Category Archives: Family

And THIS is Why We Homeschool

I’m going to be honest and say that our first day of our 2012-2013 school year was rough, with a capital R. We completed the work he needed to get done that day, but 2-year old Jesse needed a lot of attention and 3-month old Julie kept waking up at the most inconvenient times. We had a tough time keeping Jeremy focused and I was constantly going back-and-forth between all three kids. Jeremy and I each had mini-meltdowns, then realized that we’d forgotten lunch. The afternoon was really hard. By the time we finished with school, Jason came home from work and took us out for dinner because I just couldn’t bring myself to cook. That evening Jeremy and I talked about it and said that we did a pretty good job, but we have some kinks to work out in our schedule. We were going to try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, day 2: Our first field trip. We met up with some other mom and kids friends from our MOPS group at 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center. We sat in a nice theater-style room for storytime, made a nice puppet craft, walked around and looked at their exhibits of local wild animals. Then we walked out to the waterfront, had a lovely picnic and let the kids run around. It was really nice to not be at a regular park full of climbing things and swings and such. The kids actually had to use their imagination and come up with games to play with each other. They had so much fun! We finished up our day at home with a couple of quick lessons, a dip in the pool, had a fast dinner, and rounded it all out with a trip to Chill (our favorite serve-yourself frozen yogurt place) to redeem our 2 free yogurt coupons.

Today, our third day of homeschooling Kindergarten/First Grade, Jeremy and I are taking a break after lunch. We’re watching Money Saving Meals while I rock Jesse to sleep for his nap, Sandra is explaining how her semi-homemade tamales are less expensive than store-bought frozen tamales and Jeremy exclaims “She’s doing math! It’s like her kitchen is her school room!” *Happy sigh* (in my head) “Yes, this is why we homeschool. Remember this.” Before I can even let out a breath, Jeremy tells me that cooking is like science and asks if we can bake cookies. I smile and respond “You betcha kiddo, cookies will be our science project this afternoon.”

Sure, we’re only half way through our first week of this school year, and we’ve already weathered some bumps, but I’m optimistic that we’ll do just fine.


Coast Guard Day 2012

Yesterday was Mobile’s celebration of the Coast Guard’s 222nd birthday. Jason’s base rented out the entire West End Beach on Dauphin Island and everyone gathered for a nice day at the water. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny, a little bit of a breeze, nice gentle waves.

Food and drink were provided, sno cones for cooling off, inflatable bounce houses and water slides were set up for the kids. It was lots of fun.

We brought our EZ Up tent, blankets, and chairs. I slathered Jesse in sunscreen and took him out to the edge of the sand. The same little boy who is always terrified of our pool (hangs around our necks and refuses to be let go even when he has a life jacket on) wasn’t scared in the least of the waves lapping at his feet. As the afternoon went on, it was all we could do to keep him from running headlong into the ocean. As the water rolled back, Jesse would run out to pick up seashells, and Jason had to run out to snag Jesse before the water caught up with him. A few times he sat in the wet sand and waited for the waves to come wash over him. He laughed like crazy as it splashed around him and a couple of times it was strong enough to spin him around and roll him onto his side.

Julie napped pretty much the whole time, so she and I spent most of the day together in the shade of the EZ Up. I was pleased with how well she handled the heat of the day, but not entirely surprised. I take her out into the Southern humid heat every week when we go to the park for playgroup and she’s a real trouper during hot car rides and seemingly endless errands. I figure that if you get them used to it when they’re little, they’ll mind it less and have less to complain about when they get bigger.

I can’t wait to head back out to the beach when Jeremy gets back next month. The last time we took him he was pretty scared of the waves. He’s so much bigger now and I doubt he’ll be afraid if his little brother isn’t. And next time we won’t forget all of our sand castle making supplies!

July Family Update

What a cheeky smile, and look at that big belly!

Having children is so neat, and mind-boggling. You spend months growing them inside you and waiting for them to arrive, then they’re here and you instantly wonder how they were ever not a part of the family because it seems like they’ve always been there. Then the days start flowing together because you’re a very sleep-deprived parent and suddenly, BAM!, they’re already 2 months old and you ask your husband how that happened!

Julie turned 2 months old last Wednesday and had her check-up the next day. My big girl gained two pounds since her 1-month check-up, weighing in at just over 14 pounds. She also grew two inches and is now two feet long. Julie has been flashing us her precious smile for a while, but I very rarely catch it on camera. She also loves when we talk with her, Julie gets very chatty in the evening just before bed time.

After catching up with our favorite doctor (we’re so lucky to have our primary care physician also happen to be a good friend) my poor girl had to get her first round of shots. She had the one in the hospital after she was born, but since then she hasn’t had any until today. Julie cried through three shots and one oral vaccine; Jesse was very concerned about why his baby was so upset. It was sweet to see him caring for her so much. For being such a good big brother the nurse gave him a squeezy toy whale and two stickers (one even had Elmo – his favorite) which he decided were band-aids like Julie’s. He stuck them on his thighs and proceeded to cry and limp like he was the one who got the shots. My sweet little empath! (I also had to buy him a small bag of bite-size Oreos at the drug store because he was hugging and kissing his sister to keep her happy.)

We’ve also been asking ourselves lately how Jesse got so big all of a sudden. It doesn’t seem like it’s been over two years since we brought him home.

It’s been a slow and steady process to get Jesse from co-sleeping with us all night, to nursing to sleep and staying most of the night in his bed, then to rocking to sleep and sleeping all night in his room, to where we’re at now which is falling asleep in his own bed. This is a HUGE deal for him. It takes 30-45 minutes each night for Jason to work his routine with Jesse, but it is successful and the boy is getting used to falling asleep in there. I crocheted Jesse an Elmo doll (his favorite character) and having that to snuggle with seems to have helped greatly at bedtime. Hopefully he’ll be laying down and falling asleep on his own soon without needing us to stay in the room with him. Before long he and Jeremy will have the same bedtime routine and our evenings will be so much easier!

For now, since Daddy is master of the night time routine, I still get my one-on-one time rocking my boy to sleep for his mid-day nap. Well, it’s not always one-on-one because there have been a couple of times when Jesse *needed* to snuggle but Julie also *needed* to be held as well, so I rocked them both!

For the most part, Jesse and Julie nap at the same time and I don’t have trouble with them during the day. However, sometimes their schedules don’t always match up. There have been a few instances when Julie just could not wait for her feeding and I had no choice but to let Jesse stay up a little longer. He will usually wear himself out a bit more, get sleepy and let me rock him or he’ll fall asleep in any number of positions on the sofa. This is how I found him just yesterday:

Poor kiddo just rocked himself to sleep. I have a million more pictures of how I’ve found him, but I’ll save those for another time. Nap time changes every day because I never really know how it’s going to go down. It’s usually around the same time, but the method is different. I feel like I’ve focused mostly on Jesse’s sleeping, but that is currently our major battle, so that’s what’s on my mind. After bedtime and naptime are conquered, we’ll move on to potty training. Dun Dun Dun!!!

Jesse’s vocabulary is growing day by day. He picks up new words all the time and is learning to string them into longer sentences than he was just a couple of weeks ago. He is really good at telling us what he wants (and doesn’t want), describing things, expressing some general feelings, and just pretty much talking all the time. He also has started loving books and brings us big stacks to read. I love when he picks out one that we’ve read a million times and he shushes me. He doesn’t want me to read, just turn the pages for him and he tells me (in his best 2-year old way) what is happening on the page. He’s such a character! I love watching this big huge personality develop out of a small person.

Jeremy is currently at his dad’s house in California, but he has grown by leaps and bounds over the summer as well. Most of this past year we worked specifically on reading (sounding-out words and using sight words) and math (adding and subtracting). So over the late spring and early summer while he was here, we completed a workbook meant to be a summer bridge for kids going from kindergarten to first grade. He flew through it and enjoyed most everything. I’m looking forward to checking out curriculum for first grade so we can start on that in September.

By the way, can someone please tell me how my firstborn, my tiny baby, is suddenly almost 6 years old?!?! I am flabbergasted, utterly astonished, every time I think about it. This picture is from back in May, but it shows my favorite side of this kid. He is so funny (weird knock-knock jokes and all), and surprises me all the time with how smart he is. But my favorite part of him is his total goofiness. He can be extremely moody, but his goofiness always comes through eventually and totally knocks me out. 🙂

So, that’s us in a nutshell! Our happy life is going along pretty well as we take things day by day. We’re still enjoying living in Mobile. Even though we do miss our family and friends in California all the time, we’ve got great friends here as well as well as some who have moved on to other places. Thank goodness for Facebook! It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here for 3 years already and are beginning our last year of this tour. Three houses in three years, whew! Military families really are professional movers. Around this time next year we’ll be packing up and moving to some other place. Coast Guard life is exciting!

Nothing Better

Honestly, is there anything in the world better than this?

I didn’t think so.

Julie girl had fallen asleep mid-feeding and when I moved to take her to bed in her room, she gripped my finger with her hand. She’s only done it a few times since she was born, but it just makes me smile every time. Something about my babies holding my hand at such a young age reminds me of the tight hold they have on my heart as well.

1 Month Old Already!

The time has really flown. Jason was home with us for Julie’s first two weeks and the time really moved nicely. Not too slow, but we felt like there was plenty of time to enjoy our new family without being rushed or like time was standing still. However, the last few weeks have gone by so quickly I could hardly believe it when it was time to take Julie for her 1-month check-up with the doctor.

She did really well. Her jaundice is all cleared-up, her little bit of baby acne is gone, and she gained two full pounds in the two weeks since we were there last. Incredible weight gain! Julie girl is a champion eater and a professional napper. She sleeps most of the day away and only wakes up to nurse every 2 hours or so and when she’s wet. As soon as her needs are met she’s right back to sleep. Same thing at night except she’ll go about 4 hours between feedings. Usually her last one is at 10 pm, then she’ll be down until around 2 am and go back to sleep until just before 6:00 when Jesse normally comes in to wake us all up.

I’m enjoying her so much. True, she’s still an infant and though she mostly sleeps all the time, it’s pretty special during the few hours a day that I get to be with her while she’s awake. We just sit and rock and stare at each other 😉 and I love it. She’s not smiling on purpose quite yet, but she flashes some really sweet grins in her sleep. Speaking of sleep, this girl continues the loud sleeping tradition that my kids seem to have started. Jeremy talks and mumbles in his sleep, Jesse snores like a freight train, and Julie grunts and sighs really loudly all night long. It’s not enough to keep us awake, but it’s funny.

See my sweet girl! This neat little “newborn napper” came with the new pack ‘n play. The inside is really softly quilted which keeps her nice and cool and it has a vibrate feature which she loves. She sleeps in this pretty often at my feet in the living room while I knit, on the dining room table, and even hangs out in it while she’s awake and keeps me company in the kitchen. The weight limit is 15 pounds, so she’s only got a few more weeks to enjoy this but then we’ll transition her to a bouncy seat.

I have two wonderful friends who gave us these neat sets of white onesies to take Julie’s monthly pics in. Tracy gave us a set that has cute stickers to put on their belly and Carey made a set with iron-on numbers. I think they’re both great and am looking forward to sharing how big my girl is getting throughout her first year. After that I’ll need to find some other way to mark her growth along with the boys.

I wrote this post a couple of days after she hit the 1-month mark, but I didn’t get around to snapping pictures in her onesies until she was suddenly almost 6 weeks old. At that point she was tipping the scales at just over 12 pounds. Big girl!

Never to be out-done, Jesse saw me taking pictures of his sister and requested one of himself too. The boy has been wearing that bucket as a hat for days. Silly kid!

Wild Lizard in the House

There has been a five-lined skink in my house for 4 days now. He’s about 6 inches long and is apparently enjoying himself too much to leave. I opened the back door almost a week ago to fetch a rug that had been washed and was laying out on the patio drying in the sun. As I flipped it to get a few leaves off, the skink ran out from underneath and into the house before I could shut the door.

About once or twice a day I spy him but each time I am inevitably trapped under a toddler being rocked to sleep or I’m nursing the baby. Either way I can’t just jump up and catch him; and by the time I’m available, Mr Lizard is nowhere to be found. 😦 Last night I was carrying Julie to her room to change her diaper and the not-so-little lizard ran across my path, scaring a shriek right out of me.

What’s more aggravating is that my 130-pound dog is too lazy to care. He doesn’t notice the lizard running across the carpet, doesn’t search for it after he clearly watches him slither under the sofa. He didn’t even so much as lift his head when I pointed the lizard out to him and excitedly told him to “Git It!”

At this point I might as well name the lizard and start feeding him like part of the family since he seems to have made himself at home. If I can’t get him to go back outside maybe I can lure him to the garage somehow, that’s where the roaches and spiders hang out during the summer and the skink can have a buffet.

Update: Yeah, there’s nothing like having the thing scare the poop out of your toddler when it runs *over his foot*. We were watching Cat in the Hat cartoon (for the umpteenth time) and I saw it hurry out from under the big chair and right across Jesse’s foot. Jesse about leaped out of his skin and flung himself into my lap. I walked with him to the kitchen where we just barely saw the little guy slide under the fridge. Now Jesse is holding on to my neck refusing to let me put him down. It’s a little bit funny to ask him “Where’s the lizard?” He gets a worried look on his face, breathes heavily for a couple of pants, and tightens his hold around my neck. At least I don’t have to worry about Jesse finding the thing and playing with it. Eew.

Fishy Kids

Since Jeremy is tall enough to stand up in the pool and have his head above water, we often let him put on his life vest and swim out there by himself or with his friend Justin from next door. I can see the entire pool from my kitchen and living room windows (which is where I am all day long), so they are always in full sight and I don’t have to sit out there in the hot sun. Jeremy and his friend have so much fun out there, they just crack me up.

A couple of days ago we took Jesse out there too. He asks all the time to go in the pool but once we get him out there he just clings to Jason or I am won’t let go. Well, the only way to conquer a fear is to face it and I really don’t want Jesse to be afraid of the water. If he starts to love it at two years old hopefully he will learn to swim sooner. All the kids in my family were raised swimming like fish, so I’d really love for my kids to love the water as well. After lots of clinging and fretting, Jason finally got Jesse to float on his back with his life vest and sunglasses on. He went from locking his arms around our necks to relaxing back and just holding onto a finger. We think he may have actually fallen asleep for a few minutes because he eventually let go of Jason’s finger and floated across the pool.

Feeling that it was about time for Julie to wake up from her nap, I went and changed her into a super cute bathing suit. It is a little big now, but probably should fit her through the summer. I figured that she would wake up as soon as I got her a little bit wet (because she so far hates bath time); that definitely wasn’t the case. Thinking it would be a cute photo opportunity, I nestled her into one of the star-shaped swim rings and held her butt up with one hand while I snapped a pic with the other. She wiggled a little and then went right back to sleep in her ring for another 15 minutes or so. She likely would have stayed that way for a while longer but I hadn’t put sunblock on her and didn’t want her to get too much sun.

Just like last summer, Jeremy has been taking swim lessons three times a week for the past month. Last summer he learned a little but mostly just gained confidence in the water. This year he learned to swim and isn’t scared of the water one bit. He’s still doing a modified dog paddle, stretching out just a bit more though, but he’s definitely capable of swimming. He can do a front float, back float (even though he sinks pretty quickly). He also loves to do what he calls an “ice cube float” which is the opposite of floating. He tucks his legs up and rolls into a ball and sinks to the bottom of the pool. If he’d been able to participate in the July lessons as well as the June, I’m sure he’d be mastering at least the freestyle this summer. Hopefully while he’s in California he won’t forget all that he’s learned before he gets back in September.