Monday, June 30, 2008

Flight of the Bumblebees

These kids love this toy! They have chased, run from, and hopped over this bumblebee for hours and hours and hours since getting this toy for Christmas. I think Jonathan has gone insane from the Flight of the Bumblebee song--so much so, that he had hidden it for a month or so. We found it today and had to make a special trip out to get batteries for it so they could play with it again. It's still a hit and they probably spent the total of an hour playing with it. It's great for wearing them out, as you can probably tell!


Sunday, June 29, 2008

4 Little Monkeys Hanging in a Tree














One fell off and made his lip bloody. A fun night with the Browns almost came to an end with Jack's bloody lip, but luckily it wasn't too bad and Noah, his best friend and partner in crime, cheered him up by sharing some cool Planet Heroes toys. We found a great new play spot with a tree perfect for climbing. There's also plenty of grass for a fun game of tag. We always love our nights out with the Brown clan. We're so fortunate to be friends with such an amazing family!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lake James


We had an amazing day with some friends out at Lake James which is near Morganton, NC in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Miners invited us to a soft opening of a new vacation-home community on the beautiful, blue-green waters of Lake James. This vacation home community has all the amenities of a fancy resort, i.e. infinity pool, ampitheatre, "social club", yoga lawn, 25-person hot tub, tennis courts, and kids' programs, as well as everything you'd expect from a mountain lake trip (kayaks, canoes, fishing lines, hiking trails). It was amazing!



We spent the first part of the day enjoying the pools. The community has a gradual-entry kids' pool and an infinity pool. Ellagator and Jack give them both the thumbs up.







Jack and Grace were inseparable today. (And, by the way, it was another accident-free day for Jack, our first with a long car drive.)











After a fancy, light-fare lunch, Tim (who works for the community) took us out on a pontoon boat. Those boats can actually pick up some speed! The views were spectacular with the Blue Ridge Mountains behind us. I wasn't able to get any good pictures of the mountains, unfortunately, because we spent the first half of the boat ride going away from the mountain skyline and on the way back a storm rolled in really quickly (you can see the ominous clouds behind Cate). We got poured on and went back to the dock to seek shelter until the storm passed. After we were all dry again we explored the grounds a bit and actually did see some wildlife--about 15 wild turkeys. It was a great day--we're hoping that Kim and Tim invite us again so we can get in some canoeing next time!







There was a rainbow in the sky for pretty much our entire drive home. The kids never saw any of it, though, because they were zonked out in their carseats. You know it's been a good day when it takes all of 2 minutes for the kids to fall asleep.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Don't Know Jack?


Every day we figure out something new about this kid. Now that he's potty trained (I feel like I can say that with confidence) we've learned that you'd better not flush the toilet for him or you'll have one sad, defeated boy on your hands. And, now that he's in big boy underwear, he likes to "show his buns" and go without pants. He thinks you're wrong when you try to correct him that a balloon is not called a "beboon" and a hamburger is not a "hangurber" (seriously, it's like a bad Steve Martin Pink Panther skit). Jack loves learning about bugs, pretending to be pirates, and eating edamame. The biggest epiphany I've had about Jack lately, and I wish I'd known this a year or more before, is that when he throws a fit--and if you do know Jack you know he can seriously spiral out of control--all he needs is a hug. Jack and I actually have both had this epiphany. I just give him a hug, or touch his leg if we're in the car, and he calms down. Now he realizes this works for him so as he's crying he'll say, "Cuddle me, cuddle me." Maybe it's really coddling instead of cuddling, but I'm just relieved to find something that helps this poor sweetie settle. Some of our friends still tell stories of us packing up and leaving parties with a screaming, red-faced infant. Jack's come a long way, and even matured a ton just in the past month. We can't wait to get to know him, and watch him figure himself out, even more.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Very Best Day of All





That's what Ella called today, although it was probably a lot like many other Summer days. This morning was Ella's last day of Pee Wee Cheerleading camp and her class put on a little show for us. It was very cute, and Ella was very good at it (when she wasn't distracted with watching herself in the wall of mirrors). Their chant was cheering for the Titans, but Ella stayed true to her roots with her 'Gator Girl' shirt and choosing the orange and blue pom poms.

After camp we spent nearly 4 hours at the pool with our friends Hayden and Ryan (whom Ella wished on a star a few weeks ago for them to be our friends forever and ever). Everyone wore themselves out swimming and swimming around the pool, so we came home and snuggled in bed in my room to watch a movie (I love having furniture in my room finally!).

Finally, we topped off the day with Pinkalicious-esque cupcakes that Jack had picked out at the food store today for him and his sister. Yummy! I love Summer--hopefully tomorrow can be the very best day of all, too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Rescuers




This afternoon we went to the pool for several hours and had it to ourselves most of the time. I think the kids spent half of the time playing with little beetles that manage to get themselves in the pool quite often. They saw me "rescue" one once and they've been fascinated ever since. They'll keep one on their fingers or crawling up their arms for 10 minutes or so. The pictures are from our trip to the Whitewater Center where they kept finding bunches of 20 beetles or so on boulders.




Every time we take our grill cover off we find another little friend. I doubt it's the same frog because I keep putting him back in the woods, but you could go out to our grill on any given day and find a frog. So now that they've seen me hold the frog, of course the kids are all over that, too. Last year I whooped (according to Jonathan that's the sound I make when a spider startles me) when Ella had a spider on her after sliding down a tunnel slide. For months after that she screamed every time she saw a bug. Now, though, they're man-handling all the wildlife we come across. I guess I just need to be clear on what we can pick up (like roly polies and earthworms) and what we shouldn't--I really don't want to have those kids who leave snakes in my shoes...



Oh, and the kids watched The Rescuers after the pool this afternoon (that's why that title was in my head). I think the kids will have seen all the Disney movies through Netflix by the time we make it to Disney World this Fall!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Blast From the Past



I've been going through all of my old pictures, trying to get as organized as Brooke is with my albums, and I came across this one my sister took. I think I have some little holes in the bottom of a few pairs of pants from Gator's puppy teeth, too. If Gator weren't as small as he is, I would've thought that cute little boy was Jack. But nope, it's Jake. He's 2 and they were visiting us right after Ella was born (yes, we had a newborn and a puppy--brilliant!). We like to say that Gator's our first-born child--apparently, another one of our kids who needs a haircut pretty badly, too.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Aaarrgh!



These pictures are just too funny...I mean, menacing...not to share. It was actually a rainy day in Charlotte, so we had to come up with lots of games inside to keep us busy. Pirates was a fave, always is. Jack's is a well-practiced "Aaarrgh!" pirate face. Ella's pretending she has a patch over her eye.


Jack's growing up so fast. Today he sat still and peaceful during an entire haircut (there used to be a throwdown, hence his usual scruffy look). He also managed his own potty schedule today and had no accidents.


In other news, Ella had fun at cheerleading camp today and made it through without incident.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hot Diggity Dog!




Ella and Jack had a great time today at a birthday party that was a throwback to Ella's party. Same place, same time, and same amount of fun! They got to swing on the "hot dog", jump on the trampoline, climb, hang, and play games. Jack even did it all with big boy underwear on--he's giving the thumbs up because he took a successful potty break mid-party (phew!). Ella didn't make it through the party unscathed, however--she got a knick on her head from another girl's tooth. Of course, she didn't let that stop her from enjoying the party. In fact, we didn't even know about it until later at dinner. Maybe she's so accident prone because she can't see through the hair that's always in her face! I promise the kids are getting hair cuts soon--I was trying to wait long enough so they'd still look good for our trip to Florida in August! Regardless, you might want to invest in J&J, because we've got to be bumping up the stock with all the band-aids, liquid bandage, gauze, etc. we've been buying over the past few months....Please pray that Ella has a safe week at Pee Wee Cheerleading camp!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Delicioso!

Ella's camp this week during the mornings was a PlaySpanish cooking camp. They learn some Spanish and how to cook some delicious Latin food. This week Ella made empanadas, pan y hamon, Venezuelan truffles, corn chips, and lots of other yummy foods we got to try. They also did art projects, read stories, and sang songs. She even learned how to set a table, plus all the words for each table item. At the end of every day, Jack and I got to participate in some songs and tastings--something Jack really dug. Today was the last day of camp and they had a fiesta! Ella and her camp-mates performed some songs in Spanish for us (like Raffi's Apples and Bananas, "Quero comer, comer, comer manzanas y bananas"). We also got to enjoy a lunch prepared by the kids and Jack and Ella got to take some whacks at a pinata. This week whenever Ella would try some food she liked, she would say, "Delicioso!" It was definitely a very well done camp and I think we all got something out of it--they even sent home a recipe book. I'll have to make the mango salsa for you soon. Que delicioso!

Yesterday, the PlaySpanish director asked me if Ella had some Latin blood in her because, when they're dancing, she can really shake her hips. I don't know about Latin blood, but I do know she's got that Polish spunk! Or maybe she gets her moves from her father--last night while watching So You Think You Can Dance, Jonathan commented that he should be on that show. I said, "Why's that?" To which he responded, "Because I can dance." I said, "No, you think you can dance." Get it? Yeah, look for me next season on Last Comic Standing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Poo Poo Ca Choo


Little dudes are just eggs, leave 'em on the beach to hatch, then coo-coo-ca-choo, they find their way back to the big 'ol blue. --Crush from Finding Nemo
Crush might've gotten that catchphrase from the Beatles or even Simon & Garfunkel, but I think at this moment we relate more to Crush's sentiments. Jack has decided that he's ready for potty training and he's doing it! I can't take any credit at all. He has been in undies during waking hours for the past three days and he's been dry! We had a little issue with #2, but after one mishap he figured it out and tonight he went poo poo on the potty! "Big poo poo", as he would tell you.
He loves his underwear so much (especially his Finding Nemo undies) that at night we have to put it on over his pull-ups just to get him to wear the pull-ups (not sure he's ready to go dry all night yet). Whenever we're home he takes off his shorts so that he can show off to everyone that he's wearing undies. Tonight, in the middle of playing outside with all the excitement of two neighborhood boys over and the stomp rockets flying, he stopped and took himself to the potty--amazing! How did we hit this just right? We're so proud of him and, best of all, he's really proud of himself.

Monday, June 16, 2008

One of Those Days...

These kids wear me out. Ella drains me mentally by asking the tough questions like "Is God pretend because we can't see him?" and "Can I take a dead bug home from the pool so I can make him better?" Jack wore me out physically today through the vigilance required of potty training. And then I was put through the emotional wringer by another (or a continuation of an existing, depending on how you look at it) boo boo requiring urgent care. Ella got her stitches out today and I actually took a picture of her face to show that it was a nice clean line in her eyebrow. Not even an hour later, however, in the bathtub Jack head-butted her eyebrow and split it right back open. Of course, we want as little a scar as possible on that sweet face, but how terrible to make her go through an ER experience and stitches again. Our good friend, Carolyn, who happens to be a PA, let us drop by her house and she steri-stripped it together. We're so thankful for such a good (and knowledgeable) friend! Hopefully that's the end of it and it will heal just fine, but we'll have to check it tomorrow.
Once Jack realized that what he had done was really bad (Ella was bleeding and crying) he started wailing. After I got them out of the bath, Jack was still wailing and Ella was calm. It was so remarkable and sweet--she was holding a towel to her bleeding eye all the while trying to comfort Jack. She said, "Happiness will cheer me up, Jack. Give me a big smile. It's ok. I love you, Jack, and I'm not angry." I was blown away. They were tired and putting themselves to bed (while I was frantically calling Jonathan, Carolyn, Jonathan, CVS, etc.). I went in to tell Jack he had to get out of bed because we had to go get Ella's eye taken care of again and he was all snuggled up in bed with some new buddies, including this pink bear. Ella then came in and told me she had shared some of her buddies with him to cheer him up. I think I...or even all of us...could learn a lot from this little girl--maybe I should be asking her the tough questions.

On a side note, Jack wore big boy underwear all day and had NO accidents! He is so cute in undies! Maybe I'll explain some other time why I let my son run around outside half-naked, but today I'm just spent.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

U.S. National Whitewater Center








Happy Father's Day! We enjoyed the day with a trip to Charlotte's own U.S. Olympic training site. The Whitewater Center has the world's largest man-made whitewater river--very cool. Of course, the kids aren't old enough to go rafting yet, but it was fun to hike around the facility and take in the whitewater rafting, kayaking, and rock climbing going on around us. You can do rock climbing there starting at age 4, so I think we might get Ella out there soon.

Well, I think Jonathan and I enjoyed the hike more than the kids...you might notice they're dragging a bit in their walk with me. They seemed to fully rebound by the time we made it over to the boulder climbing area for little kids, though.





"I'm Queen of the Mountain!"

Diggin' the wristband and shades, Jack!

The first three weeks of Summer have been amazing! We've been on some grand adventures. But, it's all about to slow down for a few weeks. Ella will have morning camps for the next two weeks and Jack and I are hunkering down at home for some serious potty-training boot camp. So, hopefully our next post will be that Jack is in big-boy underwear. Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Potty Humor



Jack got his own little green potty a few days ago and he's already gone pee pee 3 times and poo poo once in it! Please congratulate him next time you talk to him. We're very proud (and hopeful!). Tonight he was sitting on his potty and then started looking down into it. We asked him if he'd gone pee pee in it and he said, "No, I put a toot in it." It's hard not to have some humor about the whole thing, especially when his favorite book right now (which he's only allowed to read while on the potty) is a lift-the-flap book called "Where's the Poop?"


Ella's Fairy Godmother


Lauren, Ella's Godmother (or "Fairy Godmother" as Ella refers to her), came to visit us with her little daughter, Zoe! We met Lauren out for a nice lunch. The kids...I guess I mean my kids...ran around a little wild while we talked and caught up. When some men who were sitting close to us got up to leave, one of them came over to us. I thought he was going to say something about how out of control the kids were. Instead, though, he said, "Cute kids. Cute moms, too." Yeah, we still got it...

Ella grew this sunflower from seed. The kids have been pretty interested in the life cycle, so we started a few pots from seeds. Ella had about 6 sunflower seeds and Jack 6 watermelon seeds. Luckily, one of each plant survived. Ella's sunflower has finally bloomed. Jack's watermelon vine has a few blossoms, so maybe we'll have some watermelon for the 4th of July.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Wild Hogs





No, Mike and Jonathan are much cooler than that, but this was their motorcycle weekend. They rented motorcycles tonight and are riding to the mountains tomorrow. Jonathan took me for a little ride--it was admittedly very fun. Ella begged for a ride herself. Mike said he'd give her a ride when she was 16, but went on to remark that maybe her boyfriend would have a motorcycle by then--as a father of all boys I'm sure that is quite fun for Mike to joke about.... Knowing Ella, though, in all likelihood one of his sons will be riding on the back of her motorcycle. I am hoping, however, that Jonathan's hobby does not translate to a hobby for my kids. It's one thing for a 30-something father to be driving around a motorcyle and quite another for an 18-year-old daredevil who's already gotten 7 stitches by age 4.





May the schwartz be with you! Little Dark Helmet hung out with us tonight, too.





Hours of Entertainment



Well, maybe not hours, but it is amazing how much play can come from a box and some packaging. Of course, Jonathan sees this and thinks we have waaay too many toys (which might be true). I am just amazed at their endless imaginations. The box was a boat, a car, a rocket, a pirate ship, and then, after it broke, a cave for bears. Then, the long rolls of packaging were a family of giraffes we had to feed leaves to that Ella would pick for us. The adventures were amazingly intricate!


Looks like we've got our own little Zohan here--those have got to be Ella's feet, right?


Thursday, June 12, 2008

We're Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo...





...how about you, you, you? Sorry, we listened to Raffi on the way... Anyways, we spent a fun day at the Riverbanks Zoo to take our minds off of Ella's "hurted" eye and the impermissible pool. Despite the heat, the animals were out in full force. Most of the time, however, it seemed like the kids were more interested in those bronze animal statues and snack time. A few actual animals got the kids excited (after we ate, of course)--the penguins put on a swimming show, a giraffe was about 2 inches from Ella, and Jack got to watch a turtle climb onto a crocodile's back right in front of him.