Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Some general updates

Some personal and household updates!

First: swimming!  It's awesome.  I was planning on joining the master's swimming program since it meets during the time I swim.  I actually decided to hold off on joining the team for now.  The first day I went swimming, I about died.  I was so out of shape!  Mostly my lungs were out of shape.  Probably because I tried swimming at the speed my body remembered swimming back in high school.  Ha!  That didn't work out.  Once I scaled back and swam at a more reasonable pace, it went much better. 

When I tried to follow the workout provided by the coach, I had to modify everything.  I felt a lot of pressure - not from the coach or anyone on the team - but pressure I was putting on myself.  I took a step back and thought: wait!  This is MY time.  My time to have two hours of complete freedom.  I realized I don't even want someone telling me what to do.  I am not going to compete - this is purely for health benefits - both mental and physical.  I know how to create a workout that suits my needs perfectly.  So that is the plan.  I swim three days a week and walk the other four days.  Once the weather gets too bad for outside exercise, I'll swim Monday-Friday. 

Second: dieting!  Weight Watchers...eh.  Honestly, I'm sick of counting points.  I started using my points for foods that weren't that great.  Weight loss slowed waaaaay down.  I think my insulin resistance reared its ugly head again due to me eating lots of starches with my points.  I decided to go back to what I used to do before I became pregnant, which is watching my glycemic load.  For someone who has insulin issues, that is the perfect eating plan.  There is no counting of anything involved.  I simply avoid starches.  I just made the switch, so I do miss bread, muffins, pasta, etc....but that fades away fairly quickly.  Just by cutting those things out for a few days I already feel better.  Weight loss should resume shortly.  Hopefully.  There is an excellent book, the Glycemic Load Diet by Rob Thompson that I highly recommend.  It does a spectacular job at explaining insulin, and how the food we eat effects insulin levels.  Pretty interesting stuff.

Third: Lukie!  I must say that things with Luke are going very well.  When he first realized how mobile he actually was, I thought I was totally in for it.  He was all over the place, and it was exhausting with a capital E!  Luckily, after a few days of crazy exploration, he has settled down a bit.  It's almost like he proved to himself that he could go anywhere he wanted, but in the end, he really likes to stick pretty close to Mama :)  He stays reasonably close to me when he plays on the floor.  He travels around a bit, but it's much, much better than chasing him all around a room.  I'm sure the tide will turn again.  But for now?  It's all good. 

There is definitely a pattern of hard times and not-so-hard times with Mr. Luke.  He moves in and out of stages fairly quickly.  I need to remind myself of this fact when he hits his next rough patch.  No stage lasts forever. I enjoy seeing him so happy.  He seems to be very content right now.  He can physically do what he wants (for the most part), which sets the stage for productive, satisfying play sessions for him.  Pretty cool stuff.

And I think that is about it.  <3       

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quiet your mind....

I love music.  As a teenager, I used to spend hours laying on my bed, listening to music.  I had a playlist for every occasion/mood.  I always have music playing in the car.  I love listening to the lyrics and analyzing the meaning of songs.  Some song meanings are obvious, others leave much up for interpretation.  I'm always looking for new songs to add to my iPod. 

A few weeks ago, Zac Brown was on the Today show.  I immediately fell in love.  I have no idea why it has taken me this long to discover him, but it has.  I downloaded his CD's to my iPod and have had lots of happy jam sessions since.  One song that really struck me is "Quiet your mind".  The chorus says:

"Quiet your mind.  Soak it all in, it's a game you can't win, enjoy the ride."

What a great way to think about life.  Shut down the clutter and noise in our minds.  Be awake!  Soak in each day.  No one gets out of life alive, so enjoy the ride while it lasts. 

As a mom, I really appreciate this perspective.  When you have young children at home, life can be far from relaxing....some days are downright crazy.  It's easy to be overcome with negativity.  I try very hard to avoid doing that, but let's face it, we all end up there sometimes.  This song reminds me to enjoy the ride.  I know for an absolute fact that there will come a time when I long for these days.  Nolan is so big and grown up now, and I am having a blast with him.  However, when I look back at his baby pictures sometimes I feel an intense longing to go back and have just one day to relive his babyhood.  To hold his chubby little body one more time...hear his baby squeals....listen to his baby jabber.  I can never go back -- all I have are sweet memories to hang on to.  Same with Luke -- 8 months have flown by at rocket speed.  Even though it's exhausting to chase him around all day, he is so darn cute at this age.  My favorite thing about him being able to crawl is when he crawls over to me from across the room.  I love the sound of his fat little hands hitting the floor, and the cute giggles that erupt from his mouth as he gets closer to me.  It's truly priceless <3

Soak it all in, enjoy the ride!  Oh, and by the way...if you want to listen to a song that is sure to make you feel cheerful, listen to "Knee Deep" by Zac Brown.  Love it!!!

Here are two pictures of Nolan that I love (blast from the past).  He is about Luke's age in the first one.  Such a sweetie!



     
And I can't leave Lukie out.  Here he is, flashing his beautiful smile....while being naughty in his highchair.  He loves to turn around completely....so we have to chase his mouth down to feed him.  Crazy boy!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A community of moms

Today I attended the kickoff meeting for our local mom's group.  I was a bit nervous -- both about the thought of leaving Luke in the childcare room, and also about walking into a room full of women I didn't know.  But the benefits of going outweighed my anxiety.  I would like to meet more moms in our community, and I'd like to provide an opportunity for Luke to socialize.  I'm happy to say that it went well!  Luke only made it in the childcare room for about a half hour, but that is a good start.  It was very crowded with a lot going on in the childcare room, so I was happy he even made it that long.  I enjoyed meeting the other moms, and I'm really looking forward to the meetings.  It's nice to belong to a community of moms.  

I am hoping that the mom's group, along with some other activities I've located, can give some structure to my week.  Now that school has started for Nolan, I'm going to really try to set a weekly schedule for Luke and I.  Otherwise it seems that Friday arrives and I have nothing to show for the week!  I need to figure out which mornings will work for me to swim, which mornings are better for a walk, what day will be grocery shopping day, what laundry I'm doing when, cleaning schedule, etc.  My time is not organized right now -- at all -- so I end up having some days where we're just hanging around the house semi-bored, and then a few marathon days.  The marathon days never go well because Luke misses his naps and becomes fussy.  I get frustrated, and it's just not a good day.  I'm thinking that if I spread things around throughout the week, each day will have structured and unstructured time so we don't get bored, Luke will get his naps, and everything will hopefully run better.  Admittedly, organization is probably my biggest weakness.  However, if I take the time to make a schedule I will stick to it (as long as it's workable).  Here's to hoping!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Battle of wills

One thing I loved about the 0-6 month age range is that it is widely accepted that a baby's wants are his/her needs during that time.  Of course, there are still many interpretations of this fact....and we all have our own parenting style.  I pretty much felt confident that if Luke cried, he needed something and it was important for me to respond to him as soon as possible.  I felt good knowing that we were developing a strong bond, and that he felt secure and loved.  (Notice I did not say this age range was easy.  "Easy" does not come to mind when I think of parenting in general.)  Luke loved to be held.  That made my life difficult at times, especially if I needed to get something accomplished.  But, I found ways to cope.  My Moby and Ergo carriers were my best friend.  And our house wasn't always clean, and sometimes the laundry piled up.  Oh well!

Six months came and went, and I started to question myself about responding immediately to all of Luke's demands.  Mark and I talked about it, and since he was born a month early, we decided to wait until he was 7 months old to switch things up.  Seven months came and went, and we still weren't convinced.  It still felt right to respond to his cries right away.  Many things I needed/wanted to accomplish during the day were not getting done.  We decided to follow what felt right in our hearts.  We continued to treat Luke's wants as needs, and responded accordingly.    

Now Luke is 8 months old and the picture is crystal clear: at times he wants things he does not need.  Not every cry requires an immediate action on my part.  This has really been a hard transition for me.  On one hand, I hate knowing he is upset about something.  But on the other hand, I know it's what is best for him in the long run.  He has to learn sooner or later that things won't always go his way.  We figured it's better for him to start to learn that now, vs. when he's older.  The tantrums will only get bigger if we wait!

The small upsets are not a big deal to me.  Luke loves playing with the TV remote, my cell phone, and my iPod.  Well, no, you can't.  I don't want any of those things to get broken/ruined.  So even though he screams and throws a mini-fit when I take them from him, I'm okay with it.  He only cries for a few seconds and then is on to the next thing.  I also have no problem with his screams when I'm preventing him from doing something dangerous.  Again, his protests are fairly short-lived, and it's a no-brainer to stop him before he gets hurt.

I struggle more with his protests about me not carrying him around with me.  My Ergo carrier is still tolerable for me to use, but only if I am walking around somewhere.  If I have to do a lot of bending, stooping, standing, etc. (i.e. cleaning), it can become quite uncomfortable .  At 8+ months old, Luke does not need me to carry him everywhere with me.  He sometimes wants that, but doesn't need it.  If it didn't hurt my back, I'd do it.  But I think I would regret having possible damage done to my back, simply because I was unwilling to say no to Luke.  Still, it's tough.

I don't like to have a bunch of picky rules.  I basically say "no" for a reason - to prevent damage to property, or to prevent bodily harm to self or others.  I find that keeps things simple and reasonable.  I also refrain from doing things that irritate Luke unless it's absolutely necessary.  For example, I only leave him in a contraption of some sort (swing or play pen) when I absolutely have to get something done.  Each day during my final dinner preparations, he swings for 30 minutes while watching a Baby Einstein video.  It's too dangerous to have him around while I'm cooking.  Usually he is fine with that, but even if he isn't, too bad.  There is no other safe option.  I try to do my cleaning while he is otherwise occupied -- either while he's sleeping, or when he is playing with Mark.  However, sometimes a situation arises when I have to clean and he has to play by himself in his play pen.  That happened this morning and Mr. Luke was mad, mad, mad!!!  He screamed pretty much the entire time I cleaned.  He could see me, I was talking to him, and he had all his favorite toys available.  It didn't matter.  He was ticked, and made sure I knew how he felt about the situation. 

When I had finished everything that had to be done, I of course went to Luke right away.  It was interesting -- he was immediately happy and smiling.  That confirmed what I knew in my heart: he is old enough to handle delayed gratification every now and then.  I breathed a little sigh of relief when I saw that big dimpled smile -- thank God, I haven't ruined him.  Yet :-)  As a side note....I had to put him in his play pen a couple more times after his nap -- just for a minute or two so I could do a few things to prep dinner.  I anticipated him completely freaking out in remembrance of this morning.  The exact opposite happened.  He quietly sat and played with his toys.  Whew!  Now that he is mobile -- and such a dangerous little dare devil -- we literally cannot take our eyes off of him.  So placing him in the play pen for a few minutes here and there is absolutely necessary on a daily basis.  I can't even use the bathroom or go get a glass of water without putting him in a secure location!

Parenting is like being in a big maze.  We all find our way through by trial and error.  Sometimes you take the right turn, other times you are faced with a dead end, have to re-trace your steps, and try a different route.  No two people take the exact same route through a maze, but somehow we all find our way through to the end (and hopefully emerge with a happy, productive citizen we are ready to launch out into the world!).  Cheers to the journey <3           

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Goodbye vacation, hello reality

Yesterday was a big day.  Both for me, and for Nolan.  For Nolan, it was the beginning of a new school year.  There is so much excitement and anxiety wrapped up in the first day.  New teacher, new classroom, seeing friends again, etc.  Everything is new and shiny.  Of course, each year I take a "first day of school" picture.  Here is Nolan, my sweet FOURTH grader!



When I dropped Nolan off at school, I watched him walk into the building and I felt mixed emotions.  Excited for him to start another school year....but also sad knowing that our carefree days have come to an end for a long time.  There won't be much free time during the next several months.  Luckily, he had rave reviews about fourth grade.  He said it was "amazing".  Noteworthy moments from the day (according to Nolan):  Desk is huge, loves it.  There are 7 urinals in the bathroom, and the bathroom is much bigger than the one he used in previous grades (LOL).  He has already decided he's making and selling fudge for a big project that takes place after the first of the year.  Teacher is nice.  Three new students in his classroom.  No homework tonight.  He remembered his math facts from last year.  Apparently, all of those things equal pure awesomeness for a fourth grade boy.  I can't tell you how happy I am that he is pumped up about school.  He goes to a wonderful school.  

It was a big day for me because it really hit home that I am not working outside of the home anymore.  Normally my summer break would be over, and I'd be welcoming students back to school.  Some parts of me feel a little sad -- I miss my coworkers, and I miss the kids.  Mostly I feel thankful for the opportunity to be at home with Luke.  It was the right decision for me and my family.  I take my new role seriously.  I am working hard to learn how to manage our household/family efficiently.  Surprisingly, there is a pretty big learning curve.  Many, many things fell through the cracks when I was working, and now those things are coming to light!  I'm not sure how we survived, LOL!  

So it's back to reality.  Time for schedules to adhere to, homework, sports games/practices, etc.  Lots of new adventures are ahead of us.  Cheers to a great start to the next chapter =)     

      


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Life sure does change....

.....when your 8-month-old is on the move!  OH MY!  Nolan was this age 9 years ago and I still remember how challenging it could be.  And he was ultra cautious.  We had zero trips to the ER.  I honestly don't remember any noteworthy injuries whatsoever.  Now that I have experienced a few days of Luke on the move, I realize Nolan was a cake walk when he was Luke's age.  Uh-Oh!

Luke is now a pro at crawling.  Here he is posing one-handed, showing off his super baby strength.


He seems to be a magnet for danger.  We have a nice big fluffy-soft-cushy area rug in both our living room and Luke's playroom.  Does he play on the rugs?  No.  Instead, he spends all his time on the hard, cold surfaces.  And randomly lets himself collapse face first onto the hard floor.  

Also, the metal air vents are an obsession of his.  I am really curious to know if other children are also obsessive about air vents.  Nolan would spend hours hovered over the vents.  Just wondering if I pass along some freak vent gene, or if this is a universal with babies ;-)  There are some sharp areas on the vents, being metal and all.  Luke has taken a few tumbles face first into the vents.  

We have two steps that lead from Luke's playroom up to our living room.  One of the steps is tile, and the other is wooden.  Both could be dangerous.  What is Luke's favorite thing to do in his playroom?  Climb the steps, get into a standing position while holding onto the door, and then let go and fall backwards.  Luckily I have been sitting right there each time he does this and have been able to catch him.  Otherwise, those tumbles would have ended in an ER visit for sure.  

I am amazed that he has no fear.  Pretty scary to think about how he'll be once he is even more mobile!  :-O 

Being able to crawl was not good enough for Luke, so he quickly learned how to pull himself up into a standing position while holding on to something.  That wasn't good enough either, so today he pulled himself up, and then started to inch he way across the length of a bench in our living room.  I am still getting used to his crawling - definitely not ready for cruising yet!  And, remember his baby yoga pose?  My mom said it looked like he was trying to figure out how to stand up.  Well, sadly, she was correct.  He gets into that position and can get one arm up and tries to stand all the way up now.  I just have to laugh.  Mark and I are so in for it!!

It's sweet because Mark is on a mission to make our house safer.  We are in the process of having Luke's playroom completely carpeted.  That will solve the issue of dangerous steps, as well as the issue of Luke falling down on the hard tile flooring around the edges of the room.  He also bought some wooden vent covers that are not nearly as sharp as the metal ones.  Outlet covers are installed, as well as some door knob covers.  A baby gate is in place, which I am in love with.  Not only does it keep Luke quarantined to our living room/playroom, it keeps Jazzy (our Boxer) out of those areas.  No more problems with Jazzy licking Luke's face too much, walking on Luke, chewing baby toys, etc.     

Here is our gate.  Jazzy is trying to lick Luke through the gate :-)



This is the bench Luke loves to pull up on, and is trying to learn how to cruise while holding onto it.  Notice how Mark has his hands ready to catch Luke if needed!  Luke lets go at unpredictable moments, so you have to be ready at all times. 



This is an ottoman we brought up from our basement.  Our hope is he'll want to learn to cruise with it.  It's very soft and he can't get hurt from it (unlike the wooden bench in the pictures above!).  Clearly, he loves the ottoman.  If you look really hard, you might be able to see his new teeth.  He has two on the bottom now!



                                                                     
These times are very exciting with Luke - it's great to watch your child learn new skills and gain independence.  However, they are very scary times as well.  We don't want Lukie to get hurt!!  We both have come to accept the fact that we can no longer take our eyes off of Luke for even a second.  We also cannot leave him alone for a second, as he is constantly putting himself in dangerous situations.  Our little dare devil...   

Lovin' baby jail!


Off to bed now.  I need to get lots of rest to gear up for another day of chasing Mr. Luke!  <3

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Seasons

Parenting during a child's first year of life reminds me of changing seasons.  For me, I get excited about each new season, love it for awhile, then the heat or cold gets annoying and I'm ready for a change again.  The good thing?  The seasons always change, year after year.  Sometimes they change quicker or slower than I want, but eventually, we get there.  I remind myself of this fact when the going gets tough with Luke.  Lots of "seasons" during that first year.  Some you'd like to see only last for one day, others you wish could last forever.  Well, maybe not forever....but some of those sweet cuddly newborn moments went by way too fast!!

Monday was a horrible day, but the rest of the week has been good.  We've had restful, uninterrupted sleep at night, I've been able to get a couple swim sessions in, Luke has been in a decent mood (despite a runny nose/possible cold coming on), we get to pick out replacement furniture (gotta love reasonable, family-owned businesses!), and life has generally been lovely.  Perfect?  No, but I can't complain too much.  We are all adjusting to Luke's new-found mobility.  He has pretty much perfected his crawling, and is just now realizing that he can move all around the floor.  At first he would move around in a small area.  Today I noticed he was branching out more and traveling all around the room.  He still hasn't realized he can go into entirely different rooms.  I'm sure that will come soon, like tomorrow :O   

We have to laugh because we have all sorts of toys and books for Luke, and we make them readily available.  What is most appealing to him?  Any and all items that are not his to touch/play with.  We think he has Go-Go-Gadget arms, because it seems like he can reach things that should be way outside of his arm span!  We all have to be on the lookout for possible dangers. 

I have much more to say, but our little love bug is screaming my name (he screams MOMMA when he wakes up at night).  I'm glad we had the last two nights to rest up, considering this is the second time he has woken up tonight since we put him to bed, which was only about two hours ago.  In all fairness, I don't think he feels well.  Back to mommy land I go.......   

Monday, August 15, 2011

Frustrated.

Why?

Well let's see....

Our brand new furniture that we spent a ton of money on already has unexplained damage to the fabric.  On all three pieces.  Luckily, we purchased the 5-year protection plan.  However, after filling out the forms and reading the fine print, I am not 100% convinced they will replace it.  Seems there are so many picky exclusions, and  it makes me wonder if they are the type of company to find a way around all their claims.  Oh, and the best part: after they receive a claim on a piece of furniture, "the protection plan has been fulfilled on that item."  So basically that 5-year plan we purchased only lasted two months.  Awesome.

Luke had a horrible night last night...up most of the night screaming and causing chaos.  I was so tired that I cried, and also had a stomach ache from fatigue.  Which meant when my alarm went off bright and early to go swimming, I had to pass due to feeling ill.  I was really looking forward to my swim.

After a few cups of tea this morning, I managed to take a 3-mile walk.  Did Luke sleep?  No.  He cried the last 1/2 mile.  I know it could have been worse....he could have cried the entire time.  Still, frustrating. 

Then, he refused his afternoon nap.  I couldn't take his fussiness any longer, I knew he was tired.  I put him in his swing and luckily he is now sleeping.  The bad news is, he usually doesn't sleep long in his swing.  The way my day is going, he'll sleep just enough to get a second wind and be fussy the rest of the day.

SERENITY NOW!  <3

Friday, August 12, 2011

Yoga baby

The last few weeks Luke has been doing what I would term "creeping".  He could travel across the floor, going forward, by various scooting movements when laying on his belly.  I didn't consider it crawling because he would move a little, but also incorporated rolls to actually get anywhere.  Prior to that, he could travel backwards only, so moving forward was a big deal for him. 

Well, as of yesterday, he can officially crawl.  He's not fast, but he gets in the traditional crawling position and moves his arms and legs properly (for the most part - his legs get a little weird sometimes).  He takes lots of stops, frequently pushing himself to a sitting position for a rest break.  But there is no mistaking it, the boy can crawl.  It's interesting because Nolan did an odd version of crawling from 6.5 - 7.5 months.  In his baby book I described him as looking like an inchworm :-)  I recorded he crawled with perfect form at 7.5 months.  Luke is just a bit over 7.5 months.  So far they have been so similar with physical milestones.  Pretty cool.

Naturally, I am very proud of Luke for reaching this monumental milestone.  I love seeing his big dimpled smile as he slowly makes his way over to me (as I cheer him on!).  I think he's been generally happier ever since he could move at all, which is good.  But there are things I dread about him crawling.  Already he's made his way over to Jazzy's dog bone and tried to chew on it, gone to my laptop and frantically pushed all the keys, and bumped his head on the corner of a wooden bench.  *Sigh*  Lots of chasing is in my future!  And probably lots of bumps and bruises are in Luke's future!

Luke has always liked to stand (while we hold on to him, obviously), but has taken an even greater interest in that recently.  He didn't really have any toys that he could pull up on, so we bought him one.  He loves it!  He gets very excited when he's standing behind it, so cute.  It will only be a matter of time before he is skilled enough to actually push it around.


 
The next two pictures......silly Luke.  For some reason, he would stand in this pose for extended periods of time.  Baby yoga?  I don't know!  He did this many times yesterday...



Eating solids has become very uneventful.  Overall, he loves eating solids and tolerates them well.  Since the introduction of yogurt, I think that is his favorite food.  He likes the blueberry and peach yogurt.  Just like his Papa!  He can hold his own sippy cup now and actually drink from it.  Mr. Independent :)



Congrats Luke on all your new accomplishments!  <3

 

Monday, August 8, 2011

A new commitment

This spring I began a walking regimen in conjunction with Weight Watchers.  I had not been able to exercise for quite some time, as I was restricted for most of my pregnancy, then had a c-section, and then the weather was terrible outside.  Once the weather broke, I hit the rode with Luke in tow.  I started out walking 30 minutes a day, and now I usually walk 40-45 minutes a day.  It has worked out great.  Luke enjoys the ride in his stroller, and typically falls asleep.  I enjoy some peace and quiet, plus get a workout. 

Unfortunately, the walks are no longer very challenging for me.  I could add some distance, but I don't know if Luke would tolerate that.  Lately he hasn't been taking his stroller nap, and sometimes fusses a little for the last 5 minutes or so of my walk.  I could run, but I hate to run.  I always end up with some sort of injury, blisters, and/or shin splints.  I've been there, done that many times before, and it never works for me.  I love to ride my bike, but I don't have a trailer for Luke.  Further, the weather will be getting cooler in the not so distant future.  I don't mind working out in the cold weather, but I can't expect Luke to handle that.

I thought about joining our local gym.  That was actually my plan all along....walk outside until the weather turned cold, and then join the gym (the gym has childcare for Luke).  The one issue with that is, I wasn't thrilled about the idea of Luke being in a daycare setting during cold/flu season.  I clearly remember how that went for Nolan.  I'd get about two days in at the gym, then he would get sick.  I'd be out for a week while he recovered.  Take him back, a few days later, he was sick again.  When babies are in the everything-goes-in-my-mouth stage, it's pretty much unavoidable for the same thing to happen with Luke. 

Fast forward to our vacation this weekend.  Nolan wanted me to show him how to do the different swimming strokes in our hotel pool.  I had a great time and as I was gliding through the water, I had an overwhelming feeling hit me: start swimming again.  I swam competitively from ages 9-18.  And I was good.  I have taught swimming lessons at a summer camp in Maine, and also for the YMCA.  However, once I had Nolan swimming ended for me.  Lap swim times never coincided with times I could swim.  It was frustrating, but after awhile I just gave up on the whole idea.  Being in the pool this weekend felt so good, and I knew I needed to find a way back to the pool.  When we got home I started searching.  I'm extremely excited to report that I am in luck!  I start tomorrow!!

I will be swimming bright and early in the morning for an hour Monday-Friday at our local University co-rec.  I can get an hour in and return home right about the time the rest of the family is getting up in the morning.  I'll be back before Mark has to leave for work, so it works out perfectly.  I don't have to drag Luke along, which means I can avoid the winter illness situation.  Perfection!  The best part?  There is a Master's swim team that meets during the time....so I'm joining!  I don't think I'll compete, but it will be awesome to have a coach.  I don't have to create my own workouts, plus I'll have others to condition with. 

I dragged Nolan and Luke out today and I got my rec pass, parking pass, and my swim gear.  I am ready to go for tomorrow morning!  I am nervous, because I know I will be so out of shape.  But I am determined to stick with it and get this body back into shape.  This is a big commitment for me, but it is just what I needed.  Walking got me back on the right track, but this is going to push me to a whole new level.  Wooooooo-Hooooooo! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sometimes it all just falls into place

We are back from our mini-vacation to Michigan!  This was my first vacation with a child under the age of 2.  I was unsure about what to expect.  Luke has really turned a corner lately (and gotten his first tooth, which I think was to blame for some periodic fussiness in weeks prior), so we were very hopeful things would go well.  However I think we both mentally prepared for the worst.    

So how did it go?  I will tell you in this wonderful photographic journey =)  I uploaded 190 pictures when we got home.  I will show my favorites :)

Here are my two lovelies before we hit the road.  Notice how packed the van is.  One would think we had packed for many days.  Nope, just two nights and three days!  Also notice the less-than-thrilled facial expressions.  We left at the crack of dawn and everyone was still a bit sleepy....



The drive was mostly uneventful.  I think Mark and I both breathed a sigh of relief as we rolled into Oval Beach in Saugatuck, MI.  Luke's worst moments are in the car, and we somehow managed to avoid a meltdown on the way there.  The beach and Lake Michigan were so beautiful.....





Mark and I watched in envy as a young couple walked past us with one backpack.  They found a nice spot on the beach, threw down their backpack, and were in the water one minute later.  How did it go for us?  Well, we had to set up our beach tent.  Haul ten million items from the van.  Walk to the changing rooms.  Why did we park at the furthest point from the restrooms/changing rooms?  I'm not sure.  All I know is Nolan and I arrived back to our "beach fortress" about 20 minutes later.  Sweaty from walking what felt like a mile.  We had to give Nolan explicit instructions about what areas were "sand free" areas so Luke would have a place to crawl around.  We had to apply layers of sunscreen.  Luke needed to nurse.  We were on the beach for nearly an hour before I even had the chance to approach the water. 

All of that being said.....it was so worth it!  After quickly realizing it was not going to be fun for Mark and I to take turns in the water while the other was trapped in our beach tent with Luke.....we all went to the water and took turns playing there.  So much fun!!!!  Luke loved having his feet dipped in the cold water.  He also loved looking down at the water, and I think he liked the noise of the waves.  One of us would hold Luke while the other went out deeper to ride the waves on the raft/play with Nolan.  It worked out so well because we were all together in the water, Luke was happy, and life was good.  We took periodic breaks back at the tent (which was a complete lifesaver....totally worth the money!).

Surrounded by toys in the tent, but chose my hair band to play with :P 


Our fortress on the beach.  Funny, you could pretty much spot every baby on the beach by looking for beach tents or massive umbrellas.


My boys <3



Luke loved being held by Mark in the water.  So cute!


I liked this picture of Luke and I, but I had to make it black and white to hide the INSANE sunscreen on my face.  I looked like a complete freak.  It wouldn't rub in right, so I was a big WHITE FACE!  LOL!!!  I asked Mark if he was embarrassed by me.  He assured me that he was not, and that I still looked beautiful.  He knows all the right things to say.... ;-)



I love this photo.  There is nothing sweeter than seeing your husband hold your child.  I would title this photo "Picture of a Real Man".  That is what Mark is: A Real Man.  He works tirelessly to provide the best life he can for our family, and he does an excellent job.  I have no idea how I got so lucky to find someone like him.  I will forever be grateful for him! <3


Luke was totally partying on the beach.  He seemed to know he was doing something cool, and he was laughing, smiling, and cracking us up!


And then he crashed.  I don't know if I have ever seen him so tired.....he never sleeps in his carseat, but he did not budge during the transfer from the car to our hotel, and then continued to sleep for about a half hour or so.   


After everyone rested up for a bit, we got cleaned up and headed out for yummy Japanese food.  We sat at a hibachi table....I was nervous about how Luke would handle it, but he did fine.  I turned him so he couldn't see the flames, which I think helped.  I liked these pics of us....too bad we couldn't all be in one picture together! 


         
The first night in the hotel was horrible.  Luke woke about every hour, so none of of got much sleep.  Luckily Mark and I are experienced with sleep deprivation, so this did not put a damper on the trip.  We went for a nice (FREE) breakfast at our hotel, and everything was going well.  We looked over at Luke and could tell he was "working on something".  Alright, no big deal.  We finished our breakfast and headed up to our room to change Luke.  When we got upstairs we discovered Mark had poo on his hand and on the front of his shirt.  What followed was truly disgusting and wrong.  I have never smelled anything so horrific.  Nolan had his face buried in a pillow and was screaming.  Mark and I were laughing so hard we about peed ourselves.  Luke was happy as a clam, enjoying all the excitement.  Needless to say, Luke ended up in the bathtub.  Here is a picture of the cheerful little boy...LOL!  (I should mention, our room was never the same after this incident.  Even this morning when we came back from breakfast, we were still hit with the faint odor of that diaper explosion.  Gross!)

   
After all the drama subsided, we headed out for another day of fun.  Dune climbs, a trip to downtown Holland for lunch, swimming in our hotel pool, and a trip to Tunnel Park.  The trip to Tunnel Park was supposed to just be to climb a dune and look out at Lake Michigan.  Mark, being the nice step-dad that he is, went down to the beach with Nolan so he could take one last swim.  I stayed at the top of the dune and enjoyed the views.  It was gorgeous.  Luke was sleeping in his Ergo carrier and it was lovely!

Out for lunch at a restaurant Nolan described as "gourmet".  Well, not so much, but glad you liked it so much!  LOL


Too funny - both with crazy faces :)




At Tunnel Park - dune for climbing behind us (with 20+ lbs. of baby strapped to me, I was thankful for the option of using the stairs!).


Nolan waving up to me when I was at the top of the dune.  He was having the time of his life....


What I have termed as the "Papa hold".  Mark always carries Luke like this.  I never carry Luke like that.  If I try to, Luke fusses.  If Mark tries to carry Luke how I carry him, he fusses.  He's developed his own groove with each of us, pretty cool!


Messy faces while out for ice cream



And they crashed.....


We stopped at Nelis Dutch Village before heading home.  It had some cute stores and things to see/do.  A great ending to our trip!


I think exhaustion had hit Luke.  He was basically in a coma during most of the Dutch Village tour!



The drive home wasn't all that fun.  Luke periodically screamed for the last 2 hours of the drive.  It didn't bother us too much though because he did so well with everything else....we pushed him to his limit and it was understandable that he was cranky at the end.  We will definitely be going back to Michigan, it was a wonderful trip!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Real moms rock

As I was mowing our crab-grass field yard this evening, I was thinking about my day today (well, yesterday now, because I wrote this last night) and I laughed out loud. I knew I had to write a post about it. This is for you, A.S. ;-)

One of my friends and I had a playdate planned for today. Actually, I guess I shouldn't refer to it as a playdate. Nolan informed me that he is way too old for that term. It's now "hanging out". Noted. Anyway, my friend has three lovely girls. Nolan had water activities on his agenda. He was hoping they would want to swim and play in his water park. I was hopeful that they would enjoy those things, but I wasn't 100% sure they would. I am, after all, a bit out of touch with girl activities since it's boy land over here! I decided it might be fun to get a couple bottles of colored bubbles and a pack of sidewalk chalk. I saw a review of the colored bubbles and they looked fun enough. The advice was to use them outside during water play so the color could easily wash off. Perfect.

It was nearing the time of their arrival, and my friend called. She was about 10 miles from our house and noticed her gas tank was on "E". Then she realized she did not have her wallet. Let me just say, I've been there. I think most moms have - in the flurry of the 500 things you have to pack to leave the house, sometimes things get forgotten. I've also felt hot panic when I see my gas tank is nearly out and I'm not near a gas station. I have had to fill up at Mark's business on more than one occasion due to poor planning on my part. Again, moms have to multi-task and juggle so many different things at once. If you drive a car that does not have an audible signal, it's easy to not notice a low tank until you are in the crisis zone.

Understandably, my friend was in a panic and unsure of what to do. Not enough gas to turn around and go back for her wallet....but no money to buy gas. I told her to turn off her AC to conserve gas (which resulted in everyone in her van getting hot and sweaty - how fun with kids in tow!) and drive to my husband's business. I would meet her there, we would give her some gas, and the problem would be solved. My friend was mortified and apologized profusely. My husband and I completely understood and were glad we had gas for her. The unexpected detour resulted in an impromptu visit with some farm animals, which had it's own set of funny moments. However I think my favorite moment was when we saw a praying mantis on my van. As the kids became worried about the insect, my friend made the comment it's a good thing they don't eat meat. LOL! Classic. We have our own recurrent insect dramas at our house, and so this was extra funny to me. Many times Nolan acts as though insects are going to eat/kill him.

Once we all arrived at our house, the flurry began of my friend and I tending to our babies, and also monitoring/helping the big kids. Three kids who are playing with water in the backyard....if you are a mom, you know what that involves. Don't come in with wet feet! Get the grass off of your feet before you come in the house! Don't leave your wet towel/bathing suit on the floor! I am laughing right now remembering my friend's shock and horror when her daughter appeared inside dripping wet (not a big deal, that is why we chose easy care flooring!!!) to inform us the water park was deflating. Remember those colored bubbles I got? They wanted to try those out. Two of the three kids emerged from that adventure looking like they took a bath in food dye (I am exaggerating...but it was a mess). Their entrance back into the house coincided with the pizzas being done, and both of us trying to finish up feeding our babies. There was a lot going on at once!

Then I realized I had not made enough pizzas?! How does that happen? There were five people who eat regular food. That takes talent to miscount such a small group. Nolan wanted his typical Moo Town Cafe lunch, which is soup and a grilled cheese. Well, no, I'm not making all of that in addition to the pizzas I just made. How about a turkey sandwich? Sure. The kids all had what they needed and life was good. We look out and notice Nolan has a pile of turkey beneath him on the deck....um, okay? How does that happen? He comes in and mentions he didn't like the turkey (that explains the pile of turkey thrown down on the ground). It tasted weird. Then he said he didn't like the cheese on the sandwich. Or the bread. Awesome!

Lunch ended and the kids went back out to play and the rest of the day was mostly uneventful. Until they reemerged to inform me the "dog is blue". I couldn't possibly imagine what they were talking about. Until I looked at our dog....and she looked like her head had been dipped in blue food dye! Apparently Nolan put his colored bubbles on top of her cage, but somehow the jar tipped over and spilled on her. Yay, time to bathe the dog! Initially I wanted to wring Nolan's neck, thinking he had really done it on purpose. However, when we were cleaning Jazzy off, I could tell the bubbles really had just spilled. Plus my friend's daughters had confirmed it was an accident. Luckily for all involved, the colored bubbles were washable.

And there you go - a day in the life of two real life moms. It was great - I completely enjoyed catching up with my friend. We used to work together and I miss her! Our kids got along wonderfully and had a lot of fun. Even our babies enjoyed seeing each other J Being a mom requires a great big sense of humor. I know my friend wanted to die about the gas debacle, but it was no big deal at all. I’ve been there - we’ve all been there. It just added a little spice to our day, and gave me something to giggle about this evening when the events of the day were replaying in my mind. Motherhood is so much sweeter when you have good company to walk the journey with <3  Thanks for the fun day, and thanks to all my friends for the fun, crazy days we have shared as moms!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Variety

I have a variety of topics to cover today.  I am too tired to think of a clever way to weave them all together :-O  As a result, here is a random post.

1.  We are going on a weekend getaway!  I cannot WAIT!!!!  This is a very rare treat for us, as usually going out of town in the summer is not an option with Mark's work.  I am extremely thankful that our family gets to spend three uninterrupted days together!!

2.  Our cat managed to sneak to the back of our house yesterday evening (we keep our hallway door closed to keep our dog and cat out of the bedroom wing of our house).  He got into Luke's crib while Luke was sleeping....and woke Luke up.  Luckily I responded to Luke's cries in a timely manner....I about had a heart attack when I saw a tail poking out of Luke's crib.  The room was semi-dark and I wasn't sure what I was seeing!!  My first thought was - OMG, a raccoon!  I don't want to think about what would have happened if Luke had gotten a good grip of Mocha's fur.  Needless to say, we are going to start double checking Mocha's whereabouts after we put Luke to bed!

3.  I am almost completely done school shopping for Nolan.  Woo-Hoo!  The last thing left on my list is a backpack.  School shopping is an expensive ordeal.  It's hard to believe that he starts back to school in 21 days!

4.  My new motto with Luke is, "Expect the Unexpected".  Taken from the high-quality show Big Brother ;)  Luke likes to keep us on our toes.  Just as soon as I think he has fallen into some sort of pattern, he flips the script.  I can say that overall, he has become much easier lately.  He of course still has his days (don't we all!), but mostly he's pretty good.  Turning 7 months old seemed to be some sort of magical milestone for him.  Hooray!

5.  Gratitude. Service.  Two themes I want our family to revolve around.  More to come on this one.

In closing, here are a few cute pictures of Luke and Nolan.  Luke was obsessed with Nolan's football helmet!