Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A little catching up...in pictures

I wanted to add some pictures of the last month or so(all of these may be from April). Buddy's school held a Trike-a-thon to raise money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, and the kids had a blast. It was also Fiesta time in San Antonio, so that's the reason for all of the colorful decor on the bikes and scooters. Nugget and I had a great time cheering the kids as they round around.

Buddy has a Strider Bike. It's a bike without pedals, and we're hoping to avoid training wheels because of it. He knows how to glide, and he's getting better at going faster. These bikes are so cool....Sandman and I wish we could get one, too!

Ready to race!
Sizing up the "competition" next to him.
Both feet off the ground! Love that bike!
Go sit next to your brother so I can take of picture of you both looking away from the camera.

We also went to Command Day on base with Daddy, and even though the camera battery died soon after we got there, we were able to snap a few pics with the planes. And no, that's not one of Sandman's planes, and we're not stationed at Offutt.
Mr. Big Time
Obligatory Tummy Picture- don't ask...
My Air Force Brats
Over der, Mommy!!!
Mr. Big Time, again
And there's that tummy, again...
My next blog will have more pictures, too. I'm terrible about uploading pics, and this blog is making me get it done!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Date Night

We get a few of them. When my mom visits. But she's here often enough that Sandman and I get at least a night out alone each month. Sometimes it's a quick bite somewhere, sometimes a movie, and sometimes it's just a shopping trip without worrying about the kids getting bored.

She visited this weekend, and she arrived early enough Friday evening for us to go out. We decided to follow something I read on Jen's blog called the Great Date Experiment. We had a blast. I highly recommend it.

Here's the packet for Date #1.

It's a progresseive date. We had an appetizer at one place, an entree at another and dessert somewhere else. We kept it fairly simple and not too expensive- we shared chips and guacamole at Chipotle, a sampler plate at a Greek bistro, and ice cream from Baskin Robin's. We even saved gas money because all of those places were located within walking distance (well, we did drive/re-park a little, but only because we had not decided where we were going....in hindsight, we could have parked at one location and walked around, which would have been more fun!)

At each stop, there are questions to go through with your spouse. My tough military hubby really got into it, and I think we both appreciated the limited conversation about kids or work. It was all about us. There were actullly tears shed a few times, and yes, we both got a little sappy. Well worth it!!

It took just over two hours, and we spent less than $40. I think Jen mentioned spending around $35. Obviously, a nice dinner out at one place could easily cost that much. But it was a lot more fun with an agenda- although we felt so free at each place sitting and talking!

Time alone with Sandman is so precious to me. He's my best friend, and we need those times to rekindle not only our marriage relationship, but our friendship. We plan on keeping up with the other dates. I believe the series will be 6 dates long, and we definitely plan on doing the rest.

People forget that marriage is hard work. I mean, love is great and wonderful, but when your patience is at it's end, everyone is tired, cranky or needs a Time Out, you haven't showered, your boss has unreasonable expectations and so on....it's not difficult to let it get to you. And then it takes away from your relationships. They suffer. And you do, too. But by reconnecting and seeing beyond the mountains of laundry or broken flight simulators.....you come back to where it all began. You and me. And you can tackle those dirty diapers or those no-show instructors without bringing them in between Us at the end of the day.

I just can't stress how important (and amazing!) it is when you're in a marriage that works. It's a blessing, and I love our life together. It's so worth it. Plain and simple.

I'd love to hear about it if you try it. I'm sure I'll post about Date #2 when we have a chance....I've peeked at the first part of it, and it looks wild.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Giddy Up

A couple weeks ago, my mom's neighbor invited us to her ranch where she keeps three horses. Woohoo! We were excited, though not really prepared (the boys only had shorts and Crocs....we'll come prepared with proper cowboy attire next time...or at least jeans and sneakers). We enjoyed feeding and riding her sweet horses! Apparently the boys didn't scare them too much, so we're welcome to make a trip there anytime we're in Houston! Thanks so much to Ms. J for sharing with us!

Yes, that's my mom on Lady and my "cowboy" on Comanche....we found out after he'd been riding him for a little while that he's not fully bridle trained...or whatever it's called. Fun, fun for Sandman! He did get a Horsemanship Badge or something when he was in Boy Scouts! Nugget wasn't a fan of getting on the horse. I think being up so high scared him, but he was so content to ride the saddle in the back of the pickup- probably for a good 15 -20 minutes. We can't wait to go back!

Friday, May 1, 2009


That's how my boys say "Chick-fil-a." It's adorable. Whenever we ask or mention going out to eat, we hear from both of them...."we should go to Chick-a-flay!" from Buddy or "I nee-nee eat a Chick-a-flay" from Nugget. At least they are making a "better" fast food choices. And you gotta love those waffle fries.

Monday, April 27, 2009

coconuts and college

Buddy's class at school has been learning about bugs, plants and Earth Day type things. They are hatching (growing?) caterpillars that should be butterflies in a few weeks, so I asked him about the caterpillars one afternoon.
Me: "What are your caterpillars at school doing?"
Buddy: "First they eat a lot and then they grow in their coconuts."
Me: stifling my laughter..."oh. Are they in their cocoons now?"
Buddy: pausing...I'm pretty sure he muttered "cocoons" realizing he'd misspoken. "No, they're still eating."
Me: "What do they eat?"
Buddy: "Brown stuff."
Me: "What is the brown stuff?"
Buddy: "Food. Brown stuff. Made out of concrete." (he pronounces this cron-creek)
Me: "Where do the caterpillars live?"
Buddy: "They live at college."
Me: "Then they become cocoons?"
Buddy: "Yes, and then they make butterflies."
Me: "Where do they go once they become butterflies?"
Buddy: "They go to college."

Then I played along with this whole college thing and asked what they do at college. He told me that they swim and play games. Sounds good to me. I asked him if they study. He said no. Sounds about right.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

sick, sicker, sickest

All three men in this house have been sick. I have not been stricken with the stomach bug yet, and I'm praying I won't be. The one thing that's worse than everyone else being sick, is everyone else AND Mommy being sick!

We're really lucky in that our boys just don't get sick that often, but this bug has knocked us off our feet. I have never seen my Buddy so pathetic. He's a trooper though. He'd puke into his trash can, and Sandman and I would tell him we were sorry he's feeling bad. He'd respond, "it's okay. it happens." What a brave little fellow! His attitude through the whole ordeal has been way more mature than I'd expect for a 3 year old. Heck, he's more mature than I am when I'm sick....I'm beyond pathetic.

Our weather's been sort of crappy these last few days, so at least I've been stuck inside with sick kids and not with bouncing-off-the-walls-lemme-out kids. And we need the rain, too. But we've lost the weekend...watching movies for hours and doing nothing could be a vacation, but I'm tired of being homebound. I'm praying Nugget wakes up fine in the morning, because if he's symptom free, he and I will escape to church and leave the two sickest ones here. I need a break!

And here's my boys when they aren't sick. Ignore the pile of clothes...this was the day after we got back from Colorado. They had a blast with the empty suitcases. They are even wearing their seatbelts.

Monday, April 13, 2009

one of those moms

well...sort of...

I don't think I could have predicted my way of motherhood before actually becoming a mother. One of the best bits of advice I was ever given (and the only bit I'll give another mom unsolicited) is that "you have to do what's best for your own family." What works for one family, may not work best for another family- we're all so different! And even within a family, I don't think I parent my boys in the exact same way. I give them what they need as individuals, not what this book or that "family expert" recommend I do for all my children.

Along the way, I've found that Sandman and I follow more of the Attachment Parenting school of thought. Totally not where I thought we'd be! But we fell into it naturally without really realizing that we were parenting in the AP style. We're definitely not 100% AP parents, but I don't think we have to be in order to benefit from some of the approaches. I do realize that some of this stuff is purely our own opinion, and I have plenty of non-AP friends with their own opinions too....so this is not meant to make anyone upset. We are all different, and different approaches work better with different kids!

There are 8 principles of AP. We definitely practice some of these more than others, but I think they are all important.

Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
I read a lot of books. I chatted online with a lot of moms and pregnant women. I feel like I educated myself fairly well before experiencing birth, even though there are things I'd love to be able to do differently if given another chance. I think a lot of birth experiences are that way because there's always an unknown side of things that sometimes can't be planned for in the beginning. I had two hospital births, but I know a few other moms who have gone the birth center route. Maybe I'll be able to do that someday! We also felt confident enough as new parents, and we felt like we had a great support system. I think it's important for moms to know what's going on with their kids!

Feed with Love and Respect
This emphasizes the importance and normalcy of breastfeeding, though it encourages bottle/formula feeding parents to use that time to create secure attachments. I exclusively breastfed our kids on demand for at least the first six months of life, and this is one area where my two boys were very different. Buddy would eat every 2.5-3 hours like clockwork most of the time. It was easy to fall into a routine. Nugget was a little less predictable, and generally wanted to nurse every 1.5-2 hours...eventually making it closer to 3 hours when he was a few months old. We felt it was important to use feeding as a part of a routine vs. a schedule. I found it so much easier to follow a flexible routine than to watch a clock. I breastfed Buddy for 13 months (weaned while pregnant with Nugget...sob, sob), and Nugget is still nursing 2-3 times a day at 19.5 months old.

Respond with Sensitivity
We believe that when a baby cries, he's trying to use one of the only forms of communication he knows. So, we have chosen to not let our kids "cry-it-out" as much as possible. (Nugget hated the car seat FOREVER so we just had to deal with crying until he learned the car seat wasn't evil.) Their emotions are fragile, and responding to those emotions is important. Now, I will say that fussing, at least in our house, is much different than crying. Oh, and toddler-preschooler tantrums are not the same as a baby crying.....

Use Nurturing Touch
Babies are meant to be held! They need and crave that physical touch! Skin-to-skin contact is very beneficial, and I wear my babies a lot. Well, not as much now that they are bigger, but Nugget rides on my back when we're out and about. I love holding them close! And in my opinion, it's much easier to pop a baby into a pouch or sling than to lug that heavy baby bucket car seat around! As much your grandmother might warn against it, you can't spoil a baby by holding him. Big kids need this touch, too....reading together, or even watching a favorite tv show and snuggling or even just wrestling and being silly together are great ways to meet those needs for older kids.

Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
This is a controversial one. Many parents believe that a baby should be in his own room and other parents think he should be in his parents bed. We're somewhere in the middle, I guess. Buddy moved from the pack'n'play in our bedroom (and the early morning snuggles in bed with me) to his crib way down the hall when he was about 6 weeks old. We all did great. Everyone slept longer stretches at night. But Nugget was still in the cradle in our room or in bed with me by that age, and moving him to his room wasn't going to work at that time. So we ensured that our co-sleeping would be safe for him....no big comforter or foofy pillows, guard rail on my side of the bed, and he did not sleep between Sandman and me. He slept between me and the rail (which had a breathable mesh cover). There are ways to co-sleep safely, and I don't think it would get such a bad reputation if more people would/could be educated about the proper way to do it. Nugget did move to his room around 4 months old, though he would still come to bed with us somewhere around 2-4am. I think he was around 10-12 months old when I quit bringing him to my bed after those late night feedings. For me, I felt like I was recognizing his needs...learning to sleep all by himself, far from his parents...if he needed me for a few more weeks or months, I was willing to give that to him. He sleeps until about 7:30am now, so the fact that I had to get up with him for months doesn't mean a whole lot right now. And the transition was so much easier on our family dynamic than letting him cry himself to sleep.

Provide Consistent and Loving Care
Ideally, the sole care-giver is one of the parents. This isn't always possible, so the next best care-giver is one who knows the child well in order to form strong bonds with. I stay home with my boys, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be with them. I don't take it for granted. We also don't just leave our kids with anyone. I think this one really depends on the kid- Buddy could be left in the church nursery from a much younger age than Nugget. And there are still very few people that can put Nugget to bed at night without a fuss. We're working on this one....

Practice Positive Discipline
This one is tough- we are not anti-spanking like many APers, but we know there is a time and a place when it isn't appropriate. We try to reward and encourage the positive behavior as much as possible. We talk about behavior and good or 'wise' choices, and we try to let our kids make the choices (within reason, of course) to help with the inevitable power struggles that come as they grow older. One example is when Buddy was giving us a serious whine-fest about not getting some juice, we told him that he could have "Water or Ice Water" and the simple fact that he got to choose calmed him down. Ha.

Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
This one seems sort of silly, but in today's world, it is so easy to get sucked into the Rat Race of Life. I have two kids, two YOUNG kids, and we already feel pressured at times with our busy schedules. Over-scheduling activities isn't hard, especially when doing the Stay-At-Home-Mom thing gets monotonous and you want to get out of the house before someone gets hurt! I guess we try to make sure the boys have time to be kids...whether playing with their toys at home, running around the backyard, or (gasp) watching tv. I know they get weary when we lots of places to rush off to everyday, even if they are playdates, the zoo, a museum, etc. Sandman and I also try to not over-commit with our own activities. We all need time to be together as a family and also on our own.

I never really thought about this stuff until we realized we were 'doing' these things on our own. And what's good for us, may not be what's good for you, and that's fine. What works for Buddy doesn't always (read: rarely) works for Nugget.

Sandman says I'm a part-time hippy. Heehee. Maybe I am. But maybe that's because Nugget wears cloth diapers.....