Tuesday, June 25, 2013

500th Post - Some Special Family Photos

So this is my 500th post on this blog.  Technically it is my 1512th post....but my public blog, the one I currently write on, this is the 500th post and so I'm excited to be able share something special to me.  I'm friends with a local photographer.  I've mentioned her and shown some of her work on my blog before.  She's the amazing photographer who took Cheetah's newborn shots/ Cheetah's introduction to the family.  She took our Christmas pictures last year.  She took the strawberry field shots.  Last year around this time she went up to Indiana Dunes, one of my favorite spots in the Midwest and did some hour long sessions for clients.  I was in love with them the second I saw them and decided that this year I wanted to go up and have our family pictures taken.  Two months ago she put out the word that she was taking reservations and I signed up.  I knew it would be a stretch but I was hoping that with enough advance notice Dr. J could get the time off.  And miracle of miracle's he did.  At least we thought he did.  He didn't have to ask it just turned out he had that Saturday off.  So we planned a trip to the beach.  Since he was not getting any time off this summer We decided to make it our own little mini vacation.  We were going to drive up Friday after Dr. J finished with work, stay in a hotel over night, play on the beach all day, take photo's at 6:30 and then head home.  It was going to be exhausting, but fun!  The kids were looking forward to it.  I was looking forward to it.  Then tragedy struck.  Friday Dr. J text me to let me know he'd read his schedule wrong and not only was he working, but he was on call.  With the late notice there was no way he was going to get off.  I furiously texted him and Jessica back and forth trying to see if he could get any time off in the weekend.  He couldn't.  Graciously Jessica told me not to worry about it, that I could cancel.  I thought, how can I take family photos without Dr. J, how can I survive a drive, trip to the beach, family photos and a drive home with four kids alone.  I decided that if I couldn't get out of my hotel reservation which was already less then 24 hours away I would go, but if I could I would cancel.  I called them and they said no problem cancelling.  So I texted Jessica, but I just felt sick.  I cried out in the backyard for an hour.  I cried on the couch for an hour more.  Our kids cried when they found out they would no longer being going to beach.  I felt miserable.  I had been so excited, so looking forward to this and now it was gone.  I talked to Dr. J.  In the end he said, "You know you should just go.  I know it isn't exactly what you were hoping for but this can be good too."  So I texted Jessica back asking if it was possible I could come and she said it would be no problem.

Saturday morning I got up and packed the car.  We drove by the hospital to drop off Dr. J's call toiletries that he forgot at home and give him goodbye kisses.  We headed off to the beach.  The three hour drive was a little nuts.  The first two hours were great but the third Cheetah started asking to be let out of her seat and the kids in the back started fighting.  I started to wonder what I was thinking.  Then we got to the beach.  I gathered my four kids, towels, sand toys, and water bottles.  Captain E carried our small cooler loaded with snacks.  The beach was crowded but there was plenty of places to set up.  We had three awesome hours:

We built sand castles. Played in the water.  Buried Captain E.  Buried Captain E and Cheetah in an even bigger hole.  Dug out a huge hole by the surf and tried to make a bath tub.  Splashed each other.  Ate snacks.  Drank lake water (Cheetah...ewe gross!).  Did splits in the surf (Peach).  Practiced our back stroke (Captain E).  Practiced our free style and diving (Captain E and Gigi).  Dragged a gigantic stick into the surf (Captain E, Gigi, Peach, Cheetah).  Danced in the water with a gigantic stick (Peach). Sprayed each other with water guns.  Skipped rocks.  Collected cool looking rocks.  Sun bathed.  Got wet, rolled in the sand, then ran into the lake to clean off, repeat a 100 times.

It was a blast.  My kids all loved the water, the sand, the rocks, the waves, the beach.  They were so happy to be there and I was so happy to make them happy.  They were nice to each other, played well, and for the most part minded the mommy.  Then I looked at my phone and realized it was five o'clock.  I decided to take the kids up to the car, get them dinner, dressed, and back to the beach for pictures.  Good thing too because Gigi had pulled a Tegaderm bandage off her leg and was bleeding everywhere!  We limped up to the van with all our goods.  I was looking for clean water and some toilet paper to clean off her leg when my phone rang.  "Hey," Jessica said, "Where are you?"  "Oh just standing by the car, getting ready to get my kids dressed."  "Oh," she says, "My session finished a few minutes early.  Do you want me to come over and help you get the kids ready?"  "What time is it?" I asked.  Turns out my phone hadn't adjusted to the time change and it was actually 6:15.  OH BOY!

So Jessica came over.  She helped dress my daughters.  She combed their hair and put their barrettes in.  She laughed with me when I realized I'd forgotten Captain E's underwear and he was going to have to go commando.  She handed me tp as I cleaned Gigi's bloody leg off.  She held up a towel to protect my privacy while I stripped in the parking lot.  No way I was going back in those bathrooms!  Sand, beach, lake water, hundreds of visitors, they just were not the best.  She waited with my kids while I rounded up a ranger that could put a real Band-aid on Gigi's bleeding leg that once I cleaned I'd just covered with Vaseline and a piece of tp.  Then she carried my kids with me up hills and through sand.  She is an amazing photographer and an awesome friend.  We took pictures on the dunes and in the water.  My kids were serious, they were laughing, they were cracking up and being silly.  After she took me back to the van, helped me get the kids all tucked away and then headed off to find her next appointment.  Captain E told me in the car coming home, "I just hope some of those goofy ones turn out."  We drove the three hours home stopping only twice, once for Gas, food, and a potty break, and then a second time so Gigi and Peach could pee on the side of the road just 2 miles from a rest stop because they just couldn't hold it a second longer.  Everyone was happy but exhausted when we pulled in at 11:30.  Today I got a Facebook sampling of some of the shots she took.  I actual got teared up looking at them.  Sure I'm a little sad Dr. J couldn't be there with us.  Jessica joked we should Awkward Family Photo vignette him into the corner, but I AM IN LOVE WITH THESE SHOTS and so glad that we had the opportunity to take them.  They were SO WORTH the drive.  I'd like to point out that these are after a three hour drive, three hours in the sun playing on the beach, with not a speck of makeup.  Either I'm a model or Jessica is a wizard photographer ;-)  Man I love them!  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do because they are going to be our Christmas Card shots and I can't wait to get some put up in my house!  I love them, I love them, I love them, I do!!!!

Jessica teased me that these were a great representation of my life, and I said, "Oh you mean Dr. J is at work and my kids are acting crazy."  "No," she said, "just you being a mom."  You know both of us are right.  These are a great microcosm of my life.  Busy, crazy, beautiful :)

Photos taken by Jessica Vaughn Photography

Doppelganger Friends

Doppelganger: "German, literally a double goer is a paranormal double of a living  person."  I had never paid this term any mind until about three years ago when a Dr. Who episode clued me in.  Since that time it is everywhere.  Every time I hear it I think of my two friends, Andrea and Bridget.  They have never met before.  Bridget I met years ago (almost seven to be exact) when our paths took us to Jordan for the same summer.  Since then we haven't been in the same area but via facebook, blogs, and e-mail I stay as current with her life as I do with anyone else I know.  In fact I'd say that I know probably more about her life because the truth is people often say deeply personal things online that they wouldn't necessarily just throw out there during a playgroup.  Andrea I met two years ago, and instantly liked her liberal, feminist, hippie vibe.  They have some similarities.  They went to the same college, originated from the same general part of the country, keep a blog, have two daughters, are married to men who share the same first name, will soon both have a master's degree, and both don't seem at all perturbed by my more liberal leaning ways.  The reason I call them my doppelganger friends is this though....something about their smile, their hair, and the way they both raise their eyebrows when they are going to make an interesting point.  These girls make me laugh and are friends who keep me better informed of things happening in the world.  I love knowing them.

A Blood Cloud

I blame this on the fact that I believe in honest with kids with comes to issues about bodies, life, and biology.  I believe in telling them the correct information, just doing it at the level of detail they are ready for.  My experience has been that when I talk to my kids about bodies or reproduction this way they often get bored and want to move on to something else.  I think it important not to laugh because laughing or giggling makes these conversations drag out, but today's almost pushed me over the edge.  I wish I had a recording of it.  It all started because of a bloody knee.  Gigi skinned her knee last week at the pool.  We put a Bandaid on it, but in the bath this week the scab rubbed off and Dr. J put a Tegaderm bandage on it.  At the beach the bandage was doing pretty well but it got sand under the edges and Gigi took it off.  There was blood everywhere...I mean the stuff was just dripping out.  She had bright red blood from her knee down to her foot and I didn't have a bandage in sight.  I got her to the car and then gently poured water on it.  Then I scrubbed up the bloody leg being careful to avoid the actual wound.  "G," Captain E said, "Why did you take the tampon off your leg."  "What?" I said.  "The tampon, why did you take it off?" He repeated.  "Um sweetie Tegaderm is not a tampon."  "Well what is a tampon then."  This started off a conversation about wombs preparing themselves to be baby homes, and then periods that follow if an egg isn't implanted (thank goodness no one bothered to ask how an egg is made).  "So what you are telling me is that once a month girls get followed around by a cloud of blood, a bloody cloud?" Captain E ask.  "Well that's not exactly it, but something like that."  "Well what if you don't want to have a baby, can't you just get rid of the bloody cloud?"  "Well I wish sweetie but it's just something your body does until menopause."  "Man I'm glad I'm a boy."  "Well yes sweetie, you are lucky."  "Then from the middle of the car peach squeaks out, "Bloody cloud! Bloody cloud! I can't wait to get my bloody cloud!  Then I can be a Momma.  Mom when can I get it."  "Well it will probably come when you are eleven or twelve."  "Twelve, I can't wait to be twelve.  Then I'll get my bloody cloud and I'll be a Momma."  Um, ok well I think we need to have a few more conversations on this point :(

Monday, June 24, 2013

Strawberry Picking

We have a you pick farm fairly close to our house and tons of my friends kept posting pictures saying how great the strawberries were this year and how easy they were to pick.  I was definitely interested so I called my friend Jessica up and asked if she had any interest in going.  We loaded up our four kids a piece (eight kids totally people) and headed over.  It was hot and muggy but the strawberries were plentiful and the kids had a blast picking.  After about a half an hour of picking, mostly done by the kids she had four mostly full baskets and I had three.  We loaded the kids back up in the car, paid for our goods, bought them so honey sticks and headed home.  These strawberries were delicious and after Gigi washed all of ours, singing the entire time, we ate them all in two days.  Not a single desert was made, we enjoyed these babies just the way God intended, from plant, to hand, to mouth :)  My phone is lost probably forever and I thought I'd downloaded all my pictures from the summer before I left, but apparently I didn't, but luckily for me Jessica took some shots of the kids while we were out there so enjoy.
These two have a mostly love relationship.  Her little boy calls Cheetah "the baby" and likes to give her lots of kisses and hugs.  Usually she is receptive.  Occasionally she gets in a mood and isn't...just like her mama ;)

 I love this shot.  Look at her baby legs rolls.  Cheetah has never been a particularly big baby but she still has a bit of her baby chub and I love it!

Just hanging with my buddy.

By golly it is hot.  We need some sweet tea mom!
 These kids took their job super seriously.  Jessica and I basically just followed them around.  They were busy little bees!  I could actually see while they were hard at work why kids might actually be the preferable harvesters of food, hello Hunger Games.  Child labor laws be darned.
Gigi took off to check out the bushes a little further away...
 then returned with an almost full basket to join the rest of the group.
 No one ever said you couldn't eat while you were picking right?  Well I hope not, because my kids certainly ate more than a few berries.

 So how did strawberry picking stack up to our raspberry picking two years ago?  Very favorable.  Now keep in mind I prefer raspberries, but strawberries were about three miles from home, while raspberries were about twenty.  Raspberries were very picked over and the kids had a hard time filling their small baskets.  Strawberries were plentiful and they easily found enough to satisfy their picking desire.  Strawberries held up a little better to tiny fingers.  So overall it was a super fun experience that I'd love to do again!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tiny Tim

There is a part of me that thinks, Grandma's you don't deserve this video!  If you want more videos you have to respond on the ones I've posted before, but this is too cute not to share.  Also notice the baby wailing in the background...if you watch the video close you see the baby foot hit Peach midway through the song.  That wailing baby is my six year old throwing a massive temper tantrum.  I can't remember what it was over or how it concluded, but I can tell from the video it was a doozy!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What Does Drowning Look Like

So some of you may have noticed I haven't written in awhile.  There are two reasons for this.  One I'm feeling slightly bitter.  I put the cutest video of Peach up and I didn't get one comment, and I'm not just talking blog here people, grandma's I didn't hear a peep from you via text message or phone call.  Sister I know you broke you jaw this week and are moving in two, but hello that was so cute and we've talked twenty times since I posted.  No one said a thing.  So I've been sulking, because if no family is actually looking at these pictures and videos, is there a point in me posting them?  I mean it is my journal but if I had no journal would it really be the end of the world?  So there has been that, my bad attitude I guess you could say, but probably more important is the fact that second, school ended a week and half ago and I've been busy. I've got four kids and a husband who works all the time, so the moments when I can sit and compose myself enough to blog, well they are few and far between.  But tonight my hubby is on call and my kids are asleep and so I wanted to share this article I read because IT IS SUPER IMPORTANT AS WE HEAD TO THE POOL AND BEACH THIS SUMMER!!!!

Check out the link, it is definitely worth it.  My own life experiences have shown this to be entirely accurate.  The first is from my young teenage years.  We had this fun family that lived across the street from us growing up.  They had a couple of kids who were the same age as my younger sisters and for whatever reason they liked us.  I babysit their kids and they paid well.  They had a pool they let us use.  They had a beach house in Mexico that they'd take us along to and they had a really sweet boat and four wheelers...a lot of the exciting things I got to do as a kid revolved around them.  One day we were at their house for a family party.  There were tons of adults and kids everywhere.  I was in the kitchen with the wife and my mom, adults were out at the pool as well as many children.  All the sudden Keri dropped the dish she was working on, ran out the backdoor and jumped into the pool fully clothes.  What she could see through her back window that all the other adults had missed was that her youngest was just bobbing under the water.  He was no longer coming up.  There was no splashing, no distress, he was just floating there a few inches of water above his head keeping him from the air his lungs so desperately needed.  He was a good swimmer, but was young (maybe 5) and in the deep end and had just gotten too worn out to push himself off the bottom or swim to the side.  He ended up being fine but I often wonder what would have happened had she not noticed him silently floating.  How long it would have taken the other people surrounding him in the pool to realize he was not ok. 

The second time I want to talk about was with Dr. J.  We were in this really swanky hotel in Luxor (well swanky by my standards) swimming in this giant pool.  Dr. J decided to swim Captain E ( A two year old at the time) across the pool, but right when he was at the middle of the deepest part of the pool he just lost all his strength.  My husband has a lot of strength for his size, but he is not a great swimmer and floating for him is nearly impossible because of his super low body fat.  Adding on Captain E's extra twenty pounds put his density at to high to float and since he only had one hand to swim with, the other was holding our toddler, he just couldn't tread water fast enough to stay up.  I was standing on the side of the pool and I saw him do the weirdest thing.  One second he was paddling along with one hand and the next he simply sunk under the water and put our baby up into the air with one hand.  It was at that moment I realized he was in trouble.  I jumped into the pool.  Swam over as fast as I could and grabbed Captain E.  With my overabundance of body fat floating my way back to the shallow end was easy even with twenty extra pounds.  With the freedom of his arm and the loss of the extra weight Dr. J was able to push himself off the bottom of the pool and swim to the side.  I asked him what he thought was going to happen by putting Captain E up in the air and he told me he just hoped someone would see him and come and get him before Dr. J passed out and couldn't keep the baby above water anymore. 

Both of these instances were completely silent.  By the time they realized they were in trouble neither could yell and there was literally no splash to draw you attention.  If your eyes wouldn't have been on them you wouldn't have even known there was a problem.  Which brings me to this summer.

We've gone to the pool twice now and with four kids it can be a crazy.  There are two life guards watching the pool at all times but I've got a very adventurous 19 month old and three times have had to grab her up from the water where she has face planted and is doing a completely silent dead mans float.  All three of these times were in the baby pool in water she could easily stand in, but young toddlers seem to completely lack the ability to push themselves up once they go face first into the water.  Luckily I was near by and could scoop her up quickly.  I then have Peach who is a non swimmer and yet wants to float into the four feet and beyond side on a raft and Gigi and Captain E who are  budding swimmers but I can see sometimes as they are moving through the water their strokes start to slow and they get a little swamped.  They never call for help.  Oh sure I hear "help" and screaming all the time when I'm in the pool but is involves my kids scrapping over toys or gleeful splash wars.  When there is real trouble they never say a word and their splashing is almost non existent.  I love to be in the water.  I think it is the Arizona in me but a summer without a pool is unbearable.  I love to have my kids there.  I can't imagine a summer without swimming and we have invested and will continue to invest in swim lessons for our children because I think a life skill all people should have whether they enjoy it or not is the ability to swim, but I also recognize there is a danger in the water and that as parents we have an obligation to be constantly on alert.  There is no substitute for your eyes on your child and that's why it's important to know what you should be looking for.  Not surprisingly media has completely corrupted what we think drowning looks and sounds like.  Media is wrong.   So read the article, to know what you are looking for, and then be safe and enjoy your summer!


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