Monday, December 28, 2009

We have all learned to share this Christmas season.

Our Christmas was interesting, to say the least. It was as if God was testing me, saying, "You say it's all about me, let's see if that's really the case."

On Christmas morning we all woke up, ate a yummy breakfast and headed out to L.A. to serve with Faith In Christ Ministries. We helped organize packages containing blankets, hats, socks and toiletries and then just hung out with the people. I painted a few faces and Nathaniel played with the other kids and Sam and Aaron just hung around mingling.

Right as lunch was served we were talking with a friend and Aaron projectile vomited all over Sam. Twice.

Awesome.

So, we packed up and headed home. As we headed home Sam started to feel queasy, but he thought that it was because he had just been vomited on.

Nope, after we got home and got Aaron down for a nap, Sam began to feel worse. We managed to open presents (poor Sam was out on the couch barely able to sit up at this point) and then Sam lost it as well. So, Christmas day was spent with Sam in bed and me picking up the aftermath of Christmas presents.

Poor Sam was so sick. At one point Aaron and Nathaniel were both pulling at my legs and Sam was calling to me from the bedroom. Yikes!

Luckily, Sam got over his illness in about a day.

But, the flu is the gift that just keeps on giving. The night of the 26th I started not feeling so hot. I thought it was all in my head though, but when Nathaniel woke up vomiting in his bed I knew I wouldn't be far behind. Sure enough, not 30 minutes later I was joining the ranks. Poor Sam, dealing with sick wife and sick kiddo.

All day yesterday all Nathaniel and I could do was lay on the couch and sleep/watch movies. It was nice for Sam because he got to watch Return of the Jedi, but I was miserable.

As of today we all seem to be pretty recovered. We all have congestion and coughs, but at least we are past the pukes.

Merry Christmas to us! Hope everyone else stayed healthy this season!

On the bright side, at least being sick keeps those extra holiday pounds off!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Here's a glimpse of what we did today on our Christmas Eve (Aaron's first Christmas!).


I built a fort for them, only for Nathaniel to kick me out and say, "No girls allowed!!" But brother was allowed, so it was all good.

We went to Christmas Eve service. I think that my boys are the most handsome things ever.


Here's a family shot. Not that great of a shot, but what do you expect for a timer and a propped camera?

And, here is a video from Sunday of Sam playing with the boys. The boys have discovered Star Wars...heaven help me!


video

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Happy Baby is Realizing His Own Will

I feel very blessed by my children's temperaments. Overall, I have had some extremely easy going babies. Of course, Nathaniel hit his terrible twos where his first phrase was, "No! Mine!!", but overall he is a very good kid.

Aaron is even more easy going than Nathaniel was. When I think back on his short little life I realize that the only time he ever really cries is when he is in pain, sick or EXTREMELY tired (or hungry). Most of the time Aaron is content to crawl around wherever we are (or be held) and just smile at everyone and everything.

Of course, he is super goal oriented though. He practices whatever skill he's working on until he has it mastered. That's how he managed to learn how to crawl and move himself from the crawling position to the sitting position by the time he was just under 6 months old. And that's why he doesn't fall over when he pulls himself up to stand, because he practiced squatting and sitting. He is very determined to do whatever it is he wants to do.

That personality trait will serve him very well in the future. I see this kid doing great things by sheer grit and determination. However, right now it's driving me CRAZY!

Yesterday we were visiting some friends and their house happened to have stairs. When I put Aaron down to play he immediately headed for the stairs so he could climb them. Having no desire to play "chase the baby up the stairs" I thwarted his plans and blocked him from getting to the stairs. Instead of turning his attention elsewhere, he kept crawling towards the stairs and began to pitch a fit when I wouldn't let him get to the stairs. He whined and cried and kicked. Yup, it was AWESOME.

Tonight Sam was cooking dinner and I was in the living room with the boys. Aaron really really wanted to go touch the oven (which was on). I kept pulling him out of the kitchen and he would head for the Christmas tree. Over and over and over he kept going towards these things, and every time I pulled him away he would scream and cry and then head straight back to the forbidden area. We finally went into the boys' room to play where I could shut the door and not have to play the game again.

Nathaniel didn't hit this stage until he was about 18 months old. Heaven help us!

But, he's still quite the charmer (recent pics of the boys to come this week).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I blinked.

Something has happened in the past few months and I completely missed it.

Somewhere along the line my baby has turned into a functioning, communicating little boy.

Sure, he still crawls everywhere and babbles mostly, but I can see the look of concentration on his face as he tries so hard to make words come out of his cute little mouth.

Aaron has started signing more and more. He is up to "bye bye", "more", "all done" and "milk". Yesterday he was sitting in his high chair dropping cheerios over the edge one by one and then waving at them as they hit the floor.

He has also discovered his nose. Last night at dinner he had a pea on the tip of his finger and he was slowly putting it on his nose. I thought it was random until the pea fell off of his finger and he stopped doing it. And, of course, with the discovery of the nose comes the discovery that his finger fits perfectly into the nose. Oh the look of sheer delight that comes onto his face as he crams that little finger straight up his nostril.

This morning at breakfast Aaron was staring at Nathaniel going, "Bruh...bruh...bruh..." trying so hard to get out "brother". He also says, "Mama" and "dada". And although he has no words for it yet, he is always super excited to see the cats. That usually gets a yell out of him.

He also has discovered his own will, and that it is separate from his brother's will. They were playing with light sabers the other morning and Nathaniel tried taking Aaron's away from him. All of a sudden I heard a new sound out of Aaron. It was a territorial, "Stop it!!" yell. I was so proud of him for standing his ground.

He has also realized cause and effect. Last night he ripped out a good fart and it surprised him. Sam and I laughed at him and he immediately kept trying to do it again. That was amusing.

Overall, he is 100% boy. He dives into life head first (sometimes literally) and is always trying to go places. He tries to walk, but then dives to the floor in a bear crawl (hands and feet) because it gets him to where he's going faster. I'm amazed.

It seems like just yesterday he was a little baby, content to simply sleep in his sling as Nathaniel and I walked around and played. Now, I can barely wear him anywhere anymore because he is so eager to interact with his world.

It's going too fast.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Highlight of our week.

Sam and I saw Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds live in Las Vegas on Thursday night. It was an amazing show. Very well done. Will update more later when I have time. Just wanted to post the picture I got.

Monday, December 7, 2009

We're still here.

Life has been pretty crazy around here. I started my new job last week and between that and life in general I haven't been able to come up with much for the blog.

Not that the kids don't keep me filled with stories to share, it's just finding the time and the energy to actually record them. Then, when I have the time, I find that I'm drawing a giant blank when it comes to sharing them on here!!

Aaron is about to walk. He's in the "I'm so excited to get to where I'm going that I tumble headfirst to the ground before my bottom half can catch up!" stage. He is also into playing little games that make him laugh. He loves it when I wear hoodies with strings because he likes to feed me the strings. It makes him laugh. He's also loving having daddy home. It's like he never left (Sam, not Aaron).

Nathaniel is in this new stage of something. He has this attitude that is driving us up the wall. He back talks big time and we are trying to stop it before it really starts. He yells at us and refuses to do things. It has taken a lot of us getting down to his level and telling him out right, "Your behavior is unacceptable and you will stop right now or (fill in the blank with whatever punishment fits the crime)." It's kind of working, but Sam and Nathaniel have had more battles. I can definitely tell that Nathaniel is trying to test the boundaries more with Sam. Sigh.

Our latest adventure (aside from Disneyland in the cold rain today) was to the La Brea Tar Pits up in L.A. It was really cool! I think I can say that it was really cool because we got in for free with the military i.d.s so anything is cool if it's free. But, to see all of the fossils that came out of the ground right in that area was pretty neat. Plus, they are still digging in the area and we could see that happening along with the old pits that are no longer being excavated. Although, it did stink pretty badly.

Not too much else going on here. We are looking forward to doing some fun family stuff and creating more memories. It's so good to have my other half back. I forgot what it was like to have someone who knows what I'm going to say before I say it, or who finishes the thought I'm having. It's great. I feel complete.

Ciao!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Advent Conspiracy: Focusing on the real reason for the Season.

This Christmas our family is trying something new.

Christmas is a time when we are supposed to reflect on God sending His son to earth as a baby. It's a time to worship God and reflect on the Gospel and what it means to live out that Gospel.

Yet, many times Christmas has become a time where we are super busy doing things, rather than being with family. We are running around trying to make Christmas meaningful by visiting Santa, buying presents and trying to fit everything into our already crammed schedule. We stress ourselves out trying to find that "perfect" present for people, when in all actuality we just want time.

So, this year we are trying something new as a family. It's called the Advent Conspiracy, and the idea behind it is amazing.

Instead of spending a ton of time and money running around, we want to make this Christmas more meaningful for our family. So, we are thinking of creative ways to show people we love them (more meaningful, personal gifts). And, with the extra time and money we are saving we are going to give more to charities and spend time serving with our families.

It's going to be hard, but we know that it's going to be worth it. We just want to discover more of what it means to worship Jesus this Christmas.

Family vacation

Well, Sam is home! It's been amazing to have him here, and I think it has yet to fully sink in that he is home for good. I think it will set in when I start my new job tomorrow and leave the kiddos with Sam.

It was a very frustrating day waiting for Sam to return. He was supposed to fly in around 7pm and we were going to take off for our family trip up north right after that. Yet, Sam kept calling with more delays and his flight ended up coming in around 10:45 that night. And, for some reason the Army had the families waiting at some random air field near LAX out in the cold (okay, so it wasn't really that cold, but temps in the 50's can get a bit brisk when I'm standing outside for an hour and a half).

Here's a picture of Nathaniel waiting for Daddy to arrive (I took Nathaniel with me to get Sam and left Aaron at home so he could sleep--a friend of mine came over to sit with him).
We were super excited when the bus FINALLY showed up with the soldiers. Sam was the first one off of the bus! Nathaniel did not hesitate to give Sam a huge hug. I caught a picture of that too.
After waiting for about an hour and a half for the luggage to show up (yes, more adventures in stupid), we finally got loaded up in the van and headed home. We got a few hours of sleep and were up and traveling by 7am (just in time to hit traffic on the way out of the city).
We drove up to Calistoga in Napa Valley and stayed in a cute little cottage. Somehow I managed to not get any pictures of where we stayed, but trust me, it was beautiful. When we checked into our place (a one bedroom cottage with a living room and a kitchen) I realized that we were going to be super stressed if we tried to fit everything into one day, so we decided to extend our stay by a day. It was a good choice.
On the first day we rented bikes and biked around Calistoga with the kids. We did a good balance of visiting vineyards and seeing other cute little touristy sites. The picture below is of Nathaniel in front of the tasting room at a little place called Lava Vine (so named for the volcanic ash that covers the region due to a volcano erupting some millions of years ago).
It was fun riding the bikes with the kids. Sam and I took turns pulling the 60 pounds of children behind us. It was a beautiful fall day and the scenery was breathtaking.

The town of Calistoga is located above some natural hot mineral springs (it's kind of the big advertisement of the town) and located right outside of town is California's "Old Faithful" Geyser. It goes off about every 20 minutes. It was pretty cool seeing the geyser erupt and to look at the nature around it. It seemed pretty prehistoric. If you look behind us in this picture you can see the geyser erupting.

The next day we went to the Petrified Forest and hiked around. Here is a picture of the boys in front of a petrified tree (it looks like just a fallen stump, but it's actually a tree turned into stone! Pretty cool).

We also went to a few wineries on day two as well. Here is a picture of Nathaniel in the vineyards at Castle de Amorosa.


All in all it was a good trip. It was nice to ease back into life together with a fun vacation. Now, it's back to reality.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thank You.

To Everyone.

Thank you. So many of you have been an incredible support system for my family while Sam has been overseas. There is no way I can even begin to thank each of you by name (because, inevitably, I will leave someone out, and I would hate to leave anyone out), but please know that we are forever thankful for you.

For those of you who helped me out while I was finishing up my M.Div., whether you watched Nathaniel for me during my crazy scheduling, or simply threw up some much needed prayers and listening ears: Thank you!

For those of you who adopted me and my crazy brood into your families for special occasions and weekly meals: Thank you!

For those of you who went out of your way to listen to me when I was having one of those, "OhdearhelpmeGodI'mgoingtokillmychildren!" days: Thank You!

For the many, many people who brought me meals, took my children, cleaned my apartment (scooped my cat poop!) in the weeks after I had Aaron when I wasn't "supposed" to lift anything heavier than him (technically, not even him): Thank You!

For those of you who prayed and prayed that I would find a job in my field after Sam came home: Thank You!

Thanks so much for being there. I cherish your friendships, our talks, the shoulders to lean on, the encouragement that I could do it. My family and I thank you.

Love,
Carrie and The Boys

p.s. Sam will be here Sunday evening. I'm picking him up at the airport and we are disappearing for a few days.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Discipline and watching the wheels turn.

I have been at my wit's end on finding the right way to discipline Nathaniel.

He is very opinionated and likes to do things his way and doesn't like anyone telling him what he should/should not be doing.

Of course, that does not fly in our house. I'm the parent and that means what I say goes.

I have tried just about everything I can think of to work on getting Nathaniel to listen to instructions (the first time I ask, and without whining, although I'm just taking it step by step for now).

I tried time outs. That didn't work. I found that he was spending nearly an hour in time out a day and his behavior wasn't changing at all (because that is the goal of discipline, to change his behavior and teach him acceptable ways of acting). And much of the "time out" time was spent with me taking him back to time out while he laughed in my face. Ugh!

So, I tried spanking. He would get his verbal warning and then a spank if he continued. That didn't work either. He would still laugh in my face and actually started hitting me back. Double ugh!!

I tried a combination of time outs and spankings, but found myself just getting frustrated even more so, and he laughed even more (seriously, does this child not have any nerve endings in his bottom?!).

So, I sat down and thought about what else I could do. I started taking away our night time story time. It worked, but it was too abrupt. It was either all or nothing. So, I made a little chart. Each night Nathaniel gets four books read to him before bed. So, I made a picture chart with four books, three books, etc. and put a post it note on the picture with four books. When Nathaniel doesn't listen I give him his warning and then he loses a book for the evening.

The first night he lost his books within five minutes of having the chart. I think it was because he thought it was fun to move his star. Then he realized what the chart meant.

His behavior has been better. Sometimes all it takes is a warning before he does what he's supposed to or stops throwing a fit.

However, tonight we were at Disneyland and Nathaniel asked me, "Mommy, can we have popcorn?" I told him we could have some when we got home after Aaron went to bed if he listened well. Ten minutes later he was throwing a fit and not listening. I told him that we weren't going to have popcorn when we got home because of his behavior and he hit me on the arm saying, "I want popcorn!" I just ignored him at that point and we moved on.

As we were driving home I heard a sweet little voice from the backseat say, "Mommy, I'm sorry I hit you earlier." I told him, "I know you are honey, I forgive you and I love you."

Then he paused and said, "Can I have some popcorn now?"

*sigh*

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

Sam will be home in 10 days or less.

I am excited!

But, I am also very very DONE with this deployment. I compare these next few days to a long car trip. You know, when the car trip starts you aren't necessarily excited about the prospect of being in a car for 14 hours, but there are different things that happen on the way that make it enjoyable. But, the last 30 miles or so you start to get antsy and have that "get me out of this car!" feeling.

That's how I've been feeling all week long. And it doesn't help that Aaron has been a little more whiny than usual.

I keep telling myself that I can do one more week. I've been doing it for 53 weeks already, one more won't kill me.

But I can't promise anyone that I will be smiling this week. It's taking all of my energy and my reliance on God for me to make it through this week with my children in tact!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Two ideas of homecoming.

We are getting close to Sam's return home. I still don't know when he will be here (so don't ask, because I'm really not being difficult, I just. Don't. Know.) but I know that it will be SOON.

As my time as a single mom winds down I can feel myself getting more and more antsy. I can't seem to fill the hours up enough and I find that we are spending more time playing at home than we are getting out of the apartment and doing things. Poor Nathaniel has gotten a bit spoiled with all of our outings because we'll be driving home from somewhere and he immediately asks, "Where are we going now?" Then, when I tell him we are going home he says, "I don't want to go home! I want to go somewhere!"

The past week I've been imagining what it will be like when Sam gets home. Time for myself; uninterrupted showers; the ability to complete a thought... It's an amazing daydream of unreality, but perhaps my dreams will come true.

I do know, though, that it is completely different from what Sam is dreaming of when he gets home.

Here is what Sam is expecting (except insert my face instead of perky blonde's face):










Here is what I'm expecting:





I have a feeling that one of us (*cough* Sam *cough*) is going to be sorely disappointed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I can now share my big news.

I realize that I have been slightly vague about some things lately. There's been "big news" brewing here in the Grummons' household and it has caused some people to wonder what's been going on.

No, we are not pregnant.

No, we are not moving.

No, Sam is not home, yet (although, soon!).

After my super long vacation/excursion to the Midwest, I set out on the journey of becoming employed. I wasn't sure exactly what that would entail because it was still up in the air as to how long we would be in California still and what our lives would look like when Sam finally got home from his deployment.

Knowing how terrible the job market was/is I knew that I should start looking for a job as soon as possible because I know people who graduated from Talbot before I did who are still not employed. So, I worked out my resume and started looking online for job postings in our area.

Wow. It was slim pickings. It wasn't surprising because most churches are letting their Junior High people go right now as opposed to hiring someone on just for Junior High. But, I saw one job in Westminster that had been posted in July. I wasn't even sure if they were still looking for someone to fill the position, but I decided to send in my resume anyways.

After a series of phone interviews, face-to-face interviews and lots of meetings tonight I was officially offered the position of part-time Junior High Pastor at Bethany Bible Fellowship!

This is an amazing opportunity for me and I feel like God provided this job just for me. The job description was everything I had ever done at Cypress Church and it seemed like a perfect fit from the beginning. There is even the opportunity to substitute teach at the private school attached to the church to help supplement the pay. Plus, Nathaniel can go to preschool there for free and Aaron can get free child care there when he turns 2.

I had mixed emotions about accepting this job. For one, I wasn't even allowing myself to believe that I got the job until the Deacons voted for me and it was official. It was the only job I applied for and I honestly thought that it would take longer for me to find a job. Apparently, I don't have any lessons to learn there! Second, I love Cypress Church. It has been my church home for more than five years. My children were born into their children's program, I have watched my students grow into young men and women and I have made some very good friends. It's going to be very hard for me to leave a lot of that behind.

But, I know that God is calling me to this new church. I would be a fool if I turned down this amazing offer. Plus, we aren't moving so I can still stay in contact with my amazing friends and Nathaniel will stay in the Cubbies program at Cypress so that he doesn't have to go through too many changes at once.

So, that's it. I have a job!! And, they are graciously letting me start in December after Sam has come home. Hooray!! Thanks to all who have been praying for me and my job search.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

One of those days where you just want to lock yourself in a soundproof room and scream.

Yesterday was one of those days.

A day where every little thing seemed to affect someone in our family.

Aaron was super whiny and I just don't know why. It could be his runny nose, it could be teeth (he was gnawing on everything yesterday), or it just could be growing pains. Who knows, but he was clingy and fussy most of the day.

Because Aaron needed extra attention, Nathaniel decided that he needed attention too. At the same time, in the same way. When Aaron was in my lap whining and tugging at my hair, Nathaniel climbed into my lap and started whining and tugging at my hair.

At one point I was nursing Aaron and Nathaniel tried climbing in my lap and said, "I want to nurse!" Yeah...not happening buddy.

Right before we were heading out the door for orchestra rehearsal last night I was changing Aaron's diaper and Nathaniel was hitting me with his toy broom. I tried taking the broom away and there was a slight struggle and when Nathaniel let go the broom came whistling down and whopped Aaron. Of course, he started screaming, I felt terrible (he was fine, there wasn't even a mark, I think he was more shocked than anything) and Nathaniel started hitting me because I took his toy away.

Ugh!

So, Aaron got comforted and Nathaniel got taken into time out for his behavior.

While in time-out Nathaniel started yelling, "I thought you were my friend! I thought you were my friend!"

I was sitting in the living room cracking up quietly when I heard, "I thought you were my friend, but you're just a mean girl!"

Yup, I'm doing my job right. At least he understands that I'm not his friend!

*sigh* It's time for the reinforcements to come home.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

More milestones for the boys.

I have some exciting news coming up, but I'm waiting a few more weeks until I write about it here on the blog. So, until I can spill the beans on that pot of coffee, I'm going to simply bore you all with more "aren't my children adorable!?" posts.

Oh, and my exciting news is NOT "I'm pregnant". I am not pregnant at all. There is no bun in the oven. Just keeping the rumors from flying. :)

Nathaniel and Aaron have become the Disneyland junkies that I have always hoped they would be. I bought Nathaniel a new pair of shoes the other week and found that when he wears them to Disneyland he is *almost* tall enough to ride the big rides (Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain and Space Mountain).

Since he was so close to being tall enough to ride we went into the bathroom and I made him grow a quarter of an inch by shoving folded up paper towels into the bottom of his sneakers. It worked like a charm and I was able to lure Nathaniel onto the "Choo Choo Train" ride (aka Big Thunder Mountain).

I was nervous as we flew around the first bend. I had my arm around Nathaniel and just kept hoping that I wasn't scarring him for life by putting him on the fast ride. But, true to how he has reacted to every other ride, once we pulled back into the station Nathaniel looked up at me and said, "That was fun! Let's do it AGAIN!"

He was even better on Splash Mountain. He loves the giant drop at the end and all day today he's been singing "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah". He says it's his favorite ride now. I'm so happy, because it's my favorite ride too.

Aaron has also come into his own at Disneyland. Last night we were on Pirate's of the Caribbean and Aaron was sitting on my lap. Both of his hands were gripping the bar in front of us and as soon as we made it down the drops and started hearing, "Yo ho, yo ho a pirate's life for me..." Aaron started bopping along, dancing in his seat until the very end of the ride. His eyes were HUGE as he looked around at everything there was to see.

I'm so happy to have created little Disneyland monsters (the good kind of monsters, not the spoiled brat kind). It's awesome.

And it's almost November!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just one more reason I would like to run Elmo over with my mini-van.

I know that most people out there adore Elmo. I mean, what's cuter than a little furry red monster who talks about himself in the third person in an insanely annoying voice?

Yes, I admit, I like that Elmo will hold Aaron's attention long enough for me to get a shower before he melts down from being in the bouncer.

I also admit that his Potty Time movie helped Nathaniel learn that everyone goes potty in the toilet and that sometimes, accidents happen.

But, lately Nathaniel has been on an Elmo kick with watching the deployment video.

See, Military One Source has made this video available to all military families. It is called Homecomings and Deployments and is all about Elmo and how his daddy has to leave for business (never saying exactly what the business is). Interspersed through the video are clips of real families and what they do to help the kids during deployment times. Nathaniel loves it because it means that Elmo's daddy is gone too and it helps him see that lots of people go through this.

I. Hate. This. Video.

For one, in the homecoming part Elmo's dad is home for about two months and then he gets shipped off again. What the heck is up with that? Now I have to explain to Nathaniel that that won't happen to Sam. And, there are all of these interviews with parents about how hard it was on their kids to have the parent come back only to turn around and leave again.

I also hate this video because EVERY TIME I see it I cry. I can't help it! I see the photos of the dad's with their kids and you can tell that they are saying good-bye because the dads look sad and the kids are bawling their eyes out.

And the whole video, how Elmo's daddy is gone, well, it's just a montage of clips that last about five minutes and in all of them Elmo is having a good old time. It doesn't show Elmo throwing a fit while his mom is trying to get dinner on the table. It doesn't show Elmo's mom getting stares from all of the other preschool parents at back to school night because she doesn't have daddy with her. It's just so unrealistic.

Sure, I understand that it's a movie for kids. But, I figure if they are ballsy enough to make a video about a Muppet's dad coming home with an injury (oh yes, that is included in the videos, I just haven't watched it and we aren't supposed to watch it unless the soldier is returning with someone wrong), you would think that they would make a more realistic video so the kids understand that it isn't all sunshine and roses.

That's all. So, if you see Elmo, send him my way. I have a nice shiny bumper that's waiting for him.

Friday, October 16, 2009

One of the many reasons Sam wishes he were here.

I got the boys their Halloween costumes last weekend. I figured that I would go ahead of time and get them while I still had a choice, rather then wait until the last minute and piece together the remnants left in the store.

I should tell everyone first of all that Sam wasn't around when I bought Nathaniel's first Halloween costume because he was in Iraq. So, while Sam wanted him to be a ninja warrior, he was a cute little tiger (and since he was only 3 months old, he looked like a little stuffed animal!).

This time around, it's Aaron's first Halloween. Nathaniel is big enough to pick his own costume, but Aaron has no say in the matter.

And (once again) Sam is thousands of miles away and has no effect on my choices for the boys (although I can practically hear him shouting at me what the boys should be).

Nathaniel decided that he wanted to be Iron Man for Halloween (good choice buddy, especially since that costume was only 12.99, compared to the 30.00 Optimus Prime costume). Then we went to the baby section and Nathaniel picked out what Aaron was going to be.

I'll post pictures after we go trick or treating, but needless to say Aaron is going to be dressed up as a Saint Bernard puppy in the softest costume I have ever touched!

I figure this will teach Sam not to be gone during Halloween anymore.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A letter to my second born.

My dearest Aaron,
You are my second child. A second son and such a delight. You have always done everything bigger than your brother (I can't in good conscience say that you have done things better, but you are definitely one who has "gone large" in everything you do).

At birth you were nearly one pound heavier, one inch longer and one cm bigger around.

You were crawling a good month and a half before your brother was and cut your first tooth at five months old and now have 8 teeth! Your favorite position is standing and you think it's a hoot to get into things I don't want you to. When I tell you "no" you look at me, give me that award-winning Aaron grin and then continue to go towards the forbidden object.

I have to apologize though. As I sat with Nathaniel tonight and looked through his photo album I realized that I still hadn't done much with your photo album. So, after you guys were in bed I got out the pictures and started assembling your photo album.

Please forgive me, Aaron. I can't seem to find that many pictures of you. Where there were pictures of Nathaniel just sitting there doing nothing, I can barely find any of just you. We have the first bath photos, but where are the subsequent pictures? I don't even really have pictures of your first week of life!

I can only hope that I can rectify this. I really hope that I can make up for this.

Probably not.

I guess I can always just make up for it by talking about how you crawled before Nathaniel did.

Love,
Mommy

Friday, October 9, 2009

Channeling my inner Martha Stewart

I've been tired of the "same old, same old" for meals lately, and so I have been whipping out the computer to find some new, creative ways to fix meals for Nathaniel and I (and Aaron, although he usually just gets to gnaw on the veggies that are in the mix).

I stepped out of my comfort zone with some chicken breasts and some soup the other day and made a fabulous chicken and broccoli cheese thing over brown rice. Unfortunately, it lasted for four days and I ended up throwing away about half of a chicken breast. Cooking for one and a half is really a drag!

Yesterday I made myself nervous when I actually purchased a butternut squash with the intent of cooking with it. Seriously, I usually only buy squash in the frozen form and only at Thanksgiving. So, I couldn't believe it when I was hacking away at this squash last night! But, after baking it in the oven with salt and olive oil, then adding it to pasta and cheese (homemade macaroni and cheese), I was super impressed with my culinary skills!

So, this morning I busted out the mixing bowls and made muffins and pumpkin bars. Sure, the muffins were just add water, but the pumpkin bars meant mixing and measuring and everything else that baking things from scratch entails (except for opening up the can of pumpkin...that wasn't homemade).

The bars smell amazing. I will make the cream cheese frosting this afternoon while Aaron naps and we should be good to go.

I just hope that Sam doesn't expect me to keep this up once he's home. I am more than happy to hand the apron back over to him.

p.s. If anyone wants any of the above recipes, just let me know.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In the mind of a three year old.

Poor Nathaniel is having a hard time transitioning.

Preschool has been great, Cubbies is awesome and everything else is going just peachy. But, he's having a hard time talking about Daddy coming home.

Every time I ask him if he is excited about Daddy coming home he says, "No!"

I couldn't figure out if this was just a regular "no" phase, or if he really wasn't looking forward to Sam coming home. After all, all Nathaniel has really known is Daddy being gone. I honestly don't know if he remembers Sam living at home ever (considering he was barely two when Sam started leaving for training for this deployment).

Recently, when I asked him if he was looking forward to Daddy coming home, he started crying and said, "I don't want you to leave, Mommy!"

I realized that Nathaniel thought that when Sam came home from Kosovo that I had to go to Kosovo to replace Sam. So, I gave him big hugs and told him that when Daddy comes home that I am not going anywhere. That he will have both mommy and daddy home together.

So, this morning Nathaniel said, "Mommy, I don't like you. I think you're gross. I don't like Aaron either, I think he's gross."

I said, "Well, who do you want to live with then, if we are so gross?"

"Daddy."

I told him that Daddy is in Germany now and he would have to join the Army if he wants to live with Daddy. He agreed that that was a good idea.

Good grief!

I blame Veggie Tales. He's been singing the "I love my Lips" song a lot so I think he has the line, "If my lips said adios! I don't like you I think you're gross! That'd be too bad." Going through his head.

Sheesh!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A good old fashioned update.

As soon as I can replace my camera batteries, I plan on uploading some pictures and videos of the kiddos. Until then, you will just have to take me at my word that the kids are doing well.

Aaron is growing and developing new skills every day. He has been pulling himself up to the standing position for quite awhile now, and his new favorite thing to do is move between two pieces of furniture. He's not quite cruising, but he does alternate pretty well. He also managed to climb up an entire flight of stairs (with me close behind spotting him) on his first try. Crazy! Not to mention he's clapping now (great fun) and has started signing a bit. He has "more" and "please" down, which is good because it's the two I've been working on with him the most. I have to say that I've been enjoying my early mornings with just him while Nathaniel sleeps and our time together while Nathaniel is at preschool. It's weird going grocery shopping with just one child in tow!

Nathaniel is working on reading. I know that sounds crazy, but he has been watching the Leap Frog "Letter Factory" video quite a bit and has mastered the basic letter sounds. So, we've been looking at small words together and he's getting the idea of sounding out words. It's exciting for him because he feels really good about himself when he sounds out a word correctly. He read, "Beep" and "Toot" the other day and I think he read "book", but I wasn't sure if he actually read it or just saw the picture above the word. He really likes preschool and is thriving in the environment. We've been walking to school and it only takes about 15 minutes for us. Nathaniel walks too, so it's a good way for him to get out a bit of energy before sitting in the classroom.

I've been doing the job search thing. It's interesting looking for a job in youth ministry. For one, the economy sucks right now so most churches are looking for free help rather than being willing to pay for someone to lead their junior high. So, I actually haven't even been able to apply for that many positions. I'm kind of limited because I'm not willing to relocate since Sam has to finish school still. But, I have a very promising lead right now. I'm not going to elaborate until things are certain one way or another though. Hopefully, I'll know soon.

Sam is getting ready to come home. We aren't sure on dates yet, but we know it won't be this month. We are very excited to bring him home for good! We're trying to figure out a family vacation over Christmas time, but it's all up in the air pending my job situation. Sam wants to do San Francisco, I'm leaning towards Florida. We'll see who wins!

That's about it here. Just keeping super busy until we can start a new "normal" of life.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Events that should be in the Mommy Olympics (If there were such a thing)

I was trying to be productive today because TOMORROW IS MY BIRTHDAY (hint hint hint) and I didn't want to do any cleaning or anything ON MY BIRTHDAY (hint hint).

Let's just say that with a three year old and a very mobile 7 month old it is nearly impossible to get anything done. Aaron is in love with the cat food bowls so I pick him up, put him in the living room, go and pick up a rag in the kitchen, put down the rag, pick up Aaron, put him back in the living room, etc. Or, at random points of my day I had both children clinging to my legs laughing hysterically as I struggled to not trip over the children and break my arm, causing me to make up some cool story as to how I broke my arm rather than being honest and saying I tripped over a child.

As I was getting Aaron ready for bed tonight I thought of a couple of different events that there could be for a Mommy Olympics.

1. Get the baby changed into pajamas.
In this event the Mommy will be given a pair of jammies, a clean diaper and one (very) wriggly infant. The winner of the event is the Mommy who can get baby dressed the fastest. Bonus points if you can do this without muttering curse words and if you can keep the baby from crying as you try to shove his flailing arms into his t-shirt.

2. Cleaning the kitchen (can also substitute bathroom or living room for this event).
The participants must sweep, mop and wipe down everything in the room while the children are awake. The winner is decided by cleanliness and speed. Participants are automatically disqualified if a movie is put on to distract the children. Bonus points are awarded if no cat food or cat water is spilled during this event (I totally lose on this account. Also, might I add that after I finished my kitchen, I found *gag* maggots in my garbage can!).

3. Wrestling
In this event the mom must happily wrestle with all of her children, giving each child her full attention and making sure that no one (including herself) gets injured. The mommy gets bonus points if she gets both kids giggling at the same time. The children get bonus points if they manage to make mom cry (eye gouges and stomach jumping are fair game).

That, in a nutshell, is what my day looked like.

But, the kids are in bed, the laundry is almost done (ants in the dirty clothes, ugh!), and it's only 9:34. Plenty of time to relax.

Did I mention that tomorrow is my birthday? :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Follow up to the last post.

I just wanted to clarify some things from the last post. Just in case I came off preachy or judgemental.

1. I don't think that the moms who watch their kids play are clinging to their children and not allowing them to grow up. I think it's great that they can do that. I just choose not to because I wasn't sure how Nathaniel would have reacted to that and I want his teacher to have full control over him while he's there.

2. I think that it would be perfectly fine for me to stand and watch Nathaniel play during his recess time, but now I am utilizing my free time in the morning to do productive things (like prep teachings and work on finding a job) while Aaron naps. I want to use up every single minute I can!

I hope no one thought I was looking down on the mom's who were watching their kids. I was just talking about my own personal parenting style.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Letting them learn to fly.

Nathaniel has started preschool and Cubbies (the preschool program in the AWANA program at church). I thought I knew my little boy's personality well. He has always been an initially timid kid. Even as a baby, he would smile at a stranger, but was not about to allow some unfamiliar person hold him.

I thought he would have a hard time with preschool. I thought that he would hesitate going into the room and would be a little teary. I thought that perhaps he would be a bit more clingy the days following the beginning of preschool.

Nope. Not at all. In fact, on the first day of preschool he happily walked into the classroom, hung up his backpack, walked over to his carpet square and began looking at a book. He waved once and settled in like it was a regular part of his day.

I was a little sad, but then I heard a couple of kids who were in complete meltdown mode (including clinging to the door frame while the teacher tried to bring them into the classroom). I realized that I would rather have Nathaniel be happy to go in than super sad.

I am enjoying my time with Aaron one on one. Even though he usually naps the entire time Nathaniel is in preschool, occasionally I get to be with him while he's awake and he can have my undivided attention. We went shopping today and I got to hold him/wear him on my hip and it was nice to have him there with his giggles and smiles.

I got to the school a little early to pick Nathaniel up. It was okay because I needed to adjust Aaron's car seat to fit him and I used that time to do that and change a diaper. It's funny because I notice that there is a group of moms who come early and hang out by the playground watching their kids play. Some of the kids don't care that their moms are hanging out, and just continue playing, while a few seek their moms out and leave their play time to go talk to them.

It got me thinking. Am I a bad mom for not going over and saying hi to Nathaniel?

Here's my thoughts on this. I am raising up someone who is going to be an adult in 15 short years. I need to teach him how to be independent and do things on his own and I need to start now. It's little steps that will prepare him for adulthood. It would be ridiculous for me to wait until a magic age and then tell him to go and be independent. It's all a part of training up my child.

So, if letting him have his full 2 hours and 45 minutes at preschool without me there watching him is putting him on his way to becoming a functional adult, then hooray. It's the same thing with Aaron and letting him fall asleep on his own or play on his own for awhile. It's a journey of raising strong, independent young men.

And it breaks my heart that there will be a day when I'm not needed, but I am relishing the moments I still have.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More traveling stories.

I realized that I have a ton of stories from our Iowa/Midwest travels that I have yet to share. I will probably post one every couple of days, interspersed with updates on what life is like here in Cali. There are big things brewing in the Grummons' household (preschool, Cubbies, job searching, prep for end of deployment, future missions trips, etc.), but I have some great stories to share from my trip still.

I also realize that I will probably be working backwards in time, so the most recent stuff will be told first. Sue me, I call it my poetic license!

For the record, I'm not a very nervous airplane flier. I used to pay attention during the pre-flight instructions, making sure I knew where all of the exits were and knowing exactly what I should do in case of a water landing. Now, however, I have flown enough to know that if anything should happen to our plane I should simply put my head between my knees and kiss my butt good-bye. Seriously, how often does a plane crash and the passengers live to blog about it?

Imagine my nervousness when, halfway through my Des Moines to Dallas flight, the flight attendant approaches my seat and asks me if I am traveling alone with the two boys. Thinking that she is going to offer me some sort of amenity (like free food, or maybe free alcohol to help me cope, ha ha ha) I tell her that I am. She proceeds to ask me if I could use some assistance in case of emergency.

WHAT THE CRAP!!?? I look at her and say, "Do you know something? Are we going to crash or something? Is this something I should worry about?" I mean, how often does the flight attendant single you out asking if you need assistance in case of emergency? It didn't help that our airplane was no larger than a regular sized yellow school bus. I thought the thing was going to fall apart during take off, and having the flight attendant approach me mid-flight didn't make me feel any safer!

The ever so helpful lady replied, "Oh no, I just want to make sure that you are taken care of so I can do my job if something happens." Then she proceeds to ask the guy sitting across the aisle from me if he would be willing to assist me if anything happened. When he said yes she said, "Oh good, now I don't have to worry about it."

Thank you very much flight attendant lady. I feel so much better.

I was really happy when our tiny little plane landed safely in Dallas without so much as a bump. I'm also happy to report that nothing bad happened and I didn't need any assistance. Whew!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I miss Iowa.

It's been an interesting week back in California. I feel like my brain is finally catching up with the rest of me. We've been to Disneyland twice and shopping a ton of times (we were completely out of food when we got back), not to mention preschool started today--which deserves a blog entry of it's very own.

Shopping has been an adventure. When I was in Iowa the workers at stores were super friendly and super helpful. If I looked lost someone would ask me if I need help. When I went through the check out the clerk was usually upbeat and chatty (unless I was at Wal Mart), so imagine my culture shock the first time I went up to the front of the check out line all smiley and said, "How are you!?" and was met with a blank stare and a mumble.

Yesterday we were in the grocery store and Nathaniel was having a melt down in the check out aisle. He was crying because I wouldn't let him stand next to the cart or in front of it (I didn't want to run him over and he couldn't stand next to the cart in the check out aisle because both don't fit). He was really letting out a good one, but all I could do was hold him firmly by his shoulders and ignore it because I knew that anything else would only make it worse.

As I was unloading my cart and Nathaniel was belting out a good one, the clerk at the register next to us came up to me with a sucker and said, "This might make him stop crying, can I give it to him?" Which was really nice of her, but I said, "Oh, no, he can't have that." Not because I'm mean mommy, but because I can't bribe my kid with candy to get him to shut up. Once I go down that road, there is no turning back! The clerk was visibly miffed that I wouldn't shut my kid up. And, of course, the clerk in my aisle would barely look at me, much less ask me how I was doing today.

Perhaps it was clear how we were doing?

Today takes the cake though. I was at Target and bought some stuff that I had coupons for. The lady in the check out got halfway through scanning my coupons and then put all of them in her drawer. When I checked my receipt I noticed that half of my coupons weren't used. When I pointed it out she got really angry with me and barely spoke as she opened her drawer, double checked my receipt and then gave me my four dollars back from what I should have saved. I felt like I had done something wrong with the angry way she treated me.

I miss my "helpful smile in every aisle" (Hy Vee). But, at least it wasn't as bad as my friend who, when observing a man peeing outside of Target the other day, asked the security guard standing nearby if he would do anything about it. His response? "Not my problem, I'm on my break."

Score.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering.

I can't believe it's been eight years since 9/11 happened.

It feels like a lifetime has passed, but as I look at the pictures today from that day it really doesn't seem like long at all.

I hope that I never forget that day. I hope that we as a nation never forgets that day. I know it's easy for us to sit here now and say that we will never forget, but how old was I before I realized the importance of December 7th? The day that Pearl Harbor was attacked was a huge day in history for my grandparents and great grandparents, but to my parents generation and my own it is just another day to memorize in history class.

On September 11, 2001 I was a junior in college. Sam and I had been dating for about four months and I was just getting acquainted with all things military. I was living in the dorms still and since the 11th landed on a Tuesday I didn't have class until 10:30 so I was sleeping when the towers were hit. I was woken up by the phone ringing and Sam on the other end telling me that the United States was under attack.

I laughed at him. I told him that some radio station was playing some sick joke on him (he was driving in the car when he found out). Then, just to prove him wrong I turned on the radio in my dorm room (no t.v.). There was a song playing so I knew that nothing terrible could have happened because a radio station would not have been playing music if the United States was truly under attack.

But, as I slowly woke up more and poked my head out into the hallway I realized that things were indeed happening in New York.

I didn't know how to react. I remember praying a lot. I remember comforting people as we all just cried. I also remember showering and going to class like usual because I didn't know what else to do.

I made sure that I didn't watch any t.v. on September 11th because I did not want the images engraved into my brain. For that, I am grateful to myself. It may have been a selfish thing, but I am glad that I didn't see anyone jumping out of the buildings. I watched the news the next day after they edited all of that. I know that I couldn't have handled any of that.

I found my journal from that day. Here are some things I wrote.

It's crazy, everyone is walking around very solemn. All I can hear in conversations are things about what has been going on... I have been on the phone with Sam off and on all morning. He was on his way to Winterset, but came back. A little part of me, no matter how irrational it sounds, is afraid that Sam will have to get involved. That would only happen if we went to war and if we were desperate, but it's still a fairly scary thought.

How odd is it that four years after I wrote that journal entry Sam was deployed to Iraq?

Never Forget.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The joys of traveling.

We're back in California. I am so proud of my little troopers for having good attitudes as I dragged their tiny butts approximately 6,000 miles in 6.5 weeks (that includes round trip flying and all of the driving we did once we were in the mid-west).

I have lots of different stories to share, but the one I'm going to share tonight is by far my favorite and was actually the highlight of my day yesterday.

We flew out of Des Moines through Dallas and into Santa Ana yesterday. Because I brain farted and left my cell phone in my rental car we were delayed in getting out in time to get to the airport. (I had to go back to the rental place and wait until they were open so the guy could get unlock the car for me).

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 11:35. We got to Des Moines International Airport at 10:25.

It took me forever to figure out check in because usually I have to check in with the counter people since I am carrying a baby on my lap, but this lady was adament that I check in with the handy kiosk (which didn't want to recognize me as a paying customer).

I finally got everything all checked in, including the car seats and my 58 pound suitcase (yup, paid extra for THAT one) and started the run to security with my laptop, my backpack, Nathaniel's backpack, a bucket of toys, my umbrella stroller, a feverish three year old and a 23 pound baby on my hip. I was sure we were going to be late.

Luckily, Des Moines is a small airport and the security line was only three people long. As we approached the front of the line I reminded Nathaniel to take off his shoes as I feverishly got my laptop out of the bag and into a bin, put the toys and stroller and my bag into the bin and made sure I had my boarding passes (which, btw, apparently you don't need through the screening anymore).

I had a baggy with Aaron's antibiotics (for the double ear infection he happened to get last week), some baby food and some Motrin for Nathaniel. I took that out and threw it in a bin and managed to shove it all onto the conveyor belt while three different security people are telling me to get my stuff into the machine and to make sure my liquids are out.

In the shuffle I forgot to take my shoes off and no one noticed at all. I guess the 4 ounce bottle of Children's Motrin threw them for a loop.

As I got myself and my children through the screening the main security guy held up my backpack/diaper bag and asked me if it was mine. When I told him it was he said, "Well, there was something suspicious in there so we have to empty everything out and send it through again."

At this point it was 11:05 and my plane was supposed to start boarding any minute. I was definitely sweating!

So, while Nathaniel put his shoes back on and Aaron chilled out in the stroller I had to open up the sealed Motrin bottle so the security guard could check it for explosives (I assume) and I watched them open up the antibiotics and look at the pink liquid carefully.

All the while the main security guy is sending my stuff through individually and muttering how he can't find the thing that set off their suspicion.

Then he pulls out my tube of Lansinoh soothing ointment. It's supposed to be used to soothe the discomfort of nursing babies, but I use it as lip balm. (It's awesome, but that's another post for another time...).

I could see the look of puzzlement cross the man's face as to what it was and why it was in my bag. Then he turned red as he read the label. He looked at me and then shoved the tube into one of my baggies of liquid and said something about it not being 3.5 ounces as he trailed off.

I felt like explaining what I used it for, but I quickly realized that I had zero time to chat as I snatched my stuff from security, repacked my bags and dashed for my gate.

Our flight was delayed by an hour. But, we made it through security and I still have my "lip balm".

More fun traveling stories to come!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer slide show

It's not much, but at least it's the pictures. I didn't put captions because of time but they are almost all self explanatory. Enjoy! I know we had fun while they were being taken!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The last leg of our trip.

Just a quick note here. I left Badger, Iowa this morning with the boys and headed to Warrenville, IL. to see Sam's dad. From here I head to my grandma Hobbs, to my Aunt Loretta and my mom's parents and then to Eldridge to see Sam's mom and family. Whew! It's going to be a lot of travel and upheaval for the boys.

It's been a great trip so far. I have had enough time to hang out with family and friends and not feel like I'm short changing anyone. I even went to my ten year class reunion. It was interesting. I definitely enjoyed catching up with a few people I had lost contact with!

I have a ton of pictures on my camera, but I haven't down loaded them onto my computer yet. Let's just say that I have some cute pictures of Aaron enjoying some great summertime foods. Watermelon and sweet corn. Yum!

The hardest part about this trip has been not getting to talk to Sam on the computer face to face. It was also weird being spouse-less for the reunion. I was talking to a friend about kids and she was talking about how she wanted more but her hubby was done. I said she should have more and he said, "kids are hard work!" I replied, "I know, I'm doing it alone!" I then stopped and said, "Wait--it's because my husband is deployed, not because I'm a tramp!" So, yeah, fun explanations!

I will definitely write a bunch of updates with pictures and fun stories once I get back to California. Well, after I hit Disneyland again and get Nathaniel to preschool. And cubbies...dang, it's going to be busy!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kicking it in Iowa.

Just wanted to let people know that we are in Iowa until September. My mom doesn't have good internet and neither does the town so my updates will be few and far between. Hopefully Sam will update this thing with news of himself!

We are having a great time. It's been so nice to catch up with people and also just sit and enjoy the outside. The weather is awesome and my mom has so much space so Nathaniel can just run around and be a kid. He's played hide and seek outside and has caught lightening bugs. It's been great.

Aaron has two teeth and is now scooting across the floor. He is really trying hard to crawl and will have it before he turns 6 months for sure. He has almost mastered getting from the crawl position to the sitting up position too.

That's about it here. Hope people are well!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

And he's off again.

We took Sam to the airport this morning. It was difficult to do because we love having him home (as we should). It's hard to explain, but every time Sam comes home after a long deployment it's like he wasn't gone at all. He simply falls into our routine and we all pick up where we left off. It's such a GOOD thing for us, especially for Nathaniel!

This leave was no different. From the time we picked Sam up at the airport it was like he hadn't been gone at all. It was hard for me to believe that he and Aaron had never met because the minute Sam took Aaron in his arms they hit it off and it was like they have known each other Aaron's entire life. It was great.

Nathaniel did well. Apparently he acted no differently than any kid at his age with two parents. I was worried because when Sam would discipline Nathaniel, Nathaniel would cry and say, "I want my mommy!" All of my friends assured me that their kids do the same thing and their dads are all around. Whew!

It was a good visit. I wish it wasn't a visit. I would love it if Sam were home for good instead of us having to wait until December (I hope). In fact, Nathaniel made me cry today as we got back in the van after dropping Sam off. He said, "Wait! We need Daddy!" I had to tell him again that Daddy was in Kosovo (it's easier than explaining travel to a three year old).

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the visit:

We went to the beach yesterday and Sam had fun making sand castles with Nathaniel. Here he was trying to bury Nathaniel in the sand but Nathaniel popped his feet out right as I snapped the picture. Notice how much I cover my white babies up at the beach. Nathaniel was coated with SPF 50, and so was Aaron in addition to his long sleeves and hat.
Sam and I went out to The Melting Pot for a date to celebrate our anniversary early (it's in August). The waiter brought us a free champagne toast so I took this picture of us. Oh, I love the Melting Pot, but it totally took me off of my diet. Oh well, I will start it again this weekend.

We went to the Wild Animal Park in San Diego and had a great time. Nathaniel loves the zoo so this was a real treat for him. One of his favorite animals is the giraffe and there were plenty of them there. I love this picture of the boys. Nathaniel loves having Aaron do pretty much whatever it is he is doing so he had to have a picture with brother.

This is my favorite picture by far. No words to explain. This is how it's supposed to be.

One of the main things we did while Sam was home was have Aaron dedicated at church. This is something our church does instead of baptism because we believe that baptism is something that an individual chooses as he grows in his own personal faith. Yet, we dedicate our child publicly, stating that we are going to raise him to know Jesus and will raise him according to Biblical principles. Plus, the members of our church pledge to help us in this endeavor (which is helpful since our little ones are involved in lots of different things in the church, it's nice to know that there are so many great people out there who are helping us raise our children to know the Lord).
So, that was our visit in a nutshell. Of course, so much happened and we did a ton. It was so nice. I can't wait until Sam gets home for good. It will be crazy because Sam will be getting ready to graduate and we will move again and lots will change, but it will be our own adventure that we get to experience as a family.
Family. I love that word. :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Quick note.

We are still enjoying having Sam here. I'm not even allowing myself to think about the fact that he will be leaving on Wednesday. That's too sad for me so I am falling back into my childish mindset of "If I don't think about it, it won't really happen."

Yeah, I'll let you all know how that one works out :)

Just wanted to let those avid Aaron fans out there know that Aaron has cut his first tooth! My little chunker is 5 months old (and approx one week) and he's already got a tooth cut through his bottom gums. Now he really glares at us when we eat real food infront of him.

I personally think he cut it just because Nathaniel says everyday, "Brother doesn't have teeth yet!"

More after Sam leaves.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Three Years Ago.

Three years ago Nathaniel was born. It was an amazing day for our family as our world completely flipped on it's head.

I went into the hospital early in the morning on the 13th of July (I think it was 3am) because my water had broken. After three hours of trying to convince the nurses that my water had indeed broken, I was finally admitted into the hospital. Since my water had broken and I was barely dilated they started me on that dreaded pitocen.

12 hours later I was still barely at 1cm and I was in a ton of pitocen pain so I got my epidural. That made things a lot more bearable for me, but it still took me 12 more hours to reach 10 cm.

At 7:00 in the morning I was ready to push and Nathaniel made his debut into the world at 8:46am weighing a whopping 9 lbs 1.3 oz. I happily held and kissed my little baby boy and watched as the nurses took him away to clean him up. I encouraged Sam to stay with Nathaniel as my doctor dealt with all of the "after" effects of giving birth.

My joy quickly turned into terror, pain and then sweet unconsciousness as I had complications from delivery.

I woke up two hours later to the nurses laughing at me because I was snoring in my sleep.

From that moment on, I have been a mommy.

Happy Birthday Nathaniel! I can't believe how fast the years have flown by.

Friday, July 10, 2009

An Unusual Evening.

Tonight started out like every Friday night. We went over to our friends' house for dinner and then we went to church to hear the Kenya Missions Team share about their trip (and eat ice cream!). It was a pleasant evening and it was great to hear about what God is doing in Kenya. I got the boys home and in bed by 9:00 and quickly headed out to get my mail.

This is something I do almost every evening. I tuck the kids in, go out quickly-locking the door behind me-and run out to the mailbox. It takes about three minutes total and is much quicker to do without the dawdling three year old who marches to the rhythm of his own drummer.

I was near the fountain in the front of the complex thinking about the kids who were swimming unsupervised in the pool. I was wondering where their parents were and was hoping that nothing would happen to them because it's useless to tell them that they shouldn't be in the pool that late at night without an adult. At that moment I saw a young woman come running out of an apartment. I thought to myself, "Oh dear, there must be some party going on! I'm so glad I live towards the back!"

Then the woman approached me asking me if I had a phone. My phone had died earlier today and it was at home charging so I said, "No, I'm sorry, I don't have a phone on me." Then I noticed that the woman was crying and looked scared to death. She said to me, "Please, you have to have a phone! They are after me! I'm so scared I think he's going to kill me!"

Holy Crap!

So, I quickly looked around, saw no one coming at the moment and said, "Come with me, I have a phone in my apartment. You'll be safe there." And then I hurried her as fast as I could back to my apartment, hoping that whoever was after her wasn't going to then be after me.

I got her upstairs and immediately called the police. After getting off of the phone with the police I asked her some questions and tried to calm her down. Turns out that her and her boyfriend were fighting and he turned on her and started choking her. She had marks on her neck, bruises on her arm and her shirt was torn.

I talked with her and asked her lots of questions, trying to get her to calm down a bit until the police arrived (at this point both boys were asleep, thank goodness!).

When the police arrived they were such butts. I really can't think of a non-curse word to describe these officers so I have to stick with "butts". There was one really tall one who was asking all of the questions and he wouldn't sit down with her. He just kept asking her the same questions and wasn't even really listening. He asked her her date of birth and then asked her how old she was (hello! Math much?). When she said that her boyfriend was choking her and that she was screaming he said, "Well, he mustn't have been choking you that hard if you could scream." What the hell!?

So, the officers left to go find the guy and then came back because she gave them the wrong apartment number so she had to go and show them which one. They said that I had to give a statement too (which is fine, throw that guy's booty in jail!), but I don't know if they are coming back or not now. It's been about 40 minutes since they left.

How surreal is this? I'm so glad I was there to help this woman (Maria), but I wish that the cops were a little more compassionate.

I was all ready to blog tonight about how excited we are that Sam is coming home tomorrow and that Nathaniel is just like Sam when it comes to music, but this is much more thrilling to blog about.

I really hope everything turns out okay for this woman. I hope she gets up the guts to leave him and get a better life for her and her daughter. I'm glad that I was in the right place at the right time tonight.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bullet points of life.

Since I've been kind of lazy with updating lately, I thought I would put some bullet points of what's going on with us.

  • Sam is coming home for 9 days. He will be here on Saturday. We are so so so so so excited about this I think I might pee a little. Seriously, I am thrilled to death about seeing Sam and introducing him to his little boy. Even Nathaniel is bouncy-happy about this!
  • I am almost ashamed to admit this, but obviously not too ashamed since I'm blogging about this, but I watched the Michael Jackson memorial service and cried a couple of times. My theory behind the tears is that he was such an icon and it was sad to see his family truly mourning. Plus, I find that lately I don't emote like I ought to so I have to find other ways to let out my emotions. So, it probably wasn't a bad thing that I cried when Usher sang, "Gone too soon."
  • Speaking of finding other outlets for my emotions, tomorrow I'm going to see "My Sister's Keeper". I read the book, but I heard that the movie is way different. I'm bringing kleenex and a friend and am really looking forward to having some time away from the boys. We're also getting pedicures so, I'm really "girling" it out.
  • Did I mention that Sam will be home on Saturday?
  • Nathaniel is doing better with his attitude. Time outs have been less of an occurrence. Thank God! I was so tired of replacing him in time out.
  • I have officially lost all of my Aaron weight! Woot for the Wii Fit!
  • Sam's home on Saturday, can you tell I'm excited?
  • Nathaniel will be three next week. We're having a Pirate themed party for him on Sunday. I can't believe my baby is three!
  • We are also dedicating Aaron at church on Sunday. It's going to be a big day for our family.

That's about it here. I know it's all random, but whatever. At least it's an update!

Did I mention Sam's coming home on leave?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Maybe I'm doing something right?

Nathaniel has hit a new stage of rebellion. He is bound and determined NOT to listen to me. It's even gotten to the point where if I force him to do something he will deliberately go against me. The new thing is peeing all over the floor when I make him go to the bathroom. I still put the diaper on him at night because he doesn't always wake up to go and I was tired of washing pee sheets every day. But, for Nathaniel, the diaper means he gets to be lazy and pee in it while he's eating breakfast. So, the first thing I make him do when he gets up is take the diaper off and use the toilet. He always throws a major fit and then, while he's sitting on the toilet, aims for the floor and pees everywhere. It's one of those times where I can only yell STOP!!! and then make him clean it up and go into time out.

There has been a lot of things like this lately. Some days I feel like we spend more time dealing with discipline issues than we do playing. It gets discouraging.

But, yesterday I saw a glimpse of the young man Nathaniel is growing up to be. I also see glimpses of the budding relationship between Aaron and his big brother. During bath time Nathaniel was singing the songs from music camp. It does my heart good to hear my son joyfully singing about the ten commandments (This is rock solid, written in stone/ From the hand of God He made His Law known/ Not to keep things from us, but with blessings for us/ 10 of them in all. These are God Almighty's Laws). Then he wanted me to sing all of the commandments while he shouted the numbers.

Then, when he went to bed he wanted a book to look at. Normally I don't let him read at night, but since he took a 2.5 hour nap yesterday I knew it would be awhile before he fell asleep and I really wanted to work out. So, I handed him Dr. Seuss' ABC book. Nathaniel handed it back and said, "No, I want the Bible." Then he looked at his picture Bible until he fell asleep. His favorite story from it is the one where Jesus heals the blind man by putting mud on his eyes. I think it's because of the mud. Nathaniel thinks that everything has music so he's always asking me to sing the song about the mud and Jesus.

Also, Aaron and Nathaniel have been playing nicely together. Aaron is always kissing his big brother and trying to get him and Nathaniel is very tolerant.

Overall, things are tough right now, but I know I am raising Nathaniel and Aaron well.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Music Camp and the sickies.

Nathaniel had an amazing week at music camp last week. It was so cool for me to see him running around with the other preschool aged kids, singing and dancing and playing. It's awesome to see him grow up (as well as a little sad to see him no longer being my baby).

It was such a clever show too. How amazing is it to teach strong theology to kids via songs? The name of the musical was GPS: God's Plan of Salvation and it was really clever.

Unfortunately, Nathaniel was not able to perform at the show on Sunday. On Saturday Nathaniel woke up with a fever and he's been battling it ever since. It goes up to about 103 and then goes down to 99. A couple of times it's gone away and fooled me into believing Nathaniel was all better. Then, while we are out running errands, it goes back up and Nathaniel gets really weepy (I don't blame him). This is the hardest part of not having Sam around is the sick kid. I really need to go grocery shopping and I can't because I can't take a sick kid out like that (although, this morning I thought he was all better and we left to run errands and ended up having to invade a friend's house because Nathaniel's fever came back and we couldn't come home until after 4 because they painted my front entryway's stairs). I tend to get a bit stir crazy.

It's been hard to see Nathaniel so pitifully sick. When his temp gets up there he gets weird. He sleeps a lot and then wakes up crying for/about random things. For example: This afternoon he woke up from his nap saying, "I want to be like a doughnut!" I had no idea what he was talking about. Did he want to be filled with jelly? Did he want to be dunked in a cup of coffee? I kept asking him what he wanted and meant and he said, "I want to be like a doughnut, like this!" and curled up in a ball on the couch. Okay...

He seemed to be better without meds this evening. I'm hoping the worst is over.

I'm also hoping that I don't get it and that Aaron doesn't get it. Fevers are the pits!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My children, the trouble makers.

This week is the week of music camp that the children's program at my church holds. It is really impressive because in five days time we bring in 100 students aged preschool through 6th grade and teach them a musical, which they then perform on Sunday evening.

Since I don't have much going on schedule-wise I volunteered to help out. Also, since the program is run by a bunch of the mom's of the kids in our program, there is childcare available on site. It's great because it gets us out of the house and I get to try something new (leading around a bunch of 4th-6th graders).

Today was a funny day for me as a mom though. First of all, when I dropped Aaron off in the nursery today I laid him down on the blankets next to another baby and gave him a toy. He dropped the toy he had and looked at the baby next to him. They both kind of rolled toward each other and Aaron gave a little grin and reached out and took the toy from the other baby. What a hoodlum! It's so fun to watch him grow and reach milestones! Grabbing toys is awesome! Too bad it was from the other kid.

Then, later the kids were up on stage. They had combined music with choreography and my group was with the preschoolers. So, I got to see Nathaniel up on stage. The preschoolers are only doing two songs and out of those two songs the kids only sing a very little part since they really can't handle any more than that.

It was precious to see the little ones up on stage. It was also hilarious because they were just so squirrely. I mean, it was right before lunch and they are 3 years old. I watched as Nathaniel and his friend Kaatje held hands and jumped around. Then they kept egging each other on and it turned into an all-out silly fest. They were playing drums on their stomachs and were dancing around being silly and were just not paying attention. Of course, Kaatje's mom and I were laughing and thought the kids were just so cute. Then, their leader came over and separated the kids from each other. Nathaniel was moved for being distracting.

Awesome.

So, today I had one child take a toy from his playmate and another one get moved for being distracting.

It's a good thing they're so cute.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I can't believe I'm blogging about this!

I watched Jon and Kate Plus 8 tonight. I'm ashamed that I'm even blogging about this!

But, I started watching the show when we got cable because I had heard so much about this family and I had to see what it was about. Then, it was like a train wreck. I couldn't help but watch. Sam and I would watch it together and couldn't believe how Kate talked to Jon and totally emasculated him on t.v. for everyone to see.

Then the rumors started and the tabloids got all over it. Jon's apparent cheating, Kate being a shrew, etc. All I could do was hope that they would pull the plug on the show and focus on their marriage and getting it back on track. Because, seriously, if I was that sick of paparazzi hounding my family and rumors being plastered all over the covers of magazines I would take my family and run far away from the public eye.

So, when TLC said that tonight was going to be a special announcement from Jon and Kate I was hoping that they were going to say they were quitting filming. That they realized that their family and their marriage was way more important than any money that people would pay them.

Unfortunately, I was wrong and they are getting a divorce.

The thing that got me was when they were talking about how the kids always came first and that everything was always about the kids. That was why they moved and why they started the show in the first place. While I'm all about making my kids a priority I think that we do our kids a disservice by not making our spouses and our marriages our number one priority.

This is something I've been thinking about for quite awhile. My mind has more freedom to wander now that I'm not in school and it sometimes fixates on the weirdest things. But, with Sam being gone right now my life is my kids. Their needs are always met before my own and they take priority over everything. But, when Sam and I are on Skype talking, Nathaniel needs to learn that I am talking to Daddy and unless he is bleeding or choking or something is on fire, he is not allowed to interrupt.

Why? Why do I think that my relationship with my husband is more important than my kids? I think this for many reasons. First of all, if Sam and I aren't happy, our kids are going to know and ARE going to be affected. If we bicker and fight and disrespect each other, our sons will think that is what a relationship looks like and that won't help them in the future. Second, our kids are eventually going to move out, but our marriage is supposed to be until death. I want to be happy with Sam when our kids move out and still be crazy in love with him just like when we first got married. THAT is why I make my marriage a priority.

Do I neglect my children? No. Do I love my children more than anything? Of course! But, part of that is showing them how much Sam and I cherish each other and making sure that nothing gets in the way of that.

I only wish that Jon and Kate could have focused on their marriage in the midst of their children. Of course, I don't have 8 children, so I don't know what that's like.