Sunday, August 30, 2009

Big Weekend, Part I

We have had quite the exciting weekend in our family! Andrew started school, and Aunt Lindsay married Uncle Kyle. Our weekend began early on Thursday. Steve and I knew that we would need to be "kid-free" to help with the wedding throughout the weekend. We don't let just anyone watch our kids. We are so fancy that we prefer to fly in our own private nannies on private planes. (We and the Kennedys.) Here are the babysitters we hired upon arrival:

Friday was Andrew's Big Day...the first day of kindergarten. He did great! He loves his teacher and made a new friend or two. His only request upon coming home from his first day was that I pack chicken noodle soup for lunch next time. (There's that Old Man coming out again.) No, really, he's just excited to use his new Star Wars soup thermos. And, yes, the thermos keeps hot and cold in case Andrew ever requests gazpacho.

Friday was also Adam's morning for preschool open house and meeting his new teachers. Looks like he is going to have a great year!

Coming soon: Big Weekend, Part II -- The Wedding!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Southern Hospitality

Welcome to the Nichols Household, where we like to meet our guests' every need. Libby has designated herself Chief Washroom Attendant. Please, we don't want you to lift a finger. Libby will raise the toilet lid for you.

Libby has even thoughtfully pulled out plenty of toilet paper for you.

(Post to follow: Can't Anyone Around Here Remember to Close the Bathroom Door Once in a While?)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quacky and Grunty

Six years ago, my friend Jen and I were eagerly awaiting the births of our babies -- mine was due in November, and hers was due a full month later in December. Well, Andrew surprised us by showing up exactly on his due date (the last day I would have expected him, the way everyone warned me not to get excited about my due date!), and Seth surprised Jen by showing up a month early on Thanksgiving Day. So the boys are actually a week and a half apart in age. Look at how sweet they were:

We called Andrew "Quacky" (and I am secretly delighted that he will still answer to it), and Seth was "Grunty." (He no longer responds, preferring "Zippy" or "Socks." Well, he doesn't actually know about "Socks" yet...I'm hoping to start a trend.) But Quack and Socks have been friends since before they were born. They've gone on secret missions together:

They've gone to three years of preschool together. They've gone to church together since birth. But this week the tradition ends as Andrew and Seth head off to kindergarten at two different schools. And, while the boys seem to be taking it in stride, I am inordinately sad about this for them. I would love to hear them toasting each other at their weddings one day, sharing school stories about the pranks they pulled apples they lovingly polished for their teachers, the sports teams they played on together, the detention they snickered through National Honor Society meetings they attended, and so on.

So today Jen and I arranged a last summer fling for the boys and Adam and Libby before Quacky and Socks head their separate ways. Everyone had a great time! Unbelievably, those babies Jen and I just brought home from the hospital yesterday are now swimming, joking, growing big boys who will soon head off for larger pastures.

Seth, you've been a faithful friend for Andrew all these years. I hope kindergarten is wonderful for you and that you grow in stature and wisdom and in favor with God and man. Goodbyes are so hard. We will miss you so much. Goodbye. Goodbye.

(See you at church Sunday, Socks.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Foul Friday

I am a fairly new blogger, and I get so inspired by some of the creativity in other women's blogs. Sometimes they do posts like "Wordless Wednesday" (pictures with no journaling) or "Works for Me Wednesday" (helpful parenting tips) or "Not Me Monday" (embarrassing moments). I have yet to do one of those posts, although I think they're great ideas. However, today I would like to introduce a Nichols family first...Foul Friday. It'll probably take the blogging world by storm. You saw it here first, folks. I'd like to think this will be our first and only Foul Friday, but experience around here leads me to believe there may be more to come in the future.

I should've known this would be a Foul Friday right away this morning. Much to my boys' great delight, they woke up to fresh roadkill in the street right in front of our house. Lest I paint my children as serial-killers-in-training, let me clarify here: they were not glad that the giant possum/jackrabbit/cat thing in the road was dead, just fascinated with...well, whatever it is that fascinates little boys and turns the rest of the population's stomachs. Upon being told in no uncertain terms that we would not be going out for a close-up inspection (ugh, the germs), my enterprising older son ran for his binoculars. The boys spent, oh, probably 30 minutes inspecting the carcass from the window as the theme from "The Beverly Hillbillies" ran on a continuous loop in my head. Foul. But entertaining. Honestly, probably less disgusting than some of the garbage they could be watching on TV.

**To my father-in-law: Dad, I strongly recommend you avert your eyes for this next part of the post. I don't know if you will recover, and I take no responsibility for what might befall your psyche if you read it.**

Part Deux of Foul Friday occurred a little while after dinner. Steve and I were sitting at the table talking while the children played around the house. Suddenly Steve heard a splash and raced toward the bathroom, only to find this:

Foul. Even more disturbing? Steve's question to me when he fished the sippy cup out of the toilet: "Should I rinse this off and give it back to her?" What goes on around here when I'm not home?

I told you not to read it, Dad.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

La Petite Cousine

Aunt Abby and baby cousin Mary Caroline are in town. Yesterday they stopped by to visit and see the kids and exchange some clothing and get a bridesmaid dress altered...but mainly so I could get my hands on that baby. It was fun seeing how Mary Caroline has changed since we saw her at Easter. She was pretty much still a lump then. A sweet, snuggly little lump. Now she is such a little person -- so alert and interactive. MC was sleeping when she first got here. Poor little thing woke up in her carseat to find two strange little boy cousins with their noses approximately 3 inches from hers...and she just smiled. I would've died of fright had I been in her place. I thought Libby would be all over the baby -- I couldn't wait to get them together -- but Miss L was more interested trying (unsuccessfully) to cram her fat little self into the baby chair we got out for Mary Caroline.

MC was happy to have her picture taken, but Libby was too busy investigating all the baby paraphernalia. We did manage to snap one miraculous shot of both girls with Grandma Betsy before Libby was off and running. They may be teenagers before that happens again!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tender Moments

Just in from a wonderful women's brunch with the other ladies at church. Wearing a casual summer skirt. The boys and Libby are wrestling around on the floor with Steve playing "THE CLAW." I get down on the floor to join in.

"Hey, Adam, want to fly?" I ask. He nods enthusiastically. I position my bare feet on his tummy, hold his hands, and lift him into the air. He giggles and holds out his arms like Superman. His eyes are sparkling. I know we are bonding and that on a deep level, his little boy's heart is connecting with mine.

"Hey, Mom?" he says.

"What, Superman?" I ask, thinking how he's going to tell me this is a memory he'll cherish forever and how much he appreciates what a hands-on (or feet-on, in this case) mom I'm being.

"I see your UNDERPANTS!!!! Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

As Close As We're Gonna Get

From time to time, Andrew will ask me when we are going camping or begin a sentence with "When Dad takes us camping..." It started a couple years ago when he saw an episode of Curious George in which they all go camping. Clearly this "family camping" idea comes from TV because certainly Steve and I have not ever mentioned it. And it's so pitiful when poor Andrew brings it up because, y'all (I'm from Ohio...can I say "y'all"? probably not...) I feel terrible, but Andrew has a better chance of seeing pigs fly than having his parents take him camping. He could not have struck out worse in the Parents Who Will Take You Camping lottery than to get stuck with both me and Steve. You want to see the Grand Canyon, Andrew? We'll take you. Go to the museum? Got it. Sporting events? Check. Ceiling Fan Convention? We'll do it. As long as there's a nearby hotel, Steve and I are game. But sleeping in a tent? On the ground? Eating beans out of a can? Outdoors? There is pretty much no form of camping that either of us can get on board with.

One of the draws of camping, in Andrew's mind, is the smores. (Smores? S'mores? I think I've seen it both ways...) And who can blame him? It really is the only good thing about camping that I can come up with. Roasted marshmallows, graham crackers, Hershey bars...mmmmmm. Why doesn't the Hampton Inn start serving them, anyway? Well, my brilliant husband came up with the idea of roasting marshmallows in our backyard over the grill and making smores for the kids. (And the parents.) So we invited our friends Emily, Connor, and Noah over for dinner and smores tonight. Good times with good friends! And hopefully, this will hold off any more of that crazy "camping talk" for a least until Andrew is old enough to join the Boy Scouts.

Libby riding her "ATV" on the "trail"
Gathered 'round the old campfire eating smores...

Hey! Hey! I want some smores, too!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

March of Shame

It was another one of those Sundays. They seem to sneak up on us. We'll be having a pretty good (for us) run of church-services-without-incidents, and then we'll be taken by surprise.

Today as Andrew and Josh (who came to church with us) were somewhat quietly working on their children's bulletins, Adam was gearing up in small ways for his big show. Shouting questions to Steve about the bulletin (I've really got to get this kid's hearing checked), breaking his pencil lead and crying about it, accidentally marking on Steve's shirt with his replacement pen, making his usual periodic announcement "Let's get out of here" at the top of his lungs... Of course we were sitting down front so we could distract as many other churchgoers as possible.

When the children were dismissed for children's church, Adam lost it big-time. Crying, kicking, screaming -- a real showstopper. And naturally the dismissal went like this: "Children are dismissed to children's church. Let's bow our heads and pray." So I had to cart Adam out of there screaming all the way up the aisle during prayer. Quiet, quiet prayer. Talk about a march of shame. Just to give you an idea, our friend Blair, who was escorting his (well-behaved) child to children's church, likened the scene to the Bataan Death March of World War II. I was actually reminded of more recent history wherein my parents used to wish aloud that I would get a child just like me. Wish granted, Keith and Betsy. Here is my comeuppance for the Howard Johnson's Fried Clam Incident, circa 1977.

After depositing my screaming progeny with the heroic children's church workers, I did get back to hear the sermon. Part of it focused on the parable of the mustard seed, which starts small ("tee-niny," as they say around these parts) and grows into something big and beautiful and useful -- a 25-foot tree that provides shade and shelter for nesting birds. The speaker also pointed out our tendency toward anything that promises "shortcut spirituality" while reminding us that the mustard seed doesn't become the tree overnight. Much of God's kingdom is found in the way he works over time, teaching us through long, slow processes. And -- I may be extrapolating too much here -- but I look at my feisty little Adam and see a mustard seed. I want my son to be useful and beautiful in his life. I see my own desire for the shortcut and want him to turn into that "perfect tree" now. Because, honestly? The watering and staking and pruning, as it were, is mundane. Tiring. Not always fun. Today wasn't our first "March of Shame." It probably won't be our last -- we do still have another one who hasn't even hit her Terrible Two's. But, as I was reminded today, Adam's still just a little seed. (A loud little seed.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Piggy Mullet

Piggies in the front...

Party in the back!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Great Outdoors

Miss Libby grows steadier on her feet each day! She is walking about 75% of the time now, crawling less and less. I've always thought crawling was a filthy, dirty process; so I say, bring on the walking! I am ready for my sweet baby girl to quit grubbing around on the floor.

Now that Libby is toddling around, she has been able to go outside for playtime with the boys a little more. She pushes her beloved stroller all over, and she adores the little ride-on car that has been the delight of all three of our babies. Unfortunately yesterday she got tipped out of her car by her "helpful" brother Adam, who was trying to give her a fun ride. So now Miss L is sporting a beautiful road rash on her face. (It was fun explaining why my 14-month-old baby looks like a junkyard dog to her pediatrician today while we were in to diagnose her ear infection...)

Here are some pictures of Libby Jane enjoying her time in the great outdoors:

My poor scraped-up baby. Still smiling despite her woes!