Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The kids were very excited this morning and enjoyed all of their gifts. Thank you to all of our family who gave us such wonderful and thoughtful presents. Here are a couple of pictures from this morning...

Christmas Eve

We spent Christmas Eve at the Hilton's house. Grandma Heidi made her traditional Christmas dinner which was delicious. Grandpa Steve led us in a Christmas devotional- we all took turns reading the Christmas story from the scriptures and sang Christmas hymns while he played the guitar. The kids were very excited to have uncle Dave and Rob home from school. While we were there a special visitor paid the Hilton's a visit...

Carter was thrilled to see Santa. When asked if he had been a good boy this year, he quickly sold out his little sister, telling Santa that she is sometimes naughty.

Taylor was terrified of Santa and went screaming into Drew's arms when she saw him. She warmed up a little after he gave her a candy cane but was very leery of him and wouldn't Drew put her down. Taylor still insisted however that "hanta" (Santa) was going to spend the night at our house- "downhairs" (downstairs). And that he was bringing his own "blankie" and "moo" (stuffed animal) to sleep with.

When we got home we all got our jammies on and headed downstairs to the Christmas tree. This year we started a new tradition. We turned off all of the lights except for the tree lights, turned on the fire place, and read Christmas stories while munching on cookies and egg nog. Before heading off to bed, we left the traditional plate of treats and cup of egg nog for Santa, as well as a bowl of carrots for Rudolph. Surprisingly- both Tay and Carter went right to bed this year!

Our month of December

This month has been a fun one for our family. We decided to keep Christmas simple this year- I didn't even write Christmas letters! Hopefully, I'll be up to that again next year. Here is a list of the fun things we did:

Christmas lights- the all time favorite of our family! We spent many nights this months driving around looking at Christmas lights. We found some pretty awesome houses too!

Santa on a Fire Truck- one night Santa came through our little planned community on a float, pulled by a fire truck. Not only did he come to the neighborhood, but he was escorted by several other fire trucks and ambulances with sirens blaring and lights flashing. It was quite the site! Santa and his helpers were collecting gifts and food for families in need which we were happy to support.

Giving and Receiving- our neighborhood mom's group held several events to help the kids understand that the season isn't just about getting things from Santa. Most of the activities were on Sunday so we weren't able to join in but we were able to help with one fundraiser. Carter and Tay helped me go through their toys and we donated several that they no longer play with. We also were able to donate several baby items that we won't need or had duplicate of. Hopefully it taught them something on some level.

Dinners Out- Drew got a nice gift card from work this year as a Christmas gift and we quickly put it to good use! Grandma Heidi watched the kids and we were able to go to dinner with Drew's brother Rob and his honey, Christie. We also went out a few times as a family. What a treat!

Christmas in Bethlehem- This year our ward (congregation) did something different for the Christmas party. We had a Christmas in Bethlehem party. Everyone dressed up in biblical clothes and brought "taxes" (canned food) to give to the Bishop's Storehouse. In the church gym, twinkling white Christmas lights hung from the ceiling and the gym was completely decorated like a market place from Christ's day. The activities committee did such a good job. We ate middle eastern food on blankets on the floor and the kids got little pouches of coins to buy food with. And of course there was a Christmas program about Christ's birth with music and narration. They even had someone taking family pictures up on the stage where the stable was. I'll post that as soon as it is emailed to me.

Other fun stuff: Handel's Messiah sing-a-long, a yummy dinner at our neighbors house, a work party for Drew, and Carter had a preschool party that Tay and I attended.

Not so fun stuff: Drew sick. Tay sick. Carter sick. I guess I can't really complain since my kids are the healthiest kids I know but I hope this month we've paid our winterly sickness dues. I just don't think I can handle sick kids, a sick husband, and a newborn in February.

Trip to Rochester NY

Coming soon! I couldn't post about my trip to New York until Drew & our families had opened their gifts from of the kids. My dear friend Lisa took them and they turned out awesome! Anyway, now I can post them and will do that in the next couple of days as well as tell you all about our fun trip.

Middleburg Christmas Parade

Middleburg is a cute (and very affluent) little village about 25 minutes from us. The main street is decorated very festively and the town hosts a day of Christmas activities. It was freezing cold this year but we decided to head out for the last event...the much anticipated Christmas parade!

Our first adventure of the afternoon happened upon getting out of the car in Middleburg. Drew accidentally dropped the car keys. No big deal right? Well, the keys fell right down a storm drain! Drew was able to lift off the man hole lid and look inside. The man hole was at least 15 feet deep, and at the very bottom was our keys. The hole was dark, dirty, and very creepy. Luckily though, Drew spotted a metal ladder bolted to the wall and down he went- like Santa down a chimney. Our keys were saved! Way to go Drew.

As I mentioned before, it was a cold day. I was pretty sure we were going to come home with icicles for fingers and toes. We had put the kids in several layers and crossed our fingers that they would enjoy the parade despite the temperature. We quickly found a spot along the parade route and set up camp. Carter brought his camping chair and Tay sat snugly in her stroller. Actually, Tay was miserable and refused to wear her mittens.

Carter & Tay patiently waiting for the parade to start. Carter told me his face was too cold to smile. I couldn't blame him.

Snug as a bug!

Carter immediately stood up to run when he heard the piper band coming through- we forgot his ear muffs! He has sensitive ears but luckily it wasn't a very noisy parade- the fire engines never turned their sirens on so it was all good.

I sat next to Carter during the parade and he was definitely more entertaining to watch the the parade. He was so excited about everything and waived to everyone that passed by. He particularly loved the candy throwers! He was very sweet and always grabbed candy for Tay who was either glued to Drew's hip or wrapped up in her stroller.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

This year we made a cute thanksgiving turkey out of Carter's hand prints to display on our wall. For family home evening in November, we learned about the history of thanksgiving, read lots of thanksgiving stories, and shared with one another what we are thankful for.

On Thanksgiving morning we put up our Christmas tree and decorations and headed over to Drew's parents house for a quiet dinner after naps. Overall it was good and very uneventful. This year I made rolls, brought veggies, stuffing, and potatoes. Drew's family provided the rest. Later in the evening we all headed over to Drew's cousin's house for yummy pie.

Overall Thanksgiving was good and very uneventful. However, we really need to come up with a few thanksgiving traditions. Maybe it is just me, but holidays in Virginia have become quite lame. The only thing we do is eat together and call it a holiday. Don't get me wrong, I love eating (especially since the baby inside of me also likes eating) but it seems like we could do more than that! Any ideas, people?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Carter turns 5!

Happy Birthday Carter! I can't believe my baby is 5 years old today. Carter started off the special day with a trip to a local donut shop for a special breakfast treat with Daddy. After which, he was off to preschool with birthday treats to share with his friends. Since you can only bring store bought treats on birthdays (school allergy policy) we went shopping the day before and Carter perused the grocery store's bakery. We looked at cupcakes, cookies, banana bread, etc. But Carter finally decided on batman fruit snacks! We don't regularly buy junk snacks (that's what we call them) so taking them to share with his friends was a big deal. Carter's class sang happy birthday to him and he was presented with a birthday crown. His teacher was very proud of his very original birthday treat idea and I have to agree- what a funny kid!

After preschool Carter gave me a birthday 5 year old took a nap! Ok, so that is a normal occurrence at our house but it made me stop and reflect a little. Oh how I appreciate my Carter! There are so many reasons he was meant to be our first child!

Drew came home from work early and we celebrated his birthday with a few neighborhood friends and his pal Zoe from church. We played a few games, played with toys, bashed a pinata, and ate birthday cake. Carter requested a motorcycle cake so this is what Tay and I came up with- it is supposed to be motorcycles driving up boulders and dirt. I didn't have chocolate frosting so it didn't turn out like I was hoping it would. Oh well! The crushed oreos were well worth it!

We opened gifts in the evening and Carter was in heaven! He was very enthusiastic about all of his gifts. Tay, on the other hand, was not. She didn't quite understand that it wasn't her birthday too. Here is Carter trying out his new "soldier gun". As you can see, Tay has already shed some tears at this point. We finally got out her squirt gun from the summer so she could have a "soldier gun" too.

Happy Halloween

Halloween was super fun! Carter and Tay were both Spiderman and just adorable. I just love that Tay wanted to be what Carter was! We headed out with my dear friend Kelly and her three cuties. We pushed the kids in the stroller over to the single family houses and from there they ran from house to house.

Tay wasn't sure what to think of it all until after the third house or so. Then she was running as fast as she could to keep up with Carter. Tay would get so excited at each door that she would mix up all the words we had practiced. Instead of saying "trick or treat" and "thank you", she would say "thank you, icky eat". She also insisted going up and down all the house steps herself, even after she was tired and had two little wobbly legs. Carter was just so happy to be out and about. He is such a people person. I don't think he stopped smiling until it was bed time.

After their treat bags were full, we headed back to our house for yummy apple-raspberry pie with vanilla ice cream. Between the candy, pie, and ice cream, our sweet tooths were very sore! Luckily during the night, we had a Halloween spirit (the Switch Witch) visit out house and exchange all the candy for yummy cinnamon rolls. The kids were happy for the cinnamon rolls and I was happy the candy battle ended before it started.

Big Girl Bed & Baby Yuck

Tay's becoming such a big girl. In October we moved her into a big girl bed and the transition went beautifully. I was a little surprised because for weeks Drew and I would talk about it and she would get really upset...she just loved her bed (the crib). Since the new baby will be in our room anyway for a while, we weren't in a hurry to move her out, especially if it meant ruining a good thing...a happily sleeping toddler. Anyway, I thought we should at least start rehearsing for when the change would be made. Well one day I was curious how she would react if I took one of the horizontal crib sides off, making her little IKEA crib like a toddler bed. She thought it was great! So after a week or so I took the entire crib down and put it away. And again, she did great! Over the course of two weeks (including the week in her "toddler bed") she only woke up a few times during the night and never got out of her bed during nap times. In fact now she sleeps even better in her twin bed at night because she has more room to wiggle around and stretch out.

We also got rid of her pacifier which she called her "baby yuck" (there is a really good story behind that name by the way). This was a little trickier! Like Carter, when Tay turned 2 (way back in June) we clipped the tip off her pacifier so that she couldn't suck on it as well. Over a few days, little by little, we clipped a little more until it was no longer usable. After that she would hold it in her cute little hand when it was time to sleep. Back in the middle of September, Carter was helping me clean out a closet when he found one of Tay's pacifiers that had been misplaced before the ceremonial pacifier clipping month of June. Carter immediately took it to his little sister as if he had found a lost diamond. She was ecstatic and he was very proud of himself. She immediately put in her mouth and was on cloud nine. We decided to let her have it for a couple of weeks for naps and bedtime again. It just wasn't a battle that I wanted to fight- not yet at least. Finally in October, after the transition into her big girl bed was complete, we again clipped the "baby yuck". Fhew! It actually went pretty smoothly and instead of holding a broken pacifier, Tay now sleeps with several of her babies, stuffed animals and a favorite blankie. I really need to take a picture- it is hilarious.

The only thing left is potty training and she will officially be a big girl!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Update on Fetal Echo

Our update is pretty simple...the baby's heart is perfect. Although the heart didn't skip beats or beat prematurely while we were having the exam, the cardiologist evaluated it in every possible way and said that even if it continues to skip that we can continue on with our pregnancy without worry. We feel very blessed and know that Heavenly Father answers prayers. I am particularly grateful for the blessings of the temple and the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. While the last couple of weeks brought worry and stress, it also brought an opportunity for faith and reflection.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ward Trunk or Treat Party

This year for Halloween, Carter has decided to again be Spiderman. Well, when we pulled out the dress up box to find Tay a costume...of course she wanted to be whatever Carter was! Good thing Carter was Spiderman when he was 11 months old and that the costume fits Tay! The trunk or treat party was fun and the kids were excited to see their friends and primary teachers all dressed up, too. We actually left before the trick or treating part of the party. One night of candy is enough for us this year. They will have to wait until Halloween to fill their bags with goodies! Of course they got to eat a couple of treats on the way home, though- we're not that mean!

Carter the Fire Firghter

Carter has finally started engaging in pretend play on his own. It doesn't happen all the time but when it does, it really makes me laugh. One morning he was pretending to be a fire fighter with his stuffed dog and of course they both needed gas masks. He was pretty frustrated for a while and couldn't find something that would work until he saw me unloading the dishwasher and then a light bulb when off in his little head. Notice in the picture how his dog also has a glass up to his snout and is sporting a red fireman's hat too.

Saying Goodbye

We finally had to say goodbye to a couple of favorite toys at our house. Carter has had his firetruck since he was 20 months or so and Tay got her "Tay mobile" last year for Christmas from Santa. These little cars have been tons of fun for our kids, especially since we have an entire level of hardwood floors. They were the only solution to making dinner without someone whining or standing at my feet. But in the past few months they both broke down and were no longer safe. So a couple of weeks ago we ALL said our goodbyes and when the kids weren't looking, I snuck them down to the trash can. The kids have gotten over them but I don't think I have. Making dinner will never be the same again!

Pumpkin Patch 2008

Last Saturday, we headed out to Hollins Farm- a real working farm out in the beautiful countryside of Virginia. They have pick-your-own pumpkins, tomatoes, peaches, apples, wild flowers, berries, and also sell organic beef and pork. Of course we couldn't leave the farm without a full peck of yummy organic apples!

It wasn't long after we arrived that Tay found her pumpkin...a tiny baby pumpkin. She carried it all through the patch while we hunted for the others. She is very proud of it and keeps it in her bedroom. I love hearing her say the word pumpkin...she says "punkin" and it sounds sooo sweet.

The kids were excited to take a ride on the pumpkin cart back to the weighing station.
The patch was a little hilly and their little legs got pretty tired.... so Daddy to the rescue!

Here is Carter, just taking in the crisp autumn air. He was really funny this year trying to find "his" pumpkin. He inspected MANY pumpkins, trapezed all over the patch, and changed his mind several times before finding the right one.

I think this is the first picture of all four of us in FOREVER.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Heart Ache

Well the little turkey inside of me is already giving his/her mom and dad a headache...or maybe I should say heart ache! Last week when our midwife was checking the baby's heart beat, the heart beat was skipping all over the place. The beats per minute was normal but the rhythm was not even close to normal. Not good! So this week we had an appointment with an OB who confirmed that the baby had a heart arrhythmia. She only told us what we already knew but did do a very quick (like two minute) sono of the heart that could show us that it did have 4 chambers. She gave us a referral (which is why we were there) to see a pediatric cardiologist for a fetal echocardiogram (an indepth ultrasound study of the heart). As far as we know at this point is that the heart is only skipping beats and most babies in utero grow out of it by the end of the pregnancy or soon after birth. Good news! Certainly there is a percentage of babies where it doesn't correct itself. We are praying that what the baby is experiencing is really that simple and hoping for the best. I think we are both realistic about the potential of a more dangerous situation though. We really don't know anything more than that at this point but will keep you all updated after our appointment next week.

P.S. We are not finding out the sex of the baby but my suspicion is that it is a boy. Drew & Carter want a girl and Tay has no comment. Also, for those who have asked, our due date is in February.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Land of the Living

Yes, we are alive for all of you who thought our family dropped off the face of the earth. I have finally updated our blog with some posts and pictures about our last few months. It may make more sense to scroll down all the way to July and read from there. Anyway, blogging just hasn’t been a priority for me. Sorry to keep you all in suspense (not that our lives are that exciting anyway)! We hope you are enjoying the fall! October is our favorite month here in Virginia so we are loving the cool weather and beautiful scenery.

*Just a disclaimer on all of the pictures...we are having battery issues with our good camera so most of the pictures posted from this summer and fall are from our back up camera. I guess what matters is that we have pictures, not necessarily the quality of them. ☺

Random Pictures

Carter at the county fair on his first ride and Tay sucking down a giant slushy!

Tay loved riding the merrry-go-round!

Carter and his hamster, Hammy.

Tay loves to draw. Here she is at IHOP in Virginia Beach.

Here are two pictures of Tay after naps. She is slow to wake up and can be
rather grumpy on some days. It usually takes some mommy magic,
a baby or two, and food for her to come around.

Carter and our neighbor, Neil. Don't you love his "motorcyle" gloves and sunglasses?!

I am so glad these two play as much as they do.

Columbus Day Dates

Drew took a floating holiday on Monday, which was much needed for everyone. We got a couple of things done around the house and went on special dates our kids. Drew took Tay with him to run errands while Carter and I went to lunch. I was craving a fat cheeseburger and a conversation with my big boy, so off we went to Red Robin (Carter’s pick, of course!). Carter was thrilled to get his very own freckle lemonade with his lunch. The thrilling part was that he didn’t have to share! As we drove away, I told Carter that my favorite part of lunch was having time with just him. He replied, “My favorite part of lunch was getting a orange balloon”. Oh the honesty of a 4 year old! After lunch we headed to our favorite thrift store where Carter found a brand new lunch box for preschool. Good find, Carter!

Funny Taylor Story

Drew’s grandma passed away in August (see below) and a memorial service was held for her in Virginia although she was buried in Arizona. I decided to wear nice slacks to the service instead of Sunday dress since after all- it was a memorial service, not sacrament meeting (you should have seen the disapproving looks I got!). So there I was, probably looking a little green from feeling sick, wearing pants, with my extremely tired kids (it was way past their bed time) when Tay leaked through her diaper…her jumper dress and onesie were wet and I didn’t have a change of clothes for her. Tay doesn’t like being wet and I knew it wouldn’t be too long before she would be pulling at her clothes and whining (or kicking and screaming). Drew was busy playing the organ for the meeting and the piano for the special musical numbers. With help from Grandma Heidi, I was doing my best to keep the kids happy and quiet. With the exception of a 4 year old second cousin to Drew, who spent the entire meeting in the hall, my children were the only little kids present. Ok- just setting the scene for you all! So what is a mom to do? I quickly laid her down on the bench, changed her diaper at warp speed and with only the skill a mother knows, slipped off her onesie without even taking her jumper off. Fhew! I am good! But not good enough because Tay then decides that if she can’t wear the onesie, she can’t wear ANYTHING. A tantrum ensued…. and I decided to pick my battle. So there I was, in a front pew of the chapel, many spectators behind us, with the only kids in a very quiet grown up setting and my very blond little, wild haired (her unhappiness for barrettes or anything hair related deserves its own post), naked 2 year old is squealing with delight because she had “won”. Even after taking her to the foyer, no amount of convincing would get an article of clothing back onto her little 22 pound body. Luckily I found the experience funnier than I did stressful. It reminded me of the time at church when Carter was literally doing summersaults across the bench we were sitting on while I had my hands full with a fussy newborn. It was definitely one of those times when I wished I had more arms. Why does Drew always seem to be playing the organ when things like this tend to occur? ☺

Primary Program 2008

This year’s primary program was awesome! My visiting teaching companion is the primary president and she and her presidency did a wonderful job of putting it together. The theme of the program was “I am a Child of God”. This year Carter is in the CTR-5 class (Choose the Right & 5 for five year olds). Their part in the program was to stand up to the microphone with a picture they drew of something they are grateful and say “I am grateful for __________”. Some of the kids in his class did great, others were too shy and the teacher spoke for them. Carter stood up at the pulpit with a huge smile on his face, picture in hand, and froze. Because he had a giant grin plastered across his face, his teacher thought he was going start talking. After whispering in his ear what he needed to say for the third time and Carter still standing there smiling and holding his picture, Sister Neaufer finally said into the microphone “I am grateful for my motorcycle”. Maybe you had to be there but it was hilarious. Everyone in the audience was smiling back at him and I had several people come up to me afterwards and say that his happy face was the highlight of the program. All week long we reminded him not to talk too loud, too soft, or too silly into the microphone. I never thought he would freeze!

So, How Are You Feeling?

I get this question all the time and if you don’t know what I am referring to…please scroll down. Sometimes I appreciate being asked and but other times it gets annoying, especially when it comes from people who are only trying to make conversation.

Well, anyway…how am I feeling? Well, I don’t throw up all day everyday anymore and luckily haven’t for a few weeks. By half way through, I don’t consider myself having hyperemesis any more but regular morning sickness, which is very manageable. I have actually gained back the weight I lost, plus some, which is good. It took me a lot longer to do that when prego with Tay. I can do what I want, eat what I want, etc. I do struggle with hypoglycemia like I did with my other babies but as long as I keep that in check, I am fine. I am even doing prenatal yoga a few times a week. Other than being absolutely exhausted (I am seriously useless after 8 pm every night) and needing all the help I can get from Drew, this is as good as it gets for me and my pregnancies. So I guess I am actually feeling pretty good!

I am already 23 weeks along but honestly I look and feel about 30. Ugh. Drew has been able to feel the baby moving for a couple of weeks now, which is really fun. I have been feeling the baby for about 10 weeks so I am glad I am no longer the only one. I love when my pregnancies become more than just me with a big belly to those I love the most. Carter is pretty anxious to feel the baby as well but can’t seem to sit still long enough despite our baby’s constant karate kicks. My belly button must look like a bulls eye from in utero. Tay however looks at us like we have two heads when we suggest that my growing belly is really a baby. I think she is coming around though. She seems more convinced when Carter shows interest.

An Update on Taylor Tot

Oh my, where do I even begin with this little girl? She is definitely 2! Talk about sugar and spice- fire and ice! She has become the most stubborn little toddler there ever was. I can’t even describe to you all the fireworks that can come out of her little frame. Her favorite thing to do is yell at or try to boss around Carter which as you can imagine doesn’t go over well with a soon to be 5 year old! There is no amount of redirecting, distracting, song singing, positive momminess, etc. that can help her out of a full-blown tantrum- NOTHING but waiting it out works. No that is not true- having Daddy around is usually helpful- so if my little whistling Pete goes off any time after 6:30 or on the weekend, its all good. Serenity now!

But the other part of being two years old is being absolutely adorable and a lot of fun, and Tay is both. While the first two weeks of Carter being at preschool were rather tough (I couldn’t wait for him to come home each day because Tay was a complete mess without him), we are now enjoying our time alone together. I try really hard to balance running errands and picking up the house with pure Mommy and Tay time. It is easy to forget what your kids are like until they are by themselves. Tay is such a funny and clever little girl. I am really grateful for this special time we have together each week. I am discovering new things about her all the time. The funniest is how she wants to play with Carter’s special toys since he is not home to get mad at her or take them away. So instead of playing with her babies she can usually be found playing with motorcycles and race cars.

She always wears her backpack when we drop Carter off at preschool.

Silliness with Carter

September: First Day of School Preschool

This year Carter is attending our community preschool two mornings a week. When we attended the open house to meet his teachers and classmates, he was surprisingly shy. Carter shy? Yes, I know it is hard to imagine. But on the first day of preschool Carter was excited and got up extra early to get ready. But right before it was time to get in the car, he decided it would be more fun to stay home and ride his bike. That’s the Carter I know! He doesn’t talk a lot about his mornings at preschool but I am confident that he is having a good time in Ms. Laurette’s class. I have noticed some great changes in Carter since school started and really happy that we made the decision to sign him up for the lottery at Arcola…. all of the preschools are on a lottery system here…you pay the deposit and cross your fingers that your child gets a spot.

September: A Trip to the Big Apple

For my birthday in March, Drew surprised me with tickets to the women’s finals of the U.S. Open! We have both been really excited for our little weekend getaway ever since it was planned. Finding out I was pregnant did put a damper on our plans, making us worried that I wouldn’t be up to the trip but only time would tell. We took a bus up to New York on a Friday afternoon and returned Sunday afternoon- another very fast trip. Thankfully Drew’s mom agreed to watch the kids for us. The weekend actually didn’t go very well for me in terms of the pregnancy and we ended up needing to stay fairly close to our hotel. The worst of it was that we never were able to make it to the tennis match! The remnants of Hurricane Hannah blew up the east coast, postponing the match until Sunday at 9 pm- hours after our bus returned to D.C.’s Chinatown. There was no way we could pay for another night in Manhattan, get new bus tickets, and have Drew miss another day of work. But since we were staying in a sweet hotel, we were able to watch lots of tennis on a big screen plasma from our snuggly king size bed while it rained cats and dogs outside our window. We also rented a couple of movies, which was fun and got to sleep in while Grandma Heidi got up with our early risers at the crack of dawn. So, we didn’t get to do much touristy stuff due to me being sick and the torrential down pour. But we did go to the Broadway musical Wicked, which was just awesome! We loved it! We also walked around with our umbrellas as much as I was able to, and took in the atmosphere of Manhattan. I think in my single or childless days, I could live there and enjoy it but add three kids to the mix and even thinking about moving there makes my head spin. When we first arrived Friday afternoon, I soon had a headache from all of the noise. Everyone seemed like they were in a hurry, which I find rather stressful. Oh and top of that, what a stinky and dirty city! But by the end of our very quick two days, New York wasn’t so noisy and stressful. It was exciting and interesting (and dirty and stinky). I think Drew and I would could have had a lot of fun adventures had our trip been longer and I was feeling like myself. Hopefully there will be a next time.

Playing Outside, Our Carter Dilemma

We feel very blessed to live on a street with lots of little kids that Carter has fun with. They ride bikes together, play with balls, run around, and make lots of noise. Let’s just say our street is hopping around 4:00 p.m. when school is out. The only problem is that most of the neighbor kids are all allowed to play outside by themselves and I am usually the only mom who comes out to supervise. I have on many occasions been the peacemaker for childhood arguments, or the mom who carries someone home who has an ouchie. Sometimes I am the referee when kids are not playing fair or the one who tells the kids to get out of the street when a car is coming through really fast. Normally I sit in a camping chair with a book to read or play with Tay. Sometimes I’ll sweep out our garage or vacuum the car. I try to blend into the background so to speak so Carter can be himself and just play without me hovering. So on days when I am feeling like garbage or trying to keep the house clean, Carter has to stay inside. Needless to say, it makes us both miserable. I could probably get a lot more done or get some rest if he was outside. But I am just not comfortable with him outside without a grown up around. Kids need to be outside just like they need water and food but we don’t really have a yard he spread his wings in. We live in a townhouse so we have two-car garage/driveway instead! Our backyard is tiny- the size of my kitchen. Carter is so much happier and obedient when he has had enough “outside time” as we call it. How does that quote go? Some thing like “Put a kid in the wild, and you take the wild out of the kid”. Very true I tell you. Needless to say, we are very frustrated with what to do. Any thoughts?

August: Virginia Beach

Our little family headed down to Virginia Beach at the end of August. The trip was literally 48 hours from the time we left our house to the time we pulled back into the driveway. We stayed at a hotel that was right on the beach- actually every room there was ocean side. Carter and Tay loved waking up and watching boats pass by in the morning. At night they would go out on the balcony in their pj’s and watch the nightlife on the boardwalk until bedtime. We also went to an aquarium where we saw sharks, sea turtles and even pet stingrays. On one rainy afternoon we toured the deck of the USS Wisconsin, a retired battle ship from WWII and walked through a historic naval museum (which Carter calls the pirate ship museum).

As for the actual beach…the kids just loved it! Tay was a little apprehensive of walking in the sand at first but it didn’t take long before she was chasing “ducks” (seagulls) and throwing sand. Carter brought a front-end loader and big dump truck and when he wasn’t running around in the surf, he stayed pretty busy playing in the sand. It ended up being rather stormy on the days we were there…the waves were choppy and it was overcast most of the time. On the bright side though, we never needed our beach umbrella, the temperature was just perfect, and the sand was never hot! Another plus that we couldn’t have planned better, was the huge playground in the sand right next to our hotel and the boardwalk. Since Tay couldn’t get enough of the “wee” (slide), Drew would watch her play while Carter and I were just a few hundred feet down the beach playing in the water. Overall, everyone had a great time and the kids were really well behaved (except the time when Carter chucked a dirty diaper off of our 6th floor balcony- boys!).

My favorite things about going to the beach are the expressions on my kids’ faces each year when they see the water for the first time. Or when Carter starts to giggle when he feels sand between his toes and the first wave hits is legs. Although our trip was quick, we made many wonderful memories this year. We can’t wait for next year!

Why do little boys like to roll in sand?

Carter and the gunners. He was a little nervous until we explained they were broken.

Making armpit noises on the boardwalk for all to enjoy.

Tay is shivering like crazy and Carter wants me to leave him alone so he can play.