That’s how Jane Austen said hot weather made her feel. Now throw in lugging around three huge boys and insane temperatures, and the English novelist couldn’t be more apropos in describing my summertime experience.
But if looking a little rough around the edges is what it takes to get the clan out and about for fun and adventure, this unfashionable mama is willing to make the sacrifice.
A proud Papa loves his 3 Amigos.
And perhaps soon I will have more time to deal with this “inelegance” because we just found a part-time Nanny, who will begin helping me out in late August. I’ve been searching for a while and finally found a perfect match for the fam and our needs. Her name is Jessie and she’s an education major who adores kids, has tons of experience, and seems smart, dependable and energetic.
Jessie will help with light housework, basic child care, taking the kids on outings or to appointments, pre-K and other academic-type stuff, arts and crafts, outdoor activities and even hopefully getting the kids excited about music (she plays the piano) … whatever it takes to assist me in giving my kids the best care possible, while also affording me some extra time. I can’t wait for her to start!
Another big change is that Stephen left his corporate job of 10+ years and now works for an IT start-up. After searching for months, he landed a job that will require he learn and use newer technologies, take more leadership roles, and be a more creative developer.
Stephen’s also telecommuting full-time (read: he works from home while the 3 Amigos and I are here), which has certainly taken some getting used to. Luckily, the boys and I are gone a lot. Sure, we’ve had some growing pains and had to iron out a few wrinkles, but after just three weeks, I’d say it’s going pretty well.
Gabriel attempts to grab a geyser @ the spray ground.
Houston’s 4th birthday was June 26. Aunt Dina, and cousins Kara and Meredith arrived for their three-day visit that day, which was an awesome gift unto itself. We had a pool/slip-and-slide party in the afternoon with a few close friends and neighbors. We didn’t want the get-together to be anything major, since Houston’s big present was out trip to Tweetsie. The remainder of the girls’ visit featured a trip to the spray ground, McDonald’s and the Children’s Museum.
Independence Day weekend entailed swimming at Miss Heather’s and then cooking s’mores and hotdogs by campfire at our house on Saturday. After hitting the early service at church on Sunday, we attended a neighborhood party, which also featured more pool fun.
It seems that with each outing — whether in a kiddy, inflatable or real pool — Houston’s swimming abilities improve by leaps and bounds. It’s an amazing thing to watch both his knowledge and confidence progress so quickly and, of course, little bros following suit by attempting to emulate all of Houston’s new skills.
On the actual holiday, I was wracking my brain as to what the kids and I would do. Stephen needed some free time to prepare for his first day on the job, which began on July 5, and none of my limited local options seemed like they would be worth the effort.
Zeke is thrilled by the aquatic awesomeness of the spray ground.
So, I took the kids on an impromptu three-day visit to Gramsey and Papa’s. The boys were in awe of the downpours, hail and lightning/thunder we witnessed on the drive up. While there, the kids picked veggies; took nature hikes with Grams “the naturalist;” gave Dina a run for her money; were thrilled to have Kara spend one night; had a great time hitting Auntie Lisa’s house; and were treated to some brief time with Uncle Albert, as well as a rare hang-out from Cousin Rick.
It was some time this week that Zeke not only earned his first reward sticker in a while, but also turned the corner on his near-constant contrarian behavior. That’s not to say he doesn’t have a short fuse or a fighting spirit, but I’m hopeful that Zeke is nearing the end of his terrible 2s. His misbehaviors have become short-lived, and he’s easier to calm and more willing to follow instruction. It’s wonderful to see more of our sweet Z-bird and less of the hooligan that has possessed his body for nearly a year. Praise the Lord!
The following weekend, Granny and Grumps visited. Grumps is looking and feeling great — what a blessing it is to have the boys’ beloved grandfather back in the swing of things. And then Granny and Grumps had the boys up last weekend to give Stephen and I time to get the house in working order. Even though they were asleep in the car when Granny took them to see a waterfall (one of their current obsessions), the boys had a blast in the mountains.
Some Moms-Club kids take a break from swimming.
Stephen and I have been attending LifeCommunity (a.k.a. Sunday school) at church since July 10. Ours is called Family On the Grow (FOG) and is for the parents of babies to preschoolers. It’s an intimate forum for learning, asking questions and discussing relevant topics. Stephen and I are excited to be a part of the thought-provoking class.
We kicked off the week of July 11 by tagging with Daddy to a lunch date with Uncle Greg and Mr. Max. Unfortunately, I was starved and had low blood sugar, and subsequently showed my butt by overreacting to some minor kid misbehavior. My rant was quick, but I hate that two good friends of the family had to be subjected to it.
Max, who has very well-behaved older kids of his own, wrote me a nice note, reassuring me that I’m doing a good job as a mom and our hard work will indeed pay off — “I see the discipline you have exerted in the lives of your children, and the godly influence you bestow will be rewarded” — and offering insight as to how he and his wife learned to handle such parental challenges. Thanks, Mr. Max!
After two weeks off, we returned to Miss Pat’s on July 12, and she was blown away by the twins’ use of questioning, sentence length and structure, use of descriptive words, and overall chit-chatty behavior. Both Pat and I agree that articulation is really the only area in which they could improve, so she gave them an assessment specific to this speech skill. Both boys scored within range for their age, but toward the lower end. Nothing to worry about, just something to work on.
Houston does a happy jig during his swim lessons.
In fact, Pat said, “I can tell that you and Stephen read to them a lot.” What a nice thing to hear. I mean, I oftentimes have to force myself to do books with the kids, since I’m usually exhausted by nap time and their bedtimes. So, it’s extremely rewarding to know that our diligence is having positive results.
Miss Pat gave them another round of tests this week. The gist is that they are scoring solidly in their age group in every category — everything from communicating about comparisons, colors and opposites, to relaying comprehension, logic and empathy — and well into the 3, 4 and near-5-year-old range. Great news and proof that Miss Pat has been a godsend.
On a related note, the boys had their first visit to “story time” at the library. The subject was “planes and trains,” which I figured was the perfect opportunity to give them a whirl at the notably quiet facility. Well, the 3 Amigos couldn’t have been better. They were attentive to the storyteller, loved the readings and took part in group participation. They were even well-behaved during a post-library oil change and inspection for the mini-van. Way to go, boys!
It’s not just books they love. The 3 Amigos adore music and aren’t ashamed to show it. It was long overdue, but we finally got some new VeggieTales CDs and other kids albums, and the boys have already memorized lots of Sunday school ditties and silly songs.
Houston patiently awaits a ride in the canoe.
Thankfully, their repertoire has grown beyond “Kumbaya,” although I believe that is still the twins’ favorite (since they unexpectedly break into it at the most random of moments). Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music in them.” I don’t think my kids will ever have that problem.
Some other recent fun includes a Moms Club outing to Faucette Farms; Jack and Lettie’s 5th birthday party at a waterpark in Charlotte; a trek to Matthew and Jonathan’s for a never-dull playdate; and trying to “catch it” when Mommy creates rainbows with the garden hose.
Health updates: the dudes are at the tail end of a nasty summer cold; Zeke had a check-up with his allergist, who tweaked his medicines; and Houston had his annual pediatric check-up. Not only is he age 4, but he got four vaccines (yikes!), weighs 44 pounds and 44 inches tall.
Lastly, R.I.P Yoda-fish II.
Click the top photo to see a few pics in the June gallery; the above photo for shots of Houston’s swim lessons (many are crappy, but sports photography is not my forte); and the pic of Zeke to check out our first trip to the spray ground.