Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Lazy Days of Summer

Even though I'm a stay at home mom we're actually rarely at home.  I'm certain I've created my own monsters, but we keep our days full by staying on the go, playing new places, and catching up with our favorite buddies.  But on the days I don't have the stamina, motivation, or desire to sweat through my shirt just loading the boys into the car or the boys ASK to play at home, we lay low, take walks to collect big rocks, spy airplanes, splash in the pool, watch our favorite You Tube clips (excavators, monster trucks, space shuttle launches, dancing babies, and kittens playing) play catch and tag, and come up with clever inside activities to keep us happy.  

Bounce House Party!

 Half naked and shooting his "squirt gun."

In serious need of some new, more stylish (more masculine?) shades.

The ball pit returns!

Diaper duty?

Engineers at work.

Painter's tape makes a great "road" or "race track." 
(Thank you Sarah for the inspiration!)

Helping Mommy make her afternoon cup of coffee.

Magnetic story board!  No, I'm not this creative.  I got the idea here.

Playing with the Hokie fight song bottle opener while Mommy and Daddy 
enjoy a little 'happy hour.'

Babysitter time with Hannah...popsicles can always win a kid over, eh?!?!

Such big boys chowing down at Nana's birthday breakfast. 

Oh these "lazy" days of summer, I cherish you.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Beat Goes On

Not much needs to be said about BLESSINGS when you get to spend time with family for a day.  Especially when it's 4 generations hanging out together.

My mom's sister, who lives in Texas, was visiting my grandparents recently, so we made the easy trek to meet halfway for some playtime and lunch.  Our time was simple; catching up was fun; and the boys were grand.

I grew up knowing three of my great grandparents until I was about 11 years old.  My boys are fortunate enough to have the same amount on my side of the family.  And while they might not be able to appreciate how special this is, they certainly enjoy the treats they're afforded when the great grandparents are around!

Great Grandpa - my mom's dad's dad - and me (18 mos. - 2 years old?) sharing a banana

My mom's parents

My great great grandfather immigrated to The U. S. (Jersey City) from Italy in 1903, leaving his wife and son behind.  Three years later, when Great Grandpa (pictured above with me as a toddler) was 6 years old, he and his mom came to the states and were reunited with his dad.  Several years later the family of three moved to Mississippi where there was better opportunity for work.  Eight more children were born and thanks to the sales of cotton harvests, Great Great Grandpa was quite successful.  He and his large family eventually moved back to New Jersey.  I recall Great Grandpa telling me about a fire on the family's farm and losing one child, but I don't know these specifics. Great Grandpa married my great grandmother (of Italian decent but born in the U.S.) in 1922.  They had three sons, my grandfather (pictured above with the boys) being the youngest.  Frank served and fought in combat in Germany in WWII; Sabbott served in The Army Air Corps as a tail l gunner in B-29 aircraft; and Charles, my grandfather, was a command pilot in the Air Force.

I remember visiting my great grandparents' charming house in NJ and Great Grandpa would take us out back to his beautiful garden.  He would tell us how he used to spray the brick patio in the winter so my mom and her cousins could "ice skate."  A few local brides had their bridal portraits done in front of lush azaleas and a few of those plants now continue to thrive in my grandpa's garden.  The beat goes on.  Great Grandpa's funeral was the first funeral I ever attended.  I was 9.  I didn't want to cry because I knew my mom was sad and I didn't want her to worry about me when she was already feeling down.  There was a huge celebration after the service and I was so confused why people were having fun after someone had just died.  That's when I learned about the celebration of LIFE. 

My grandmother’s mother, Gussie, was born in Nashville, GA and was married at age fourteen.  Gussie lost three husbands in her lifetime.  She had four children with her first husband.  My grandma, Janelle (pictured above with the boys), is the youngest and she and one brother are still alive.  Grandma took care of her mom for a long time and it's at Grandma's house that I remember Great Grandma.  She used to sneak bites of her food to my brother when he was little.  There's one picture where she's feeding him like a puppy.  I remember quilting with my Great Grandma, helping her make individual 'florets' that she would stitch together.  One year we drove to Florida and went to Disney World: Great Grandma, Grandma, Mom, Brother, and me.  I'm not sure how we survived but we did even if Mom did get us lost one night in the Magic Kingdom.

 My dad's parents (Grandpa Moss passed away in June 2000...
boy would he have taught the boys some tricks!)
My dad's mom (kissing Garrett)
My dad's mom is one of 12 kids and was born in Laredo, TX.  Her first language is Spanish, as she had family on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border from the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.  She and my grandpa (from Louisiana; youngest of 14 kids; minor league baseball player; retired Senior Master Sergeant USAF; trained Border Collies; loved to travel; a real cowboy if you ask me) married in 1954 and had my dad and three daughters.

On Joe's side of the family there's Pettie and Delles and if you ever want to meet two sweeter 90+ year olds you should pay them a visit.  They are the sister and brother-in-law to Joe Sr.'s step-mom (who passed away a few years ago), and are the closest individuals still living that Joe Jr. has as 'grandparents,' so we consider them great grandparents to the boys.  And oh how Pettie loves 'her babies!'  We try to stop by once a month and Pettie has covered her door, wall, and fridge with pictures I've sent.  Delles is a Pearl Harbor survivor; their updated kitchen still lacks a dishwasher; the flowers out back always look gorgeous; and the back bedroom is always stocked with boxes of cake mix.  After all, Pettie loves to bake even more than I do, always has sweet treats on hand, and her annual Christmas cookie collection is nothing short of buttery deliciousness.

We all have a history.  I want to make sure the boys know theirs.  And I want them to have memories with the people that matter the most:  FAMILY.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Very Happy Birthday to Me

Call me lame, simple, easy to please...but on the day I turn 32 these are the things that have made me happy today:
There's something about seeing your own special day in print:)  Nerd.
-Coffee in a quiet house while watching the TODAY show as they announce, "This is today, Wednesday, June 13, 2012."

-Listening to my dad's voice mail as he sung into the phone before 6:15am this morning.  I inherited his tone-deafness so I can appreciate his lack of talent even more.  I still have his message from my 30th birthday saved.  When a pick-me-up is needed I play it.  Seriously.

-By 9:00am the laundry was folded, the downstairs was vacuumed, the kitchen was cleaned, the boys were fed, and my gym clothes were on.  Thank you boys for playing so nicely; thank you Joe for helping out.

-When we checked in at the gym the computer played 'Happy Birthday' and Gavin walked into the play area without looking back.  Garrett wasn't such an easy sell, but ended up doing just fine by the time I returned.

-Zumba continues to prove to me what my students told me years ago, "White girls don't got rhythm."  

-But I needed that workout because tonight a fancy dinner date is in store.  Thank you Oma and Opa for babysitting.  Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for the gift card.

-Joe met us for lunch at Chick Fil A where the highlight of our lunch date was going to the bathroom ALONE spending time as a family in the middle of the day.  The cookie I enjoyed for dessert was pretty nice too.

-LOADS of Facebook messages.  If social networking is good for nothing else, it can make a girl feel like a million bucks for turning one year older!  Thank you for the happy thoughts.

-Receiving hand addressed mail to me...I love a good birthday card and displaying them on the mantle.

-Yesterday sweet Parker sang "Happy Birthday" to me.  I wish I'd recorded it.  This morning the boys have been saying "Happy!" and practicing how to say "thirty-two."  "Young," which they already know how to say, works just fine too.  You should ask them how old their daddy is...."Old," they say.  Priceless.

-In addition to tonight's dinner treat, there's dinner with my parents tomorrow, a lunch date with running buddy Dan on Friday, and brunch with the girls on Saturday.

Treats all around!  Love love love.  And thank you:)

Kaiserslautern, Germany - June 13, 1981

Friday, June 8, 2012

Whew! I need more deodorant and a nap!

Specific people are put into our lives as very special friends.  Niki and I met through our mutual friend Erin (Who, by the way, is my friend, roommate, and sorority sister from college that now lives just 8 houses down...things work out too perfect sometimes.) and last night all of our families got together for dinner as our kids ran wild and the adults still denied that the Youngs are moving next week.  A couple years ago the three of us moms went out for drinks.  Erin headed home at a reasonable hour because she had to work the next day, but Niki and I, barely knowing each other, decided that the night was too young to end.  So after some wine we migrated to a bar down the street for more drinks.  We hit it off over mommy stories, VT stories, husband stories, and maybe one too many vodka limeades.  It's one thing to be hungover on a Saturday, but it's another thing to be hungover and having to chase a kid(s) around the next day.  We were instant friends.

We play together regularly and our chaotic crew moves in stride. 

Niki and I don't miss a beat changing diapers, sharing food, fetching burp cloths, trading strollers, running late, or making/changing plans at the last minute.  This type of friend is priceless.  So on Wednesday when we were both running over 20 minutes late to meet at the mall to play and grab lunch, I had to chuckle at her text message: "You will recognize me because I'm wearing the same clothes I was yesterday."  "It's cool," I told her when we were both finally seated and the kids were running, climbing, jumping, and sliding, "I haven't showered since yesterday either; we came straight from the gym where I got my uncoordinated tush kicked to the curb; I applied deodorant in the car; brushed my sweaty hair with the comb from the boys' diaper bag; and covered it up with a headband.  Not to mention that my saggy pants are a size too big, my shirt has a hole in it, and only because I had to run home and get my wallet to pay for gas did I manage to change out of my running shoes and put sandals on, so as not to look totally frumpy.  So you're in good company." "Cool," she laughs, "So let me tell you about last night..."

And our morning continued as we caught up, vented, laughed, and still denied the fact that the moving truck is coming next week.  This all took place while holding little hands so the kids could do their "big jumps" off of everything; chasing the boys across the food court; asking them to stop growling at the other kids; and hopping over other mothers to prevent the boys from body slamming each other on top of a nearby baby.  Oh yea, and Niki was nursing too.  Motherhood is so graceful.  

Our pizza lunch was delicious, but I'm certain the huge slice I ate loaded with spinach and tomatoes completely negated my gym visit this morning.  Once World War III ensued over who was going to wear which Crocs to the car, I made a bee line to the parking lot, loaded up the boys, and headed home.  On the way out I texted Niki to say, "Sorry!  Bye!  and Whew!  I need more deodorant and a nap!"  Because doesn't everyone share such a glorious side with themselves?  Only with the most special of friends.

Because this is how we roll.  It's called COMPROMISE.
And as we pulled out of the parking lot all was right and calm again as I spotted a Starbucks drive thru.  I swear it was placed there just for me at that moment.  I pulled out one of the many gift cards from my wallet, got myself a drink (something virgin is the best a mom can do at 1pm while driving home with two sleeping kids in the back seat:)), and rode home in silence.

Worn out kids, good friends, and iced coffee can make everything feel right.  


So that is where I thought the blog post would end and I'd hit publish.  But that was before the rest of the afternoon unfolded.

I swear as I typed that last period I heard chatter upstairs.  Gavin's nap = fail.  And when naps don't happen that means my shower won't happen and getting the smelly kitchen clean won't happen and getting the dressing made for tonight's potluck dinner won't happen.  Hello iPad ABC apps!  And snuggles on Daddy's side of the bed, per request.  And Dinosaur Train so I can actually sneak in that shower only to hop out and find Gavin half way down the stairs by himself.  But one kid not napping is better than two kids not napping.  And how.  
image from
Garrett finally woke up, snacks were had, and just as I thought I could sneak inside for five minutes to get things ready before heading down the street to the Smiths' for dinner with them and the Youngs, I get Niki's  message: "Everyone melted down after naps.  Still at home.  I need Husband's help and won't leave without him."  Oh friend, we are indeed in a parallel universe because here was my response, "No naps; Gavin in time out; bloody nose and lip for Garrett [he's ok]; still at home; will be late; can't wait for wine."  Mind you all this took place around 5:30 and we were supposed to be at the Smiths around 5:00.  Oh the best laid plans.

And then we all finally arrived.  And the kids played beautifully.  And picked at their dinners, but devoured their icecream.  And the dads hung out outside with the kids  And the moms ate peanut butter balls around the table and talked.  And the kids chased lightning bugs.  And everyone went to bed later than normal.  And it was perfect.  Because this is how it's supposed to be.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Little Men

May the good Lord be with you
Down every road you roam
And may sunshine and happiness
surround you when you're far from home
And may you grow to be proud
Dignified and true
And do unto others
As you'd have done to you
Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart you'll always stay
Forever Young, Forever Young
-Rod Stewart and a little from Bob Dylan

Dear Garrett and Gavin,
SLOW DOWN!  I give you permission to do a lot of things, while I also say 'no' a lot during the day too, but one thing you must work on is slowing down.  When did you become such little men lately?  

You're eating cereal and milk with a spoon by yourself.  

You can scoop up peas without any help.  

You can reason with us and bribery with fruit has resulted in good meals and time out and counting to 3 help prevent you from doing something naughty.  

You're so funny.

You tease and make funny faces, especially in the rear view mirror.  Garrett, you squint your eyes like you're fake sleeping or really mad; Gavin, you open your mouth real wide and stick out your tongue.  I know, I know eyes on the road, mama!

You love to walk like a bear and stand like a flamingo.

You can both count two items at a time with correct one to one correspondence.  

Gavin, you recognized 22 out of 26 letters of the alphabet!  The teacher in me is so excited; the mom in me beams.  However, you both protest when I sing the ABC song.

You put bubbles on each others head in the bathtub and rinse each other off. 

You're finally phrasing and saying so many new words.  To name just a few...
'Daddy work'
'Black truck 
'Wild Side' (yes, as in Motley Crew)
'Brother, no!'
'Brother, look!'
'Brother, night night!'
'Up high chair'
'Outside front; outside back'
'Walk. Vannah house.'
'Rocket ship'
'Jack hammer' 
'Monster truck'
'Big digger'
'Up down'
'Long short' (featured below)
'Wide narrow'
'In out'
'Brown dog'

You like to be cradled like a baby and request "Rock a Bye Baby" be sung to you.

You successfully slept in big boy beds with safety rails on vacation.

You love to have dishtowels tied around your neck like a cape or around your head like a hood.

At the beach you rinsed off your hands, filled buckets of water, and carried them on your own.

You can say iPad.  Locate my iPad.  Flip open my iPad.  Demand truck videos, laughing and dancing baby videos, and rocket ship videos on my iPad.

You raid my oven mitt drawer to use them in your own kitchen.

Your chores list is growing and you often help me vacuum and dust.

You love to swing a golf club or a bat.  Sometimes the sport's maneuver is recognizable.  Sometimes it looks like you're playing hockey, which you love to watch on TV.

You request to play with Parker by name.

You jump on everything.  You jump off of everything.

You can make praying hands.

You recognize the places we play as soon as we're close simply by the nearby buildings.

Gavin, you remember that an ant bit you and a caterpillar climbed up your arm every time you see either type of creature. 

Garrett, you remember when a giant bumble bee hit you in the forehead every time you see a bee buzz by.

You learned to blow dandelion puffs this spring.

You don't follow one direction in gymnastics class, but perform your tricks beautifully at home.

You discovered your shorts pockets the other day and filled them with sticks, rocks, and gumballs treasures. 

You zoom like airplanes in the yard and play chase and tackle around the tree.

You love to look at Mommy and Daddy's honeymoon photo album.

You request specifics....a certain high chair in which to sit; what shirt to wear; what shoes to wear; what side of the stroller to sit in; which direction we go on a walk; exactly what flavor breakfast bar you want in the morning; and where you want us to sit when we read books in your room.

Mommy can't spin you in the deck chair, only Brother will do.

You can reach the closet light and turn it off and on.

While still risky, you can indeed drink out of a cup without a lid.

You can put away quite a bit of ice cream.

You squeal in the library, run down the book aisles, and hop off the computer chair so fast that you take with you to the floor the mouse, headphones, and stacks of flyers about upcoming events.

You give each other hugs and hold hands taking walks.

You say Mommy instead of Mama.  And even though you frustrate me at times, you also make my heart burst, and I'm so glad you've given me that title:  Mommy.

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