Thursday, May 26, 2016

welcome to summer

Monday was Nick's first day of summer.
I thought,
let's make it a super fun day where everyone is happy and we go to the farm and just have fun.

I should have realized what that would actually translate to.
Kent's mom calls it the "Jurassic Park Syndrome." Where you have this great idea with your kids and "ooh, ahh, this is SO fun and great!" and then before you know it it's screams and terror and people are getting eaten alive.

Nicholas and I had to get up early and get to the school for his end of year Kindergarten review testing. 
Which meant that when we got home, Nick was ready ready ready
and the other two kids were not.
So we spent the morning attempting to get the other kids ready to go while Nicholas questioned my abilities as a mother and very loudly wondered why we weren't leaving yet?!

The farm is part of a museum we used to visit lots when we lived in our last house. Now that we're down here, it's about a 35 minute drive on the freeway. 
Three minutes into the car ride Ellie started asking if we were getting close yet.

We made it to the farm 
and it really was really fun.
Christian wanted to live with the bunnies.

He circled that rabbit pen for a good forty minutes, squealing and stomping with excitement.
Nicholas asked me if he can get a pet rabbit "maybe when I'm 18, Mom?"
He knows me well.

There were baby goats, baby calfs, a baby pony, and of course the pony rides are always the highlight.

We really did have fun at the farm.
But by this point, it was past lunchtime, and Ellie hadn't eaten any of her breakfast (oatmeal was suddenly the worst) and things were about to implode on us, so we quick grabbed chicken nuggets from Wendy's.

The kids' meals came with frosties this time (has anyone else noticed that sometimes they give them and sometimes they don't?)
I'd told the kids before the farm that we could get cookies at the bakery nearby after the farm.
But now we had ice cream too.

Trying to be a good mom and not let them eat their own weight in sugar each day, I suggested that the kids decide if they want to eat their frostie or if they want to get a cookie.
Nicholas chose the cookie.
Little miss instant-gratification-Ellie chose her frostie.
So we ate in the car outside the bakery.

And then Nicholas needed to use the bathroom. RIGHT NOW.
But Ellie was NOT going to get out of the car with us. She insisted she was old enough to stay in the car all by herself. 

So much sadness/screams from the four-year-old, panic/potty dancing from the six-year-old, and screeching/wriggling from the one-year-old who was really thinking he'd like to run out in front of traffic at the moment instead of be stuck in mom's arms.

We made it inside, Nick used the restroom, and we waited in line and bought Nick his cookie. 
At which point Ellie decided that actually, she wanted a cookie instead of her frostie. I'd just paid, and now there were approximately 25 people in line.
No deal, Girly. 
Who thought that telling your child she has to eat her ice cream would make her wail in the middle of a restaurant? 

Whew. This story is longer than I realized. There's still more. Stay with me. It gets better/crazier.

After we finished our food and treats, we needed to go to H&M. (Boy do I miss living so close to the outlets! If we still lived up there I would have called it quits at this point and taken all the crazies home for some rest. But it's a 40 minute drive, so the shopping had to be done now.)

The kids were delightful as we walked and frolicked and skipped down to the end of the outlets and into H&M. 

H&M has an escalator.
I had a stroller. 
Nicholas wanted to go on the escalator. So I let him. By himself. He waited at the top for me while I took Ellie and Christian up the elevator. All was well.

We shopped. 

Then we finished. Nicholas wanted to go back down the escalator. 
So did Ellie. 
So I sent them. Nick got on, 
Ellie did not. She froze and stood at the top trembling and at her just-about-freak-out level. 
So I suggested she ride the elevator with me. She did not appreciate that suggestion.
Because I was tired and they were tired and we just needed to go home I decided to attempt taking the stroller down the escalator so I could help Ellie.

Christian and I got on the escalator. I reached my hand out for Ellie, 
and she didn't get on. 

So now I'm going down, with the stroller, away from Ellie. Nicholas is laughing at the bottom. Ellie is crying at the top, watching her mom leave her. 

I shouted back up at her to just "wait there! I'll be right back up for you!" took the elevator back up to the top (We had to open the elevator twice because Nick couldn't decide if he wanted to stay at the bottom and watch Ellie or if he wanted to come with me), and I finally retrieved Ellie and dragged her screaming back down the elevator so we could pay for our things and 
just. leave.

Then, when we got home, 
Christian managed to get into the toilets five times before bed.
Yay summer! 

(And in case you're wondering, I already find this whole story absolutely hilarious. My life is nuts in the best way possible.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Sometimes, as the day goes by, 
I find myself wondering how I ever kept myself entertained
before I was a mother.

My children are darling and sweet and good and smart

In the most delightful ways.

I don't want to forget some of these quirks.

often yells in his sleep
also sleepwalks
anything that is broken, missing, or dead was suddenly his "Very most favorite!" in the whole world, worthy of much wailing and tears.
Loves to get his hair cut, as long as it's not me that's cutting it---
creates sock "nests" (groupings of four or more balled-up socks) behind the bathroom door
uses a fork to eat peas. Refuses to use a spoon.
pronounces "piano" as "plano" and "basket" as "bastick"
Is a terrible liar. Wiggles his tongue around inside his cheek and can't hold back a smile while he tries to lie to me.
Loves to write notes and cards for people
Believes that any home with a Wii is the best house ever. (aka, not our house....)

often asks for a cheese and tomato sandwich for breakfast
sings to herself all day long
requires me to put her tights on inside out so she can't feel the seams
Hates the wind
forgets that she likes chicken Every. Single. Time. I serve it to her. Until she takes the first bite and remembers "chicken is the best in my tummy!"
spends a surprising amount of time frolicking. For reals.
too often uses her toothbrush to scrub the bathroom sink
takes off her pants (and sometimes more) before buckling herself into her carseat
likes me to put her hair into "piglets"

is terrified of kittens
needs about 4 hours of cuddling a day
names every character in her games "Ella."
once stuck a straw into the closet and blew into it, claiming she was adding more air to it.

does not say "mama," "dada," "ball," "milk," "dog," "cat," or "hi." But he does say "spider," "outside," "shoes," "train," "thank-you," "tickle," "fish," "cheese," and "delicious." I'm not even kidding.
Throws things into the bathtub or down the stairs, over the safety gate, and isn't upset at all that he cannot reach them. Just looks at them for a second and then walks away.
is a total water-magnet. ANY amount of water, even the teeniest puddle, MUST be played in.
closes himself into our rooms and then patiently knocks until we let him out
has zero interest in staying near me. My other two were glued to my hips at all times. This kid will wander across five acres without looking back.
spins in circles and falls down just for the fun of it.
knows exactly which bite of food he wants on his fork, but can't get it on by himself
comes running when he hears the phone ring--he wants to talk--he'll jabber away as if he is answering and having a real conversation
brings us our shoes several times throughout the day

and slobbers. a lot. so much so that teeny doll plates can get stuck on his chin.

Moral of the story? My life is awesome. And crazy. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

St John, the beaches

 Now for the best part.
Kent and I have been a few places,
and so far, St John has the very best beaches we've ever seen.

White sand as soft as satin,
crystal clear warm water. The kind of water you could spend hour after hour in and never want to get out.

Just incredible. Every beach we went to I found myself thinking,
"Okay, actually this beach is my favorite." They were all that good.

 Seriously no better place to spend a Sunday afternoon. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

St John, the roads

One thing we were unprepared for was the roads on the islands. 
Narrow, winding, steep
they drive on the left side of the road.
Driving there was pretty exciting!

When the owner of the house we rented met us outside the car barge ferry and we followed her to the house,
Kent and I couldn't believe the roads. Even our Jeep struggled to get around some of those corners and hills. At one point we watched the landlord swing around an unbelievably steep corner in front of us, and we stopped and just laughed,
wait, are we really supposed to follow her up there?

This is the road to the house we rented.
A little past this, our first night there,
a massive crab, about as big as a dinner plate, 
scurried across the road in front of us. 
 I may have shrieked a little.
Kent may have also, actually.

I wish these pictures accurately showed how seriously steep these roads are.
Notice Mike's hands bracing himself as we come down the hill here.  

They don't have garbage collection services on the island (because how in the world would a garbage truck navigate these roads??)
so you have to take your own trash out, to big dumpsters alongside the road everywhere.
These dumpsters are surrounded by all sorts of broken furniture, tires, rubbish, 
and layers of broken glass.
Which, we found out, is a very dangerous thing to drive over,
even for a tough little jeep.

Cue, our attempt to fix a flat tire on a narrow, inclined road high on the mountains of St John.
We thought we could do it.
Turns out, there's a reason the jack has a little picture of a car on a hill, with a great big X drawn across it.
Fixing a flat on an incline is something best left to the professionals.

So we called a professional.
And one of us may or may not have been forced to relieve themselves in the jungle while we waited.
Let's just say we were working really hard to stay hydrated in the heat. 
We succeeded.

We got our tire fixed thanks to an incredibly friendly repairman named Jack (with a "Be Kind" window sticker on the back of his pickup---the people of the Virgin Islands truly are the kindest people we've ever met) and we were soon back on our way to the beach.

But not before we found some road construction, VI style,
(What you can't see is the gaping hole that falls off the cliff right behind that orange barrier)
and seeing some more of the island wildlife.

the roads are nuts.
But the views from these roads? 
Make it all worth it.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

St John, the story

Last week Kent and I got to go on a trip that we've been planning for and saving for the last three years.
Kent's parents went to St John four years ago, and ever since we've been dreaming of this place.
With good reason, it turns out.
This is a place of dreams, people.

We drove up a couple of days before to get the kids settled in with my parents.

I had a harder time leaving them than I thought I would. 
They're all just so sweet and little! 
And I just want to stay with them and take care of them!
But we have to take care of our marriage, too. This is important to us.
After a few days just me and Kent? We seem to find ourselves again. Remember who we are. 
Then we come home, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, and ready to start again to be the best parents we can be.

Our flight left at 1:15 am,
which isn't the most ideal time for departure,
but with just the two of us, and heading to the beach, I couldn't complain. We even got a couple of hours of sleep,
which for a mom,
is plenty!

(apparently it's not quite enough for a dad, though....)

And the view out my window as the sun rose over Atlanta? 

We picked up our rental car on St Thomas, bought a few groceries, and got in line for the car barge.

Pretty fun to be on a boat, in a car!

We got our first taste of the crazy roads on St John, dropped off our stuff at our beautiful rental house,
then drove back into Cruz Bay to wait for
our very favorite travel buddies, Mike and Allison.
We ate dinner at a beachside restaurant that nearly lost our credit card and truly lost electricity a few times (all part of the experience!)
and then Alli and I stepped down to the water to put our toes in for the first time.