Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ninja Turtle

Andy introduced the kids to the classic cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and now Jax is obsessed. He pretends to be Michaelangelo, always wants pizza, when he's angry at someone he calls them "Shredder" and insists on wearing a piece of fabric around his forehead. As if Ninja Turtles weren't exciting enough on their own, they just happen to come in monster truck form. That's right, Jax's two loves all wrapped up in four totally awesome monster trucks!

Jax wants a Michaelangelo costume but the pre-made ones are expensive and I simply don't have the time to make one, but I did have time for this:

I saw a similar shirt online but it was $25 plus shipping, which I was not willing to pay. SO, I made it all on my own for about $6. Not too shabby, and Jax loves it! Cowabunga, dudes!


Ava's Birthday Extravaganza!

Five is a big birthday! According to Ava, a five-year-old can be a big girl, be an example, go to school and cut her apples with a butter knife all by herself. For me, having a five-year-old is bittersweet. Of course, I love watching this little girl of ours grow up, but in the fall, she'll go to school which means she will be gone for seven hours out of every day. This little person who I have spent every day of her life with for five years, won't be here to help me make lunch or to tell me when her little brother is giving himself a mohawk with jelly (as he did this morning) or to play Barbies with first thing in the morning. She'll be off learning and growing. Oh, and she's so excited! Ava's love's to "exercise her brain," as she calls it. She's reading very well, which means she is often lost in a book. If I haven't heard from Ava for a little while I can guarantee she's in her bedroom reading. We've even started keeping track of all the books she reads out loud to us so she can look back and see her progression. She continues to be interested in science: animals and their habitats, plants, the solar system, natural disasters, etc. She's in ballet, despite my best attempts to turn her into a soccer player, the girl loves to dance and perform.

To celebrate Ava's big birthday I made Thursday (the 17th) all about her. After dropping Daddy off at work, we headed to the airport to get G-Ma, then to Chik-fil-A for lunch (Ava's favorite) then off to the new children's museum. The good news is, the museum was AMAZING, better than I imagined, the bad news is it was spring break and PACKED! Fortunately, the kids were able to enjoy plenty of the activities and exhibits. Ava especially loved the dance room and storybook/dress-up area, while Jax loved the car and boat races.





 Check out the dress I made for Ava's special day! She especially loved the built-in apron.


Little Elvis



 
 Pretending to be a pioneer in a log cabin. Yes, that's catfish on her plate.
 


 

Once the kids felt they had seen all there was to see at the museum, we scooted off to Toys R' Us so Ava could choose a pair of roller skates. I told her months ago that I got a pair when I turned five, so she thought it only appropriate she too get skates for her fifth birthday. She chose a pair of pink and purple princess skates (shocking, I know!) with matching knee, elbow and wrist pads. Unfortunately for Ava, she had to wait an entire hour for us to get back home for her to try out her new skates (and new Barbie helmet from Jax). As I made homemade pizza for dinner (birthday girl's choice), G-Ma took Ava out to the patio to practice her skating skills.



After dinner we had homemade strawberry shortcake and opened presents, and let Ava stay up until 10.

 
 

But the real fun came Saturday at her "Fancy Nancy"-themed party.


Ava invited five little girl friends (one couldn't make it). They made necklaces, got pedicures and glittery makeovers courtesy of Afton and Kaylynne (the sweetest teenage girls), went "shopping" for fancy headbands and jewelry, played fancy games, ate cupcakes and parfaits (fancy for ice cream sundaes) and played with all the girly gifts Ava got.






 All fancified. Thanks Afton and Kaylynne!

 
 A Fancy Nancy doll from her best friend A.J. back in Utah!

Ava thoroughly enjoyed her birthday celebrations, but as she does every year, she's already planning her sixth birthday party. I'm still recovering and looking forward to the next bash we'll be throwing --- a monster truck-themed 3rd birthday party for the Little Dude.


I posed the girls for a picture, but Jax thought one of him would be better!

In the meantime, I'm still dealing with the shock of realizing my little girl is five. Although, I do enjoy seeing the excitement on her face when people ask her age and she gets to tell them, "I'm five years old." And already, she's taking her new age seriously, making some more mature choices (how to handle arguments with her brother, doing something the first time I ask) because she knows, "that's what a five-year-old would do." One year older, one year wiser and, if possible, one year sweeter!






Monday, March 21, 2011

A Neccessary Evil

Ava had her five-year check-up today, because well, she's five now (don't worry, the massive birthday post is coming). The five-year-check-up is a run-of-the-mill (could I have more hyphens in this sentence) appointment: weight, height, heart, lungs, etc. But, it also includes shots -- three to be exact. I told Ava a while ago she'd needs vaccines at this appointment. She seemed okay with it. We've discussed vaccines, why they're necessary, that they hurt for only a moment, yadda, yadda, yadda. Going in to the appointment she was fine, even telling the nurse she knew she needed shots but wasn't worried because she had said a prayer to help her be brave. Jax, meanwhile, was a basket case. Just last month, Jax had to get two steroid shots for pneumonia and since then has been mortified of the doctor's office. I thought taking him to Ava's appointment would be great, it would be a chance for him to see Ava get a shot and see it really isn't that bad. To say that was a bad call is an understatement.

As soon as we got in the exam room, Jax began whimpering saying he wanted to "get out of this place." Ava and I explained repeatedly that this was Ava's appointment and that she was the one getting the shots. He calmed for a while, until shot-time. As the doctor went over with me which vaccines Ava would be getting, he started freaking out, pacing the room and loudly reminding us that he didn't want a shot. Then, I noticed the panic on Ava's face. All of a sudden, it became a reality and my brave little girl started crying. Oh, but this wasn't the end, when the nurse walked in with the needles, pandemonium broke out. Jax started screaming and crying, Ava began crying and trying to slide off the table. So, I climbed up, sat next to her and held her arms in place. One shot. Screaming. Jax tries to take off out the door. So, here I am, 22-weeks pregnant, my arms around Ava, desperately trying to stretch my legs and catch Jax with my feet before he runs out of the room. Second shot. I catch him in the nick of time, he's still hysterical, as is Ava. With each shot she screams, so then her brother does. Third shot. Jax is frantically pacing the room shrieking, Ava is yelling for the nurse to stop and all I could do was laugh. An I-can't-believe-this-is-really-happening, barely able to hold it together kind of laugh. All I could think was, "Is this real?" It was like an over-exaggerated skit about the worst thing that could happen at the doctor's office with your kids, but it wasn't a skit, it was reality... and these were my kids. Once I pulled it together, I noticed Jax had stopped freaking out. Ava's shots were over, as was Jax's screaming fit. The nurse handed the kids stickers and suckers for their "bravery" (HA!) and sent us down the hall to the lab for a hemoglobin test. I knew what that meat, a finger prick. Not a shot, but a little tiny finger prick. Ava had one when she was two. She was fine. I told her the needle was like a hummingbird getting nectar out of a flower. At two, she loved watching her blood go into the tube. At five, not so much. I chose this time around not to tell her what she was about to face, although I don't know if not telling her was any more effective. The nice lady called Ava back to sit in a chair. Ava immediately recognized it. It looks just like the chairs at my OB/GYN's office. The ones surrounded by needles and tubes, she knew what was coming. "What are you going to do," she asked with hesitation and spite in her voice. "I'm just going to give you a little finger prick," the nice lady responds. Ava screams and tells me she won't do it. I give her the hummingbird spiel. She doesn't buy it. I get down on my knees and look at her, "Honey, it will be so quick and it's very important she checks your blood." Ava nods her head then begins to walk to the chair, although I don't know that she ever intended to actually sit in it, because my normally uncoordinated child made like a superstar basketball player, faked me out and ran in the other direction. I make like a lion going after a gazelle and pounce on her, scoop her up and place her on my lap and myself in the chair. The nice lady asks for her finger. Ava clenches her fists. I pry those little boogers open, explaining to Ava that it will be so quick, hold out her finger, cover her eyes and count to three, "1, 2, 3" PRICK! Ava yelps as big crocodile tears stream down her face. Before this happened I had sent Jax into the waiting area with a nurse, I thought he might be better off there. Good call, Mom. The nurses squeezes Ava's finger a few times to get some blood in a tube. Ava's cries and tells me she's miserable. When all is said and done she gets an Iron Man band-aid. Probably not the best choice for a little girl, but whatever. At this point she could have stuck a cotton ball and a piece of Scotch tape around her finger and called it good, I think we just all wanted to get the heck out of there. So, we make the long, grueling walk back down the hall. Ava still crying, Jax telling all the nurses he passes that he doesn't need a shot. We head back out into the waiting room (which is ALWAYS full) so I can check out. Ava sits down and wimpers. Jax walks to the front of the waiting room and loudly announces, "Kids, you might have to get a shot!" I pick him up and we haul rub out of that place. I don't turn around for fear my son has just created chaos and panic in the waiting room.

The good news is, Ava doesn't need another vaccine until she's 11 (although she'll need a flu shot every year. I'll wait to tell her that). The bad news is, I have to do this all again with Jax in about two months.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monster Jam

I bought tickets to Monster Jam way back in December. Once I told Jax (around Christmas) he asked daily if it was Monster Jam day yet. Sadly, for three months I had to respond with, "Not yet." But, alas, the day finally arrived. The big even was in Baton Rouge, about 3.5 hours from us, so we piled in the car the night before, stayed in a hotel and woke up early to check out the city. We decided to take the kids to the USS Kidd, an old military destroyer. First, we took a tour of the museum. The kids loved checking out the models of ships and warplanes throughout history. However, despite their best efforts to remain calm and quiet, Ava and Jax just couldn't handle the military museum for more than an hour. I must admit, it really isn't kid-friendly and I'm impressed they lasted that long without getting too antsy. So, we took them outside to hop aboard the Kidd, which was definitely more their style. They got to explore the ship from end to end, pretend to shoot large guns, lay in the beds, play in the kitchen/mess hall and climb, climb, climb.



 Heading below deck.

 How many women can say they've been barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen aboard the USS Kidd?


After they had searched every nook and cranny on that ship, we took a little walk around downtown Baton Rouge, had lunch, then headed over to Monster Jam. I can't even begin to explain Jax's excitement and any attempt to do so simply wouldn't do it justice.



Let's just say, he was jumping out of his skin excited, and remained that way the entire show... well almost. After about two hours our poor little, monster truck-lovin' guy just couldn't stay awake any longer and finally, just gave up and went to sleep. I was a little disappointed he'd miss the end of the show, but excitement had kept him up late the night before and woke him up extremely early that morning. But, the time he spent awake was full of cheers, claps, joyous giggles, hoots and hollers and looks of amazement (and not just from Jax, Andy's was just as enamored). I don't think he could believe he was that close to actual monster trucks, including his very favorite: Grave Digger! Ava enjoyed herself but definitely wasn't as into it as the boys. However, her interest piqued when she learned the driver of Monster Mutt Dalmation was a girl.






Jax woke up on the walk back to our car and thanked me for taking him to Monster Jam and asked if we can go again "next time." I think this may have to become a yearly tradition.


Monday, March 14, 2011

John Hancock

Having a big sister around is good for Jax. He has a constant playmate and a constant teacher. I have always assumed it was my job to teach my kids, but little did I know how much Ava would teach her little brother.

Every day that we do preschool (2-3 days per week) Ava works on her handwriting. It is definitely not her favorite part of the school day. She can write all of the letters (lower and uppercase) very well but gets extremely frustrated when, in her eyes, she doesn't write a letter perfectly (poor girl, she inherited that from BOTH parents). So, I've had to come up with little sayings or stories for each letter to help Ava remember certain rules while writing,  but also to make the process more enjoyable. During this time, I usually have Jax work on tracing or dot-to-dot to get him comfortable with moving the pencil around and familiar with lines. But, what I didn't know was that while his eyes were on his work, his ears were on Ava and me. Because all of a sudden, one day he came to me with this:


He did that ALL BY HIMSELF! I know! I was just as shocked as you are! I mean, he's not even three! When I asked him where he learned to write his name he told me Ava taught him. But, Ava said she didn't do it. Hmmmm... a mystery. When I had Jax write his name again, I realized Ava had taught him without meaning to.  How do I know this you ask? Because this is what Jax said when he wrote the lowercase 'a' in his name,  " 'a' is a circle and a line on the side, not too tall, not too wide." It's the same little saying Ava uses (or used to use) while practicing her lowercase 'a.'

In the past, I've always held Jax's hand and helped him write his name at the top of his preschool papers, so, the motions were familiar to him. But, I'm just so impressed that he picked up on our little tricks and taught himself to utilize them (although, he doesn't use the little jingle much anymore). Here's video of him writing his name:

video
Ava, recognizing her great responsibility to her brother, now attempts daily to teach him to write all the letters. However, right now, he's not really interested in anything other than J-a-x and A-v-a. Who knows though, he may be retaining more information than he lets on. The kid is full of surprises. In the meantime, he's leaving his John Hancock on every paper/paper surface in our house.



Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Child's Interpretation

Each night before bed I sing the kids four songs. The first two are songs I made up when my kids were newborns -- one for Ava, one for Jax. The next is "You are My Sunshine" and the final is a hymn called "Teach Me to Walk in the Light." This routine has become such a habit that often I get to the end of our four songs and can't remember actually singing them all. Last night was one of those nights. When I leaned in to give Jax a hug and kiss he looked at me, tears in his eyes and with his voice quivering said, "Mama, why can't that boy walk?" I had no idea what he was talking about. "What boy, honey?"  "The boy in the song? Why he doesn't know how to walk?" I had to stop and think. Then, I realized what he was talking about. Here are the lyrics to the first verse of "Teach Me to Walk in the Light" (you can click on the link to hear it):

Teach me to walk in the light of his love
Teach me to pray to my Father above;
Teach me to know of the things that are right;
Teach me, teach me to walk in the light.


My sweet boy thought that the child in the song didn't know how to walk and needed to be taught. He was so concerned about this child who, in his mind, couldn't walk that he was brought almost to tears. I hugged my little guy and explained to him that the song was about how Mommies and Daddies need to teach their children to be like Jesus. He understood that concept, but I don't think he understood how that related to the song. However, he seemed comforted by it, gave me a kiss, told me he loved me and went to bed.

I don't think I'll ever sing or hear that song, without thinking of this sweet moment with Jax.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Snapshots

I made our big baby announcement yesterday but didn't post any picture of our little beauty. This is for two reasons: 1) I hadn't yet scanned them and 2) there aren't many good shots. Our little girl was being shy... or sneaky, and wouldn't give us a good profile pic. As a matter of fact, she much preferred mooning us. She's already such a Kleinman.

If that isn't proof, I don't know what is.

 
This is her head/brain from the top. I can tell she's going to be smart!
Her spine -- she's a strong one!
 
 Teeny tiny tootsie

Friday, March 4, 2011

Outnumbered

Andy and I made this deal early on in my pregnancy. You see, I was sure this baby #3 of ours was a girl. Andy, of course, was positive it had a little something between the legs. For the record, I have never been wrong about the gender of my babies. However, Andy was absolutely sure. Which, in turn, made me question my own accuracy. Not to mention dreamed two nights in a row that I had a baby boy. So, despite my gut feeling, I was worried that maybe I was wrong. However, I held to my guns, and reminded Andy of our deal: no matter what the baby was, the one of us who was right wasn't allowed to gloat. When we went in for my sonogram March 1st, it was boys against girls. Ava and I sure we'd be busting out her old baby clothes, Andy and Jax sure we'd be expanding our monster truck collection.

So, in we went. Of course, they have to do all the measurements and what not before they actually tell you what the baby is. Apparently, this is the more important part of the sonogram, but it certainly wasn't what any of us were looking forward to. Ava, unaware of just how long the process would take, repeatedly reminded Serena (our wonderful ultrasound tech) that she was still waiting to know the gender of her younger sibling. The baby, who obviously already understands its role as the obnoxious younger sibling, would not stay still. Instead, it rolled from side to side not showing its face and making the shot between the legs a little difficult. All of this while Ava impatiently asked, "When are we going to find out what it is?"

Finally, I saw it as clear as could be. I told Serena I knew what it was, then verified with her. She then, let me tell my family.

"Ava, you're going to be so excited!"
"It's a girl?" she asked, with an enormous smile on her face.
"It's a girl," I said with just as big a smile.

Andy didn't say much. I think he was really just so surprised that it wasn't a boy. Jax on the other hand, didn't seem to mind the news until a few minutes later when we said something about his baby sister.

"I'm not having a baby sister. It's a baby brother."
"No, honey, it's a girl. You're going to have a baby sister," I soothed.

That's when the crying started, and the repeated wales of, "I want a baby brother."

I reminded him that when he was born he brought Ava a present and that his baby sister would bring him a present too, and suggested he talk to my belly so his baby sister knew just what he was wishing for.

He slowly walked up to my round belly, an impish grin on his face, placed his mouth very close to my belly button and said, "Baby sister, I would like a Bulldozer monster truck." And that was that. He's been okay with having a baby sister every since.

After the appointment, the kids chose a "coming-home-from-the-hospital" outfit for the baby at Target. Of course, it's full of bright, bold colors and sparkles. It'll be her first taste of what to expect when she gets home.

On our way home I made sure Andy was okay with having another girl. He smiled and said "Yes, of course!" but then joked that he and Jax are outnumbered and won't have a vote in the house. I joked back that he should know that they never had a vote in the first place.