Monday, June 11, 2012

Multitudes on Mondays...#351-360

Thankful for:

351.  Sitting with my husband on the deck last night, in the gathering dusk, simply enjoying the mountain breezes and each other's company, fingers lightly entwined.
352.  A new strategy for the babies' bedtime, that seems to be working for at least one of our children and most definitely for us.
353.  Getting more items marked off my to-do list; nearly caught up with the yearly Shutterfly albums I create for the kiddos.
354.  Birdsong.  What would I do without my doves, cardinals, finches, and starlings?
355.  The way Will says certain words and phrases..."Oh look, a-hind you, a-hind you!"...looking for Daddy when he's away at work, "Oh no, he missing."
356.  That Lucy counted to 10 this weekend!
357.  "Murder, She Wrote."  I can't even describe the comfort I've garnered from watching this show on Netflix.  Reminds me of my grandparents and the time I spent with them growing up.  (And wouldn't it be lovely if problems could be buttoned up so easily at the end of 60 minutes?)
358.  Slowly emerging from an illness, feeling like I'm escaping a really bad dream.
359.  A husband who, though sharing with me a daily dedication to healthy eating, still thinks it's important to at least have some BBQ chips and peanut butter Snickers in the house on weekends.  You do have to *live* now and then.
360.  A hair appointment coming up on Saturday.  Feeling blonde-ish...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kiddo Update: Bonus Materials

What mom can remember every single thing that her kids are doing and saying in one sitting at her computer?  Certainly not me, and it's become abundantly clear as I've been thinking on it that I left out quite a bit of information in my last post.  So here, in no particular order, are some fun miscellaneous goodies on my bebes (enhanced by an impromptu photo op this morning):

  • Favorite books:  Still "Go, Dog, Go" by PD Eastman, but other faves include "Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See" and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See" by Henry Holt.  Also any of the Sandra Boynton books and anything by Richard Scarry.  (Honorable mention:  his copy of "Goodnight Moon" doesn't get pulled out much anymore, but he still does request it from time to time; the poor thing is so raggedy that I'm tempted to toss it and get him a new copy, but it has his first baby teethmarks on it and I can't bear to part with it, at least for now.)
  • Everyday activities:  lining up Matchbox and HotWheels cars, requisitioning one or both parents to "build BIG tower!" with blocks, or assembling a new line of track for his Thomas trains. He also adores playing hide-and-seek, sometimes involving us but usually involving hiding his humpback whale or orca toy and finding it.  (I think it must be genetic in every kid to peek through fingers while counting, and to do the speed-counting thing:  "1-2-3-45678910!")  He also really loves to pretend to be an airplane, holding his arms out to his sides and running around the living room in big figure-eight patterns, making all kinds of adorable zooming noises.  He gets SUPER-excited if he can get one or both parents to do it with him.  :)  He still loves drawing on his Magna-Doodle, too.  Will has an especial fondness for stickers, but I'm reserving my stash of those for potty-training bribery (yep, still working on this, too; sigh).  Will has this beautiful Melissa & Doug (if you haven't yet discovered these toys, you are in for a treat!) animal alphabet train puzzle, which he can put together entirely on his own, and he can say the names of all the animals, only occasionally getting tripped up on "G" for "gorilla" (of course it's a "monkey" too) and "N" for "norwhal" (yeah, cuz that just rolls off the tongue for any adult!?).  He also has a shapes puzzle and can say most of the shapes, but his clear favorite is a hexagon; in fact, if he sees a stop sign, he always points excitedly, "Hexagon, Mama, hexagon!"
  • (Our) favorite expressions:  Anything he likes, he will exclaim, "(X thing), oh my favorite!" such as "Chocolate chips, oh my favorite!" or "Bathtime, oh my favorite!"  If he wants one of us to do something with him, like lay down for a nap or bedtime, he'll say "Mama's turn for bed rest" or "Daddy's turn for bed rest."  (He still hates going to bed alone...working on that.)  He also says "That's beautiful" and "That's perfect" quite a bit; again, I don't know where he gets his penchant for dramatic language.  :)  Another one:  somewhere he learned that when you do a karate chop, you're supposed to say "Hie-yah!" but for Will, it comes out "Pie-yah!"  Similarly, when he wants to say "Hooray," it comes out "Pooray!"  The substitution of the "p" for the "h" is entirely too cute to correct at this point.  Will is also fond of saying, "You try!" if he wants you to do something with him, and the funniest thing to do is to insist back, "No, you try!" which starts a back-and-forth "You try!" exchange that gets louder and more vehement and pretty hilarious at its loudest and most insistent.  And probably my absolute favorite thing he does...I deal with headaches sometimes that I have to rest off in order to keep them from becoming migraines, so I will occasionally lay on the couch until the pounding stops.  I usually stick in a video for the kiddos so they will be occupied right where I can keep at least one eye on them.  Anyway, if I'm laying on the couch, Will retrieves his beloved blanket and covers me in it, then leans down and kisses me on the cheek, sometimes several times in a row.  It's absolutely precious and heart-melting and even during a headache, I can't help but grin from ear to ear.
He's sporting a small scratch under his right eye, sustained from an in-the-night itch? He woke up with it a couple mornings ago, and looks like a little bruiser.
  • Favorite books:  "Barnyard Dance" by Sandra Boynton, "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" by Eileen Christelow, "Nursery Tales" by Mary Engelbreit, any/all of the Nancy Tillman books, and any/all of our Sesame Street book collection.
  • Everyday activities:  Lucy loves to help her mama with laundry.  Her favorite thing is for me to open the dryer door (which opens down), place wet things on it, and allow her to push them into the dryer.  She always acts so proud of herself!  I've already mentioned that she is very musically inclined, so one of her favorite things is for me or Marty to sing her songs, and her ultimate favorite is "Itsy Bitsy Spider."  She doesn't quite have all the hand motions down, but she loves to try them, and when we're finished she'll say "Yay!" and clap enthusiastically.  Lucy also loves for me to put one of my robes or a blanket around her shoulders; she walks away with this look of pure girl vanity on her face, like "I am a PRINCESS and I'm SO pretty and you KNOW it."  It never fails to crack us up.  Another girlie-girl thing she does -- we have this set of rings that build onto a pole/tower, but instead of using them on the tower, she puts them on her arms like bangle bracelets.  I don't own a single bangle, so I think her desire to adorn herself with jewelry is purely genetic or instinctual, and of course I LOVE IT.  She also loves to play with phones, both real and play, and dig through my purse and wallet, pulling out every credit card and receipt.  I think it makes her feel big and important.  :)
  • More words:  Marty and I have been paying attention to her words the last couple of days, because we knew she had more than what I was able to list the other day.  Here's what we came up with:  She loves rainbows and butterflies, but for now the words come out "bow" and "bye" but she's clearly working on them.  She also says:  choo-choo, yeah, comb, hot, and of course, poop.  Nice.  :)
Well, hopefully between last post and this one, I have a pretty comprehensive update.  I'm going to try to do this more often, especially as these two little people become more and more interesting, which seems to happen with each passing day!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kiddo Update: Spring 2012

I've been working on this update for a couple months now and it's high time I get it posted already, so here goes!  (Also, I was remiss in sharing Easter pictures so forgive the abundance of Easter-themed images.)

William Champion
My little man with the soulful eyes.
  • About:  You are now 34 months old, mere weeks away from your 3rd birthday.  We're going to have an "Ocean Friends"-themed birthday party for you in Indiana, so you can celebrate your big day with family (when we asked you what you wanted for your birthday party, you replied, "Elijah."  We think you might miss your cousins...).
  • Interests:  You continue to love anything and everything planes, trains, and automobiles-related.  Anything that has an engine, basically.  (Something tells me we are in for it when you turn 18...)  Lately you've really become interested in helicopters and you like to find them in the sky (even when they're not really there).  You and Daddy love to watch a show on airplanes and you get really excited to say "albatross."
Beloved Thomas and Friends.
  • You also continue to love ocean animals (thus, the theme of your party).  You often request to watch your "orca" movie, which is really just a documentary about the oceans.  You have these little bath squirter creatures and sometimes you won't take a bath unless you have "big orca, little orca, humpback whale, and shark" with you. 
  • Activities:  Your favorite, favorite thing in the whole world is go to the park ("big park" -- the huge playground by a lake -- and "little park" -- a neighborhood park just down the street).
On Easter, playing in your cousins' backyard.
  •  You dearly love to play with Play-Doh and will while away HOURS doing so.  Sometimes you don't fall asleep doing "couch rest" so I let you get up and play at the table.
You told me this was a choo-choo.  I can see it!
  • Food & Entertainment:  You are still a very picky eater, although you've certainly expanded your palate and (most of the time) will obediently eat what's on your plate when told.  Your favorites are grilled cheese and tomato soup, hot dogs, and DONUTS (I think you live for donut day -- we get Dunkin' donut holes once a week).  You also have to have a big cup of orange juice first thing in the morning and, true Southern gent that you are, you love to have a cup of iced sweet tea (decaf!) with one of your daily meals.  Your favorite shows are the LeapFrog videos (numbers, the alphabet, phonics), Caillou, Kipper, Max & Ruby, and the perennial favorites Dora and Diego.
Sometimes your soup spoons magically turn into "heli-top-ters."
  • Health & Development:  Thank the Lord, you are an extraordinarily healthy child.  I honestly can't remember the last time you were sick, and even then I think it was just a case of the sniffles.  Last month we took you out of speech therapy because we are just so pleased with how you're doing and want to let you continue to expand your speaking abilities on your own.  You now have so many words and phrases and sentences that we no longer keep track.  Mommy and Daddy have really learned this about you:  You might not develop according to the textbooks, but when you decide to grow in a certain area, you really go for it.  We've learned to stop worrying about you so much! 
  • Spittin' image of your Daddy.
  • Extras:  You continue to enjoy playing on your own, but you're including Lucy more and more into your fun.  Sometimes I hear the two of you giggling about something and I know you have your own inside jokes already started (I certainly had that with my sisters!).  I know she can get on your nerves sometimes but you love her dearly and desperately hate to see her cry.  You are my sweet boy!
  • "I love Lucy."

Lucy Elizabeth
My fair little blue-eyed beauty.
  • About:  You are now 21 months old.  We're also having your birthday party in Indiana, which will be baby doll-themed.  (I have some fun ideas up my sleeve for this!)
  • Interests:  You adore your babies and you love for me to give you bottles and pacifiers (out of the stash that we still use for you!) for them.  You have a stroller that you push them around in, but usually you just carry one or two haphazardly on your hip. 
You have a serious love of the staircase and you have this crazy competitive need to beat your brother to the top every time -- wonder where you get that from?  Ha!
  • Activities:  Besides following your brother around, you love to dance to almost any kind of music, but from what I can tell, you love Adele, Alison Krauss, and the BeeGees the most.  You also love the park and are much more of a daredevil than your brother was at this age; sometimes you scare us with your love of climbing on everything, but at least you prefer going down slides backwards (feet first) -- it just looks a little bit safer?!
  • Food & Entertainment:  Just in the last couple of months, you've switched entirely to table food.  You adore feeding yourself and will sometimes get angry if Mommy or Daddy tries to help you finish up -- you're a big girl now!  You actually love vegetables -- you will eat broccoli, green beans, corn, and peas like they're delicacies.  You also really love hot dogs, deli ham, spaghetti, crackers, yogurt, bananas, and cookies.  Your favorite shows are Dora, Diego, Sesame Street, and the Lori Berkner Band.
You're a good eater but a super-messy one... much so, that we often have to give you "sink baths" after each meal!
  • Health & Development:  Little one, you have struggled with high fevers since you were 8 months old, and even though we took you to the doctor every*single*time, we were always told "It's just a virus."  Mommy and Daddy never liked that answer and felt that there had to be another explanation, and it turns out we were right.  After a series of really yucky high fevers this spring, we finally got referred to a specialist who told us that you have a funny thing called "PFAPA" (pronounced "piff-pah").  The bad news is, you will probably have to have your tonsils out sometime in the next couple years, but the good news is, we can treat you with steroids until then, and even if the tonsillectomy doesn't work, you will certainly outgrow this.  We hate that you've had to deal with these fevers but we feel so much better now that we have a diagnosis and a good plan to get you on the road to a lifetime of good health.  Developmentally, you've been a tiny bit reluctant to start talking, but just today Mommy looked up what's typical for a toddler your age, and essentially, you're supposed to have at least 12-15 words.  Well, good news, you have at least twice that number!  Here's the list that we compiled just off the top of our can say:  Mommy, Daddy, Pup, hi, bye-bye, up, down, help, stuck, (where) are you?, there you are, go, no, outside, shoes, car, look, baby, eyes, nose, ears, hat, ba-ba (bottle), ball, wow, uh-oh, Dora, Diego, and bubble.
  • You love to wear anything on your head!
    You are also very interested in the texture of objects, like this Easter grass.  At the park, I have to double-check every plant that you touch because you can't seem to help yourself from touching anything with a leaf or bloom!
  • Extras:  You are very mischievous and can pull off the perfectly innocent look when caught.
  • "What?  Is there a problem?"
  • But more than anything, you are my little sprite who is constantly filled with joy and sparkle and energy and curiosity.  You love life!!!
  • So pretty.
    So big!!!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Multitudes on Mondays...#341-350

(Yes, I know it's been awhile.)

Thankful for:

341.  A brief but beautiful vacay to Myrtle Beach with my beloved.  It was not without its moment of high drama (a story for another day...or maybe never) but after the "storm" passed, it was glorious and blissful and nearly perfect.  Time sleeping in, time at the spa, time in the hot tub, time at Anthropologie, time on the beach, time eating steak and seafood, time just being married, time just BEING.  An enormous thank-you to my mom for watching our precious bebes, and an enormous thank-you to Marty's Uncle Mike and Aunt Linda, who let us stay in their timeshare (for FREEshare, y'all) and fed us and spoiled us and loved on us 'til we could have just stayed forever.  And an enormous thank-you to God for the majestic combo of sun, surf, sand, and wind.  Ah-maze-ing.
Never did a beach bum look so darn good.  (There's a 40-pound weight loss there, folks, and I couldn't be prouder of my handsome hubby!)

What's that look?  Oh yeah, that's what RESTED looks like on me!!!

We refuse to end our honeymoon.

Sportin' a new Anthro sweater, courtesy of the best husband ever.

Myrtle Beach = heaven.
342.  The beef stew, chili, chicken salad, berry cobbler, and a zillion other things my mom left in our fridge before departing for Indy.  What's the only thing that makes coming home from vacay tolerable?  Not having to worry about food!
343.  The show, "Community."  Marty and I may or may not have had to pause it (we watch it on Netflix) at least once per episode to catch our breath from laughing so hard.  Highly recommend!
344.  My best friend.  I try to tell her often, but I don't think she has any idea just how much I appreciate her daily influx of love and support and prayer and guidance and humor (and I could go on).  Where others would have bailed long ago from the sheer stress of it all (I am nothing if not drama), she's only stuck with more glue-like tenacity with each passing year. 
345.  Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream.
346.  The book of Acts.  We are reading it right now at mealtimes and enjoying lots of great discussion.
347.  Long, hot baths with long, good books.
348.  The delight that Will expresses in learning.  He has learned how to draw the number 5 (see below!), utterly astonishing us because neither of us taught him.  He's trying out other numbers and his letters, too.  He might have been a little late to the party with walking and talking, but I think we might have an early bird when it comes to reading and writing.  Anyone have good suggestions on preschool phonics books or the like? 
"See, Mama?  I draw the number 5!"
 349.  Lucy Elizabeth.  For the spark of life that oozes from every cell in her being.
(although she nearly scared us witless by climbing this slide while our backs were turned for a mere second!)
350.  A new Bible study starting on Facebook -- haven't tried this "venue" for such a thing before but I think it'll be great!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's a Wonderful Life

This morning I'm sitting in my kids' playroom, sipping coffee and tapping away at the keyboard while I watch them stack blocks and zoom cars about and put animals in their Little People barn and even occasionally come to my lap for a hug or a cuddle.  We're listening to a lullaby CD but otherwise enjoying the quiet of the morning and the lazy pace of an average Wednesday at home.

At home.  Something I almost gave up -- a fact that makes me shake my head in disbelief during this moment of sunshine and toddler-speak and soft music.

I don't like where I live.  I miss my hometown.  I miss my family, my friends, my familiar haunts.  And in a bid of desperation to get back there, a couple weeks ago I sent out resumes to a few job listings for editors in Indy.  For whatever reason, Marty's search for jobs in Indy has been unbelievably frustrating and ultimately fruitless.  So, we thought, perhaps we have to get creative.  Maybe I need to get a job, get us there, and by doing so, give Marty a better chance with opportunities by being local.  Of course, that meant me giving up my SAHM status for a few months or even longer -- it all depended on when this job for Marty would come through.

I wasn't in love with the prospect.  In fact, when I got a second interview, a feeling of dread began to grow in the pit of my stomach.  I roundly ignored it, telling myself that sacrifices must be made in order to make things happen sometimes.  I could do this.  I coached myself on all the positives -- I could get a new wardrobe.  I could get Starbucks in the mornings and manicures on the weekends.  If I were going to be a working girl again, I'd have to look the part, and that's always fun, right?  And most of all, we'd be in Indiana.  I'd be home again.  And surely that would make everything okay!

So I pulled my Calvin Klein black dress from the back of my closet and went out and bought a smart little green shrug to wear over it.  I practiced walking in my Franco Sarto black heels that pinch terribly because my feet changed during pregnancy.  I also bought new earrings and I even bought pantyhose (which I hate with a passion).  We packed up the car and the kids and traveled to Indiana to enjoy the Easter holiday with family and then have the interview on Monday afternoon.  I was all set.

Except for one problem.  I could get no peace about it.  None.  As I drove through the night, past the rolling fields of Kentucky, I considered the children sleeping in the backseat.  I thought of all the moments I share with them during the day.  Yes, it is an endless cycle of cleaning up messes and changing dirty diapers and refereeing fights over toys, but it is also lining up choo-choos with Will and brushing Lucy's curly hair and clapping along to "Wheels on the Bus" and giving and receiving of countless hugs and kisses.  Then I counted.  Will is almost 3 years old and he'll go to kindergarten at 5, so that means I have 24 months left, and if it takes a year for Marty to find a job, then I'll have given up literally half of my remaining time with him at home.  When I realized this, I could hardly swallow past the lump in my throat.  But I pressed on, toward a job and toward Indiana and toward a future there.

We arrived in the wee hours of Friday morning and after a few hours of sleep, we went about enjoying the long weekend.  I watched as my parents and children played together, and I thought, See?  This is why I should do this.  Marty and I took the kids to the mall and soaked in "civilization" and I thought, See?  This is why I should do this.  Then my parents watched the kids so Marty and I could have some time alone, having a coffee and perusing a bookstore and I thought, See?  This is why I should do this.  Yet all the while, there was that dread in my stomach and that lump in my throat.  I could clearly see what I'd gain, yet I couldn't stop thinking about what I'd lose.

Finally I couldn't take it anymore.  Sitting in the driveway at my parents' house, I exploded in a shower of tears, pouring out to Marty that I just couldn't do it.  That as much as I want to be in Indiana and luxuriate in the closeness of family and friends, the niceities of a big city, and the bliss of having time alone with him, that I just couldn't give up time with my kids.  Marty was perfect and perfectly supportive, telling me that we could do whatever made me happy.  And I said, I need to be at home.  As poorly as I think I do it sometimes, this job of staying at home with the kids is my calling, and I can no more ignore that than I can ignore the faces of my children.

Looking back, I will always think of this past weekend as my George Bailey moment. I saw -- and almost made happen -- a completely different life. The vision was clear -- putting on lipstick and heels, grabbing a coffee, and kissing my kids goodbye in the morning.  Coming home at night, only to help with dinners and baths and then tucking them in bed.  And me crying at all the missed moments.  Mourning them, knowing I'd never get them back.  Sure I'd be in Indiana, but I'd be in misery, too.

So I'm back home in Tennessee this morning.  I have suitcases to unpack and piles of laundry to do.  The kids need to be fed lunch and put down for naps, then I have a kitchen to clean and dinner to prepare and a million random toys to pick up.  My nearest friend is several hundred miles away, my fingernails are short and unpainted and actually pretty raw, and I have no idea when I can steal away with my husband for a date again.  But this is right. There is no dread in my stomach or lump in my throat -- there is peace in my heart.

It's a wonderful life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Multitudes on Mondays...#331-340

Thankful for:

331.  A fantastic date with my favorite guy in the universe.  (Although if you're looking for a date night movie, may I recommend *against* "The Vow"?  Channing Tatum may be the worst thing Hollywood has spit out in a long time, and I think that's saying something.)

Happy-drunk to be having a night alone!
332.  A fun day-trip to Asheville with my parents.  We had a lovely brunch at the Corner Kitchen and then a wonderful time walking around in the warm spring weather, taking in the little shops and the fresh air.
333.  The special relationships my kids have with their Nana and PaPa.
Lucy and Nana, playing peek-a-boo post-waffles.

Will and PaPa, taking in the toy train at the Christmas store.

334.  The way my kids just glow with happiness while playing at the park. 

335.  The Jumping Beans brand of clothes at Kohl's, on sale for $5.99 each piece.  I just couldn't rationalize spending even $2 more per piece at Gymboree, at least for true play clothes, which is what we needed most of.  I love the clothes we got -- see above!  (I will be darkening the door of a Gymboree next month when the budget allows, though; I adore their spring lines for both genders.)
336.  These beauties for only $6.99 (are you sensing that I love to get a lot for just a little?).

Thank you, Fresh Market!
337.  Ghirardelli Ultimate Chocolate brownies.  Diet-schmiet. 
338.  Several nights in a row of uninterrupted sleep. 
339.  That Peyton has landed on his feet in Denver (just like my gut told me).  I know he is going to do great things for the city and for the Broncos...and my husband has promised me a #18 jersey in blue and orange!
340.  The way lemonade tastes after a long hiatus.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On my mind

Totally random stuff that I feel like dumping here:
  • Am I the only one alive who doesn't like the look of decorating with empty picture frames?  I swear, it's *all over* Pinterest and every last magazine.  It was kind of neat to consider at first, even though not my style, but now I'm just over it.  A little DIY art would go nicely in those empty frames, what?
  • Is there a prettier song in all the world than "Edelweiss"?  My kids have a lullabies CD that we occasionally listen to during morning playtime and this song always puts me in the sweetest frame of mind.  Plus, I always think of how touching it is when Christopher Plummer's character sings it in "Sound of Music."  (Did you take a minute to watch the clip?  Did you catch the look between the Captain and Maria at the end?  *pure movie magic, y'all*)
  • This is perhaps ridiculously premature, but I've started compiling an itinerary for a dream getaway to Paris for me and Marty.  It probably won't happen for at least another 5 years (I've hinted broadly at the need for such a trip to celebrate my 40th birthday -- and did I just admit that I'll be 40 in a scant handful of years -- OH MY STARS), but I'm going to indulge myself.  And when it comes time, I'll know exactly where I want to go and what I want to do and probably even what I want to wear.  To this end, I just signed up for a twice-weekly email newsletter from!
  • Will's hair curls just at his temples and forehead, a la Napoleon or Julius Caesar.  It's one of my favorite things to look at every day.
  • I'm still upset about Peyton Manning.  I've rained down curses on Jim Irsay's head for doing this to Peyton, to Indiana, and yes, frankly, to ME.  Didn't know I was a crazy Colts fan?  I didn't either.  At least, I always knew I was a big fan but apparently I feel these things pretty deeply (I cried watching the press conference).  Came as a shock to me, too!  Anyhoo, I've got a gut feeling he's going to Denver, although Marty's gut is leaning toward Tennessee.  If the former, he and my boy Tebow could be partners in crime, and Tim could learn a few things from pretty much the greatest quarterback ever, and by the time Peyton retires, Tebow would be the ultimate QB threat.  Love that scenario.  If the latter, well, Peyton would be in Tennessee and just a hop, skip, and a jump from where we are.  And maybe we could go see him play, although tickets would probably go from pretty accessible to pretty impossible...
I have much more rattling around in my noggin but my parents are arriving tonight and I've a jillion and a half house chores yet to do.  Happy Hump Day!