Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Five Months Today! A Johnny Update

Today is John's five month birthday!

He continues to be a happy, laid back baby -- an absolute joy! Until yesterday, we'd never actually witnessed him rolling over, but kept finding him flipped. Then at last, he decided to show off for an audience and now that he's started, he hasn't stopped. He also has a move we call the Elvis -- he digs his heels into the ground and swivels his hips. It really drives the girls wild. And he loves to take off his diaper. Mid change, he actually opens the tab I just fastened.

John's personality is mild and sweet... If you smile at him, he instantly rewards you with a giant gummy grin. So that's why it cracks us up that he gets mad when we take away a toy! Give that back, he says with gentle annoyance.  He's a social little guy and would prefer to hang out rather than sleep. So after a particularly rough last eight weeks (averaging six wake ups a night) and choppy naps, we began Operation Sleep Bootcamp. Pardon my language, but it's Hell. Listening to my sweet baby cry is like having someone pry off my fingernails and peel back my skin. Torture. Rob gets weeping desperate calls at work. John, if you're reading this, I hope we aren't ruining you. But if we are....well, we did the same thing to your brother and sister, so at least we're consistent. Part of John's sleepy time routine is to listen to the same soft lullaby CD that Madeline and Charlie listened to as babies. They could hardly believe it when Frere Jacques came on -- they were so excited that someone wrote a song about their Baby John!

Quarterback? Wide receiver?
John has lots of nicknames! John Thomas, John John and Johnny are the most popular, though there are a few special folks who call him J.T. too. When John coos, it often sounds like he's saying Mama. I kind of like that. (What I mean to say is, it's like the angels are singing and my heart leaps out of my chest in bliss).

John's teething -- I expect a tooth will erupt in a few weeks. Though it sounds like I know what I'm talking about, I also recently smeared Jock Itch cream on his scalp to cure his Cradle's Cap. I thought it was hydrocortisone. You may wonder why we had Jock Itch Cream handy, and in Rob's defense, I promise it was for the baby. When I told Dr. Huss what I'd done (confused as to why John still had Cradle's Cap), he took out his pen -- probably noticing the five-pound bags under my eyes and my slurred speech from exhaustion -- and wrote down what I needed in case I started smearing other strange things on my kid's head.

Toes are fun!!

John's a nice healthy boy. At four months old, he was 95th percentile for length at 26.5 inches long and 59th percentile for weight at almost 16 pounds. John loves romantic dinners (on the boob), long walks (in the stroller), and his hobbies are chewing books and drooling. SWB (Single White Baby) seeking clean diaper.

John, you are a dream. We adore you!

Halloween 2011

This year, Rob's mom, Sandie, made Madeline and Charlie their Halloween costumes! Madeline mentioned she wanted to be a ladybug, and a week later, the most darling handmade costume arrived in the mail. And Charlie had his very own SuperCharlie "C" cape and matching shirt, which he wore underneath his Firefighter raincoat and boots to go Trick-or-Treating. When he walked up to doors, he would happily shout, "We're here!" And sweet John was a goldfish for the festivities!

On Halloween morning, Madeline had a party at school -- the kids went room to room collecting candy. Later that night, we went to a friend's house for a fun outdoor party!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Go Dolphin Mermaids!

Madeline is a little soccer player and Rob is her head coach! She and her teammates -- an adorable group of four, five and six year old girls -- named themselves the Dolphin Mermaids. What else?

Every Tuesday night, Coach Rob races home from work to get to the soccer field and teach game basics; they practice passing and talk about teamwork. Thankfully the league's not very competitive -- there's one little girl on our team who almost always picks the ball up with her hands whenever it rolls her way. And since it's family night at Chick-fil-a across the street every practice night, we often come home with face paint and balloons.

Saturday is game day. Madeline puts on her YMCA-issued pink jersey and matching pink soccer socks. Her shin guards are so tiny they look like they were made to protect my hand from a ping pong ball. She runs her heart out and all the parents cheers like mad even when she kicks the ball in the other team's goal.

Super fan!
Charlie gets so excited cheering for his big sister on the sideline. "Goooooo Miiiimiiiii!" he yells. One time he even ripped off his shirt like a Packers super fan. Or maybe he was just hot. Rob even bought him his own "soccer uniform" that he puts on every practice and game. He can't resist the action and so usually, Rob holds him in his arms as he runs around the field, coaching and refereeing.

At the end of the game, all the parents make a tunnel with our arms that the girls from both teams run through. They love it!

So does this officially make me a soccer mom?
Playing with the coach's whistle
Rapt with attention. Or are they looking for bugs in the grass?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Fabulous Fall

We've had a fun couple of months, enjoying the crisp fall weather as we take walks, pick up leaves, play football in the front yard, visit pumpkin patches and go to the zoo. Here are a few things other things we've been up to:

A Trip to Boulder
John and I went to visit my sister, Mollie, and her husband, Kenny in Longmont, CO, just a few minutes outside of Boulder. They live in a charming 100-year old house a block's walk from Longmont's downtown. We had a fabulous dinner and listed to live music at Oskar Blues, the restaurant owned by the brewery where Kenny works. Mollie and I spent the next day shopping and strolling in downtown Boulder; we had a wonderful lunch at an outdoor cafe -- eating fondue, sipping white wine, listening to live opera from a talented street performer, and all the while, sitting beside an eccentric Italian couple. We started to wonder if we were in the Rocky's or the Alps.

Go Titans!
Rob took Madeline and Charlie to a winning Titans game when they played Denver. But first they volunteered for Nurses for Newborns, collecting diapers at the stadium doors; they came home sugared from cotton candy, sunburned and exhausted, but deliriously happy after such a fun afternoon with their daddy. Madeline busted through the door wearing a balloon hat, yelling, "Goooooo Titans!"

An Atlanta Wedding
Johnny was my date for my cousin's wedding in Atlanta. Not only was it a lovely event, but it was a family reunion as well! It was very special to introduce John to my grandma Madeline. I met my cousin Annie's 18-month old daughter, Sofia, who lives in Hong Kong. John was a sharp dressed man -- the minister asked me seconds before he entered the sanctuary to officiate the ceremony, "Is your little guy wearing a velvet blazer?"

While I was gone, Rob took Madeline and Charlie to the Adventure Science Center, the zoo, the police station (one of Madeline's soccer teammate's dads is the police media spokesperson and invited them to visit!), a Civil War reenactment where Rob was almost recruited to be a confederate soldier, and of course, and the donut store (Krispy Kreme). They also built an amazing playroom in the garage (more to come on that in following weeks).

Firefighters to the Rescue 
One Saturday morning, Johnny and I woke up to a perfectly silent house. Rob smuggled Madeline and Charlie out of the house and took them to the Franklin fire station. The firefighters unexpectedly invited Rob and the kids  -- all three still wearing their pajamas! -- into the firehouse and let them try on helmets, sit in the firetrucks, talk over the loudspeaker and turn on the lights. Rob and the kids waved goodbye and went to Krispy Kreme next. But to say a special thank you to the guys at Franklin Station Two, they delivered donuts on their way home! 

Caramel Apples!
Even though the apple crops didn't pan out down here in Middle Tennessee, we still made caramel apples on a Saturday morning. The kids helped unwrap all the candies while Rob and I poked sticks in the apples and twirled them in the hot caramel. Then we all had a blast decorating them with peanuts and mini chocolate chips. Just another reason to love the fall...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baby John is Baptized and Meets his Grandpas!

We had a very special weekend.

On Sunday, we baptized sweet Baby John. After Rob and I took our vows and Pastor Matt touched water to John's head (which he didn't mind one little bit), Matt took him in his arms and walked him all around the room while the congregation, including all the children, sang Jesus Loves Me. John wore the same baptismal outfit that Rob wore 33 years ago, and that Charlie wore when he was baptized. The ceremony was lovely; we're so happy to have promised to raise our little boy in the faith that guides us.

Madeline and Charlie came up front with us -- Charlie ditched the firefighter rain boots that he insisted on wearing with his seersucker suit, and went up barefoot instead. And we all got a kick out of Madeline, who for some reason, shuffled closer and closer to our pastor throughout the ceremony until she was practically standing on his toes.

The entire front row of the church was filled with John's biggest fans. Both of our families flew in to Nashville for the special event. We celebrated afterward with a gorgeous brunch at our house, hosted by my dad and Nancy, with a delicious spread, personalized M&Ms and a fabulous Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar.
And so if the morning wasn't special enough, John also met both of his grandfathers for the first time last weekend.
My sister Andi, who was on call at the hospital where she works, sent John a teddy bear that she made out of the cashmere sweater that my mom gave me years ago. It reminded me of the teddy bear she made for Charlie on his baptism two years ago! 
We had lots more fun as the weekend went on -- a fun breakfast at Dotsons, s'mores around the campfire, a stroll through downtown Franklin and a Cajun feast that Rob's parents treated us to. 

Our house was truly filled with all of life's greatest gifts -- family, faith, love and lots of laughter. 
Papa changing little horseshoes! How they squeal!
Decked out in their new Illini gear from Aunt Nicki
Even Madeline's pet worm (in the cup) joins us for a walk.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Day of Preschool!

Madeline has been ecstatic waiting for Pre-K to start! So she could hardly believe it when I casually told her on Tuesday afternoon that the next morning was the first day of school. She yelled, "School school school!" on repeat the way only a four-year-old can, and literally made the car sway as she danced in her carseat.

Yesterday morning, she came downstairs and was delighted to find a special sign her daddy made her wishing her a happy first day of school! She had a fun breakfast, then I asked her to get dressed and pick out whatever she wanted to wear, just like I do every single morning. She chose the flower girl dress she wore in Mollie's wedding -- I thought it was so sweet that she wanted to get dressed up for her first day of school! She put on her new ruffled ankle socks, her green Stride Rite tennis shoes and helped me wet her hair so her lovely curls would show. Then we put on a squirt of my perfume so she would feel extra special. I made sure to tell her teacher that anything she wears to school is officially play clothes, so I was happy to see chocolate milk dripped down the front of her at pick up. Messy kids usually equal happy kids. At least that's what I tell myself since mine usually have mulch in their hair and dirt under their fingernails.

Madeline put on her new backpack and proudly marched into her classroom, pausing only to give me a quick kiss and high five, our signature good bye. Charlie was just as excited for her, literally shouting, "Boi-boi, Mimi!! Boiii-Boiiiii!!" I loved that he reassured her that we'd be back, just like I tell him every time I have to leave. He was still shouting bye to Madeline as we drove away from the church.

I wanted Madeline's big day to be just as special for Charlie; afterall, she's his best friend and he's going to miss her. Plus, now he gets to be the big guy for four hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. So the boys and I went on a date to Starbucks in downtown Franklin, where he sucked down a kiddie hot cocoa and the organic vanilla milk he helped himself to.

Then, with Johnny in the stroller, we walked half a block to a boutique toy store, where Charlie played for 45 minutes with their train table. Next up, waving to all the firefighters and ambulance drivers in front of the courthouse. Then joy riding up and down in the elevator of the public car garage. We crossed the street, and sat on a step, which he pretended was a firetruck and vividly acted out rescue scenes, insisting that I "climb in" too and eat what he calls firefighter snacks (we pretend to eat a lot of them around here). After a PB&J and chocolate chip cookie at the Swedish bakery, Meridees, we hopped in the car and went to pick up Madeline.

School was a total hit! Madeline had a ball, proudly showing me all her art projects and telling me about how she loved playing on the playground. Her teacher, Mrs. Lynne, told me that Madeline asked that the class call her Mimi!
All the mommys snapped pictures from outside through the window
Joyriding in the parking garage elevator!

Putting out fires in his firetruck
A lunch note
A poster sized note from Daddy!

The things they say!

Every day, the kids say something that takes me by surprise and makes me laugh out loud. I always think I'll remember, and of course it slips from my memory before I can even tell Rob. So this week, I wrote their quotes down the second they said them. Here are a few:
  • Madeline, through peels of laughter after she and Charlie discover they can touch tongues: "It's like our tongues are high-fiving!"
  • Charlie, eating mandarin oranges: "This is 'tastic! It smells like fun!"
  • Madeline: "How did God make us? Did he use a sewing machine or glue? And how did he get our heads on our bodies?"(As she tried to detach hers from her neck)
  • Charlie was playing with a talking Elmo doll and was absolutely delighted because he was certain the recording said "Hi Charlie!"
  • Charlie, casually observing while I nurse: "Hey! You've got two of those milks!"
  • Madeline (being totally serious): "Johnny's diaper looks kind of full. Maybe he did a big load." (Nice Rob! I can't take credit for this one)
  • Charlie was playing with trucks in the bathroom while I put on my make up one morning. (I thought Rob would appreciate the truck bit, judging by what's coming next.) He asked me to see my eyes, so I bent down and showed him my sparkly eyelids and mascara. "Stylish."
  • Charlie loves the cartoon Diego, Dora's animal-saving cousin. He saw some leopard underwear in a laundry basket and excitedly shouted "Baby Jaguar!"(Diego's sidekick on the show).

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hair Cuts!

This morning, Madeline and Charlie had their first-ever professional haircuts at a kiddie salon. I've been taking swipes with scissors after their baths for the last couple of years, begging my sisters to swear they'll tell me if either one ever has a mullet. Then of course there was the haircut that Madeline gave herself a last Christmas. But at 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 years old, I figured it was officially time to put their soft baby curls in someone else's hands.

What a riot. Charlie held perfectly still -- like he was frozen by a stun gun -- while the girl snapped a penguin smock around his neck and drenched his fine blond hair with a squirt bottle. Then he got really into an Elmo toy camera he found and seemed to forget he was even getting his hair cut.

Madeline was so excited and felt so special -- I told her it was her Going-to-School hair cut! She politely asked her girl not to cut off any of her curls. As a four year old, she graduated from the Princess cut to the Diva and got the whole nine yards -- a hair washing with her head tipped back in the basin, glitter spray (only after they put "product" in her hair, which sort of made me chuckle because, c'mon...she's four! Product?) and a sparkly pink star on her cheek.

Both kids left happy with lollipops in hand!