Wednesday, April 29, 2009

11-Months-Old

Jax turned 11-months-yesterday. I have just one month left of saying my baby is "X-months-old." After this months, I'll have to say he's one. I can't believe that. I was just telling my best friend yesterday that it seems like he got to this age so much faster than Ava did. Yet, when Ava turned one she seemed like such a big girl to me, Jax is still my baby. It's very strange the things we think with second children.

Anyway. Jax has developed so many new talents in the past few weeks. He's started saying several new words, making animal sounds, folding his arms during all prayers (and KEEPS them folded) and standing on his own.

Here he is walking with a push toy. Be sure to watch the whole thing, because he says his newest favorite word at the end.

video

He has 6 1/2 teeth with a few more coming and has quickly learned the benefits of having chompers. Honestly, I rarely have to cut his food up for him, partly because he's tearing it out of my hands before I have the chance, but mostly because he uses those teeth like a hungry lion attacking a fat zebra. I think it's the only explanation for his rapid tooth growth -- he's willed his body to shoot those suckers through his gums so he can tear through his food more quickly. He often eats more than me at dinner time and rivals Andy in the amount of food he consumes. My growing boy!


Here he is playing with his wooden car and making the VROOM sound that goes with it. Such a boy!

video

Monday, April 20, 2009

On the Move

Our kids are becoming more mobile. Which terrifies me. Maybe terrify isn't the right word. In many ways, I'm excited for the new skills they're learning, but on the other hand, it means they're getting bigger and faster... and I have to chase them.

Ava has now mastered her tricycle. She's been trying so hard and told me several times, "Mommy, if I just keep practicing, I'll ride my trike like a big girl." And sure enough... she's quite the little speedster now. We took her for a ride around the block the other day and then let her ride around the church parking lot for quite awhile. I'm happy to report that in all that time she only had one little spill and she hopped right back on and pedaled away. One accident is especially impressive when 1) you consider that she inherited her mother's clumsy gene, and 2) she rarely watched where she was driving, instead, checking out everything around her and the new, faster view of those things. She's such a big girl and I'm so proud of her for working so hard to master the pedaling motion. She expressed her frustration with it several times, but kept at it.

video

Jax, meanwhile, is showing more signs of a desire to walk. I'm especially in no hurry to have a biped for a son. I am completely content with his current quadriped status. He already gets into everything and can somehow make it a quarter of the way up the stairs after I've only turned my back for a few seconds. He's a master sneak I tell you. As of late, he's started grabbing on to moving things and using them to walk -- our computer chair, an inside ride-on toy (thanks Ethan) an outside ride-on toy, Ava's trike, the kitchen chair (whith Ava in it). He seems ready to go. Sometimes the object moves a little faster than his legs, but he's always quick to catch himself or hop right back up and try again. I've got some determined kids. Jax is so pleased with himself as he motors around, and especially loves crashing in to things. What can I say, he's such a boy!

I'll post video later. Unfortunately, I accidentally erased the adorable video of him pushing his little truck. I promise, it will be up soon!

Re-Rooting

We have a wonderful backyard! I love it. It's not huge, but it's big enough for the kids to run around in, to have a sandbox in, to have family picnics in and to just lounge around in on beautiful warm days. In the corner of our yard sits the perfect shade tree. It's an ornamental plum (which stained my favorite pair of khaki bermuda shorts last summer). This time of year, it's covered in beautiful pink blossoms. I love that tree. Just last week, I looked out the back door one morning and just had to take a picture of the pink puffs covering its branches.



I'm glad I did, because the next morning when I woke up, this is what I saw.


We got snow last Wednesday. It was so heave that it actually uprooted and knocked over the tree. Thank goodness no one or thing was hurt... except the poor tree. I quickly called my friend Jessica who owns our townhome to find out what protocol is for bowled over trees. After consideration, she and her husband decided to just cut it down. She and I were both so sad. It's such a good little tree. So, execution day was planned for Saturday. Giving us a few final days to enjoy our tree... and for Ava to laugh at the funny tree "laying" in our backyard.

Saturday came, I was prepared to bid my final farewell to Tree, when GOOD NEWS! Jessica called and said she spoke with a nursery (the tree type) and they told her the tree could be salvaged. HOORAY!! So, that morning, she and her husband and boys came over and we all went to work on re-erecting and trimming the tree. I must say, it looks beautiful. No one would ever know that just a few days ago the thing was on the chopping block.



While the grown-ups gathered branches Ava and Dylan dug for worms with real shovels. Jax, of course, ate soil.



After Operation Tree Salvage was complete, we migrated to the front of our complex to tidy up the landscaping, pull weeds and, in the kids' case, play in the dirt. Ava and Dylan were happy to "help."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Project Princess

Before Ava turned three she decided, nay, DECLARED that she needed a princess room. She thought, and rightfully so, that her new big girl status deserved a big girl room. So, months before her birthday PROJECT PRINCESS got underway. We had it all finished for her birthday, but I'm just now getting around to blogging about it. So goes life.

I'll post pictures up of her entire room tomorrow. But, I wanted to get this one up for Andy's mom. The centerpiece of the room is Ava's "new" dresser. In all actuality, the dresser is anything but new. It's old, really old. To give you an idea, one day as I was working on the the dresser Uncle Dusty came by, got one glimpse of the thing and said with shock, "You still have that thing?!" The dresser was Andy's as a child. It had dents and marker markings, dirt and pieces missing, all the basic distinguishing characteristics of something owned, for decades, by a boy.


My first line of attack was sanding the whole thing down. I was prepared for days of sanding. However, an electric hand sander, 140 grout sandpaper and a few hours later and I was finished. Granted, my hands were red and stung from the constant tickle of the sander. But, I was done, nonetheless. From there, I painted the whole thing white (Ava helped). Once the paint dried, the real work began. I covered the entire thing in princess scrapbook papers and light blue crystal glitter paper (Ava chose), creating patterns and designs and then Modge Podged it all on. If you don't know what Modge Podge is, you're missing out. It's amazing! It's my new obsession. Andy fears he will come home one day to a Modge Podged house and a wife drunk with glee.


The Top

I'm really pleased with how the dresser came out. Ava LOOOOVES it. And that's all that really matters. She was so excited to put her clothes in her brand new princess dresser, and even told Daddy he couldn't touch it for fear he'd ruin it. Such a little princess.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Whale, A Wedding, A Beach and A Whole Lotta Fun




Brace yourself, this is going to be a long one.

It has been a busy few days for us. Fun, but busy. The chaos started Wednesday night and ended Sunday night with the kids crashing as soon as their tired little bodies hit their beds. I've never actually seen Ava's eyes red from exhaustion... until yesterday. Thursday to Sunday we were in San Diego for Uncle Eric and Karly's (now Aunt Karly) wedding, which was actually Saturday, but we decided to make a little vacation out of it. And boy, did we jam pack our schedule!

It all actually started Wednesday morning, when my wonderful friend Joni surprised me with a birthday brunch (my birthday was Thursday) of crepes with several delicious fillings, juice and Easter goodies. It was such a lovely and unexpected (and delicious) treat and a great way to start off what was gearing up to be an insane next few days! That night Andy and I went to dinner at Tucano's. YUMMY! We sometimes forget how nice it is to have uninterrupted conversation, thank goodness for waiters coming to our table and creating a sense of normalcy for us! :)

Thursday, the kids, Uncle Dusty and I left for San Diego (Andy didn't fly in until Friday because of school). I, of course, did not finish packing until right before we were leaving, but hey, it just wouldn't be normal if I wasn't running around like a chicken with my head cut off. What's the fun in preparation?! Anyway, I braced myself for potential meltdowns on the plane, but the kids were GREAT! Ava freaked out a little because she was thirsty and couldn't understand what was taking the flight attendants so long to get to us. But, once she had her water and airplane snack, all was right in the friendly skies. I gave her the seat next to the window (for so many reasons). She couldn't believe we were actually as high as the clouds. She loved it. I began giving her gum last week so she could practice chewing it for the plane. By the time we took off, she was chomping the gum as obnoxiously as any kid! However, on the way home (actually, on the shuttle to the car after landing in SLC) she got some gum stuck in her hair and I had to cut it out. Fortunately, it was only a small piece in an inconspicuous spot. Anyway, back to the flight, Jax, has his binky to keep his ears from popping. Once we were in the air, I popped it out, and he just played, ate and entertained the passengers the rest of the flight. Pretty par for Jax's course. Thursday night we landed, hung out and went to bed early.

Flying the friendly skies

Friday --- SEA WORLD!!! The park was just a few minutes from our hotel, and the entire few minutes, this is what I heard: "Mommy, are we there yet?" "Is this Sea World?" "Have we parked, yet?" "Mama, where's Sea World?" Excited much? Ava, Jax and I joined Dusty, Grandma, Grandpa, Curtis, Courtney, Nathan, Brian, Emily & Konrad for a fun-filled day with Shamu. The kids were AWESOME! All of them! No one had a nap (except Jax, who fell asleep in the stroller) and no one had a meltdown (until close to dinner time).

The boy cousins

I love this picture because it really represents all of them: Ava being the little mother, Nathan looking right at his mom, Konrad just being laid back and ralaxed and Jax trying to figure out how to climb up the darn thing.

Jax was jabbering, yelling at and singing to passerbys and was just mesmerized by all the animals. He was in some sort of trance during the Shamu show, he just sat on Grandpa's lap staring. I didn't even exist. Ava, was in HEAVEN! She love, love, loves animals... especially the sea-dwelling type. She held starfish, pet a stingray, saw penguins and sharks and was absolutely fascinated by the most disgusting sea creature --- the eel! Those freaky ocean snakes grossed me out, but Ava was enamored.


Ava showing Jax the starfish (he has a shirt on, he's just lifting it up).

Petting a stingray (she said it felt like a tongue)

Her only issue at Sea World was getting wet. Before every show they announce that if you're in the first 10 rows you'll get soaked. Ava, not quite comprehending that we were well above those 10 rows, became nervous each time this announcement was made. "Mama, I want to go. I don't want to get wet." "Honey, we won't get wet, that's just for the people way down there." "Okay, do you promise I won't get wet?" During one show, she asked me if "I promise" about 30 times. We actually had to leave a 4-D Elmo show in the Sea World theater because we were unexpectedly sprayed with water. 3-D glasses before the Elmo show... ahhh, happier times.

She didn't mind when the stingray splashed her, she actually thought it was funny, but for some reason any other splashing was simply not acceptable. But, I can't blame her, I'm not a fan of being splashed with sea water that, I can only assume, is three parts water, one part whale pee.

The cousins and Grandma relaxing after a LOOONG day!

Saturday -- Eric and Karly's wedding at the San Diego Temple. This was by far the coldest day of our trip... and bloody windy I might add. My best friend Jaime was supposed to watch the kids so I could go into the temple for the sealing, however, she came down with the flu, so I just waited with the kiddos in the foyer and outside, along with Emily, Konrad and Nathan. The sealing took a lot longer than expected and the kids began to get antsy, however, as soon as Ava saw Aunty Karly walk out of the temple in her beautiful dress she was fine. Actually, Ava was the flower girl. I apparently did not explain her flower girl duties very well, because she assumed it meant she was in charge of holding all flowers. So, as soon as Eric and Karly came out of the temple, Ava raced down and took Karly's bouquet. So, in every photo shot of Eric and Karly emerging as a newly married couple, they look like they have a kid. Ooops.


My little beauty on the beautiful San Diego Temple grounds
E & K being the wonderful and patient people they are, just let Ava have her fun with the bouquet. It was very sweet. Oh, Jax slept through it all.

The brothers. You don't even want to know what they were doing to each other with the hands you can't see.
The sisters-in-law (from me to the right). The two girls on the left are Karly's longtime friends.

Later that day, we attended the ring ceremony and reception at Karly's parent's house where Ava actually got to be a flower girl. Karly made her a cute little basket and picked fresh flowers from her parents' garden. We told Ava to sprinkle the petals as she walked. However, we regretted to remind her to leave them there. Her walk down the aisle went a little something like this: sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle, pick up and put back in basket... repeat. She's such a character.

Tossing petals....

Picking up said petals.

The ring ceremony was beautiful, and Karly's sister, Kensie, got to "attend" all the way from China, via Skype. We are so happy to see Eric so in love... and I gotta say, I am soooo excited to have Karly as a sister-in-law... and the kids adore her!

That evening we all just hung out at the hotel, ate pizza and relaxed.

Sunday (Easter), the adults went to church while Grandma and Grandpa watched the kiddos. It's amazing how much faster we get ready for church without children to feed, bathe, dress, etc. After church, we loaded up checked out and took the kids to the beach to dip their toes in the water, dig in the sand, fly a kite and hunt for Easter eggs. This was Jax's first time at the beach and, of course, he loved it. He squealed and giggled as Andy helped him walk his fat little barefeet into the water. He was just amazed by the feel of the wet sand as we dug, and, as always, he had to taste it. Little weirdo!
Mmmmm.... sand.

I LOVE this picture of my little man and me!

Ava, our little beach bunny, told me we should live at the beach. As soon as we were on the sand her shoes were off and she was in the water. Not realizing how brave she would be, I only rolled her pants up a little. Big mistake! Within a few second her pants were soaked and she had sand in her crack. She didn't seem to mind, however, and kept running down the shore like a wild woman. She and I searched for shells, dug a hole (which she let Uncle Dusty bury her in) and went on an egg hunt. It was the perfect end to our mini-vacation.
Running down the beach!

Finding eggs. She opened each one before putting it in her basket and moving on to the next.

Found one!
Hmmm... what's in here?

I've got to say. I wasn't sure how the kids would do running on little sleep and with so many people around. It was a little overwhelming for the adults, so I can't imagine what it was like for the kids. But, I was so impressed by them. Ava was such a good example and so helpful with her baby brother and cousins. She was sure to say "please" and "thank you" when necessary and was so sweet to say kind things whenever they popped in her head, "Cousin Nate, I like your hairdo," "Grandma, you make the best jelly..." and more like that. She's such a sweet little thing. Jax was friendly and playful... just his usual self, despite note napping much the whole trip. I HAD to post this! This is what Jax looked like right after he woke up one in the hotel one morning. Check out the bedhead!

And especially since, when I looked in his mouth today, he has SIX teeth coming in! What a trooper!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fleas

I just had to post this this morning. Ava says something every day that just makes me smile...

Just a few minutes ago, Ava asked if she could play with her little buddy Ethan today. I told her we'd go to their house tomorrow as we already have a playdate planned. She asked with excitement in her eyes and voice, "Is his tummy flea gone?" I immediately knew what she was talking about and chuckled a bit. Ethan had a rough day one day last week and threw up a few times. After I got off the phone with his mom that day, I told Ava that Ethan had the "stomach flu." Later that evening, when Andy came home I called it a "stomach bug." Ava put the two together and deduced that Ethan must have a "tummy flea." She cracks me up!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Stranger Danger

I thought it necessary to finally sit down and have THE TALK with Ava. She's wise beyond her three years so I thought it appropriate to put it all out there. So, I sat her down today, armed with a book and my own maternal knowledge and decided to finally have THE TALK... not that one (get your head out of the gutter)... the STRANGER DANGER talk.

I should preface this story by saying that nothing scares me more than losing one of my children. I've reported on enough child abductions in my years in the news business to be scared for the rest of my life. That's not to say my children live in a bubble. However, I'll be the first to admit I'm a little extra-cautious.

Ava is a very friendly little girl, constantly greeting and waving at just about anyone. She's quick to tell complete strangers about her age, what she liked to eat for dinner, how to spell her baby brother's name... you name it. It's sweet and, I'm sure, most everyone she shares random information with has no interest in stealing her... but, you can never be too sure. So, I thought now was an appropriate time to talk to her about strangers.

I checked out the Berenstain Bears Stranger Book from the library, we read it, we discussed it. "Mommy, I only talk to a stranger if you're talking to them. But I never talk to a stranger by myself. And I don't eat a stranger's candy, even if it's a gummy worm. And I don't go anywhere with a stranger." It seemed to sink in.

But then, as we waited in line at Babies R Us she left my side and stood right next to the woman who was checking out and began telling her about the "Tinkerbell" movie (which was at the register). Initially, I thought, "I can see her, no biggie." But then I thought better of it and decided that if I was going to get my point across about strangers, I needed to nip it in the bud. I called her back over, told her I knew she was being friendly and that the woman seemed nice, but that it's important that she stay with me. I don't want to frighten her and make her think everyone is a bad guy, but I want her to be aware.

So, later, we go to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. As we were in an aisle an elderly man came up and began talking to Jax. He said some kinda questionable things, "He knows I'm a grandpa," "I have a whole room of trains at my house," "Grandpas just love to cuddle and take naps." I, of course, was extremely uncomfortable with this man and began walking away with my kids when Ava turns around and says, "You're a stranger!"

I turned away and smiled. I don't know if she sensed just how creepy this man was or if this should be the reaction I should come to expect anytime anyone unfamiliar speaks to my kids. I asked her why she thought the man was a stranger. She said, "We don't know him. He shouldn't talk to Jax unless he asks you because you're the Mommy." So proud!

Friday, April 3, 2009

M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I

I have been singing the Mississippi song for two days. You know, that one you learn in elementary school that helps you remember all the S's and P's. I remember being so excited the day I learned to spell it backward. I wish all the states had fun songs... or atleast several sets of double letters, or were worth trying to spell backward.

Andy received news yesterday that he is the recipient of a Department of Defense SMART Scholarship. It's a prestigious scholarship awarded to students in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering. I never doubted he'd get it, I mean, he has a 4.0 GPA in a Civil Engineering Masters Program, his undergrad is in mathematics and let's be honest here, he is the most diligent, determined man I know. Yet, for some reason, he was worried. He underestimates himself... I don't. I know what he is capable of and I know others recognize his abilities and potential.

So, he got the scholarship. Hooray! Here's what it means: Tuition - PAID. Books - PAID. Living expenses next school year - PAID. Basically, what it comes down to is a whole year of school with NO STUDENT LOANS! What a relief! Andy will graduate next April and from there, he immediately begins work at an Army Corp of Engineers facility in... wait for it... the thriving metropolis of VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI!!! So, the Kleinmans will soon become Mississippians, Mississippites, Mississippers? I dunno. We're moving to Mississippi. To be honest, initially, I was shocked and a little disappointed. However, after letting it sink in for a day and after doing some research on Vicksburg, I'm actually excited for the adventure. Vicksburg is right on the MS, Louisiana border and right along the good ol' Mississip... oh, and smack dab in the middle of Hurricane Alley. That aside, there is plenty of rich history in the area, plenty to do with the kids outside of Vicksburg and we'll have the chance to visit states and cities that interest us, but have never been near enough to make a trip. There are some details that will definitely take some getting use to -- namely, humidity (90% most days), southern vernacular, living someplace where the church has a very small presence (there's only one ward in the area), being a minority (although, I am so excited to introduce my children to a new culture) and being so far from family. But, it will all be worth it. We have been praying about this scholarship since Andy applied in December. There are dozens of facilities throughout the country Andy could have been sent to, but for some reason, we're going to Mississippi. Not sure why, but we know there's a purpose. Heavenly Father definitely has a plan for us --- and we'll learn along the way.

We are committed to one year at this facility. After that, we can ask to be transferred or leave the ACE altogether. We'll just see how it goes when the time comes. For now, we have a year left in Utah, and then it's Mississippi or bust!