Monday, August 31, 2009

Dr. Cuddles/ Dr. Phil

So we went to Toys R Us last week to have some fun. We love to go and just take our time and check everything out. I always set a price range and that helps keep us on track. This time, we had two $20 bills from May. She sent them as a surprise for the kids to pick out something that they really wanted. Jessa picked out this vet clinic carrier thing that had a ton on plastic medical supplies. It also came with a small puppy. Spencer picked out a stuffed "diggy dog" (aka Dalmatian) and don't be shocked - a train.

We played when we got home. There was a vet show that we all sat and watched. Janessa (aka Jessa) was the host of the show and she explained all the complicated and painful treatments she was administering to the poor dogs, who looked pretty healthy to me. This continued off and on for the rest of the afternoon.

That night, they were again playing with the fancy Dr. materials. And David and I got so tickled when we heard Spencer say, I am the evil doctor, Dr. Cuddles. The words evil and cuddles are not usually used together, but I guess it works for him.

Side note: This medical kit has already been worth the money we spent since they have played with it almost constantly.

The next afternoon, they were taking turns being the patient and being the doctor. I was feeling a little under the weather today, so I was sort of hanging out in the den while they were playing. And a certain talk show was on in the background. I laughed when I heard Spencer talking to his patient and introducing himself:

Oh my! I do love Dr. Phil, but I thought he had a PhD, not an MD! I guess he knows what he is doing. . .

His patient sure seems to trust him. And I guess allowing Dr. Phil to give you a shot in the head is more reassuring than getting a shot from the evil Dr. Cuddles, right?

Friday, August 28, 2009

I'm the Daddy

Jessa and Spencer go through these funny games where they are the parents, and we are the children. They are so silly and sometimes obnoxious. I know I never talk to them as harshly as a parent as they talk to me when they are my parent. At least, I hope not.

Last night when we were trying hard to herd everyone to bed, Spencer went into the wrong bedroom. Jessa and I were turning down beds and getting out some books to read. I heard some lumbering heavy foot steps and stuck my head out and saw this:

And he started, in his best "Daddy" voice saying, "I'm the Daddy. I have on my work shoes. Whenever the sun comes up, I have to put on my work shoes and go to work." He was so precious and cracking me up!

Of course, he picked up that we thought it was cute and hammed it up. "Y'all be quiet. Daddy has to sleep because as soon as the sun comes up, I have to go to work in my work shoes." David had to pry them off his feet for fear that when the sun came up and he really did have to put them on that they would be no where to be found.

Not sure what his fascination with being the Daddy and going to work is, but the very next night, he was walking around like this:
Daddy of course, loves it. Wanting to be like Daddy and not dressing like a ballerina with his sister is a win/win!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stay on the porch

My independent, stubborn, overly confident, and somewhat too-big-for-her-britches child named Jessa gives me these instructions many times each day. See, the bus stop is on the other side of the street. Thus, she not only wants me on my side of the street - she wants me to stay on the porch. This is better than her original idea which was inside with the door closed and curtains drawn. (Isn't she too young to be this ashamed of her old mom??) The porch is sort of a compromise, I guess.
Last week was her first (and incredibly well documented) experience with riding the bus. I mentioned David's sweetness with not wanting to miss any of the school stuff. Well, bless his heart, he left work at about 3 to hurry home so he could watch his first born disembark from the bus for the first time on this special first day. Seriously, he was SO excited that he even stayed inside peeking out an upstairs window so he would be the first one to see the bus and then alert Spencer and me (out front) when the bus was almost here.

Then there was Spence. He missed her. Bad. All day, he kept asking, "When is Jessa coming?" And starting at about noon, about every 5 minutes or so, "Mommy, where is that bus?" At one point, he was very upset and said, "Mommy. I am worried. I think Jessa is lost. She should be back by now." So he was barely able to contain his excitement about being reunited with his absolute favorite person on the planet.

Of course, it goes without saying that I was about to jump out of my skin. Friday was BY FAR the longest day of my life (to date). I wanted to know every detail. I wanted to know if she was scared. I wondered if she was lonely. Did she get lost? Or confused? Who did she sit with on the bus? Did she sit with a friend at lunch? Did she get in trouble? If I could have put a bug in her sweater, I would have. Basically, I was about to burst to see her, hug her, talk to her, OK, yes, I'll admit it, interrogate her.

Spencer and I hear a pounding of big army boot feet running down the stairs. This is it. The bus is almost here. So when we see it rounding the corner, I say to David, "Should I go across the street??" And he said "YES," mainly because he wanted to go over there, too.

This was a mistake.
What were we thinking???

As the 3 of us are excitedly looking at each child as they walk down the steps, we finally see Jessa. Her reaction was well, not what we expected and not what we wanted. If looks could kill, there would be a triple funeral in the works. Get my drift?

She not only was disappointed to see us, but she very haughtily said to me, "I told you to stay on the porch." And turned to walk away from us. I have no idea where the little priss thought she was going. Our house was the other direction and across the street. David shrugged and jumped back into his car to go back to work. Spencer and I steered her across the street, and tried to not make her any angrier. Man, did we mess up.

By the time she came home, she was exhausted from her first full day of bona fide SCHOOL. I am sure it was draining for her to take in all the rules and procedures, not to mention 3 trips to the playground. Plus, by the time she boarded the bus bound for home, she was a seasoned, bus riding veteran, right? So why would she want or need for her whole family to be waiting for her. How embarrassing! If only she could write a letter to YM about how mortified she was. . .

Once in the house, she looked at me and with huge tears in her eyes said, "Mommy! I did not want y'all there. I am just ill. I told you to stay on the porch! I am tired. And I am ill. And I think I need a nap!"

So I left her alone. Finally, when she approached me, I explained to her that we just love her and we missed her, and that it was a big day for all of us, too. She apologized profusely, and we decided that from now on, she would tell me when it was OK to ask her questions and for the love of Pete, we would stay on the porch.

Fast forward to Monday:
I was on the porch.

Spencer was on the porch.

The bus pulled up.

We stayed where we were.

We waited.

We watched.

And then there was our girl!
Sorry the picture is pretty blurry - apparently,
when we are on the porch, she can run faster!

She was ever so happy to see us. She ran up the drive-way - beaming, grinning from ear to ear. She was thrilled to tell us about her day. We both got hugs and kisses. So in case you were wondering, after our warm reception, Spence and I have learned our lesson.
We are staying on the porch.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gotta have FAITH

Today was Spencer's FIRST day of his NEW preschool, at Faith Lutheran Church in O'Fallon.

I must admit that I was excited for him to start a new school, but I was not nearly as emotional. I felt guilty at first, like I should be in tears for him, too. But then I realized, duh! We have done the preschool thing (many, many, many times) before, right? So I decided that it was OK that I was not a blubbering mess when it was time for us to head out this morning.

He posed for the traditional photos:

And an awesome neighbor who just happened to be walking by with her stroller stopped and asked if I wanted a picture of the 2 of us. Isn't that awesome!? Especially since David is out of town for almost the next 3 weeks, and he was not able to come with us and help take pictures.
I missed having David with us. But since Jessa was already at school, it was really nice to be able to focus 100% of my attention on my favorite little guy.

We got there and he was excited to head on in. This is the first time that he was not at all apprehensive. Part of it was that parents were supposed to stay today, but I also think he is gaining some confidence. I am telling myself that a benefit to the somewhat nomadic life that is the army is that they are adaptable. They are used to change and seem to adjust pretty well.

He met his teacher and they were all allowed to play whatever the wanted. My lone ranger chose to build with blocks alone. The girls were all chatty and becoming BFFs, much the way Jessa always is. Spencer (and the other boys in the class) were all more content to play on their own. He also put together several puzzles. No kitchen or play dough today - he may have had to socialize - gasp!

They practiced the good morning song and circle time. They also took turns playing the Glockenspiel. Spencer, he did not want a turn, and they were OK with that. I think he will be more willing to jam tomorrow without all the extra grown-ups in the room, namely ME.

I am very excited for his new class and his new school. And I am very proud of his building confidence. The first time we walked into previous schools, there was leg-holding and sobbing before we even got to the classroom. It is going to be a little tough (on me) with them being in different schools for the first time, but I am going to adjust. I am already splitting my box tops in 2 piles. . .

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sweet chatter

I love to hear the kids when they do not know I am listening. I love to hear how Jessa explains things to Spencer. I love the way that he takes her at her word. He never questions her. She is after all, his hero and the supreme authority on well, everything.

I also love to just chat with them and hear what their answers are, to hear what they really think about. Here are some recent sweet and funny things that have been discussed.

One night, we were walking the dogs. This has become a nightly routine. It is good for Max to get some practice at this new dog behavior that he never participated in before. We always see cool things like rabbits or toads or other dogs or lots of stars.

At one point Jess and Spence were walking behind me, chatting along together.
J: Do you see that star?
S: Yeah.
J: It is a bright wishing star.
S: It is?? (with amazement in his voice)
J: Yep, you can make a wish.
S: I can?
J: Sure, go ahead.
So sweet.

Then Jessa ended up ahead of us. Spence, the dogs, and I were together. He said, "Look, Mom, a plane!" Even though we live in the middle of 2 airports and on an Air Force Base, planes are still very exciting. And Jessa is usually positive that airplanes are shooting stars, so I love when he KNOWS it is a plane. I said, "You are right, buddy. Where do you think it is going?"
He kept staring up at the sky and thinking as he answered me. "It could be going to Ft. Stewart. Or maybe to Ft. Georgia. Or maybe to Ft. Atlanta to see May. Or maybe it is just coming here to Scott, Illinois. Or just Illinois or sumpin'." (one of my favorite things that he says is "or something (sumpin')" at the end of many of his statements or questions.)

The other afternoon, Spencer drew a picture of himself and was showing it to me. He said, "Mommy, this is me. But I am going to get taller. And when I am bigger and taller, I am going to get a mustache." I thought I would die! A mustache! He does not even know anyone with a mustache!

One night at supper, we were having spaghetti. (aka pesciti - I love when kids call it that!!) And Jessa asked for some Parmesan cheese. She sprinkled it on her plate. Spencer noticed this and said, "Hey, I want some papajohn cheese, too!" Jessa started to correct him, but we convinced her just to let him call it that. It is much cuter, don't you think?

Jessa, like many kids is obsessed with her birthday. She starts planning her next party just after she finishes the last one. She used to just try to decide the theme, My little pony, Batman, Tinkerbell, Princesses, and others were batted around off and on. NOW, she has gotten more sophisticated, and she is searching for the perfect location. Apparently our house is no longer good enough! Currently, she wants a party at the movie theater (a private screening), at Olive Garden (she saw the cute chocolate cake), a Mexican restaurant (gotta love the sombrero), Monkey Joe's (nothing says party like inflatables), and there have been more, but I am at a loss. So last night, David said, "Don't you want to have a party at my favorite BBQ place?" And she looked at him and said (with appropriate hand gestures), "No, Daddy, that place is too piggy, I need a place with more, you know, Pizazz!" Alrighty then.

Last one. Spencer is taking a big bite of a nice cold green granny smith apple. Green apples are our favorite. He says to me, "Mommy, people who eat red apples die. They die because they have poison in them." Maybe this explains why he prefers green. He is not taking any chances with those red ones!

These are two of my most favorite faces - ever

Friday, August 21, 2009

THE BIG K: part 2 (bus)

Once she woke up good, I could barely get Jessa to eat this morning. Once the big kids bus left, she wanted to RUN across the street to the bus stop. I am THRILLED that the bus stop is directly across the street from our house. This makes it easier for me to honor her request to not embarrass her. My instructions were,"Mommy, you just stay on your side of the street, OK?" She wanted me inside the house, but I could not do that! Then she decided outside was alright, as long as I stayed on the front porch. I did stay on my side of the street, but the kid's gotta cut me some slack!

David missed his first morning meeting today to be here for the bus. He has been a lot more sentimental about all of this than I thought he would. I think he is just so thankful that he is actually here for some important days. So often, he is not. And we are both very aware of all of our friends who are deployed right now and missing first days with their children.

She said I could take a picture of her BUT only from my side of the street.

I made her pose with her Daddy and you can see that she was NOT happy about it.

She enjoyed her bus stop visiting time immensely. She also chatted her head off with the kids AND the other parents who were actually allowed to be at the bus stop.

She did holler at us across the street several times. She wanted a sweater. It was in the silly girl's backpack the whole time, but I was glad to be allowed to run across and show it to her. That was the only chance I had to steal a hug. . . And I left Spencer in the bed, but he wandered outside. When she saw him, she ran across the street to give him a kiss (like I needed another excuse to get all choked up).

And then it happened.
The bus was here.

She climbed on and searched for a seat for at least 27 minutes.

David made fun of me for taking pictures because the windows are tinted. But it is her. Can't you see her profile?
Seriously, the second she finally sat down, the bus pulled away.

I resisted the STRONG urge to climb on the bus and explain to the bus driver that he was carrying precious cargo. I figure he already knows that, right?

I did not cry until David, Spencer, and I saw the bus pull away and were walking in the house. David never knows what to do with me when I cry. I am OK, though. I really am. She is a big girl. I am proud she is so independent and confident. I am excited for her because I love seeing the world through her eyes. And boy is her world exciting right now. She is going to have so much fun. She is going to make so many new friends. See, I am OK.

Is it 3:00 yet?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

THE BIG K: part 1

There are many milestones in the lives of our children. They are born, that's a big day. Then there are first words, first steps, first tooth, and every first is so special and important. And when you are holding that sweet new baby, you cannot even fathom how quickly the time is going to zoom by. Even though, I swear that I was just holding my sweet new baby girl, she started Kindergarten today. This is so hard! She has done preschool and Pre-K, but this is so much more real.

For weeks, when we talked about her first day, she told me that she was not going to cry, but that I would. The good news is that they sort of ease into things here. Today is the first day of school, but for Kindergarten, they have an open house the first day. This means that it is not a full day AND that your parents get to stay with you. Then on Friday, she will have her first real, full day of school. We are talking bus and everything.

So we got up and got ready to go. I will admit that tears were streaming down my face when I saw her bus pull up and pick up the bigger kids - and she was not even on it! I may need sedation tomorrow. . .

Doesn't that bus look too big for my baby?
I almost cry just looking at it, and she was not even on it!

A traditional "first day of school on the porch" shot.
It is required that all parents take photos like this. It's in the handbook. I checked.

We loaded up and went to the office. See, Spencer had a date with his Bay and Joyce (his awesome secretary) to hang while we took Jessa to the BIG K. So Spencer headed into the building, while David headed out.
She is only barely tolerating me and my camera at this point.

We parked across the street from school and crossed the street (after posing for a few pictures, of course) - aided by a real crossing guard.

We walked all the way into school and went to the Kindergarten hall.

We found her classroom - it looks inviting, huh??

It all happened so fast. It's a blur. It is all so new and overwhelming, but Jessa jumped right in. I started putting her supplies in the wrong class bins. Thank goodness I had David to keep me straight. Jessa was so calm. She marched right in there and found her LOCKER. Yes, my sweet 5 year old kindergartner has a locker! (She was over the moon about this.) She put her backpack in her very own locker and found her chair. She is at the green table. Her class number is 8. She has a mailbox for papers to bring home, a lunch pocket, and a discipline chart all with the number 8 on it. Her bus number is 7. I hope she does not bring home #7's papers and get on the #8 bus. Don't worry, the teacher said that they will pin an orange bus pass on her shirt tomorrow. Whew.

Everything is all labeled - Jessa just LOVES seeing her name everywhere!

There was a piece of paper at each place where they had to write their name and draw a picture of anything they wanted. She chose to write her name with curls. She is fancy that way. And then she drew a duck. (not a blue duck, but the Billy Madison fan in David was hoping) There was a lake that the duck was swimming in. The duck had a hat. There was even a crossing guard there to help the duck cross the stream. (why did I not take a picture of her drawing!? darn it!) David, the obnoxious, I mean, proud father that he is made sure to look at all the other drawings to see how Jessa's stacked up. He was pleased. But he was not at all biased, right??

Jessa hard at work and David checking out every one's progress.

We put away her gym shoes, her change of clothes, her beach towel, and her activity book into her locker. (it sounds like a strange list, but I am not questioning things.) And then it was time to say hello to her teacher and have her picture made.

After she cheesed for the camera, I told her it was time to go. If you could have seen the look on my sweet, excited Kindergartner's face - suffice it to say it was not happy. And she said in a not so nice tone, "We cannot leave now!! I have not even learned anything yet!" How dare we make her leave this house of learning? We were tickled at her earnest desire to hang around, but it quickly became frustrating as we walked the long road back to the car. She stopped speaking and pouted the entire way to the car. A few non-verbal growls came out of my precious angel. Just darling!

We had to hurry back to the office so that David could get back to work. AND I couldn't wait to check on Spencer and see how his visit with Bay and Miss Joyce went. It went well, I'd say. All the ladies in the office were fawning over him and he ate it up! I did love to walk into Bay's office and see Olivia on one of his big computer screens with Spencer kicked back in a chair eating a bowl of popcorn. They both wanted to hang with Bay and Miss Joyce all day. They were sad to leave. I am striking out all over the place today!!

Spencer loving the special attention he got with his Bay. The whole place was tickled to see cartoons on the chief of staff's computer.

AND I did not cry, much.

Now tomorrow.

Jessa at the bus stop.

Seeing the bus pull away.

No promises.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cheese, please.

I will readily admit that I am a sheltered Southern girl. The only thing that I ever thought of when I heard Wisconsin is Brett Favre, cheeseheads, and those commercials with the Wisconsin cows wanting to transfer to California! But one of my best friends, Tara and her family live near Madison, so we visited. We have been there once before, but we mostly stayed at her house for the Christening of my godson, Ben. (Aren't I so cool!) This trip was very spur of the moment. David was on a trip (gasp, I know you are shocked). School is about to start, so no more willy nilly traveling. AND the best reason of all: Tara had another baby! Yay! So my traveling troopers and I headed to Madison for the weekend.
We were so happy to get to spend some time with Tara and her husband Jay, and of course, their sweet boys. The funniest part was watching Ben (who is 2 and 1/2) try and figure out how to fit in to playing with my 2. They can fight with each other and drive me absolutely crazy, but they really are quite a team. AND Spencer is always the dutiful brother who obeys her every whim. Then there is Ben. He has older cousins, but he is used to doing his own thing. I am happy to report that after a few small incidents, Ben fell right in line. And they were so precious playing together.

I will share some highlights from our FUN weekend:
Each night before bed, Ben has a routine. After his bath and PJs are on, he drinks a cup of milk while he watches 2 "Max and Rubys." My guys were so funny. They hopped right into Ben's routine. Spencer,who is not even a big milk drinker, drank 2 cups - both nights! They all sat together and watched Max and Ruby. SO precious!

Another funny was Jessa assigning them parts to play. She would make one person the "evil doer" and the other would be her prince. She would tell Spencer to sit somewhere. He sat. At first Ben was not sure, but like I said, he fell right in line.

Such obedient playmates, just the way Jessa likes 'em!
Playing with a dinosaur family
We also went to the zoo in Madison. It was free to get in! And they were so precious riding in Ben's 2 seat wagon. Mr. Jay fixed it so they could all ride. Poor Jay - he was hauling more than 120 lbs up and down hills, but he did not seem to mind. Ben was so funny because whatever Jessa said she liked, he would chime in with, "I like otters, TOO!" Jessa never fully realized her power (I think we are all glad about that).

After the zoo, we went to the coolest place ever called Ella's Deli and Ice Cream Parlor. The initial attraction was the carousel right outside. But once we got in, we were in awe of all the cool things to see. I did not take nearly enough pictures (I don't know what was wrong with me. . .), but there was something to look at every where you turned. (The link above can show you how cool it was.) Mighty Mouse was flying over our table while we ate. Harry Potter was flying around by the front door. SO COOL! And the food was yummy, topped off with ice cream and a carousel ride. What's not to like?!

I was obsessed with getting pictures of our kids together. There is something so cool about the fact that when we met, she had not even met Jay yet, and now we have 4 children between us! We have come a long way since she and David were Lieutenants together in Mannheim, Germany in 2000!
Tara and me at a Change of Command in Germany
at Tara and Jay's wedding in 2004
Having pictures of all 4 of our babies was very important to me. The older 3 were pretty easy:

And we did get a few with sweet Eli. I am sure the next time we see each other that it will be easier to get Eli in on the photo sessions. . .

Jessa was in love with baby Eli!
Two more highlights:
Like I said before, the last time J, S, and I saw Ben he was 7 months old.

When we arrived for this visit, we overlooked formal introductions. We should have said, "Ben, this is Jessa." And had them shake hands. Then we should have said, "Ben, this is Spencer." And had them shake hands. We did not. So when we referred to the Key children, we just said, "Jessa and Spencer." Sweet Ben was so confused. He thought the oldest girl child was Spencer. And the youngest boy child was Jessa. Bless his heart, if you tried to tell him anything different, he would get so upset! So maybe next time we can get it straight for poor Ben. OR maybe J and S can just switch names every once and a while when we are hanging with Ben!

The last funny is that I have realized the my kiddos are kleptomaniacs. I knew they loved worthless plastic creatures, but apparently I had no clue how much. Ben had 2 plastic lizards that he loved. Jess and Spence were playing with them. At the time, I had no clue that Ben also loved these little creatures. At supper on Saturday night, after we had been gone all afternoon, Jessa reached into the top of her dress and pulled out one of Ben's lizards. She had secretly kept it with her all day! Then when I was packing up Sunday Morning, we could only find one of Ben's special lizards. I had looked everywhere. So I gave Ben 2 of J and S's lizards to try to make up for it, in case I never found his. But the next week when I was washing our trip clothes, I looked in the washer and saw this:

Oops! I have no clue which thief smuggled it home. . .
Poor Ben! We invaded his house, made him play our games, confused him with their names, and then stole his favorite lizards! I hope he will be willing for us to come see him again. . . I wouldn't blame him if he was not.