Friday, May 23, 2014

Eli - 2 years, 18 weeks & Ava - 1 year 3 weeks

 This week has been pretty good.  We're still busy and working late a good bit, but we're all surviving.  In fact, Eli seems to be thriving.  He has been less cranky, more willing to go in at daycare by himself (i.e., not carried in), and generally more agreeable.  We suspect for the first time in a long time, his ears don't hurt and he feels pretty good.  He has even stopped complaining about us washing his hair (except for the water in his face part which he still hates with a passion). 
Sunday, Eli, Ava, and I went and cleaned out Joey's fish pond.  Eli wanted to be my big helper, so I "put him to work" scooping water out of one bucket and pouring it into another bucket.  He also helped me catch the fish and named almost all of them "Nemo".  After we caught most of the fish, a couple of the bigger fish tried to jump out of the bucket we had them in.  Eli happened to be standing over the bucket when it happened once and a fish hit him square in the nose.  Eli didn't find it ammusing, but Joey and I thought it was pretty funny!  We found a deeper bucket and moved the fish.  Soon (and that is a relative term), the pond was all cleaned out and it was time to put the fish back.  Eli loved catching the fish again and even wanted to pet them.  I held the fish in my hands and let him touch a couple of them.  It was great fun. 

Sunday morning while I was getting dressed, Eli and Ava crawled up in my bed and hung out under the covers.  This was mostly Eli's doing.  I did not cover them up.  All I did was help them onto the bed and turn on the TV.  They watched TV like this for 10 minutes or so. 

Monday morning, getting dressed... Eli wanted his picture taken.  That is the first time that's happened in a while!

Out of the blue I have a camera hog!
Ava had some fun watching me and Eli work on Sunday, but I think she really wanted to be down and "helping".  Monday morning, she woke up determined to walk.  Every night this week she has worked to be able to take some steps.  She still is only getting 2-3 before she falls, but she is an expert stander-upper.  I have no doubt that within another week or so, she'll be running circles around me.  Ava has discovered how to dance even if she has to do it sitting down.  When she hears music, she'll bounce herself right along with the beat.  She has also discovered a couple of toys we have that play songs including a bunny that has moving ears and bounces like she does when it sings "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)".  That is her new favorite toy!
Ava got herself vertical but she couldn't quite get the ball popper popping.
Didn't matter.  She was still having fun and looking adorable in the process.

Eli - 2 years, 17 weeks & Ava - 1 year, 2 weeks

Again I'm updating over a week late... things are more than a little crazy at our house. Brian's been working late lots and had to go to Guard last weekend.  I've been working a little later than normal in the afternoons trying to keep up at work and wait on Brian to be ready to go so that we can ride together, and when we get home in the afternoons around 5:30, the kids are tired, hungry, and cranky.  The house is a mess, the kids are dirty, I just can't seem to keep up. 

Last week we had a decent week and things seemed to progress quickly enough to Friday.  On Friday, we had tubes put in Eli's ears and he did wonderfully.  If I had known it was going to be that easy, we'd have done it long ago!  When we got home on Friday morning, Eli was a little tired still so he and I hung out around the house until after naptime.  Then we had an adventure at Walmart. Brian had to go to Guard, so he left early in the day Friday to make the trip easier and spend some time with his family.  Joey came and helped me get the kids in bed Friday and Saturday night, and except for the Walmart episode, both kids were pretty well behaved. 

No real news to report for last week, so I'll just post pictures and then share this week's update.

Eli loves playing with a balloon so much that this one has been around since Ava's birthday party!

Brother/Sister love... Eli wanted a picture with Ava so I definately took advantage of the request!

End of the day = dirty kiddos.  Post supper and pre-bath is probably the dirtiest time of the day!

Just getting a sip out of Mr. Potatohead's cup.

Let me see the camera, Mommie.

One more fun thing for this week... A video!  Brian was trying to eat some icecream but wasn't getting much for himself.  Eli and Ava, however, were getting their bellies full.

Why I'm Banned from Walmart

WARNING!!! Long Mommy Post!

Last Friday after we finished getting tubes in Eli's ears, Brian headed to Birmingham for his weekend of National Guard duty.  Eli was a little cranky, so I didn't bother to take him on to daycare for the afternoon.  Instead, I let him play, watch TV, and take a nap until late afternoon.  Late in the afternoon, I decided to go ahead and get our weekly grocery shopping done.  Eli hadn't been feeling bad and outside of being a little cranky showed no real signs that anything was out of the ordinary.

So around 2pm or so we arrived at our local Walmart.  I've never been a huge fan of Walmart, but in a small town it's usually the only option without having to make at least 3 separate stops. (Who wants to do that with a 2 year old in tow? -- Not me!) So our weekly shopping trip began pretty much as it always does.  We entered the store and the "I wants" started.  Eli wanted pretty much everything he saw (and we didn't even come close to the toy section). 

Walmart is a mine field for a parent... Just walking that main front aisle, the road that gets you across the front of the store in a hurry, you pass 10 shelves of cookies, chips, and snack foods.  You walk by the greeting card aisle where they also happen to keep the party supplies... "I want SpongeBob!" (pinata hanging above the aisle). You go to buy body wash or baby shampoo and there on the shelf nearby is a slew of character themed kid soaps... "I want Jake (and the Neverland Pirates) soap!"  Buying yogurt?... "I want Dora 'ogurt!"  Every aisle has some character, cookie, candy, or boobie trap designed to send kids into a "Wanting Fit". 

As a family we're doing pretty well, but we still don't want to give in to every whim.  We try not to buy toys for no reason, though sometimes we do let the kids get a small something fun.  But even just making our regular purchases, Eli got to pick out at least 2 somethings he "wants" (kind of yogurt and gummy snacks).  So it definately wasn't like he didn't get anything.  I'm pretty much accustomed to saying "no" throughout our Walmart trips now, so the "I wants" coming from Eli didn't really phase me.  But as we went through the store, the desires became demands.  The deamands became louder and louder.  By the time we were picking up our last couple of things in the produce section, my nerves were wearing thin. 

You would think that the produce section would be free of boobie traps... What kid wants fresh veggies, right?  WRONG!  There in the middle of the produce section, was a cardboard display with a Thomas the Train on it.  Inside were those applesauce pouches, but the pouches were not Thomas the Train.  Eli wanted a Thomas snack.  Dispite our rocky grocery store experiance, I was trying to cut him some slack (it had already been a rough day for him) and was going to allow him to pick out a pouch in spite of his behavior.  But Eli didn't understand that the display had Thomas but the pouches didn't.  He wanted a Thomas snack to take with him, but there weren't any.  I tried and tried to explain it and eventually, the melt-down started. 

As Eli got more and more upset, I calmly told him that there wasn't a Thomas snack just a display and that couldn't go home with us.  Then I walked away.  At that point the yelling began.  I was headed for a checkout land, but it was 3pm on a Friday afternoon.  All the schools had just closed, the local plant shifts had changed, and everyone had come to Walmart for their pre-weekend necessities.  All the lanes were slammed, so I thought I'd get myself and my fussing child out of there quicker if I did a self checkout... WRONG AGAIN!

The self checkout hated me and as I tried to get everything scanned in, it frequently decided that I was trying to steal something (I wasn't) and required the store clerk to come reset it.  Meanwhile, Eli was getting louder and violent.  When he began wacking me with a Toy Story placemat I let him pick up as we entered the store, I came very close to losing my cool.  Rather than beat him, I took away the placemat and told him it was not coming home with us because he wasn't being nice.  At that point, the real screaming began... Eli let out a yell that litterally echoed off the opposite end of the store. (I'm so not kidding!)  Then the machine jammed again and I grabbed him up trying to talk calmly to him... Didn't work. He continued to yell at top volume. 

This is not THE meltdown, but the only picture I coudl find of one of Eli's meltdowns... Turns out I don't take pictures during screaming temper tantrums.  Wonder why?
At home, my response would have been a very quick spanking, then putting him down and walking away.  But as I glanced around, I noticed at least 15 people staring at  us. (How could they not?)  I was determined not to give in to his temper tantrum, but I also wondered if a very public spanking would result in my recieving a visit from DHR. For a moment, I contimplated leaving my groceries right where they sat, grabbing Eli up, and walking away.  I guess my pride kept me from scurrying away in defeat like that, so I did my best to scan the remaining items quickly while Eli wailed (though the stupid self check-out had other ideas).  Finally, I was able to pay and get out of there.  I did my best to avoid eye contact with anyone along the way and I managed to hold back my tears of anger and embarrassment until I was safely in my car. Eli screamed for a few minutes after we left the store.  I ignored those screams.  When I finally got the kids in bed Friday night, I made myself a margarita.  I figure I deserved it. 

After hearing from some other moms, I believe a great deal of Eli's attitude had to do with him still recouperating from the anesthesia that morning.  It's no excuse for the behavior, but it may be a reason behind it.  I've also imposed a self-ban on the Fayetteville, TN Walmart for about the next 6 months or so.  I don't figure anyone there wants to see us again for a while. 

Maybe over the next few months I'll look at my grocery list and use a small local grocery store if I don't have to have things other than groceries.  Maybe there won't be as many potential land mines there.  There certainly won't be as many people to stare at us judgementally.

I've also decided that sometime in the future, I'm going to build a drive-thru liquer store in front of every Walmart in America.  Just drive up, tell us how bad your shopping trip was, and we'll provide the right beverages to help you forget all about it.  I know I'd have made a large purchase on Friday if such a thing existed. 

The last great revalation I've had through this experiance, is that the next time I hear a child screaming in the grocery store, I won't be quite as quick to judge.  I used to think that it was a spoiled child or a lazy parent.  Now I'm not so sure... Had Brian been with me I know one of us would have taken Eli to the car and adminstered our desired punishment.  Alone, I was less certain how to handle the situation and still accomplish my shopping goals.  So the next time I see a mom alone in the store with a screaming child, I'll probably stop her and give her a word of encouragement... a "Don't give in, you're doing great." or "I've been there.  It will be better tomorrow."  I know it certainly would have been appreciated from me on Friday. 

So in closing I'd like to appologize to all the people in our local Walmart on Friday afternoon.  I'm very sorry to have spoiled your shopping experiance.  I'm certain that I could have handled the situation differently, but I'm not ceratin it would have affected the outcome.  You won't see me or my kids in there anytime soon (I hope).  Your store is safe (and quiet) again.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Eli Ear Update

We had tubes put in Eli's ears this morning. Everything went great and we are headed home now. Eli is still tired and a little cranky but overall he's doing great.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ava loves her supper!

Ava has been feeding herself more and more lately.  She is also really enjoying more table food.  Last Wednesday night, she found a new level of nasty with her supper.  That is mostly yogurt, but also some sweet potato all over her. Now when I try to feed her with a spoon, she grabs the spoon and almost insists on doing it herself.


Eli - 2 years 16 weeks & Ava - 1 year 1 week

Updating for last week since I was out of the office the second half of the week...
We had a pretty normal start to our week and were completely out of routine the second half of the week. 

Monday mornings are always tough... I tried to get Eli's picture, but he was too busy watching Thomas the Train.

But by a couple days later, we're usually good to go in the mornings.  Eli frequently complains that the sun is too bright in the mornings, so he was really happy when I finally found his sunglasses hidden in a drawer in his room.

Such a cool dude!

Don't you wish your boyfriend was cute like me?

Thursday we spent the morning at the ENT's office in Columbia.  We've been putting off doing tubes in Eli's ears for about a year now.  The first ENT we saw didn't make me feel good at all so we decided to wait a while and see if he outgrew the need.  Well after another year and probably 5-10 ear infections, we asked for a referral to a different ENT.  This time I felt the doctor listened to our problems and concers and did a wonderful job of helping us understand the proceedure and the potential benefits and risks.  So Friday we'll be having tubes put in Eli's ears.  Apparently it is a very simple procedure that will only take a couple minutes and doesn't even require an IV.  Dare I say I'm even excited. The possibility of Eli getting some relief from what we suspect may be constant ear pain is thrilling for me.

Taking selfies as entertainment at the doctor's office.

The last thing I have to share for Eli is a video of him playing on his "stage".  Remember last week when I told you about building Granny Reba's new step for getting in the bed?  Well, Eli thought it was his personal stage and soon decided to practice for his future crowd surfing activities by belly flopping onto the pillows he drug off the sofa in the office.

Last week began fasion show month at our house for Ava.  After recieving some hand-me-downs and some beautiful new clothes for her birthday and some new goodies from consignment sales, she has far more clothes than she could ever wear.  That doesn't mean we're not going to try to wear them though.  So I began with the smallest sizes in her closet and started working our way up to the larger sizes. 
Ava has changed a great deal in the last week.  She has stopped being quite as clingy to me (for which I am extremely greatful), she's eating more and more table food, she's trying very hard to feed herself, and she's playing independently or with Eli more and more.  She's always been happy, but now she is becoming much more independent.

Fashion Show item #1 --- I bought this for her on consignment before she was born.  It is a size 3-6 month and it finally fits.  It probably runs a little large but she is also a little small. 

Fashion show item #2 - A hand-me-down cutie.  A little too small at 3-6 months but it doesn't matter if her belly hangs out a little.  The back is almost completely open.  Daddy already hates that... Mommy thinks it's cute and cool for hot days.

Friday, I was speaking for Career Day at Grammers' School (Moody Middle School).  Grammers wanted to visit with Ava while I talked to the kiddos, so Ava got to tag along.  We got up very early and left the house by 5:30.  I woke Ava up around 5, fed her, and let her ride in her 'jammies so we had to change clothes when we got there. Then Ava played in the back of my car for a few minutes before we went in.  It gave her a good opportunity to stretch out after the long ride.

Waiting on Grammers...

Looking out at the school buses.
We had a nice time visiting MMS and Ava was a very good girl.  By the time we left, she was wiped out and slept the whole way home.  Then Ava and I got some play time at home before we had to go get Eli.  It was a nice day.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Big Weekend - Boy/Girl alone time and Building a Step

We had a big weekend... Saturday Eli and Daddy went to Birmingham to help cut Granny and Pawpaw's grass and Ava and I stayed home to catch up on laundry, do the grocery shopping, and get some other housework done.  Both kiddos had a fabulous time getting their one-on-one attention and they were really excited to see each other when Brian and Eli got home Saturday night. 

Here's a look at how our days went...

Around 7am Saturday morning, Brian and Eli got in the truck and headed south.  Around 10 am I recieved this picture with the caption "Lost Eli". 

Apparently, Eli had snuck off by himself, gone up onto the back porch, and climbed on top of the picnic table to get some things out of the big green tub of balls.  When Brian missed him, he was just standing up there looking out on the back yard. 

 A few minutes later Grammers arrived to play with Eli.  Apparently she brought icecream because a couple hours later I got this picture... 

When Eli got home he was very excited to tell me about his big day.  He talked about playing in the sandbox, driving the lawn mower, seeing Pawpaw John, and all kinds of fun adventures he'd had.

Ava and I started off somewhat more ordinary with some grocery shopping and running a couple other errands in town.  We headed home just before lunchtime and I worked hard to keep her awake the whole ride home.  I thought that when we got home we'd eat lunch and then she'd nap.  But after lunch, Ava was full of energy.  So I let her play in the floor while I emptied the dishwasher.  I guess she decided she wasn't finished with her yogurt from lunch because she started reaching for it and making grabbing motions with her fists.  So I grabbed the container and sat it on the diswasher door to feed her a couple bites there in the floor.  It was about 1 second before she grabbed the spoon and started feeding herself with a spoon for the first time.  It was very messy, but she was sooo proud of herself. 


Want a bite?

I'm too cool for those baby-style pictures, Mommie! Hollywood here I come.
 When Brian and Eli got home around 7pm Saturday night, the kids were just thrilled to see each other.  There was lots of giggling, chasing around the house, wrestling in the living room floor, and playing together.  It was so adorable and they were playing together so well that I let them stay up an extra 30 minutes. 

Sunday we finally made it back to church (we've been sick so much lately).  Then came home and played around the house most of the day.  In the afternoon, Brian made a Home Depot run so that we could build Granny Reba a step.  Granny had a surgery a few weeks ago and is finally ready to come home sometime this week.  The problem is that her bed is really high up so she needed some sort of sturdy step that will help her get in the bed.

While the kids played outside, Brian built a frame from lumber and plywood and then brought it in the house so that I could help him stretch carpet over it after supper.  Eli saw us hammering tacks in to hold the carpet and begged to get to use the hammer.  So I sent him to get his toy hammer and one for Ava too.  Then Brian started a couple nails for them so that they could each do some hammering.  We hammered for a good 20 minutes and then the step became a fun toy to climb and play on.  It was so funny to see them both aiming for and hitting the nails.  They knew what they were supposed to be doing!

The family that builds together...

Such good helpers!

I want to use my hammer too.

Eli believes that the step is a new stage for him to play on.  He kept singing,
"Ashton, Ashton (a cousin who goes to daycare with Eli) we all fall down!" He may not
know the right words, but he gets points for cuteness. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Eli - 2 years 15 weeks & Ava - 1 year old

We were pretty pooped after all the birthday partying.  So we spent much of this week trying to rest back up and catch up on things  like laundry.  I had been ignoring most of the laundry all last week in hopes of getting the house clean.  So this week, I've been working like crazy to try to catch up. 

We had some storms come through earlier in the week and something told me that these weren't just run-of-the-mill storms.  So Monday night we hung out at Joey and Papa Rick's house for a while just in case we needed to get to a basement.  We were fortunate and never even had to go downstairs, but many of our friends were not so lucky.  After the storms passed over our end of the county, it did a number on some friends and neighbors to the west of us.  The South Lincoln community was hit hard and we have a couple of family friends who had significant damage and even a few families without homes.  I can't imagine being in their shoes.  One of the families who lost most everything has kids that are fairly close to Eli and Ava's age.  So we'll be doing some work this weekend to clean out a few extra toys and things that we don't really or play with anymore and send to them. 

Eli has had a bit of a tough week.  He never does well when we are off schedule and daycare closed early on Monday and Tuesday this week because of the storms.  He's been somewhat tempermental and between that and testing his limits to see what he can get away with, it's been a tough week for him.  We're trying to work on manners and controlling that little temper of his, but right now I'm not seeing much light at the end of the tunnel. 

Ava is doing just fine as the actual day of her 1st Birthday rolled around.  She is really enjoying eating more table food so I've got to start working on planning meals where there will be something that she can have as well.  Especially in the summertime, we tend to do lots of grilling some kind of meat and throwing a single veggie alongside it.  It's hot and we don't want to spend too much time standing over a stove.  We'd much rather have some outside play time in the afternoon than a huge meal. 

Sunday while Brian was off playing with Uncle Woo, the kids and I hung out around the house.  Just before naptime, things got a little crazy when both kids started beating their sippy cups on the coffee table and giggling.  It was like some sort of contest to see who could make the most noise.  Then I pretended to fuss just a little and they thought that was even funnier.   Just look at those faces... they look like mischief to me.

If these two figure out how to start having fun together, I may be in BIG trouble.

The ring leader... his job is to show the little one how to do all kinds of things she hasn't thought of yet.

The little one... her job is to be cute so that nobody fusses at them for too long.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Eli - 2 years, 14 weeks & Ava 51 weeks

At 2 years 14 weeks old, Eli lives in a magical world where his toys are alive and anything is possible.  He had a wonderful time at Ava's birthday party playing with all his cousins and running around outside.  On Thursday before Ava's party, he earned a "Big Woody" doll by picking up all the toys in his room for me.  Since then, Big Woody goes everywhere... well almost everywhere.  We had to make a rule that Big Woody was an inside toy.  Big Woody can't go out and play on the swingset and get dirty because there isn't a way to wash him.  So when Eli wants to go outside or into the garage with Brian, we have to find a way for Big Woody to watch.  Big Woody spent a lot of time sitting on the window sill last weekend.  And when Eli feels that he has to go into the garage, Big Woody sits on the hamper in the laundry room so that he can "see" Eli in the garage.  Big Woody leaves the house with Eli every morning, but he doesn't get to go to daycare.  Big Woody has to stay in the car if he leaves the house.  So when Eli gets out of the car in the mornings to go to daycare, he takes special care to put Big Woody in the driver seat.  Apparently the only way that Eli is okay with leaving Big Woody in the car is if Woody gets to drive, something Eli loves to do. (By drive I mean, sit in the drivers seat and play with the steering wheel.)  He really is at a fun age.

Swinging in his swingset.

Eli loves Audrey and talks about her all the time.

Going down his slide... he loves to do that.
At 51 weeks old, Ava is beginning to develop her own opinions about what should and should not be happening.  Ava is going through a bit of a clingy stage where she doesn't want to be put down and left alone but she wants to go and do her own thing.  If she is playing in the floor, she is fine as long as I'm sitting in one spot and waiting on her when she comes back.  If I get up to go fold laundry or something she is less than thrilled and her feelings get very very hurt.  
We've started trying to transition away from formula and onto milk.  Ava has been eating lots of yogurt for a few months now, but the milk seems to make her a little gassy from time to time.  Maybe she'll get used to it soon and we can stop buying that expensive formula powder.  Once we get that transition made, I'll have to start working on trading bottles for sippy cups, sleeping through the night without getting up, and, eventually, moving into the bedroom with Eli.  It may be a long summer trying to get all those things checked off our list.
All smiles when she gets to be the center of attention.

Ava loves outside as well as any kid.
Ava likes her swing too!

Ava's First Birthday Party

Last Saturday we had a wonderful day to celebrate Ava's first birthday.  We were joined by family and friends, the weather was beautiful, the kids had a blast playing outside on the swingset, and the grown-ups had fun playing cornhole and watching the little ones.  Thank to everyone who came, especially those who drove 1-2 hours each way just for the party.  You all made the day extra special and we won't soon forget it. 

For Ava's first birthday I chose a sock monkey theme again.  I took what I had previously done for Eli's first birthday and gave it a more girlie twist. 

Here are some of the pictures...

I ran out of time to make sock monkey cookies so I decided to do rock candy as favors.

I had this spot set up for Ava's birthday cake smash, but the weather was so nice that we took the highchair outside instead.

We did a nice snack buffet.  Nothing too substantial, but fun Monkey-themed food for all our guests.

Our beautiful cakes made by the fabulous Carla Gault and Janie Quick.  These ladies have
made every cake we've needed since our wedding.  It tastes even better than it looks.

Veggie Straws are one of Ava's favorite treats... we called them "Swinging Vines"

These chocolate haystacks got renamed "Tree Branches" for the day.

I wanted to do some monkey face sugar cookies, but I ran out of time.  These store-bought ones were tastey as well.

Another time-saver... I typically make my own pinwheels or pizza pockets, but the Bagel Bites were yummy and quick!

This is one place I would NEVER take a short cut.  Granny Reba's homemade Banana Pudding.  I shared the recipe once on this page.

Pretzels dipped in dark and white chocolate were called "Monkey Tails".

Mokey Bread... I took another short cut here.  Instead of making homemade monkey bread (which takes time and makes a huge mess) I bought canned cinnamon rolls and cut them into quarters.  Then I just piled it all into a dish and baked it. 

For beverages we had bottled water, sweet tea, and pink lemonade.  The lemonade was a last minute add-on when I realized that temps were going to be in the 80s and we would be spending lots of time outside.

My water bottles got some birthday party labels.  I also used the Pinterest idea of freezing water balloons for icing down drinks.  It worked pretty well and kept the paper labels from getting soggy when the ice melted.

This is possibly my favorite picture of the day!

Aunt 'Tace and Audrey

Cousin Harley came up from Birmingham for the day!

Uncle Woo Woo and Aunt 'Lissa

Out swing set got a workout.

Brady makes a good mule to pull the wagon.

Pawpaw Frankie and Ava having a little quiet time together before the kids took over the swingset.

Audrey said, "CHOCOLATE!"

Eli and Audrey say "No Hands!"

Lane climbing the ladder.

Papa Garro pulling Harley in the wagon.  The wagon got some solid use as well.

Miss Kylie also says "No Hands"

Brady is the best big cousin a little girl could ask for.

Cake Time!

"Mommie, why have I never had this before??? It's amazing!"

Cousins and Best Buddies!

Eli tried really hard to pull Brady and Audrey in the wagon, but he just couldn't get it to move.

Just hanging with Daddy at my party!

This guy showed everyone else how to use the slide!

So that was our day... I'm adding all the Sock Monkey Birthday Party goodies to my Etsy page.  If you know someone who wants to use it for a party theme, I'll personalize it with their child's name and send them the files to print and cut.