Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday Thesicle

Running around at Dad's softball game + bath + watching the Nats game
 = sleeping on the couch

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Coming Home

When we got home from our epic road trip the beginning of last month, there was a whirlwind of activity around my sister-in-law’s wedding and our refinancing our house and just settling back in. For a few days straight the boys were running around pointing to various toys and books and household items, shrieking, “Remember this!?”  and “This is OUR house!” We had spent so many nights sleeping in different places with other people’s things that they nearly forgot we had our own place with our own things. There's nothing like coming home when you love your home.

Something else that added to the whirlwind of settling back in was that we found out I was pregnant. Surprise! We certainly hadn’t planned to get pregnant, specifically during the lapse in time between Brian’s healthcare coverage. We had purchased a basic healthcare plan in case of an emergency, but hadn’t had to use it all summer. I scheduled my first OB/Gyn appointment for as soon as I could after our new insurance kicks in— September—and tried to get used to the idea of another baby.

We told only a few people and planned out how to tell our families. It was a weird feeling—much different from my first pregnancy. I was thrown off by the news but eventually was excited about it. We went through our whole house again and got rid of things. We figured out how we can arrange a changing table and crib in our room, which included getting rid of both dressers and, you guessed it, building more shelves. We were thinking about names, reading about the baby’s weekly development, and getting used to the idea of a tiny new addition to our family.

About two weeks ago I miscarried. You always hear about people having miscarriages but I didn’t realize how long and painful it can be. It lasted about four days and though I only took two Percocet pills it was quite uncomfortable. Remember the healthcare situation I mentioned? Yeah. I ended up going into the ER on the weekend, and then had two subsequent visits to the doctor. We haven’t seen the bills, and they won’t be pretty. Odd timing on all counts. More whirlwind-y feelings.

I was sad. I wanted that baby, even though we hadn’t planned on it. I wasn’t sure I’d write about it here on my blog, that maybe it’s too personal, but I decided I would go ahead and do it. I now understand why couples don’t often tell people they’re pregnant until later on in the pregnancy. It would have been painful to have to call and tell a bunch of people what happened a few weeks after we’d just called to tell them the news. With Cal and Clark we told a couple people the news on the night I took the pregnancy test, we were so excited. Fortunately it worked out fine that time.

Anyway, coming home has been a long and weird process. We refinanced, de-cluttered, reorganized, and shampooed the carpets in our house. We were in a wedding, potty trained the boys, went on a raspberry and peach jam canning spree, had a miscarriage, and expect to be hit by a huge medical bill soon. All that at the end of our awesome road trip adventure. Crazy summer.

Just today things are seeming more normal and less vacation-y. Brian is at work (just down the road!). Alex, the little girl I watch a few days a week, was here today. She’s talking like crazy and the boys are both in love with her still (Though Cal needs to work on his bossy tone if he wants to win her over when they’re older). I’ve started giving the boys little reading lessons on weekdays and that has been fun. They’re both signed up for community center classes in a few weeks: art, swimming, and martial arts.
And so, another chapter begins. We’re home.
Clark bulks up for his martial arts class as Cal and Alexandra watch.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

This Week's Poop Similes Wrap-up

"My poop looks like a hotdog!" -Cal

"My poop looks like a peanut!" - Clark

"It looks like a cactus or a fish or something." -Clark

"It looks like a hotdog AGAIN this time!" -Cal

"It's like a baby poop." - Cal

"My poop is like a seahorse!" -Clark

"This time it's a tree!" -Cal

"It looks like a banana. And someone started peeling it already!" -Cal

"It's a small as a crumb." -Clark

"It looks like a snail or a worm maybe." -Clark

"I looks like Buzz Lightyear." -Clark

"Did you hear my poop pop out from my buns?" -Cal

"This is the strongest poop you've ever seen!" -Clark

"Looks like crumbs from a baseball field." -Clark

"Looks like two snakes and a turtle." -Clark

I just couldn't resist sharing. After all, I want to encourage figurative language in my boys.

Here are some of my previous boys and poop thoughts: Poopy diapers and Funny Poop.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday Thesicle

There are few sights as beautiful as all Play-doh colors lovingly combined.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Potty Tales and Potty Trails, etc.

The last week and a half before Brian went back to work we started potty training in earnest. Also at that time and directly related to potty training time, we purchased a carpet cleaner. We took off the boys’ pants and diapers and let them run around in their bare buns. There were many frustrating accidents on the carpet, but it was so nice to have two of us to deal with the accidents. I would clean up the perpetrator, throw all contaminated clothes in the washer, put on new clothes, apply the proper amount of (or possibly too much) scolding, while Brian poured in the hot water and fired up the carpet cleaner to take out the nasty potty spot and/or potty trail.

Two days before Brian went back to work Clark had four incidents of peeing on the carpet. We took them to the playground with the potty chair in the van and they still both wet all over the mulch, their cIothes, shoes, and playground equipment. I was absolutely dreading being the only one to deal with two constantly moving pee and poo fountains.
BUT. During the past two Brian-less days there hasn’t been a single carpet accident, only a couple outside accidents of which I do not wish to elaborate on. I’m so proud! They also have started wanting to go, and actually going at the same time—we have a potty chair as well as our potty seat that goes on the toilet so they can do it in the same bathroom. I’ve spent a lot of time coaching from the bathroom footstool, and more intimate time in close quarters with the toilet, spraying urine, and warm feces than I hope to ever have again. I know you’re gagging. I just feel like I need to share my pain with someone.

Gettin' it done, teamwork style
Today we ventured to the park with no diapers and Clark wet himself after running around for awhile, but Cal got to experience for the first time the awesomeness that is being male in the outdoors when nature calls. Lucky.


The boys are doing well in the potty department and I’m proud. Next step is getting them to use public toilets so we can be real people and leave the house occasionally. They have some classes at the community center they will start in a few weeks so hopefully they will be easier to take places at that point. Is hoping to not experience anymore warm shit dropping into my hand too much to ask?

The sticker chart was bursting so I had to lengthen it!
Since this is not only a blog but also my scrapbook, here are some other pictures from recent happenings.

Went to Totally Trucks. Yes, Cal has bacon and eggs band-aids on his knees.

Clark ran the little excavator.

Worked a construction job with Baby Alex
Were in Aunt Julie's wedding

Got the rings down the aisle

Drank smoothies

Brian made pickles.

Put fins to the left, fins to the right...

Fading graffiti

Even less graffiti

Guitar wall

Made a Cheerio bird feeder

Built a tower all by himself

Drank more smoothies

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Mountain Animals Do Five National Parks

Rocky Mountain National Park

The experience on our road trip this summer that was the most memorable for both Brian and me happened at Rocky Mountain National Park—the first stop on our national park lineup of five parks. We had great memories of exploring the park four years ago on our last cross country road trip and so we wanted to take the boys there on the way through Colorado. When we pulled into the park we asked a ranger which hike he recommended for kids. He told us there was a small one by a river where a dam had broken years ago and the river now flowed over and around huge boulders. We took his advice, and after a picnic, we put on real shoes and went hiking. That was when Cal gave everyone our climbing names: he was Mountain Horse, Clark was Mountain Cow, Brian was Mountain Goat, and of course I was the more flattering Mountain Dog.

The trail was cute and small and the view was astoundingly beautiful especially after having been in Kansas so recently. As we hiked around we saw that a bunch of people were not only walking on the paths below the river but were climbing the boulders and going right up the river. It looked fun, but of course with the boys we wouldn’t be able to do it. We started exploring—just seeing how far we could go. Then the boys started loving it—they were gritting their teeth and finding footholds for their feet and pulling themselves up. They were delighting in everything they saw and did (Mommy! Look how far I stepped this time! Look at that butterfly! I’m climbing a mountain!) and were caught up in the climb. So we did some boulder scrambling with three year-olds and it was delighful and only a little frightening at times. At the top we didn’t quite know what to do so we opted for the more dangerous choice of carrying the boys on our shoulders across the river and hiking down the other side of the boulder field.
Checking out the surroundings

The river flowing over boulders. Notice the climbers up in the right.

Boulder-y river

Here we go!

Bold climbers

Behind the boulders

View from the top. See the tiny people below.

Taking a break

We turned around and Cal was drinking from the river.
Braving the rapids

Made it to the other side!
By the end of the journey, Mountain Horse and Mountain Cow were decidedly done with hiking, but they had loved it and they loved pointing up the mountain and saying, “We climbed that!” It was a super cool, unexpected family adventure. After that, we explored Rocky Mountain park a bit more. We drove up a one-way road with a million switchback turns up a giagantic mountain. At the top we saw elk and caribou and put on our jackets. After a couple more hours of soaking in the scenery we headed to our nighttime destination—somewhere in Wyoming.

Wrong side, Cal.

Scratchy and Smoochie take in the view.
The drive up toward Wyoming from the park is amazing—along a roaring river in a beautiful canyon. The boys missed it because they slept, but it we watched the sunset bounce off the brilliant orange sides of the canyon walls. Great day.

Grand Teton National Park
I had never seen the Teton Mountains before, and once I saw them  from miles and miles away, I couldn’t take my eyes off them. As we drove into Jackson, Wyoming, I was excited to explore the park—well, as much as you can explore a national park with twin three year-olds. We took a tram ride up the mountain at Teton Village—right near where we stayed at Brian’s cousin and aunt’s house. I hate heights but I don’t want to pass on my fear to my kids so I sucked it up and we went up the mountain—as I envisioned falling and being skewered to death on giant pine trees . At the top we walked around a little and the boys played with snow for only the second time in their lives.

Tram ride up Rendezvous Mountain at Teton Village

Nice view

Lil' bit colder up here

On top of the world!

Then they had a meltdown on the way back to the tram. They wanted nothing to do with hiking. Brian and I put them on our shoulders for the last 100 yards or so. There was a waffle shack (weird?) at the top so we got waffles with Nutella and they stopped being little punks. Bribing isn’t pretty, people, but it works.

Waffles with Nutella- the key to happiness
When we finished our trip up and down the mountain we drove into the actual Grand Teton National Park (Teton Village is just outside the park). We took a boat ride across a lake at the base of the mountains and went on a hike to a waterfall. The hike was advertised as being a little over a mile. Should we do the whole thing? Going on a hike to a waterfall and not making it to the waterfall is so lame, but if the boys had a meltdown like the one they had a few hours prior, there would be For some reason they were little hiking angels on this hike and it was beautifully fun in the mild mountain summer. Mountain Cow and Mountain Horse had resurfaced! On the way back in the boat, Cal named the boat motors R1 and R2 in honor of his two favorite Robonauts (Pretty sure those are NASA’s only Robonauts). As soon as we turned on the car they fell asleep all the way back to the house. A successful and beautiful day in the Tetons.

Boating across Jenny Lake

Up and up!

Water break

Mommy kisses

Made it all the way to the waterfall!

More water

Tthis cracked rock is way more interesting than the waterfall.
Yellowstone National Park
The third national park we visited is just north of Grand Teton National Park—Yellowstone! I have fond memories of being a kid in Yellowstone, riding around in a mustard yellow station wagon with wood paneling and no air conditioning (known as the Groovy Stuvy Wagon to those familiar to our growing up years)and probably a teenage chip on my shoulder. A walkman in my ears no doubt.
I was also in Yellowstone four years ago on our last road trip—Brian and I drove through it on a whim and spent just a few hours there. We ended up driving between the lake and a wildfire. It was the closest we’d ever been to a wildfire, and it was crazy. There were firefighters all around by the line of the fire, just hanging out eating dinner or whatever, while the mountainside lit up in flames that were consuming the black night. I can’t believe they had the road open still, the fire was so close to it. So. Yellowstone in a station wagon and Yellowstone in a fire were my past experiences.
This year it was of course equally beautiful but it was frustrating that much of the beauty of the place is over the boys’ heads at their age. They were way more into singing songs and eating snacks than the fact that we were on top of a super volcano with wild-colored stones and pools and spitting geysers. We were right next to bison the size of small buses for crying out loud. “Can we watch a DVD?” GRRRR.
We watched Old Faithful, which was cool and they enjoyed. We did some of the small hikes around the springs and geyser pools and I was glad we did. Amazing colors. This makes me almost cry: I lost all of the pictures I took in Yellowstone when my computer died on the way home from our trip. We have only this one from Brian’s phone.

Scratchy and Smoochie at Old Faithful
At the end of the day we only saw a few moose and bison—no bears, which we were looking for. We stayed at an amazing little cabin that I did a review of here. I hope we can take Mountain Horse and Mountain Cow back there when they are older and can appreciate it a little more.
Craters of the Moon
The fourth national park we went to is actually called a national monument, which baffles me and so I’m categorizing it my own way. It most certainly is a park. Craters of the Moon. We had a fun couple hours here, minus the part where Mountain Cow cried and refused to walk so I pulled him.  I wrote about it and put a bunch more pictures of it here. It is such bizarre place—an ancient lava field nestled in rolling farmlands of soutern Idaho. Mountain Cow and Mountain Horse briefly turned into astronauts on the moon at this park.
Astronaut Mountain Horse

Badlands National Park
The fifth and final national park we drove through was Badlands National Park in South Dakota. I also have memories of this park from when I was a teenager in the Groovy Stuvy wagon. I loved our time there. We camped and hiked around on some of the crazy hills. On this trip, however, Mountain Horse and Mountain Cow were not entertained. The Badlands was by far the worst park for us. We simply drove on the loop through the park and early on we decided to get out and walk around a little—show the boys the amazing geologic scenery. The couldn’t handle it. Major meltdown because of something like important a rock in a shoe or a shirt being tucked in when it shouldn’t have been. I think at this point they were done with scenery.

Moments before the epic meltdown
Mount Rushmore National Monument
We also saw Mount Rushmore, and the boys had an equally big meltdown in the midst of all the tourists, but you would never know it to hear them talk about it now. They love to pretend to be the presidents on the mountain and love to point out Mount Rushmore anytime we see a picture of it. (It’s weird how often you see it places)


The stuffed travelers
Post-meltdown Mountain Animals
And that is how Mountain Horse, Mountain Cow, Mountain Goat, and Mountain Dog did five national parks and a national monument this summer.
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