Friday, May 28, 2010

Caleb at the Pool

A friend invited us to spend a few hours at her neighborhood pool yesterday morning, and we all three had a great time. There were several other mothers from church there, and plenty of little playmates for Caleb and Ethan. Caleb, however, was more interested in a large group of elementary-school-aged boys. They were all playing with water guns, splashing each other, and even wrestling a little in the water. Caleb was sitting on the side with his water shooter, studying them. As he reached into the water to refill his water shooter, I called out a warning. "Caleb, if you shoot at those big boys, they are going to shoot at you." He glanced back at me, but, undaunted, he aimed and fired. His water shooter had a better trajectory than the water guns they were playing with, and he hit the biggest kid, a muscular African American, square on top of his shaved head. The kids fell silent and a group of heads turned toward the source of the stream of water. I was a little nervous for a second, but, one-by-one, the kids started laughing and teasing the big guy, "It was that little dude! He got you good!" Caleb grinned and hopped in the water, swimming toward the group.

He continued to play with that group of older kids until we left the pool almost an hour later. They called him "little dude" the whole time, and he held his own in the water-gun wars, not once crying or reacting to being shot, even when he got it in the face. I guess he wasn't about to risk the respect he gained for that first well-planned shot :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

John 21:15-17

Last night, after we had put Ethan to bed, he called for me in a very sweet voice, so I went in to see what he wanted. Here are the words we exchanged, and I have not altered them by one syllable:

Ethan: (sleepy-eyed and with the sweetest voice) "Mommy, do you wuv me ve-wy, ve-wy much?"
Mommy: "Yes, darling, I love you very, very much."
Ethan: "Mommy, do you wuv me ve-wy, ve-wy, ve-wy much?"
Mommy: "Yes, sweetheart, I love you with all my heart."
Ethan: "Mommy, do you wuv me ve-wy, ve-wy much?"
Mommy: "Yes dearest, I love you so, so much."
Ethan: "Den will you wock [rock] me in da chair? It will be so, so nice."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Grandpa in Town

This weekend, we were blessed by a visit from Marcus's dad, Grandpa Don. He and his wife spent a few days here in Birmingham and had a lot of fun with Marcus, Wendi, the boys and me. On the first night, Grandpa Don took us all out to our favorite Greek/Italian restaurant, where we all ate way too much. The boys were very obliging and behaved impeccably the whole two hours we were at the restaurant. Marcus and I couldn't believe our good luck :)

The next morning, we went hiking at the Moss Rock Preserve, one of our favorite hiking spots. Caleb and Ethan made us proud as little "hiking boys." They held up great for the 2 hours we were out walking, and Ethan only had to be carried for the last 20 minutes or so. And they were so worn out from the long morning outside that they again behaved very well at the Thai/sushi restaurant where we ate lunch. After lunch, I took the boys home for nap time, and the four other adults went to visit the hospitals where Marcus and Wendi work. I think they also went to a museum and out for ice cream as well. When they got back, Marcus and I and the boys went to our Sunday night small group meeting for the rest of the evening.

The third day was Monday, and Marcus and Wendi were working, so the boys and I met Grandpa and Rene at the McWane Center and spent a quiet afternoon there. Marcus was going to try to come over and meet us, but he couldn't get off work on time, so we headed out when the McWane Center closed at 5:00 pm.

We all decided not to push our luck with the boys by going to a third restaurant, so Grandpa, Rene, the boys and I went to Publix and bought the fixings for one of my favorite meals: marinated salmon on the grill, corn on the cob, and fresh fruit salad. When we got home, Grandpa and Daddy manned the grill while Rene prepared the fruit salad, I steamed the corn and set the table, and Wendi entertained the boys. The food all turned out perfectly, and we let Caleb and Ethan eat in front of the TV so that we could enjoy uninterrupted adult conversation. After dinner, Grandpa and Daddy put the boys to bed. (Rumor has it that Grandpa broke out a story about getting lost in the woods when he was a little boy.) After the boys were asleep, we sat around and answered questions out of Marcus's favorite "If..." book until everyone was too tired to talk anymore. It was a great visit, and everyone agreed we should do it again soon :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Beach Trip, Part 3

During our days at the beach, the hours after nap time were a little different each day. Running errands, eating dinner, going back to the pool/hot tub, and taking walks on the beach all had their place. We walked on the beach in the dark with our flashlights looking for crabs, but the crabs did a very good job of hiding. We only found one crab the night we went hunting. We let all the kids touch it and then let it go at the end of the walk.

I really enjoyed hanging out at the pool at night, as well. It wasn't hot and I wasn't worried about the kids (or me) getting sunburned. I also have fond memories of swimming at night in hotel pools on family vacations.

When we all made it back into the condo for the night, usually between 8:00 and 9:00 pm, we got the kids ready for bed and tucked them in with a Disney movie, another special "vacation" privilige. Caleb thought it was the coolest thing in the world that he got to watch a movie every night. I was worried that he would ask for a movie at night for weeks afterward at home, but he seemed to get that it was vacation only, because I haven't heard a word about it for the five nights we've been back.

Nine people in a two-bedroom condo sounds like it wouldn't work, but somehow it did. And the best part is, we found an even better place to stay at next year!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Beach Trip, Part 2

About midmorning, when enough of the kids were bored with the beach, we'd walk back up to the boardwalk, rinse the sand off of us, and spend the rest of the morning at the pool. Caleb took the next step in his swimming proficiency by jumping in the pool from the side, going all the way under the water, resurfacing without help, and swimming to the side. Always before, he insisted on someone in the water catching him and keeping his face from going under.

Ethan, on the other hand, jumps in all the time, completely without fear. He is independent in the water when he is wearing his swim vest (see the pic of me and Ethan from yesterday). He can jump in the water and go completely under, and then he resurfaces with the help of the swim vest. This all works perfectly, except for the rare occasion that he doesn't have his swim vest on (like right after going potty, right when we get to the pool, or as we are preparing to leave). One night, the boys and I were hanging out in the hot tub with our friends, and I hear a splash just behind me. Ethan had climbed onto the side of the hot tub and jumped into the adjoining pool. Because the boys' have identical swim outfits, I initially thought it was Caleb who had jumped in, but quickly realized something was wrong when he didn't resurface. It took me less than 15 seconds to step into the pool and pull a startled Ethan out of the water. He didn't cough or cry, so I guess he had not had time to inhale any water. He didn't seem scared at all, and I didn't make a big deal out of it because I didn't want to cause a fear of the water if he wasn't freaked out.

Anyway, the rest of our hours at the pool were much safer and filled with water shooters, jumping, swimming and laughing. After all the kids (and adults) were worn out at the pool, we'd head back upstairs for lunch and nap time. Once the kids were asleep, Al, Quenta and Marcus would bust out the PS3 while I read a book. Check back on Monday for the final installment of beach stories and pictures :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Beach Trip

We just got back from a GREAT four nights in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. We split a 2-bedroom condo right on the beach with our best friends, making a total of nine people (five of them preschoolers) under one roof. There was concern that it might be a little too chaotic, but everything went surprisingly smoothly. The kids were able to sleep when they needed to, and they had a GREAT time when they were awake.

We thought we might take the kids to play miniature golf or ride go-carts one of the days, but they didn't get tired of the beach and the pool, so we ended up sticking with that every day. Our kids woke up each morning between 6:00 and 6:30 (just like they do at home). I kept them in our room watching a video or reading books until about 7:30, when the triplets woke up. (Marcus would go into the empty bunk room and go back to sleep.) When all the kids were up, we would have a leisurely breakfast of bacon, pop tarts, toast, cereal, dried fruit...whatever was requested. (My dietary goals for the kids go out the window on vacation.) After breakfast each day, we'd head the beach and play. Caleb really enjoyed the waves this year. Marcus taught him how to stand perpendicular to the breaking wave and brace himself so that it didn't knock him over. He'd stand out there in the surf forever, it seemed like, never tiring of the water crashing against his body and then rapidly retreating. Ethan was less fond of the waves, and did not like having sand all over him either. He preferred the hotel pool to the beach, and was always the first of the kids to start clamoring for the next stage of the morning (the pool).

That's all the time I can spare for typing today, so more about our beach trip tomorrow :)

Marcus took this picture of all of us at the pool from our room's balconey.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mr. Smooth

Last night, we got home from a few days at the beach. We had a great time, and I will blog and share pictures about it soon, but for now I had to publish the conversation that Ethan and Wendi had when she got off work last night:

Wendi, who works as a P.A., walks in the house wearing her scrubs.
Ethan: "Wendi, you wearing doctor clothes?"
Wendi: "Yes, I'm wearing my work clothes, Ethan."
Ethan: "You he'p people at the hosp'al?"
Wendi: (with a smile) "Yes, I did help people at the hospital."
Ethan: "Now they happy? Not sad anymore?"
Wendi: (laughing) "Yes, I made them happy."
Ethan: (in the sweetest voice possible, never taking his beseeching little eyes off her face) "Wendi, you got some money now? Jus' one lee-tle money to share wid me?"

Wendi and I cracked up. Ethan loves getting coins from us to put in his piggy bank, and he knows that Daddy goes to work to get money, so I guess he figured Wendi got money at work as well. That's not too surprising, but the hilarious part is the set-up. He very skillfully engaged her in a conversation that made her feel good about her job and herself, and then artfully laid out his precalculated request.

This kid is T-R-O-U-B-L-E!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I had an interesting conversation with Ethan at the grocery store this morning. Caleb was at school, so Ethan and I were strolling through the aisles of Publix on our own. We passed a mother with a little girl who looked to be about four-years-old. The girl asked her mother if she could get out of the cart and help, and the mother said, "In just a minute, sweetie." We had made it a couple of aisles away when Ethan piped up with, "Dat girl want to help her Mommy, but her Mommy say No." After pausing for a moment to figure out that he was talking about the pair from a few minutes ago, I replied, "Honey, I think her Mommy said, 'Just a minute, sweetie'." Ethan cocked his head to the side and looked at me quizzically, as if surprised that I could be so thick-headed, and said, confident as the sun, "Dat means 'NO', Mommy."

It's more than a little scary how much a 2-year-old really understands.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Garden Update

I have not been exceptionally busy lately, but neither have I had many ideas of things to blog about, hence the reticence.

My garden is doing well this year. Scaling back on the variety and just planting what grew well last year was a good move. The only transplant that is not thriving is one of the four pepper plants. Not sure why it's dying, but I'm just going to pull it and plant another one. That'll tell me if it was the plant or if it is the spot in the garden. My strawberries are doing great...I pick 5-7 ripe strawberries every day, and have been for a couple of weeks. Based on last year plants, I should continue to maintain this harvest of 35-50 strawberries a week through late September. I have two peppers and about ten little baby green tomatoes growing, and all four basil plants are thriving. We've already used fresh basil for homemade pesto and spaghetti sauce in the past week.

Because the garden is on the deck where the kids play all the time, it is so easy to water and weed and otherwise tend to it. It is actually not a chore at all and pure fun for me. I know a bigger garden in the yard would be a lot more work and much less fun, but this one is just right for this life stage.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bedtime Battles

The last couple of weeks, sleep has become a battle again with Ethan. He just can't/won't settle down at night. And when he finally does, he frequently wakes up screaming around 2:00 am and ends up finishing the night in our bed. Neither of us have a problem with the 2:00 am transfer; we actually think its really sweet to wake up with him sleeping between us. If he wakes up first, he starts stroking our cheeks, hugging us and whispering sweet things like "I wuv you so so much!" You really can't beat that for an alarm clock :) The part that is getting a little old is the hour it takes from the end of his bedtime routine until he is actually asleep. Usually, he starts out in Caleb's bed, but he makes himself enough of a nuisance to Caleb that he gets moved into his crib. From his crib, he calls out to us for a good twenty minutes, wanting us to sing one more song, or get him "dust one lee-tle dink", or spread his blanket out on him, or take him to the potty, or give him one more hug and kiss, or whatever else he can think of. Eventually, we cut him off on the requests and tell him if he does not lay down and go to sleep, we are going to close the door to his room (leaving him with just a nightlight). He HATES being closed into his room, but inevitably, he does not lay down and go to sleep and continues shouting requests, so we close the door. After we close the door, he starts crying hysterically and wailing, "I need you, Mommy! I need you Daddy! I so so so scared! Please help me!" When he gets this out of control, one of usually caves and goes in there and either rocks him to sleep or brings him into our bed to fall asleep. This series has quickly gone from an exception to an expected pattern in just a couple of weeks, so now we've got to decide what to do. We could do the hard-nosed thing and just put him in his crib after the bedtime routine, close the door, and let him cry himself to sleep. Or, we could give up entirely on him sleeping independently and put him to bed initially in our bed. He is such a cuddly little man, and I know these years are going by too quickly anyway, that I'm leaning toward option 2, but we'll have to see what Daddy decides :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Hoorah! The day has come that Caleb and Ethan can play a board game together without my help! Well, sort of... Caleb is a Candyland-a-holic, and he has the utmost respect for every little nuance of a rule. Ethan, on the other hand, being only two and of a very different temperament, sees all of the rules as rather fluid and subjective. Regardless, Caleb is so happy to have someone who will play unlimited games of Candyland with him that he puts up with Ethan's less-than-ideal partnership, and stoicly replaces Ethan's game piece in its appropriate place as often as required.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ethan (Monthly Update)

Ethan is 25-months-old now. His favorite color vascillates between red and blue (mainly depending on which color marker Caleb is holding). He still loves to eat all day long, though he is more discriminating than he used to be. He doesn't like white potatoes or eggs in any form, and he is not overly fond of bread. He loves pasta, rice, most meat, all kinds of fruit, and anything dairy. He eats most green vegetables that are put in front of him, but he doesn't ask for them.

He has gotten much less physical this month. He is using words (and tears) much more frequently to resolve conflict. He and Caleb are such good buddies these days. They have their times of giving each other a hard time, but they play so well for such long stretches of time. I love listening to their conversations. I wish I could think of one to record here, but my mind is blank :)

Ethan absolutely adores every living thing he encounters, from bugs to babies. Nothing makes him so gleeful as a first introduction to a little critter. His whole body wiggles with glee and his smile is so big it makes my cheeks a little sore :) Despite his excitement, he almost always complies with the chorus of "Be gentle!" that echoes around each one of these encounters. He so wants the little puppy or duck or ladybug to like him, and if he successfully touches it with no adverse effects, he squeals, "HE LIKE ME! HE LIKE ME!" with barely containable glee. It is such a joy to watch his happiness, and I have a feeling that our house (or garage) will be as full of little critters as mine was growing up :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ruffner Mountain Nature Park

So my BFF has discovered another great hiking spot, this time right outside of downtown Birmingham. She and her family explored Ruffner Mountain Nature Park last week, and really enjoyed it. And I lucked out in googling the nature park on the one day of the month that they offer a craft, story time and animal encounter to preschoolers! To make it even better, Caleb and Ethan's favorite triplets were at story time, too :) I didn't get to explore the nature park as much as I would have liked, since it was pretty muddy and mosquito-ridden from the weekend's rains (and I also prefer a better adult-to-child ratio when hiking); but from what I saw, Ruffner Mountain Nature Park is a great find.

The only problem I am having with all this time in the great outdoors is that the boys are FULL of questions about the trees, plants, bugs and sounds in the woods. I wish that I had taken more classes and learned more about that kind of stuff, so that I could teach them more. That is one reason why I so love going camping and hiking with my BFF. She was a wildlife biology major in college, and she is constantly pointing out sounds and critters and plants and teaching the kids about them. I remember doing extensive insect collections, leaf collections and even animal print casting with my mom when she was getting her degree and I was in grade school, but I didn't pay as much attention to the names of things, and I certainly don't remember them now. I bought a few field guides this spring, and I'm skimming through them when I have time, but it is all a bit overwhelming to me.

Regardless, we spent a beautiful morning outside, and the boys had more fun jumping off rocks with the triplets (while Mr. Al spent thirty minutes taking them one at a time on back-to-back bathroom runs) than they would have had listening to me pontificate about wildlife :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

School Program

Caleb recently performed in his second little school program, and it went much better than the Christmas program a few months ago. During the Christmas program, he just stood there looking stage struck while everyone else sang. This time, he was very into the songs and enthusiastic with his hand motions. The whole thing would have gone off without a hitch (and how boring would that be), except that, about ten minutes into the fifteen-minute performance, Caleb noticed that a live video of the group was being projected onto a screen behind them. He craned his neck around to watch the video for a minute, and then prodded the girl next to him to look at it, too. Soon, the whole group was turning around to watch themselves on the video. The audience was cracking up as kids abandoned their exuberant singing to turn and wave at themselves on screen. The music teacher was able to recover most of the group for the final song, but Caleb and a few others just couldn't tear their eyes off that screen.