Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ah, The Peat


Let's just get right to it. It's been cold 'round here. Freakishly, ridiculously, nightmarishly cold. And I don't appreciate the perky comments I've been hearing lately about the "warm front" that has shuffled through - Kurt Mellish and his meter can go boil themselves in a vat of sunscreen if it pleases them so much. As far as I'm concerned, these last days of alleged "fifty degree highs" are only better in the way that Death is better than Instant Death. I still can't feel my hands. The only reason I'm handling the arctic blast so well is because it's festive and has put me in a cheery, jolly mood. Come January, some may consider me a mite petulant.

I think Andrew may have inherited my thin blood, bless him. Here he is crouched over the heating vent a couple mornings ago.


And here's what Elsbeth thinks of old Jack Frost.


Actually, I think The Fiery One, oddly enough, is a little more warm blooded. These are her "crazy eyes" that make me laugh hysterically. Here's a little must-see video footage.


video


Speaking of my sweet Nib, she and I got to spend a little extra quality time together last night ... in the ER ... waiting for steroids. She'd had a wee runny snoot and I put her to bed early as she had opted out of her nap. About an hour later, she woke up very upset and making a horrible, barking sound every time she tried to breathe in. A dear friend of ours is a pediatrician, and I probably shouldn't mention his name because he's a quiet, humble sort that doesn't like a lot of attention (ALLEN PEABODY), but he happened to be at home - and awake! - when I called rather frantic, looking for sound medical advice. He heard her through the phone and told me it was croup and that she needed to head on over to the ER. Phil was at a Bible study, so I called a neighbor to come hang with Andrew until he could get home, then realized that he had the car seats with him. Fortunately, Elsbeth had started breathing a little easier, so we were OK to wait for him to jet home. By the time we saw the doctor, she was doing well enough that he didn't think she needed a breathing treatment, just some 'roids for the next couple days. Just what TFO needs. I'm holding out that she might grow a handsome mustache in time for Christmas. Wouldn't a 'stash look mighty honcho with the full pigtails she can wear now?


My Precious continues to grow and grow before my eyes. He went off to church yesterday in khakis, a plaid shirt and a sweater vest that made me want to swoon. I took the most adorable picture of him with Phil in front of our Christmas tree, and my computer can't seem to read it. Blast! You'll have to imagine.

My rational engineer seems to be growing more in touch with his feelings in his old age, having a more difficult time dealing with disappointments (really tragic things like a torn hot dog bun will leave him in tears), but also so full of spontaneous hugs and kisses and "I love you"s. It's like he knows how to take me to the point just before I decide to leave him duct taped him to the porch swing 'til his daddy gets home, then he comes up and kisses my hand and decides to make me an ornament for the tree. Ah. the mood swings I experience!

This year The Grinch was chosen for Christmas Movie Night. He seemed to enjoy the movie, which was a relief since he didn't love the book (odd for a Suess lover like himself). Mean characters and upsetting events (like a stolen roast beast) get to him rather easily - he still has no desire to see Rudolf ever again after being distressed by the Abominable last year. Anyway, the movie itself was a hit, and the pizza and chocolate chip cookies didn't hurt, either.


I'm just so excited for Christmas this year. Having these little people to share it with really does make it so much more magical. We get to be here 'til the 28th with the amazing, added bonus of having my parents and Bradley come to visit for a few days! Be still my heart! Then off to South Carolina for a wonderful celebration with Phil's family. Bliss. Just praying that my sweet Nibblet is back to her old self by then and able to take it all in.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Alright Foo, Get Ready To Float


Getting a Christmas card photo this year was challenging. The above is my favorite one to hit the cutting room floor. As you may have surmised, TFO wasn't down for a photo shoot. At some point after that picture I began shoving candy into her mouth in a futile attempt to make her smile ... or at least stop yelling. All I accomplished was to make her start yelling for more candy, and when it didn't come fast enough she sobbed and drooled candy slobber all over that beautiful coat. So what I've learned is, when at first you don't succeed, keep pressing on until you've made everyone crazy, then try to squeeze in just a couple more shots until they want to kill you. Then take a few days off and snap a quick photo of the kids in their pajamas and call it a day.

Jeff, Jessie and darling cousin Anna-Kate came to visit last weekend. They walked in the door after hours of driving and we immediately shuttled them out to the bitterly cold, dark park to witness the most pathetic Christmas tree lighting in the history of the universe. You see, there's a big tree at the back of the park that is in the shape of a Christmas tree. And so someone decided to string a few white lights in the center of the tree in a triangular shape, as the natural shape of the tree was not quite good enough. There was a big countdown, the 15 bulbs were lit and a local high-school chorus whispered some Christmas songs, then we shuffled back home to see if we could rekindle some feeling in our toes.

The next day was a little better. We made them run out to main street shortly after waking up so that we could catch the Christmas parade.


This was a little more of an event, though still very charming small town. Andrew thought the whole thing was fabulous. I mean, is there anything better to a 4-year-old than having hundreds of people walk by hurling handfuls of candy at your head? He had wisely chosen to wear cargo pants, and I'm surprised he was able to walk home without them dropping around his ankles.


Elsbeth decided the parade was pretty cool, too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Chestnut. She's A Fickle Beast.


Doesn't this goat have the most winning smile?

After about a year break from the zoo (since I was tired of driving across the city simply to stand at the railroad crossings for the zoo train), we're back and loving it. Andrew is much more interested in the animals at this point, and Elsbeth appears to be enjoying them, too!


Yea for smelly goats and pigs and piles of doots!


The Fiery One had been holding steady at 50% in height, and suddenly I started thinking, "My, but my girl looks tall." I was at a friend's house and we both noticed that Els looked oddly similar in size to her 3-year-old. TFO's 18-month visit to the pediatrician confirmed that I have a healthy girl who weighs just under 23 pounds (25th percentile) and is 33.5 inches tall ... 95th percentile!

She's talking tons, and if I have a decent amount of context I can usually understand her. She's currently obsessed with Ring Around the Rosie ("Ashes Ashes!!") and always wants Andrew close at hand, which is so sweet when she's not trying to pinch him. She's doing a really good job with the potty, though I confess I got a lap full several times during the first couple no-diaper days.


A couple weeks ago I caught her putting a big beach bag over her shoulder and dragging it around, so I found her a little pocket book more her size. Ahhh, it's so cute, it kills me! And tonight I was making soup and she was determined to help, so I got her a pot and a spoon and she worked hard making her own. Love it.


And speaking of big helpers, here's The Precious helping Daddy stretch out after a race.


A few weeks ago he asked me to explain what a temptation was, and I gave him some examples. Ever since then he regularly asks me to tell him about more temptations (and he's decided that Mommy makes up much better temptations than Daddy). Tonight he was satisfied with me describing only 3 temptations before bed, even though he wanted 5. Still loves washing machines with agitators. Still hums and rocks himself to sleep. Still refuses to talk on the phone. My sweet, funny boy.

For Thanksgiving this year, I painted a "Thankful Tree" on our sliding glass door and we all added leaves that had written on them things we were thankful for. (The bare tree branches are about as artistic as I get, so no heckling!) I love that the very first leaf Andrew put up had, "My swimming thing that keeps me warm" on it, referring to his swim lesson wet suit. Two things I will remember next year: 1. The acrylic paint was much messier to clean off than anticipated. And 2. Picking an detailed maple leaf design may look cute on the tree, but takes about 45 minutes to trace and cut out. Not good.


I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday this year. Ours was wonderful - thank you Aunt Gayle and Uncle Ron!

Monday, November 1, 2010

One Hundred Fifty-Two Insights Into My Soul!

Most fun Halloween to date (even with Elsbeth skipping her nap).







Poor Phil had to recycle last year's costume as he and I were pretty last minute with our decision to dress up at all. I thought he pulled it off just swine, though.

Andrew wanted me to be a tiger, but black cat was about all I was able to put together. He was satisfied.


The Daddy group was incredibly amusing to me. Dave McNay's expression (the blue bandana) is one of the funnier things I've ever experienced.


I know it's blurry, but just because it's that funny to me ...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wal-Mart Really Sucks Monkey Butts


The kids and I had a super-adventurous visit with my parents recently. Kissing lions in the park was only the beginning.

Elsbeth has decided that animals in any form are fabulous and was particularly delighted with this lion sculpture at Brook Green Gardens in Myrtle Beach. He didn't know quite what to make of her.

Andrew decided pig riding was more his speed. Interestingly, this pig was in the children's garden, and after several minutes of letting the children climb all over him we noticed a sign that said he wasn't supposed to be touched. Come now. You're going to put a giant, affable-looking bronze pig in the middle of the children's garden, right at the children's level, and you don't want him touched?


While I'm on the subject, I'll go ahead and confess to you that I continued to let the children climb on that snooty pig even after I read the sign because I thought it was stupid. Not being one that brazenly disregards rules (in public) on a regular basis, I felt a little self-conscious, but my disdain for the moronic Garden Rule-Makers far outweighed my goodie-two-shoesidness. Then, a little farther into the children's garden there was a whole line of giant bronze turtles that had no sign, so I was able to enjoy watching Andrew and Elsbeth play on them with no pangs of conscience. That is until a mom came walking up the trail with her kids and, spying mine, said (loud enough for me to hear ... obviously), "You guys are not allowed to do what those kids are doing." Even now I kind of hate her guts.

Our beautiful and rebellious day at the gardens turned out to be only a very mild adventure indeed. The real madness came about on Sunday when my dad decided to take me on my very first (and only!) kayaking trip. A beginners trip, perhaps and hour or so long on Lynches river just to give me some quiet daddy/daughter time away from the little ones. Here we are, happy and dry and not bleeding, ready to scoot off to the river for some peace and relaxation ....


... and here we are about 6 hours later, wet and chilled to the bone and bleeding and barefoot and so exhausted we could barely stand.


It would take pages for me to describe the insanity of this little venture. Suffice it to say that low water levels, lots of fallen trees, totally bizarro quicksand-like clay bogs and kayaking don't mix as well as one would think. There was lots of capsizing and hauling of kayaks and frantic digging of legs out of muck and swimming in cold, alligator and snake infested river water. But it turns out facing death and giant hairy spiders with someone is quite the bonding experience. I'll never forget our trip together, Dad! I'm so grateful for you (and that you didn't sink to your death in the bog).

Once back in Atlanta, our little foursome had a cleaner, more subdued adventure at one of our favorite little spots, Southern Belle Farm. Such a perfect place to enjoy the fall season! I've decided that a family photo of us on the hay ride needs to be an annual tradition.

Hayride 2010


Hayride 2009
We also watched a pig race, walked through the corn maze, rode the cow train, slid down a giant slide, chased goats and ate delicious, very festive food. Elsbeth snarfed my corn dog and I let her, which shows you the depth of a mother's love for her child. Anyone else would have drawn back a bloody nub


We also chose a fabulous pumpkin which we promptly carved into a jolly jack-o-lantern who is now standing guard by our front door.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This Corn Is Like An Angel


The kiddos and I made at trip to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens this week for the first time. It was so lovely! A fabulous way to enjoy a glorious fall day. (Eowyn, I thought of you - you must come! You would love it!) I am so grateful to Gillian, not only that she shared a "buy one, get one free" admissions coupon, but that she took the above picture that, should I get hit by a bus, will stand as one of the the few pieces of photographic evidence that I do, in fact, exist.

I've been very into outdoorsy-ness lately and got this great idea to work on a flower bed with my Nibblet and the Precious. Things like this often end up being so perfectly charming in my mind and a little more exhausting in real life. After a bazilliondy trips to the Wal-Mart Lawn and Garden Center (sometimes with my wallet, sometimes without) and repeatedly explaining to Nib that pulling the freshly planted snapdragons back out of the ground isn't all that helpful ... also dirt dumped down the front of my shirt and discovering the planting spot was full of red clay and being bitten in payment for thwarting Nib's attempts to walk on the flowers ... I decided half a flower bed is pretty good, too. Throw in a couple of potted plants and call it a day!

A happy, togetherness moment before the biting and red clay discovery.



Not done with our outdoorsy adventures, we made a trip to the Yellow River Game Ranch with a couple of friends from our new church. All kinds of wild animals to observe very closely, if not feed from your hand - it was so fun. And right down the road - I had no idea! Below you see Andrew feeding a peanut to a very bold squirrel ... a favorite moment.


Andrew and I have been reading Charlotte's Web together in anticipation of seeing the story performed at the Atlanta Center of Puppetry Arts next week (another really neat place we will be visiting for the first time). Between that and Halloween coming up, we decided to make spiders out of egg cartons and pipe cleaners and spider webs out of cooked spaghetti noodles. I feel like this is some sort of parenting milestone, doing a egg carton and pipe cleaner project. I love the idea of arts and crafts projects but rarely come up with anything beyond crayons and watercolors. Now, thanks to Google, I have cutesy spiders and webs hanging all over the kitchen. Now if I can do a craft involving dry beans, pine cones and felt, I will have arrived.


And finally ... drum roll please ... Andrew has grown tall enough to ride the Big Wheel he got from Nannie and Papa for his birthday! He just loves it and many a beautiful afternoon will find me walking the trail near our house with Elsbeth in the jogger and Andrew in front, riding his awesome bike.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Want A Tattoo Of A Monkey . . . That Has A Tattoo Of Me


Sadly, our time with Nannie has come and gone. But it was sweet. Last time Nannie was here, TFO was still refusing to be anywhere but on my hip and screamed her face off if Nannie (or anyone else) tried to hold her. She was a whole new girl this go 'round, having a wonderful time with her grandmother, running around everywhere, smiling and chatting away. Andrew continues to adore his Nannie. He was asking me recently about how people got married, and I told him how he'd find a girl one day that he loved so much and that they'd be best friends and he'd want to be with her forever. He immediately declared that his girl would be Nannie.

Mobley excitement continued as we spent last Saturday at Aunt Sallie and Uncle David's house. Nannie, Aunt Jessie, Uncle Jeff and darling cousin Anna-Kate were there, too, and there was cake and ice cream and b-b-q and presents for all the fall/winter birthdays! The Precious consumed his weight in sugar and Nib's diaper leaked and there was much shrieking in delight every time Aunt Sallie's cat (Bean ... poor Bean) walked into the room, so a great time was had by all. (Except Bean, though he was extremely good-natured about all the attention.)


Here are the cousins, sharing secrets as their lunch was being prepared.


Andrew getting some good Uno time in with Aunt Jessie.


Back at home, things are less festive, but going well. Elsbeth is blossoming before my eyes, often full of sweet kisses and little chatterings. I'm picking more and more words out of her babble, like fish ("bish") and flower and slide and diaper ... and my current favorite, Andrew (something like "Anew") usually said with a big grin. I'm sure she's saying lots more ... I've just got to keep listening closely.


I was foolishly attempting to wash some clothes a few days ago, separating piles all over the kitchen, and this time, instead of loading the washer for me, my Nibblet decided she needed to wear all the dirty clothes. At the same time. She was particularly taken with Andrew's new Thomas whambones (she loves Thomas). Hard to tell here, but she's actually wearing 3 pairs of pants, and she was none too pleased when I decided to take them off.



On a side note, I have determined that we own an alarming amount of khaki. Does this say something about us as a family unit? Are we bland? I think Phil's the only one among us that wears loafers (which is an issue I'd like to discuss in a later post ... namely, how does one most efficiently set shoes ablaze, starting with the tassles). But really, perhaps I should start spicing up the wardrobes around here. Red lycra all around!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Spoot


Elsbeth and I took off last weekend - just us girls! - to visit my dear family in NC, and we had such a wonderful time. Els decided that Ashton was pretty much the best thing ever as soon as we walked in the door (and she is). See this picture? Nibblet being held by Not Mommy? And Mommy was taking the picture, so I was in view and everything, and there she is being all happy and smiling. It was bliss.

Els took a really long nap one afternoon, so I got to not only nap myself, but have a quiet tea time with my Aunt Amy, Ashton, and my wee tiny 4-foot grandmother. Or perhaps my Nana was just leaning back in this picture. I can't remember. Whatever the case, she made some wonderful pumpkin bread that Elsbeth later inhaled.


Sunday afternoon we spent enjoying the very adorable Burlington City Park. Here we were riding the little train that on loop 1 totally weirded Els out, loop 2 had her feeling wary but not yelling, and loop 3 turned her into an expert and nearly happy train passenger.

Can anyone tell me why I would purposefully take a photo next to Ashton? I mean, really. I'm taking a blogging break right now to go put on a mud mask.



I'm not sure why this picture turned out this way, but I love it.


The boys had some manly bonding time hiking around Stone Mountain and eating multiple meals at The Waffle House. Aunt Jessie, Uncle Jeff and cousin Anna-Kate came to visit and, as far as I can tell, were entertained with hours of football games, meals of week-old leftover flank steak and cold cereal and a drive downtown where they were permitted to peer out of the car windows at Phil's office building. I'm pretty sure we're never going to see them again.

I'll end with this picture of Andrew who decided to give himself a mustache with a dry erase marker. I was actually a little disappointed in how easily it washed off ... I don't know why.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Frightful Bombastic Aghast

Here's the last few weeks in pictures in no particular order with a smattering of disjointed thoughts:

TFO has actually turned a corner and is a cheerful, darling delight the majority of the time. But at any moment, her sensitive soul might decide a particle of her universe isn't exactly as it should be ...
and she lets you know about it.


My Nibblet has fallen deeply in love with Mr. Bear, a really sweet stuffed animal that Phil picked out for her months before we met her. She is always full of kisses for him and clutches him tightly while listening to bedtime stories and going to sleep. He makes any sad situation tolerable.


Speaking of bedtime, Phil was finally given the privilege of putting his daughter to bed earlier this week. This was the first time I had not put her down myself. Ever.


The Precious is my wacky, fun-loving boy! We've started a new gymnastics class only a few miles from our new house and he loves it. I'm hoping to also do some more swim classes soon.


He had his 4-year-old checkup, and though he was apparently not in the mood for a photo shoot, he was incredibly brave and sweet. Barely a whimper during his shots. (I'm going to enjoy this while I can since I anticipate it taking 3 strapping orderlies to hold TFO down for such an event.) Everything looked great, and after years of holding steady at 30 pounds, he's now a lean but healthy 35.


Elsbeth just loves wearing Andrew's shoes.
It amazes me how well she can run around in them.



I don't know why my house is such a sty when I have so much great help. It must be messy Daddy's fault.





Els loves putting clothes in the washer. Occasionally I have a basket of clean clothes sitting next to a pile of dirty ones, then when I go to start the next load the machine is full and both piles gone.
Therein lies the rub.