Monday, June 29, 2009

Beach Baby

We spent this past weekend at the beach and it was so much fun. We're planning on making it an annual trip, only for an entire week, as opposed to just a long weekend. Originally we were supposed to go with some friends, but they had to cancel at the last minute. So it was just us and the in-laws, which was just perfect.

The boys both loved it. Nick was a little unsure of both the water and the sand at first. It took him a couple of days to warm up to both and get used to the feeling of the sand on his skin. Gabe, however, was ready to go and eager to experience both. Not to mention all the sights on the boardwalk.

We left Thursday morning, after I had spent a few hours at work. All six of us packed into my minivan. It took about four and a half hours to get to OC, which included a scenic tour of downtown D.C., and rural MD, thanks to the strange directions on my navigation system. At one point we stopped at a pretty nice playground in the middle of a very small suburban neighborhood, which allowed the boys a chance to get out and stretch their legs.

As soon as we arrived in OC and checked into our hotel, we unpacked the van, changed and headed out to the beach for a couple hours. We had two rooms in the Comfort Inn Boardwalk. The boardwalk location was really important to me, and it proved to be very beneficial to be so close to the beach. We could quickly get back an forth.


The weather was wonderful. Nick wanted to be held a lot, since it was a lot to take in, but Gabe was ready to just dive in, although he was unsure of being in the ocean without someone holding his hand or carrying him. It just was such a freeing and relaxing feeling to be there, at the beach. I mean the last time I was on a beach was my honeymoon in Hawaii.

We had dinner at one of the Dough Roller locations, before heading back to the hotel and getting the boys ready for bed. Gabe decided that he wanted to sleep with my MIL, which really wasn't surprising. Nick was more excited about getting a bath than he had been about the ocean. Poor thing, he had a hard time dealing with the change in his schedule, and he's getting three teeth in at once (that will make eight).


The next day we went to the beach early after grabbing breakfast. Our hotel had a complimentary continental breakfast, which was a nice feature. We stayed at the beach until about 9:30, so we could avoid the hottest hours, and get Nick a nap. Oscar spent most of his time in the water, while I alternated back and forth. Nick was a little curious about the water, but was mostly content to dig in the sand. Gabe wanted to do everything, and enjoyed being in the water and have the waves crash at his feet.

After Nick's nap we went strolling on the boardwalk to get lunch and to go to the Jolly Roger so that Gabe could ride the Ferris wheel. We also stopped at an arcade, where Gabe discovered the joys of getting tickets to turn in for prizes. I played a few enjoyable games of skeet ball, while we waited for the rides to open. It ended up being just Gabe and I on the Ferris wheel, which was nice. We get so little time together, just the two of us. There was also dessert. Gabe had a snow cone, Oscar and his parents had ice cream, and I had a funnel cake (mmmm... deep fried dough).

We went out to the beach for a couple hours Friday evening, before heading over the bridge to get dinner at Outback (Oscar's favorite restaurant) and pick up a couple things from the grocery store. The feel of the sand and the sea just put every one in such a good mood. Myself included. Even if I did have to worry about homework, since my class started last Tuesday.

On Saturday we spent the morning at the beach and then decided to take Nick strolling for his nap. One of the local photography studios caught us on the beach as we were getting ready to leave and took a few pictures of the boys, who were dressed in matching swim outfits and hats. It was very cute, so we went strolling to see where their studio was, and stopped at one of the random food stalls to get pizza.

We went out to the beach again that evening. I think Oscar spent two full hours almost consistently in the waves. And Nick was all about the beach now, and would just get up from his spot in the sand and take off towards the water whenever he felt like it. Luckily there were four adults paying attention, so usually someone caught him before he fell or got to the water. After we were done at the beach, we immediately went to pick up our pictures. I forgot to reapply sunscreen, so my shoulders and upper back are a little pink from the walk.

Oscar and I decided to steal away for a date after the boys went to bed, although Nick wasn't feeling well and didn't want to be put down. My MIL was able to calm him and decided to just keep him in her room and put him down on the comforter on the floor when he fell asleep. Oscar and I decided to go out to eat at a seafood buffet. It wasn't bad, but certainly not the best buffet we've ever had. However, it was nice to get away and just spend time alone together.

On Sunday, we did most of the packing before we had breakfast and went to the beach, so there wouldn't be much to worry about before checkout at 11 a.m. We didn't stay long, but it was enough for both the boys to splash in the water for a bit and dig in the sand. After we checked out we went strolling on the boardwalk to pick out a few gifts. Gabe wanted to get hermit crabs, and we wanted to get something for his friends that weren't able to come with us.

The drive back was rather uneventful, other than Gabe being cranky and refusing to rest. I had my first Starbucks of the weekend (of course I had coffee other days, it just was from Dunkin' Donuts). We also stopped at farmer's market to pick up some sweet white corn, which I am eagerly looking forward to devouring tonight.

I was so exhausted when we got home, and yet there was so much to do. We needed to unpack and start laundry and get ready for work today. My SIL offered to watch Gabe, so that we would have an easier time doing everything we needed to do, which was nice of her. Oscar picked up Ruby Tuesday's for dinner after he did the grocery shopping, while I watched Nick and took care of the laundry and uploading our pictures.

We also caught up on the two shows that we missed - Royal Pains and Burn Notice. Two very good original shows on USA. By the time we finally were ready to go to sleep, it was almost 10, however, that is when Nick woke up. And was up for most of the night. First, I believe, it was night terrors. Then it was his teeth really bothering him. Finally it was his stomach hurting him. By the time he finally slept for any length of time, it was 3:30 a.m. I am so exhausted today.

Still it was a great time. The warm sea breeze felt amazing. The water was gorgeous. And the joy of experiencing the beach through my children was worth every discomfort. Every experience becomes new again, because I get to see it through my children's eyes, and that is a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Weekend Plans

So this past weekend we went up to the country house. And it's never something I really look forward too. The house is a pre-fab that is over 20-years-old. The bed that I use to sleep in is harder than a rock. Seriously, a bed-size rock, might very well be more comfortable. And yet, the boys love it. All three of them. They love the change of scenery. And the woods. And the undivided attention of their parents and Grandma.

I mean there are nice things. Like a great ice cream place. And slipping away to catch a movie in a small-town theater. It's a slower pace, and it's certainly one I wouldn't mind living, provided it contained a more comfortable bed. That's actually the plan. Oscar wants to either build a new house or buy a new pre-fab to place on the property so that it will be a more comfortable place to visit.

It was a shame that it rained so much, the boys didn't get much of a chance to play outside. Although there was enough of a break that Oscar and Gabe were able to build a new bridge to go across the creek, and also to take the bridge down to the creek and put it in place. Gabe adored that. He really loves going up to the country house.

Oscar and I managed to go see a movie at a tiny theater in Woodstock that used to only have two screens, but recently added a third. It was fun, especially since we so rarely get to go on dates. We stopped at the little ice cream shack in Strasburg before the movie. It has fantastic soft-serve. I had a sundae topped with blueberries and cheesecake - so good.

The movie we saw was The Hangover, which was very funny. Although, I did not like the scenes with the baby. I suppose they were amusing, in a cringe-worthy sort of way. Next month we're going to see Harry Potter, which I'm really looking forward too.

We actually went out to eat for Oscar's Father's Day on Saturday. We had a very nice lunch at Red Lobster in Winchester. Gabe didn't eat much, but Nick ate a little of pretty much everything. He was also fascinated with the cute blonde waitress, who did a great job. That's my boy, already fascinate by girls at the ripe old age of 1.

We went over to my in-law's house for dinner on Father's Day. My FIL wanted Chinese, so we ordered from our favorite Chinese restaurant and ate it at their house. Unfortunately I misplaced all the Father's Day cards, so my FIL and Oscar got their cards on Monday instead. Oh well, it's the thought that counts right?

We plan to go to the country house for the 4th of July, which should be fun. We will probably go to a small-town celebration, and those are always the best. I went to one in a small town in upstate New York one year, and it was great. The fireworks display wasn't the best I've seen, but it was fun, and the town was cute, and we could go out on the water to watch it. I've also seen fireworks on the beach in Ocean City, from a hotel room in downtown Seattle, and on an Army base in South Korea. Those are some of the more interesting places.

:::

This weekend we're going to the beach with some friends. While I do love going to the beach, I remember going fondly as a single adult with friends. I'm a little concerned about the logistics of going with small children, friends who also have small children, and my in-laws. Not sure how much fun this will be. Especially since I will probably spend a lot of time in the hotel room with Nick, who will still need naps.

Oscar says I worry too much, and that's probably true. I'm worried about the drive up there. I'm worried about having to go into work first and not being there to make sure everything is ready for the boys. I'm worried about being at the beach with another couple and their children. I'm worried about ensuring the boys stay covered in sunscreen. I'm worried about ensuring that I pack for every possible situation. I'm worried about making sure I get all my homework done. I'm just worried.

I keep hoping that perhaps that by worrying so much ahead of time, I will be prepared for this weekend, and actually have a great time. I hope that's true. I really would like this to be an enjoyable vacation.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Missing Seattle

I miss Seattle. Or rather the greater Seattle area where I grew up. I miss the water and the trees. I miss the rain and the coffee. I miss the islands and the ferry. I miss downtown and the suburbs. I miss the fairs and my favorite restaurants. I miss my family and friends. I just miss it, y'know?

When I left after high school, and joined the Army, there were so many things I was running from. The least of which were the college loans I didn't want. I could have gone to college, I was accepted to the University of Washington. I could have gone and majored in history and then taught at a local high school. But I needed to leave.

I know I will never go back, except to visit. My husband is from Northern VA. His family is here. Our jobs are here. Our boys are making friends here. We both have jobs here. I have a life here. It just doesn't stop me from missing the area where I grew up. I doesn't stop me from missing the places I went as a child and wishing I could share those places with my own children.

I guess it's harder now that I have children, because I see Oscar's joy in sharing placing he went as a child with our children and I wish I could do the same. I would love to take them to the Seattle Center, and to Pike's Place Market, and the visitor center on Mt. Rainier. I want to take them to Port Angeles and explore Whitby Island. I want to show them where I went to school. Where I lived. I want them to get to know my family.

I always meant to go back. When I was done with the Army. I meant to go back and get my degree and teach or maybe just work for one of the big companies out there. And then I fell in love to someone who was from Northern VA. And then I got pregnant. So we stayed. And will never leave. Because now our babies have roots here and I want them to be happy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tough Decisions

One of the best moments of my day happens on those days that Oscar picks up the boys. I walk in the door and up the stairs from the garage and they come running to great me, competing for hugs and kisses and attention. I love it. I love having my boys excited to see me. This is what greeted me when I came home on Wednesday.

This in great contrast to those days when I pick up the boys from my MIL’s. Instead, they don’t want to come home. They only want to be with Grandma, and in Nick’s case sometimes Grandpa, and really don’t want to pay me much attention. Although, in the past couple of weeks, Gabe has been much happier to see me.

It’s hard and frustrating, when I love them so much and they haven’t seen me all day. Shouldn’t they be happier to see me? More excited? But no, I do not compete with the grandparents that they see all freaking day long.

It’s never easy to make decisions as parents. There are days when I regret the fact that I work outside the house full-time. That I regret that much of the raising of my children in their early years has been delegated to my MIL. Then there are days after a rough morning or Sunday evening and I’m so happy to be at work. To have that break, where I’m an adult and can have adult conversations, so I’m better for those times when I am home with the boys.

There are always the questions of what’s the right decision for childcare, for preschool, for where to live, for diapers, for feeding. And for every decision that you make, there is going to be someone strongly opposed, who will tell you that you made the wrong decision. And for the most part, I don’t know that there are wrong decisions, just different decisions. As long as it is not placing your child in harm and it’s right for your family, who’s to say it’s the wrong decision?

Of course, that doesn’t help me not worry about making the wrong decisions when it comes to raising my children. I guess every parent worries about that.

:::

So today I’m wearing a dress. An actual dress. Not just a skirt like I wore to work on Monday (I know two work days in one week where I didn’t wear pants. Shocking!). It’s a long blue maxi dip-dyed sun dress that I bought from Old Navy, after succumbing to those compelling modelquin ads.

Of course, the top is a little skimpy, so I’m wearing a blue cardigan over it to make it more work appropriate. Of course I finished the look with a pony-tail and flip flops, so maybe it’s a little casual for work, but hey, it’s Friday. Any way, it’s a little figure hugging over the stomach and hips. Not tight, but any bulges are noticeable.

So, I’m also wearing one of those body shaper thingies that sucks in the stomach, hips, thighs and lifts up the butt. I know, a sundress with a body shaper, so casual. However, it does make feel less insecure about how I look, so isn’t that the important part?

:::

This afternoon we’re leaving to go up to my in-laws country house for the weekend. I spent last night packing and doing laundry. I stayed up later than I intended, but I was trying to get everything done, so that when we came back Sunday afternoon I wouldn’t have much to worry about. Then I forgot to pack my lunch and breakfast for work today ::sigh::

My MIL is going to drive up this afternoon with the boys, and Oscar and I are going to drive up after I get off work. Ordinarily I would have taken a few hours off this afternoon so we could get an early start, but there’s an important meeting at 1:30 this afternoon that I kind of can’t miss, so I can’t leave.

Oscar actually wanted me to take the whole day off so we could also go see the Hangover, which does look amusing and has been getting high ratings, but I just didn’t feel like I could do it, what with the time I’m taking off next week for our beach trip.

I’m not really looking forward to the weekend. I mean, I’ll be trapped in a tiny house with my MIL, and two small children without cable or internet. Plus, it’s not my house. It’s not my bed. Also, it’s not child-proofed, which makes it a great place for a toddler who likes to investigate everything inappropriate, often putting objects in his mouth (current favorites include tiny magnet letters, tiny foam letters, and tiny foam monsters, which, of course are all brightly colored like candy, or Fruit Loops).

I think we plan to go to the Golden Corral for Father’s Day (I know the buffet, how classy are we?). And I’m sure there will be trips to Wal-Mart. Maybe even a trip to the sit-down, eat-in Pizza Hut, that Gabe loves so much. I can already feel my need for coffee increasing. Preferably a Starbucks Venti White Mocha… mmmm…

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Always Be My Baby

So I've been hearing all these ads on the radio lately for Palmer's Cocoa Butter and how it's supposed to help with scarring and stretch marks, i.e. my midsection as a result of children. So I picked up a bottle last weekend and finally tried it tonight. I started with my stomach and it smelled so good, I rubbed it on every where else... mmm... I smell good enough to eat.

:::

Last night was Nick's first gym class of the summer session. I took him and had a great time. Our favorite teacher, Miss Catherine, is the instructor and he did great. Except for mat time. He really didn't want to stay on the big red mat for the warm up. He did enjoy the bells and the parachute.

The skills they practiced were doing forward rolls down a wedge starting from a standing position, which were told helps them get the curved body that protects their neck better in the rolls. They also practiced jumping down from some large stacked wedge mats (with parental assistance) so they get used to the way that feels on their legs. Finally they practiced walking sideways one the balance beam.

As always, Nick's favorite part were the balls and the bubbles at the end of the class. He gets so happy when the balls come out. They're these large colorful, soft, rubber bouncy balls, as well as large red and yellow squishy soccer balls. We were supposed to practice rolling the ball back and forth, but Nick was more interested in running around with the balls.

:::

A new lady recently started on my team at work. She's older and has been doing this type of work for a long time, although she's new to the particular work my team does. I am also fairly new to the team, having been a member for all of three weeks. She's noticed that I'm tentative to take on assignments or ask questions, and has decided she's going to help me out by asking the questions and giving me the answers and volunteering for tasks and having me help her.

I really appreciate it. I've really been looking for someone that is outgoing and will teach me, while at the same time noticing the fact that I'm really shy about asking questions or speaking up. I have such a hard time being assertive. I want someone to tell me what to do or push me out of my comfort zone, while at the same time being total open to my questions or concerns.

:::

I recently read an old entry of Sundry's, which I could totally relate to. I too made a homemade carrot cake for Gabe's 1st Birthday, which he totally did not appreciate. I also have struggled with filling out the baby books for the boys. I have a few things in there, such as hospital bracelets and sonograms, but nothing significant. No first anything.

It bothers me sometimes. I worry that I'll forget. I worry that they'll resent me for not taking the time to fill out those books. I worry that I'll resent me. I worry a lot.

That's one of the reasons I decided to start blogging. I know it's late and I've already missed a lot in both their lives. But better late than never, right? I want so badly to capture my memories. I want to preserve these precious moments with my babies, because I know they will fly too quickly. I know that too soon they won't need me any more. I know that will make me sad. I know that no matter how big they get, they will always be my babies.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Birth Story: Part 1

Since I have nothing exciting to share today, I thought I would recount the birth story of Gabe. Hopefully to be followed at a not-so-distant time in the future by the birth story of Nick.

Oscar and I were married on October 30th, 2004. It was a beautiful ceremony at the main post church on Ft. Meade. I wore my mother’s wedding dress (altered to fit). I went with a fall color scheme of red, orange, and yellow. My friend Jen and Oscar’s sister were my bridesmaids. They wore simple floor-length red dresses. The best man was Oscar’s brother and his other attendant was my brother. I used fake flowers for the bouquets, and still have mine to this day.

We honeymooned for a week in Hawaii, it was beautiful and magical, and everything a honeymoon should be. I discovered I was pregnant three weeks later – which happened to be a few days after my 23rd birthday. Of course the timing couldn’t have been worse, even if we had agreed to a let’s see what happens approach to having a baby. So Gabe was definitely planned, I just wasn’t expecting him so soon.

You see, in June I had reenlisted for three years with a two-year guaranteed assignment in Colorado. Oscar and I had planned to do the time apart until he got out in January. We would have spent every holiday weekend available together and used our leave for additional time. We would have made it work. We had just sold our townhouse in Maryland and I had scheduled the date for the movers to come pick up our stuff. We were about to sign a contract for a townhouse in Colorado.

And I was pregnant. That changed everything. I had no desire to be alone in Colorado AND pregnant. There was no guarantee that Oscar would be able to make it in time for the birth, and then I would be dealing with a newborn mainly by myself. So we tried to get him an assignment out there, with little success. So instead I chose to leave the Army and stay in Maryland.

Oscar was so excited about the baby that he actually tried to plan me a surprise baby shower. His mom and sister drove up for it. His mom had made a diaper cake and planned games. Unfortunately all my friends sucked and none of them showed up (most of them missed my wedding too, hmmm…), although a couple friends of Oscar’s came. It was very sweet and I really appreciated the thought and effort.

I then had to find a regular job, hopefully one in Virginia, because that’s where Oscar is from. Also, his mother has always been a stay-at-home mom and wanted to be the only one to watch the new baby. Which is how I ended up in Northern Virginia. The military hospital I was using for my OB was in Bethesda, which was about a 45-minute drive from our apartment.

I did not end up starting my new job until three weeks before I was due, which of course I made sure was known before I was hired. That was interesting. Here I am, 37 weeks pregnant and starting a new job. I stayed with my in-laws while Oscar was up in Maryland cleaning up our apartment before our move to Virginia. We moved the week before Gabe was due and spent the weekend prior getting his room set up. I was so worried we wouldn’t have everything set up in time.

The theme for his room was the Original Pooh and the furniture was purchased from J.C. Penney. My MIL made a number of items for his room, including a cover for his Boppy, extra sheets, and a diaper stacker. I can still picture his room in my mind. The mirrored doors that ran the length of one wall. The big window with his rocking chair sitting in front of it. His dresser and changing table were right next to each other, and his crib was right by the door. His bassinet was kept under the window in our bedroom.

The ladies I worked with were very sweet and actually planned a baby shower for me on August 2nd, about a week before my August 6th due date.Unfortunately, my baby boy decided that he didn’t want to wait until the 6th and I started having contractions around 3:00 pm on the 1st. It was funny; all the ladies were so disappointed that there wouldn’t be cake. Also, Oscar was currently at our company headquarters signing the paperwork for his new job. It wasn’t ideal, since it was a shift work job, which included nights and weekends. However, the pay was good, and well, he needed a job, since he had just been med boarded from the military.

He had dropped me off at work that morning, so he raced over to my office to pick me up, and I insisted he go back and finish signing the paperwork, since that would be one less thing to worry about and the contractions had only just started. Afterwards we grabbed a bite to eat at Wendy’s.

I was up most of the night with the contractions, often pacing. I got to see what the mucus plug looks like (ewwww). I also called the hospital a couple times. Finally around 5 in the morning we drove to the hospital. There was an express exit near our apartment, which was open in the direction we needed to head. However, Oscar was so worried about getting to the hospital in time that he was speeding, and of course we got pulled over. Luckily the officer was nice and let us go with a warning, since I was in labor.

The contractions were super painful at this point and all I wanted was to be checked in and given drugs. I am not the natural type. Pain? No thank you. They examined me as soon as I got settled into a birthing room, and told me that I was already 9cm dilated, was I sure I wanted an epidural? I said, yes, of course, as long as there is time to give it to me. Thankfully there was, since Gabe was delivered about two hours later at 7:04 a.m. via forceps. Apparently he had gotten the cord caught around his neck halfway out, so they used forceps to pull him out.

His arrival coincided with shift change, so his distress prompted my room to be filled with two shifts worth of doctors and nurses. My hoohaw was on display for everyone to see. Although I didn’t really care because my baby was in distress, and dammit I want to see my baby. Oscar was not able to cut the cord because he was taken to be examined as soon as he was out to ensure he was all right. He weighed in at 6 lbs, 13.9 oz and was 19 inches long.

All I wanted was my baby, and of course he needed to be fully examined. I was so anxious, I hadn’t had much experience with babies and suddenly my baby is here, and was he all right? It was much longer before I finally got to hold him. We tried breastfeeding, but that was a frustrating process. He got supplemented with formula a lot during our three-day stay. He also was taken to the NICU a few times to be examined since he was diagnosed with a heart murmur, which he still has.

Those first few weeks and months flew by so quickly. It took so long to heal from the delivery. I did not receive an episiotomy, and due to the method of delivery, I ended up with a third degree tare. I remember shortly after we came home from the hospital, maybe a day or two later, Oscar forced me to take a walk. We only walked out of our apartment complex to the corner, and yet it was so painful.

The first few weeks were great, because he was on leave from the military, and hadn’t started his new job yet. So we were home together. It was after that, when I was still on maternity leave, and often alone with Gabe that things got harder. Or when Oscar was working nights and weekends and I was working during the week. I was so tired and Gabe would often cry for hours on end and nothing I would do would get him to stop. In the evenings I would often call my MIL to come over to help me. Because I was alone. And desperate for him to stop crying.

Breastfeeding didn’t work out very well for us. We didn’t bond well to begin with, and getting a latch was always difficult. So he was partially formula-fed pretty much from day one. Also, my job at the time, didn’t really have a place for me to pump while at work. I mean, there was a health office in the basement that had a couple rooms, but I worked on the fourth floor, on the opposite side of the building. So I only pumped once a day at lunch. Also, I had a Playtex pump, that didn’t seem to be powerful enough to get much milk.

I continued nursing Gabe in the mornings before I dropped him off at my MIL’s and in the evenings before I he went to bed. I also managed to pump about three ounces at lunch. However, by six months he was officially uninterested, preferring a bottle or pacifier to suck on over me. He adored his pacifier from the moment the nurses first gave him one at the hospital. In his newborn picture his lips are pursed and his eyes are staring off to the side because we removed his pacifier right before the photo was taken and he’s staring at it, waiting to get it back.

We moved from our apartment to a townhouse a few months after Gabe was born. The months flew by so quickly with Gabe. I remember that he was a pumpkin for his first Halloween, at the advanced age of three months. We went over to my MIL's, while she gave out candy. I don't remember exactly when he learned to sit up or pull himself to standing, but I do remember that his first word was "ba" (ball). I remember that he loved to zoom around with a little push cart that assisted him with walking. His first step occurred on the August 6th, which was the Sunday after his first birthday party and I have it on camera.

His first birthday party was at my MIL's on August 5th. The theme was Curious George, because he loves monkeys. I made the carrot cake and frost recipe from What to Expect the First Year. The guest list was small, with only three children in attendence - my MIL's neighbor's grandchild who is a month and a half younger, my coworkers daughter, and his 2nd cousin. I made the mistake of trying to open gifts at the party.

He started gym classes at 13 months, and made some good friends in those classes, we still hang out with them to this day. I loved those early gym classes, with Oscar and I both in the room with him. It's one of the things I regret we can't do for Nick. Gabe's first gym class was traumatic - he spent most of the time crying and clinging to Oscar or me. However, the second went much better and he quickly grew to love going. Shortly after that we moved from the townhouse we were renting to an apartment.

At 18 months, he figured out how to climb out of his crib, but not how to do it without falling. We choose to convert his crib to a toddler bed, which made bedtime so much more difficult, since he could now get out of bed to voice his complaints. Had I known about those cool mesh crib nets that you can put over top of cribs, I think I would have opted for that over the toddler bed, but hindsight is 20/20.

His 2nd birthday party was at a moon bounce place, which we had discovered when we attended the birthday party of one of his friends from gym class. The theme was again Curious George. His cake was from Costco, although my MIL also made him a cake. We invited most of the children from his gym class, as well as his cousin. It was a great party. We did not open the gifts at the party, having learned by attending other parties, that it wasn't what people did at parties.

We did a lot of fun things during his third year, despite me being all pregnant with Nick. We went to the National Zoo and the local petting zoo a couple of times. We also moved again, this time from an apartment to another townhouse. His 3rd birthday part was held at the Little Gym. During the previous year he had discovered Playhouse Disney, so the theme he choose was Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Again we chose to purchase his cake from Costco. His close friends attended, as well as the daughters of one of my coworkers.

I started blogging a few months after his 3rd birthday, so most of the stories that come afterwards are held in this blog. I'm trying so hard to capture my memories, so that I have them in years to come. Many are very foggy already, and he's not even four. I don't want to forget. That's why I started blogging. That's why I'm working so hard to get a handle on our pictures. Because I always want to be able to remember.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekend Update

We had a busy weekend, which is to say, that nothing got done around the house, other than the cleaning done by my MIL.

The best part was probably going fishing. My FIL’s church sponsored a fishing trip to a local lake, and we were invited to attend. Unfortunately we were only able to stay for a couple hours, because Gabe had his last soccer practice, but it lasted all day and included a picnic, which we missed.

Gabe did so well; he caught 10 fish, with a little help from my MIL and Oscar. Nick “fished” a little bit. And also gave us death stares for confining him to his stroller for much of the time. It was for the best, since Nick plus water, was probably not a good combination.

We grabbed McDonald's for lunch and then went home so that Gabe could change for soccer. I stayed home with Nick, so that he could run around for a little bit, since he spent so much time confined. Oscar regretted bringing Gabe home for soccer practice, since only two other children showed up. He would have had a better time fishing.

Nick had a great time running around the house playing. Every so often he would come see me for a hug or a kiss, or maybe a piece of Lay's Kettle Cooked BBQ Chips (so good). He would ask for a piece by saying "tha" (that) or "bie" (bite). And of course I would give in.

He would also occasionally climb up on the couch on his own and then clap when he succeeded. Of course, he did have a little bit of help - we have a child-size chair, that usually sits next to the couch, so he would first climb on that, and then climb up on the couch. It's very cute, even if you do worry about the safety of his head.

He also managed to spray his changing table and the wall with pee as I was changing him. I had taken off his diaper, and for some inexplicable reason, instead of putting a clean diaper on him first, I decided to clean some of the snot out of his nose with a bulb syringe. Big mistake. Luckily, the only place I got sprayed was on my hand, but, the wall and changing table were a mess. Thank you, Nicholas.

:::

After fishing we went to the Super Target in Gainesville while my MIL cleaned our townhouse. Again, I’m not so sure that’s a good idea, but she does fold laundry, and well, we would be paying a cleaning service any way, so why not pay her to do it instead… It’s just that it’s my MIL, cleaning my house…

Poor Nick was so tired; he fell asleep as soon as he finished a bottle. He briefly woke up when we got to Target, but curled into me when I got him out of the van, so I put him in one of the infant seats they have on carts, and he went right back to sleep and stayed asleep for our whole shopping trip.

When we got home, we ordered Papa John’s for dinner. Have you had their Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Pizza? So good. Especially with a little of the garlic sauce poured on top. Mmmm…

:::

Sunday was picture day. We have been going to the Picture People for family pictures since Gabe was born. We usually do a big shoot in the summer and then do a shoot of just the boys at Christmas. This year we settled on the middle of June as a halfway point between the boys’ birthdays.

The pictures turned out great, although Nick is not as much of a ham as Gabe was at that age. Gabe would see a camera and start showing off. Nick wanted to run to the nearest acceptable person and be picked up.

In addition to the poses we normally get, we also had two *extra* poses, one of each of the boys, this photo trip. My MIL wanted a picture of Gabe in a cowboy outfit. The same outfit that she had my BIL posed in at the same age, and Oscar, so it has become a family tradition. Nick will wear the same outfit when he’s about three or four. We also did Nick’s first birthday pose in a giant *block*, which was something we had also done with Gabe for his first birthday.

We finished the trip with a late lunch at Macaroni Grill, which, unfortunately, was a disappointing meal. Our server didn’t quite get that we wanted the boys’ noodles out as soon as they were ready, despite ordering them with our drinks as soon as we sat down. They were actually the very last thing brought to our table. Plus he only checked on us once, despite regularly checking on his other tables around us. To top it off, the food wasn’t very good.

However, Gabe did enjoy it, so I guess that’s the important thing, since we usually go there for him. It’s been his favorite restaurant since he was little. Although we did briefly stop going there after the plate shattering incident (Gabe was about 18 months, and was playing with his plate, Oscar went to take it away from him, and Gabe threw it behind him). We actually have been eating out a lot less, just because it is much more challenging to do so with two children. Plus there’s the cost, and the calories.

:::

Gabe’s has gotten very good about getting ready in the mornings. He stays in bed until his sun turns on (it’s set for 6:00 a.m.). He then needs little prodding to take off his pajamas and get dressed. This morning he did get up briefly before his sun turned on, but that’s because he needed to go to the bathroom. Afterwards he went back to bed.

It’s amazing how much he’s grown up in the last few months. He’s able to do more on his own. His vocabulary is improving and he’s much better at listening. Of course, there are still occasions where he’s very difficult, but he’s not even four. He’s still very little.

This morning he was especially eager to get ready, since his 2nd cousin, Rachel, was going to be waiting for him at Grandma’s. She’s spending the night at my MIL’s tonight, so this will be his first *sleepover*. It’s all he was talking about all weekend. I hope he has a great time, although I have nothing to worry about. He regularly sleeps over with my MIL, and he adores Rachel.

:::

I'm working really hard to get a handle on my pictures. As I have mentioned before, I am not very good at memory keeping. We take a ton of pictures, and get them all printed, but that's usually as far as it goes. They sit in their Target envelopes, rarely opened and certainly not dated. So this weekend I signed up for Shutterfly (to make the developing at Target easier) and Flickr Pro (to make the organizing easier).

I also wrote dates on the backs of the pictures we had developed this weekend. Of course those pictures only accounted for the month of June, so far, but hey, it was progress. I also organized all the pictures I had on my computer, with the exception of those taken by my MIL. Many do not have a date or an accurate date, so I had to guess the proper year, but it's progress.

My feeling is if only I can get my pictures managed I will feel a little better about the whole not writing in their baby books and not scrap booking thing. Also, I will have this blog, where I will hopefully include important information about them. I only wish I had started it sooner, like when Gabe was a baby. Maybe my memories of that time wouldn't be so foggy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I Was Warned

Today was Gabe's big show for his sports class. He did such a great job. It was adorable. There were six kids present today, and no suprise, they were all little boys. They had practiced an intro where they each came running in, walked across a balance beam, and then threw a Frisbee into a *donut*. Gabe did a really good job of listening.

After the intro, they got a few minutes of free time while the instructors set up the stations. On the big red mat, they showed off their sports skills, and on the other side of the room they showed off their bar skills. Gabe was great.

The skills they had practiced this session t-ball, hockey, and golf. First they threw a ball overhand, then they caught it underhand, then they hit it. Next they hit a ball into a net with a hockey stick. Finally they hit a golf ball under half a donut into a hole. On the other side, he did a bar routine which involved switching grips on the bar and a couple of different hangs.

The whole class was wonderful. He was adorable. He was so excited to have Oscar and I there. It was very sweet. I really enjoyed watching his class, and I loved how excited he was. It made me so very happy. I adore him. My beautiful baby boy, he's almost 4.
:::

Gabe finds Nick's eating habits very amusing. The other night we were eating Thai food (I made macaroni and cheese, PB&Js, and chopped strawberries for the boys). Nick was very interested in both the rice and the Pad Thai noodles. Gabe made the comment that "Nick's a little garbage disposal, he eats anything." I laughed. I'm sure it's something he's heard his grandma say, but it's still so cute to hear it coming from him.

:::

Tonight Oscar and I had a date. We went after work to the Taste of Reston at the Reston Town Center. There was a ton of great food, plus a lot of cool things at the booths. I think I got four or five Frisbees for the boys. Also there was wine, good wine. And strawberries dipped in melted chocolate from the Melting Pot. It was wonderful.

We walked up and down, enjoying our food. Also, we went in a few of the stores to browse, which I always enjoy. We didn't buy anything at the town centre, but followed it up with a trip to Target. Where we most certainly did buy a few things, including some more t-shirts for the boys. I really have a thing for cute cheap t-shirts for them.

:::

A couple weeks ago, Nick had a cold that kept lingering, so we took him to his pediatrician where he was diagnosed with an ear infection. We followed the course of antibiotics, but afterwards it still seemed like his ear was bothering him, but he's also getting a couple new teeth in, so we just figured that was the issue.

This past weekend he came down with another cold, and over the past week he has developed a rash all over his chest, also a few random splotches on his arms and legs. So after we picked up the boys from my MIL's this evening, we took Nick to our local urgent care.

The doctor told us the rash wasn't anything to worry about, but we need to keep an eye on the splotches. If they develop white *heads*, he could have chicken pox. She also checked out his ears, and determined that he still had an ear infection. So we got a higher dosage of antibiotics.

Poor baby, teething, an ear infection, and a rash. Plus both the boys were up past their bedtime. However, I am really glad we took him in. We know what to look for with his rash, and also can hopefully get rid of his ear infection this time.

However, I am not looking forward to the future contents of his diapers. At least I was warned.

Putting on Mascara

Conversation with Gabe this morning while putting on mascara:

“Mommy, what you doing?”

“I’m curling my eyelashes.”

“How it work?”

“It clamps my eyelashes and curls them.”

“How it clamp your eyelashes?”

“I open it up and put it round my eyelashes and clamp them.”

“Why you clamp your eyelashes?”

“I’m not clamping them, I’m curling them.”

“What you doing with that brush?”

“I’m painting my eyelashes.”

“Why your mouth open?”

“I don’t know, baby.”

Lol, I have no idea why my mouth was open. And yet, I caught myself doing it again when I repeated the process on the other eye.

:::

I’ve been feeling a little down lately. I don’t know why. I just haven’t been happy. I feel like each day, I’m just going through the motions. Get up, get ready, get the boys ready, drop them off, go to work, pick them up, go home, feed them dinner, get them ready for bed, go to bed, repeat. While the boys still possess the ability to make me laugh and make my heart melt when they smother me with their sweet baby love, it’s the exception to my mood rather than the norm.

I’m constantly on edge. I’m constantly frustrated. And I’m not sure why. I’m sure being sick isn’t helping, but it started before I got sick. It coincided with my new birth control pills, but could that really be it? I don’t know. I just know that I don’t feel right. I guess the term is that I’m feeling blue.

I mean there are things I feel that I’m legitimately upset/nervous/irritated about, but I don’t think they would normally affect me to this degree. I’m nervous about our upcoming beach trip with another family. I’m irritated at the influence my MIL has on my family. I’m upset that my husband values her opinion on our children above mine.

But would it consume me and set me off as much as it has lately if there wasn’t something else going on? I don’t know. I just wish Oscar tried to understand. I wish he maybe tried to see things from my point of view and didn’t automatically assume I was irrational and against his mother. I wish he wouldn’t say some of the things he says regarding my abilities both as a wife and a mother. I’m insecure enough. I need him to support me. I need to know that he feels that I’m good enough.

Also, I need to stop putting on mascara, if I'm going to end up crying it all off (or invest in waterproof).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Class Act

I totally can’t get rid of this cold. It’s been a week and I don’t even feel marginally better. I am all sniffly and hacking and phlegmy. It’s awful. I’m also cold all the time. Unless I’m like directly in the sun. And then I’m not cold.

I suppose if I’m not feeling better by Monday, I might have to schedule a dreaded doctor’s appointment. I really hate scheduling a doctor’s appointment. That’s probably why my local urgent care has a better record on me than my doctor does. However, I also don’t want to still be sick when we go to the beach, and if I have an actual infection, I might want to get started on an antibiotic course sooner rather than later.

:::

Last night was Nick’s last gym class of the spring session. They practiced some of their big skills they’ve been working on, which related to rolls. First they did a forward roll on the balance beam. Then they did a forward roll down a wedge followed by a reverse roll over something they call a hot dog.

Nick loves to do rolls and eagerly ran to be the first one to do both. However, that was his only desire to participate. While he does like the bells for the intro, he didn’t want to participate in the warm up. Nor did he want to have anything to do with the Air Track. Gabe, unfortunately, was very eager and dived on with little regard for all the small children, a few who still can’t walk. I felt bad for him when he had to be removed so that the babies could crawl around.

Since we needed to have time for the certificates, balls and bubbles were combined, which Nick thought was the greatest thing ever. He couldn’t decide what he wanted to do. Chase bubbles? Play with balls? I’m so confused. Before the closing circle, the teacher gave out certificates for the children and had them each pose on a large block mat with their arms raised for “ta-da” for pictures.

I enjoy gym class, and miss the ability for Oscar and I to both attend, like we did with Gabe. Next week starts summer session, which will be at the same time and with the same age group. Only with a different instructor. However, she is our favorite instructor, so that will be good. In the fall, Nick will move up a class and we will start going on Saturdays instead, since we feel that 6:15 on a weeknight is too late for class.

Gabe will not be taking a gym class this summer. Instead he will be doing Vacation Bible School at the church he attends with my MIL. In addition he will also do a three-day “camp” at the gym. He was signed up for his sports class at the gym originally, but ended up being the only child signed up for the time slot, so it got cancelled. His usually time slot will be back in the fall.

:::

Friends and family were invited to attend the big show, and as usual, it was a mistake. First there was poor Gabe who just wanted to play, such as the Air Track issue. Then there was the presence of my MIL, who irritated me all evening. Maybe it was just my mood. But she showed up at our house, and started taking over and parenting my children, like I’m not capable. Yes, I realize she watches them all day, but I’m perfectly capable of getting them ready and out the door.

Then there was the fact that my sweet Nick was only interested in her. It really bothered me. He kept fussing and looking for her, and I wanted him to play with me. And of course she delights in it. In that, oh, I better go, so that he doesn’t get distracted, but I’m so cheerful sort of way. It was just frustrating. These are my babies. And it hurts when they chose my MIL over me. Or when they always choose Oscar over me. I guess I feel like I’m doing something wrong, when I’m trying my best to be a good Mommy.

:::

We looked at a couple rental house on Tuesday, and while we realize they won’t be available when we’re ready to move, we were trying to get an idea of the size and features they had. We may not even move, but we are thinking about. Unfortunately neither house was in the boundaries for the elementary school we want Gabe to attend.

We’re finding out that to get Gabe into this school gives us a surprisingly small selection of house to choose from. I suppose he doesn’t have to go to this school, but one of his friends is going to go there, and if we’re planning to stay in this community and will need to move into a house eventually, why not try to ensure he’s in the same school?

The first house we looked at wasn’t bad, and would have been fine if it had either had a third bathroom upstairs or a finished basement. When we move into a house my MIL is moving in with us and we would like her to have her own bathroom. The master suite always has its own (at least in new homes around here) and so a bathroom for the boys and a separate bathroom for her is desirable.

The second house was beautiful, but a little more than we wanted to spend on a rental. And again, not in the boundaries for the elementary school. It had four bedrooms with 3 baths upstairs, plus a large finished basement with a bedroom and a bath. Also, I’m not so sure about taking care of a house that size. I realize that I won’t always be balancing work, parenting young children, and school, but I struggle to take care of our townhouse, even with it being cleaned every other week.

I’m not sure what the right answer is. I don’t know if we should try to move into a rental house this summer or stay put and wait until next summer and maybe try to buy something. I just worry that we won’t be ready to buy next summer, which means Gabe will definitely be going to a different elementary school. And I don’t know if that really matters.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Random Topics

I decided that I needed to clean out my purse this morning, as I can never find stuff when I need it and discovered these exciting contents:

  • Wallet
  • Lots of old receipts for doctor’s visits, restaurant meals, cafeteria food purchases, withdrawals, and gas.
  • A metro pass from last Friday.
  • Coupons for favorite Chinese restaurant
  • Appointment cards
  • Phone numbers for people who can do property perks
  • Ticket Stubs
  • Stickers (Bob the Builder and Superman)
  • A neon yellow bouncy ball
  • Bill for concussion-related hospital visit
  • Lock of hair from Nick’s first haircut
  • Notes from a therapy session
  • Make-up bag discretely containing monthly necessities
  • Sunglasses
  • Notebook w/matching pencil
  • Pen
  • Hairbrush
  • Small black claw clip
  • Black hair elastic
  • Silver barrette
  • Purell hand sanitizer
  • Travel size Bath and Body Works hand lotion in Sweat Pea
  • Tylenol GoTabs
  • Tylenol Extra Strength
  • Tums (leftover from pregnancy-induced heartburn, still good)
  • Tylenol Cold and Sinus
  • Tide ToGo Mini
  • Two mirrors
  • Bandaids
  • Individual alchohol packets
  • Cough Drops
  • Tweezers
  • Travel container of Estee Lauder Beyond Paradise perfume
  • Travel container of Victoria Secrets Pink perfume
  • Tube of Blistex (SPF 15)
  • Tube of Softlips in Strawberry (SPF 20)
  • Tube of CO Bigelow Lip Formula (SPF 15)
  • Container of Pumpkin Spice Lip Balm
  • Tube of Lancome Jucy Tubes lip gloss in Hallucination
  • Tube of generic Target-purchased lip gloss in Pumpkin Pie Paradise (bonus: lip plumper formula)
  • Tube of Hard Candy Sweet Spot lip gloss in Bohemian (sparkly!)
  • Tube of Smashbox lip gloss in pink
  • Lancome lipstick in Trendy Mauve
  • Neutrogena lip sheers in Ruby Bliss
  • Car keys

And no, that does not include the contents of my wallet. Does it help if I mention it is all housed in a very pretty, large, Coach Patchwork Purse?

The worst part is that on most days I don’t even wear lipstick, because I love to kiss my boys and don’t like to get lipstick on them. Also, I have a fascination with lip balms with SPF.

Unfortunately, most of the items went back in my purse, with the exception of old receipts, coupons, metro pass, and old appointment cards. And I still did not find the appointment card I was looking for, which was for Nick’s next appointment, so I guess I will have to call our pediatrician’s office to find out when his 15 month check up is actually scheduled.

:::

I can’t believe Nick is almost 15 months. It still feels so fresh. His birth, and the past year. How many changes he’s gone through, how many things he has learned. And yet I know time will continue to speed by me. In August, Gabe will be 4. And next fall he will start kindergarten and aaaaah! I’m not ready. I’m not ready for my babies to grow up.

:::

I recently finished reading two books. One was Jinx by Jennifer Estep, which is the third book in her superhero series. While it was fairly enjoyable, it was also very cheesy. The concept of the series is that these are superhero romance novels. The characters are clich├ęs, and the superhero names are sometimes silly. However, it was a light read, and easy to finish while I was feeding Nick at nite (hehe… Nick at nite). Plus I have a fascination with superheroes.

I also finished reading Firefly Lane by Kristen Hanna, which I enjoyed immensely. While the character development was not as detailed as I would have liked, and some parts of Kate and Tully’s history was given too quickly, their story of friendship over 30 years was very compelling. I could relate more to Kate personally, as a mother, but I envied Tully’s drive and ambition. The ending made me cry. As did the relationship Kate had with her children. It’s a beautiful story, but skip it if you like happy endings and have distaste for forced emotions. I also loved that it was set in the Seattle area. I’m always nostalgic for the area where I grew up.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Enough

One of the greatest things about parenthood, aside from getting love (I mean smiles, cuddles, and kisses, how great are they), is watching your child learn new things. Watching their delight at the discovery of something new and fantastic.

Nick is especially delightful when it comes to food. For the most part, he treats new foods as the most fantastic thing he ever tasted, with strawberries, chocolate, and ice cream topping his list. Also anything you’re eating. Even if he has the same thing on his plate. You are eating it. Therefore it must be better.

Food falls into four categories for Nick: “Ba”, which indicates he wants something to drink, usually milk, but also water or juice. “Nana”, means he wants a banana, although they usually end up half eaten and thrown on the floor, unless they are your banana and then they are the best ever. “Nack” means he would like a snack, preferably Fruit Loops, but animal crackers, Cheerios, Kix, and Gerber Yogurt Bites also satisfy.

Finally we have “that”, which can be used in other situations”, but indicates that he wants some of whatever it is that you are eating. If you don’t feel he should have some of it (we’re still sketchy on fish and soda, and of course diet food), he responds by yelling “that, that, that, waaaaaah.” Really, it’s fun…

:::

I’ve also enjoyed watching Gabe’s progression with his legos. He still prefers the quatro legos to the duplos as his love for giant towers has no end. However, he has started making patterns with the blocks and leaving room for windows and doors. His buildings have roofs. It’s quite a change from the baby Godzilla he used to be. Who would demand towers and then eagerly knock them down.

Unfortunately, Nick is at that stage. Except he doesn’t have to demand towers, as usually Gabe has already built one. Poor Gabe. He gets very frustrated when Nickzilla attacks one of his towers.

:::

We have lots of nicknames for our boys. While it took quite a while for me to call Gabriel, Gabe, Nick had always been Nick, not Nicholas, despite having that on his birth certificate.

When Gabe was first learning to talk he often doubled the first syllables of names and words. His beloved monkeys were monkmonks, noodles were noonoos and he was Gabegabe. Sometimes we still call him Gabegabe, even though he has moved on from that stage with his vocabulary. At one point, before Nick was born, Oscar even had GABGAB as he personalized license plate (and yes, I have a personalized plate now, this is Virginia and everybody has personalized plates).

Due to his love of monkeys, Gabe also gets called monkey a lot.

We also refer to both boys as Bob when they’re upset about something. As in “Bob is not happy” or “Bob is mad”. I’m not sure where this came from, but it usually helps us defuse what could otherwise be a tense situation.

Nick is often called Nickel or Nicknack or Nickelpotamus. To go with that, Gabe is also sometimes called Gabel.

I also call them my baby monsters or my baby children or my beebles (have no idea where that came from, I just like it).

:::

They are my darling boys. And I love them so very much. They are growing up too quickly and I’m trying my best to hold on and cherish every moment we have together.

I regret that I am not the type of mother who writes every milestone down in a baby book or dutifully writes dates on the back of all her pictures and then immediately files them in a photo album.

I will never scrapbook.

My memories of their youth will be hazy. I will not have the exact day they walked their first step or said their first word etched in my memory.

But I will have loved them. I will have enjoyed our time together as they grew up. I will have been there for them when they needed me. I will have done the best that I was capable of doing.

And that will be enough.

Because I loved them.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Whirlwind

Sniffle, snort, glrrck, hack, sniff. Excuse me, sorry. Seems I managed to come down with a bit of a cold this weekend. Between the sniffling and the coughing and the mucus and the sore throat I feel awful. Also, the chills and body aches in the evening. That’s an added bonus. And yet, I still made it to work today. I even came back after dropping my friend off at the airport.

Of course, I have like no vacation days, and am planning to take a beach trip at the end of the month, so I really didn’t have much choice.

:::

My weekend passed by way too quickly, as they usually do. I picked my friend up Thursday morning and dropped her off at my house so she could nap before returning to work for a little bit. I then took a few hours of leave and left early to grab lunch with Oscar since we won’t have much time alone together this weekend. We had Red Robin, which involved a delicious salad. And lest you think I was being *good*, lunch also included a Rookie Magic shake.

He picked up the boys so I could go straight home and see my friend. As Oscar remarked many times, we are very different. We always have been, and yet we were very good friends. It was so nice to see her. I’m so glad she came. We ordered pizza from Papa John’s and also picked up some sushi. I know, what a combination, but it was good. The boys just ate pizza.

On Friday, we had breakfast at Bob Evans and then caught the metro from Vienna to D.C. It is amazing how long it can take to look through one museum, and we didn’t even see all of it. Our choice was the National Museum of American History, which is amazing. We spent the longest amount of time looking at the War exhibit.

We got downtown about 10:30. We didn’t pause until almost 1:00 when we finally decided it was time for lunch. Lunch was ridiculously overpriced and we split both a sandwich and a bag of chips. We finished up with the science exhibit. I was particularly entertained by the large display they had on the evolution of birth control pills and the controversies that surround them.

Once we were done with the museum we stopped in one of the gift shops where I picked up a magnet and postcard of President Obama for Gabe. Then we went to look at the Washington and Lincoln monuments. It took us two hours to get from the museum, see both monuments, and get back to the metro. The Lincoln monument is very cool, and I managed to get a completely clear shot of the entire statue.

The only thing that sucked about our day downtown was the rain. It wasn’t really raining hard, so it didn’t hinder our sight-seeing, but the drizzle was annoying. However, it did limit the amount of tourists that were outside. Unfortunately a number of schools decided it was a great day for a field trip, so the museum was very crowded.

:::

After the museums we came home and I helped get the boys fed and ready for bed. Oscar picked up Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner. The book I ordered and wanted to read Gabe is The Giving Tree. It surprised me that we didn’t already have a copy, but it has now become Gabe’s favorite story. I’ve read it every night since he first heard it on Thursday.

After the boys were in bed, we went driving while Oscar stayed home to be with the boys and do homework. I showed her a bunch of the neighborhoods in the area while we talked. Before we came home we stopped and got some ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery. I made the mistake of trying their new butterscotch pudding flavor, and I thought it was way too sweet. I think I’ll stick to their basic flavors next time.

:::

Saturday morning Oscar had to go into work for an hour so we went to the playground for a little bit, and then the mall for a little shopping. I ended up with a really cute polo in dark blue with a dragon fly graphic from Old Navy. My friend picked up a skirt from H&M. As a reward for being so good while we shopped, we took the boys on the Merry-Go-Round (yes, the Dulles Town Centre has both a Merry-Go-Round and a train with a *conductor* that drives around the mall).

They both had a good time. Nick loved riding the horse as it went up and down. Gabe really wanted to ride in the *cup* that you can turn in circles, but I there were older kids already in the cup and I didn’t want us to be separated. He still enjoyed riding the horse.

After the mall we met Oscar for lunch at Moby Dick’s, which is an awesome Mediterranean restaurant. The flat bread with their cucumber yogurt sauce is excellent and all their meat is so tender. Also rice, lots of rice.

In the afternoon we went to our community’s carnival. This is the third year that we’ve gone. They’ve upgraded since the first year I went. They now accept credit cards and have an ATM at in the carnival. That’s nice since it was a pain to show up without cash (okay, I should have known better, but I spaced) and have to go someplace else to get some so that Gabe could have a snack and go on some rides.

Gabe has had a great time every year. We met up with our friends about hour after we got there. Gabe had already gone on a few rides, as well as the moon bounces (we got him the unlimited ride bracelet). Once they arrived the three kids (Gabe and their two girls) stopped at a few of the child-friendly booths, went on a few more rides, and then we went to get snacks.

Originally Gabe’s last soccer practice was supposed to be today, but it had rained so much the last few days that the fields were really muddy, so they cancelled all practices despite the warm weather we had on Saturday. His last practice will now be next Saturday.

After we were finished with the carnival we went to Bertucci’s for dinner, which was very good. In addition to the typical kid’s menus with color crayons, they also have real dough for the kids to play with that can be made into shapes and then baked. Gabe thought that was really cool, and was more than happy to eat the results. Bread usually goes over well. Nick, as usual, wanted to try everything. He particularly liked the rigatoni noodles because they were round and hollow so he could stick them on his fingers.

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On Sunday we went to see Up with our friends rather than go to the Aquarium. Just like with Monsters Vs. Aliens, I missed the end of the movie because Nick was too restless. Instead I spent that time following Nick as he walked up and down the hallway. Oscar took him out for about 10-15 during the first part of the movie and then I spent the rest of the time trying to entertain him.

What I did see of the movie I enjoyed a lot. Although, I agree with all the comments I’ve heard that it really wasn’t appropriate for the preschool set. This is, of course, the ages of the children that we had in attendance (14 mo, 2.5 years, 3.5 years, 4).

It was a beautiful movie, and wonderful in 3D, but the themes were very adult, and some of the scenes were a little scary for small children. It was not nearly as delightful as WALL-E. Next summer we will get Toy Story 3, which I think will be a great movie watching experience. The kids will be older and it’s a movie about toys.

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After the movie Oscar and I took Gabe and Nick for a drive so that Nick could sleep and Gabe could hopefully calm down after the high he’s been on all weekend. It also involved a stop at the grocery store. Nick did sleep, and stayed asleep the whole time, unfortunately, Gabe did not spend the time chilling, and instead chose to have a major freaking tantrum. OMG, it was the tantrum that would not end! It lasted like three hours!

Finally he calmed after a bath, and then ate dinner in his PJs. He was agreeable for stories and went to sleep relatively easily. I’m sure he was exhausted. Between having a guest, the carnival, the movie, and the tantrum, I’m sure he was worn out.

Once the boys were in bed we played Scattergories, which is a favorite game of mine. So easy to play, yet entertaining. Perhaps I’m just easily entertained. Then again, I am a parent, I find amusement in the antics of small children.

I had tea (with honey and whiskey) and a blueberry muffin filled with cream cheese as a snack… so tasty. Pastries stuffed with cream cheese, so good. A particular favorite is the pumpkin ones that Starbucks has in the fall and winter… mmmmm (and you wonder why I have a hard time sticking to a diet).

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I had a great time with my friend this weekend and was sad to see her leave. It was nice having someone who new me in high school and still liked me. I just worried that she didn’t have a good time. Other than Friday we really didn’t get a chance to just hang out and talk with out the boys. Like we used to. We used to spend hours driving around just talking about nothing. And everything.

Our lives are very different these days. Not that we were ever that similar. It just seems more glaring now that we’ve become adults. Now that our differences have shown up in our life paths. Still, I really enjoyed her company. I’ve missed having friends. I’ve missed having her as a friend. It’s been almost nine years, really. I saw her briefly on one trip home while in the military, but that was it since we graduated.

I hope we can stay in touch. I wish the time difference didn’t make things so difficult. Trying to find time to connect on the phone is challenging. Three hours can make a huge difference. Still, there is e-mail… even if it’s not the same.