Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Children are Bad

Before the subject of this blog post makes you pick up the phone and report me to CPS, hear me out.  This is a quote from John Rosemond's book The Well-Behaved Child, and when I read it yesterday I laughed out loud and it put me in a good mood all morning.  If you're an avid reader of my blog, you may have noticed on the left-hand side of the page that I finished Rosemond's book Making the Terrible Twos TerrificIt was the second time I read it (the first time was when Sydney was about a year old, back when I thought she'd never be a "terrible" two-year old), and I definitely gleaned more from the book the second time around.  However, a few weeks ago I started noticing a change in her behavior (behavior that was not covered in the book).  I finally realized I needed to read the next book in the series, and I can already tell that it's going to help a lot.

Anyway, from The Well-Behaved  Child, here's the context surrounding the proclamation "children are bad":

This book exists because children misbehave -- not some children, all children...They do not misbehave because their innocent nature has been corrupted by bad parenting or chemical imbalances or rogue genes or "issues"...Children misbehave because they are bad, and the sooner parents understand and accept this, the better for them and the better also for their children.
Maybe it's just me, but I think this is hilarious.  John Rosemond's tone in his books is not completely serious -- he aims to entertain as he educates, and I think he succeeds brilliantly.  He is a Christian, so what he really means by "children are 'bad"' is that children, like every other human being on this planet, are sinners.  Children are born with a sinful nature and they do not have to be taught to sin -- they just do, and it comes quite naturally to them.

Sydney has already proven she is human, but not Lorelei.  She is still a perfectly sweet angel.  Here's what Rosemond has to say about Lorelei:

A child's badness awakens from the slumber of infancy sometime during the second year of life.  Parents put a sweet little eighteen-month-old angel -- a child who's never given them a moment's trouble -- to sleep one night and the Demon Spawn of Satan wakes up the next morning, raging.
NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!  :-)

Just one more thing before I share pictures (if you've even read this far): I highly recommend John Rosemond's books, because they make so much sense.  His philosophy is that parents need to get 'back to basics' and start raising their children the way our elders raised children -- before the 1960's when everyone started listening to psychologists (John Rosemond is one) and psychiatrists instead of their elders.  His simple strategies for disciplining work, and he did not create them -- he simply reintroduced them.

It's been a while since I've posted random pictures of Lorelei, so without further ado...

These were taken at a Target Starbucks where we stopped during our drive from Houston back to Gulfport after Hurricane Isaac.  She had just woken up from a very long nap.

She likes to crawl under the table and move chairs around.

This is what happens when I have to go somewhere and the girls stay with Daddy...they get to ride in doll strollers (super safe, I know).  (Those are mosquito bite scars, not bruises, on her left ankle.)

She had food in her hair, so I cleaned it out with a wet rag and gave her a "faux"hawk.

Sliding at the park in her 80's shorts.

She loves riding like a big girl.

Wallowing in Sydney's chair (she's getting a chair like it for her birthday).

She had a mosquito bite on her leg that we covered with a band aid.  The band aid found its way to her forehead during a nap.

Watching Sydney play.  What a big girl!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

11 Months!

My little Bumpkin is 11-months old!  Chet was here to help with the photo session this month, so I was a little more successful in capturing a good picture of the moving target.

First the 10-month picture, for comparison:
If you can't remember the shenanigans from the 10-month session, just click here.

Don't you love that wild, wispy blonde hair?  I do.  She's bow-less in the "official" 11-month picture, because it was the best shot I could get that included most of her body, but here's my other favorite:

Here's the 11-month update:
  • She does her pseudo-crawl everywhere she goes (and she can do it surprisingly fast).  Oftentimes she gets on her knees into the "official" crawling position, but then puts her left leg out in front and drags herself along, preferring the pseudo-crawl to the official crawl.
  • She's pulling herself up to a standing position more and more.  She's so proud of herself.
  • I think she's a pretty good communicator; she's always pointing and grunting/squealing at what she wants.
  • Her "words" include: Mama, Dada, kitty cat, puppy, ball, and baby (maybe...when we were in Texas she was saying something similar to "kitty cat" and "puppy" whenever she would see my parents' cat or dog.  And when she says "ba!" and "baba!" we act as if she is saying ball and baby, because everyone knows you can make baby mutterings into anything you want them to be.)
  • She has four top teeth and two bottom teeth.
  • I'm still slower than most on the solid food front, but she wants to eat whatever we're eating, whether that be spaghetti or jalapenos.
  • She's so squishy and cuddly and wonderful, and she's my little Bumpkin.  I call her that because of the song "Country Bumpkin" by Cal Smith (other people have recorded it too, but I like Cal Smith's version best.  You can watch it on YouTube here).  Why on earth does that song remind me of Lorelei?  I'm not entirely sure, but I guess because the song reminds me of fall (my favorite time of year) due to the "frost out on the pumpkin" in the lyrics.  And Lorelei is my fall baby, so there you have the connection!
Here are more pictures from the 11-month session:

Getting ready.


This frog helped her sit still.  She loves chewing on his eyeball.

We attempted the bow again, but she removed it and kindly handed it back.

"Here you go!"

Chet had the good idea to do some standing pictures.

She was enraptured by something out the window.

Another bow attempt and immediate removal.

She sat down and held the bow up to her own head, just to show us she knows exactly where it belongs...

...but that she will not comply.

Playing with daddy is more fun than taking pictures.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Homecoming

For this week's "Thursday Thoughts" I was planning on jabbering on and on about who knows what...and then Homecoming happened.  By 'Homecoming' I mean that the rest of the men and women whom Chet deployed with in January/February arrived home for good last night.

Remember this post when I wrote about Chet leaving?  It seems like forever ago.  And here I wrote about Chet returning early from deployment for his knee surgery.  After Chet's early return home, I was not completely removed from the deployment experience since all of my friends had husbands over there still, but it was obviously much different for me.  But I knew how they were feeling, as this was the 6th deployment Chet and I have been through since 2006 -- hopefully I was able to offer the support and encouragement my friends needed, even though my situation was different.  Anyway, I found myself feeling quite giddy all day yesterday as everyone awaited the evening arrival of their loved ones.

My friend and next-door-neighbor, Sarah, hung this sign yesterday:

Sarah gave birth to twin daughters six weeks after the Battalion left for deployment (the girls are their first children).  I can think of three other people off the top of my head who also had babies during the deployment, and I know there are more (there are approximately 600 men and women per Battalion).  Isn't that heart wrenching?  I think Sarah and her daughters may be the reason I was so anxious for the Battalion's return because it's hard for me to imagine Sydney and Lorelei being born without Chet there.  And twins!  Sarah is my hero.

Chet was partly in charge of the logistics of ferrying the returning Seabees from the airport back to the Naval base where the actual 'Homecoming' occurred, so I was privy to the (seemingly constant) changes in the flight arrival time throughout the day.  It was a nail-biting experience!  Here is the plane, just as it landed around 9:00 p.m.:

Since it was such a late night, I haven't seen many pictures of the reunion on Facebook, but I look forward to the posting of those glorious pictures, which will simultaneously warm and wrench my heart!

At this risk of being a Debbie Downer, I have to add this: as glorious as homecoming is, it's so hard not to (almost immediately) start thinking about...and dreading...the next deployment.  You can't help but see it looming in hte distance.  Our family was originally supposed to leave Gulfport and move to our next duty station next summer, before the next deployment, but Chet's knee surgery will keep us here through the spring of 2014.  Which includes the next deployment, and which will start to feel very real once the holidays are over.  Sigh.  How Debbie Downer of me, right?

Okay, let's play the GLAD game.  I am GLAD that the next deployment is only six months long, instead of 7+ months.  I am GLAD that he will (as of now) not be deploying to the Middle East.  I am GLAD that I live only six hours away from my family in Texas, and that I have the flexibility to visit them whenever I want during these deployments.  There, I feel better.

Also, I fully believe that God is in control, and that Chet's knee surgery and our extension in Gulfport is not accidental, but by design.  That alone is enough to be GLAD.

Happy homecoming!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sassy Sydney

Our sweet Sydney has reached a whole new level of 2-year old sass.  We've been experiencing it for a few weeks now, and wow.  Chet and I have to keep reminding ourselves that, in the grand scheme of things, this is only a short season in her little life, and that all we can do is make sure she feels loved, no matter how crazy she acts what (and implement the strategies from John Rosemond's book "Making the Terrible Twos Terrific"...I love this book because it's so commonsense).

Anyway, here is an update on Sydney, in pictures (all from the iPhone...I've been a terrible picture-taker lately):

Here's an action shot of her arranging the rabbit pelts in the aisle at Hobby Lobby.

Chet was a nice daddy and took her "swimming" after work while Lorelei and I rested.

Last Saturday (September 8th), my friends Amy and Sarah and I ran as a team in the 17th annual Volkslauf Mud Run.  The run was on base, and it was about 5 miles of wading through muddy trenches and climbing over huge mud hills.  Very gross, but a fun/good experience.  Every runner got a medal.  Here is Sydney wearing the medal (can't remember why she was in her underwear).  Yes, that's her pacifier you see in her mouth.  Attractive, right?  That another aspect of this new level of "two" that we are dealing with (pacifier re-attachment).

I got this really cute LSU dress at the childrens' resale shop.  Both girls also got matching LSU and UT bows.

Last Tuesday (September 11th), before dance class, Sydney got her hair cut.  I didn't get great before and after pictures, but here she is before, in the adjoining coffee shop (she wolfed down that banana nut muffin so fast I didn't even get a bite).

Here's an "after" picture.  It's a cute little bob, and her hair looks healthy again.

The other night, post-bath time and pre-bedtime, I noticed a bunch of Lorelei's socks scattered all over her bedroom floor.  Chet said Sydney got them out of the box and put them on herself (they are WAY too small for her).

I like her style.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thursday Thoughts, Sunday Style

Okay, I know "Thursday Thoughts, Sunday Style" is a silly title, but I'm adamant about diligently posting my Thursday Thoughts...on much so that I have been losing sleep the last three nights (not really, but I knew I couldn't let myself get away with skipping the post altogether).

This week's thoughts are about Getting Stuff Done.

Since returning to Gulfport from Texas after Hurricane Isaac, I've been hellbent on Getting Stuff Done.  There were too many projects (not even big projects, mostly just little things) that I had been putting off for too long.  I think what jump started my frenzy was the giant mess we were forced to live in for several days as we slowly unpacked from our Texas trip and got the house back in order after preparing for the hurricane (all of our outdoor stuff was moved into the garage, and much of the garage stuff was moved into the really was crazy and messy).

In addition to all that, I needed to make some changes in order to manage my time more effectively.  It seems like I spend all my time on everyday chores, and that there is no time left over to tackle the to-do list that does not include the everyday things.  Scratch that.  There is time left at 9:00 p.m. to tackle my to-do list, but I do not function well at the end of the day (I am not, nor have I ever been, a night owl).  I knew the key to managing my time more effectively was going to bed earlier and waking up earlier (thank goodness I'm a morning person!).

I read this series titled "Make the Most of Your Mornings" at Money Saving Mom's website and got some great tips.  I also read this little book by Laura Vanderkam called "What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast."  I loved it, and am also planning on reading her book "168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think."

I'm pretty realistic, so I'm not making huge, sweeping changes to our daily lives that will require me to change everything I'm currently doing.  Mostly I'm just changing what I do in the hours that the kids are sleeping so that I can feel more in control of my time and my to-do list.  I don't have time (it's Sunday morning -- Lorelei is awake in her crib!) to go into super specific details right now, but I'll leave you with the notes I jotted down that I think will help me reach my goals.  (I made these notes in my phone, and am taking them, unedited from there.  Let me know if you are curious about any of the items I listed and I can explain!)

--At night: lay out all our clothes, pack diaper bag, pack food bag, prepare 3 drinks, decide breakfast (?), tidy house

--FIRST THING IN THE MORNING: Ash get dressed, girls get dressed immediately (either upstairs or downstairs, depending on who is sleeping)

--Possible morning activities: blog, read, sort mail, pay bills, tackle long-standing projects


Thursday, September 13, 2012

ThursdayThoughts Coming Friday (again)...

...because I am too tired to formulate a blog-worthy thought right now. 

But until then, here is a picture of Sydney.
What's she doing, you ask?  Of course.  She's kneeling on rabbit pelts found on one of the more odd aisles at Hobby Lobby.  Yes, that's her puppy kneeling next to her.  No, I was not in charge.  Lorelei and I happened upon this scene after we finished perusing the fabric section.  Who was in charge, you ask?  This guy:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forget

As you all know, it's been 11 years since Al-Qaeda's terrorist attack on the United States of America.  Those of us who were old enough remember exactly what we were doing when the attacks occurred.  I was in school (it was first period), but I wasn't supposed to be.  That particular day I did not have class until 2nd period, but I had recently missed a test for my Anatomy & Physiology class due to a diving meet, so I was in that class, making up the test.  In the middle of the class, the teacher from across the hall came in and told us what happened, and we followed the teacher back to her classroom, which had a television.  We watched the second plane hit the second tower.

Honestly, a lot of the details of that day are fuzzy to me, because my 17-year old self did not immediately realize the magnitude and horror of what had happened.  It took a few days for it to sink in for me.  But sink in it did.

I was already planning on attending the Naval Academy.  Before the attacks, the Academy was a much less serious decision than it was after the attacks occurred.  But I never balked at my decision; I think it may have actually sealed the deal for me, in a way.

I had just started my Plebe (freshman) year at the Academy when the first anniversary of the attacks rolled around.  I was so sad that day.  I honestly thought a bigger deal would be made about the first anniversary, but it was mostly business as usual.  My English teacher (he was one of two teachers who positively influenced me to choose English as my major) didn't teach that day, and let us talk about our experiences the year before instead.

Last year, September 11, 2011, received lots of attention as the 10th anniversary.  As it should have.  But each year on this day I am bothered at the lack of reverence.  Have people forgotten?  Have Americans forgotten?  Is the war we've been fighting for nearly 11 years something people can go days or weeks without even thinking about?  I hope not.

I suppose there's not much point of this post, other than to do something teeny tiny in order to help preserve this anniversary of a moment in our extremely recent history.  I know our family will do its part by talking to our children about September 11th (and Memorial Day and Veterans' Day), making sure they understand exactly what happened, who was responsible, and what they can do to help preserve this great nation.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

Perhaps if I start thinking of these posts as Wednesday Thoughts, I'll actually post on Thursdays.  Hmm.

This week's Thursday Thoughts is (are?) brought to you by Pinterest.  Not officially.  It's just what I'm going to talk about this week.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Pinterest, click here to go to the Pinterest website, or click here for Wikipedia's definition of Pinterest (which I recommend if you've never heard of it...simply going to the Pinterest site will not help you much in understanding what it's all about).

I've been aware of Pinterest for a while, but I've avoided it (like the plague) until this past Tuesday, when I finally gave in and asked my friend Casey to invite me (yes, you have to be invited...or you have to request to join if you don't have someone who can invite you...Pinterest is only for the classiest of folk...I'm kidding about that).

Anyway, I avoided joining the site for so long because all I hear is how much of a time sucker it is.  The last thing I needed was another time sucker in my life, so I decided to not even go there.  But lately I've been wanting to redecorate and rearrange and reorganize a few things (nothing big deal, just little things), and I knew Pinterest would have what I was looking for.  That's why I asked Casey to invite me.  And I was right: Pinterest had what I was looking for.

I made a deal with myself before joining -- "Ashley, you can't let Pinterest get the best of you.  Don't worry about 'following' a ton of people or searching for hours for cool projects to put on your to-do list.  You don't have time for that."

So far, I've listened to myself.  (Go me!)

Also so far, I've only "liked" five items, and I've accomplished three projects:

1.  I made this salsa last night.  It was delicious.  Success!
2.  I made these cookies Wednesday, but they didn't turn out great because I didn't read the directions beforehand...obviously my fault.
3.  I used this picture as inspiration to display a magazine in our downstairs Texas-themed bathroom.  It's almost a success -- the wire hanger I used (we only had a couple of wire hangers in the whole house!) is a little flimsy and not as cute as the wire hangers in this picture.  If I can find a cuter wire hanger somewhere I'm going to call the project a success!

I'm sure I'll share more Pinterest successes and failures in the coming months...  Happy Friday!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Our Time In Texas

We are still in Texas for the rest of today, and will make our trip back to Gulfport tomorrow.  Even though the trip isn't quite finished, I need to go ahead and capture it here, otherwise I'm afraid it will get "lost" once we return home, back to the daily grind.

Monday, 8/27
I was super tired all day after arriving in TX late Sunday (actually, early Monday morning).  We just spend time at the house, and while Sydney napped I let Lorelei "unpack" one of the suitcases while I laid on the bed and watched her.  It was a great source of entertainment for her, and a chance for me to take a break from entertaining her!

When my mom (Didi) got home from work, I finally got out of my pajamas and we took the girls in the backyard so Sydney could swim.  My dad (Papa John) visited too.

Tuesday, 8/28
Tuesday I got out of my pajamas in the morning rather than 5:00 p.m., and the girls and I went to the mall so Sydney could play at the indoor playground.  Didi met us there during her lunch break, and we bought the girls cute Halloween shirts from the Gap (30% off!).

After Didi got home from work, I left the girls with her so I could go for a run.  There are 11 weeks left until the half marathon, and I am following the get-ready-in-12-weeks-for-a-half-marathon chart that I found in Runner's World magazine.  My assignment was to run 2 miles.  Simple!  Right?  Not so much...

I have been running on a treadmill at the gym up until this point.  It's too hot to run outside, and running at the gym works best for the girls' and my schedule.  But this day I decided to run outside since it was early evening and my mom was keeping the girls.  Wow.  I knew this already, but running outside vs. running inside makes a HUGE difference.  In a hard way.  As in, I was super winded after my meager two miles...yikes.  I had better start running outside for my workouts if I want to survive that race.

Wednesday, 8/29
Wednesday we had a lot of fun.  Didi and I took the girls to the Children's Museum of Houston.  That place is amazing.  There was a 3-year-old-and-under play area where we spent much of our time, but then we ventured out to the more "grown up" exhibits.  It was a little overwhelming, and I think Sydney is still a bit too young to fully appreciate most of the exhibits.  They certainly were cool though.  There was a veterinary clinic, "Wall Street", a bank, a grocery store, a cafe, a voting booth, and much more.

See Sydney's blurry hand trying to snatch the tea cup back from Lorelei?  Teaching a 2-year to share is not easy.

Wednesday evening we visited my friend Casey at her new house.  Casey and I have known each other since I was in fourth grade and she was in second grade; we grew up in the same neighborhood (she lived just one street over from us).  Her parents and my parents still live in the neighborhood, and until she moved just a few weeks ago, Casey did too (she had her own house in the neighborhood)!  Their new house is amazing, and I can't wait to see all of the improvements they do to make it their own!

Thursday, 8/30
Thursday I went running again, this time three miles.  We had plans to eat dinner with my dad Thursday evening, so my mom came home from work at lunch to watch the girls, and I went to the gym to run on the treadmill (yeah, yeah, I know what I said...but I surely wouldn't have survived had I ran outside at noon).

Lorelei had tons of fun playing with this stool on the floor Thursday afternoon while Syd napped. She scooted it all around the floor for at least 45 minutes, giving me the opportunity to wash dishes.

This video is a little long, but this is how Lorelei "crawls."

Sydney no longer fits in the Pack 'n' Play, so when we found out we were heading to TX to avoid Issac, my mom and I decided Sydney could sleep on the trundle bed in my old bedroom.  Then Chet and I decided that we might as well convert Sydney's crib to a toddler bed before returning to Gulfport (he's already done it...eek!).  She's done great in the bed though, thank goodness.

Here she is, just waking up from her nap Thursday. 

Thursday evening we ate with my dad at Humble Inn.  They have the best food...probably because they use actual lard to cook.  Here we are sitting outside the restaurant after eating.

Friday, 8/31
Hmm, what did we do Friday?  I can't remember...  Lorelei played on the kitchen table a little bit.

And Sydney and all the four-legged "children" cuddled with Papa Dave in the recliner.

At one point Lorelei was in the chair too...he's like the dog/cat/child whisperer.

Friday night is when Chet flew in to Houston to stay the weekend!  His flight was delayed, but he still arrived at a decent time (9:30 p.m. as opposed to 8:00 p.m...thank goodness we live super close to the airport).

Saturday, 9/1
Saturday Chet and I left the house to work out at the gym (Didi and Papa Dave watched the girls).  But the gym was closed (sort of...I work out at the hospital's fitness center when I'm in TX, but I've never taken the time to get a key on Saturdays, when the fitness center is only open until noon, the outside door is usually locked and you can't get in unless you have a key card).  So we went to the mall instead, and got our exercise there (ha!).  We browsed the 10,000 different magazines Barnes and Noble carries (their magazine selection is crazy!  And makes me feel like I need to take on at least eight hobbies!), and then we walked the entire mall (not "mall walker" walking though, just regular walking.  Although we were in our workout clothes...), and ended up treating ourselves to Starbucks coffee before heading back to the house.  All that is equivalent to working out, right?!  (RIGHT?!)

After "working out" and before dinner I was able to leave to get a pedicure.  It goes unsaid that it was glorious.

Saturday evening we ate dinner at Pappasito's.  Oh, man, it is the best.  There was a mariachi band walking around, and they sang the "Chicken Dance" song to Sydney.  She was a little weirded out, but mostly enjoyed it.

She looks a little scared, doesn't she?

Rare family photo outside of the restaurant.

Sydney picked more flowers for me after dinner.  I'm sure many neighbors are wondering why their flower beds are looking sparse.

After the kids went to bed we watched "The Hunger Games" (finally!).  It was great.

Sunday, 9/2
This morning Didi and Papa Dave offered to watch the girls so Chet and I could see a movie, so we saw "The Dark Knight Rises" at 11:45 a.m.  We love going to the movies; Chet and I really need to find a regular babysitter so that we can go on dates regularly.

Right now Chet and Sydney are in the pool, and Lorelei is napping.  We may go to the huge Academy store after Lorelei wakes up, just to walk around and get out of the house.

We've had a great week in TX.  I think we've done more in one week than we do on our 2-3 week visits!