Monday, July 31, 2006

camp-o-rama baby

We survived our first day of camp-o-rama week here (August version) at the McD household. William is in a daycamp from 9:00 until 12:30 each day called "Camp Kool Kidz". It's held at our local Jewish center (ve-r-r-r-y nice facilities) and is based upon the "A Journey through Children's Literature." Today was Dr. Seuss, tomorrow is Eric Carle. The neat thing about the camp is that they make it a goal to integrate typical campers with special needs campers in an outdoor camp environment. Today's activities were based upon the book characters, but involved things like fishing, games, and swimming. They crammed a lot into a few hours. William seemed happy and tired when I picked him up. He was fresh out of the pool.

It's as if we are taking a religion tour of the neighborhood this week. Kind of funny for this simple Church of Christ girl. After dropping William off at the Jewish Community Center I then take Jordan to her music camp at St. Peter's and St. Paul's Episcopal Church nearby. It's a beautiful, almost old world European type church. The music teacher from Jordan's school is also the music director at the church. He is holding a camp this week from 11 -3 which includes lunch. I've written about him before and needless to say, Jordan is in good hands learning from his vast musical knowledge. This man knows how to make learning fun. I'm just thrilled to have these resources nearby. There are certain disadvantages to living in a busy suburb, but the learning advantages are so bountiful.

We finished some school shopping -- primarily supplies -- yesterday. I've decided to wait on most clothing purchases until we can evaluate Jordan's clothing more seriously. We are in the midst of digging out the "abyss that is her room" and hope to have a true feeling for what fits and needs updating soon. We purchased tennis shoes mid summer when she jumped to SIZE 3 shoes from a size 1 within a period of six weeks. These growth spurts are one of the main reasons I am afraid to purchase too much. It is warm in Georgia until at least mid-October and sometimes later. Shorts and basic t-shirts carry you though several weeks of school. Last year I got organized and purchased jeans and cold weather items ahead of time...but by late October she had gone through another spurt and nothing fit length or otherwise. William has grown three inches since April and the way he is eating I think he's still growing. My baby boy does not have any sign of a baby face anymore.

School starts on August 14th here for both Jordan and William. We find out who Jordan's teacher is tomorrow night when they post the class list on a wall at school at 8 pm at night. I have an parent meeting for William on the 3rd of August and then they both have "meet and greet" on the 10th. Jordan's is in the morning and William's is at night. I feel like saying we are "off to the races and let the craziness begin" is everyone else's schedule falling together?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

a busy summer week

Am I the only one that thinks that life races to warp speed once you have children? I can hardly believe that another week has flown by. It feel like I say that every week though.

On Tuesday some old college friends came into town to visit the aquarium. Beth was my big sister in Delta Gamma and I always enjoy being around her. She is one person that can make me smile. She and her husband, Jim, live in Northwest Alabama and have two children. They brought their oldest child, James(age 6.5), on the trip. On Tuesday night they came out to the house and we went swimming with the kids. The original plans had included a visit to the Varsity downtown, but I think we had more fun playing with the kids and eating takeout. It was great to see the kids having so much fun together. Here they are at the end of the night:

No one had camps this week so we tried to get some projects done around the house. Unfortunately while we were cleaning out Jordan's room on Wednesday, Grace had a bookend fall on her head. This resulted in a huge lump on her head and a trip to the doctor's office. All was fine in the end, but it was an eventful day which resulted in no clean room. The bookend that hit Grace's head was a large resin Noah's Ark someone gave us when Jordan was a baby. Jordan had put it up on the third shelf thinking that would keep it from Grace's hands. Miss Grace is getting quite handy nowadays and got ahold of it anyway. I saw it happening, but couldn't get to her in time to prevent the injury. I'm thankful for her quick recovery.

We had just gotten home from the doctor's office and all the fiasco involved with that. Dave came home to check on Grace. He decided to get a coke out of the garage, walked out to find a teenager in our garage getting a drink from our fridge! Can you believe that? The kid said he was thirsty at the pool and just thought he'd get a coke. (Though we are "next door" to the pool it is a good acre away from our garage.) Dave made the kid shake with fear by the time he left the garage. We thought he might have been and immature 12 year old, but it turns out that he is a small 16 year old. He's from our neighborhood and appparently has been known to be in people's garages. I don't know the whole situation, but it appears that he is not exactly the kind of kid that fits in socially with other kids. (I don't mean "fits in" as a status statement -- more that he is unable to interact and deal with kids his age.) I'm soooo glad Dave was the one at home and even more glad that Jordan did not find him in our garage. I have been super-vigilant about our garage doors since this incident.

On Thursday morning we got a call with bad news. Dave's Uncle Bob in Pennsylvania died. This is one of the families that Dave loved to stay with during the summer visits to Pittsburgh. We tried to figure out how we could all go to the funeral, but that would have kept us away until late Tuesday night. Jordan and William both have camps next week so we decided it was best for me to stay home with the three kids. Dave went to Pennsylvania with his father, sister, and niece on Saturday. I'm glad he was able to go be with the family to say goodbye to a favorite Uncle. Here is a photo of Uncle Bob, Aunt Jean (Dave's Dad's sister), and their youngest son Bill at last year's family reunion.

I teased Dave all week with plans to go on a special (delayed) birthday date together. I should do more of this. Just the mere fact that he did not know where we were going, what we were doing, and why he needed to be home at a certain time has driven him crazy -- in a good way. I can't reveal the details here until we've had the date, but I think he'll enjoy it. It's nothing fancy - just a date with some of his favorite things. We changed our plans once the news of Uncle Bob's death occurred. It was more important to get Dave ready for the trip and let the kids have some Daddy time with him. I did think to put a note into his suitcase before he left to continue the mental torture. I suppose I should wrestle up a babysitter again soon, huh?

Today I had one of the most delightful events occur. I had a peaceful, enjoyable meal with my three children at a sit-down restaurant after church. Seems simple right? Well, it's a little daunting to take all three into a restaurant by yourself. It's not that they are bad, but inevitably someone will have a bathroom visit to make or other emergency. To be honest, I often choose going through a drive through and bringing food home to eating at a restaurant when Dave is gone on a trip. (We do eat regular food at home, too!) William is constantly asking me why we can't go in so today I told him that this was a special test of how we could manage to behave when out with Mommy. The little stinker took it all to heart and rose to the occassion. Grace was charming and ate her food calmly. I got to eat my meal in peace. There was no bickering. Good grief, I think I was bursting with pride as we left Carrabba's Italian Grill. A good friend of mine tells her three, "Our goal when we leave this store/restaurant/event is to not have everyone know your name." Laugh if you want, but certain parts of motherhood are like survival training. I suddenly felt like I had changed from survival mode to "thrilled to be a mom" mode today. I suppose that could rate as my mundane magic for the week. A glimmer of hope on the horizon. ;-)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

birthday weekend conversation

"Grace, how old are you?" We asked tonight at dinner.

"TWO!" She says enthusiastically.

Hmmm, perhaps we should work on the execution.

(We had a good day celebrating at the aquarium on Friday.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Grace turns 2!

Today is a special day for my last baby. Sweet Grace turns two today. I am completely enamoured with her developing personality right now. Although I'm tired at the end of each day with a toddler in the household, I cannot tell you the number of smiles and laughs she gives me. We are headed to the Georgia Aquarium to celebrate with a family outing.

Yesterday I was out pruning some dead blooms off our yard flowers. Jordan and William had long deserted me for the air conditioning, but Grace was still there asking to help. I would hand her each discarded piece and she would then carry them to the yard bag -- with two purses, a hairbow, and MY dress sandals on her feet pushing a play mower. She was absolutely determined to be there as my shadow and I couldn't help but think what a memory that was to behold.

Here she is modeling a new hairstyle.

And when she got bored during timeout she decided to stand on her head in the playpen. It's hard not to laugh at a sight like this. Notice that her arm is actually out of the armhole meaning that she began to attempt the "lets get naked and shock Mom" routine, but then abandoned that for a more exciting show.

At Hilton Head on the beach playground.

So, Happy Birthday to my girlie who has learned all the tricks from her siblings, takes big girl showers without fear, loves to wear purses and jewelry, and has a passion for ice cream. Thank you ALL for the part you played in her life. I could have never made it through the past two years without your prayers and encouragement.

I still get emotional when I think about how close we came to the edge of death. Emotional in a good way. I know that this little spunky girl is meant to do big things in her life. I know that we are blessed to have her in our family. People go years searching for the meaning of life. I had my third child and discovered that my life already had meaning. Grace came to this world with meaning. What more of a blessing can you ask for than that?

Monday, July 17, 2006

six little cousins

A photo of all six cousins -- ranging in age from 3 months to 9 years.

One of the reasons we went to Orlando was that I found villas through our timeshare group that would allow us to have extra space for my whole family. We got two villas with the hopes that we could spend some time together on vacation. Last year we went to Tybee Island together and it worked out great. There was no beach in our resort, but plenty of other things to do together. My sister now has three children and though it is a busy time the kids all love to play together. There are moments where we have to take turns refereeing, but generally they look forward to playing hard together.

Alana and Grace (only 5 weeks apart agewise) in the first few moments after we all arrived.

Our villas had screened porches on them. We hung out there to watch the birds (cranes and other waterbirds) graze around the property. Here is Jordan and Grace admiring Baby Lydia in Granddaddy's arms. Dave and Russ (the two son in laws) loved the fact that they had multiple golf courses to escape. Each of our villas backed up onto golf courses.

The three older cousins enjoy Spy Kids 3-D with their stylish glasses.

Baby Lydia hanging out at the pool with all of us. That is her Daddy, Russ, making her smile.

We played putt-putt golf together on Thursday night. There were several hole in ones -- Drake made one with his cast, Aunt Julie made two (show-off!), and Alana and Grace made one each. Grace had no idea what she had done.

Here are the three older cousins -- William (4.5), Jordan (9), and Drake (6.5) -- at one of the resort pools. Poor Drake had broken his arm just a few weeks before our trip and didn't get to participate in the waterslides and other wet play. He was a great sport about the whole thing. It's a good thing there were game arcades nearby while we were all splashing.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

to infinity and beyond

We are back from vacation. As the saying goes...we've had all the magic we can stand. Dave and I had a great time with the kids in Orlando. It was such a good family time together and we marvelled at how much older and more capable Jordan and William had become. Grace was a real trooper and proved that she is fearless more than once on a ride. The above photo is William hugging Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland. Both Jordan and William collected character signatures and photos throughout the park and we all had fun looking for the different characters. Buzz has to be William's all time favorite so this was a cool moment for him.

Today is a recovery day for us. We drove back through the day yesterday and arrived home at 12:30 am last night. Needless to say we are tired. When we woke up William said we had to get the house ready. Dave and I asked what we needed to get ready for....William sincerely thought all the Disney characters were coming to visit him today since he had invited each and every one of them along the way!

More photos and trip details tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

happy independence week

We've been celebrating Independence Day all weekend. Dave has been off for the long weekend and we've enjoyed some family time together doing things like the pool, waterslides, and playing golf. Don't think we've forgotten the real meaning behind the holiday -- there is no amount of fun that could make me forget what it was like to be a military wife waiting for my husband to come home safely from a deployment. Nothing brought that home more than when we cut on the television tonight for a bit of news and found out that N. Korea is up to its old tricks again. That's not a good kind of deja vu. Dave dealt with this threat situation a lot when we lived in Hawaii. I can't imagine too many military people -- even those not deployed -- got to enjoy BBQ today.

I tried a new Alton Brown recipe today for ribs. They turned out very nice. Here is the link if you are interested:

Who Loves Ya Baby-Back Recipe

It takes a lot of spices to make a dry rub, but that is one way to get excellent flavor from meat. The recipe got a thumbs up from William and Jordan (my kid who is not a big meat eater) loved it. After scurrying from the kitchen we ran to the car and raced downtown to Marietta for the fireworks. We didn't get to sit in our usual spot, but we had an excellent view of the fireworks and departed from the traffic snarl much quicker. We may have found a better spot.

Jordan has been taking a golf clinic this week at a local course. Dave has taken her on Monday and Tuesday. He snapped these photos of her. Tomorrow I will be back in carpool mode. She's really enjoyed the lessons and has taken good care of her new clubs and equipment. I think a water bottle may be the most important equipment she's carried considering the heat.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

i survived vbs

Our week was filled with VBS activities. I suppose I could add "and lived to tell about it" to the title above since I am able to blog about it. This is the first year I have taught at Piedmont Road. It seems that I have either been pregnant or nursing a little one everytime VBS arrived. This year I co-taught the 2 and 3 year olds for the theme, King of Kings. It was a busy class. I normally don't like to teach the same class that my child is attending. (It always seems that my child misbehaves ten times worse when I am in the classroom trying to give the other kids attention.) Grace did end up being in this class since she is almost 2. She was the youngest in the classroom at 23 months, but she was able to hang in there for most of the fun.

We invited many people, but most had preplanned activities or vacations. The kids were disappointed to not have any friends to bring to VBS. On Tuesday William exclaimed in the car on the way to VBS, "HEY WAIT! We forgot to bring a friend today!" When I tried to explain it again he just got distraught. So distraught that he remained sad for an hour into the morning. According to his teachers (One of which was his beloved babysitter) he just sat sadly alone and didn't want to have fun at first. If you know William you know that isn't like him at all. Finally he warmed up. On Wednesday we were able to bring William's friend Jackson from the neighborhood and William ran happily into the auditorium excaliming, "I have a friend with me today! Here is my friend Jackson! Isn't he great?"

Here are some photos:

William and his friend Jackson during the auditorium gathering. Jackson is in the blue stripes to the right of William.

William got called upon to make the grouchy face for the Booster Booster song.

Grace sits in a big girl chair during class.

Jackson ate lunch and played with us after VBS. William was so excited to have his friend with him.