Monday, December 19, 2011


We got dressed up in our Christmasy garb for church yesterday and snapped some pictures on the deck afterwards.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ambitious Big Brother

This post was also started a while ago, about two weeks I believe.  I do what I can :)

Caleb and Lydia were down in the playroom while I was preparing a meal in the kitchen.  I can see them from the kitchen, but my attention was mostly on what I was doing.  All of the sudden, Caleb rushes up the six steps from the playroom and says, "Mommy!  You have to see this!  Lydia just crawled across the room!"  I was very surprised because she had not been interested in crawling for the past couple of weeks, so I walked toward the play room with Caleb.  Sure enough, Lydia was 10-12 feet from where I had left her, still sitting and playing happily.  I was taken in for a second and rather amazed, but soon realized from something in Caleb's grin that all was not as it appeared.  

"Caleb, did you drag your sister across the room so it would look like she crawled?"
"No!  Of course not!  It was amazing!  She suddenly just crawled across the room!"
"Oh, maybe I helped her a little bit."
"Caleb, tell me the truth."
"Okay, I did it.  I pulled her across the room.  Sorry for telling a lie, Mommy."

As evidenced from this story, Caleb gets even more excited about each of her milestones than we do, even to the point of rushing them a bit :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Not The Best Way To Wake Up

I started this blog post about a month ago when this story happened, but am just now taking the time to finish writing it and post it.

The other day, Marcus was home in the early afternoon, and he let me sneak upstairs for a little catnap before dinner.  Lydia had been up a lot the night before, and I was exhausted so I fell right to sleep.  About 45 minutes later, I woke up in a panic, but had no idea why.  I rushed downstairs and saw nothing immediately alarming: Marcus was sitting at the computer, Lydia was playing on the floor behind him, the door from the play room to the garage was open...wait a minute!  Just as I was wondering why that door was open and where the boys were, Caleb rushes through that very door saying, "Daddy, Ethan is playing with a big knife in the garage and there is blood coming out of him!"  (So that's why I woke up in a panic!)

Marcus sprung out of the computer chair and we both rushed into the garage to find 3 1/2-year-old Ethan sitting on the garage floor, playing with a box cutter and bleeding from three fingers.  He looked up with a guilty smile and said, "It doesn't hurt.  It really doesn't hurt," in the same soothing tone that we usually use for him when he gets hurt.  He saw our panicked-changing-to-angry faces and made his own switch to a logical appeal: "But Daddy, you are a doctor and you can fix me!  Don't worry, you can just fix the bleeding!" And that is exactly what Daddy did: cleaned him up and sealed him up with Band-aids while I put the box cutter back in the tool box and put the toolbox on the highest shelf in the garage.  I think Daddy and I are in agreement now about the boys playing in the garage unsupervised :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

"I'm Making My Bad Heart Angry"

Ethan is our passionate child.  From day one, he has been hot or cold most of the time.  The older he gets, the more mellow time there is, but he is still a very intense little guy.  When he's bad, he's really bad, and when he's good, he's really good.  Because of the intensity of his personality, I talk to him a lot about the good/bad war within him.  He has a good handle on the idea that he has a "good heart" and "bad heart," each vying for his permission to act.

One night, I had tucked all the kids into bed, and Ethan asked me to lay down and sleep with him.  I usually tell him no because Marcus is usually waiting for me to watch a TV show and hang out with him.  But Marcus was working late and I was exhausted myself, so I cuddled up with Ethan on his single mattress and closed my eyes.  I was just about to drift off when I heard him whisper in a smugly mischievous voice:

"Mommy, I'm making my bad heart very, very angry."

I asked him what he meant, and he explained that since he was being so good today, his bad heart was getting madder and madder that it wasn't getting a chance to be bad.  As he was talking, I realized that he had a mental image of something like this going on inside of him: a little demon locked up in a cage and throwing a massive fit of rage while the good little angel skipped circles around the cage.  I was telling this story to a friend later on, and my friend pointed out that Ethan had found a way to "be bad" by being good.  His love for power and strength over anything, even the "bad heart" inside of him, is helping motivate him to behave well!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


We drove to my parents' house in Arkansas to spend Thanksgiving.  The drive went well; it was our longest road trip to date with Lydia (soon to be trumped by a drive to Florida for Christmas), and she handled it very well.  We had a great time hanging out in Searcy, despite the cold, wet weather.  We did the usual things: walked around Harding's campus, visited our three favorite parks, and even checked out the newly-renovated indoor PlayPlace at McDonald's.  

Even with all that, we spent most of our time at Nanna & Papa's house, thoroughly enjoying all the goodies Nanna had in store for the boys: half-a-dozen brand new activity books (all their favorites like color-by-number, connect-the-dot, word search, etc.), as well as her very well-stocked play room, complete with creatively organized storage bins (now I know where I got that!).  The kids also enjoyed the back yard for the first time on this trip.  Nanna & Papa have added a small back deck since we were in town last, and it really made the backyard a lot more appealing.  Plus, the boys are finally old enough to play outside with less supervision, so us grown-ups didn't have to match their cold tolerance :).  

As always on Campbell holidays & vacations, our evenings were full of poker.  All three kids were asleep every night right around 7:00 pm, so we spent several hours of every night at the card table.  All in all, it was a great visit, and we are already looking forward to having Nanna & Papa here for Christmas.

 It's hard to get a picture of Lydia alone because Caleb always jumps in :)
Everybody hanging out in the living room at N&P's house.
 Caleb & Ethan enjoying the craft table that Nanna bought just before our visit.
Lydia taking one of many bottles in Nanna's arms :)
Daddy & the boys hanging out in Papa's new recliner.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grandparents' Day

Yesterday was Grandparent's Day at Caleb's school, and we were very happy to have my mom (Nanna) in town for the event.  When I was growing up, my grandparents lived out of town and didn't come to anything like this.  My mom said that she always felt bad for my brother and I about that, so she decided to make it a priority to be at Caleb's first Grandparents Day.  Even though she'd had bronchitis the week before, had been having trouble walking for weeks, and was in the middle of her final week at work (she is retiring this Friday), she flew out for a quick visit to enjoy this event with Caleb.  

And as if she wasn't going against enough to make this happen, she came down with food poisoning or a stomach bug the night after she arrived!  It's very good we had a doctor in the house, because at one point she was throwing up every 10 minutes.  Marcus got her some meds and she was finally able to fall asleep.  And then she was back up at 6:00 am to get ready for the grandparents' day festivities.  From there things went well.  Caleb was happy to have her by his side during the program, and Ethan even got to enjoy a surprise visit from Nanna in his classroom (since it happened to be one of the days he was in preschool).  I apologize for this terrible picture of Caleb, but between shuffling Lydia around and manning my volunteer post, it is the only one that I got.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fall Festival and Halloween

This year, we were so happy to have Marcus home for Halloween.  The last few years, we've had to juggle Halloween festivities around the national radiation oncology conference that Marcus has to travel to.  This year they moved the conference to early October, so Daddy got to come to the Halloween Party at our BFF's house, the Fall Festival at church, and Trick-or-Treating on Monday night.  

This was the best year ever for trick-or-treating.  Caleb dressed up as Spiderman and Ethan went to Fall Festival as a pirate and Trick-or-Treating as Superman.  The kids are finally big enough to run up to the houses on their own, so the process went much faster and was much more relaxed for the adults.  We went with several other families from church.  Even with 20+ preschool and elementary aged kids walking the neighborhood together, it was still a lot of fun.  Caleb and Ethan were ecstatic about all the candy they collected.  I think this is the first year that Daddy and I are not going to be able to get away with pilphering what we'd like from their stash.  Everything was studied and organized so thoroughly that I think even a piece or two will be missed.  At least we can still confiscate candy for bad behavior :)

Fall Festival at church was great this year as well.  The church brought in real horses instead of ponies, and this is the first year that we could kind of let Ethan go on the bounce houses without worrying too much that he would get hurt.  Of course, our LifeWalk group was in charge of monitoring the bounce houses, so we spent most of our time there anyway.

The whole family, just before heading out trick-or-treating.
 Caleb and Ethan on a bounce-house slide at Fall Festival.
 Caleb throwing a dart at the balloon-popping booth.
 Lydia was so chill the whole evening in her stroller.  We are so thankful that she is such an easy-going baby!

Friday, October 28, 2011

DeSoto Caverns Fun Park

This past weekend, we headed out to spend a family day at the Old Baker Farm, our favorite pumpkin patch.  When we arrived, the place was so packed we decided to think up a Plan B.  A few more miles down the road was a place we'd planned to visit for a long time, but had never made it out to.  We decided that that gorgeous fall day would be perfect for exploring DeSoto Caverns Family Fun Park.

Caleb shooting a bow and arrow for the first time.
Marcus, Caleb & Ethan in a really cool privacy-fence maze.
Lydia with her brothers.  Caleb is inside a cave-simulation crawl exhibit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lydia's 6-Month Pictures

A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I had our fourth photo session with my all-time favorite photographer, Heather Swanner.  Unlike the other three sessions, this one was a mini-session, so we didn't have as much time as we have in the past.  In addition, Lydia was very tired during the session and her typically quick smiles were much harder to coax out.  She actually spent most of the session staring blankly at the camera, despite our best efforts.  I honestly didn't think there were going to be any great pictures, and only a few good ones.  It is a tribute to Heather's talent that there were as many good pictures as there were.  Here's the slideshow, Mimi & Nanna :).

Ethan Starts Preschool!

Ethan started attending a 2-day-a-week Mother's Day Out at the school that Caleb attends.  I had originally decided to keep him home all the time this year, both for financial reasons and because I didn't want to be doing four different carpool lines in one day, but Ethan and I were driving each other nuts without Caleb around.  Ethan is super-social, and I did not realize until Caleb went to kindergarten just how much of Ethan's social energy Caleb normally absorbs.  

After several days in a row of thinking that one more "Mommy, watch this!!!!!" was going to make me lose it, I started looking into preschools again.  When I found out that I could enroll Ethan in an MDO program at Caleb's school and drop them off and pick them up at the same time, I was sold.  Now, for the first time since Caleb started kindergarten, I feel like I have my head above the water.  I am getting my housework and grocery shopping done during the two mornings a week that Caleb & Ethan are at school, and I also get to enjoy some one-on-one time with Lydia on those days.  The other three mornings each week that Caleb is at school and Ethan & Lydia are at home, I am able to give Ethan a lot more attention since my housework is mostly taken care of.  And Caleb gets plenty of attention in the afternoons, with practicing baseball skills, doing homework & reading with me, all one-on-one activities.  

I feel like we are in a workable rhythm for the first time since kindergarten started.  Both boys enjoy their time at school, I'm getting my stuff done, and I have good "protected" time with each child.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Zoo Field Trip

I was lucky enough to be one of the two parents who got to ride the bus with Caleb's class for his first kindergarten field trip.  He was so, so happy that I was there (and that he was one of the only kids with a parent on board).  Many of the other parents met the class at the zoo, and we all spent a leisurely morning walking through the zoo.  I especially enjoyed it since my younger two were in the school's childcare, so I spent the whole morning just being with Caleb and watching him with his friends.  The weather was perfect, and we were all surprised to see that the lion and lioness had a little family to show off.  It's been a long time since I've seen an animal as cute as those playful little lion cubs were!

"Alabama" Cousins

Marcus's younger sister, Traci, and her husband and kids came into town for a quick visit a few weeks ago.  As you can tell from their college football garb in the picture below, they had an ulterior motive for their trip:)  We had a great time hanging out with them on Friday night and then visiting the Montgomery Zoo with Traci, Maddie & Dallen on Saturday (while Josh was at the game).  By the way, I do feel the irony that Traci and Josh are from Florida, but are Alabama football fans, while we live in Alabama and we are Florida Gator fans.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Ethan's first season of soccer has been interesting, as well.  After Caleb played soccer at age three and it didn't turn out to be a good experience for anyone, we had planned to make Ethan wait until he was four.  But he talked us out of it.  He wanted to play so badly, and since he'd already had to sit and watch while Caleb played three seasons of soccer, we decided to give it a shot.

The first two game nights went well.  Ethan listened to his coach, stayed pretty focused, and (literally) ran circles around the other kids.  But at some point during the third soccer night, he started getting frustrated with other kids kicking the ball away from him and started checking out.  Now, Caleb checking out means that he sits down on the field and picks blades of grass.  Ethan checking out means that he finds someone to play with.  Unfortunately, all the available playmates were supposed to be playing soccer, so he decided to be entertaining enough (or annoying enough) to get them to stop playing soccer and pay attention to him.  You can imagine the effect a class clown has on a 3-year-old soccer team.  Let's just say when Ethan lost interest that night, there was a lot less soccer going on.  

The next time, he didn't even attempt to get involved, he just did his best to distract others until we took him out of the game.  The fifth night was the worst, and he ended up watching a most of the game from the sidelines after getting a spanking from Mommy for disobeying his coach.  We've got three more soccer nights left.  If things don't improve significantly, I will have no problem telling Ethan that he is going to spend the spring sports season sitting out and watching Caleb play baseball or soccer.


Caleb's first season of baseball has been interesting.  Apparently, 5-years-old is too old to start playing baseball around here.  The other kids on Caleb's team have been playing for two years, and most of them are really good.  Not just skilled, but also very knowledgeable about the game.  Caleb started out completely lost and now he hovers around mildly confused.  After watching him suffer through the first couple of games, I decided it was time for baseball boot camp with Mommy.  The next day, I took all three kids to a nearby park.  I put Lydia in her stroller, safely shielded from any runaway balls, sent Ethan to the playground, and spent 45 minutes teaching Caleb how to bat.  He was resistant and whiny (as he usually is when being taught something he doesn't necessarily want to learn at that moment), but we plugged away.  By the end of that session, he had down the basics of swinging a baseball bat.  

Over the next couple of weeks, I played baseball with him every chance I got: batting, throwing, catching, running bases, fielding, etc.  And he has gained a lot of ground in the five weeks since the season started.  He can hit pretty well off the tee (though 5-year-olds play machine-pitch here, so he first has to miss five pitches on the machine in order to get to the tee).  He can throw decently and stop a grounder pretty reliably, and he generally knows where to throw the ball when he gets it.  His favorite is running the bases, particularly that last stretch to home base.  I think he would like batting better if he didn't have to miss those five fast pitches before getting to the tee.  Most of the other boys on his team connect with the fast pitch every time they bat.  He's only hit a pitched ball twice this season, and one was a foul ball.  Even so, he is catching up, and, if baseball turns out to be his thing, he will probably be on par with his peers in a couple more seasons.  

His best moment in baseball so far was during his most recent game.  He was up to bat and the machine-pitched ball slammed into his thumb, mashing it against the baseball bat he was gripping.  It hurt pretty bad, but he choked back the tears, took a moment to compose himself, and then got back in the batting stance, ready for the next pitch.  That next pitch was one of the two that he's connected with this season :)  The coach was impressed with how he handled himself, and came over to tell us so right after Caleb got to first base.

Monday, October 17, 2011


We have been pretty busy around here this past month!  Here it is in under 50 words: Caleb is playing baseball, Ethan is playing soccer, Uncle Josh & Aunt Traci came for a quick visit, Caleb had a kindergarten field trip to the zoo, Marcus spent a week in Florida (visiting his family and attending a conference), Lydia had her 6-month-pictures taken and Ethan started preschool!  My goal is to write a quick post about each of these in the next few days.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lydia Update

Lydia is 5 1/2 months old now, and is doing well!  She is cooing, smiling and gurgling all the time, and everybody in the family loves to be on the recieving end of her "talking."  She hasn't started babbling with vowel-consonant combos yet, but she does say "Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma" sometimes when she is crying.  Her gross motor skills are staying about a month behind where the boys' were, but she is still within the normal range.  She is sitting up well now, and no longer needs a boppy pillow or any other support.  This is my favorite baby stage: she can sit on the floor with some toys and watch everything that is going on, but can't yet crawl and get into it any trouble.

I know the movement is coming, though.  I was hoping she would be one of those chill babies who is content to sit and watch for a really long time, but she is not.  The boys both started crawling between 6 and 7-months-old, but she is getting around better than they were at 5-months because she is so good at rolling.  If I put her down on the floor, she'll play with toys (sitting up) for twenty minutes or so.  When she is bored with those toys, she will lunge forward from sitting and get onto her belly.  Next, she will look around a bit from her tummy, and then roll in the direction that she wants to go.  She's pretty good at getting where she wants to be, and the only trouble she gets into is rolling over onto a hard toy.  Thankfully, there are usually three or four big people around who are happy to rescue her.

I'm happy to report that Lydia and I made a full recovery from our breastfeeding setback in July.  She is back to being 100% breastfed, and I haven't even had to pump in over a month.  All her chubby rolls and happy disposition assure me that she is getting plenty to eat.  She doesn't seem interested in eating solids yet, and I'm not in any hurry to start that hassle until she's ready.  It is wonderful to be back to normal and have feeding be easy & no stress again, just as it has been in the past.  The one residual negative from the whole experience is that Lydia doesn't sleep through the night like she did before the setback.  I nursed her every time she made a peep while I was trying to rebuild my milk supply, and she got in the habit of nursing every time she woke up at night.  She's getting up 3-4 times a night right now, and though I'm handling it okay, I am planning to take steps to wean her at night in the near future.

Lydia is a very happy baby most of the time.  She is in a Mommy stage, and if she is tired or uncomfortable, no one else will do.  As long as she is fed and rested, she is perfectly willing for others to hold her, and doesn't (yet) have any separation anxiety when left in the church nursery or gym childcare.  Her smiles come easily, especially when she first wakes up, and they are CUTE!  She is our little princess, and we are loving watching her personality express itself a little bit more each day.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Caleb is Reading!

This post is way overdue, but I feel like we have been in a whirlwind since school started five weeks ago.  Since I last posted, we spent several days in the dark, thanks to the tropical storm that blew through here earlier this month.  We went from Monday evening (Labor Day) to Thursday around noon without power.  A friend helped us put a positive spin on it by labeling our adventure as "camping in our house."  The kids bought that for the first day, but after that, they were pretty tired of being in a house with no lights, no refrigerator, no microwave and no AC.  When the power came back on, Caleb was so excited, he ran up the stairs calling, "Now I can go to the bathroom with the light on!!!"

Anyway, on to the purpose of this post: Caleb is reading!  He learned how to sound out words that follow the basic phonetic rules more than a year ago, but he has just recently taken that leap from sounding out each word to seeing the group of letters as a word and recognizing "sight words."  With about 25 sight words in his reportoire, he is now able to read many of the early reader books that Mimi left us on her last trip.  And boy is he excited!  He even picks up chapter books and eagerly chooses words that he recognizes.  He's been reading for a couple of weeks now, and he is enjoying it so much that our roles have switched from me asking him to practice reading to him asking me to read with him.

I know this is opening up a whole new world for him, and I'm so happy to be enjoying it with him!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Colorado Trip

This past weekend, we braved four airports (2 of them twice) and the big bad TSA with our three small children!  What inspired us to such madness?  A family wedding...what else?  Marcus's older sister, Wendi, tied the knot at the top of a mountain in Keystone, Colorado this past Sunday morning.  The whole family and quite a few friends made the trek to beautiful Colorado to celebrate with Wendi and Joel.  The weather was gorgeous, the mountains were spectacular, and the wedding was beautiful.  The trip really couldn't have gone much better than it did.  It was not stress-free by any means, and there were some moments (even hours) where we wondered why we had ever agreed to drag our kids across the country, but, all-in-all, it wasn't too bad.

A few low points:

(1) Waiting in line for over an hour to get our rental car, after having already traveled for about ten hours.  Caleb fell asleep on the floor of the (remote) Hertz rental building at the Denver airport.

(2) Trying to get the boys to bed each night in the loft of the 4-bed condo, where we were staying with sixteen members of the Wagner family.  The loft, as it sounds, was open to the living area on the floor below and in between the two upstairs bedrooms.  Any kind of quiet was impossible to achieve, and bedtime was a beating.

(3)  Getting caught in traffic while Lydia screamed (with barely a lull) in the carseat for almost an hour.    She is a very chill baby and this is the longest either of us had ever had to listen to her cry.  Poor baby.  She had woken up from a long nap and was hungry, but we were stuck in traffic and couldn't stop to feed her.

(4)  Running through the Denver airport, holding Lydia and our four carry-ons with the boys running right behind us, trying not to miss our homebound flight.  We stepped on the plane at 10:11 and the flight took off as scheduled 9 minutes later.

Despite these, we had a great time.  Some of the highlights:

(1)  Caleb & Ethan's first flight (that they remember, though Caleb flew once as a baby and once as a toddler).  They were as fascinated as any preschool boy with the idea and reality of flying, and they soaked in every bit of the experience.  Marcus did a great job of explaining everything to them, and they even enjoyed the extra treat of a private tour to the cockpit, thanks to a very kind Southwest pilot.

(2)  Riding the gondola.  It was about a 15-minute gondola ride from the Keystone Resort (where we were staying) to the summit where the wedding took place.  The whole ride, we could see gorgeous mountains and scenery for miles.

(3)  The mountains.  They were spectacular.  Whether we were in our condo, in the car, riding the gondola or at the summit wedding location, the mountains were everywhere.  It's been 10 years since I was in Colorado, and its beauty is just as breathtaking now as I remember it then.  I can understand why it is Joel & Wendi's dream to live there someday.

(4)  The wedding itself.  The mountain location was as beautiful as Wendi described it.  The wedding day weather was perfect, and as long as the sun was out, we weren't even cold at the 11,000 feet elevation.  Wendi looked gorgeous and happy, and the ceremony went off without a hitch.  Caleb and Ethan did a great job of walking down the aisle with their scroll that said "Here Comes the Bride."  They were not even slightly daunted by the situation, and walked calmly and confidently, just as they were told.

(5)  For Marcus, spending an afternoon mountain biking with his brother.  They had quite the adventure, and I was relieved to have them both back in one piece.

(6)  The kids.  All seven of the grandkids (and all the adults) were staying together in a 4-bedroom condo.  Surprisingly, they all got along very, very well the whole five days.  Caleb and Ethan were very obedient and cooperative the whole weekend, despite the sleep-deprivation and Caleb getting sick the last couple of days. Ethan only had to sit in time-out twice the whole weekend, which is some kind of record for him :)  Lydia took everything in stride, slept very well during the day in night, and hardly cried the whole time we were there (except for the afore-mentioned car ride).

(7)  The backpacks.  I bought Caleb and Ethan backpacks for the trip (used from ebay) and filled them up with four new activity books: a maze book, a sticker book, a superhero coloring book and an animal coloring book for each of them.  These books provided them with hours of entertainment on the trip and in the condo.  I ordered them all from amazon based on reviews, and wasn't sure what they would be like, but they were all excellent and more than worth the money.

All-in-all, it was a very good trip, though we do not plan to travel by air again until the kids are quite a bit older :)

Colorado: Getting There

 Lydia sleeping in her stroller at the airport.
 The boys enjoying their backpack goodies at the airport
 This is how we sat for the plane rides: Mommy, Caleb & Lydia on one side,
 and Ethan and Daddy on the other.  Can you tell which of our children needs the most attention?
 Caleb and Ethan got a huge treat on their first flight: the pilot called them up to the cockpit for a tour!