Thursday, September 26, 2013

September Extras

Before September slips away, I have a few miscellaneous photos to share. Let's begin with the most exciting, shall we?

Saturday morning, Eliza told her Dad she was ready to have her training wheels removed. As a family we gathered outside to cheer her on.
 
Later that night, Henry decided he was ready to have his training wheels removed too! It's been a non-stop bike riding party ever since!
And just like that, another milestone is reached on their childhood checklists.

The remarkable thing about Henry's decision is that two days prior, he wanted nothing to do with his bike. Earlier this year, the interaction he had with his bike hadn't been positive so he turned his full attention to a razor scooter. Getting ready for a family walk, something that's fast becoming a nightly ritual, Andrew said it was a "bike only" walk. Henry opted to use his legs while Andrew pushed his bike in the stroller. Finally he decided to give it a 'try' - training wheels and all. Two days later, those training wheels were gone!

Eliza feeling a little embarrassed about her age needed some encouragement.

"You still had your training wheels off first!" I reminded her. In her defense, she didn't get a bike until she was six. Our South Carolina neighborhood was not bike friendly. Shortly after getting her bike, she broke her arm which was a definite set back. Andrew and I are proud of them both.
 Here's a little love note she wrote to her Canadian beau. Again, everything about today's post is random.

Speaking of parental pride, soccer season has resumed. Check out Eliza's face of extreme intimidation. Her team name is the Fire Dragons!!
 
 Henry's team, the White Tigers, is undefeated. Personally, the best part of soccer is that I'm not pregnant this season. The worst part is that each one of Henry's games starts at 8:00 a.m. What's better than sacrificing those precious hours of extra sleep that only a weekend can provide? Oh I know. How about waking up to a chaotic morning where a chorus of children sing, off-key I might add:

"HEY MOM? WHERE ARE MY SOCCER SOCKS?" Followed by,
 "I just spilled the water bottle. Sorry." And my personal favorite:
"Did you know it's our week for soccer treats?"

I'm exaggerating. And truth be told, despite waking up early for soccer games, I love watching them play. Each time they almost make soccer goal, we get super excited! Both kids have great coaches and have made great friends through soccer.

Quick, this post needs a photo of a cute baby right now.
I'm just going to take a moment and look at that sweet face because in about five minutes, he'll look different.

Other randoms include our walks to school.
 
 
 I love that Lottie takes along her backpack too. 

We've enjoyed play dates with friends and cousins.
 

And last but not least, you know it's been a happy month when you get to pet goats on two different occasions. Andrew must be living right. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Night Life

(written last Wednesday)

I interrupt my previously scheduled life is full of candy corn and happy changing leaves blog post to give you an exclusive look into the fairytale that is our marriage. Hey now. Before you roll your eyes, at least give me a chance to reassure you that this is an honest look and not a cheesed up version of reality.

........

A church related obligation called me away from home last night.  With the children fed and their homework completed, my dear spouse was left with the following responsibilities:
  • Play soccer with Henry. "Dad will you come outside and be my coach?" - Henry.
  • Bathe Lottie and Henry."How could you leave this for me on a night when you aren't going to be here?" - Andrew.
  • Put the children to bed.
I returned home to an exasperated husband. Reports of crying children, poop filled diapers, conflicts over whether or not the kids could have a bath instead of a shower and other complaints flooded my ears. Handing the baby over, he escaped outside. Clearly, it had been a ROUGH two hours. Bless his heart.

Forrest must have missed his Mama because he was more than happy to just cuddle with me; which made my homecoming a sweet one. Andrew returned from his outside jaunt and continued to share details from his day. He was in a weird, almost silly, type of mood. Four tired Fleglets can lead to sensory overload, I get it. A wire is bound to short circuit every few minutes on occasion.

In a voice feigning hardship and adversity he reports,

"I had to go out to lunch again." Wo is him.

"You poor thing. That sounds awful..." before I complete my thought he interrupts,

"Pesto Cavatappi with chicken... it was awful." Now he's just being smug.

"Yum. Noodles and Company." I say. "Who'd you go with?"

"Well, I was going to take him to Arby's... but at the last minute I said, 'Or we could go to Noodles and Company.' And he immediately chose that one."

"Was it a client?" I ask. "Why did you take him?"

"So and so was out of town, so the job of entertaining him came to me. Turns out he's from China. He's actually a consultant. During lunch he informs me that he used to be the Vice President of  *dear reader: insert super famous business firm here* and that he's personal friends with the CEO of our company."

This guy is a heavy hitter. I get it. He's a multi-gazillionaire probably. And then it hits me.

"Oh my goodness." I put my head in my hands. Without looking up because I'm feeling embarrassed for him I ask, "Did you drive?" Andrew let's out a huge guffaw indicating the answer.

"Yes! But he LOVED it! He kept saying, 'This is so fun!'"

Picture it with me friends. Andrew was put in charge of chauffeuring and escorting this VIP consultant to lunch in his 1987 certified piece of awesomeness JUNK vehicle. It is fair to say that his multicolored car is certifiable garbage; earlier this week it FAILED on a large scale both its safety and emission tests. As I'm playing the scene in my head, Andrew's laughter accelerates once more as he repeats,

"And I was going to take him to Arbys!"

Andrew is childlike in the way that he shares experiences from his day. I'm surprised how often his day will include a gem of an experience such as this. I use the word, 'childlike' because it's the same way that Henry operates.

Henry comes home from Kindergarten and usually only offers one to two word answers as I ask him about his day. But then, out of the blue during his bath or as I'm tucking him in, he'll suddenly go off in fun five year old detail about an experience from his day.

When my boys feel like talking, I make myself in the mood to listen. There is a limit, as I was reminded last night, to these conversations. Joining Forrest and me on the couch, talk turns back to the hardship of his night at home with the kids.

"Boo-hoo!" I thought. I listened attentively and tried my best to be empathetic as I had faith that at some point he'd turn to me and say,

"It just really puts into perspective how well you handle the children since this is your norm." Except he never said it. And so I thought I'd go ahead and point it for him. I was, after all, trying to express empathy.

"I understand. Our morning was disrupted by a tantrum courtesy of Lottie. She had to go timeout when she..." And that's when I notice that Andrew has picked up the remote. Unapologetic, he begins to turn up the volume on the t.v. The man has reached his daily allotment of words. And, it so appeared, wasn't compelled to help me use up all mine! I was hurt. And I let him know it. But come on, Ali. Ironman was on t.v.! Who can compete with Robert Downey Jr.? Honestly!

Forrest was now sleeping in my arms. I put him down and called my Mom while I cleaned up the kitchen. I needed to talk (!!!!) to someone.

As for Andrew, it turns out he had six more words left in him after all. As I head toward the stairs to make my way to bed, he enthusiastically jumps up off the couch.

"Okay then! Let's go make whoopee!"

And with these two words I fulfilled my quota.

"Yeah right!" 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A four month old named Forrest

Our baby boy is growing up so fast.

 
 Facial hair, already? With a manly name like Forrest, it kind of makes sense.

 
 post-shave

Another month has passed. Our sweet Forrest is four months old.

Current stats:
Length: 24.75 in - 50%
Weight: 13 lbs, 9 oz - 25%
Head 41.5 cm - 25%

Sunday, May 8th, Andrew took a few photos of Forrest with his many admirers. That huge wet spot on his shoulder is a great indicator as to why he doesn't get dressed for Church until we're just about ready to go.

Forrest is a busy boy! Gone are the days when I could just lay him in my lap, tickle his face and watch him peacefully doze off. When it's time to sleep, he wants to be in his crib. Most of the time, he will drift off on his own as long as his blanket and binki are near by. If I've missed that window of opportunity, I nurse him a minute and then, while he's still awake, I can set him down. This is fantastic for our day to day routine, but makes Church trickier. Not wanting to miss a minute of the action, he resists falling asleep when we are out and about.  At night, he sleeps 6-8 hours, wakes up to eat and then goes back to sleep until it's time to get the big kids to school.

During playtime, he likes to be on the floor with a toy or looking at the face of a sibling/loved one. Other Forrest favorites include walks in the stroller, spending time outside and spinning around in that exersaucer of his. We still nurse exclusively because I'm too lazy for bottles and a huge fan of the nursing experience. I haven't introduced solids as he hasn't shown much interest yet.

Forrest has this magical way of slowing time way down when he is fussy. Those minutes seem unending. I stare at the clock, wondering if it's time for that long awaited nap or if something else is possibly bothering him. His eyelids look heavy so I decide to reunite him with his crib. We both feel that wondrous relief that comes with the promise of sleep. Here comes the surprise though. Even though the lingering effects of exhaustion, born of all four children, has not yet lifted, it isn't long until I miss him. It's almost comical considering how much I've looked forward to this window of freedom. But it's true. My arms want him back. And when that time comes, I turn into a silly cartoon of a person as I scoop him up, smell his sweet head, kiss his chubby cheek and sigh in sing-song voice, 

"Hello Baby! Mama missed you! Did you sleep good?" And so on and so forth.

Baby Forrest:
 understandably exhausting, deliciously irresistible. 
We love him. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

While You Were Sleeping

 It was the best kind of Monday possible. Labor Day had arrived and with it meant that our weekend with Dad had been extended. I awoke, however, to an unusual stillness. My ears were awake before my eyes. As I lay there with my eyelids tightly closed, I wait for the sound of shuffling feet on hardwood floors or the sudden sound of a raised voice, angry over a stolen piece of Lego. Proof of a home full of active children was absent.The foreign voice of quietness was all that was there to greet me. My baby, whom I'd been up with a few hours earlier, was sleeping soundly in his crib. But where were his siblings?

Checking the clock I determined that Andrew had whisked them away on our planned morning adventure. I was simultaneously impressed and hurt by the fact that he had fed the children, dressed them (this was hopefully assumed) and packed up their fishing gear all by himself. And through the chaos of his morning, I slept blissfully unaware. The garage door, which sounds like a kitchen disposal chewing up a dozen forks, is directly under our bedroom. How did I miss the sound of that opening?

It was a weird feeling to wake up and not have anyone to answer to. I made my way downstairs to the kitchen. The familiar post-breakfast mess was almost comforting as it seemed to say,

"We've been here, Mom! Now clean this up!" Instead, I went ahead and made myself a bowl of  'Raisin Brown' - as Lottie calls it. Eliza answered Andrew's cell phone. In the background I could hear celebration as it would seem that Lottie had just caught a fish. Again, I felt sad that Forrest and I had been left behind. However, as the day progressed and I realized how much I had truly benefited from those extra hours of sleep, I got over it. It wasn't long after that the rain arrived, putting a halt on their fishing adventure. It was a good thing they had left as early as they did.

The fishing crew had a great time. Everyone caught more than one fish. Henry, it was reported, caught the biggest. It was a cat fish. He was pretty thrilled about it.
 
The fish are well camouflaged in this photo, 
but believe it or not they all have a fish at the end of their rods. 

And, as a consolation prize for Forrest and me, they brought home a little present. Nothing says "We love you Mom!" more than a cuddly, sweet, 'oh please can I hold it now' pet snake.

 Yay! Awesome! That's so great!  Ugh.
Meet Viper. 

Rule #1. Snakes aren't pets. Don't bring them in my home.
Rule #2. If you break Rule #1, at least give him a warm-fuzzy, naturally cheerful type name. Suggestions include: Elmo, Captain Sunshine or Fred. Names like 'Viper' and 'Lord Venom' increase disdain.

Happily I will admit that I never held the snake. As for the kids and neighborhood friends, they were glad to have him around. He provided loads of entertainment.
Lottie shows me how it's done. 

Andrew kept the surprises coming the following day when he came home from work. As he opened the garage door, a random dog ran up to greet him. This lap dog quickly cast a charming spell, much like the snake I'm sure, as Andrew scooped him up and brought him inside. Teasing the kids, he announces the puppy as our newest family member. 

You would have thought it was Christmas! Quickly, being the Grinch, I had to inform them otherwise. Thanks to the magic of Facebook, we were able to locate his owner. To their credit, my kids were great dog owners in the few hours they enjoyed him. It was a good thing we had Viper around to help ease their disappointment when the dog left. 

A week or so later, Viper escaped. I've been told, it happened while he was outside. For the sake of maintaining my personal sanity I am going to go ahead and trust that I was told the truth. I'm glad we can permanently check, "Have a pet snake" off of their childhood bucket lists.

Speaking of bucket lists, Andrew recently had the chance to go on an extreme dream fishing trip. On the north fork of the platte river in Colorado, Andrew enjoyed a day of fishing.
You're right. I think he had fun too.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

When Daddy's Away, The Family Will... Eat A Lot Of Sugar!

Dear Andrew,

Considering you don't travel much for work, I have to say that I found it ironic that duty would call once more during the Family Fun Fair. Feeling the pressure of your job, I'm sure you are still recovering from the disappointment of missing this event two years in a row! Dry your eyes, babe. As Lloyd Christmas always says, "Harry, I took care of it!" (Name the movie.)

And while I had to juggle four children, one giant stroller, three bags of cotton candy, cups of melted sno- cone and miscellaneous socks and shoes - I did my duty and took loads of pictures. Also, I gratefully would like to mention that the camera card did not fail me this time when it came time to upload them.

You are welcome.

Even though his elementary days are years away, let's begin with Forrest.

 Last year when the kids and I attended, I was pregnant with this sweet boy. The morning following the fun fair is when I took that first (of seven) pregnancy test. He did really well considering he was confined to the stroller most of the night. I rescued him once so I could feed him while I watched Eliza attempt the rock wall. Nursing him on the middle of the lawn of the elementary school, surrounded by a million people that I see on a regular basis, was super awkward awesome. I can go ahead and check that off my bucket list.  
 
So, this was our third year attending. Consider me seasoned. I knew to take the kids to the face painting station first. It was a good call because the line grew to be a mile long and there was only one face painting artist. She was awesome.
 Did I mention the girls had their hair sprayed too? 
Polka-Dottie Lottie went with hot pink
 You should know that when you're out of town we eat garbage. Dinner last night included cheetos, cotton candy, sno-cones and two bites of a BBQ pork sandwich. It's a good thing you're coming home tomorrow. Home cooked awesomeness will return to the table and I'm pretty confident that I'll sneak in a shower before I see you too. 
Hula hoops, tug-o-war, inflatable slides, a rock wall and Henry's favorite... the PETTING ZOO were likewise a hit with the kids.
 
 
 
 The farewell scene turned ugly as Lottie, who had skipped her nap that day, fell apart when the news of, "It's time to go" was delivered. As she wailed, I did my absolute best to keep my cool even though I wanted to hurl back threats of an unfriendly nature.

"Lottie, you knock this behavior off or you'll never eat another goldfish cracker again!" Among other thoughts. We made it home and into out beds in one piece.
Here's to hoping that you're with us next year. You were missed. 

I love you. Travel safe.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Picture-less Life

Lately I've felt a strong aversion to blogging. I hear there's a giant online party over in instagram land. I feel as though I was one of the last to know about it (story of my life). Not only that, but while the world, my husband included, runs on smart phones; I'm too cheap to give up my dumb phone and have a fear of further neglecting my children if I'm allowed to carry the internet in my pocket; so it doesn't seem like I'll be joining the fun anytime soon. That is not a slam on the women who do, I just know my weaknesses. Go ahead and sound the 'loser' alarm.

In my defense, I'm pretty good with text messaging.

Realizing what's going on, even though I'm not apart of it, it clicked in my slow processing brain that this is where many of my blogging friends went. For awhile I was comparing my blog, and myself, to the girl at school who hasn't realized yet that she needs to wear deodorant. 

I sing my children's praises loudly. This can easily annoy and put-off people. I understand that. However, I view my blog as a giant love letter to my family where we can go back and play the "remember when" game and/or compare who baby Forrest looks like this week.

You see, it's sad how little Eliza and Henry remember from their earlier years. I quiz them about our life in South Carolina, as an example, and am disheartened to see that many of those memories have been lost. They are stuck in my brain, on this blog and that's all. Andrew, bless his heart, can't remember what he had for dinner last night. Heaven forbid something happens to their cheesy, overly-sentimental Mom, but if it did I would hope that they'd be grateful for my efforts in continuing to blog the week to week details of their childhood. I have four kids. Odds are at least one of them will inherit my love language (dear spouse please read: WORDS OF AFFIRMATION) and appreciate this. As for the others who are easily embarrassed by all the detail their Mother spewed out for the entire world to see... well, let's just say they can look to their Dad for ways of coping.

Although I feel like I'm kind of dancing by myself here in blog land, that is not the reason why I have felt an aversion to being here.

Last week was great. As a family we went to the waterslide park for a Scouting activity that Andrew was in charge of. The kids ate monster sized ice cream cones while they waited for their turn to ride on their Dad's lap down the waterslides. One photo captured Lottie with a healthy smattering of chocolate ice cream on her angelic face. Later that week, I took our camera with us as we walked to school. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to photograph Lottie, who had grabbed herself a backpack, trailing along with her siblings. Henry got new glasses, another milestone in an already emotional fueled week. Our camera was there to capture his first day with his new specs. And then on Saturday night we set up a movie in our backyard. Neighbors and cousins filled our lawn with blankets, ate popcorn and watched, "The Zookeeper." Andrew set up white Christmas lights in the playhouse which added to an already picturesque 'summer has not ended completely' scene. And then my camera malfunctioned deleting each photo and corrupting the files in the process. I don't even know who or what to blame as I didn't do anything out of the ordinary when I went to upload them.

I was sad. Andrew tried his darnedest to recover them but to no avail. So here I am left to blog without pictures to highlight the happiness of that week. Blogs filled with words and void of photos is something my spouse really dislikes. Oh well. Life continues to roll on and so will my blog. Real quick, I just wanted to say to my friends who are still on the blogging wagon, it's good to have you! I very much enjoy reading up on your lives. You lift me up, make me laugh and reassure me that motherhood and growing up is a process of becoming. Wow. I feel like I'm narrating a PBS commercial. On that note, goodnight.