Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Odds and Ends

With the holidays right around the corner, it’s hard to remember to keep up with the bloggin’, ya know? Couple that with the fact that Mommy B’s birthday is 4 days after Jesus Christ’s, and that means I have a lot of presents to get all at once. Of course that also means I get to coast from now until our anniversary in June, but I digress. What are the little boogers up to these days? Well, just about everything…

Alli is getting bigger and smarter by the day. She is learning so much at school and is growing in more ways than I can even keep up with. She has so many friends in her class (many of which are almost a full year older than her) that each day she comes home talking about what she did with a different kid that day. Her teachers do a great job of implementing the school’s curriculum and we see it in her vocabulary each week. Not just the fact that she’s learning new words, but what they mean and the context in which they are used. They delve into sensory and visual cues and talk about how they differ. Hot-cold, near-far, in front-behind, on top-below, loud-quiet… that kind of thing. So she not only knows those words, but also what they mean in the larger scheme of things and how the words relate to the object/person/feeling in question.

She’s completely potty-trained and has been for some time. She very rarely has an accident and if she does it’s usually because of something outside her control. Even though she doesn’t really like to, she can completely dress herself (or undress herself which is typically the case), including putting on her shoes. Her movies of choice at the moment are any of the Toy Story trilogy. She knows and loves all the characters, and will recite random lines from the movie at random times. “Daddy, you are a sad, strange little man.” Thanks Ms. Buzz Lightyear, I’ll keep that in mind when you start bringing boyfriends around.

Aiden is also growing like a weed. He’s only a few inches shorter than his big sister and he’s only 20 months old (today)! Sometimes I feel like they weigh the same when I pick them up… even though Aiden is “smaller” still. The kid is thick – and I’m not talking baby rolls/Michelin Man thick, I’m talking solid. He doesn’t look that heavy when you reach down, but when you slip a disc because you didn’t lift with your legs – don’t say I didn’t warn you. And I can’t say I’m that surprised, the kid eats like he’s been in prison for a 10-15 stint. Don’t get me wrong, there are still times where he won’t each much for a certain meal but for the most part he’s a miniature version of his father. A human garbage disposal. Alli can still house some grub too, but she’s getting a little more moody about it these days.

Not when it comes to certain meals, though. This past Sunday my parents cooked breakfast for us while Mommy B stayed home and worked on papers. There was a total of three adults and the A Team in attendance – and they scrambled up a dozen eggs, an entire package of bacon, and a 10-inch diameter, 3-inch thick coffee cake. I even brought our faithful Golden, Scarlett, along to help mop up. Guess how much was left? Let’s put it this way, Scarlett was sorely disappointed with the scraps. I think there was even one point where I saw Aiden double-fisting it with a strip of bacon in one hand while shoveling in Tatsy’s scrambled eggs with the spoon in his other hand. Alli mowed through her eggs (so of course I grudgingly gave her more) and had more than a couple strips of bacon all by herself. Tatsy said next time she’s going to get the 18-pack of eggs just to be safe. They’re barely out of diapers! I shudder to think of how it’s going to be when they hit puberty. I’ll probably be better off just buying a chicken… and a cow while I’m at it.

While Alli is obsessed with Toy Story, Aiden is obsessed with the vacuum. I don’t know what it is about the vacuum or the Shop Vac I use to sweep the hardwood floors, but the kid simply cannot get enough of them. The first thing he’ll do when Mommy B gets home with them is to run over to the closet where the vacuum resides and pull on the door handle. If he’s lucky enough, we’ll open the door and get the vacuum out – at which point he sprints over to the couch and plops himself down like he’s about to watch Old Faithful erupt. Once the switch is flipped on, he stares in a trance until the rug is completely clean at which point he’ll say “All done!” The only bad part about this that we have hardwood floors throughout our entire first floor so there really isn’t much for us to vacuum.  But, we have the cleanest area rug in the whole neighborhood!

We’re making our annual trip back to Ohio soon. We’ve decided to make a short stop in Cincinnati to see what’s left of my family that still lives there, catch the Bengals (my team) game as they stomp play the Vikings (Mommy B’s team), and see some friends before heading the rest of the way up to Findlay. Then it’ll be fun times with Mommy B’s family since they haven’t seen the kiddos in over a year or so. I’m not looking forward to all the driving, but the kids aren’t really at a good age to fly yet. There are just too many things that have to stay on schedule and when you put your travels in someone else’s hands, that’s not a risk I’m willing to take yet. I’d much rather have my own car handy if we needed to get out of dodge if a bad storm is headed our way.

All in all, things have been going pretty well recently. Mommy B has been keeping up with her school work, and I give her tons of credit for keeping her nose to the grindstone. Work has been going well for me, with new opportunities on the horizon. I’ve been able to take a little time to reflect on all we’ve been through as a family this year and I’m very proud of all we’ve accomplished. Next year seems equally as bright, and I’m hoping that everyone has a chance to count their blessings with those they love. Hopefully I can get another blog post in before this year ends, but I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happy New Year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Glad to be (former) D-III

It seems that every year about this time we go through the same thing… numerous “sources” leak a story about a big-time Division I college football team. The headlines are always the same – “BCS contender under fire for inappropriate behavior,” “Hopes for undefeated season for (insert big school’s name here) in shambles after star player suspended,” and “NCAA to investigate possible infractions by Heisman winner which would erase all of last season’s wins and Bowl title.” OK, that last one was a little wordy, but you get the idea. As more time passes, it’s headlines like these that make me glad I wasn’t gifted enough to play at that level.

Allow me to put things in perspective for you. I’ve been a jock my entire life, even though I might not look like it much these days. I was a sprinter/hurdler on the track team since 1st grade and joined the football team as a wide receiver as a sophomore in high school. Needless to say, I could run pretty fast for a white kid. Even though I was all-league every year on the track and our football team went to the state playoffs each year I played, I was not your “typical jock.” I got it done in the classroom first and foremost. I was never a straight-A student (well, maybe in grade school – but who wasn’t?), but I pulled high enough marks to get accepted to Denison University, one of the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the entire country. Out of 215 students in my graduating class, the only other person who was accepted there was our Valedictorian. I certainly don’t consider myself a genius but I’d like to think my parents have invested wisely in my education. Being wiser than my years at the time, I knew damn well that I wasn’t going to make a living as an athlete after high school.

With that realization and understanding firmly planted in my head, I had come to grips with the notion that I might never get to play either sport that I loved at a varsity level again. In fact, playing sports in college was such a distant thought in my head that when the Denison football coach called me and personally asked for a highlight tape I had to think to myself, “Why would he want to see a 30-second video?” Lo and behold, he wanted me to come out for the team anyway – as did the track coach once he got his hands on my resume. Four years later and once again I was all-conference in both sports.

I’m not writing all this to toot my own horn about my past athletic achievements. It was a Division III school/conference, after all. Does anyone stand around the water cooler and talk about the D-III football championship from this past weekend? Did you even know the D-III championship was taking place last weekend? Me neither. You see, Division III schools are not allowed to give athletic scholarships.  Also, under NCAA rules, D-III schools "shall not award financial aid to any student on the basis of athletics leadership, ability, participation or performance". Financial aid given to athletes must be awarded under the same procedures as for the general student body, and the proportion of total financial aid given to athletes "shall be closely equivalent to the percentage of student-athletes within the student body."

You see where I’m going with all this? D-III schools aren’t allowed to give purely athletic-based scholarships like the big D-I schools can. So any 5-star athlete with less than stellar grades who can’t afford full tuition is out of luck. Now I’m not saying that athletic ability and intelligence are inversely correlated (as shown by my personal example above)… but as we all know, the last few Heisman winners haven’t exactly gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

This inherent difference makes the athletic culture between the divisions contrast so starkly that I begin to wonder if they both can really be considered “college athletics.” I’ve mentioned before that my father played D-I basketball at Ole Miss on a full-ride scholarship, and he’s told me stories that make me just shake my head in disbelief. But as more of these same headlines appear in the paper, I realize that he wasn’t just telling tall tales all those years.

Based on the stories I’ve read, if you’re a D-I scholarship football player you basically get every need catered to. If you’re not the brightest crayon in the box, they have tailor-made majors to help you stay eligible. A little short on cash this week? Just call John Q. Booster and he’ll slip you a couple C notes in a sealed envelope in the locker room after the game. Need a little Mary Jane to get you through “mid-terms” but afraid of failing the random drug tests? Don’t worry, Billy Horn-rimmed over here will pee in a cup for you. We’ll have to be careful though – his ADHD medicine is banned by the NCAA too, so we’ll have to file paperwork stating that you take it to manage your anxiety.

I’ve read it all – envelopes in lockers stuffed with cash prorated based on game-day performances; team “aides” who write term papers for the lineman who can’t spell; sexy co-eds doing unspeakable things with recruits (who are still in high school mind you) while they are on campus for a visit; drug dealers (both illicit and prescription) on assistant coaches’ speed dial; professors getting brow-beaten by team “handlers” to ensure they pass certain players to keep them eligible; class notes taken for players who miss class (either due to laziness or team travel); assistant coaches assigned with ensuring you’re sticking to your diet; free sports drinks and supplements from the trainers; world-class facilities and chartered flights for all away games (not to mention luxury hotel accommodations); and more cover-ups than you can imagine. Basically anything you can think of to keep the players happy and eligible was the status quo.

The moral of the story is that the blatant disregard for the rules (and common decency) by the coaches and administrators sets the example for the players to emulate. Those in positions of power seem to forget how impressionable their players still are at that age. Most of them are still teenagers – and I’m sure everyone reading this can think back to how dumb we all were at that age. The higher-ups in the big schools are basically setting a precedent and the players look at it and say to themselves, “Well, if those in charge of enforcing the rules don’t have to follow them, then neither do I.”

Before I go all OG (old guy) and tell you how it was “back in my day,” I understand that there are certain limitations placed on schools that don’t offer athletic scholarships. The idea behind it all is that these schools (like mine) operate their athletic programs with the understanding that they are not revenue generating. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t expect a D-III school to have an athletic complex that rivals the Space Station. I will tell you this though… the life of a D-III athlete was far from glamorous.

The only person I could count on to take notes for me in class was me. I don’t even need all my fingers and toes to count the number of classes I missed in four years of college. Some people can’t even say that for a single semester. No aides followed me around making sure I went to class or that I was getting plenty of calories and fluids. I had to practically beg the trainers just to let me fill up an ice bath after two-a-day practices. And there were certainly no free Gatorades or supplements to be found anywhere. I’d like to think that I’m somewhat of a decent-looking guy, but I certainly never got the attention from the ladies that the big recruits do. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I met a single female on my recruiting visit. Drugs (of any kind) have never been my thing, but if they were I sure as hell wasn’t going to ask my coach where to find them… the man came to my wedding for Pete’s sake. Believe it or not, instead of getting preferential treatment from professors for being a jock, we actually got treated worse. Not only did they peg us as being meat-headed football players, but we actually had to produce written permission slips from our coach if we had to miss class due to team travel. That of course meant boarding a chartered Greyhound and driving 6-8 hours to our next opponent. And we weren’t staying at the Hilton before game days, either. After long days of class followed by practice followed by a lifting session followed by dinner, it wasn’t chill time with the Xbox until midnight for me… it was the library. My professors didn’t care that my weekend was basically shot due to Saturday games and Sunday practice/lifting/films – that friggin’ paper was due on Monday whether you liked it or not. There were no easy majors because at a liberal arts college you pretty much major in everything. There were no bounty systems, no shifty boosters, no pay-for-play envelopes stuffed with cash – heck, there was no cash period. Just like a college student should be…

I want to reiterate that my point here is not to come off as holier than thou because I “did it the hard way”, but more so to express how grateful I am to have not had to worry about all the shadiness that takes place inside a D-I school’s locker room. Even though I had to bust my arse day in and day out to participate in two sports that I love, I never had to worry about breaking any rules. I knew all the while that I was never getting special treatment in the classroom just because of what I could accomplish on the field (or the track)… and my professors made sure I knew that. I’m proud to be able to say that everyone I call a former teammate and I played the sport for the love of the game. Not because it was our meal ticket or because it was the only chance we had at a college education. Too many of the D-I athletes can’t say that same thing, and I say my thanks every time I see one of those headlines appear in the newspaper.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Single Parenting

Eric and I have taken our turns playing single parent these past few weeks, thus the reasoning for being so behind on blogging, on top of everything else we have going on in our lives. First, I took one of the first weekends in November to head up to Charlotte to visit The Koehler's and meet new baby Ella, and try to help her out as much as I could. When times were rough with Aiden, Gena came up to surprise me and help out for the weekend, and I think that was the best thing that someone could do... just being there and being available. So, I tried to do the same. After work on Friday, I drove straight up to Charlotte and stayed until an ear infection for poor Ms. Anneliese had them heading out to the doctor's and me back down to Chucktown. I got to spend a lot of time holding sweet baby Ella, trying to entertain Anneliese, and also even got a bit of shopping and coffee time in with Gena. Although the sweet baby smells, cuddles, and adorable-ness that was Ella were overwhelmingly wonderful, I realized even more how content I am with not having another baby. We are definitely done, and I think seeing Ella made me sure that I didn't have that neeeeed for another baby in me.

The following Tuesday after I got home, Eric headed to Washington, D.C. for a few days for work. He had been selected to go do some training at his company's headquarters, and it was definitely an experience he needed to go be a part of. It made for some challenging nights, and tested my patience a lot more than I knew could even be possible. Especially due to the fact that for the most part, they were at school all day while I was at work. So, I basically took care of them from 4pm to 7pm - and those three hours wore me out more than my entire work day.

I commend single parents, or those that have to act as single parents due to deployments, work travel, etc. I don't know what I'd do without my tag team, partner-in-crime, other half. He truly is an amazing dad, so involved and interactive... you can always find him on the floor instead of on the couch, or "bump-bumping" one or both of the kids around the house. I'm lucky to have him, and hoping for no single parenting days in the near future... however, zero parenting days (aka, no kids) would be much appreciated... hint hint when we get to Ohio for the week... whoever wants to take the kids so Eric and I can eat alone, rest alone, watch TV alone, etc., we are totally up for it :)

A First!

Lil bubby's hair is a highlight of my life :) It's so blond, so sweet, and so curly. It's especially curly right when he gets out of the bath, and the back always stays pretty curly throughout the day, too. I am thinking he may end up getting my hair, and Alli getting Dad-E's, but ya never know what could happen as they get older. However cute his hair is, we had noticed that it was getting so long in the front and around his ears that he definitely needed a little trim. Instead of attempting to do it myself (ha!) especially for his first time, Dad-E and I took him out of school a little early last week, left Alli there to play with her friends, and took Aiden by himself to get his first hair cut. This is monumental in many ways, obviously, it's a first for him, but it's also a first that his sister has yet to experience! 

We got to the hair salon and the hair stylist was wonderful. She got the booster seat out and I said, "Oh I'm sure I'll probably need to hold him in my lap..." and she said, "No! Let him try by himself. If he gets used to doing it without you, he'll never know the difference." So, we did, and she was was right. She let him play with the comb and was very patient yet efficient with doing the trimming. When he started to get even a tad antsy, I attempted to bribe with food, which she also shot down, stating that he would think he always gets food or a reward when getting his hair cut, so to try to not do that, too. And to my surprise, she was right again and did wonderfully without it. He sat through the entire thing, no tears. Not even tears from mommy, because she pretty much left those curls alone. :)

November 19, 2013 - 19 months old, first haircut!


Back in 2007, a lot of wonderful things happened. We moved to Charleston at the tail end of 2006, and both started our careers in 2007. I started working at MUSC on January 7, 2007... and mainly the reason I can remember  that is because that same day, I signed up for the 3 waiting lists for a parking spot. At MUSC, because it's located in downtown Charleston, parking is extremely limited. When you are first hired, you must drive to a old gravel lot, park there, and get on a shuttle bus to take you to and from the hospital. Such a pain. Such a hassle. So of course, all new employees sign up for the honor to finally get to park closer to the hospital. And then, we wait.

Mid-2007, I got engaged. It was one of the most memorable, incredible, amazing moments of my life. I'll never forget it, and thanks to both my mom and Eric's dad, we have videos of the entire proposal from two angles to capture the experience (his family's and my mom/best friend's adventure to get here in time). It was an amazing day, topped off by an amazing ring that I cherish.

Fast forward almost seven years. In the past week, two big things have happened that have a lot to do with those two moments back in 2007. First, I finally got a parking spot a few blocks from the hospital. I nearly jumped for joy, thinking Christmas had truly come early for me this year... and only MUSC employees can truly understand the depth of importance of this magical moment! When I got the notification, I replied immediately, and went crazy when I actually got into the parking management office to pay my fees (yes, now I have to pay to park... but seriously, it's still an honor) and get my coveted parking sticker.

One day later, I've finally flopped myself on the couch to take a breather from a busy little Saturday with the family, and look down at my beautiful reminder of Eric's commitment and promise to me, and find nothing. The ring and wedding bands are there, but one prong that holds up the diamond is completely bent backward and there is a big, empty, ugly, open space where my diamond once was. I felt physically sick, nauseous, and incredibly sad. I texted our photographer right away, as she had taken some pictures of us that morning and I wanted to see if she could zoom in on any and see if the diamond was missing then, so we could possibly narrow it down to see when this may have happened.  She responded back almost instantly, even providing a picture, that in fact, it was NOT in my ring when we took the pictures that morning. So literally, I am trying to think back and remember when the last time I DO remember seeing it was. And I have no idea. None. I can't remember, but I feel like I would have remembered getting it caught on something to bend it back like that, or, something, wouldn't I? But, I don't. I just cried a lot. Oh, and after the evening was over, Eric and I were just heading into bed, turning the lights off, and we hear Scarlett throwing up downstairs. Both of us rush out of bed and head down... and proceed to sift through smelly dog vomit to see if possibly, maybe, she ate my diamond and it wasn't agreeing with her stomach. No luck. I am definitely thankful that we have insurance on it, but it's still the sentiment behind it. And if we would have found it in her vomit, I definitely think she would have earned her nickname of Scarley, as that would be eerily similar to what they go through in Marley & Me.

So on Monday morning, I'll happily be pulling into my parking spot in the garage a few blocks away from work and happily WATCH the shuttle bus drive by me instead of being on it... but I'll be walking into dealing with insurance companies and trying to replace a diamond that means a whole lot more to me than anyone would imagine. Win some, lose some.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Daddy, get me!

Alli’s new favorite activity these days is getting chased around the house by yours truly, followed by a tickle-fest on the couch when Dad-E gets tired. Aiden has been joining in on the fun recently, which is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it frees up Mommy B to work on her papers for a bit; on the other hand it means I get double duty of chasing the kiddos around our open floor plan and throwing them on the couch when I catch them. Each time I catch one of them, I grab them up, run over to the couch and let them flop down on the pillows. They of course bounce right off and take off running again, so I have to alternate between them so as not to keep one of them waiting too long. Each time Alli takes off running, she’ll say “Daddy, get me!” I think it kind of defeats the purpose of being “gotten” if you ask for it first, but hey whatever works, right?

Once I tell them that Daddy is tired, they immediately switch gears to an activity that they know is much less strenuous on their father – tickling. Thanks to genetics, I have big enough hands to tickle each one of them with a single hand… one on one side, one on the other. Not sure how much longer that’ll last, but I digress. These two will literally giggle themselves blue unless I stop to let them breathe. The tickling will continue until one (or both) of them gets the hiccups, at which time they’ll take a break – for about 30 seconds.

After that, it’s on to piggy-back rides around the house. They’ve gotten very good at taking turns recently, so Alli will wait her turn while I run Aiden around first. After I drop her off on the couch, Aiden will pounce on my back and say “Bump bump!” Apparently he thinks we’re “bumping” up and down when we run around the room. Lap after lap we go – until Mommy B decides to join the fun. At that point we’ll each grab a kid and take turns chasing each other around the house. That way, both kids get to be both the chaser and chasee… until we all get tired and flop down on the couch again. While this activity certainly gets tiring night after night, it has instantly become one of my favorite pastimes with my children.

Last week I had to make a short trip to Washington, D.C. to teach a class on a new piece of software that we’re going to be rolling out next month, and boy did I miss those kids! I flew out early Tuesday morning and got home late Thursday night after they were already in bed. I missed three night’s worth of playing with them, and I didn’t like a minute of it. Don’t get me wrong, I got to meet a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise and get my face/name out there… but nothing beats play time with my kiddos.

Friday morning came around early (as does just about every morning these days), and it was back to the same morning routine. Even though I was running on less than six hours of sleep, I had to get up and get everyone under the age of 29 ready that morning. I walked into Alli’s room first as I heard her stirring a little bit and said “Hey hun… it’s Daddy.” She sat up in the dark and these were the first words out of her mouth in the sweetest, most innocent voice: “Daddy, can you get me… and tickle me downstairs?”

It was the cutest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. In that instant I could tell that’s all she’d wanted to do with me while I was gone. That’s what she had missed about me the most and now that I was home she knew we could do it again.  I told her that of course we could play downstairs, and she leapt into my arms. Aiden heard us talking and woke up, and he was equally as excited to see me – which warmed my heart even more. He said “Dada? Dada!” when I walked into his room and began bouncing up and down in his bed.

It made the lack of sleep all worth it to get them both back in my arms again. Needless to say we were a little late getting to school that morning… we had some missed play time to make up for.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Where does the time go?

I feel like this is an appropriate title and way to start this post, seeing as it's been so terribly long since we've updated. Time seems to fly these days, we are constantly going and doing things, it seems there's no time to do much relaxing... which means blogging gets put way back on the priority list. However, things are moving along at a wonderful pace in our lives right now... just busy as always. Aiden turned 18 months old on the 18th (more in a separate post soon) and Alli turned three this past weekend (more in a separate post soon, too!). We have definitely been busy planning her party, and all the fun that goes along with it. And speaking of birthday parties, we have attended one just about every weekend for the past few months... most of the kids in Alli's class seem to have fall birthdays. The next two Saturday's are also filled with birthday celebrations. It's a lot of fun and definitely occupies the time for those cold fall days... err... cold? It's supposed to be mid to high 70's all week this week. But you better believe some people are still wearing their puffy big winter coats for these "chilly" 50 degree mornings. Hilarious.

Anyway, otherwise, I'm still trucking along trying to keep up with all my papers and schoolwork for my master's degree (only 10 more months!!), and we're also in the process of trying to figure out the next step in our lives regarding our home/possibly moving/possibly building a new house/kids' school options/etc. So of course, that's a daunting task and one that has kept us occupied as well. We are trying to keep things as stress-free as possible because let's face it, anyone that knows me, knows I can get overwhelmed and flustered easily. So, I have really asked Eric to step it up in trying to take charge of most everything in our lives these days, and where I'm high strung and controlling, he's much more laid back and carefree with things, so, it's been a nice change and a nice balance... I'm trying to just go with the flow of things and see how it all turns out.

In other wonderfully exciting news for the month of October, my great friend Gena finally had her second baby, and made Anneliese a big sister to baby Ella Adeline. She looks absolutely perfect and beautiful and I cannot wait to get up to Charlotte to visit and get some baby snuggles. Most people need a "baby fix" and can't wait for it... and while I'm excited and can't wait to share in these moments with Gena, I'm definitely not a huge "baby" fan, I remember all the stress and exhaustion that goes with that stage and I'm not missing that... and plus, we have our forever baby that still wants to be held and snuggled quite a bit in our lil buddy Aiden. =) So, there you have it... now you understand where we've been and what we've been up to... birthday updates to come soon!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuck that one away for later

As Mommy B has pointed out numerous times, Aiden has become quite the little “clinger.” I’m talking Stage 5, virgin clinger. Recently, we’ve updated his list of nicknames to include Hip-Hugger, Cling-on and Static Cling. There are times he just wants to be held… and that’s all. It’s gotten to the point that sometimes when he’s in his “hold-me-now” moods and we have to put him down, he’ll literally be brought to tears as he stands and cries for the empty-armed offender to return and pick him up again. As soon as the guilty party does return him to said elevated position, it’s like someone hit the mute button – the tears stop and the crying ceases almost immediately. It makes for a fun afternoon of shoe shopping, that’s for sure. “Dude, stop crying. I can’t see how well these new Nikes fit when you’re up in my arms.”

Over the last couple of months, we’ve gotten him into a pretty regular bedtime routine… which has become a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, he knows when the lights get turned off it’s time to sit in the chair with one of us and practice his “words” or read a book by the faint glow of his night light. Lately that has basically turned into me singing him two lullabies and him blabbing my ear off for the next 10 minutes. Oh, and him finishing his cup of milk… lord knows the kid can’t have any empty space in his stomach! Ever.

On the other hand, he’s now starting to play favorites with the bedtime routine. It happened for the first time a little over a week or so ago – Alli wanted me to come into her room and read her some stories while she got ready for bed. I was about 30 seconds into Go Dog, Go! when I heard a familiar name being called from across the hallway. “Dada… Daaadaaaa!” The next thing I knew, Mommy B was opening Alli’s bedroom door and presenting me with my son’s outstretched arms. The second he saw me in the dimly lit room he yelled “Dada!” and about jumped out of Mommy B’s arms towards me. While I admit it was pretty cute to be on the receiving end of this little scenario, I’m sure it didn’t make Mommy B feel all that great. She only gave him life and carried him around inside of her for 9+ months… no big deal. And here he was, wanting nothing more than to be with me instead.

Alli was reluctantly accepting of this bedtime narrator change, so I scooped up Mr. Bubby and off we went into his room. I tried to coax some more words out of him once we got into the chair and after a few minutes he was resting quietly on my shoulder as I walked him around the room. I put him down into his crib and he didn’t make a sound. As a matter of fact, I don’t think he made a sound for the next 10 hours or so. Awesome.

The next night wasn’t so awesome. It was a Friday night and we had gotten them both to bed at their normal time, so Mommy B and I were looking forward to some unwind time before hitting the pillows ourselves. We called it a night around 10pm, looking forward to the 8 or so hours of sleep we assumed were still ahead of us. It wasn’t meant to be… Around midnight, I was awoken from my slumber by the sound of Aiden’s voice. He was yelling from down the hall, so I went down to his room to check things out. After determining that there was no immediate emergency, I picked him up and walked him around and he seemed to fall back asleep within a couple of minutes. I put him back down in his bed and snuck out of the room without any issues, which I considered a minor victory on my part. However, about 15 minutes later just as I was dozing off again, he was up – louder than ever. This time Mommy B offered to try her hand at getting him back to sleep. She was gone less than two minutes before I heard a familiar sound from down the hall. It was Aiden saying “Dada? Dada?” She tried to get him to go back to sleep on her own, but it was a futile effort… he wasn’t having it. I opened my eyes right as our bedroom door swung open, and there was my lil man peering through the darkness from his mommy’s arms. I stood up and he said “Dada!” and again almost leapt out of Mommy B’s arms. Apparently the person who brought him into this world was now chopped liver… and only I would do.

I wasn’t too thrilled about the situation at the time, mostly because I had no idea how long it would take to get him back to sleep… or how long he would stay asleep this time. Luckily he fell back asleep relatively quickly and I was able to get him down without him popping up again. So after losing about an hour or so of sleep, I crawled back into bed to find Mommy B still awake – which I deemed a small miracle. But she said something to me as we were drifting off to sleep that I’ll never forget. “Ugh, aren’t I the lucky one?” I sarcastically said to her reflecting on my newfound popularity. “Yep, you better tuck that one away for later,” she said. I knew exactly what she was referring to…

I’m going to try and hold on to that memory of him wanting no one else but me to comfort him for as long as I can. That way, when he’s a teenager and hates my guts (and will likely be a total mama’s boy by then), I’ll have something to look back upon on and remember that there was a time when there was no one else in the world he wanted more.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Dream Come True

This past weekend, we packed up the car (minus Scarley), and headed up to Greenville (about a 3 hour drive) for the weekend. My mom had made the trip all the way from Ohio (about 9 hours!), to spend the weekend with us and to take Alli and Aiden to see Sesame Street Live! For all of you that know or follow Alli, you know that she has been an Elmo and Sesame Street fan for years. No lie, years. She has loved watching them and singing along with them, and I am pretty sure I have to credit a lot of her potty training excellence to Elmo's Potty Time DVD. Anyway, Aiden has sort of gotten to follow along and watch whatever Alli wants to watch, so he's also gotten into "Mo Mo" as he calls Elmo, and dances along to the Sesame Street theme song. It's adorable, but of course, he's still only 17 months old, so sitting still and watching a 90 minute show was going to be a challenge... at least we all knew that and were prepared.

We got to Greenville Friday evening, with just enough time to visit for a bit and then my mom took the kiddos and kept them in her hotel room while E and I got to go explore downtown Greenville a little bit and get some dinner. The big partiers that we are, we were back to our hotel room by 9:30. Woo hoo. Saturday morning, our lovely lil peanuts came in to wake us up and have breakfast, and then we all got showered and ready for the show. Mom had gotten them Meet & Greet tickets to meet the characters beforehand, and this was the part I was waiting for. Alli had told us for weeks that she was not going to be shy, that she was going to run up to Elmo and hug, kiss, and pet his fur. Ha! She was so shy, barely wanted to go see them, but after she sat with Elmo and after she gave Grover a big hug, you should have SEEN the look and smile on her face. She was over the moon, you could tell. Aiden was trying to photo bomb all the other kids' pictures and ran right up to Elmo to say "hiiii" in his lil southern drawl. We spent some more time in the backstage room just killing time before the show started.

Once the show began, both kids sat, entranced at all the lights, singing, and entertainment right in front of them. And I mean RIGHT in front of them... we were in the second row! After about 10 minutes, Aiden was over it. Ha! So, we all took turns walking him around but once we were walking around checking things out, he was fine to watch the show while we were moving and while he was being held, go figure. Alli sat totally star struck and amazed by it all. Cookie Monster came by her seat and touched Dad-E on the head, and she about flipped out, laughing and carrying on. Then, it happened again when Rosita walked by... this time, touching Alli on the head, and her face and laughter was priceless. I think seeing the expressions on her face made the entire drive worth it for my mom.

She could not stop talking and laughing about the show afterward, and even the next morning, she asked to go see Elmo again. It was so cute and I really think she had the time of her life.

Thanks again mom, we have enough pictures and videos that we'll never let her forget that she got to meet her favorite character of her toddler years.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Save it for Bubby

Aiden turns 17 months old today, and just like when he was first born – the kid can eat. It’s not just that he has big meals or “grazes” all day long… he does both. As long as there is food around, the kid will sniff it out and beg for it. He’ll walk right up to you and hold his hand up and say “More… more,” flashing those big blue doe eyes at you all the while. Even though he only has nine teeth (working on number ten, I believe) that has never stopped him. Or slowed him down, for that matter.

It’s actually become a running joke in the family. Much like his father (and his father’s father many years ago), he’s a walking garbage disposal. I’ve mentioned the fact that I still am cursed with the metabolism of an 8 year-old before and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down any time soon. And I’m sure the constant rigorous exercise only helps the situation. In any case, Aiden and I eat like we’re about to be shipped off for the next season of Survivor – at every meal. Can’t quite finish your plate? Send it Aiden’s way. Need some help polishing off those blueberries? Call Bubby over, he’ll gladly lend a hand… er, stomach.

This situation poses both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that the kid isn’t a picky eater and we can basically throw anything in front of him and he’ll eat it. He never goes hungry, that’s for dang sure. Trust me, he lets us know when he is. However, this can also lead to the unintended ingestion of things he probably shouldn’t have eaten. I’m not talking about marbles or small toys – thank goodness. Here was the situation I found myself in this past weekend:

It was Sunday evening and the kids were sitting down for a lovely dinner that Mommy B had prepared for them. As with most children, our kids love applesauce. We even tried getting them the Cinnamon flavored kind a while back to change things up a bit. Much to our surprise, Alli didn’t care for this “new” flavor and promptly told us so. Aiden didn’t care either way – he ate it anyway (surprise, surprise). Ever since then, we’ve had two jars of applesauce in the refrigerator to appease them both. So while Mommy B ran upstairs to take a shower, I supervised the kiddos chowing down.

I turned around to see Alli take her first bite of applesauce… and the look on her face said it all. I could see that she hadn’t swallowed it and was just holding it in her mouth, much like anyone does when they eat something they don’t like. She gave me this look of disgust and I could tell she was deciding whether to tough it out and swallow it or spit it out. I asked, “Alli, do you not like the applesauce?” She nodded. Curiously I asked, “Is it yucky?” She nodded again. The look of desperation on her face was too much, so I walked over and said “It’s okay baby, you can spit it out.” I held out my hand and she immediately emptied the entire contents of her mouth. My initial thought was that she was just being really picky (which isn’t normally like her, either) and didn’t want cinnamon flavored applesauce that evening. However, she had never had that reaction to it before. To fulfill my curiosity, I leaned down to her plate and smelled her applesauce, just to see if it really was the cinnamon that turned her off.

NOPE, the applesauce had turned. It smelled like someone had mixed it with alcohol – it was horrendous. I said, “Well no wonder you didn’t like it, that smells terrible! You don’t have to eat that Alli.” The first thought that popped into my head was to turn to Aiden’s plate to see if I could prevent him from eating any so he wouldn’t get sick. But I was too late…

It was gone.

I mean gone gone. The little circle portion of the divided plate where his applesauce had been was empty, as if he had almost licked it clean. Wonderful, I thought… this kid is going to get sick after ingesting this bad applesauce. It had obviously started fermenting, and I couldn’t believe neither Mommy B nor I had caught it before serving it to our children. Chalk it up to another lesson learned being a parent – you try to serve your children healthy food and something like this happens. Luckily Aiden didn’t get sick from it. Maybe his fast metabolism worked in his favor in this case by pushing it through his system fast enough so that no damage could be done. I tried to rationalize it as much as I could, but I still felt bad for him. Our children just assume that everything we put in front of them is safe and edible, and in this case it was a little questionable.

I told this story to my parents when we sat down to our weekly Sunday night dinner after the kids were in bed, and they busted out laughing. I’m sure they could relate to it on probably more than one occasion. And as the meal was wrapping up and we noticed there were some leftovers, we all chimed in with the same conclusion – save it for Bubby.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Life is like a camera...

Life is like a camera.

Just focus on what's important. Capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don't turn out, just take another shot.

I found this quote recently and it couldn't have come at a better time. Life is overwhelming right now, to say the very least. School is hard, especially with two kids and working full-time. There is just not enough hours in the day to get everything done, and cutting into my already limited sleep time just isn't an option for me. Anyone that knows me, knows how much I treasure every minute of sleep I can get. I am getting closer and closer to the finish line (next August! less than a year away!), and I just want to keep on full steam ahead... however, it's no easy task.

I want to be there with the kids doing everything they are doing. When Eric takes them away to give me time to work on school projects and papers, I just can't help but think about the silly, funny things they may be doing that I'm missing out on. Capturing those memories and moments in time that won't happen again is something I treasure and cherish. That's why it is so very important to me to get this schooling out of the way before they are even older and I'd be missing things like baseball games or dance recitals.

There are a lot of external distractions recently, too. We live in a particularly interesting area of Charleston where we are considered City of Charleston but Berkeley County. When we first moved to this house, we were told our future children would be able to attend Daniel Island Schools (a wonderful school) due to the No Child Left Behind Act. Fast forward 4 years, now, the NCLB Act is no longer in place and our neighborhood has been re-zoned for a poorly performing school. So, although we have a few years until they are ready for kindergarten, it's still in the back of my mind all the time. Do we move to a better school district (we're talking a home that costs approximately 100K more than our current house for a possibly smaller home than we have now...), or do we look into private schools? We obviously want what's best for the kids, but we have to be practical too. We have been meeting with a financial planner too in hopes that we can figure out some of these frustrating "adult" issues.

Hopefully, I can stay focused on what's important. Take one thing a time, and my biggest issue, try not to get overwhelmed.

These two are my biggest motivation. And seeing them "walking toward their futures" in this picture just makes me even more determined to finish up and continue on trying to provide the absolute best for them.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We live with a teenager

So Alli doesn’t technically turn 3 years old until October 27th, but I feel like I live with a teenager most mornings. She already raids the pantry like she’s going through puberty, which Mommy B has mentioned in This Space on more than one occasion. Well, she pulled another adolescent move this morning that I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with for another, oh, 13-14 years.

I knew something was going to happen last night, but I wasn’t prepared for this. Mommy B and I had a meeting yesterday afternoon that ran a little later than we expected. This caused us to get the kids home late and subsequently pushed back the whole evening routine. We tried to get them down to bed as close to their normal bed time as possible, but we couldn’t help running behind schedule. We thought they were both asleep when around 8:30 or so I hear a voice coming from upstairs. I went to go investigate and it was Alli asking for a drink of water. I complied and she seemed to go right back to sleep. However, about half an hour later Mommy B went up to get their clothes out for today and noticed that Alli was still somewhat awake. She’s usually asleep by 8pm at the latest, and here it was getting past 9 and she still wasn’t all the way out yet. I told Mommy B when we climbed in bed that it was going to be a rough morning for not-so-sleeping beauty – now that school is back in, we have to leave the house earlier to avoid the awful traffic… which means waking them up earlier than they’re used to.

They both slept great the rest of the night (finally!) and Aiden was up first as he normally is around 6am. After I got him out of bed, I opened Alli’s door so that she could come down when she was ready. She typically hears us making noise and comes down on her own, closing her door behind her. At 6:20 or so, I called up to her as a first wake-up call. She didn’t come down right away (which I figured would be the case, given the night before) so at about 6:30 I called up again to make sure she was waking up and getting moving. A couple minutes later, I heard her door close. “All right, we’re in business… she’s on her way down” I thought to myself.

Well, after a couple minutes of her not appearing at the bottom of the stairs I figured she might be waiting for me at the top landing. I went up to make sure she was ok… to find nothing. I checked the other bedrooms and hallway to no avail. I finally opened her bedroom door and turned on the light to find her cuddled up in bed with her blankets pulled up to her chin. She had literally gotten out of bed, shut the door, climbed back into bed and pulled the covers back over herself… just like a teenager!

I couldn’t help but to laugh when I walked into her room to find her back in bed with her eyes closed as if she was trying to go back to sleep. All I could picture was a teenage version of Alli shutting her door, climbing back in bed and pulling the covers over her head while saying “Ugh, just leave me alone Dad! I’m trying to sleep!”

I was eventually able to talk her out of bed and got her downstairs with me, all the while Aiden was waiting oh-so-impatiently at the bottom of the stairs for us. She was fine the rest of the morning, but I have a feeling could be taking a pretty decent nap this afternoon. I guess we’ll see about that one. They sure grow up fast, don’t they?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sweet Sixteen

Aiden "turned" sixteen months about a week and a half ago... and he has turned into quite a little man with his own strong personality.

His vocabulary has taken off... let's see if I can remember everything he's saying these days... "dada, mama, outside, up, down, hot, daww (dog), octaaa (which could either be octagon or Octanauts the show, depending on what circumstance it is), more, all done, uh oh, moon, bye bye..." I think that may be it, but, each day he surprises us with all that he knows and all that he pretends he doesn't know. (We're on to your sneaky ways, buddy!!)

He loves to give kisses (mouth open, sloppy kisses, but they are too adorable to turn down!), hugs, blows kisses, fake sneeze (or laugh hysterically when you sneeze), turn the lights on and off, turn the fans on and off with the remote, and his all time favorites are still the broom and dustpan. He has a play one, but he has also discovered my hand held one that we keep in the garage and he always wants it to play with as soon as he spots in when we step out into the garage. Today in fact, he took it in the car with us on the way to school.

The Stats:
Weight: 24 lbs 4 oz (we just visited the after hour's clinic on Sunday after some pretty awful bug bites that we wanted to make sure weren't anything else or infected or anything, poor little guy has been a trooper with quite a few bug bites this summer!)
Length: Not sure, but he's gaining on Alli!
Head: Same, not sure, but when he & Alli are in the bathtub together, Eric & I comment all the time that they look like they have the same head size! He's growing on her there, too!
Diaper Size: 4's
Clothing Size: 12-18 months
Shoe Size: 5
Food: Anything and everything. Every morning he likes to have a few Krispy Kreme donut holes, milk, cereal, etc... then gets to school and has breakfast, lunch, snack there... then gets in my car and they are like scrounges, wanting crackers or snacks for the drive home... then once we get home they are both asking what's for dinner... usually running up to the kitchen table to get in their seats, or lately, sitting on their picnic table out back, banging on the table while I hurry to get something together... the kid loves to eat!
Naps: One 2 hour nap, 12:30-2:30ish
Sleep: Bed by 7, up by 6ish still... ugh
Teeth: Eight. Eric has given him the nickname of Ocho, because we're convinced he's just going to have eight teeth forever. I looked back at Alli's 16 month stats, she had 16 teeth at 16 months. Sixteen! Oh little Ocho, when will you get more teeth??
Play: Outside, broom & dustpan, any and all push toys, chairs (he loves to pick up little chairs and sit in them, then rearrange them and sit in them again, it's really cute!), up and down the slide, swim, and of course... being held!! :)
New Buddies: He played with a lot of Alli's classmates this past weekend at the pool, and Harper has been down to play quite a bit lately, too!

He has truly become his own lil person, and he knows what he wants, when he wants it, and how he wants you to get it for him.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

It’s Always Something…

It’s official Followers… I can’t remember the last time I had a full-night’s sleep. Usually our kids are pretty decent sleepers, but every night for the past couple of weeks there has been something that has interrupted Mommy B and I’s sleep pattern. It’s bad enough that we don’t really get much sleep as it is, but to have that little bit of sleep interrupted on a constant basis – we feel like we have an infant (or two) in the house again. Here’s a short list of what has woken us up recently:

  • Alli waking up due to a bad dream (we think). Luckily all it usually takes to get her back to sleep is a sip of water and a hug from one of us (usually me).
  • Aiden waking up because of a bad dream (again, we think). He’s a little harder to get back to sleep, usually because he wants to be held and rocked back to sleep – even though he’s almost one and a half. Our forever baby…
  • Aiden waking up because he’s sick. We thought he was just getting more teeth, but they have yet to appear so we’re assuming that he just caught a little bug of some type. So into the bathroom he came for his usual dose of Tylenol or Motrin… a couple nights in a row.
  • Alli waking up due to a low-grade fever. We’re pretty sure that she was just overheated from playing outside that day, so we gave her some medicine to make her fever go down and luckily she ended up sleeping pretty soundly the rest of the night.
  • Aiden waking up because he’s hungry. That night I picked him up out of bed and he kept pointing towards the bedroom door. He had been coughing a bit before he woke up, so I walked him downstairs to get him a drink. He wasn’t having any of it – but he kept pointing towards the kitchen counter. Directly at the bag of mini Krispy Kreme donuts. I took one out and gave it to him, just out of sheer curiosity. He shoved the whole thing in his mouth and cuddled back up onto my shoulder. I swear he was back asleep by the time we made it upstairs to his bedroom. Well, OK. What can I say, the boy loves to eat.
  • Fireworks being set off on a random Saturday night. It wasn’t even a holiday but apparently the neighbors at the end of the cul-de-sac had something to celebrate. OK, so these didn’t really wake us up, but they kept us awake later than normal… especially because I was nervous they were going to wake up one of the kids. There we were, trying to get settled in for the night and all of a sudden I’m hearing the explosions of Roman Candles coming from less than 40 yards away from my kids’ windows. And these people have young kids of their own! Jerks.
  • Thunderstorms. Anyone who lives in a southern coastal city knows what I’m talking about here. Thunderstorms can pop up at any time and anywhere, typically without warning. Leave it to Mother Nature to have a few pass by our house while we’re all trying to sleep. Luckily the kids could have cared less and slept soundly through them, but that didn’t stop the dog from barking right beside our bed at 1am.
  • Speaking of the dog, she decided that Tuesday night’s dinner (or something she found outside and ate afterwards) didn’t sit well with her stomach. So at 3am yesterday morning I was awoken from a dead sleep to the lovely sounds of Scarlett regurgitating the contents of her stomach onto the carpet at the foot of our bed. Not once, but twice. Anyone with a dog knows what that sounds like. Mommy B had slept right through it, so I had to wake her up to help me get everything cleaned up and disposed of. Thanks dog… the one night both of the kids sleep soundly through the night, you have to screw it up. Not to mention Mommy B had to get up at 4 (and I at 5) to head to work.

I think youse guys get the picture. As Mommy B and I crawled back in bed last night (technically it was this morning since it was around 2:30am after Aiden woke up crying for some ungodly reason,) I joked that the worst part about it all was that it seemed like they all had agreed to take turns depriving us of sleep. Like a conspiracy of the little ones – as if they had sat around and agreed to it one day while we weren’t looking. Because it’s always one of them or the other, never both.

I can hear it now, as they’re sitting around the coloring table with Aiden taking point because he’s the worst offender: “OK girls, here’s how it’s gonna go down. I’m going to start things off tonight by fake-teething. Tomorrow night, big sis Alli you take over with some crying and when they come in to comfort you, mumble something about monsters coming to get you even though you haven’t seen Monsters, Inc. yet. I heard we were going to get some rain the next night, so when the thunder starts rumbling, Scarlett you do your thing. I’ll take over again the following night and pretend I’m hungry. Who knows, maybe I’ll even score a midnight snack out of the deal! Scarlett you come back in the night after – try to eat something really nasty in the back yard before they bring you in for the night. And make sure to really hack it up nice and loud around 3am… they’ll hate that! Alli, you’re up next with more crying and requests to see someone who you haven’t seen in a while and who isn’t even in the same state. Grandma C maybe? Or perhaps a long-lost aunt you’ve only met once when you were six months old. I’ll follow that up the next night with more crying for no good reason. Sound good? OK, Operation ‘Make Mom And Dad Go Batsh*t Crazy’ is now underway. Good luck ladies.”

Yep, I can totally see that happening. Or maybe the sleep deprivation is catching up to me…

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taking a second to think about our second...

My friend Gena posted this quote the other day as she's getting closer and closer to expecting her second child... and it got me thinking...

"Second children are blessings. They bring comfort and confidence. They bring joy and chaos. They remind you about everything you love and hate about parenting. They also solidify that that is the most important thing you will ever do."

We have (possibly unfairly) deemed Aiden as our forever baby. He has gotten a little better here and there, but for the most part, he has tested us more than Alli ever did (that I can remember?), and he still holds on to that "I'm the baby and I know it" attitude. But just seeing that quote and trying to think back about Alli really got me wondering... is he that bad, or do I just have amnesia when it comes to remembering this age/these moments with Alli? I looked back to read blog posts about her at 15-16 months, and, it sounds eerily familiar. He seems to display all the same attitudes, drama, etc. that she did. Nothing too different in that department. So truly, I think there's some magic part of being a parent that makes you forget all the crazy moments (or just make them not so bad), and put the good moments at such a brighter, more permanent part of your memory.

Aiden loves to be held. And really, if that's the worst of it, is that really that bad? Someday, we're going to wish he wanted held again.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What’s up?

My apologies again Followers… Mommy B and I haven’t been great on keeping up with our blogging responsibilities in the last few weeks (ok, months). But you know how it goes – it’s summer time and lots of things are going on which means less time for jotting it all down. However, we must not let time get away from us… as I’ve always said. So here’s what’s been going on lately:

Mommy B is still working hard on her Master's degree. I honestly don’t know how she does it. The seemingly endless papers and online responses week after week… it’s enough to make my head spin and I’m not even taking the classes. There have been some rough patches with it, especially when we have travel plans or something else going on that forces her to get all her schoolwork done ahead of time. But she’s a trooper (as she always has been when it comes to school) and has made it work. And I keep reminding her that a year from now when it’s all said and done she’ll be really glad she stuck it out. If there was a “best” time to do it, now would be that time. Because before we know it, the kids will be in school and who-knows-what type of after-school activities… which means even less time for her to go back to school.

Now that I’ve completed the final wedding circuit and obtained my PMP certification, I’m ready to gear things up at work. I have a mid-year review with our Vice President next week (which will nearly coincide with my one-year anniversary) that I’m particularly looking forward to. I’m going to let him know that I’m ready for some bigger responsibilities and that I’m ready for whatever new projects he has up his sleeve. The more initiatives I can get my hand in (and have my name stamped on), the better. We’ll see where that conversation goes, so stay tuned Followers.

Alli is learning more and more every day. I know children her age have a better memory than most adults anyway, but I swear to Mommy B that she has a photographic memory some days. Alli will recall something random that she saw one time (for a minute) months later when she sees that object or place again. I learned all about associative learning in my Psych classes back in college, and Alli is just reinforcing those lessons on a daily basis. Now, if she could just remember to not steal whatever toy Aiden is playing with…

Another thing I’ve been amazed with lately is her understanding of spatial relationships. For example, she knows when something is on top of something else or when something is behind a larger object. For example, I asked her the other day after dinner where her Pooh Bear was, and she replied, “He’s over there on the table.” I know she’s almost three, but she not only recalled where she left said Pooh but also properly described his spatial relationship to where we were sitting at that moment. Or if we ask her to take an object and put it somewhere, she knows exactly where to go, how to get there, and how to place that object where we told her to put it. What really impresses me is that she not only understands where things are in relation to her, but she has the vocabulary to verbalize them to us as well. Gotta love that school they go to!

She’s been on a Lion King bender lately, which means this DVD gets played over and over in Mommy B’s car anytime she’s in it. Luckily my car doesn’t have a DVD player in it, so they’re not completely spoiled every time we leave the house. It’s a good thing too, because Mommy B’s car had to go into the shop this week to have some work done. It was only for a day, but I don’t mess around when it comes to my children’s safety. If there is something that risks putting them in danger – like bad brakes or balding tires – it gets done right away. The funny part was when Alli got into my mom’s car to head home she didn’t waste any time pointing out the obvious. “Tatsy’s car doesn’t have Lion King.” You’re right, Alli, it doesn’t. But it does have a huge sunroof!

She’s memorized all the songs from that movie, and naturally we’ve had to do the same because she wants to sing them every night before she falls asleep. Really? I have to memorize the Lion King version of Elton John’s “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” No wonder I can’t remember where my keys are sometimes. She’s taken things a step further in the last couple of weeks, though. She’s started to memorize other random parts of the movie and spurting them out to us at random times. For example, she was sitting at the dinner table the other night with her brother while Mommy B and I prepped and cleaned the kitchen. All of a sudden she looked over at Aiden and in a raised voice said, “You can’t change the past, Aiden!” Very philosophical, she is. Aiden just stared back at her while he shoved more food into his mouth.

And that brings me to my little man, Bubby. Aiden is catching up to big sis in more ways than one. He went in for his 15-month checkup a couple weeks ago and got weighed, as did Alli just for fun. She’ll always be about 18 months older than him, but she only outweighs him by about 6.5 pounds at the moment. We’ve said it countless times, but the boy loves to eat. He’s pretty good at making a mess while he’s at it (typical boy), but the overwhelming majority makes it into his mouth and into his belly. And even though he’s our little hip-hugger he loves running around the living room with his big sister. He can’t quite keep up with her sometimes (she’s getting pretty darn fast these days), but he tries hard and it’s cute as can be watching him watch her.

And I know we’ve said it before as well, but the boy absolutely LOVES being outside. It doesn’t really matter what he’s doing as long as it is not within the confines of any structure. He loves riding around in the Cozy Truck or pushing his mower that Grandma C got him, wandering over to the neighbor’s yard or just pushing the broom around the sidewalk. It doesn’t matter how tired he is or how crappy he feels – the guy just wants to be outdoors. I’m crossing my fingers that he keeps this trend up as he gets older. I was always an outdoor kid growing up but I know boys are more inclined to hit up the video games these days. I’m not saying video games are evil, I just know how much I learned being out and about playing instead of glued to a TV screen. That being said, he may not have much choice on some of these South Carolina sweltering summer days.

His vocabulary is starting to pick up a bit too. You can tell he knows what he wants, but he doesn’t quite have all the words down yet. He’s also really starting to learn (and remember) where certain things are, as evidenced when we say “OK guys, time to go upstairs and take a bath!” he’ll dart towards the baby gate and start pulling on it. As we were walking into school the other morning I noticed he wasn’t following me right away. I turned around and saw him pointing up into the sky as he said “Moooon!” Good job buddy, you found the moon in the sky during daytime and pointed it out to me. Where were ya on that one Alli?? Just kidding…

We’re trying to get them both used to riding around on my parent’s boat as well. I mean, you can’t live in a coastal city and not have a boat around, right? With just like everything else, you gotta get ‘em started early. This past weekend we decided to go tubing – which I haven’t done since I was in middle school. And by tubing I mean my parents bought a giant inflatable contraption called Big Mable, which basically looks like a big lounge chair with straps to hold on to. Seriously, the only thing it’s missing is a cup holder. We took both kids for a spin on it to get started, taking it easy so as not to scare them too much on their first time. After a while Mommy B took Aiden down below into the air conditioning to take a nap. Which he did – for 2 hours while the rest of us partied. Alli had a blast riding it up and down the river off my parent’s dock. In fact, she had so much fun that she actually fell asleep on it during a straight stretch. Who falls asleep while tubing?? My kids, apparently.

Anyway, there you have it Followers. I know there’s probably a ton of other little things I didn’t go into detail about – like Alli’s love for Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” because she can sing the colors along with the song. I won’t say how she heard it the first time… But now when we get in my car she requests it by name and she and Aiden bob their heads to the beat. Yep, it’s just a laugh a minute with these two kiddos.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Aiden's 15 Months Old!

So, here we are... 15 months. (OK, so we're a week late on this post, sorry youngest child, I'm just not as up on my game as I was with writing blog posts on big sis, my apologies...) I am not sure where time seems to slip away to each month, but, nonetheless, Aiden's now well on his way to becoming a big boy. Alli and I took him to the doctor yesterday for his 15 month check up and shots, and he was a sweetheart. A big cuddle bug on me most of the time (what's new there!), and he did great throughout the checkup and shots. Of course, big crocodile tears during the shots and a few minutes after, and poor big sis watching was pretty upset that the nurse was making him cry... "She's hurting Aiden!!" were Alli's exact words. The doctor asked all the normal questions, how's he doing with eating (ha! he eats everything!), sleeping (yeah, he sleeps, it's just still so early when he wakes up, but, that's the way it has to be with our work schedules, and he doesn't get the concept of 'weekends'), motor skills, vocabulary, etc. He seems to be right on track with everything, no issues at all during this visit, which is refreshing since we've been there a few times the past month with Alli for ear infections.

Here are the stats:

Weight: 23 lbs 15 oz (67th percentile)
Length: 32 inches (78th percentile)
Head: 19 inches (86th percentile)
Diaper Size: 4's
Clothing Size: 12-18 months in most everything, definitely 18 months for PJ's
Shoe Size: 5
Food: Still eats everything. All the teachers at school always make comments that, "whewww Aiden can EAT!" He loves to eat... and wants whatever you are eating and definitely whatever Alli has. Thankfully, she's big into sharing most things these days.
Naps: One two hour nap each day, typically around 12:30-2:30
Sleep: In bed by 7, awake around 6:15
Teeth: 8. We thought there had to be more coming in but after the doctor visit and a good look in his mouth by myself and the doctor, we don't see much else happening in there yet... ugh.
Sounds: He still babbles a lot and most of it we don't understand as real words yet, but, we have heard him say "up", "down", "all done", "outside", "mama", "nanananana" - is what he says for more... especially more food so he's got that noise/sound down pat, "dada" for sure, and he definitely knows who dada is, he'll bark like a dog and make elephant sounds too with his arm up pretending to be the trunk
Play: His all time favorite is still to be outside doing anything and everything. He loves riding in the cozy coupe, loves swimming and playing in the water, and feeding the geese/duck/turtles/fish in the pond. He loves throwing the ball and chasing after it and playing with his toy broom. He loves to dance whenever he hears music, it has to be the cutest lil move ever. He also loves to be tickled, because that's close to being held, and we all know that's still his all-time favorite in the whole world. Our forever baby.
New buddies: He has a few new friends at school that have moved up to his class, Eleanor and Rivers. He got to hang out with Anneliese this past weekend too and he seems to have lovey dovey eyes for her :), and Miss Harper from down the street has played a couple times recently too. 

He is definitely becoming more and more of an independent kid, although he still has his moments of being the baby and wanting to be held and snuggled. He still falls asleep on me sometimes, like this past weekend when we were at the pool in Charlotte, when he passed right out on my shoulder. At this age, Alli was nothing like that. Each day we realize how similar yet how different they truly are. 

Alli helping Aiden at the doctor, Aiden being unsuspecting of what's about to come his way (Shots! boo!), the stats, and the celebratory Popsicle afterward for being such a big boy :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


What a whirlwind the last couple of weeks have been! We wrapped up the month of June with one of my good friends from college getting married right in our own backyard (sort of), in which I was honored to be one of his eight groomsmen. While it was a destination wedding for everyone else, Mommy B and I could have practically walked to the location from our house. Not to mention I got a round of golf in with the rest of the groomsmen at the same place I got married – a course I haven’t seen since my wedding day. The place looks almost as gorgeous as Mommy B did standing across from me five short years ago. It was a beautiful wedding and we partied into the early morning hours, which is something Mommy B and I only do when one of the kids isn’t feeling well and we’re up all night. We also booked a hotel for the fun of it and went on a helicopter tour of the city the next day as a late anniversary present. My parents were on A-Team duty for those couple of days while we were busy doing wedding party stuff.

After a quick week off, the grandparents were back on the clock so Mommy B and I could fly to Stamford, Connecticut so see the last of my groomsmen get married. Technically the last one is getting married this Friday, but he’s having a “private ceremony” with only immediate family. But I just received word that they’re streaming the ceremony live online so people can watch it.. kind of contradictory, yeah? Ah, the times we live in…

Anyway, Mommy B and I got to fly into JFK and hop a rental car to Stamford, about 45 minutes away. Being a Damn Yankee (as the name of the blog implies), I learned how to be an offensive driver from very early on. And it only took about two minutes on the Van Wyck Expressway for those skills to come racing back to me. I was checking mirrors, changing lanes and dodging through traffic like I was the newest up-and-coming NASCAR driver… all the while trying to take directions from our GPS and Mommy B the co-pilot. We made it into town with enough time for me to try on my tux and get checked into the hotel before I was whisked away to the rehearsal. I met up with Mommy B afterwards at the rehearsal dinner where we all celebrated the upcoming nuptials of another good friend from college, Steve.
We had the next day “off” from wedding festivities, so Mommy B decided to venture into “The City”, as it’s called in those parts. We hopped a train to Grand Central Station (“Terminal”, as it’s called) and decided to roam The Big Apple. We hit the majority of the major tourist spots – Times Square, Central Park, Ground Zero, Wall Street, Battery Park to name a few. Of course, we couldn’t pass up pictures with the Elmos in Times Square, nor the Disney and M&M’s store close by.

But the highlight of the trip was meeting up with another former football player that both Steve and I graduated with, Zach Jump. I hadn’t seen this guy since we graduated back in 2006 and it was like we had never been apart once we started catching up. When I switched positions from receiver to cornerback entering my sophomore year, Zach was the guy I turned to to teach me the position – everything from the play calls to the hand signals to proper stance and form. While I never got to formally thank him for everything back in the day, I’m doubtful that I would have ended up becoming the all-conference defensive back I did without his help. In any case, he gave us his personal tour of lower Manhattan which included seeing the Statue of Liberty from across the harbor. As a final act of kindness that only comes from friends who toiled on the same gridiron together, Zach swiped his Metro card twice to allow Mommy B and I to catch a subway back to Grand Central free of charge. We then hopped back on the train headed back to Stamford just in time for dinner. We didn’t find out until later that we had accidentally gotten on the “local” train home, which meant that we stopped at every. single. stop. Interesting scenery we saw along the way, but I still don’t ever want to get off at the Harlem – 125th St. stop. No thanks.

The wedding day arrived which meant I was out the door early to go get ready with the rest of the groomsmen. And by that I mean I had to go one floor up in the hotel because Steve had booked a suite for us to use to get dressed then for himself and his bride to use that night. We then climbed aboard the stretch Navigator limo to pick up the bridesmaids and head to the church, only to find out that not only had Steve left the rings at his house but the bridesmaids were nowhere close to being ready. A small act of fate put Mommy B in the same car with the friends who went to retrieve the rings, which made us all breathe a little easier. Needless to say, the wedding didn’t start on time but we made up time where we could. It was a gorgeous wedding and the reception was even better. We danced all night and stuffed ourselves silly with the plethora of food that was provided. Mommy B told me that I even made a cameo in a video montage that they played while dinner was being served. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to celebrate Steve’s wedding with.

We had an absolute blast while we were there and luckily made it home without any difficulties. Direct flights are the only way to go, I swear. To make things even better, Grandma C picked us up from the airport as she was coming into town for a few days. We dashed home and surprised the kiddos as we all walked in the door. Aiden wouldn’t let me put him down the whole rest of the day and Alli was so excited to tell us everything that they had done the last few days. I missed the crap out of those kids, but it was great getting to spend some quality time with my friends and celebrate their big days – but more importantly, spend some quality time with Mommy B.

The night we got back, Alli was up every couple of hours claiming her ear hurt… but I think she just missed us and wanted to see if we would come get her. The next night, Aiden was up every couple of hours thanks to what we believe are more teeth coming in. Yep, looks like we’re right back into the swing of things…