Thursday, November 29, 2012

Last Week

I know, just as soon as I catch up on blogging I fall behind again.  It's kind of like everything else that goes on around here.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Last week was one of those weeks that is crazy and busy and challenging and fun and stressful and relaxing all at once.  It's hard to see how that is possible but I can attest that it is.

Monday was relaxing.  Nothing big to do.  School is done for the year since we take our long break between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It works out VERY well for us so far.  I plan to wait a little longer before starting second grade with Travis so we'll be doing a few unit studies the beginning of next year.  I hope I can manage it since that's new for me.

Tuesday was our stressful, busy, and fun day.  We left the house early for Doughnut Day and we ended the day with Zoo Lights.  And we didn't come home at all in between.  I fed my children doughnuts for breakfast and Chick-fil-A for lunch AND dinner.  We collected half of the new Franklin books they have in the kids' meals (and we already have the other half...)  We also went to therapy, Wal-mart, the airport, and the dentist.  I pushed my kids and they did great!  I have to be thankful that they are such fantastic car-riders.  Alaina didn't even cry more than a few minutes and she napped during the longer stretches.  I was so worried because we took me friend's mom to the airport and she asked specifically for me to take her so I didn't want her to regret her decision because of a screaming baby!  She got in the car and said she was so glad I could take her to the airport because I don't talk too much!  (Please don't cry, please don't cry!)  And then not only did she go to sleep peacefully but Justin took a little snooze too!  Yeah!

We got to the dentist a little early so we read our new Franklin books (Yeah Chick-fil-A!) and then we still had a few minutes to kill.  Fortunately the waiting room was empty so I made Travis and Justin exercise while I fed Alaina.  They did jumping jacks, push ups, jumped back and forth from one foot to another and hopped on one foot.  It was hysterical watching Justin try to imitate Travis.  He is so sincere and tries so hard!  After Travis was exhausted I had him sit down and stretch.  This is of course Justin's area of expertise based on his loose joints.  Justin can flop his legs open and lay flat forward on the ground.  It's funny watching Travis try to imitate Justin!

The Zoo Lights was something new that we haven't done before.  And of course I have no pictures because in my flurry to get everything together that we would need for the entire day I forgot not the camera but the camera battery that I was recharging so it would be ready for the day.  I tried, I really did!  The lights were impressive and they did a light show timed with music which was fun to watch, but we could only go to certain areas of the zoo and see a few of the animals.  Justin was telling me "zoo"  "amals" all day and he was kind of disappointed.  The zoo is supposed to be about animals and the lights just didn't impress our gang.  I don't think we'll be going again until the kids are quite a bit older.

We got home so late that of course Wednesday was doomed.  I decided pretty early on that it was going to be a crabby mommy day.   It started with Justin waking up and spreading poopy on his floor and all over his hands and legs and he also peed in his bed, on his mask (which he had thrown on the floor), and the box of clothes under his bed.  After I got everything in the laundry and Justin in the bathtub we had breakfast.  Justin spilled his medicine/drink (which is basically just sugar water) all over the table and floor I had just mopped.  It took me until 1:00 pm to get everything cleaned up and back to where we started when I woke up that morning.  I also had to make several insurance and doctor phone calls which never helps my mood.  And you know that was the day before Thanksgiving...

So while I was moping the floor I decided to think of all the things for which I am so thankful to help get me out of my funk.  (It seemed appropriate, it being Thanksgiving week and all...)  The day was not over yet though.  While I was mopping Travis laid down and took a nap.  A nap!  He doesn't do that by himself, unless he's you guessed it...sick.  Oh yeah, fever and everything.  As long as he was medicated he was fine but he did a lot of laying around.

Then it was on to Thanksgiving, which was calm and relaxing.  It was rather low-key with just Randy's parents and his uncle.  Lots of good food, and I got to take home the turkey bones to make yummy broth, which is one of the best parts of the day for me.  Then I did something I have never done before...
I went Black Friday shopping in the middle of the night.
I have gone out to one store before at midnight, but this was hard core (for me!)  We went to Wal-mart.  That says it all.  Now I want to impress upon you how big of a deal this was for Randy to agree to let me do:  Alaina does not sleep through the night.  Justin does not sleep through the night.  Travis often gets up when Justin does.  And Randy does not get up with them very often.  I get up at least four times a night and he gets up maybe once or twice a week.  This is nothing against Randy, it's just that I am often the only one who can help and he has to get up early to go to work.  He also has turned himself into a very deep sleeper.  So I was slightly worried that the neighbors might be calling our house asking if someone would take care of that crying baby!  But our kids had other plans.  Justin peed his bed, Alaina refused to take a bottle and Randy pretty much gave up trying to sleep.  He texted me updates throughout the night but he didn't ask me to come home.  Wasn't that so sweet?  After my friend and I got our lists checked off we did some girl's shopping.  I haven't been able to shop for myself and try clothes on in the store in, well, I cannot remember when!  It was so much fun!  I had a great time but when I came home (at 4 am) Randy was standing in the kitchen waiting for me.  Alaina was laying in bed doing the big sniffle thing as she was trying her best to settle down and go to sleep.  I let Randy go to sleep and I fed her.  Then I crawled our bed where Justin was waiting for me and he promptly cuddled tightly against my side.  A short three hours later (VERY late for our kids; I guess the night's activities took a toll on them too) the day began.  A very low-key, not-doing-very-much kind of day.
The rest of the weekend we watched football and decorated and recovered from illnesses.  We missed church but after lots of rest (on everyone's part) we were ready for another week.  This week has  been much better.  Still plenty of coughs and runny noses and phone calls with insurance and doctors but all in all, I think we are ready for the Christmas season.
(And while I would love to share some pictures of the week, I have run out of storage on blogger so it's either switch to a new format or pay for storage.  I haven't decided what to do yet.  That's why I can't change the picture of Travis and Justin on the top of the blog.  I can't even delete it!  Believe me, I have tried.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sitting Up

Alaina has been getting close to sitting up by herself so I wanted to get some pictures of her efforts.  It's so fun to watch babies learning new skills and Justin is just fascinated!  He gets close to her and gets to get her attention and gives her encouragement to keep trying.  She was doing really well so I was setting her up and then letting go to snap a photo.

But sometimes you don't always get what you bargained for:

I could not have gotten this picture if I would have tried!  Randy says I am gross for taking this picture and probably even grosser for posting it here, but she looks so casual and unconcerned.  It makes me laugh!
And then after I cleaned her up (Justin ran to get the burp rag) and set her up again she tumbled over and big brother was there to catch her.  Justin was just beaming!  He adores Alaina and loves helping teach her new tricks.

And then Alaina just needed a break so she switched over to her favorite Superbaby pose and flashed this winner of a smile.

So precious!  It melts my heart!

The Zoo

Justin had to go to the doctor in the morning and his doctor is near the zoo so we were able to make a day of it and have some fun too.  I dropped off Mary and Travis first and then went to the endocrinologist with Justin (He's doing well: TSH level is down, T3 good, T4 still low.  Back in another four months, labs to check levels before the appointment.)  Then we went back to meet up with them.  It was a little cool so the animal were moving!  Usually they lounge around in the heat, so this was the first time we saw them active.  The lionesses did a little playful fighting for us even.
We were able to go to the new African area of the zoo.  Justin wanted to see the giraffes so we made sure to check them out.  We even got to see them eat.  Justin has gotten so good with talking that he said "zoo", "g-raff", (the sign for elephant), and "ape".  That just about sums up what we saw!

Travis decided that his new favorite animal is the cheetah.  He just learned that it's really fast so that was cool to him.  So we had to take a trip to see the cheetahs.

And take a few pictures too.  Alaina just slept.  So did Benjamin (Mary's foster baby).  He got his picture taken with the Houston zoo sign to show that he had been there!
While I was at the doctor with Justin, Travis and Mary wandered through the zoo.  When they came to an animal, Mary would read the sign about the animal.  (This was Travis' school for the day so we wanted him to learn something.)  After the 8th sign or so, Travis said "blah blah blah" when she started reading!  So she stopped reading and waited for me to come and take over.  How do they get attitudes so quickly?
Travis' assignment when we go to the zoo is to pick and animal and write three sentences about it.  So Travis picked the cheetah on this trip and he wrote: "Cheetahs run 70 miles per hour.  They live in Africa.  They eat small animals."  And Justin had to write something too.  Because Travis did.  You know how that works, right?  One interesting thing I learned is that at top speed they can travel up to 30 feet per stride.  That's amazing to me!  God made such amazing animals with such unique and interesting skill sets.  It's so fun to watch them in action.

Then on to the monkeys and gorillas.  Of course, thanks to Silly Songs with Larry we know which is a monkey and which is an ape.  We sang the song several times.

We finished the trip at the elephants.  We got in at the end of the zoo keepers talk and we learned about elephants training.  And the fun part was seeing the elephants do the things the keeper said that they do.  Like how they interact and have real personalities.  Another totally interesting God-is-so-cool moment.

It was a fun excursion with our friend.   She enjoyed our warm weather zoo compared to her cold weather zoo in Minnesota.  She has penguins and polar bears, we have elephants and giraffes!  They both are fun so now it's our turn to visit her zoo!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Buddy Walk!!

I know, it took me longer than I hoped, but here it is.  Justin's Jaywalkers made their fifth appearance at the Buddy Walk.  It was such an encouraging, uplifting experience.  This is the first year that Justin really understood what was happening and that it was about him.  I have made it a tradition to wear my Buddy Walk shirts from previous years during the week leading up to the Walk so all week Justin asked about the "Walk".  He can say it so well!

Check out Alaina's outfit!!  Our friend Melissa made her this great onesie... 

...complete with bling!

This year the Walk was after the Buddy Bash so we arrived early to do some playing around before walking.  Justin really got into the games and he had so much fun!  He couldn't quite make it up the steps and I had Alaina with me so I couldn't help so one of the "Buddy-teers" helped him up.  The volunteers were mostly high school kids and they were really great with all the children.  They were so patient and helpful; I was very impressed.

Justin wanted to go "one more" time!

When I made him get out and back in line he pouted....

...until he heard the music and he started dancing!

Then both he and Travis discovered this ride (you can see Travis inside).  Travis, Clara, and Justin rode it about five times each!  Justin managed to get the men running the ride wrapped around his little finger and when he got off and did his "one more" routine, they just let him stay on and ride again!  He rode all by himself once even.

I rode once to get some pictures.  I had Alaina strapped to my front and she did just fine.  I did fine until I stopped taking pictures. I was ready to get off!!!!

You can see how Justin had a good time!

Our team, in kids!

Justin's Jaywalkers 2012

On a side note, this is a new team this year.  It's hard to read their shirts, but they say "Luke's Girls and Guywalkers".  The backs are all different.  Of course, Luke's dad's shirt says "Luke, I am your Father".  Other ones said "Luke, I am your Wingman" and "Luke, I am your Nana".  So cute! 

Luke's shirt said "My force is with me".

Then we were off on the Walk.  We tried to do some balloons but it was too windy so that didn't work.

I planned to carry Alaina in the front pack and put Justin in the stroller, but they had ideas of their own: 

Justin is definitely Pop's boy so at the end of the Walk when I wanted a picture of all the kids and their medals, Justin did not want to leave him.  So I got a bit of a sad smile!

It was another fabulous day!  The weather was beautiful and there were tons of walkers: 8,500 was the final count.  So much fun and we will be back next year.  Mark the date:  November 9, 2013!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Houston Gem and Mineral Show

So this isn't quite the post you were expecting, but this came first so we'll start here.  Our friend Mary, came to town for the Buddy Walk so we picked her up at the airport and then we went on a field trip to check out the Rock Show, as we have been calling it.  Travis has been looking forward to this forever!  He is really into rocks to the point of my needing to put a limit to how many can come into the house.  It's fun to feed his passion by going to events like this.

We arrived early, before a lot of school groups arrived so we got first dibs on some of the kids stuff.  This was one of the museums in town.  They brought shark teeth for all the kids and lots of other things to touch and pick up.  The people were all so very friendly and knowledgeable.  They wanted the kids to ask questions and touch everything.  And our boys did!

This was our first year to go to this show and the website didn't give us a whole lot of information about what to expect.  But fortunately we have a very talkative son and he started up a conversation with someone at therapy and she gave us the low down on what not to miss.  The one thing we knew was that we had to go to the tent outside and pound concrete.  The boys got to be paleontologists and search for fossils (plastic dinosaurs).  After being properly fitted with goggles they were given hammers and screwdrivers to chip away at the concrete.  Daddy helped Justin, but Travis went to town all by himself.  We were the first people there so all the volunteers surrounded the boys to watch them and one even offered to take pictures since I had Alaina strapped to my front.  We ended up with approximately 35 pictures of the boys beating concrete.  It was hysterical!

Justin couldn't manage to keep on his goggles.  They kept coming off and then he put them back on whatever way he could!

 They had so much fun and finally the director had to say, "Okay, that's great. I think you're done." Pause while the boys keep pounding. "Great job. Now let's leave some for someone else. You can come back later." Pause. "I think we have a group coming in now...." Randy and I finally managed to drag the boys away and promise we would come back later.

Then we went on to the sluice.  For $5 you could buy a bucket of dirt (properly loaded with mineral and petrified wood for the kids to "discover") and then you went down to the running water to dump it in the boxes with wire screens to clean the dirt away.  The boys each got some dirt and they had fun seeing what they could find. 

Justin wasn't so good at shaking the pan so Mary shook him instead!
Then the man had a chart to show us what we found.  He even said that there was a topaz in Travis' haul that wasn't supposed to be there.  But we haven't been able to figure out which one it is quite yet!

Then we wandered through the area of items for sale.  There were some amazing gems and jewelry!  Plus geodes and other interesting Texas fossils.  And lots of items from all over the world.  We came across a woman who taught us about coprolite.  She started off by saying that when they are out in the field and they come across something new and unfamiliar they do the lick test to see if it is something that can be polished.  Then she brought out the coprolite for the boys to lick.  I had to get a picture of that!  We will never forget that lesson!

We found a demonstration of a man cutting and polishing a stone.  And his accomplice playing the soprano saxophone.  They were great teachers with great passion for their work.  Travis and Justin had a great time watching them. 

Then we met a man who had built his own machines to polish stones into spheres.  He is a member of the Gem and Mineral Society and you could see his interest and passion for what he did.  He had three different machines, each rigged for different phases of the process, from the initial rough buffing down to the fine polishing.  He used the simplest motors and pieced together funnels, the ends of baseball bats, salt shakers, and old tin buckets to make the perfect rock polishing system.  It was so interesting!

We had such a good time learning about minerals and fossils.  I really had very little knowledge about these minerals and rocks in general I really enjoyed it more than I really thought I would.  My favorites were the geodes.  They look so unassuming until you crack them open.  Then they sparkle brilliantly!  I like that.  I really tried to get Travis to see how awesome that is and he just couldn't get into it.  God made something rather dull and boring until someone said, "Hey, I wonder what this looks like on the inside?"  That must have made God laugh!
I really didn't know what to expect at the Show but it turned out fabulously for our first experience.  We will do it again next year for sure!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Buddy Walk Preview

The Buddy Walk is this weekend and we just got our shirts.  Aren't they awesome?  At least we won't lose Justin!  One thing that's missing from this picture is the incredible onesie that a friend made for Alaina.  She has her own special "Justin's Jaywalkers" outfit, complete with personalized bling.  You'll have to wait until after Saturday to see it.

(I promise not to take too long to upload and post the pictures!)
Please pray for a safe and fun event for everyone this weekend!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Five Months

Our little girl has made it to another milestone!  Five whole months old!
And she has a cheerleader outfit to wear for the occasion. 
Pretty in pink, don't you think?
Thanks, Mommy Sharon, for the great look!

In honor of the special occasion, she and Justin read a book together.

We went walking with some friends today and their four-year-old daughter asked what Alaina could do.  She wasn't very impressed with the list:

Roll over
Grab things really tightly

Then we let Alaina grab her finger and that made her smile.  I guess babies can be fun after all!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Happy Halloween!

So I am not kidding when I said that I didn't take any pictures of Halloween.  The plan was to hit a few houses early and then come back and put Alaina to sleep and hand out candy at our house.  The plan failed miserably.  We set out walking, and I carried Alaina.  At the first house our neighbor insisted on keeping Alaina and the boys cheered, thinking they could go to more houses then.  So we went up and down a few more streets but Justin got tired and I had to carry him.  And his burgeoning sack of candy.  It didn't take too long for me to start limping, but by this time we were pretty far away from home.  I was hot and tired and the boys were hot and tired.  So we went and rescued Alaina, who was slightly fussy by this time since I hadn't brought a pacifier or a burp cloth.  Fortunately our neighbor is a good sport.
We went home and quickly got ready for bed.  The boys were somehow high on sugar without having actually eaten any of it.  It must have absorbed through their skin as they sorted and examined each piece.  So they were bouncing around the front door waiting to open it at the first bit of a knock. When we finally got them into bed we could still hear them (especially Justin) talking and giggling.  It was a very long (and short) night!
So you will have to be satisfied with a picture of Alaina in her Halloween splendor.
Kinda cute, huh?