Monday, March 31, 2008

More Birthday Fun

Here is Claire looking out at the lake from the State park lodge. It was a beautiful lodge and a beautiful area. The restaurant was wonderful and we had a great "Birthday Dinner" for Rhett.
Claire loves her Daddy!
Claire has swing radar. She LOVES swings. She will go to the park and swing for a solid hour. Occassionally she will take a break for the slide then she runs right back to the swings. This playground was very retro and cool. It had a little merry-go-round and see saw! I felt like I was five years old! Not that climbing walls and big tube slides aren't cool but how much fun is it to bounce someone on a see saw?? the chalets in the background are some of the 18 out of the 20 that had gorgeous views of the lake. We were in #19. Our view was somewhat similar to the view from our deck - which is quite beautiful and we are very thankful for it - but we were kind of hoping for a change of scenery since we were at a LAKE! It was one of the things that just didn't work out in my planning of Rhett's birthday weekend. The other was his cake. I got a yummy chocolate cake from Savage's which is pretty much a tradition at this point for our family. They are scruptous. I picked out one with really cool, big, funky flowers on it. I brought home one with beautiful pink roses and "Happy Birthday Rhett" in pink icing. What?? I thought for a minute that maybe Rhett wouldn't notice that he had a girly cake. Of course the first thing he said was "what's up with the pink roses?". So much for not noticing. Oh well, it was yummy and by the time we got 30 candles on it you could barely see the pink roses.

My parents and I got Rhett an iPod for his gift. Please understand that we are miles off of the information superhighway. We do not have Blackberries or iPhones. We do not even text message. I have a few times but it takes so long that I'd much rather call or get out stationery and write a letter! We realize that we have got to catch up before the kids go blazing past us. So this little bundle of technology is our attempt at trying to keep up. Problem is that it takes every little drop of life out of us trying to figure out how to "download" and "sync" etc. so that we can get this little bundle of technology to actually work. Maybe we should just wait until the kids can show us how to use it!
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Happy Birthday Rhett

We celebrated Rhett's big 3-0 this weekend. Ford got a jump on the birthday festivites and dove right into Rhett's cake while we were singing to him! He managed to get a mouthful of frosting which is quite a thrill to someone who has only every had breastmilk! We can definitely look forward to his first birthday party! We packed up and headed up to northern Alabama to Lake Guntersville State Park for the weekend. We stayed in a little chalet and had wonderful family time. It was so much fun celebrating Rhett and how much we all love him for who he is to each of us.
We we one a wonderful 5 mile hike on Saturday. We took Cutchenmine Trail down through the woods with a large creek on one side of the trail. There are sometimes bald eagles in the area but we weren't lucky enough to spot one. Ford enjoyed his first hike! He dozed off for a while but enjoyed looking around at the new sights. I was loaded down like a pack mule but managed to make it just fine. I will be happy when he graduates to the backpack though!
We took potty training on the road and Claire passed with flying colors! We are so proud of her! Thank goodness someone told me to put a little potty in our car. We made two stops on the highway and took it on the trail. I know she is going to kill be about all of these potty pictures one day but I couldn't resist this one. I can't imagine a prettier place to use the potty! She thought it was pretty cool when we put the pee pee in the grass too!
Rhett and Claire had a blast throwing rocks in the creek and listening to the "kerplunk" and getting a little wet! Claire loves spending time with her Daddy. They always have so much fun playing together.
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Thursday, March 27, 2008


Here is Claire on her first Easter in '06. This is one of my favorite pictures of her when she was a baby. I just love the expression on her face for some reason. Between that and the bonnet and the dress . . . well enough said. Notice the carefully hand dyed blown out eggs in her basket and the cheapo plastic ones in Ford's. One of the many changes between one kid and two!

Ford's First Easter

We had a wonderful Easter celebration at the Shirley home! We spent most of the day at church and had lunch with some good friends. We've had a tradition of eating Jim 'n Nick's BBQ every Easter for several years now but it seems as though many of our friends have moved away the past few years so we were down to two families this year! Claire looked really cute but I somehow missed getting a picture of her in her dress. By the time I tried to prop them up on the couch to take a picture it was after naptime and the Easter dress was a wrinkled mess and so was she! None of the pictures of the two of them turned out very well but I thought the ones of Ford with his basket were cute. He dove straight in and tried to eat the grass! I struggled with how to explain Easter to Claire since the concept of death and resurrection are a bit big for a 2 year old. We settled on celebrating that "Jesus is Alive". She went around singing "Jesus is alive, Jesus is alive, hi ho the dairy-o Jesus is alive" most of the day.

She had an egg hunt at school before Spring Break and I was a proud Momma as she scooted around the room and filled up her basket to the brim. She was picking up eggs three at a time! She and one other little boy took about 60% of the eggs in the room. At first I thought I should teach her to share and give her eggs to some other kids but then I decided to support capitalism and let her keep all of her eggs that she worked hard to find while all the other kids just stood there. I did make sure she shared her booty with her brother when she got home (she gave him 2 eggs) so I thought this took care of the sharing lesson without turning her into a socialist - HA!
I thought I'd post a few pictures of Ford since Claire has been getting so much attention with potty training. Isn't he darling? I know I'm a little biased but he's just a doll! The potty is going great by the way. She went all day at day care with no accidents on Monday but had one today at Bible Study. Accidents are definitely the exception at this point and she hasn't had one at home or with me in a week so I think we are good. She just has to learn to speak up and not be shy when she has to go! We are celebrating Rhett's big 3-0 this weekend. He doesn't know what we are doing yet so I won't spoil the surprise!
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Friday, March 21, 2008

Potty Training - CHECK!!

Well, I think we did it! It took three days but we have made great progress. The first day 3 accidents, 2nd day 1 accident and now day 3 - NO ACCIDENTS!! I got really brave today and took Claire to a friends house to play and she went while we were there (I joked with my her and said you know you are a good friend when your friend shows up at your house with her kid who's been going in the potty for 2 days!!). Things went so well that we went to the park and out to dinner too! She did go to the bathroom 4 times during dinner partly because I was paranoid and partly because there was a hand dryer involved which made it a fun adventure!

I'm sure there will be accidents in our future but she really seems to have gotten it so hopefully they will be few and far between. I just have to keep my eye on the clock and pay attention to when and how much she is drinking. I really haven't had to remind her too often though because she has done great telling us when she has to go. Our biggest challenge the first two days was that she would start to go and get so excited that she would stop so she could take a look! After several hours of not emptying her bladder completely she would finally reach a point where she would go and have an accident. But that improved dramatically today so I think that's why we had success!

I can't believe it. The first day I was a little worried. I honestly probably would have stopped if I hadn't announced it on this blog so I'm glad I did. I guess I just didn't have very much confidence in her after several accidents but she surprised me with how much she is capable of and reminded me that she really is a "big girl". We have no more diapers for her in our house - only pull ups for bedtime. We've got one more day of practice before the first big test of church on Sunday and Easter lunch afterward. I think she can do it - actually I know she can do it. I am so proud of her. I thought I would be sad since this is one more step away from being a baby but I absolutely love the little girl that she is becoming so I embrace this achievement. I'll keep you posted on how it is going. Like most things in life the anticipation of this "event" was much worse that it actually was so if you are in the same place I was - go for it!!- you might be pleasantly surprised!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Our little Marine

Mom and Dad brought these PJs for Ford at the PX in San Diego. Doesn't he look like a little Marine (I think his hairstyle helps!). I love camo on little boys for some reason. It just screams BOY and makes them look like they should be out in the woods building a fort or something. I guess there isn't a more manly fabric out there (come on gingham, really?). It is just a reminder that I'm not raising a little boy - I am raising a man. No pressure.

This would be a great time to mention a great book I read recently. It is called "That's My Son" by Rick Johnson. It's written specifically for Moms on how to better understand the world of boys (and hence men) and how to raise Godly men of character. I devoured it and learned a lot. For instance, did you know that if you need to have a "serious" talk with your son you should go do some activity with them while you have the conversation (like throw a ball, shoot baskets, go for a hike etc.) instead of having them sit down and talk??? I asked Rhett about this and his response was "Well, YEAH. Of course. You are just now figuring that out? The last thing any boy of any age wants to hear is "we need to sit down and have a talk" We check out before we sit down. Ugh, just thinking about sitting down for a long serious talk makes me all uncomfortable." I guess I missed that along the way. That's what we girls love to do. Sit down and hash it out and analyze it from every angle. You can still have the serious talk but just do some activity at the same time. Interesting.

This book addresses a lot of the issues that our favorite philosophers Rick and Bubba call the "Wussification of America". If you don't know who Rick and Bubba are or don't understand the term "Wussification" you probably don't have any business reading our blog so I will refrain from explaining either one. It boils down to the fact that for as long as time boys have been climbing trees, getting dirty, jumping off of high things (this especially applies to my husband) and all sorts of other things that girls don't understand. I guess these are stereotypes but mostly they are true so I'm fine with that. Rhett told me about someone he met in Peru who goes on a dirtbike tour of Peru every year with a bunch of his buddies. They ride hundreds of miles all across Peru on a dirt bike. They stop at villages and sleep underneath peoples homes in their dirtbike gear. They don't have a plan of where they are going or where they are going to eat or sleep. They just go on a big adventure. While Rhett was telling me this his eyes were dancing and he was getting all excited. I don't get it. Someone would literally have to pay me A LOT of money to spend a couple weeks on a dirtbike. It sounds utterly miserable and (this is where it gets important) dangerous. Exactly. Dangerous - that's the whole point. What fun is it to do something that is safe? (See I'm starting to understand!). Here are the selling points for the above mentioned adventure: 1. It's dirty 2. Its' dangerous 3. It's all men (acting like boys). The bottom line is that stuff like this is important to boys and to their character. They NEED to feel like they are conquering something, fighting for something or on a great adventure. I am facinated by this whole subject. I'm sure you'll hear more about it in days to come.

This book will be the first of a new feature on our blog called Required Reading. Whenever Rhett or I read a book that really moves us or makes us think we always call it "Required Reading" for the other. Some are deeper than others. Some are just favorites. Who knows you may find some good recommendations on there and don't worry there won't be any medical journals or such involved. I'll try to tell you a little bit about the ones we choose and I'd love to hear from you if you read them or if you already have. I'll go ahead a post an initial list then come back and explain why we chose each book and gave it the distinction of Required Reading. I'd also love to hear some of your suggestions!
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It must be a guy thing

What is the deal? This is how Ford sits at every chance! In the booster seat, in the bouncy seat and even in the stroller. The need to sit like this is carried on the y-chromosome without a doubt!
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Potty Party

Here's the update on potty training! We officially started today! As soon as we woke up I told her today was the day that she started wearing big girl panties! The morning went great -Ford slept most of the morning so we just played and set the timer for every 30 minutes to go to the potty. She went some times and others she didn't. She told me she needed to go at other times and it worked great. Unfortunatley I've had a long standing doctor's appt. scheduled for this afternoon so I had to pack the kids up after lunch and take them to day care for a few hours while I went to the appt. I put a pull-up on her for that since she would taking a nap and everything. They said she woke up wet (which I expected of course) so they put another pull-up on her and by the time we got home she was wet again. I think the pull up just gives her the feeling that she can go and it's no big deal. So we got straight back in panties and started again. The afternoons are always hectic around here so it was a lot more difficult. She had two accidents - once when I was on the phone and again when she was eating supper. She regained some ground after that and told me she had to go before again bed. So I think we are on the right track. We have the next 3 days free and my mom is coming to give me an extra set of hands so I think in 3 days she will make a lot of progress and hopefully this ship will have sailed!!
So we had the "Potty Party" I promised to mark and celebrate this exciting day. I ordered a Dora cake last week for her but when I went to pick it up today they didn't have the order or any more Dora kits to make the cake. I was a little disappointed because I wanted her cake to match her cute Dora panties but I settled for a Princess cake which turned out great and of course she loved it! I'll keep you posted on the progress. Hopefully I can report in a few days that our diaper budget will be slashed in half - woo hoo!
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Ford 5 months

Here's my little sweetie pie at 5 months. He's still as sweet as he can be. He's at that age where it's difficult to catch a smile because he is intrigued by the camera so much. He does smile often and brings so much joy to each day. I can't really remember him not being here in our family. It's like we were just waiting for him to get here all that time.
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Monday, March 10, 2008

Phil and Teds

A while ago I mentioned my supercool new stroller. I took a picture of it yesterday so I thought I'd share it. We have changed it from infant/toddler mode to two toddler mode (even though Ford isn't a toddler he likes to sit up and look around now). Thanks to my friend Susan for her recommendation for it. She and her husband took their 3 year old and 1 year old to Europe for a month last summer and put the Phil and Ted's to the ultimate stroller test. It passed with flying colors which is why we now own one! Rhett is slightly relieved that we now "only" own 3 strollers. I sold our old single jogger at a consignment sale (I made a ton of money on it:) since this one converts back to a single by taking the back seat off. We will give it a run for it's money next year in Peru since it will be the only form of transportation that we actually own and my main means of getting around with the kids. The only bad part about it so far is that I get stopped constantly by people asking me about it!
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I want that bici!!!

I hit a consignment sale this weekend and scored some major purchases! The first being an awesome Kelty hiking-kid-carrying-backpack brand new for $40. I also got a talking Dora doll that Claire adores for $5. At the sale Claire spotted the above pictured tricycle from across the building and yelled "I want that bici!!". Yes, Spanish once again! I was so excited about the Spanish that I of course got it for her. She loves it and rides it all around the house. There is usually at least one baby in the basket. We took her new wheels for a spin outside yesterday and Claire loved it. She's not upset in the picture she is having a blast going down the "hill". She kept yelling "go faster!". She must have some of her Daddy's daredevil heart in her. Once again she struggled with steering (she's too busy looking around) and wanted to put her feet on the "floor" instead of on the pedals.

I have spring fever and I hope that winter is gone for good! I don't mind it being chilly in the morning if I can look forward to it being 65 in the afternoon. My flipflops are now my standard shoes until October. And despite loosing an hours sleep on Saturday night - I love day light savings time and I wish we could make it permanent. I really enjoy and definitely prefer the Central time zone (as opposed to the Eastern one where I've spent most of my days) the only bad thing is that it doesn't stay light here until 8:00 like it does there. We still get that extra light but it's not quite as late since we are so close to the border. I look forward to walks after dinner and other fun things that you get to do this time of year.

As I type Claire is dressed up in her Cinderella dress with glitter pink shoes. She has about 25 different dolls, truckes, purses and stuffed animals lined up on the kitchen floor teaching them various songs. You just can't quite capture that with a camera!
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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Claire's quotes of the week

Singing . . . (loudly) "I lift up my chin and grin and saaaay, a day awaaaaay in the manger, lay down his sweet head" (combination of Tomorrow and Away in the Manger . . . hmmm.)

"Look I pee peed in the potty! It's yellow! It's amarillo!"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Spring Break '08 - Potty Train or Bust

So I have big plans for Spring Break this year! Granted they are very different from Spring Break plans of years past. No, I'm not going to Panama City, Destin or any other cold beach location with a gaggle of girls as I've done so many times before. Instead we are staying home and potty training.

I've decided to do the "One Day" potty training method. This involves among other things a pee-pee doll, cleaning up several messes and eventually a "potty party" at the end of the day. I think Claire is quite ready it's just a matter of finding the time when we are at home. It seems as though most weeks we are "busy" most days of the week. So finally we have a week where most activities have been canceled due to the American phenomenon known as Spring Break so we are going to go for it.

I've been kind of conflicted about it because I'm not sure how to manage in public. How do I take a toddler to the potty with a 4month old in tow? I manage to avoid public restrooms at almost all costs so I guess I need to deal with the fact that I am going to have to just suck it up and venture into the yucky, dirty, inhospitable world of public restrooms.

We are gearing up by reading a potty book which Claire absolutely loves. It is quite hysterical bordering on ridiculous. Anytime you are rhyming "pee" and "poo" it's over the line. Who write this stuff anyway? I guess they know what they are doing because Claire loves it and wants to read the potty book all the time, go figure. We are talking about the upcoming "Potty Party" with the promise of her absolute favorite - a cake!! No, the cake will not have a potty or anything like that on it although that would be kind of fun and gross at the same time. She is genuinely excited about the party and is looking forward to this special day.

I'm trying to research the "One Day" method without actually purchasing the book. Everything I've read so far sounds like this is the way to go for us. So if you are planning an actual spring break think of me while you are sipping your fruity drink on the beach. I'll be in the trenches of motherhood trying to come up with a big victory. I probably should have waited to post about this after the fact IF it works but I decided to lay it all out there and raise the stakes a little bit. I know a lot of us are going through the same stages right now so I'd love advice and encouragement from those who have been there done that (especially if you did the One Day method) or if you are there and doing it now.