we're gonna have a dog.
M: [chuckling] Oh really?
C: Yes, and we're gonna name the baby Max and the dog Shasta.
M:Well, I think you have a better chance of having another baby than getting a dog. But we'll just have to wait and see if God puts another baby in my tummy. And, you know, buddy, that takes a really, really long time.
C: Oh, I KNOW, Mom. First your tummy has to grow big, then you go to the hospital, then I have to go stay at Mimi's, then I go camping and THEN we can have a new baby.
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Carson is experimenting with knock-knock jokes. This is the one he tells over and over, all day long, in its many jibberish incarnations:
C: Knock-knock.
Me: Who's there?
C: Chi-choo-ching-kaw-moo.
M: Chi-choo-ching-kaw-moo-hoo?
C: Mucka-baka-booka-zonk. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
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But then, tonight, Daddy tried to start dishing back and forth with Carson on the knock-knock jokes. First, he messed up one of the oldest ones, about banana, banana, orange you glad I didn't say banana. (He started with orange.) Then he told this classic:
Trent: Knock-knock.
Carson: Who's there?
Trent: Dwayne.
C: Dwayne who?
T: Somebody let out the...wait...the water is...wait, how does it go again?
His tragic attempt, and horrible butchering, of a simple knock-knock joke, just sent me into a fit of giggles. And I mean, a FIT. I couldn't gain my composure, and I'm not going to lie, I peed my pants a little. My homework assignment after this blog post is to look up some knock-knock jokes that Carson could try. And then? I'll try to find some even easier ones for Trent.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More Misc

Today I went out on a limb and took Carson to pick berries with me. I tried to keep my expectations low, even though I wanted to get enough to make some jam. I LOVE raspberries, and I LOVE homemade jam. He did really well! I would say we were out there for almost an hour, which is impressive for him. He was restless at first, then kind of got into it after tons of exaggerated compliments from me about his gorgeous berries and what a good job he was doing. (Also, I let him pee on the edge of the field, which is a special treat. People, don't judge. There were NO port-a-pots around.)

Don't they look delish?!

And just for a little Bird-fix, here she is exploring her musical heritage. Unfortunately, she seems hesitant about my influence. Am I pushing her too hard?
On Wednesdays and/or Thursdays this summer, we've been letting Carson stay up a little past his bedtime to watch a few dances on So You Think You Can Dance. He is a huge fan and is quite an active watcher, as you can see. He tries to copy the style and moves that are on the screen at the time. This video was taken during the Bollywood number, which you can see reflected in his sa-weet moves.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Loved this movie...

OK, I know we don't all share tastes in things like music, tv, & movies, but I watched a winner last night. It was I've Loved You So Long starring Kristen Scott Thomas. I don't want to tell you too much about the plot, because the slow revelation of backstory was part of the brilliance of it for me, but here's the premise: Thomas' character, Juliette, has just been released from prison after serving 15 years. She's surprised and softened by the love of her younger sister, who takes Juliette in to live with her family until she (Juliette) gets back on her feet. I've talked with some of you about my love/hate feelings for the book My Sister's Keeper. Although that premise was interesting and I came to care for the characters, I left the book feeling manipulated by the author. I felt like some of the plot was contrived and twisted to wrench our tears in an unnatural way. I couldn't help but compare the two stories after watching this movie last night.
Both are about complicated relationships and roles, primarily motherhood and sisterhood. However, in Loved You So Long, the characters discover each other as we discover them. Their flaws, their strengths, their prejudices, their secrets and their growth are revealed in a slow, sometimes awkward, way, rather than huge, dramatic moments of angst and pain. When the heartwrenching moment comes (and boy, does it come: I sobbed), I feel like the writer earned my tears, rather than tricked them out of me. At the core, I think it is a story of healing. The acting was amazing. Juliette's cold personae leaves you dying of curiosity about her crime and wondering whether you should cheer for her or despise her. The Heartwrenching Moment I mentioned earlier is only aced by a scene between Juliette and her alzeihmer's stricken mother. It left me absolutely raw. And I loved listening to the French! Oh yeah, it's subtitled, if that matters to you. So, check it out and let me know what you think!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Around the house

I've wanted flowers on my front porch for years. I'm just too lazy and cheap. Plus, I have a black thumb and tend to kill anything other than humans and one beta fish who obviously has magical, immortal powers. My mom walked me through the nursery and helped me find some basic starter flowers. I LOVE this hanging basket. Even since this picture was taken, I've dropped the ball on a few days of watering and she's not looking as perky as in this photo. But isn't it beautiful? These red geraniums remind me of Europe. We saw them in window planters all over Paris and in Italy when we went back in '04. The beautiful planter was handmade by my aunt and uncle! (They do take orders, I believe.)

These pictures are kind of misleading. Although it looks like Carson just got so plumb-tuckered out after I made him do the sweeping that he crashed on the couch, that isn't what took place.
He actaully fell asleep in the car and I moved him to the couch. I was getting dinner ready in the kichen and was continually calling to him to wake up, lest his bedtime drag on for hours. Obviously, my half-hearted attempts at waking him resulted in his half-hearted attempts at waking.
Ethan, I think this is actually your broom! It ended up at our house over a year ago. I hope you haven't missed all the sweeping you could have been doing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Annual Campout

Many of you know we have a big family campout on the 4th of July each year. It started in 2003, I think, back when there were only 2 generations going. We'd sit around and talk, eat, read books & magazines, take leisurely walks, and be adventurous and make rafts out of driftwood. Well, things have changed! I didn't pick up a magazine the whole time we were gone. Now that the third generation is multiplying, our ratio of parents:kids is 1/2 short of being exactly even (that'd be Baby Bunch making up the 1/2). We rely on grandparents and doubling up when something needs to be done...little things like making meals and actually setting up a tent to sleep in! It's still an adventure, just of a different kind. It's not really relaxing, but it's tradition, and we all value tradition & love being outdoors.

We go to the same camp ground, because we've found The World's Largest Campsite. Seriously, we can fit 4 large, family-sized tents on this one site. (Could even do more if we tried.) Although this post has a ton of pictures, I don't feel like I had my camera out much. Hopefully the rest of the family will post some pics too.

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Here's Jack talking to his Daddy through the tent window. Jack is starting to really be interested in following his cousins around and doing what they are doing. It's pretty stinkin' cute!
He didn't follow them this time, though, when they found a dirty little tunnel in a stump.

Ethan decided to brave it first...

...then Carson had to try. I'm looking forward to seeing Sarah's pictures, which were taken from the other side!

"Poppers" were a big hit of the night. Here's Jim supervising Henry's emphatic popping. Please notice Sarah's "OFF" mosquito-fan on her waist in the background. :) Nina brought the ultimate s'mores spread. The boys did not even know what to do with themselves! They were in sticky heaven.

This sticky little snack was the only thing that got Carson to sit down all weekend.

Ditto for Ethan.



Here's one of the aforementioned grandparents helping out with the kiddos!

Here's our model-in-training, Ms. Abby. She's got the pose and the gaze down!

This is what I was hoping to see more of: sitting still, playing quietly with dirt. There's always next year!

The hub and the dad.


When the big boys were toddlers, Sarah & Eric invested in this little playarea fence. It has helped a ton. As you can see, Sydney LOVES it!

Jack & Abby were doing better at that particular moment.

Overall, my kids have doing better with their morning wake-up calls. At our house this week, we've had regular rounds of both children staying in bed past 7 o'clock! But with the daylight coming in through the tent, it was six am sharp both mornings at the campsite. Here's Trent with the early-birds. They were awake...I didn't say they were in a good mood.

Jo-jo prepared and executed a scavenger/treasure hunt for the big boys. It was a success--or what is considered a success when trying to wrangle 3 three-year-olds to follow directions, take turns and share.







I love Ethan's expression in this one as he hears the next clue!



The final clue leads to...

...the treasure!

Great weekend, everbody!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Why me?

Or, rather, "Y" me?

Monday, July 06, 2009

For Uncle Mike

We just got back from a wonderful and exhausting 3 days of camping, and I'm trying to get my self and our house back in working order. But to hold you over, here's a little comparison picture (you know I love my comparison pictures) with Uncle Mike and his 2 nephews from three years ago.... ...and from this weekend. We love Uncle Mike!


Thursday, July 02, 2009

SOCCER

A few weeks ago, Trent read something in the newspaper (or "papernews" as Carson calls it) that he has been waiting for...for YEARS. I kid you not. Ever since we found out we were pregnant the first time, he's talked about how excited he'd be for his kids to play sports, especially soccer. Well, turns out there is a camp here in town for kids as young as 3. It is every Tuesday evening for 6 weeks. Now, as you will see, this is age-appropriate soccer. One parent pretty much has to be with the kid the whole time. The first night, Carson was disappointed he didn't meet more friends, b/c he spent most of the night kicking back and forth with Daddy! They mostly do kiddie games/drills and then at the end everyone is let loose for 10 minutes of chaos.
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This is a game where they move the ball like an "elephant" and some other animals I can't remember right now. Here's a sequence shot of C-dog working on his approach.



Here's a bit of the frenzy when they were allowed to try a "game." Not only did the kids miss the fact that there were supposed to be 2 teams, no one had any idea which way they were "supposed" to kick the ball, some kids just wandered off the field, others decided they were tired of not kicking the ball, so they went and got their own and threw it onto the field, some got bored and left, etc. It was quite amusing! This is a few seconds of Carson getting into it with some stinkin' cute twins who are older and more coordinated. He is quite taken with them and wants to stand next to them on all the drills and give them high-fives. LOTS of high-fives for the twins.

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You can see he looks back at me after the goal is scored--even though he mainly watched and then ran into the goal post. But he was focused and running and we loved it! BTW, in case anyone was getting concerned, it is Trent that gives him a little toosh-smack on his way back into the melee. Not some weirdo.
This was only week 2, so I'd better warn you now that I'm sure more pictures/videos are coming. :)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Birthday Bash part 3 (and final)


And finally, some cake pics. Thanks for taking these, Mike!
Staying in character, Sydney had no desire to dive in to her special banana bread cake. She daintily poked at the frosting and was totally satisfied with that.




Aunt Steph and I tried to coax her to take bigger bites, but soon she was giving us the sign language for "all done." That's my little bird!

I think this expression is so adorably pitiful. Poor baby has an entire delicious cake to eat! I think the attention was just too much to handle.