About a week ago, while my mom was still visiting with us, I got into a discussion with Ethan about our family tree. He was spending time with his Nanna, so he asked me if I had a Nanna. I told him that I had a Nanna who died a few years ago. He looked very sad and said with true regret, "Mommy, I'm so sorry. Are you sad about your Nanna dying?" I said that I was, but I was thankful to have known her and loved her while she was alive. I then steered the conversation to other waters since I felt a little in over my head with my very perceptive, but still only three-year-old, son. As the week went on, Ethan stopped his play several times, looked sadly at me, and said something like "I'm just so sad about your Nanna dying, Mommy."
This all came to a head a couple of nights ago when we were reading bedtime stories. Ethan pointed at a jellyfish in a book and said to me, "Your Nanna has some special medicine to put on me in case of I ever get stung by a jellyfish. But I guess I can't get that medicine from her now because she died." This was followed by Ethan's super-sad face (the one usually only reserved for losing his blankie or being denied some much-anticipated outing).
The wheels started turning in my head as I tried to figure out why Ethan thought that he'd had a conversation about jellyfish stings with my Nanna, whom he'd never met. Suddenly, something clicked, and I realized that in his convoluted little three-year-old mind, he thought that his Mimi (Marc's mom) was my Nanna, AND THAT SHE HAD DIED! A few questions directed at Ethan confirmed my theory, at which point I warmly assured him that his Mimi was alive and well, and in fact on her way to our house in just a few days. He was confused at first, then obviously relieved. His final question was, "Then, Mommy, who died?" Lesson learned: when the topic of death comes up with your three-year-old, be very sure that you and he are on the same page!
Friday, June 24, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Like a typical third child, Lydia doesn't see the front end of the flash nearly as much as her brothers before her, but we do manage to get out the camera every once in a while, especially to catch those daily smiles! All of these were taken this past week, at 2 1/2 months old. I can't believe how fast she is developing! Her stats at her two-month appointment found her around the 90th percentile for height and around the 80th for weight, so sleeping 17-18 hours a day certainly has not kept her from growing :)
Thursday, June 16, 2011
We've spent the last week enjoying time with my mom (Nanna) and spending a long weekend vacationing in a cabin in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Nanna flew to Birmingham a couple of days before we drove to Gatlinburg, and it was WONDERFUL to have that extra pair of arms for Lydia while I got ready for the trip. I commented later that I didn't think I'd ever felt so relaxed once we were all on the road...it is usually much more stressful than it was with Nanna here to help with the preparation. The drive up to Gatlinburg wasn't too bad, though Lydia did cry more than half the time that she was awake, and she never slept for more than 40 minutes at a stretch. Nanna sat next to her and helped her cope with her nemesis, the car seat, as much as possible. The boys enjoyed the Rear Entertainment System in our new minivan, and Marcus and I enjoyed surfing through about half of our iTunes library accessed through a flash drive hook-up in the glove compartment. All-in-all, the minivan travels very well :)
While in Gatlinburg, we enjoyed a lot of hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Each morning, I would feed Lydia and then everyone but Nanna and Lydia would head out for three hours of hiking. I always had to be back to feed Lydia 3 hours later, but Marcus & Papa kept the boys out longer one day. And, of course, that was the day that they spotted nine black bears (two cubs on their own, a momma & two cubs, and a momma & three cubs). The first two cubs ran across the road less then a mile from our cabin. I was driving, so I pulled the van over and we watched them play together, explore the brush and climb a tree next to the road for about ten minutes. These were the first bears I'd ever seen in the wild, and the first for Caleb and Ethan as well. Marcus wasn't with us at the time, but later that same day, he was out with Papa & the boys and the spotted a mama bear with cubs two different times. Over the weekend, we spotted smaller wildlife like wild turkey, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, salamanders & ravens. One day, we drove up the highest mountain in the park and then hiked the last half-mile to the top. There is a circular lookout at the top where you can (supposedly) see for 100 miles in any direction on a clear day. The day wasn't particularly clear or particularly cloudy, and we could see for miles in every direction.
We didn't do much in Gatlinburg, since the kids aren't really old enough for much of the touristy stuff, and it is all quite expensive. The one exception is that we went to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Marcus and I went to this aquarium on our honeymoon nine years ago, and it was pretty cool then. The designers clearly had children in mind when they built this place, because there are about a dozen places where kids can crawl in tunnels and get themselves "inside" different aquariums or habitats. The Penguin Playhouse is the best example of this, and the kids LOVED it. Also super-cool was the Shark Lagoon, which contains a LOT of sharks, some of them 12-feet long. The lagoon has a tunnel under it, so you are looking up at all of the fish & sharks, and they swim right toward you in the tunnel. It is really something else to view ocean life from that angle.
Other than the aquarium, we only went into Gatlinburg to eat dinner. When we weren't hiking or eating, we hung out at the huge chalet or went swimming in the community pool. One afternoon, Nanna, Lydia and I went to the Tanger Outlets. Just like last November, Nanna & I spent about an hour at the Carter's Outlet where she picked out a BUNCH of adorable summer clothes for Lydia, all for a great price. I even got to do some shopping on my own after that, and spent most of my annual clothing budget on new running shoes, some work-out clothes, a couple pairs of shorts and four new tops. And, of course, we kept the Campbell Poker Night tradition alive each night after the kids went to sleep. Sometimes that ended up being pretty late, because Lydia did not sleep nearly as well "on the road" as she does at home. (I was very relieved when she resumed her stellar sleep habits as soon as we got back. I guess she is just really attached to her crib :) Regardless, we managed to get in some good hours of poker. As usual, Marcus came out on top (maintaining his original $20 of chips and gaining $13 more), and Nanna cheerfully lost all of her money :). I usually break even, but this time, Papa went home with a good chunk of the money I bought in with. Oh well, as Mom always says, your paying the price of dinner for several evenings of fun, so all-in-all it's a good deal :)
All-in-all, it was a great vacation. Made all the better by the fact that it was practically free. Since the chalet belonged to a friend of my dad's, all we paid for was gas and admission to the aquarium. Money is particularly tight this final year of residency, so we are very thankful to have been able to have such a fun vacation!
Nanna, Daddy & Caleb playing the "popping game" (i.e. Trouble).
Papa with his first granddaughter.
Papa reading bedtime Bible stories to the boys.
Marcus thumbing through the Harding yearbook at the chalet.
Nanna caring for Lydia, something she did a lot of this weekend.
Boys spontaneously giving Mommy trail flowers. Thanks for catching this on camera, Daddy!
The view from the top of the lookout tower.
You can barely see Caleb's head in the pop-up tunnel in the Penguin Playhouse.