Friday, April 30, 2010
We ended up at the Original Pancake House - a kids favorite - and a place we can actually get our kids to eat a decent meal at that does not entail french fries.
Anna had her usual - pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon. For some reason, for the first time ever - she wanted to be a big girl and cut her pancakes and eggs herself. She did great - and actually ate the entire pile of scrambled eggs - telling us the whole time "I Feel Like A Grown Up" because we had allowed her to use her knife. By herself.
Apparently this has stuck with her - because every now and then she brings it up.
Like this morning.
I'm currently out of town for work - and called in to check to see how things went at home this morning (poor Deonne has all three kids by himself - yeah - I owe him...)
Anna wanted to remind me -again - that she feels like a grown up - because she used a knife the other day. By. Herself.
A funny silly and probably boring memory to record - but one that for some reason - I don't want to forget in the day to day shuffle.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
That, and with multiple kids to get ready and out of the house - I've found I don't have the time to dilly dally that I once had...
But back to the point of this post - one of the morning skits they had ages ago involved some character and their constant inability to get the lyrics to songs right. They teased and jabbed this character relentlessly - telling him he had "Chronic Lyric-osis."
I think about that morning skit often these days.
As I hear my children, especially Anna, belting out tunes to which she has no idea what the words are (or for that matter, what they mean.) I wish I could remember a specific example - a particular song she has really chopped up - but I can't. Maybe because she doesn't know the words to any song.
But try telling her that.
The funniest part? Hearing her try to correct James - whose lyric-osis is worse than Anna's. But according to her, she's right - and since she's always right - and in her world I've just fallen off the turnip truck - I choose to pick my battles and not correct her.
She'll figure it out one day.
The Party hasn't taken a true vacation in - oh - about three years. Between birthing babies, maternity leave, the ever rising day-care/diaper/formula bill, and just life - we haven't had time way from home in eons.
We did take a trip to see family over Christmas - which was lovely - but it wasn't a true "vacation" in that there was a lot of stress in taking five people (three of whom were age-five and under) across the country coupled with the holiday hustle and bustle.
So Deonne and I examined the calendar for the remainder of the summer - and quickly came to realize that the optimal time to go is when our kids' daycare is closed for three straight days in August. Because apparently the teachers need three days to turn the rooms around and prepare for the fall term. DAYCARE. Not SCHOOL. This is a huge issue for me -and completely asinine - but not worth getting all worked up over. Again.
(But I will interject here that the daycare follows the Richland One school district calendar. We happen to live in Richland Two - and should our house not sell in time - Anna will start kindergarten in Richland Two where we are zoned. And of course, Richland Two schools start a week later than Richland One. All this to mean that we'll be without childcare for Anna from August 11 - August 19 when she starts school. Oh, the joys of juggling kids and calendars...)
After looking at the calendar and lamenting that we haven't been anywhere for a summer vacation in a really long time - I started nosing around the web - trying to find something that is somewhat affordable.
I started with Litchfield Beach at Pawleys Island. Nope. About $1,000 out of budget. Which made me really sad - because I love Pawleys - and the condo we used to stay at. I had a tip that prices are much more affordable a little farther south on Edisto Island (just south of Charleston.)
And low and behold - I found a perfect place for the Party of Five.
A little beach cottage (not on the beach - but close enough to it - 300 paces according to the website - whatever that means) with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a big screened porch, rocking chairs, moss covered live oak trees all around the property, and a meandering bike trail.
Of course, it could be a total shanty when we actually see it - but the website pictures look pretty good.
And I'm giddy.
I can't wait for August. A week at the beach. A week of nothing to do but build sandcastles, fill our bathing suits with sand, eat fresh seafood, lay around the cottage, watch movies, eat popcorn and cheeze-its and drink margaritas.
And for an added bonus? Some good friends are staying just down the beach from us for the same week - with their crew of little ones. (Read: daycare is closed for them too...) And when the kiddies start crawling the walls and driving us nutty - we'll be able to congregate for play dates, grill outs, and movies.
I can already feel the balmy breezes and taste the ocean salt on my skin.
A funny and sarcastic and yet very real book about life as a working mom.
It'll let you know you're not alone - when you've lost your kids' school field trip form for the forty-seventh time, your husband keeps walking past the pile of items accumulating at the bottom of the stairs (the ones that obviously need to be put away) like they don't exist, your cat has yakked all over the carpet and the baby thinks it's something to play in, your email inbox has reached capacity because you haven't had time to sort through and reply to some important work messages, and your children seem to have learned how to tune out your particular decibel of vocal tone.
You'll laugh, you'll cry - and it'll ground you.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
So now it's 7:38 - we're in the process of scavenging shoes and jackets and bags and bottles and changes of clothes - and I really don't have time to search for "an item from a past vacation or trip."
Monday, April 26, 2010
Our house was brimming with the people who love our son the most - family, dear friends (who are so much like family that they might as well be), and the ever present spirit of my mom and dad.
I have many many details to share - which will have to come later - as I didn't take many pictures of the big event. I know. Bad mommy. I was just so busy re-arranging everything inside our house to accommodate the outdoor function moving in that I didn't stop long enough to take pictures of all of my handiwork. Thankfully, one of Jack's godmothers is also a photographer, and she hauled around her big camera and took loads of pictures. As soon as I get them from her I'll update the blog again with pictures of all of the little details.
So this non-visual post will have to suffice - for now...
We awoke bright and early Saturday morning to a doom-and-gloomy forecast. I had high hopes all week that the 20% chance of rain "late in the day" would hold off until the night - to no avail. It started raining early in the morning. Promptly after the bounce house guys delivered and set up the bounce house.
I had two sad little faces looking out the dining room window at the rain falling, drowning the hopes of my little prospective jumpers. As the bounce house started to sag under the weight of the accumulating rain water, James cried out "Mommy, the jump house is broken" - with a look that made me almost want to cry.
Thankfully the weather eventually cleared up - and Deonne was able to get out, relieve the roof of its saggy water, and towel dry the inside - and by the time the party started - it was usable.
Of course, the plans I had for the party to take place outside had been completely obliterated - ensuing in the mad dash to re-arrange the inside of our house to accommodate 20 adults and too many kids to count.
Folding food table set up in the dining room for a buffet. Card table set up in the corner of the dining room for a cake table. Tent on the back porch to cover the drink table. Sweet shoppe/candy bar set up in the living room.
And all of my cute tissue paper pom poms and red Chinese lanterns and birthday banners were hung off of chandeliers (looking a little silly) and across windows and the living room instead of from porch railings and from the inner workings of tail-gate tents.
The screen porch worked for a 'craft station' where we set up the sock monkey puppet paraphernalia - and really, it all worked.
I was disappointed, of course, that we didn't have the beautiful sun-shiny days we've had the past three weekends. That the kids didn't get to run and play in yard, or color with sidewalk chalk, or truly appreciate their bubble machines, or play in the sand box. I was disappointed that the adults didn't get to see the fruits of Deonne and I's efforts (cleaning out the yard, planting a gazillion red flowers, mulching, and organizing.) And (truth be told) I was ticked off that I'd neglected the inside of our house so much that I had to run around and clean up like a crazy person - completely thinking the entire week that everyone would be outside and I wouldn't have to worry about it.
But, again, it worked.
And Jack had a ball. He grinned and giggled and put on the biggest show. He loved the bounce house (once he got his 'bouncing' legs). He loved all of the attention and kisses and hugs from friends and family alike. He had fun playing with his little smash cake - even if he didn't/couldn't eat any of it. And even though he probably had no idea what we were doing making such a fuss - I know he had fun.
And that is the most important part.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I have so many thoughts and emotions on this bright birthday morning - that I'm not sure where to begin. You have been such a joy and gentle spirit to our family from the moment of your birth. Your easy smiles and laid back personality have blended well into our lives, and completed our family.
You have been by far my 'easiest baby' in that you have always been easy to please - feed you when you are hungry, put you to bed when you are sleepy, and give you freedom to play and explore your world around you.
Of course it hasn't all been seamless - there have been bumps and concerns along the way - including your slow weight growth until about four months old when you finally started packing on those cute kissable rolls and your string of ear infections and high fevers resulting in tubes - but thankfully, those have been the scariest and worst medical concerns thus far - and we are truly blessed in that respect.
You love to laugh and giggle - and hearing your big hearty guffaws makes my heart soar.
You love to explore and take in the world around you - and are no longer content to just watch it go by. You are itching to keep up with your older siblings, and follow them around the house, getting into whatever mischief they happen to find right along with them.
You are no longer satisfied with crawling - although you are a faster crawler and will often default to that form of transportation when teetering and toddling won't get you there quick enough.
At the age of one you have already figured out how to throw things - and delight in sitting amid a pile of toys, tossing them around you, then fetching them to toss again. Complete with grins and giggles.
You have four teeth - the top two and the bottom two - and I think are trying to get some of your side teeth as well. You have a tough time with teething (who wouldn't?) and it results in lots of drool, chewing on anything and everything, and night awakenings.
Your baby fine hair is growing in very very blond! Lighter in color than Anna's, more akin to your Daddy's hair when he was a little boy. It is so sweet to see it glinting in the sunlight - and I wonder how long it will stay that golden hue. There's nothing like a child's true golden blond hair - and I love that one of my babies has a head full of it.
So far your eyes are still a dark shade of blue - and I'm wondering if they will stay that same color. I hope so. Not only will it make each of the Party kids have eyes of a different color - our own rainbow so to speak - but blue eyes will forever remind me of my own Daddy, and his sparkling, twinkling blue eyes.
Mealtimes are still a challenge for you - not that you don't love to eat and have a very healthy appetite (read: three packages of Stage 2 baby food per meal) - but that you still can't seem to swallow anything that isn't thin baby food. We'll talk to Dr. Ted about that at your check-up next week - see if there is anything we need to be concerned about or if it's just something you'll eventually get the hang of. (Which is my true suspicion...)
You are a big boy - the biggest baby of the bunch - and have far surpassed your elder brother at this age. You are already wearing size 18-24 month clothes - the same size he was wearing last summer. At the age of two. That he could really wear now due to his skinny waist.
You are my last baby. I am in no hurry for you to grow up. While I am excited to see you reach the milestones of crawling and walking and jabbering and chattering and starting to say your first words, I would be lying if I said it didn't tug at my heart. I know my days of doing simple 'baby things' like giving you a bottle or rocking you in my arms are numbered.
As a mother, that is one of the biggest challenges. Loving your baby, your child, the person you knew even before they were born and encouraging them to grow up. I've written about this here before, but I still struggle with it - as I suspect most moms out there do as well.
It's my job as your mother to love you, teach you, help you grow, and eventually - let you go.
Thank goodness you are only one - and I have a few years to adjust to that idea. Although if the following years go as quickly as this past one - you'll be graduating from college before I know it.
Oh my sweet Jack - my love for you is immense. Your smiles, your grins, your temper tantrums when your siblings cruelly take toys away from you, your peaceful face when you are sleeping, your sweet little legs and feet and hands that I can't stop kissing, your love of splashing in the bath-tub and completely soaking mommy and daddy while squealing the entire time, your jabbering, your hysteria at realizing you are walking to the point that you laugh so much you fall down... all of this... all of these things... make you who you are today.
Make Mommy one promise, okay?
Don't up grow up too fast.
My sweet sweet baby boy.
Note: Pictures above are from the "One Year Banner" I created to be hung at Jack's party. Total credit for the idea goes to Kathy - where I seem to get most of my crafty ideas these days!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Sweet baby Jack is turning one on Thursday. While my heart skips a beat just typing that out - I'm trying not to be too melancholy and sappy - and stay focused on the task at hand.
Which is preparing for his big first birthday bash on Saturday.
Banners have been printed, cut, and strung on ribbons.
Monkey puppets have been prepped for little fingers to craft. (Thanks N!)
Party hats have been assembled and glued.
The Sweet Shoppe (assorted candies in the party theme colors of brown and red) has been prepped, glass apothecary jars have been cleaned, candy tags and ribbons stand at attention.
The lollipop ribbon tree has been created.
Hudson's BBQ for 20 adults and 16 kids has been ordered (and will hopefully be delivered on time.)
Balloons and helium and curling ribbons (in the party theme colors) stand ready for blowing/tying/hanging.
The backyard has been cleaned, pots are brimming with red and white flowers, and the 'meadow' has been mowed flat in anticipation of the bounce house castle that will be delivered Saturday morning.
The big beautiful sock monkey birthday cake (and associated smash cake) have been ordered and will be ready to collect on Saturday morning. (Although - given Jack's inability to eat anything other than thin baby food - not for lack of trying - it should be interesting to see what happens when he is given a whole cake to himself.)
The copper monkey cookie cutters have arrived and butter is currently coming to room temperature on my counter in anticipation of sugar cookie dough making later this afternoon.
Jack's sweet Sock Monkey romper, bib, and party hat have arrived and are laid out on the table - ready for his wear on Saturday afternoon.
The house is *somewhat* clean - but we'll work on that this week.
So what is left to do you ask?
Find boxes appropriate for holding the enormous amount of candy from the Sweet Shoppe.
Attach ribbons and sock monkey stickers to said boxes (once they have been found and purchased.)
Take one last picture of Jack (for his "one year" photo in his first year banner), resize in photoshop, edit color, add caption, print, cut, and affix to banner paper. Then string all 13 papers on ribbons.
Create all sock monkey cookies - roll, cut, bake, cool, base ice, and pipe to look like sock monkeys - not sure yet how to do that - and surprisingly, Dr. Google has been less than helpful in giving me pictures of sock monkey sugar cookies.
Finish making red and brown tissue paper pom poms to hang from tents outside. (The first two didn't turn out so great - I may scrap this depending on my patience level/sanity with the third attempt.)
Wrap Jack's birthday gifts. (Which we still haven't finished shopping for yet.)
Finish cleaning up the house - including guest bathroom, dusting, and vacuuming. (I finished the worst of it last night - that would be the kids' bathroom - mostly thanks to James - who needs to improve his aim at the potty....ahem...)
Last minute shopping - beverages for the party mostly, and strawberries from the strawberry stand near our house.
Oh, and make two desserts for Teacher Appreciation Week - that just so happens to fall this week - of course - help Anna with her final Home/Family project - that just so happens to be due on Thursday - on Jack's birthday - of course - and make cupcakes to take to school on Thursday (even though Jack can't eat them - we'll still try.)
I'm exhausted thinking about all of this.
But honestly am glad to have the distraction.
I had my pre-birthday emotional meltdown last night. The one that always comes. The one that lurks in the background and pops up when I least expect it. This one came about as I was dusting Anna's room. She has a framed card that my mom gave her on her birth-day. The day she flew all the way across the country to be here - arriving at the hospital an hour before Anna was born.
Being the glutton for punishment that I am - I unframed it - and read the words. I had forgotten she had written a separate letter inside. A letter telling Anna how much she loved her. Describing all of the fun things she couldn't wait to do with her. The baking. The story telling. The wading in water and collecting clams from her beach.
All of the things that won't come to be.
And it brought home that she's missed this first year of Jack's life. She's never held him in her arms. Never given him a bottle. Never rocked him to sleep. Never sang him a lullaby.
And it made me sad.
And I cried.
Life is beautiful. But cruelly unfair at times.
Results are in.
We received $2.4 million in funding.
A 57% success rate of the grants we submitted.
8 communities are receiving much needed funds to assess derelict properties and work to return them to productive use.
A lot of hours.
A lot of writing.
Extreme exhaustion and fatigue.
But worth every minute spent in front of this screen.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Poor little Jack had the everlasting tummy bug - that started last Thursday and finally ended (fingers and toes crossed) Monday afternoon.
I think we all had some version of it at some point over the last week - but I'm happy to say all three Longs are back to school today - and Mommy and Daddy are both in our respective offices.
Breathing a sigh of relief - while bracing for the next health crisis....
Hopefully none will come - at least until after next weekend - and Jack's big birthday shin-dig.
I can't believe my baby, my last baby, is turning one next week.
But that is the topic of another post - for another day.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Check out my darling stars - broadcast across the www and the local TV stations - they're at the end of this political campaign commercial. (Make sure to pause the music on the sidebar first.)
And you fellow Columbians - get out and vote for Steve Benjamin!
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I never seem to estimate just how long it's going to take to get five people fed, dressed, packed, and into the car.
Followed by the final egg hunt of Easter 2010 - sponsored by Deonne's mom. Now, this egg hunt is much different than the other ones the kids have participated in - in that D's mom likes to hide eggs. I mean HIDE eggs. To the point that the kids lost interest and we adults had to scrounge around inside of azalea bushes and under bricks (yes, under bricks) to find the eggs. I think we managed to find all but one - which she'll look for after the azaleas stop blooming.
Jack had a lot of fun crawling around the baby-designated area - picking up eggs and banging them together.
So did Jasper - they're so cute at this age!
Jack and Jasper (as the two babes too young yet to really participate) had the fun of playing together with some of Jack's musical toys. Until Jasper got tired and fussy - and demanded his poor mommy haul him around in her arms.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I'll admit, I was a bit skeptical before I went. I'm more of a "Plain Jane" kind of girl when it comes to clothing. Simple lines, straight seams, plain fabrics, and absolutely no ruffles. I've never been one to 'mis-match' fabrics in one outfit. Call me crazy, but when I looked through the website before I attended the show - I kind of thought a lot of the outfits looked like country quilts with the different floral patterns pieced together.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
The website doesn't do these clothes justice.
Not only were the dresses and outfits so pretty, but the material was so soft and cozy - I couldn't wait to try on the mama line and see what fit.
I ended up purchasing two dresses for Anna, and a pair of pants and jacket for myself.
As the "trunk-keeper" was writing up my order, I commented how much I liked the line - and hadn't heard of it before Nic's show. She said yes, and you'll be surprised how many people stop you to ask where you got these pieces.
I disregarded it - yeah - you sell this stuff - you're supposed to say that.
Oh, but she was right. I've worn my jacket twice now (with the sudden heat wave in Columbia I had to stick it back in the closet.) Both times perfect strangers on the street have stopped me to ask where I purchased it.
Same for Anna. Kind of funny - but at her ENT check up yesterday - I actually caught the ENT checking out the label on the back of her dress - saying 'what a pretty dress!' (Yeah, he's a guy. A cute guy - but a guy. With four small children - but still....)
Oh, and Anna LOVES her dresses - especially her 'twirly' dress as she calls it. In fact, she loves it so much that it has already become a point of contingency between us - the battle lines have been drawn - because she wants to wear it every.single.day. And I do insist on washing it between wears - especially when she spills chocolate syrup all over the front of it.
And I'm lovin' me some MJ as well - the ruffled pants and ruffle-trimmed jacket are LOVELY.
I can't wait for another trunk show - when I can get more of the goods!
The all too familiar squeal "My Ear Hurts!"
So I checked it out (that investment in an otoscope a few years ago was the best $200 I've spent) and discover a bright red bulging ear drum.
We threw on his jammies, scooped up "Georgie", and headed out to the pediatric after hours care - which is my new favorite place. The timing ended up being perfect - there was no one there except us - and we were lucky enough to have one of the peds from our own practice on call. And of course, the diagnosis - raging red ear infection.
I mentioned something to the MD that the last one had been so bad it had perforated - and how we'd had no clue there was even a problem until the middle of the night before it tore - when James kept us up all night screaming and crying and pulling his ear. He gave me a sympathetic smile and said - well, this ear is on the verge - and even if you start the antibiotics tonight - there's a good chance it will tear as well.
On our way out, there must have been about four sick kids (really sick kids) piling up in the waiting room - so I'm very thankful we timed it right and didn't have to wait.
A quick trip to the local pharmacy for a round of Augmentin (flavored with raspberries - James' choice) and we were home.
And - I'm happy to report - that a big dose of Motrin followed with ear numbing meds in the ear canal last night, coupled with the start of the antibiotics - has resulted in no ear perforating. Yet.
I fear we're on the track for tubes/adenoid removal for this little Long - and I'm dreading that.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Whenever James does something - oh - anything - whether it be good or bad, naughty or nice - his standard answer is:
"because I did."
It's so funny to see him say it - with his quirky smile and his twinkling eyes - especially when it's something really naughty that he's done. At least he doesn't lie - yet - he willing fesses up to his crimes.
"James, why did you hit your sister over the head with a book?"
(hear Anna wailing nearby)
James looks up - smiles his silly smile - tilts his head - then puts on a pouty face - and says
"Because I did."
Okay then. Glad we got that straight.
That is partly due to being so busy from Thursday - Sunday of last week - and partly to my attack of the stomach bug that happened Sunday night - and kept me bed-ridden until Tuesday morning.
I'm trying to dig out now - as in - sort through the piles of Easter goodies - find my kitchen sink and counters (that were seriously buried under piles of egg dyeing, cookie making/decorating, lemon meringue pie making, cake pop making paraphernalia....)
And get caught up on work.
Oh, and tackle the sixteen loads of laundry that have accumulated. Seriously.
The abbreviated story is the kids had a wonderful time - enjoyed the fun of the holiday with friends and family - experienced the true meaning of Easter - and I managed to survive the holiday despite the horrendous memories attached to it.
The more involved story with details and pictures will follow.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Whatever the cause, the Party was bewitched last night. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.
And when you're outnumbered three-to-two, and Daddy (who normally has the patience of Job but is fighting the nasty cold that has circulated through the house) has officially lost his mind and has reached his 'parent threshold' - it makes for an unpleasant evening.
Resulting in two little kids going to bed immediately after dinner. No bath. No stories. Just a good face and hand scrubbing and teeth brushing, fresh undies and jammies, and straight to their beds.
And one baby boy - who interestingly enough perked up and stopped his incessant whining and screeching every time his feet touched the ground (as in - mommy or daddy stopped holding and carrying him around) once his elder siblings were put to bed.
I'm happy to report the Party was in much better spirits this morning - and James professed he would have a 'smiley face day' at school today. Anna promised to be good at school - and to continue her good behavior at home.
Of course, threatening to take away the Easter Egg dyeing activity we're planning for Friday night with the Comer girls might have something to do with the sudden change in attitude... we'll see.