Sunday, July 26, 2009

Marshmallows

Ava has been talking about roasting marshmallows for several days. Friday night at the reunion, there had been promises of mallow-roasting, but it was just too late, the kids were exhausted so we didn't stick around for the campfire. Ava, was obviously disappointed, but I promised we'd roast marshmallows soon.

So, Saturday I bought a big bag of mallows at the store. Then, tonight after dinner, we went on a walk with some friends and ended back in our backyard, armed with a camping grill, fondue skewers, marshmallows and three wide-eyed, salivating children.

Ava and Reid couldn't get enough of the puffy, sugary goodness. I'm pretty sure they ate four giant marshmallows a piece -- savoring each bite.



Jax, on the other hand, had a less delicate approach to his mallow consumption.

Busy Summer Days

The kids need to be detoxed. I think between the two they ate enough sugar-laden treats this weekend to send their teeth and bellies in shock. Normally, I'm the mean Mommy who buys the extra-small popsicles just because they have less sugar. Dessert is usually fruit. Suckers get a few licks before being put into a plastic bag and saved for later. Not this weekend. For the past few days all my rules about sugar and how much and when my kids can eat it went out the window. And I'm okay with that. This was an extra-special weekend.

Grandma and Grandpa came to town for the Haymore Family Reunion (Grandma's side of the family), along with Uncle Curtis, Aunt Courtney, Cousin Nathan and Uncle Dusty. Andy's mom is from a family of 14 children, 12 of whom attended the reunion along with large portions of their families. Andy and I have been married almost seven years and I hadn't met half of his mom's siblings, until this weekend. Ava and Jax were thrilled with all the kids running around, especially Cousin Nathan. Nate is just about a year younger than Ava. He is definitely all boy and I'm pretty sure he's Jax's new favorite person. The little mancub just couldn't get enough of his big boy cousin, following him around whenever he had the chance. Thursday, after the reunion kick-off, we all mosied back to our house so the kids could cool off on the Slip 'n' Slide. Jax was down for his nap, Andy was at work, so Ava and Nate had the whole thing to themselves... so we thought.




Uncle Dusty and Uncle Curtis just couldn't resist. I'm actually surprised it took them as long as it did to trade in their street duds for swim trunks. To be honest, I'm surprised they didn't just slide in their clothes. Ava and Nathan just loved having the big kids on the Slip 'n' Slide and took advantage of Uncle Dusty's and used him as a surf board.

Day Two of the reunion was mostly outdoors -- water games and slides, a giant swingset and exploring in the woods. But their favorite part of all? The pedal Go-Karts! Jax, as many know, has a slight car obsession (I can't imagine where he got that from... haha) and screeched with excitement, yelling "Car, car! Me! Me!" as he watched the bigger kids racing around. Eventually, Daddy took him on a ride. When it was time to give someone else a turn, it took all of Andy's might to pry Jax's hands from the steering wheel. Ava and I took a spin. While I'm not as good a driver as Daddy (so my three-year-old tells me), I do more fun things on the Go-Kart (take that, Daddy). I'm not exactly sure what those fun things are, but as long as Ava had a great time, I'll take it! The evening ended with a luau dinner, during which our tiny dancer got on stage and dance the Huki Lau with the professional hula dancers. Her face just beamed and even this morning she was "practicing" her "hula hoop dancing" (as she calls it) in our kitchen. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera, but Andy's mom took plenty of pictures which I'll post as soon as she sends them.

Obviously, it was a busy weekend. Fun! But busy. The best part was having Grandma and Grandpa here for a few days. Ava woke up every morning asking if they were still here. She loved reading with Grandma and showing her around our home. Jax even said "Papa," which I know made Ralphie's day. Now that both of Andy's parents are retired we hope to see them again soon. I'll sugar detox my kids any day if it means they get to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An Important Lesson

There are starving children all over the world. Really, there are. I know this because my parents told me dozens of times during my childhood when I refused to eat what had been prepared for dinner. I vowed to myself at the tender age of eight that I would never use that line on my kids. Sorry, eight-year-old me, I've failed you. Because, this morning I did it. Ava, for the second day in a row refused to finish her YoKids yogurt. She begged me for it at the store and promised me she would eat it all. However, after several minutes of it going untouched I asked her to take a bite. When she did, she made a face as if I had asked her to eat a worm. "It's yucky!" "What's yucky about it?" I ask. "It's not cold," she answers. It had been cold, and technically, it still was. However, it wasn't as cold as Ava would have liked and thus, it was "yucky." So, another container of yogurt went to waste. I never force Ava to finish a meal. My rule is, you eat until you're full. But, after two small bites, I knew she wasn't full. So, I explained to her that she had wasted the yogurt. Her response? "We can buy more." And that's when it happened, the words my parents had used so many times came racing out of my memory and somehow escaped my mouth, "Honey, there are children in the world who don't have any food at all." She looked at me shocked and asked why they don't just go to the grocery store and get some. At this juncture in our conversation, I realized I had two options I could PREACH at Ava about why we don't waste food and how thankful she needs to be, or I could TEACH Ava about why we don't waste food and how blessed we are. I chose the latter.

So, I explained, in three-year-old terms, what hunger means. That there are people in the world and even in our own city who don't have food in their homes, or money to buy food. I could tell she was saddened and immediately began running through her friends' names asking if they had enough food. After reassuring her that her friends were all well-fed, I asked her how it made her feel to know that some children are hungry. "Sad," she answered. I asked how it made her feel that we were blessed to have food in our home, "Happy," she said. Then, I asked what we could do to help people who don't have food. "Give them some of ours," she said emphatically. So, we began scanning our cupboards and chose some canned foods . Then, I called the local food bank and asked what they were in need of and was told tuna fish and peanut butter. So, after ballet off we went to the store to stock up on both, along with some other canned goods, all of which Ava chose.


Soon after, we arrived at the food bank. I let Ava carry a few of the peanut butters in. My heart smiled as I watched my little girl happily bounce through the automatic doors, so excited to make her donation. The man at the front grinned as he saw Ava trot in. She handed him the peanut butter and announced, "My Mommy and I got these for people who don't have food." The man thanked Ava and put the peanut butter in a large box, along with the other boxes and bags of food we had brought.


On our way home I asked Ava how she felt.
"Very happy,"
she replied.
"What did you learn," I asked.
"I learned that we're blessed to have food and I shouldn't waste it."
"Did you learn anything else?"
She thought for a few seconds.
"It's good to serve people."

She couldn't see me because I was driving, but a big smile came over my face, accompanied by tears in my eyes. I had hoped that from the experience she would obviously stop wasting her food, but more than that, I wanted her to recognize how wonderful it feels when we serve others.

Tonight at bed as we read scriptures, I came across the word "blessing." Ava interrupted me and said, "I have blessings."
"What are they, honey?"
"My family, and Jesus, and food to eat."

So, maybe she learned a lesson. Maybe she'll never waste food again. Probably not, though. What she will do, is remember this experience and the feeling she had as she chose foods she likes, knowing very well they would go to someone else, and being completely okay with that. What I'll remember is how a not-so-stellar morning, provided me with an amazing opportunity to teach my daughter, and the look on her face when I realized the joy she got from serving. I hope she never stops.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Funny Faces

This is what happens when Jax naps and Ava, Mommy & Daddy have too much time on their hands...


Not bad, right? Just wait until Andy enters the picture....





Now pucker up!


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tiny Dancer

I've been promising my dad these photos for over a week now. Here they finally are. Sorry, Dad!
First day of big girl ballet! Ballet shoes are in her ballet bag.

Her bun. Which she LOVES!

Our little ballerina moved up to the "big girl" dance class three weeks ago. It's a combo ballet and tap class. I wish I had captured the look on Ava's face the first time she put her tap shoes on and heard the sounds they make. The excitement just oozed out of her. She also got new ballet shoes. She quickly grew out of her old pink ones and opted for blacks ones this time around. She loves both pair of shoes and is so careful with them, always putting them back in her dance bag as soon as she's done. We've made a rule that dance shoes are to only be worn at dance. I've heard far too many stories about shoes in the pool, missing tap shoes, etc. So, she keeps them in her bag, although, occasionally, she'll tell me that Daddy wants to see her tap so I allow her to put her tap shoes on and do a little routine for Daddy on the kitchen floor (the tappiest floor in our home). As soon as she's done, she promptly returns the shoes to her bag... even though she'd wear them all day every day if I let her.

Ava is the youngest in the class of 3-5 year-olds, but can definitely hold her own. The class is much more structured than her last, which was a Mommy & Me class. This time around, Mommy sits in a room and watches through a window. There is more technique and discipline involved, not to mention, the girls have a dress code: black leotard and pink tights (skirt is optional). Ava's teacher, Miss Michelle says she's impressed with how well Ava has done thus far. I wanted to say "DUH!" and tell her that I knew Ava would jump right in and continually improve, but didn't for fear of sounding like one of "those" mom. I simply said, "Well, she loves it!" Which is true. She does. She looks forward to Wednesdays, even telling me Tuesday nights, "When I wake up it's ballet day!"


video



I'm excited to watch her as she progresses in this class. It's hard to believe that when we moved here a year ago she could barely spin without falling. Now, she's doing arabesques, plies and twirling on her toes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

4th of July!

So, I'm a week late with this post. Sorry, I've been playing with fireworks. They're legal here in Utah which has turned me into quite the little pyro. Haha.

Our 4th got started with a bang... on the 2nd. Ava's little buddy Ethan came over to make Independence Day shirts out of macaroni. Macaroni?! You might ask. Well think about it. Strategically positioned one can make macaroni look like just about any shape firework. Joni and I had grand visions of the shirts and the fun the kids would have making them, but after a few presses of the macaroni "stamps" they were off playing in the living room and Joni and I were finishing the shirts.

That evening Ava and I went with her friend Dylan and his mom to their cousin's house for Ava's first dose of handheld fireworks. She and I ran to the store in advance to buy some of our very own poppers and sparklers. Knowing how Ava is with loud noises, I tried to find the quietest, least intimidating of the fireworks. She seemed excited, until they were lit. She held the sparkler for just a few seconds before frantically asking me to take it from her.

Taking a break from her licorice to plug her ears.

Alright, so, her first exposure to handheld fireworks did not go so well. Don't worry, we tried again on the 4th and there was much less freaking and flailing and much more smiling and writing her name in the air with sparklers. Jax on the other hand... not a fan. Give him a few years and he'll be begging us to buy the big guns. That's when I start freaking out and flailing.

The morning of the 4th we walked down to the parade. The kids went gaga for the floats. Ava especially loved the giant dinosaur float, and all those with beauty queens on them. Jax was more excited about the horses and cars. Both, of course, loved the marching bands and were not afraid to shake their booties in public! (unfortunately, I don't have video of Jax).
video


On our way to the parade. There were so many people that I asked Ava to sit in the stroller on our way over. She was not happy.

Hanging out with Daddy

The balloon in the back is "Madeline," one of Ava's very favorite book characters.

We finished the night off with a BBQ, sparklers and a late, late (10:45) fireworks show. Our neighbors were shooting off some pretty big firecrackers of their own. The loud booms frightened Ava, so to muffle the sounds we put cotton balls in her ears and then covered them with her winter hat... even though it was 80 degrees out.

Gotta love the get-up

Get this thing away from me


Waiting for fireworks. Jax was waiting to go to bed.

You can kinda see the fireworks in the background.

11pm. The kids' faces say it all.


I love the 4th! It's just such a fun holiday! I explained to Ava that morning that the 4th of July is America's birthday and that we're celebrating our freedoms and all of our blessings. She suggested that next year we make a cake for America. I told her that there are a lot of people in America and we'd be cooking for days. Her response? "That's okay, you like to bake. I'll help you stir the batter and I won't lick my fingers because I don't want to give America germs."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tubes

For about ten minutes today, my stomach was in complete knots. Jax had tubes inserted into his ears today. It's a minor procedure, but despite reassurance from Andy, doctors, friends whose children had undergone the same surgery and the dozens of web articles I read, I was still terribly nervous. My little boy was having surgery. Again, it was minor. The procedure was just five minutes, but it was surgery nonetheless.


Jax, Andy and I arrived at the surgical center around 8 am (Ava was at her buddy Ethan's house). As I filled out paperwork, Andy and Jax scoped out the giant aquarium. Jax, a lover of all animals, bugs and squirmy things, shrieked with excitement yelling "Vish" (fish). I just kept thinking that he had no idea what was coming. I'm sure he recognized that our normal morning routine had been disturbed. I mean, his mother hadn't fed him or given him water despite his pleas "Wawa, peas" (water, please.) FYI, I wasn't starving him by choice, he wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything for several hours before surgery.

Twenty minutes later we were back in pre-op changing Jax into the cutest little get-up I've ever seen. Let's face it, there's nothing cute about a hospital gown... on an adult. But on my chubby little 13-month-old, it's freakin' adorable.


He even had his little booty hanging out (diaper-covered, of course), like a real hospital patient.

Jax played in the toy room for a few minutes (he quickly extracted each car, truck or wheeled-object from the toy box) before a nurse came in and took him. To be honest, I hesitated a little handing my sweet little boy over to her. He, being the friendly little guy he is, went right to her and waved bye-bye to me. It was a really hard goodbye for me. I knew I'd see him soon, yet I couldn't help but worry. Like I said, it's surgery. I worried something would go wrong, he'd have an allergic reaction to anesthesia, the doctor would make a mistake -- all those things that happen once out of every million. But what if Jax was that one? I held tightly to Jax's Elmo and Bear, as if my cuddling them would provide Jax with vicarious Mama-protection. We sat in the waiting room, I attempting to read, but really only making it through one paragraph, of which I could tell you nothing. Fortunately, a nice old man came over and began talking to us about his annoyance with all the Michael Jackson coverage (it was on the news in the waiting room), and before I knew it, they were calling us back to the recovery room.

The doctor warned us that it could take up to an hour for Jax to come to after surgery and that, once awake, crying would likely ensue for just as long. However, when we arrived in the recovery room, our little guy, bundled up in a blanket in the arms of a sweet nurse, was already waking up. I immediately took him in my arms, he was so limp. As he began to stir, the shock of the situation set in and he began crying. It lasted about two minutes -- ending as soon as I gave him a goldfish cracker and something to drink. His body remained limp for just a few more minutes, as soon as he had food in his system his strength came back. We were out of there just 20 minutes after his surgery ended.


As for the rest of the day... after a three hour nap, the mancub was back to normal: walking, walking, walking all over the house, chasing Ava, eating his body weight in apples and cheese (his favorite), driving his truck, walking some more and laughing with Ava.

So, the surgery was a success. The tubes should fall out in about 18 months. The hope is, they'll correcct his ear issues and he'll be ear infection-free. Actually, he'll still likely get the occasional ear infection, just like any kid, but nothing like he suffered his first year of life. If he does happen to get an ear infection, he won't be given antibiotics, just drops. Thank goodness! I know it's only been a few hours since Jax became a tuber, but I gotta say, in my eyes it's already worth it. I don't know what I was worrying about :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Balloon Festival

It was an early morning for our little family. Andy and I dragged ourselves out of bed at 5:30 (which meant I got less than four hours of sleep), got ready and woke the kids up before the sun came up... all for a balloon launch. And it was soooo worth it!

Jax heard me come in his room and popped right up, big smile on his face and was ready to go. Ava, on the other hand, is like her Daddy and needs to shake the cobwebs out of her head before she's ready to function. However, I think I said the words "hot air balloons" enough that something in her brain ignited and by six she was practically running out the door.

As part of the local Freedom Festival, Provo hosts a three-day balloon festival at a nearby field. Apparently, it's a big deal and people drive from all over to attend. We only had to walk a few blocks and we were there. Nice.

We arrived at the field early enough that all the balloons were either still flat on the ground or in the early stages of inflation. I wish I had captured the look on the kids' faces as they took in the sight. The field was overwhelmed with bright colors, new sounds and excitement. Ava immediately gravitated toward the only all pink balloon on the field -- a giant pig. I don't think Jax had a favorite, he just kept saying "Whoa" and "bi baoon" (big balloon).

Watching the balloons get blown-up

Our kiddos are GRRRRRR-EAT!

Eventually, each balloon was inflated, displaying its full glory. And they each took off, one by one, in a finely executed display of ballonmanship. Is that a word? Okay, in laman terms, it was really cool! The kids didn't take their eyes from the sky, constantly pointing out the pig, Tony the Tiger, the American flag and Smokey the Bear (who Ava originally thought to be an acorn).

An early morning... but a beautiful start to our day.