The Haze of Summer Daze

I cannot believe tomorrow is the beginning of August. The last half of July was hot, humid, hazy, long and busy, yet it flew by, leaving me in a daze.

On July 17, we day-tripped to Charlotte to celebrate the birthday of Jack and Lettie, who are twin 4 year olds of good friends of ours. The party was at Reedy Creek Nature Center, so the boys got to check out lots of cool critters and science stuff. Jack and Houston — both of whom are huge fans of Spidey and toddler wrestling — really hit it off, and there was plenty of activity for Gabe and Zeke to get into. Uncle Adam also made a surprise show for the occasion. What a great day!

Houston’s big grin indicates that a Spider-Man cake was a good choice for his 3rd birthday.

The next evening was Houston’s VBS commencement at church. Houston sat with his Hero Headquarters class up front, while the twins played, clapped, danced and ran around in the back of the sanctuary during the big celebration. It was a wonderful night of fun, food and fellowship for the entire family.

Since then, we’ve all been dealing with nasty summer colds, except Daddy. The kids have experienced low-grade fevers, but the boys and I have all been snotty, croupy, sneezy, easily fatigued and generally grumpy.

Shooting water @ passersby & playing w/ cousin Kara helped make HL’s birthday a happy one.

Despite sickness working its way through the family, I finally joined the YMCA. July 23 was my first day; I swam for an hour, while the kids played in the Child Watch facility.

My goal in this beginning stage of exercise is to do laps at least one afternoon a week. Being that it’s exhausting rushing around and loading the kids up just to get to the Y during Child Watch hours and well before dinner time, I think that’s a reasonable goal. My hour swim last week was even better than the week before, so I’m optimistic that I’ll be exceeding my goal fairly soon. Baby steps.

Gabriel works off his sugar buzz from eating super-hero popsicles (he fittingly consumed a Hulk).

Houston spent the weekend of July 23-25 at Granny and Grumps’ house. He had a blast in the mountains, getting spoiled rotten like a grandkid is supposed to, while Gabriel and Zeke got some uninterrupted Mommy and Daddy time.

“Bro-Bros” (instead of “Bo-Bos,” the trouble-making monkeys from “Go Diego Go!”) liked shopping at Costco on Saturday. Gabriel “the Chatterbox,” as Gramsey calls him, talked to everyone within earshot … and beyond. And despite the fact that Zeke was feeling kind of yucky, he toughed it out and enjoyed riding in Daddy’s cart and soaking in the busy surroundings. And then Daddy rounded out the weekend by taking the twins to church on Sunday, so Mommy could battle her cold symptoms at home.

Having fun getting wet & playing w/ balls, Zeke is totally in his element @ Houston’s party.

Besides making friends at church and the Y, the twins are into the following things these days: puzzles; Legos; super heroes; cars; turning pages in real books, not just board books; climbing anything; sitting solo on the couch and in chairs; eating independently with metal utensils; drinking from a regular cup, not a sippy cup; and copying everything big bro does. (Can’t believe the next party we’ll be having will be for their 2nd birthday this fall. Yep, parenthood is certainly a daze.)

Click the top photo to check out all the pics from Houston’s 3rd birthday. Also, click here to see additional shots from Dina and Kara’s visit, as well as here to view a few older photos from Great Aunt Hessie’s 100th birthday party back in March.

P.S. July 24 marked the two-anniversary of my TTTS surgery that saved Gabe and Zeke’s lives. Thank you, God, for my sweet miracle boys!

Up To Our Eyeballs

Man, we’ve been up to our eyeballs in stuff — some fun, some not so fun. Here’s an overview …

6/12: We spent a few hours at the Twin City Rib Fest. There were plenty of rides for Houston, but the only thing Gabriel and Zeke could participate in was the big inflatable bouncer. Zeke would jump, fall, whine a little, and then eagerly get back up for more bouncing, while Gabe just hung on for dear life. No, the G-man never jumped, but he never cried either.

Houston enjoys the car ride @ Rib Fest.

6/13: We gave Houston the option of either going to children’s church or sitting quietly and listening to Preacher Joe in the sanctuary with Mommy and Daddy. He hesitantly decided on the former and initially acted bratty, but ended up having fun. Gabe and Zeke had a wonderful time in the nursery, especially since they didn’t have to contend with big bro stalking them.

6/14: After administering Houston’s dilating drops last night and this morning, the clan took Houston in for his second attempt at the eye doctor. Even though both Mommy and Daddy were present, Houston still fought the entire process. Mommy first tried it solo, while Daddy played with the twins in the lobby, but that garnered no results. The only way all the tests could be done was to have Houston sit in my lap while I held his arms and legs; lean him back onto Stephen’s lap while he held Houston’s head; then the doc checked out his eyes while a metal speculum kept them open; and all this as Gabriel and Zeke looked on in horror from their stroller.

6/17: Since Houston had quite expertly pushed a small cart at the store a few days before, I decided to take the kids on a newfangled Wal-Mart adventure: Houston pushed Zeke in our umbrella stroller while Gabriel rode in the grocery cart. Instead of trying to squeeze as much stuff under our triple stroller as could fit, we had plenty of room for more goods and actually ended up getting everything on our list. Our unique set up got us of lots of interesting looks from other shoppers, but to my amazement, the excursion was a smashing success and has been repeated effectively since then.

Aw, don’t they look so sweet and innocent?

6/18-6/20: Granny and Grumps visited the zoo. That Friday, I decompressed from some bad-behaving boys by tearing into the kudzu that is attempting to take over our backyard. (It sure is telling that I felt as if I had more control over the creeping kudzu — called “the vine that ate the South” because it can grow up to a foot a day — than I did my kids that day.) I’m so lucky my awesome in-laws visit as often as they do to help out and give Daddy and I a break from the rigors of parenting the 3 Amigos. Kudos to Granny for keeping up the discipline ’cause it paid off. It was a pleasant weekend for all with Houston earning back some of his lost privileges and the twins copying big bro’s good behavior.

6/21-6/22: Gramsey and Papa spent the night. After toiling an entire afternoon and night (thanks to my trusty headlamp) over the weekend, I finally completed my major yard project, while Grams tended to the kids. Papa assembled our recently purchased bookcase, giving us much-needed space for more toys and books. And as a reward for good behavior, I took the boys to the park, where we fed the gluttonous ducks and geese.

6/24-6/26: Auntie Dina and Cousin Kara arrived for a 3-day visit. Kara, Houston and I went to the store to order Houston’s Spider-Man cake and get some grub for the weekend, while Dina hung out with the twins. The next day, I headed into town solo to buy Houston’s Betta fish and helium balloons for all the kids, not just birthday boy. That evening, we attended a very hot, but fun “Take America Back” picnic at the park. And the 26th was Houston Lee’s 3rd birthday. Due to our eldest boy’s penchant for misbehavior these days, we decided to blow off our zoo plans and instead just have a few neighbors and friends over for a low-key party of cake and fun in our new inflatable pool.

Playing “bucket-head” is one of Zeke’s favorite pastimes.

6/27: After a nice morning at church, we escaped the 101-degree heat and rounded out the big weekend by chilling indoors, watching “Empire Strikes Back,” polishing off birthday cake for dinner and finally naming the new aquatic addition to the family: “Yoda-fish.”

6/30-7/1: One of Daddy’s best pals from Texas, Ryan, spent the night and met the 3 Amigos for the first time. Daddy and Ryan went to see Phish in Raleigh the following evening, where Daddy got to let his hair down with old friends and rockin’ music.

7/2-7/5: Granny and Grumps headed to town. Houston and Mommy hung out with neighbors for an exciting fireworks display and fun with sparklers. On Independence Day, we attended a great cookout at our neighbor’s house.

7/12 morning: I took Houston to his annual pediatric check-up, where he wouldn’t get on the scale or stand against the wall to have his height taken. He wasn’t even scheduled for a vaccination, so I just don’t know what the deal is with that kid and doctors. Unfortunately, I have to reschedule the appointment … not to mention the fact he has a dental check-up next month (sigh). We decided he can earn back his beloved Star Wars figures if he handles the dentist like a big boy.

Playing w/ Daddy is always a hit w/ the boys.

7/12 evening: Vacation Bible School kicked off for Houston. Miss Shirley, our preacher’s sister, swung by to take him to “Hero Headquarters,” but he continued his misbehaving by refusing to get in her car. The second she drove away in her convertible Mustang, Houston realized what he was missing out on. Daddy ended up dropping him off that first night, and he had a blast. He has since been every night, riding up to church in Miss Shirley’s “race car.” He said, “Miss Shirley drives a Corvette!” when he saw her pull into our driveway tonight with the top down.

7/13: A massive thunderstorm knocked out our electricity for a few hours that night. All the kids woke up and played by lantern and candlelight with Daddy and their Mr. Potato Heads. The boys were hyped by the strange situation. Late-night fun, fire, time with Daddy … what’s not to love?!?

Yesterday: Miss Beth brought Matthew and Jonathan over for a pool-time play date. Matthew and the “Giant,” as Miss Beth calls Houston, had lots of one-on-one time together while all the younger bros napped. During Houston’s nap, I got the twins into the pool for a lengthy splash fest and then we enjoyed the swings. This was both Gabe’s first time in the pool and on the swing for any significant amount of time. It was an exhausting, yet fabulous day for all!

Click the above pic of Daddy and the twins to check out a few new additions to June – Part 1. Click the top shot to view all the Rib Fest fun. And click the group beanbag pic for all the June – Part 2 shots. Note: Forthcoming are photos from Dina and Kara’s visit and, of course, Houston 3rd birthday.