Monday, August 23, 2010

A Day of Firsts

Tomorrow starts a day of first for all of us. We just got back from our one and only "family" vacation tonight at 7pm and jumped right into packing bags for school tomorrow.

Cause tomorrow each one of us will have a day of firsts - Ava starts 1st grade, Nathan has his 1st day of preschool, Lias will go to daycare for his 1st time and I have my 1st day of nursing school. Technically, John started his 1st day of his new school, the Duke Fuqua (I still don't know how to say that without sounding weird) School of Business, in June but we'll still count him in our day of first.

We're not quite sure what the heck were doing over here. But this year should be interesting, or at least crazy busy, and I just wanted to record my thoughts as we jump into it. I'm scared for the kids, nervous that I'll ignore the kids, excited to start learning again, disappointed that our summer came and went without half the stuff I thought we needed to do, sad that my days won't be spent lazing around the house with the kids, and anxious that we'll all fall apart if we keep up this crazy schedule. I know change can be a good thing, but I find that often times, even if I initiated it, I still resist it and when it finally starts to feel comfortable, it usually changes again.

I just read my post from exactly 1 year ago, about Ava starting kindergarten, and it made me bawl all over again. Except this time I'm not that sad for Ava's childhood to be gone, but nervous that maybe I'm ruining both Nathan's and Elias's too. Nathan is extremely anxious about most changes in his life, and while he loves the preschool he'll be going to, whenever I mention it he gets a scared look and tells me how much he doesn't like it because of ________ (fill in the blank for whatever Nathan has decided makes him nervous that day). Lias also loves it (we've been a few times with me hanging out with them), but he's the one I really feel the guilt for. He's the most easy going baby (we've lately been having a debate back and forth over if he's still a baby or a big boy - right now he'll tell me he's "mama's baby big boy") but I don't want to take advantage of his nature to force him into things I want him to do. This fall, my classes are only 2 mornings a week, so they'll only spend Tues and Thurs mornings, but I still wonder if that's too much.

But then I think about how much more balanced I feel this year, moving forward with this whole school thing, than I did a year and a half ago when I decided I had to start doing something or I would lose my mind. One evening class lead to another, until I realized I had all my prereqs done to get into nursing school. Then John decided it was time for an MBA and I realized I was off the hook for incubating a new baby for 2 years - exactly the time requirement for nursing school. I applied, halfway hoping to get turned down, and did - by 2 schools (UVA and another community college) I thought I'd get into, but then my 3rd option (and least stressful one) came through. So now we're going for it, with the understanding that my little ADN in Nursing from the local community college is the first to go by the wayside if things get too hard to handle. John's on board, I'm on board, I just hope the kids don't fall off the boat if it gets too choppy.

When I got my degree in Animal Science, I loved the reproduction side of things and I've always been fascinated with childbirth so I'm exploring nurse midwifery. To go anywhere in nursing, you have to start with an RN, so that's what I'll be studying for right now. I hope that once I have it, I'll be able to work a flexible few hours a week until my babies are all much bigger, then I can go back to school for the midwife thing. But really, who knows - I like to plan out my life but really I know I'm not the one in charge of it. I'm just trying to make sure that I remember that as I plow forward with this year.

Ahhhhhh...... here goes.....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

If I'm ever tempted to leave John all alone again for a week...

Please remind me what happens...

John and I debated back and forth over whether we should get Ava a kitten or a pony for her birthday.

While I was in Florida, John took a trailer of goats to one of the largest livestock auctions in the East Coast. He assured me that the trailer came back empty.

He lied.

Just look at his face. It's not often you see a dada so excited to spoil his little girl (although we have made it clear to Ava that this is a FAMILY pony, not just her own).

So welcome Midnight, into our menagerie of chickens, kittens, goats, sheep, and whatever else Dada might happen to stumble across at an unbeatable price at the auction (FYI, this pony only cost $195 - dirt cheap in pony terms). She's actually a great little pony and seems to have been around the block with kids before. Ava can catch her and attempts to mount the pony by herself in the field, although the pony just walks away.

Yesterday was our 8th year anniversary, and for my present, John took all three little kids to the livestock auction an hour away. They ended up being gone for 7 hours, pure bliss to me as I cleaned the craft and junk rooms. Nathan told me that night at dinner that they had wanted to bring home a pig for me for our anniversary present, but luckily, John told them he thought that was just what Mama DIDN'T want. Thank goodness this time he really did bring home an empty trailer.

Ava's 6th Party

Ava turned 6 with a rocking pool/ocean/wet party theme. I love summer birthdays!

Ava Facts:
She's tall - the tallest in her class although one of the youngest. Ava's favorite things are ponies and cats and she's obsessed with stuffed animals. She has over 60 of them in her room and it's often hard to find her under them at night. She's an awesome babysitter and helper - the other day she got herself and the boys ready all ready for bed, including SHOWERS, teeth brushed and pajamas - entirely by herself! Wow! She loves nature and is a total tomboy, but cleans up pretty. We cut her hair again this summer since it's not so fun to have to fix your hair each day and fight snarls. She can out eat any of us in breakfast foods and she's obsessed with vanilla ice cream. She's awfully sweet and is always giving up whatever she has to make her little brothers happy. She's tenderhearted and doesn't like conflicts. She loves to draw and took art camp this summer. She has an incredible imagination and is constantly helping her animals while they're "giving birth." When she grows up she wants to be a veterinarian or a shelter owner. Oh, and she's lost 4 teeth - soon to be 5!


A few weeks ago I was on Facebook way too late and happened to catch the comment my little sister, Dolly, made about everyone in our family ditching out on her trip to Florida to see our other sister Leanne. Offended at not being asked to go at all, I told her she was a bum and why wasn't I ever invited. Just cause I have kids doesn't mean I'm no fun. In fact, I think that might add to my fun level.

She quickly realized her mistake, begged me for forgiveness, watched my kids for me for 2 days straight, and in return, I provided the vehicle to Florida. True, it was a minivan full of 3 little kids and all their paraphernalia, and yes, we did have to drive 14 hours straight through the night so those kids wouldn't drive us crazy, but all in all, I think we had a fun trip.

We took these beach obsessed kids to Honeymoon Island

and spent a day fighting off the seagulls (brazen things stole my cookie out of my hand and bit me enough to bring blood - it was war, I tell you!),

playing in the waves (even Nathan got brave this time!) and building sand castles.

We also had a two-fold purpose in going to Florida. I wanted a piece of this baby!!! This is the beautiful, chunky, good-as-gold, sweet, sweet, sweet little hunk of love from one of my oldest friends and old college roommate, Erin. I took off in December of last year to visit Florida for her baby shower and I've been waiting to meet this baby ever since. Addy is 6 months old now and we had a great time holding and kissing her.

Nathan especially liked this baby and I can tell, would be a much better helper now than he was when Lias was born.

Technically, Erin's a high-falutin lawyer but really, can anyone be high-powered when pictured in a swimming suit holding a tub of lard that she produced? Probably not and I like it that way!

Last time we went down to Florida, John was busy in meetings, so I took the kids to Downtown Disney and they loved it so much we decided to do it again. Ava and Nathan were so excited they started hugging each other as we were driving up and say, "We're going to Disney Land! We're going to Disney Land!" Nathan was so funny, pointing to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and saying, "Oh, look! It's that mouse. And his friend the duck!" I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed or proud that my kids don't know who Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse are. But I do know that it means I can pull off Downtown Disney (entry fee = $0) as the real Disney World (entry fee = $85 a day). That is some mighty fine parenting if I do say so myself.

Lias quickly latched onto Uncle Bubs and didn't let him out of his sight. He played football, watched TV and wrestled around with him the entire time. Luckily, Lias is still pretty dang cute so I think he made up for his screeching when he didn't get his way. He came home full of new saying, especially "Web-E?" (Ready?) and "Oh Man". He almost drowned Bubs at one point by not asking him if he was "web-e" before he jumped into the pool in the deep end with him. Bubs pulled out a pretty cool trick and held Lias above his head while he himself sank, till he got him to the edge. I watched the whole thing, thinking "What a cool hold" until the last 2 seconds when I realized Bubs was drowning. Ah, the bonding moment for the two.....

We ate at the Rainforest Cafe, which was a big hit with the kids. Nathan was especially excited about the lighting and thunderstorm and they all liked the monkeys swinging around. And my boys also got some pretty short haircuts, which ended up even shorter as we tried to fix them. I like them but John told me never to shave them off so I'm not classifying this as an actual shave.

After the dinner, we walked around looking at the stores, watching the impromptu dance contest, eating Ghirardelli's chocolate ice cream and enjoying the Red man. Doesn't he look just like Val Kilmer? Dolly tried to get a kiss but ended up with just an arm.

And somehow, on the last day right before we left for our drive back, we ended up in our swimsuits for the bagullion-th time and went swimming with like 6 other moms, all somehow related to this awesome gal in the blue. Leanne went and found a great friend, so I've decided to latch on too. Sarah's a spunky, fun mom that writes a great blog that I spend a ton of time reading and gaining inspiration from. She's also an awesome photographer that took Lias's pictures when he was little and takes all kinds of fun pictures of her 4 little girls.

She and I caught glimpses of conversations in between saving drowning kids, bandaging hurt toes, nursing babies and teaching kids to swim. It's always nice to meet a kindred soul - I just wished she lived closer.

And then the trip was over, and we hadn't taken any pictures of the three of us girls, so Sarah convinced us to snap one. This is just before our drive home and just after our swimming party so obviously I was not expecting pictures. I guess Leanne and Dolly didn't get the memo cause they both still look great! We really did all have a good time and, other than the 14 hour drive, I do it again in a heartbeat.