Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday report part 1

November was a pretty busy month. We got used to Addie’s preschool schedule with no trouble, and she still loves it. Today she got to take a big poster with pictures we picked out that was “All About Addison”. We practiced what she was say to her class while telling them about the pictures, and I typed up little captions underneath so that the teachers might be able to prompt her or translate if they couldn’t understand her. But her teacher told me that Addie said pretty much word for word what was written on the posterboard while she was talking! They have one child present their poster every week. Now I know why Addie was telling me so much about a little girl named McKenna’s trip to Alaska.

Addison went camping with her Grammie and my brother’s daughter Sarah (2) for a couple of days before Thanksgiving. She had a lot of fun! My sister and other niece came down early and then went to Matt’s parents’ farm for the day with us. Addie, Sarah and Grammie met us there, and Addison was in hog heaven to have Cammie to play with! We all had a good time, running around and eating and going on the hayride. It was hot and humid during the day ,and then about 4 pm a big wind gusted up once, and then twice, and with the 2nd gust the temperature dropped 15 degrees. Just like that. It was in less than 30 seconds. And man it got cold cuick! We had to break out Casey’s coat to keep her warm!

We do have a little bit of fall here!

Up on the haystacks

Aunt Caiti and Ryan

Addie and Farmer Cammie

Me and my niece Sarah - one of the only times she wasn't crying when I came close.

Ryan with turkey and Sarah

That weekend, I headed to Baton Rouge by MYSELF for a few days to visit my friend Kate. Her house is not really built to accommodate 4 extra housegusts (and she’s still nuring a baby at night too), so it was just easier for me to come alone. Matt took a couple of days off of work and was fully immersed in the kids for 4 days straight. I had a good time hanging out and laughing with Kate, and we are starting to plan our 2011 road trip to Napa, California for an old friend’s wedding in June. Woohoo!

Now that Abrielle moves everywhere, fun times like this are ahead for Kate and the girls

The Pied Piper and the Rat (sorry Kate!)

Matt took another half day off and went to the zoo with us. They were doing a preview of the African Forest section that is not yet officially open, and it had been nearly a year since Matt’s gone with us, so that was fun. The weather was great.

New drums in the African Forest at the zoo

Riding the carousel

I had a preliminary screening done for Addison for speech, and this Friday is our big assessment to see if any therapy might be needed. She has a couple of sounds that she has trouble with, and that are on the borderline of being considered “delayed” for her age, but overall the teacher said she officially was not considered a candidate for therapy. Due to the oddness of Addie’s G sound (or lack thereof), the teacher was able to squeeze in a recommendation for the full assessment. Basically it means we will go to speech therapy once a week or so, if they decide she needs it. Nothing big.
What else? This weekend we have a dress rehearsal for Addie’s first Christmas progrm at church, then a birthday party, and then the adults Christmas party for our Sunday school group. Next week, we have a MOPS Christmas party (my group), a cookie exchange with the rest of MOPS, and a Christmas party with book exchange at Addie’s school – the parents are invited! And then next weekend is Christmas at the farm with Matt’s family, and then my sister is coming for a few days, and that takes us right up to Christmas! Yikes! I’ve been playing Christmas music since Thanksgiving and I still can’t get enough of it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fall update

Addie has been loving preschool. She talks about a couple of kids, McKenna and Joseph, frequently, and a lot of little tidbits about her day come out here and there. She’s been the line leader, but not the flag holder yet. Once she told the teacher she couldn’t play a ball game because she hurt her back at her grandpa’s house – finally we figured out she was talking about something 4 days before when she fell on the deck at our neighbor Mr. Tom’s house. Her back was fine, so we don’t know why she said that to her teacher. She comes home with some sort of artwork every day, and the fire man and fire truck came to their school and taught them about fire safety. She got a coloring book full of fire stuff and it was fun to talk to her about it. The mornings have been going well. Addie wakes up around 7, and we get dressed, eat quickly and are out the door by 7:25 or so. Usually Ryan is awake, so I take him and his juice in the car with us. 

Almost ready for school!

The fire truck came to her school
Ryan and I have been having fun while Addie’s in school. I often will go run errands with him (MUCH easier with one child!) and before we know it, it’s time to go get Addison. I’m able to get in a different mindset with him now, shifting my view to see him as an “only child”, like Addie was when she was that age. It helps me to appreciate his development and personality, and see what he’s putting together and learning. All too often that stuff gets lost with him, while with Addie, Matt and I were keenly aware of every new word, phrase, or concept she came up with. Ryan is basically a happy little boy (big change from his first year of life) and is very silly. He jokes around and says funny things. He’s more easygoing than Addie was in a lot of aspects – more of a go with the flow instead of focusing intently on every task or errand, scrutinizing to make sure it all met with his approval, like Addison was. He talks all the time now, and has sort of latched on to a stuffed dinosaur toy. Last night we went to see a Christmas parade, and while we were getting him out of the car, he grabbed the dino and said, “Dinosaur. See it Mismis Parade. " Which meant that the dinosaur wanted to see the Christmas parade too. He’s also projecting, like saying the dinosaur was scared of something when really it was Ryan who was scared (of the sirens on the fire trucks in the Mismis parade).  

"Dinosaur. Wear it. Ryan's shoes!"

We had Addie’s birthday party a little early. She wanted a My Little Pony party, so I made her a castle cake (with fruit rainbow and yogurt cloud), and we played some games, colored, played with Play-dough, and had a good time. We had about 7 little girls - it was awesome to see all the girls that Addie has known since she was 1 year old all grown up at 4 (well, some are late 3’s). And it was fun to be able to play games with them since they are old enough.

Pony castle cake and fruit rainbow!

Making pink glitter playdough

Opening my old My Little Ponies that I have entrusted to her

Someone DID NOT ask before they began eating a turret.

Halloween – Addie was Toothless the black dragon from How To Train Your Dragon, and her costume turned out cute! It was black pants and top, and black cardboard wings I made, with black horns on a headband. At the couple of fall festivals (and Zoo Boo with cousin Hunter), people thought she was a bat, so I made her a sign to wear around her neck that said, “Dragon In Training.” We got LOTS of candy on just a couple of streets in Hunter’s neighborhood and all three kids had a great time. Ryan was Superman in a borrowed costume from a friend.

Birthday donut

Immediately after previous picture - she bit her finger and it bled a LOT


Birthday table and presents

Addie and Hunter

Our three cute kids trick or treating

Ryan and his Aunt Jennifer

Daddy and Dragon

At Zoo Boo

Dragon at the Zoo

At the pumpkin patch

Two turkeys

Reese, who just moved to Indonesia last week. I tried to get Addie to smile nicely.

Ryan being cute

Sharing their first-ever cotton candy

We’ve finally got all the pieces of the swingset up and the kids love it. For the past weeks, every morning they want to get up and go play on it first thing. It’s been warm some and cold some, so they either go out barefoot in their pajamas or with shoes and socks and coats over their pajamas! It’s been VERY nice to see them play together so much, and although they do get into squabbles (apparently two swings aren’t enough for two kids), when one of them comes inside, the other one calls for them to come back outside to play.

The new swingset!

We got one quick visit with Santa this year, and it went very differently from past years:

She was happy to go see him and hug him!

Ryan was still a NO for Santa

Monday, October 25, 2010

First day of school

Today was Addie's first day of preschool. Matt and I wanted to walk her in, so we woke up at 7 and I turned on Addie's bathroom light. Addie came right out - she was laying in her bed awake, watching her door.  We came right downstairs and put on clothes, then fed her breakfast.  It wasn't rushed, but it was so much quicker than our usual morning routine.  Matt went in to wake up sleepy Ryan and we piled in the car. 

Ready to go!!

I thought for sure I would cry, but after we all walked in, Addie got her nametag and ran into the classroom. Since her teachers are high school kids, they were focused on what they were doing instead of on us parents, and there wasn't much time to linger or get sympathetic smiles from the teachers. Which was really good, for kids and parents! Not that there would have been a scene from us. And Addison has been dropped off at MOPS, Sunday school, the Y, and Bible Study, so she wasn't nervous at all. We left and went to Chick Fil A for breakfast, then I came home to feed Ryan. 

Then Ryan and I went out. We went to Jo Ann's to buy some black fabric for me to poorly attempt to make a tail for Addison's dragon costume, then we went to US Toy to get a refund because they charged for me two My Little Pony games for Addie's party instead of one, and then to the mall playplace, and then to Wal Mart to get envelopes because mine have mysteriously disappeared, and, also mysteriously, I happen to actually have things to mail!  Then it was already time to go get Addison. I was amazed at how "free" I felt with just one kid.  I haven't hit 4 places with both kids in a LONG time, if ever. Especially not in an hour and a half!  Ryan is a quality time kind of kid. He likes to be with me and hang on me as opposed to play by himself, so I was interested to see how our mornings without Addie were going to go. Of course, it's just been one morning, but he was very agreeable with getting in and out of the car so many times.  It is so hard to remember what it was like when I just had Addison. Although, I already had Baby Ryan before Addison was even two years old, so I don't think I had  any time alone with her when she was Ryan's age.  Since I have not had nearly enough "quality time" with Ryan before now (he doesn't know his colors or shapes, but Addie did at this age), I'm hoping to make up for it during these three mornings a week that Addie will be away.  And since he's older than she was for his time alone with me, we'll probably be able to learn/do even more! Not that I'm doing school stuff, but he will probably catch on to colors much more quickly than an 18 month old Addie did!

Yesterday I was feeling pretty sad about Addie starting school. I liked our mornings and our free schedule, and it was strange to think about her having a "life" without me.  But I knew she was totally ready and it will be great, and I'm looking forward to getting to see what sort of kid Ryan is turning out to be.

There's been a big breakthrough in our family - Ryan has, out of nowhere, started telling on Addison.  Before, I'd hear some squabbling and then crying, and he would run up to me upset. I would always have to guess what happened or ask Addison (she was usually forthcoming, but not always). But yesterday, he cried and came up to me, and when I asked him what happened, he said, haltingly, "Dee Dee...hit...me."   Sure enough, he was right. And later he ran up and said, "Dee Dee take pinecone!" Which she did, and ran off with it. I'm thrilled with this development because finally I will start knowing for sure what is going on with the kids when they are out of my site - whether Ryan is super sensitive or whether Addie is super sneaky.  Or both!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Update on Kiddos

Ryan has been talking up a storm lately. He can say pretty much anything and talks in sentences.  He really likes watching airplanes and helicopters and will sit in the car and say (over and over), "Where Eh-Opt-er go? Where Ae-pane go?" He also says, "No, don't DO that!" and "stop that right now!"  to Matt and I and Addie too. He's been having a lot of crying episodes as he discovers things and is rebuked. He really wants to go his own way and do what HE wants to do. He's not as bad as Addison was (yet), but he's stubborn in a different sort of way.

Poor little guy, he's not going to have much of a birthday this year.  We aren't doing our big Halloween double birthday because Addison really wants a My Little Pony party ( don't know why, she doesn't really play with them that much), so I decided to do a small party for her, inviting a few friends for a couple of hours instead of just a big free-for-all. And since Ryan doesn't have "friends" yet, we will probably just do a little family party with whoever can come. Plus I really want to make a fun cake for him! I was going to make a Thomas the Train cake for him, since Mom got him a big train table that will be for his birthday, but Ryan apparently has an opinion.  He wants a hippo cake.  We let the kids watch a silly You Tube video of an animated hippo and dog singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and Ryan is obsessed with it. "Watch Ippo Dong?" is something I hear about 50 times a day, no joke. So when I asked him if he wanted a Thomas cake in the car (just to talk, not that I expected an answer), he said, "No Bommas cake. Ippo Cake."  Well nuts, I thought. I gently encouraged the Thomas cake, since I'd already found some cute ones online, but Ryan was insistent.  Later on another car ride, we tried again while Matt was in the car. Ryan still wanted a hippo cake. I told Matt that I would probably make a Thomas cake anyway, and Matt said, "That's not what he wants." I told him that Ryan wouldn't remember, and Matt said, "He's not ever going to have another birthday where he turns 2 and wants a hippo cake and you should make what HE wants, not what YOU want!"  So I thought about it (a hippo cake? Really? Although I know he would like it), and I decided to try to make a Diego cake with water and yes, a hippo on it.  That could be fun. Not that anyone will be there to see it, but like I said, I don't get many chances to make fun cakes, so we shall see how this one turns out. I've already picked out a Diego rescue truck toy for Ryan's birthday, so a Diego cake will work. I'm planning on making a castle cake for Addison, with My Little Ponies stuck on it.

Addison has been having a rough several months in terms of her attitude and behavior. We are having LOTS of defiance and anger at being told what to do. She has her own ideas about EVERYTHING and quickly gets angry and upset even the first time she is told no.  I've been trying to teach her some ways to show anger that don't include growling and spitting (?), throwing toys, hitting, screaming, or saying ugly words.  She frequently says, "I''m MAD at you!" while crying. I tell her it is ok to be mad, but NOT ok to say, "And I'm going to be mad forever and you are the meanest forever and you do bad things ON PURPOSE!!!!" Or at least not to screech it at me! I'm trying to figure out the line between allowing her to get mad and BE mad, but not allowing her to express it in a mean way. So what's a "nice" way to express anger?  Especialy when it seems to bubble up so quickly. I am pretty sure it's a developmental phase, moving along with her learning a lot more about our lives and what we do, and she's starting to reason things out for herself. She sees no reason why she can't go up and down the stairs all day and bring all her toys up and down, and my reasons (Daddy's working, she freqently needs me up there to reach a toy or the light, Ryan will want to come up and down and needs supervision going both ways, Ryan is even louder than Addie, I'm in the middle of cooking downstairs, toys get moved from up to down and down to up enough as it is, etc. etc.) just don't make sense to her, so I have to put my foot down and she loses control. It's not flying into a rage, it's just tears of anger and frustration.  I don't like feeling like I'm rebuking her all the time, and I try to find other "postives" to give in on throughout the day (yes, we can make popcorn in the machine, yes, we can plant a flower, yes, we can make banana bread) even if they aren't the most convenient thing for me.

In between though, she is delightful. Last night she spent a good 20 minutes pacing the kitchen telling me long, long story about the two bad guys who were trying to kidnap all her Littlest Pets and their various schemes and adventures and her daring rescues. She adores the Lion King and sings the songs all the time (what prompted me to talk about her being angry a lot was something she said last night at the table when she was mad - I told her something that she didn't like and she pouted and said, "Well, that's not the way I see it," which was a direct quote from little Simba in the movie).  And she understands some wordplay, puns, and things like that on a higher level than she used to.  She still remembers everything (today she was playing with a little kaleidescope and said, "I got this at Aunt Sarah's house with the big trampoline and all the kids" - it was Aunt Sherry's, but still...that was Christmas last year and I didn't remember that's where she got it), and you absolutely cannot talk in front of her anymore about things she doesn't need to hear. At least spelling words still works!

Matt and I go to Parent Orientation for Addie's preschool in a couple of weeks, then to Open House with her the next week.  I'm savoring these last few weeks of all of us together all day every day, but I think it will be fun for her and for me once she starts school. I'm not so sure how Ryan will take it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Labor Day Part 3

Monday morning we woke up (early) and quickly got kids fed and stuff loaded. We headed out from the park around 9 a.m. and settled in for the long drive back to Dallas, where we were going to drop the kids, pick up the dog, and then head back to Matt’s parents’ farm that night. The drive back was pretty uneventful. Ryan got fussy on and off, but we made good time. We stopped at McD’s yet again, and gave the kids apples and nuggets, while Matt and I got “real” food from another place close by. If a real restaurant would have a playland, we’d never set foot inside McDonald’s again. We got to my mom’s house around 4 or so and Matt decided to bathe the kids since they were filthy and we knew my mom would have her hands full with unloading the trailer that night. I got their clothes started in the wash (and the blankies and Fiona the Fox), gathered up Casey, and Matt and I got back on the road, leaving the kids with my sister until my mom got back a little later. Matt discovered earlier that day that he had lots of very little, very ITCHY bites all over his abdomen. I didn’t have any, and we couldn’t figure out where the bugs had come from.

We were very sick of eating out, but hit Subway for dinner on the way home. We got to the farm and I went  straight to bed, since we had to get up early to drive back to our house so Matt could start work. We came to the farm because we had to pick up the Blazer which was left from hunting. They don’t allow dogs in the house, so Casey spent the night in her crate on the front porch. The next morning, we got up and headed home, stopping at Discount Tires to leave the Camry and get two new tires on the front. Then finally we got back to the house, and Matt went right up to work ,and I headed right downtown to the Paul Mitchell school to get my hair highlighted. It took till almost 3 oclock, but cost only $40. Then I had a hot stone massage that afternoon and we went out to TGI Friday’s (free gift cards) and to see a movie. The next day, I cleaned a bunch of stuff in the house – floors, closets, cabinets, - and did laundry and dishes and went to the store. We ate at Juan and Lefty’s that night for dinner ($25 gift card). My phone arrived during the day, and when I opened the back of the phone, the battery was sitting in water. I was not hopeful at all that it would ever work again, but I looked online for info and decided to cover it in rice for a night to see if some of the water would get sucked out.

On Thursday, I got into my flower beds, pulling weeds, moving plants, trimming stuff, and generally clearning them up after being neglected all summer. I braved the task of cleaning out on the far side of the garage, which was overgrown with wildness and poison ivy. I had on gloves and tried to be very careful to not touch the leaves. I bagged it up and took it to the curb right away, then after a long day outside, I came in and thoroughly scrubbed myself with soap. We took Casey to our friends’ house, ate at our favorite Vietnamese place, then came home and watched a movie. I plugged my phone in to the charger that evening and lo and behold, it turned on! However, it wouldn’t charge – it was fine as long as it was plugged in, but the battery would not hold a charge. Matt got online and ordered me a new phone battery for $12.

Friday morning, we got up and headed out west to go camping. We wanted to do some hiking, which we can’t do with kids. Before we got off our street, I noticed a few small rashy places on my arms. My skin breaks out every time I do yardwork, but I was afraid it might be the beginning of poison ivy, so I called my doctor to see if I could get a quick appointment and get started on medicine, since we were going to be gone for the weekend. We went to the doctor, who confirmed it was poison ivy, and had her call in a prescription for medicine to a CVS about an hour away, so we could pick it up as we headed out of town. We got the meds and also I bought a poison ivy wash that the doctor recommended that was supposed to neutralize any oil remaining on my skin or from the blisters. We arrived at the campground, and headed out hiking for the rest of the day. We only got a little bit lost, but I sure sweated a lot, even though it wasn’t too hot. We had just missed all the rain from Tropical Storm Danielle (I think?). It was pretty muggy sleeping that night but we had a big fan. I used the poison ivy wash twice that day, but the rash was definitely festering.

We got up the next morning, packed up, and headed to New Braunfels to go to Schlitterbahn. Yes, I know you can take kids, but going with a 1 and 3 year old and going just as adults are two very different experiences. We rode most of the rides (it was surprisingly crowded) and scoped out all the fun stuff we will do when we bring the kiddos back in a couple of years. By now, my poison ivy was looking pretty gross. I had originally seen 2-3 little patches on one arm, but the wash said to rinse as much of my skin as possible, so I had lathered up both arms and hands. And now I saw poison ivy on both arms, wrists, and between my fingers. Also, it was on my neck and next to my eye. I’d been on the steroid pills for two days now, plus I had a topical cream, but it didn’t seem to be helping much. At least no one at Schlitterbahn was grossed out. Oh, and I forgot to mention – I woke up that morning in the tent with approximately one million tiny bites all over my belly and sides. ITCHY. Matt didn’t get any more, so apparently we had some sort of infestation of bugs in one side of the sleeping bag. I was wearing a one-piece swimsuit, at least.

After a full day of fun, we headed to a bed and breakfast, courtesy of my mom, in San Antonio. When we arrived, the owner said there were margaritas and beer in the fridge, so we enjoyed some beverages while we showered and got ready to go out for the evening. The plan was to head straight to the Riverwalk to eat, but it was getting close to 7 already, so we decided to eat at a local Mexican place and then go downtown. Dinner was great, and we were able to get to the Riverwalk in about 10 minutes. We walked around and talked and watched the people and boats go by. It was really packed. I’m glad we didn’t try to eat there! The night was pretty muggy, and we were pretty tired, so we didn’t stay out too late. We came back to the B&B, got another drink, and headed to bed to watch a DVD. Unfortunately for Matt, my poison ivy was atrocious by this point, blistering and oozing (not to mention the bug bites all over me), so we laid on opposite sides of the bed and tried not to touch each other. Not very romantic.

Sunday morning, we got up and ate delicious Belgian waffles, then went back upstairs to gather up our things. We had a long drive back up to Dallas ( I think I slept part of the way) and were so excited to see the kids. It was nice to not be on any schedule but our own, but I really did miss the kids a lot. However, I could barely hug them or touch them because of the swollen blisters all over both arms and both hands. My fingers couldn’t even touch each other because of the blisters between them. The kids had a great time with Grammie and Aunt Caiti. They went to the Dallas Zoo, the Children’s Museum, the playground, and Addison even went to a ballet class on Saturday, taught by her lovely Aunt Caitlin. Caiti said Addie did pretty good on some things and was “cute” on some other things. She also did a lot of talking to the teacher during class. =) Somehow, this event was NOT captured on camera, so I can only imagine the leotard, tights, and bun. We rounded up all the kids’ things – clothes, toys, blankets, pillows, animals. Addison likes her blankets to be nice and cool – hot blankets make her very fussy, so Aunt Caiti scooped them up and put them in the freezer so they would be icy cold on the drive home. We finally got kids and stuff loaded up and headed out, back to Houston, happy to have our babies back!

But then – an hour or so later – Mommy realized something. There were no blankets. I called my mom and she confirmed what I was afraid of – Addie’s blankets were nice and cold, in the freezer. There was no way we were turning around, so Mom immediately got a box and printed up a label to overnight them, although they wouldn’t get mailed out till Monday, arriving Tuesday. Later on during the drive, I broke the news to Addison. She took it pretty well, but had a couple of tears. We got home around 9:30 that night and got the kids to bed, and then Matt went over to pick up Casey (we were keeping their dogs the next day while they went on a cruise). Finally we went to bed, where I tossed and turned all night due to incessant itching and oozing gross blisters. A couple of ibuprofen and couple of Benedryl helped with that!

And that is the end of our Labor Day and Beyond Adventure. Hooray.

Epilogue: Addison had two little flannel receiving blankets that we used for her dolls, but when rolled up and secured with a rubber band, they resembled her precious blankies, so she made do with those for a couple of nights till the blankets arrived on Tuesday. My new phone battery came and now my phone seems to work perfectly, thank the Lord! And my poison ivy got even grosser before it got better. The blisters broke and had to be bandaged so people wouldn’t puke when they saw me, but now, Monday, almost two weeks after the exposure, it’s finally clearing up, getting scabby and dry. The bug bites are still very prevalent, and ITCHY!!!!! They have faded some, and I have some cream I’ve been putting on them and the remains of the poison ivy, but man, whatever sort of bugs those were, they were horrible! The kids took about 5 days to recover from their travels – they were out of the house for 12 days, which is a record! There was some excess fussiness (which seems to be the norm for Addie these past several months – she is crabby and grouchy 6 days out of 7, very self centered and angry, but I suppose it’s a phase), but now everyone is nicely recovered.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Labor Day travels Part 2

Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Roaring River is in the southern part of Missouri, just over the border from Arkansas. It is known for its shallow river that is daily stocked with rainbow trout from the fish hatchery on the grounds. On Friday, after breakfast in the trailer, we headed out with the kids and Grammie to see the fish and river and do a tiny bit of hiking. We’d been up since about 6:15 or so – the light came early, and most people were there to fish, so we heard lots of big trucks starting off as men headed to the river bright and early. We saw the fish and went on a short “trail” that went straight up a lot of stone steps to a lookout point, and then straight down again. Matt carried Ryan some, and he walked some, going very slowly up the stairs and down the stairs. Addison and Camryn loved it, and we actually went up twice. My legs were killing me the next day! I told the kids to be careful around the edge of the lookout or else they’d fall down into the trouts’ mouth (the hatchery was below us), and both girls were very concerned about it and started asking me questions about the Trout Mouth. “Is it dark in the Trout Mouth? Will we eat food in the Trout Mouth? Will we ever come out of the Trout Mouth?” I’m not sure they exactly grasped the concept of what I had said, but they sure made me laugh. The rest of the day we played around outside. The girls played with their Littlest Pet Shop toys with sticks and rocks, and did a lot of coloring. My aunt, uncle, and 91 year old grandpa arrived that afternoon, and we went up to the lodge to see them and run around for awhile. I attempted to put them down for naps, but the tent was too hot, and in the trailer, there was only one bed for them to share. Needless to say, they did not sleep that day. There was lots of laughing and loud noises and thumps, but no sleeping. We had foil dinners that night, and tried to put the kids down early, to no avail. We laid in the tent with them and tried to keep them quiet, but Ryan was very wound up. We heard lots of “Yucky Bug, yucky bug, Mama! Yucky Bug! Mama! Yucky bug!” as he saw bugs on the outside of the tent. Also, he showed off his “reading skills” by pointing to the M in “Coleman” on our tent and shrieking, “An Nonalds! An Nonalds, Mama!” Which is clearly McDonalds. Poor Addison never stood a chance at drifting off to sleep. Finally he crashed at about 10 pm.

Oh, I forgot to say that the BK manager called us Friday morning. He found the phone!!! He said that they were doing some maintenance on their drive-thru box and found the phone under it outside. It had rained a lot there, and he said the phone was pretty wet. He admitted that it was probably one of his employees who stole it, and that word got around amongst them about the GPS app and whoever took it was afraid that we could track the phone to their house, so they tossed it as they left work that night. I was pretty sure the phone was ruined, but still felt a lot better about knowing it was found, my personal info was safe, and that I wasn’t a complete idiot who lost it somewhere. We had never been even close to the drive-thru (neither had the car), so there’s no way it could have dropped or fallen over there. The manager said he’d mail it to us.

Also, AT&T had no reception up in the mountains, so Matt’s phone was the only one with service. My mom had to give Matt’s cell to all of her relatives who would be coming in the next day , so they could call and find us.

On Saturday, more people trickled in and we ate breakfast up at the lodge restaurant where I met some of Mom’s cousins and their families. There were a few younger kids (age 8 and 10) and a couple of high school girls. Camryn immediately attached herself to an 8 year old girl named Riley, and poor Addie was all but forgotten when we were around her. Luckily Addison didn’t seem to notice! Cammie would hold Riley’s hand and follow her, and she went off with the kids while we again attempted to put Addie and Ryan down for naps. Ryan was very naughty but I knew they needed sleep, and finally they both did sleep for awhile. Addie and Ryan saw their first Daddy Long Legs spiders, which was exciting. Addie called them Daddy Legs. Ryan called them Yucky Bug. That night, a bunch of people came over for a potluck hamburger cookout at our campsite and stayed till dark. We roasted marshmallows and the kids ran and played with balls. Ryan had no idea what was going on but he loved every minute of it! He ran around, played in the dirt, fell a lot, and ate a lot. Addison had fun too, but she seemed a little unsure of where she fit in with all the kids ( a few more boys had joined the group, 2.5, 5, and 7). She tried to focus on Cammie and do what Cammie was doing, and she heard the fatal words “Quit copying me, Addison, don’t do what I’m doing, leave me alone.” for the first time. I SO remember hearing that from my brother and older cousin, and saying it a million times to my little sister growing up. I felt so bad for poor Addie who was just trying to be “big”, and I also understood how Camryn felt. Sometimes, little things can make a big difference, and doing something like walking by yourself on one side of the road while everyone else is on the other side can make you feel like an individual, or special or different and you JUST DON’ WANT ANYONE TO COPY YOU!!!! However, when Riley and the older kids were gone, Cammie went right back to being Addison’s best friend. It was another late night, with kids too wound up to sleep till almost 10.

Sunday we got up and played outside some more, and then headed up to Mom’s cousin Charles’ lakehouse, about 45 minutes away. It was way out in some winding roads. We got there and let the kids play for awhile, then ate lunch (leftover burgers and fixings from last night), and then road in the golf cart down to the lake for a quick boat ride. All three kids were wearing life jackets and really liked walking out on the dock and climbing onto the boat. This was the first boat ride for all of them. We went pretty fast around the lake, with water spraying and boat bouncing and the kids all loved it. I held on to them for dear life so they didn’t fly out of the boat into the lake. There were lots of people out on the lake, and lots of houseboats. Charles said that up there, people have the houseboats instead of RVs and they go float around the lake every weekend. Some of them had big slides from the upper decks down to the water, and jet skis tethered behind them. After the boat ride we headed back with the kids, hoping for some sleepy time. Ryan fell asleep back in the trailer, but Addie didn’t. Mom took Camryn to a big slide on the river that was right by the campground, and she had fun but the water was freezing cold!

The daytime temperatures had been around 80-84, and as soon as the sun went down, it got cool quick. The first couple of nights were in the upper 40s!! We were in pants and sweatshirts for most of the morning and most of the evening, then in shorts during the day. And the air was so dry – it felt like the perfect fall weather.

That evening we spent time gathering our stuff up and loading the car with as much as we could so we could head out pretty quickly the next morning. We all went up to the lodge for dinner with the whole family that night, since everyone was finally there (about 35 people or so). Both Addie and Ryan were pretty grouchy while we were waiting for the food, so Matt took them and a herd of the little kids to a room in the lodge and let them watch some YouTube clips on his phone while we waited. My grandpa ordered the fried trout that came complete with a head, and he got a kick out of carrying the fried head around and peeking it over people’s shoulders. Everyone came back to the campsite afterwards to have homemade ice cream and tell more stories. Ryan was hamming it up for everyone, singing and dancing, and some of the older kids went on a snipe hunt. After another late night (for the kids), we finally got them off to sleep. Matt tried holding Ryan still in his arms instead of letting him roll around in the pack n play, and Ryan did go to sleep a tiny bit quicker.

To be continued….

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Labor Day Journey - Part 1

We had a long- drawn out adventure from September 1 to September 12 - family reunion while camping in Missouri, then some time off for Matt and I while the kids stayed in Dallas. Here goes:

Aug. 31st: Matt drove up to the farm in order to leave early the next day to go dove hunting with his dad in Cameron, TX. He left the Blazer there at the farm, necessitating a return to the farm on our way back (which comes later).

Sept.1: I loaded up kids and dog about 10 or so and we started the 2.5 hour drive to Cameron. The plan was to picnic in the city park and pick up Matt around 2 pm to continue the drive up to Dallas. We made it 1.5 hours and then Addison had to pee, so we stopped at McDonalds for a potty break/brief play time. Casey was still in the car, so we couldn't stay long. Since we still had another hour drive, I decided to feed the kids in the car, to get them fed and also to keep Ryan occupied, since the DVD player only holds his attention for so long. We picked up Matt in Cameron and drove to Waco for a *quick* pit stop in the Burger King at I-35, around 2:25.

The next 3 hours.....

I took Addie potty, and had my phone and two sippy cups in my hand. I set my phone on top of the toilet paper roll and left it there while we washed hands and I rinsed out my cups. Addie went to the play place for 2 minutes while we waited for Matt and Ryan. Two girls were eating and left while I was waiting - otherwise the restaurant was empty. We got in the car, pulled out of the lot and then I remembered that I left my phone. At the first light, Matt made a U turn and I ran back inside. The phone was gone.

Matt immediately called the phone, and someone answered it, but didnt' talk. He could hear rustling and voices in the background. He tried calling it several more times but it kept going to voicemail, as the line was open. No one else had come into the restaurant - the parking lot was nearly empty. We weren't sure what to do - it was obvious someone had taken the phone, but who, and what could we do about it? Matt wisely installed two great apps on my phone when we first got it. One of them allows you to text a certain word to the phone from another phone and it will automatically turn the volume all the way up and start ringing the phone. Even if you put it on silent. We tried this to no avail - Matt even went in the BK to see if he could hear it ringing. The other app allows you to text "GPS" to my phone, and my phone will send 2 messages back, one with the GPS coordinates and one with a Google Maps location. That app worked and it said the phone was still at BK. While we were discussing all this outside (with kids still in the car, and the dog), an employee on her break came up and said that she heard us talking and that while she didn't want to get in trouble, she said she didn't like anyone she worked with and wouldn't put it past any of them to steal someone's phone. Matt decided to go in and explain our dilemma to the manager, since there was really no other place the phone could be but inside with an employee. The manager was very helpful and talked to his district manager, who drove down to the store. They did make the employees turn out their pockets, but by this time others had gone on break, out to their cars, or maybe could have stashed the phone under a bunch of stuff in a storage closet.

All this time, I'm trying to keep the kids entertained while tearing apart the car, on the off chance that maybe it fell out of my purse and somehow managed to answer itself, or maybe it was buried and we couldn't hear it ring. I was mortified that somehow I lost the phone in my car and here Matt was inside practically accusing an employee of stealing it. The kids did really well watching a movie, and Ryan managed to get the pack of diapers and pulled them all out. That did not assist me in my car search for the phone.

Matt decided to get serious and told the manager, in front of some employees, that he was going to call the police. I mean, the last thing either of us wanted to do was spend time at a police station in Waco with kids and dog, over a $200 phone, but on the other hand, it was clearly stolen by someone who was right there in front of us, so I thought maybe someone would freak out and just give it back . Of course, they'd be fired on the spot, I'm sure, and no one confessed. Matt did call the police, and since their station happened to be less than a mile from where we were, we decided to go down and see, briefly, if they could do anything. It was actually the Lacy Lakeview PD, and was very low-key. I went in while Matt stayed in the car (the kids were supposed to be napping, ha), and explained my situation to an officer. She was new, so she called another one out to help her. I was very skeptical while telling them about the GPS app, which was our only proof that the phone was still at BK, but both cops were impressed and seeemed to take that as evidence. I'm pretty sure in Houston the cop would have made a face and sent me back out the door, but in LL, they were on the case! Sort of. After about 30 minutes of them talking in the back room and calling the BK manager, a couple of them decided to drive down to BK. In the meantime, I told Matt to go back to BK and try to call the phone again, while standing outside cars in the lot,thinking that if someone had stashed it in their car during a break, we might be able to hear it there. We knew the phone wasn't turned off, because the GPS messages still kept coming from the phone whenever we'd message it. So Matt went down there and the cops went too. I sat in the station for a good hour waiting, pacing, talking to the dispatcher to see if she'd heard anything on the radio. At one point, she said they asked to run a license plate and were searching a car, so I was hopeful. But then Matt came back with the cops and kids and dog with nothing. One employee had voluntarily let them search his car. At this point, there was nothing that anyone else could legally do, and although we really didn't want to just write off the phone, we were still stuck in Waco with two kids and a dog. So I asked the police about officially filing a report and got the papers to take with us - if I did file, I was going to do it that night and fax the papers to the station. During this whole time, the kids did not sleep, but were very very good.

We finally left the Burger King and headed up to Dallas, getting there a little after 6. Addison and Camryn hugged and played and we ate, then put kids down to bed and helped load a few things into Mom's trailer. In the rain. At 10 pm that night, the manager from BK called and said his last employee left, and he wanted us to check the GPS thing one more time. It was still showing at BK.

Next morning - we get up, let the kids play, and are in the car by 9:15. Casey stayed at my mom's house with my sister, Caitlin, who had to stay in town to teach dance class that weekend. My mom and Camryn left shortly after with the trailer. The drive up was ok. We stopped only twice, for lunch and for potty, which was amazing. Oklahoma looked pretty dry, but once we hit I-40 headed east the landscape changed into hills and it was a nice drive. I continued a family tradition started when I was young, and gave both the kids new small toys for the long car drive. I got Addison some (generic) Littlest Pet Shop toys and I got Ryan a Diego Rescue Fan boat with gator and hog. I used to get a My Little Pony when we'd go on long drives. Both kids liked their toys, and I liked picking them out - I have bought them very few toys at all during their lives, so it was really fun to look at the stuff and choose what I thought they'd like best. And Toys R Us was having a going out of business sale, so I didn't feel too guilty about spending the money.

Ryan started getting pretty restless, demonstrated by lots of loud yelling and screeching (not really fussy, just noisy) and throwing toys and stuff. We decided to stop for a break in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which unbeknowst to us was the home of the UA Razorbacks. We found a Chick Fil A on the phone and drove into town. (Chick Fil A is better than Mc D's, because their playplace structure has lower levels to climb up - McD's climbing things are too high for Ryan to get up, although he usually just climbs up the slide). Well, the CFA was right on the edge of campus, and although it was a Thursday night, it was quite the happening place to be. Some high school band buses had just pulled in, along with some cheerleaders, so there were tons of high school kids inside. I was decked out in shorts and a free T shirt from the World Wildlife Federation, both of which had ketchup, coke, etc. stains on them from the car ride up. And my hair - well, it had spent two days crumpled up in a claw clip - anything to keep it out of my face. So I looked pretty horrible next to all these cute young girls. We weaved through the kids to get to the playplace and let Addison and Ryan run around a bit. Matt likes to spoil them and wanted to get them ice cream, so we fed them bites while they played. I had to take Addison potty, smushing through tables of high schoolers, and of course, for the first time ever, Addison made a loud comment about my anatomy in the bathroom stall, for all the high schoolers to hear (there were a thousand girls in the bathroom). I am pretty much resigned to motherhood though, so it didn't bother me too much. I can only imagine what those girls thought as I came out, but I think my face said pretty clearly, "You think this will never be you. But it will. Oh, yes, it will. Just wait 10 years, honey."

As soon as we got back in the playplace, I smelled Ryan, who had used the play break to work some things loose. I picked him up and started to carry him to the bathroom to change him, then realized that I couldn't inflict my poopy child on the poor girls changing into band uniforms and putting on makeup in the bathroom. So I handed him to Matt to take into the men's bathroom. And then noticed that it was a poosplosion - on my hands, on my wildlife shirt and on Ryan's shorts. The only way out of the playplace was through a sea of high schoolers, so Matt had to hold Ryan up on the way to the bathroom and I had to keep hold of Addison, ice cream, and purse while keeping said items poo-free on our way to the car. I got changes of clothes for me and Ryan, and we finally got back in the car on our way out of town. We arrived at Roaring River State park and got the tent set up, and then finally relaxed. The kids were happy to be out of the car and Addie and Cammie acted like it had been years since they'd seen each other. We had hot dogs for dinner and were relieved to feel the cool (cold) night air. We put the packnplay in the tent for Ryan, and had Addie's sleeping bag on the floor, both with their new Pillow Pets (gift from Grammie). And then it started to rain. No big deal, we had a rain cover. That leaked. And dripped water all over our sleeping bags. After a good 45 minutes of angry words and trying to manuever trash bags over the top our our tent to prevent MORE water from coming in, Matt and I fell asleep. And then the kids finally went to sleep.

More coming up....

Friday, August 13, 2010

August update

Where I last left off - I don't necessarily want this to just be a record of events, but I forget things so quickly that I just want to jot them down!

The 4th of July parade/fireworks was a big success. It was hot and steamy, but the kids had fun swimming and then they were great at the fireworks display at Faithbridge. Ryan was old enough to walk around and enjoy things, and while the fireworks were going, Addie and Ryan waved their flags and glow necklaces and Matt and I could sit and relax - no one had to hold a fussy baby, or run after a naughty kid, or keep someone from eating dirt. Even waiting for the bus afterwards with sleepy kids was ok. Addison rode her first-ever big kid carnival ride with her cousin Hunter, and I didn't know if she'd like it or be scared, but she loved every minute of whirling around. She also climbed through the long inflatable obstacle courses - Ryan wanted to go too, but when we opened the tunnel and the air whooshed out, he got scared and cried.

In the fire truck.

About to be spun around really fast!

Ridiculous flag dress! How could I NOT put her in it?

The next day I drove the kids up to Dallas. My sister had just moved into my mom's house from New Jersey (with the beloved Cammie, who is now 6), and my brother Patrick was visiting for a week with my niece Sarah. It was a surprise for my mom, who was thrilled to have all of us together with our kids. Addison and Camryn were inseperable the entire week, and Ryan was with them most of the time too. Such a HUGE change from vacations last year and before!!! I barely even had to worry about where they were or what they were doing. Sarah, who is Ryan's age, had some separation anxiety issues with me, so I didn't get to hold her or even play with her much, but she did enjoy all the older kids and her and Ryan spent time playing together and coloring. She's so tiny and Ryan is so...boy...that it was fun to watch them interact. And when we came home from that trip, Ryan's vocabulary just exploded. Since mid-July, he started mimicking everything, making sentences, talking and laughing and doing LOTS of singing. He can say pretty much everything now (not always intelligible), and has 3 and 4 word sentences.

Uncle Patrick with Ryan and Sarah

Milking the cow at the Children's Museum in Dallas

Addie and Camryn at the Arboretum - little princesses
Sarah and Ryan at the Arboretum. Somehow,
this photo doesn't have quite the same essence as the one above

Addie, Aunt Caitlin, and Ryan

He is a silly kid and likes to make up games, gallop around the house, and roll around on the floor covered up by his blankets. He has a weird twisty prancy run that cracks me up, and his gappy-toothed smile makes me laugh. Oh, while at my mom's, he learned to climb up the big waterslide by himself, which was really nice. This past week, he's been sleeping till 9 every morning and taking long naps. Maybe he's growing. I can't believe he's almost 2! He tries to say the prayer with Addison at dinner and he'll say, " Da da da, da da da da, da da, Amen!" And once he brought me the soap from the bathroom that has a parrot on it and said, "Mama, look! Macaw!" He had just watched Diego saving the Mommy Macaw. What a smarty pants! Somewhere in the past month he finally learned to say "No" but it hasn't been a big deal. He HAS entered the crying throwing a fit screaming phase when he's mad or disappointed. He screeches pretty loudly.

Our ABF class put on a VBS for the kids this summer, and it was really neat. I dropped Addie off for two days, then worked the other two days. Ryan cried and cried when Addie got out of the car and we drove away. I was so proud of her and excited to see what she would learn and how she would do. She loved it and came home singing songs and telling me all sorts of random things about the day. She has a little sing-song voice with her own funny accent so I have to train my ear to hear and understand all the stuff she says, but it makes me laugh a lot. She's not my cute funny toddler anymore, but now she's a cute, funny preschooler. I get all the fun comments and questions, and listening to her jabber on while she's playing or coloring is great. She's trying so hard to figure out how the world works, and she come up with things or make strange connections that make me laugh. She is doing great with swimming - she'll go under water all the time with no problem, touching the bottom of the pool and jumping off the side without making us catch her. She's also been coloring a TON lately - she'll sit for hours at the table every day coloring. Ryan will color a lot too, to be with her, but he gets bored and then fusses because there's no one to play with him. Addie's coloring skills have improved so much. She colors inside the lines now and really pays attention to details in her pictures, like belts and flowers and buttons.

My sister and niece came down for a week recently and the girls hit it off again. Addie was so excited to finally have Cammie sleep in her bunk bed, and she copied Cammie in just about everything - food choice, toy choice, words, activities, clothes, singing, etc. Luckily Camryn didn't seem to mind at all. Addie still talks about her best friend Cammie every single day without fail. I'm so glad they are finally living close to us so that seeing Camryn doesn't have to be a once-a-year thing.
Addison got her first ever hair cut while Cammie was here. It was getting scraggly in the back and I wanted it a little shorter and trimmed up, and Camryn was getting 10 inches off to send to Locks of Love. My sister was very apprehensive about cutting off the long locks, but Camryn loathed her long hair and wanted it short - hair-brushing time was not fun for her at all with long, tangly hair. Both girls looked precious afterwards and Addie didn't squirm at all.

Long hair before

From the back
Addie in the seat

I don't have a good picture of her shorter hair yet

Cammie with short hair and bangs

What else? Addie doesn't start preschool till the end of October. BTW, any of my friends who live in the Klein school district, there are a few openings left for the class if you are interested. The cost if $180 for the entire year, so if you're looking a cheap preschool, this is it!

Maybe if I keep up with this more, it will be easier to write and remember stuff!