Friday, June 24, 2011

How to survive a Texas summer

Summer is in full swing here and Texas has decided to be extraordinarily hot and dry this time around. The weather always behaves nicely with my pregnancies and naturally Emily was born on a 104* August day and Leo was born on the 60th day of over 100* weather. Right around 6 months is when I start to feel fat, hot, out of breath, and tired all day. Joy! We always plan to bring out the big guns--the coolest most awesome activities for the days when I can barely function in the AC. But then, life happens, and I just stick to my goal of trying to keep all 3 kids alive daily and forget all the fun stuff.

But we can't just stay in the house all summer long! If we did, well, you could guarantee that this house would resemble a nuthouse much more than a peaceful abode. Did I mention that I like to make life really hard and don't allow TV watching (other than an occasional saint movie)? OK, OK, so we've started to slip down the slippery slope of staring into the glowing box from time to time. And they love it! It's madness--if we watch one movie, it's whining and pleading all the time everyday until I break down and just give in. It's not like they actually watch it, anyway. They just leap from couch to couch and make forts and throw pillows and ignore the tv. Silly little spider monkeys.

So what in the world are we doing for 13-14 hours a day?!?!? Beats me...but here is some proof that I dont lock them in their rooms to read all the time:)

Slip n Slide. What a fantastic invention! Leo is not a water discriminator and is just as happy to play in a small muddy puddle of week old water. Eli is Mr. Water Police and regulates how often we can actually fill the baby pool or slip n slide. But look at those smiles!! You just dont get too many moments that just absolutely melt your heart.

Something else you can do to avoid chores is build your toddler an intricate train track. If you have an engineer-type brain, this will take you 5 minutes. If you have my brain, it will take you about 37 minutes to figure out how to make a loop inside a loop and throw in a bridge for good measure. Your toddler will love you forever and run his beloved trains round and round till the sun goes down. Or, in my case, he'll just take the track apart and throw the pieces in all directions and ask you to start over.

Play dress up or pretend. Recently Emily's been on this princess kick and tries to get Leo to waltz everywhere while singing "I know you, I've walked with you once upon a dream". Leo is always a good sport and humors her ridiculous scenarios and copies every move she makes. I love to hear the hilarious things Emily says while she thinks no one is listening. Yesterday I could hear her telling a tiny dolly "no mother, I cannot do as you say because God is calling me to follow Him now. I'm divinely inspired." Whaaat?? That came out of left field. Hope she doesnt try to pull that line on me in a teenage fit of rage.

Another great activity to take up time is to pretend you know how to grow things and plant a garden. I will spare your eyes the blinding monstrosity of a jungle our backyard has become, and rather show you a pleasant shot of one of the cucumbers we've produced. Not only can you teach your kids about the food pyramid, but also about opossums, raccoons, drought, rotting compost, and lots of other lovely topics.

We go swimming almost every day. Where else can I float weightlessly and feel slightly cooler than before? Plus the kids are encouraged to jump, scream, and act like maniacs for a couple hours before dinner. Win Win. Throw in a couple Popsicles and they're in sweet sticky oozy drippy kid heaven.

If all else fails, try bribery. Be a good girl today and mommy will give you candy. Not just any candy either...pop rocks. So good they'll knock your socks off!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Feeling Beachy

Emily's always had a less than happy experience with the beach. I'd say she down right *despised* the beach year after year. The torture would always commence in the 2 hour car ride with a good car sickness induced vomit and ensuing panic attack. Then the sand would sneak into every crevice of her sticky sunblocked body. It was hot, too windy, and just too treacherous a terrain. Mean ol' mom forced her to do everything else in life--eat some foods other than peanut butter crunch cereal, bathe every once in awhile, sleep a couple hours a night--and darnit, I was going to force her to at least tolerate the beach while the rest of us had fun. We'd roll out the red carpet for her. She had her own tent, spare towels, treats galore, and she'd sit there just scowling. Forget about going into the water. No sirree. There's seaweed and that saltwater burns my eyes.

But alas, this year was a bit different.

Pig tails did the trick. I knew the day would be good when I saw the bounce in her step. As we got out to the beach the questions started flowing. "where are the stairs to the swimming pool? why are the birds flying about so crazy? why must the sand burn my soles off my feet?" Sensing a little anxiety, my mom took the kids straight to feel the waves wash over their little pudgy toes. And that's when it all started.

***The Golden Moment***

For the first time in our little girl's life, she was truly happy the whole day long. You've never seen so big a smile plastered to her sweet little face. She and Leo spent the next 6 hours running around like they had just won the lottery.

They sat comfortably in the scratchy sand building the great wall of China. They loved digging up the tiny mussels (she-shells) and watching them dig back into the sand.

Leo couldn't contain his excitement of the pinwheel on steroids. Flying the kite was even better.

Do you see that face?! This kid was in heaven. He would throw his head back and kick his feet as hard as he could.

The best part of all: sleeping under the setting sun.

Next time we go, we'll bust out the smores. They wont know what hit them!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Windy City

So I hate to brag and all, but I can't help it because I'm in serious lalaland. Eli and I just returned from a 5 year anniversary trip to Chicago without the kids. Yes, you read that right...we spent a glorious weekend sans sticky fingers, runny noses, and poopy diapers. We slept in. We ate fabulous food. We conversed without yelling over little people. I did no cooking, laundry, dishes, cleaning, lifting, bending, or grocery shopping.
I take my job seriously. Like most moms, I don't buy into the whole "take time for yourself" gimmick and generally spend every waking (and half of the non-waking) hour with my munchkins. God has blessed me with the responsibility of molding these 3 small humans into His image and likeness and getting them to heaven. This is, um, no small task. And we need a lot of hours to do the job well! So it got me much time have I been spending with my works in progress?
1247 Days, for 12 hours a day (at least!!) means 14,490 hours!!
I think they have spent 2 nights at my parents' house, and a handful of hours with a babysitter. So essentially, leaving them for 4 whole days and nights was just about as strange as leaving both my arms behind at home too.
However, Eli and I prioritize God first, Marriage second, Kids third. The past 5 years have been totally unpredictable and full of ups and down. I never thought we'd have a preemie born at 27 weeks and stay in the NICU for 82 days and need intense health care for over 2 years. I never thought we'd be facing layoffs and leaving our posh Dallas life to move in with my parents. I never thought we'd buy a house and spend every dime and minute fixing it up. I never could have imagined how INCREDIBLY JOYFUL and FULFILLING our lives would be with our little family, and by golly it was time to go away and celebrate!
Naturally we'd been planning this trip for awhile. Then the whole bedrest thing came about and I figured we'd just have to cancel and re-do the trip some other time when miraculously all the stars aligned. But after talking with my OBGYN and my vascular surgeon, they gave me the go-ahead with precaution and sent me away with lots of good advice! (aren't my drs awesome?)
We had the best vacation since our honeymoon. We haven't laughed like that in ages. It felt like we were a bunch of giggly school kids the whole time. Here are some of the highlights:
5 Star Accommodations and Breakfast with Betsy

The Chicago Botanic Gardens

Drinks in the John Hancock tower for sunset

Lincoln Park Zoo & Picnic at the Conservatory

Lunch with my college friend Karen

Rode the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier

Live music and gelato at Millennium Park

White Sox Game

Museum of Science and Industry

We had so much fun that we've already started to plan our next trip to Chicago--this time with a car full of kids!!