Friday, July 30, 2010

Texas Two-Day

Being here in Mississippi we're far from friends and family. So, you can imagine how excited we iswere to discover that some of our friends from college live just a few hours away in Tyler, Texas. Some of mine and Andy's greatest memories during our courtship involve our Crazy Friend David (his official title), and his wife Shelly is his perfect match. We didn't get the chance to hang out with Shelly much in college, but after this weekend, we look forward to more fun visits with our friends (and their adorable little girl).

We didn't really have an agenda, more than anything we just wanted to hang out. But, in researching Tyler I discovered it's home to one of the 25 best children's museums in the country (according to Parents magazine). Uh, yes please! For $6 a piece (Jax was free) our kids got to run, pretend, destroy, dig for dinosaur bones, build towers... so fun!

Both kids really loved the little "town." It included a grocery store, fire truck, ambulance, veterinarian's office, pastry shop, theatre (complete with dress-up), auto garage (with a real car), restaurant, construction site, airplane, I'm sure I'm missing some things.

After over an hour playing pretend and Ava fixing several broken bones (and nursing several of her own) and Jax repeatedly buckling and unbuckling the seatbelts in the car, we headed over to the science area. Personally, I wish we had spent more time here. It had caves, dino bones, a dino dig site, a ship, a ball roller coaster, building areas, a TV station... I'm really not doing it justice.

Neither of our kids wanted to leave, despite the obvious exhaustion on their faces. Ava has already made me promise to take her back. Thank goodness we have a reason other than the museum to head back to Tyler... otherwise, that'd be one long trip to the museum.

While the kids slept, the grown-ups got to spend some good quality time together, chatting, laughing, reminiscing, eating ice cream (you have to know David and Shelly to know how important this is) and staying up much later than we should. A few years ago, I could have stayed up until 3:30 a.m., gotten up three hours later and functioned fine the rest of the day. Two kids and a few birthdays later and all of a sudden my body is too old. We all took naps that afternoon, could barely stay awake that night and spent a few days recovering. Ahhh, but it was worth it.

Thanks friends for the wonderful weekend. We owe you a few tubs of ice cream!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Little Pioneer Children

Our ward celebrated Pioneer Day a day early this year. For my non-Mormon readers, every year our Church celebrates pioneer day in honor of the day the pioneers (early members of the Church) entered the Salt Lake Valley after traveling across the country. It's a big deal. The festivities usually include good food, pioneer games and wagons. This year did not disappoint.

Ava has a little "pioneer dress" (as she calls it). My great-grandma made it for me when I was very young and now I've passed it on to my little dress-up queen. However, Ava wasn't satisfied with just a dress she wanted a bonnet. Fortunately, my sewing machine just got back from the shop so I was able to make the Little Miss her very own pioneer boneet with some fabric I happened to have on hand.

I'll have to make her a bigger one next year, but this suffices for now.

All dressed up (well, Ava at least) we headed to our Pioneer Day activity. Good food, handcart pulling, nail drilling races, a wagon parade. The kids had a blast! Jax especially loved being pulled around in the handcart, crying each time his turn was over. I'm pretty sure the real pioneer children probably felt the same way when they had to get out of the wagon and walk.

We're so thankful for the pioneers and their examples of faith and enduring to the end!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Living the Dream

Every parent dreams of a diaper-free house. No one likes wiping another person's butt, not matter how cute that tushy is. Once Jax  hit two Andy and I talked frequently about how close we were to a relief from diapers. We dreamed of the day when our home would be a diaper-free zone. I'm proud to say that day has come, and much sooner than we anticipated!

I'd been told boys potty-train much later than girls and are much more difficult. So, I haven't pushed it with Jax. Ava, I totally forced into potty-trainined. I was seven months pregnant with Jax and refused to spend my days diapering two hinies. It took us about a month, but she was completely potty-trained before Jax was born. This time, there's not another baby on the way. So, I didn't have a deadline. Not to mention, Jax is darn stubborn. I don't dare tell him to do something he's not prepared to do, otherwise he'll do just the opposite which means he would have stayed in diapers just to spite me. All I did was buy him a Lightning McQueen potty seat to put on the big potty. That's it. Late last week, he was running around the house naked, as he often does, and told me he had to go. So I took him. And he went. Another lesson I learned from potty-training Ava, there's nothing wrong with a little bribery. So, I gave Jax two chocolate chips for his accomplishment, which I'm pretty sure sold him on the whole potty-training business. From there on out, he told me every time he had to go potty. Sometimes even going in on his own. We did this for three days. He running around naked, so as to be potty ready, me popping chocolate chips into his mouth every time he did his business. We took him to Wal-Mart where he picked out Lightning McQueen underwear, and he's been wearing undies ever since. Even at night! Seriously, it's been a dream! I don't think it could have gone any better. We're so proud of our big boy!!

So there you have it, no more diapers in this house, at least until we have another baby... someday. Right now, we're just enjoying the freedom.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Our Little Arteest

It's no secret that Jax is all about the monster trucks. To say he is obsessed could very well be an understatement. But what you may not know about our sweet little dude is that he also loves to color and draw. Ava was never very interested in anything involving a crayon or marker when she was younger. Sure, she'd doodle, but books were her thing. Jax, while he loves to read, would much prefer to lay on the floor with paper and crayons. He'll draw for 20-30 minutes at a time. And he's really good. We first noticed his little talent when he purposely started drawing circles and lines before he had even turned two. From there it's progressed to this:

Can you guess what they are? That's right -- MONSTER TRUCKS!

The first picture is one he drew just the other day. Do you see the little circle within the body of the truck? He tells me that's the window where the driver sits. The second photo is artwork he did on a box going to my best friend all the way in California. That's right, postal workers across the U.S. are going to get a glimpse of Jax's artwork!

These little beauts are all over our house. If there is a paper or paper-like surface that is left unattended you can be sure Jax will monster truck it up. As a matter of fact, just last week at church all the children in nursery went home with drawings of red monster trucks on their Jesus coloring pages.

Usually Jax follows Ava around and does everything she does, but this is one thing where his big sister has taken his lead. Since he's become so interested in drawing, she has too. It's so sweet to watch them draw or color together and compliment each other's work. I love that already they're encouraging each other in their talents!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


We finally got Jax in for his two-year checkup today... a month late. Eh, not much happened in that month with the exception of volcano ear (which I'll explain). First, though, here's the stats (feel free to scroll past this if you're not a grandparent).

Height: 36" (90th percentile)
Weight: 32 lbs (80th percentile)

So there you have it. He's still big. Both he and Ava seem to be going through major growth spurts right now. Maybe it's the humidity. Or maybe it's the massive amounts of watermelon these kids consume. Or maybe, they're just going to take after their Daddy and be tall. Who knows.

The pediatrician says everything looks great! She was impressed that he's already potty training so (we even bought him big boy underwear today) and says his vocabulary and speech are well beyond normal for his age. She was especially surprised at how well he puts entire sentences together. He has his big sister to thank for that. She's a big talker. He had to learn to talk, and fast, if he wanted to ever get a word in edgewise. So he did. Which has been so helpful in Ava's pretend adventures. Now she has someone other than Mama to share in all the excitement with, and who can add to the storylines and make-believe fun.

And finally... the pediatrician  said the mancub's ears are looking great, which was a HUGE relief after the volcano ear incident about two weeks ago. Jax woke up one morning with blood just oozing out of his left ear. Andy calmly suggested we get him into the doctor, I, of course, panicked and started looking up "brain aneurysms" online. In hindsight that was obviously a little dramatic. But, I'm a worrier. You know that. I'm pretty sure I'll end up in the loony bin one day. Anywho, we got him into the pediatrician that day (different one) who told me "volcano ear" (as a woman in our ward calls it) sometimes happens in kids with tubes. Either, the ear was inflamed due to infection or sickness, or the tube is beginning to push it's way out. He asked if Jax may have stuck anything in his ear. I kinda laughed at this question and said, "No, I've never seen him stick anything in his ear." AS I said this, I look over at Jax and he's sticking a tongue depressor in his ear. Seriously. The EXACT moment. The little dude just smiled impishly, like he knew he was making me look like an idiot. I'm pretty sure my face caught on fire from embarrassment. The doc looked at me suspiciously, but just gave me some drops and sent us on our way. The drops seemed to help and Jax is always so good to remind me to put them in, but still today two weeks later he had some stuff coming out. Today's ped says it looks like the left tube is beginning to dislodge, which is kinda early. Usually, tubes should stay in for 1.5-2 years, Jax got his in one year from yesterday. She must have sensed that I'm a worrier, maybe I make a worrier face, or maybe there's just a worrier-ness about me, whatever it was she was very adament in stressing that this is nothing to worry about. His ear could very well be ready to go tubeless. Or, it could be abandoning ship prematurely. If that's the case, he'd just get another set of tubes. But we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

So there you have it. Jax is huge. My kids like watermelon. Jax and Ava talk... alot. Jax's ears are fine. That would have been much simpler. But what would a blog post from me be if not long? :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

Treasure Hunt

Since we got a GPS at Christmas-time, Andy has talked quite frequently about geocaching. When he first mentioned it I had no idea what he was talking about and assumed it was one of his nerdy mathmetician/engineer things. But once explained, I got excited about the whole idea. In a nutshell it's a giant treasure hunt. You use GPS coordinates (left on a worldwide GPS website) to locate hidden containers left by other geocachers. Some contain just a piece of paper on which you leave your name, others contain little trinkets; you take one, you leave one. We made a valiant attempt at geocaching back in Utah, which you can read about here, but the snow hindered our adventure.

Andy had the day off, as we prepared to go to the pool a family from our ward called and invited us along on a geocaching adventure. We couldn't turn it down! We really like this family, the husband works in the same lab as Andy, the wife and I get along great and two of their four children (three boys and a baby girl) are the same age as our kids. Perfect! This is a family of experienced geocachers, so we were excited to tag along and see how the pros do it.

Our first "treasure hunt" took us to a historical marker not too far from where we live. It gave clues based based on the markers. The answers to the clues were always numbers, and once we had them all we were able to determine the location of the cache (treasure).

Looking for their next clue

Racing to the next clue

The kids were so excited to find the tiny little container and write their names on it! The next one was pretty similar, but the last one was an actual box with trinkets. Our friends had visited this one before so they let Ava discover the box, oh and when she did, she lit up like a Christmas tree!! The kids frantically opened it and began ravaging the contents for a trinket for each to take home. Ava chose a container of sparkly Silly Putty and Jax a rubber snake. We left several dinosaurs in return (what else!). Up until this point, Jax had been pretty uninterested in the whole process and much preferred to play in the grass or the rocks with his buddy.

Our first cache

The list where we write our names

Searching in the tree for the cache

Choosing their trinkets

My friend and I stood back while the dads and kids did most of the treasure hunting. Sure it was hot, but the nice breeze made it bearable. And even without the breeze I'd do it all again, because now my kids think they're pirates and real treasure hunters, and that is very exciting! I think we've definitely caught the geocaching bug!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Not the 4th of July

We celebrated the 4th of July the 1st through 3rd. As a matter of fact, as I write this, the fireworks show is just starting downtown and our kids are in bed. But don't think they missed out on Independence Day fun. There was plenty of it!

We started out the week with our traditional holiday craft. We got the idea for these handprint eagles out of Family Fun magazine (I think). That day, I became the coolest Mommy (in my kids' eyes). They loved getting messy and feeling the paint squish between their fingers. They've requested we do a similar activity for every holiday.

We made a valiant attempt and red and blue pudding pops, but instead got red and green. No matter how much blue food coloring I put in, I just couldn't get blue. Oh well, at least we know of a good Christmas treat.

Then finally, yesterday (3rd) we surprised the kids with a trip to a hot air balloon/4th of July festival in a town a little over an hour north of us. There, Ava had her face painted and Jax his arm (he has been told one too many times that make-up is for girls, so thought it a bit manlier to have it put on his arm).

Once the paint dried, we headed over the jumping castles, where Jax's obscene amounts of sweat melted said paint off. It was fun while it lasted.

When they were all jumped out we headed over to a very amusing magician. I love that Ava is at the age now where she gets subtle jokes and giggles like crazy at them. What's even better is Jax laughs at his sister laughing. During the show we enjoyed some classic southern fried fare which we later washed down with a delish snow cone. As we indulged ourselves in the syrupy goodness that was the Bahama Mama snowcone we got to watch the hot air balloons being blown up and lit up against the night sky.

We had a perfect view of a GIGANTIC dragon which we were so excited to see lit up, but unfortunately, just before it's tail was full of air the big guy went tumbling down. The kids were disappointed by the downed dragon, but all was well when the fireworks hit the sky.

The show lasted close to 30 minutes, and I'm not sure which I preferred to watch more -- the fireworks, or the looks on my kids' faces. They oohed and aahed, they stared in awe, Ava described the sounds as booms, blasts and the sky being torn. Jax, simply liked the "big ones."

Before we left, Ava told me this was the best surprise in her life. It was certainly a wonderful day and I'm just so thankful to have Andy to ourselves on weekends now, so we can share in such fun times and make such great memories.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Indoor Campout

Fridays are an exciting day in our house. It's the one day a week I let the kids watch more than 30 minutes of television at one sitting (without giving them a lecture about how TV isn't good for our brains). It's FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE NIGHT. Usually, we make homemade pizza and the kids take turns choosing our movie (one week Ava chooses, the next Jax, etc.). But last night was a little different. Ava had mentioned a while back that she wanted to go camping. This is not the best time of year to go camping in our humid little state, so I opted for an indoor campout.

We started the night with hot dogs, beans and corn on the cob and the kids even got to eat ON THE FLOOR (gasp!). Because movie night is our tradition, I couldn't talk the kids out of skipping it this one week saying we wouldn't have a TV if we were really in the wilderness, but they weren't buying it. Fortunately for them, the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie just happened to be on (they're really into Alvin and the Chipmunks right now after Andy and I showed them some of the cartoons from our childhood). As the kids watched the chipmunks perform, I prepared a campout necessity: SMORES. Uncle Dusty once told us smores made with Reeses Peanut Butter Cups put the plain ol' chocolate ones to shame, which doesn't mean much to me since I'm not a big smore fan, but given that generally speaking, I think the union of peanut butter and chocolate could very well be one of the greatest of all time, I thought I'd give it a try. I assembled the sandwiches and nuked those babies for about 15 seconds and TA-DAA -- Smores! I should confess right now that I'm pretty sure my kids have never had smores. Jax wasn't quite sure what to do with them until he laid eyes on the marshmallow, then he knew exactly what to do. Ava, on the other hand, went right to town even asking for another when she was done.

We ended the night with some stories, silly time and finally a family campout in the living room. And by campout, I mean Ava and Jax slept on the hide-a-bed, Andy on an inflatable mattress and me on the floor. It didn't matter, the kids thought it was the coolest thing. So cool, as a matter of fact, that the little loons didn't go to sleep until after 11. They both have already asked if we can campout again tonight. I think they just want more smores.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Natural Science Museum

I've been surprised by the fun things we've found to do in this teeny little state.

We made the hour trip up to Jackson yesterday to drop off my sewing machine at a repair shop (BLAH!) and I thought while we were up there I'd surprise the kids with a trip to the natural since museum.The museum is HUGE. Indoors are sevearl exhibits, including an aquarium, terrarium, hands-on science area, fossils and special exhibit (right now it's sharks). Outside, there's a children's maze and miles and miles of walking trails. We didn't do the walking trails because Ava wasn't in appropriate shoes, but we'll go back next time a little more prepared. Besides, the kids had plenty of fun inside! We went to the aquarium first, which, for some reason scared Jax. Normally, he's fearless, but I think the combination of the dark room and the giant shark he saw when we first walked did him in. He grasped desperately to my leg, repeatedly asking, "Mommy, you 'tect (protect) me from the shark?" Once we got past the fish and hit the reptiles and amphibians, he was way more comfortable. Ava, on the other hand couldn't see each exhibit fast enough. She was going from area to area excitedly calling me over to each one.

We also got to check out a two-headed snake, which Ava was CONVINCED wasn't real.

After the fun inside. We checked out the amazing and HUUUUGE playground near the museum. I gotta say, Mississippi does not fall short when it comes to playgrounds. They're all enormous, full of fun little details and tons of apparatus'. Unfortunately, the cleaning crew came to high-pressure wash the playground while we were there, so our fun got cut short. But, it was fun nonetheless.