“I’m from fudge and eyeglasses.”

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Yes, that is DaddyO in a Sheldon t-shirt. Gotta love it!

This past weekend the boys and I headed to a family reunion in Georgia. We rode along with Alan’s parents. It was Nonna, Dan, JD, and me in one car and DaddyO, Joshua, and Caleb in DaddyO’s truck. It was a 5 hour trip. THANKFULLY, it went surprisingly well. No problems at all. Wahoo!!!!

We used to all get together the day after Christmas, but since Christmas has become so hectic for everyone, this side of the family moved the gathering to summer time. This was the second year that we all gathered at Magnolia Springs State Park. I believe it was also the second year that it rained most of the time. No biggie. We still had a great time.

Thank you so much, DaddyO and Fran for sharing the family stories and traditions. Fran, when you went around telling us “We’re going to play a little game, but if you don’t want to participate, you don’t have to, just please don’t laugh…” many were thinking, “What in the world is she talking about?” Ha!!  But this was really fun and interesting.

For those who weren’t there, let me explain. Alan’s Aunt Fran brought a famous poem and read it to us, and then we all made our own version of it and shared it with the group.  Fran made it super easy for us by just copying the poem, only taking out the specifics for us to fill in our own blanks. This is another activity I will have to remember for when the boys get a little bit older! It was a good way to learn a little more about each other.

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

 

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IMG_4029 There’s only one thing cuter than a baby: 2 babies!!!IMG_4033  or 3!!

How many people can you squeeze into a three bedroom cabin??  We packed in 11. Yep. I counted Amy’s pregnancy. ;) Now, in our defense, these rooms are huge. Each bedroom has 2 full size beds. It will sleep 12 even!

Of course, that does mean I had to share my room with one little boy and one baby. Little boys aren’t so bad, but JD turned out to be a pretty horrible room mate, which is why I never choose to sleep in the same room with him. This weekend was definitely a form of sleep torture for me.

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On Saturday, we met up with the rest of the family. The boys loved this. They quickly formed a spy club. They even separated themselves into two teams. It was adorable.IMG_4038

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taking a vote…..the yeses wonIMG_4045

 the A team :)

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wiffle ball and cornhole

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Nice selfie, Jay

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Joshua, eagerly waiting for all of the family to arriveIMG_4051

DaddyO gave us all an overview of some of his family ancestry research findings. This was all very interesting. This side of the family hails mostly from Great Britain and boasts Johnny Cash as a relative. They have ancestors that fought bravely for the South in the Civil War. That’s about all I can remember…

You can also see Jay and JD in the background of the above photo. Jay was wonderful about carrying little JD around, which was such a great break for me. Thank you so much, Jay!!

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Well, at least one person was ready for this photo! :) IMG_4055

Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the big boys!!

We took all the boys to the playground. As soon as I arrived, little Dan slid down a slide with a giant puddle and soaked his pants. This greatly upset him, so I took him back and changed his clothes. Our cabin was about a mile from the playground, but Dan begged me to go back to the playground once he was changed. Never considering the sky full of giant, gray clouds, I said, “Sure,” piled Dan into the stroller, and set off. About halfway there, the bottom fell out. Yep. You should have seen me, soaking wet, pushing an umbrella stroller, and running in the rain. Oh, and did I mention I had just eaten more than my share of banana bread??  I was one hot, nauseous mess when that was over.

I changed shirts and carried on. Dan, who had simply been riding in the stroller, conked out in bed. Sometimes I wish I were 3.

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JD says, “Let’s get this party started!!”

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Nonna and Val and the dueling plastic game thingy

Aunt Frannie brought this box full of toys and trinkets and whipped it out Saturday night. It contained things like balloons, balls that will stick to the wall, slingshot monkey, rattly plastic teeth. You wouldn’t believe how well this entertained us all! DaddyO later explained to me that this was an idea she got from their dad. When they were young, their dad received a promotional box of toys for a few years from his job, where he worked as a purchasing agent. (I hope I got all of that right!! Feel free to add details in the comments!) Of course, that was Alan’s grandfather’s second profession, before that he was an Army officer. How history does repeat itself!

Fran, I thought this was an awesome idea, which I will take with me to each duty station, and whip out for our own parties!! We do enjoy entertaining.

I think this photo is so beautiful!!

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Do you see the gator? Joshua got out an animal book and did his research yesterday. The bottom teeth on an alligator do not show when their mouth is closed, but on a crocodile they do. Joshua wrote all of this out for us and drew us a diagram–all of his own accord. Nope. I don’t think home-schooling boy #1 will be too hard–as long as we study animals everyday. Ha! No, obviously we can’t do that, but I do plan to have lots of animals books available to him for his silent reading time.

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Oh the sweetness!! The babies enjoyed the attention from their beautiful older cousin.

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We were sitting on the porch, and Amy said, “April, you are the only woman of child bearing age on this porch that is not pregnant.” Hallelujah! I love babies, but it’s time for a break!! We had three second trimester mommas present this weekend–all due within a month of each other!

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The oreo game!! The object is to be the 1st to get the cookie from your forehead to your mouth.

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Yes!!!  2nd place!!!

Hey, I get it. This is how I feel when I complete a 5K. Who needs to win?

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Beth wins it!

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Melody called this photo ‘the remnant’ photo. We took this Sunday morning. It was just all of us out-of-town cabin dwellers. IMG_4058

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We all thoroughly enjoyed this. We only get to see this side of the family once a year. Wish it could be more often!!

“I am from those moments

snapped before I budded

leaf-fall from the family tree”

–poem excerpt from Where I’m From, a poem by George Ella Lyon

For the complete poem, please visit his website: www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html

Why I will never have a dog

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I have a ton of photos of beautiful places and precious people that we’ve seen here in Alabama and Georgia. It will take a while for me to get those photos all uploaded and cropped just how I like them, so check back in just a couple of days–maybe even tomorrow!!

For now, let me tell you why I will never have a dog.

Tonight I was giving Dan and JD their bath. I got JD out, dressed him, and all of that, when I heard Daniel calling me back to the bathroom.

There was my three-year-old, standing in the bathtub, along with 3 toy cars, a toy man, and two floating logs. I screamed a little–not words–I didn’t scream words–just Aaaaaaaaaughhhhhhh!!!  That’s right. He pooped in the tub.

Don’t like reading about poop? Well, imagine how I felt about cleaning it up. Oh, it gets worse. I took Dan out of the water, only to discover that some of it had fallen off of him….onto the mat. I screamed again. Joshua and Caleb immediately came running to see. Then they started whooping and carrying on because boys think there is nothing funnier in this world than poop.

I put Dan on the potty, went to clean him up, but he said, “NO! More poop.”

“You aren’t done!?”

“No.”

Yes, I washed the mat in hot water. Yes, I eventually got Daniel all cleaned up. Yes, I disinfected the bathtub from all of the e-coli.

This is my job. This is also why I will never ever have a dog.

We could use one to clean up under the high chair and help my boys over their fear of canines, but I don’t care. If I have to clean up fecal matter from another single living organism, I will hurl. I see those people walking their dogs with those little plastic baggies, and I shudder. At least with the diapers, I don’t have to feel like I’m scooping it up with my hands….until someone poops in the tub. This is only the 2nd time this has happened to me, and ew ew ew!!  I feel a little bit violated.

It’s amazing how much this still grosses me out, even after 8 years of taking care of little ones, but it does.

If you ever feel sad about missing ‘the baby phase’ or wish you still had a chubby little cherub running around your house–just think about the days of floaters and e coli.

Now I hate for you to leave my blog feeling as grossed out as I did, sooooo I’m going to leave you with a happy image to take with you:

 

 

 

 

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Joshua holding Daniel. How cute were they!!?? It’s all worth it–but no dog.

Thoughts on Public Parenting

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I am so dog tired I can barely keep my eyes open. The thing is that we are headed to a state park in the boonies this weekend, so I feel like if I don’t update the blog tonight, it will be Monday before I get another chance! Do you think I can actually go a whole weekend unplugged?? ha!  Of course I can! Just look at these four little diversions that I have. I’ll be lucky just to get to sit down.

Update on the truck problem: You will all be happy to know that I had several offers from wonderful family members to move the truck. Thank you all so much. We are so blessed.

We have had a great time with my family these past few weeks. Yesterday Mom and I even took them to Water World. I feel like I am officially an Alabamian again, as I am currently sunburnt and covered in mosquito bites. The kids loved Water World. Look for photos of that in my next post!

Where are we headed to this weekend??  A family get-together in rural Georgia. I didn’t get to go last year. Where was I last year??  Oh yeah!

 

I was at home recovering from a c-section.. :) It was worth it!  :)

The boys had a blast. There was a lot of this:

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front porch sittin’

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cousin time

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t-ball

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warm and fuzzy wildlife….

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cousins!!

Only this year, Alan will be missing, and I will be present. I can’t wait to see everyone!!! It’s been two years for me!! No one will miss Alan more than I will though. Have you ever tried parenting 4 children without Daddy around for weeks on end? Yeah. Not fun. Bleh.

It’s also embarrassing. Four kids is a lot to keep up with. Did you know that I am super easily embarrassed? That’s not a good trait for a person with four small boys! They might be adorable, but as with any children they need a whole lot of direction, training, correction, and so on and so forth. I think they are wonderful kids, and I’m so proud of them. They are well behaved at school, and of course I love them to pieces.

Then all of a sudden, I take them out in front of others, and I notice all of their misbehavior so much more. On a month long vacation like this, you have to always parent on display, minus Daddy, and everyone gets to see your ‘parenting skills’ or ‘lack thereof’ in action. There was one incident at the library the other day, involving Joshua, Daniel, and me….I’d rather just forget…. Other parents in the trenches with you totally get it, but being around people who aren’t up against what we are up against are probably wondering why my kids can’t just sit still and be quiet all the time.

I’m always wishing this could just be easier!! Why can’t these boys fall asleep the second their heads hit the pillow? And why can’t they keep their hands off of each other? Why must the middle two talk so loudly? Why does the oldest one need special food? Why don’t they just do what they are supposed to do and act like little adults???? Why can’t they just be naturally good?? haaaa!

Let’s talk about that.

1. falling asleep: Do you always fall asleep quickly?  If you are sleeping beside your best friend, do you talk and giggle first?

2. inability to keep hands off each other: no idea, ya’ll. How I wish they would learn!!!

3. loud talkers:  yeah….apples come from apple trees….

4. special food: He’s allergic to milk, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts, and cashews. Not even kidding. You can’t make this stuff up. I try to just go sparing on most of those. They tell me he could grow out of it, and we haven’t seen any big reactions to the first 4, but he can’t even touch a peanut or cashew.

5. disobedience…..We are working on it. I promise. We are joking about the little adults, right?

Anyway…Bear with me, and just know this: We are doing our best. Yes, when they are bad, I feel like a total failure. Parenting is a work in progress.  Let’s all just love each other in spite of our messes. Maybe even offer a word of encouragement to a fellow parent-in-the-struggle every once in a while. There’s nothing that feels better than that, is there? After all, we are all just sinners, raising little sinners, and trying to teach them a better way.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Sometimes things just don’t work out. Help needed.

A cross-country move is a job. Add four kids to that, and it’s an even bigger job. Four little bitty kids.

Everything is going really well, except for this one large, red problem: Alan’s truck. We have finally gotten it down to Alabama, so it is with me now rather than just sitting on the side of the road. (Thank you so much, Amy and Sean for letting us leave it there!! Ya’ll are such wonderful friends!!)

Now we have a new problem: getting it moved across the country. Could I just do it myself??  Absolutely. I could do it without flinching an eye, and I’d frankly enjoy doing it, even all alone. I’d be fine. Unfortunately, the men in my life don’t seem to like this idea. Actually, I haven’t even bothered to bring it up. I think they’d veto the idea, and I don’t enjoy being veto’d. We need new ideas. Anyone have any?  Anyone want to take our truck on a cross-country road trip?

Just let us know. The original agreement with a shipper fell through. We aren’t even sure what happened there. Our back-up plan fell through. Then our third back-up was charging over $3000, and I could do it myself for $1000, so I refuse to pay that.

We will fund any friend or family member gas, lodging, and a return plane ticket. We will even pay you for your trouble.

What do you say? Ideas, anyone?

A Real Alabama Summer

 

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It has been a pleasure to see my little boys having a true “Alabama summer” this year. They’ve always spent a couple of weeks per summer here, but this year, when it’s all said and done, they will have spent one week shy of two full months!!

The funny thing is that our version of an Alabama summer looks a whole lot different than what a “Yankee” may envision. Now I mean no ill-will towards our friends from other regions. I love my Yankee friends. However,  the fact remains that we have lived all over the country, and we have noticed a great multitude of misconceptions about “The South.”

One might be tempted to think that an “Alabama summer” means that my boys have been spending all day out in the country, doing things like “mudding”, fishing, playing bare–foot, swimming in a “crick”, catching fire-flies, and shooting rabbits.

Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but we don’t actually have a farm or even live in the country.  (It would be so cool if we did, though!!) Both sets of our grandparents live in very average American neighborhoods.  Alan is from a classic southern small town. My parents live in a small city.

-”Mudding” is more of a teenage activity, which I have never participated in. I believe it’s where you drive a pick-up truck down a muddy dirt road.

-Fishing would have been great, but it just didn’t happen this year–not yet, anyway.

-Playing bare-foot:  YES!!  We did do that–every single day, myself included.

-swimming in a ‘crick’–that’s what we call a creek– I did that a few times as a kid, but my children have yet to experience it. I’m sorry, boys. One day!! Instead, Mom took them to Water World, where a sudden summer storm came up, soooo we’re going to try again tomorrow!

-Catching fire flies:  We don’t really have those at my parents’ house. Alan’s parents’ house has tons, so maybe we will do that next week.

–Shooting rabbits:  Seriously? They are 1, 3, 7, and 8. They rarely even shoot water guns. However, I am okay with them giving hunting a try when they are older.

What makes our summer great is that the boys get to spend endless hours of quality time with their grandparents. Family time is so extremely important. They also get to have a break from the pressures of school and extracurricular activities. I get a break from the pressures too! Plus, we leave here with freshly renewed Southern accents. ;)

Basically, an Alabama summer isn’t much different than a summer anywhere else in the U.S., EXCEPT that it is insanely hot: wet, sticky, suffocatingly hot. If you want to enjoy the outdoors, water actually has to be involved.

So here’s what our Alabama summer REALLY looks like:

 

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He tends to have a very serious expression for photos.

 

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This is “Fun Land”, which I mentioned in my previous post: Glitter, Fun Land and Life in Limbo.  This is the brain child of Joshua and Caleb. They confiscated Granddaddy’s sprinkler, and all of our summer entertainment problems were solved. This has provided DAYS of fun.IMG_3967

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He did the slip-and-slide a couple of times, but he needs one or two more years before he’s ready for Fun Land.IMG_3970

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Yesterday, the boys collected toys, called it armor, weapons, and helmets, and had a great time running around the house as knights. The most hilarious part was listening to them. I hear this from another room:

Joshua: (whack)

Caleb: Nope! Try it again!

Joshua: (whack) (whack)

Caleb: Nope! I didn’t even feel anything. This helmet is amazing. Hit me again!!!

 

a few hours later….

Joshua: oooooowwwwwww!!!  ow ow ow ow!!!

Caleb: (whack)

Joshua: Owww!  Stop it! You hit too hard!

Caleb: But you said….

I walked in to find Joshua rubbing his arm, holding a flimsy paperback book.

Me: Joshua, a paperback book will never work for armor.

Joshua: It isn’t armor. It’s a shield!

Me: Well, that will never work. You need something hard and plastic.

Joshua: *still smarting* yeah…..

Dan, Joshua, and I went to eat at Joshua’s favorite restaurant: Olive Garden.

 

 

I took them to Adventureland. We played arcade games, rode go carts, bumper boats, played golf, and ate hot dogs and Dippin’ Dots. At the end of the evening, as we sat in a booth, eating our Dippin’ Dots, Joshua brought tears to my eyes. He said, “Well, this was really fun, coming here, with you.  Thank you for bringing us here, Mom.”

*instant happy tears in my eyes*

Caleb chimed in, “Yeah, thank you for bringing us here.”

Daniel echoed, “Yeah. Tank you bringing here, Mommy.”

:) Pure happiness!

Last night was not too hot at all. It was probably 75 degrees–the perfect weather for putt-putt.

Wishing you all a very happy, bare-foot, summer!! We will miss you so much, Nana and Granddaddy!!!

 

Psssssst!  Don’t forget to give me a vote for Top Military Blog 2014 at Voiceboks.com! Voting ends July 31st.