Life is sooooooooooooo busy as a working momma of THREE kids... but, life is also full of so many "little" things...you know, those simple pleasures that really bring so much joy... I'm mostly thinking of the dopey things that my kids say and do that make me laugh... but also the little adventures we have or the day trips that we do... you think you will remember them all, but those memories really do fade over time. I am hoping to sit down once a month (ideally, once a week, but being that I hardly manage one decent shower a week, we'll aim for once a month for now! LOL) to detail those quotable quotes or beautiful little actions (or those not so much) as well as our family activities. I hope you enjoy!! :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

ROAD TRIP, Baby!! (Jacksonville, FL leg)

Where to begin?  I had been looking forward to this trip since it was a seedling being nurtured, knowing that it would not only be an AWESOME experience for the boys (poor little Rose will not remember a thing!), but also because all the pieces seemed to be falling in place that I'd also be able to catch up with my bestie, Tracy, from high school and her family (add four boys to our mix and you get SIX boys and a little Rose) whom I hadn't seen in 5 years!!
I guess I should begin with a shout-out to my supportive hubby!  He sat this one out... having just taken time off for our family vacation + the nightmare he was imagining with SUCH a long car ride = two good reasons for him to stay home.  He also took in my grandpa (who lives with my parents and needs some assistance at this point, but mainly company) for the week so that my parents and I could all go with the peace of mind that grandpa was in good hands!

Next, I should mention that if it was possible to be more excited than with the opportunity to catch up with Tracy, it would be to welcome my BABY brother home!  A little background?  For the first 8 years of my life, I "only" had two brothers... then, low and behold, my mom was pregnant.  I thought FOR SURE that it would be a girl, right?  That would only be fair, right?  It is 50/50 odds, right?  And, if my parents were to have 4 children and two were already boys, then CERTAINLY this baby would be a GIRL, right??!  Well, I obviously didn't get the part of probability that explains that what happens in one event does NOT change the odds for future events (one would have thought that I'd have understood this when Tracy, 15 years later, told me she was pregnant with her fourth and, again, I foolishly thought that, after having 3 boys, it HAD to be a GIRL!)... So, I spent the day of June 4th at school, ANXIOUS as all, but being told by EVERYONE that surely it was false labor that brought me waking up to a babysitter instead of my parents since my mom had 10 days until her due date!  But when I returned home, I learned that the labor was real and the baby was born... it was DEVASTATING news:  It was a BOY! Yes, I sooooooooooobbbbbbbbbed like a baby... how could fate deal such a devastating blow?  I, of course, laugh as I think back on this now.  I cannot imagine my life any differently.  I LOVE being one of four and the "only" girl... it's me and my bros!  And, back then, I quickly got over his gender and embraced having a REAL baby in the house... I was old enough to really care for him... feed him, change his diapers, read to him... he is the very reason that I have been super comfortable around babies in my adult life... and I have been known, truth be told about my poor, feeble mind, to call Patrick "Chris" from time-to-time.  LOL

In any event, Chris has suddenly grown up, graduated from college, and has joined the Navy.  He has become a pilot and flies Seahawk helicopters.  It is pretty funny to think as I remember well when he first learned how to drive!  His most recent deployment started before Christmas (and since he is stationed on the West Coast, it is the holidays where the kids miss him most!) and kept getting extended because of all that continues to go on in the middle east.  We got word that, since his ship needs refueling (apparently quite a process), they'd be coming back to the East Coast, rather than out west.  My dad, who LOVES a good road trip, jumped at the chance to drive down (kids in tow!) to welcome him back.  I was super excited--not only to have him back on solid ground, but also, that my boys would actually SEE what we always TALK about... Uncle Chris flies helicopters and is on a big ship out at sea (they always giggle at the thought, when we skype with him on the other side of the world, that he is waking up while they are in their jammies, ready for bed).  And, really, what kid doesn't want to see a helicopter up close and personal as well as have the experience of running free through an air craft carrier?

The boys began their journey on Wednesday, August 1st when they spent the night with Grandma and Grandpa so that they could get on the road first thing on Thursday morning.  My dad, being quite fond of a hotel with a good pool, broke the trip in half with a nice stop over for the boys to get their energy out!  Katy and I, on the other hand, decided to fly down with Uncle John on Friday night to spare Katy half of the road trip (to say that she is not a big fan of the car is a BIT of an understatement!)... so, the little Rose got her first airplane ride out of the deal.  Uncle John made it clear that the fate of whether or not he'd ever have kids (no joke!) was hinged upon how Katy behaved herself on the airplane.  And, although she TOTALLY got squirrely at the end, he gave her mad props because, technically, she behaved for what was supposed to be the length of the ride... the reason the last 45 minutes was heading in the nightmare direction was, likely, because we sat on the tarmac for about an hour before taking off... And, interestingly enough (my brother flies FREQUENTLY for work), I got a text less than a week later stating, "FYI- I was on a plane today with a kid that makes Katy look downright peaceful :)"... yeah, smiley face and all (for any of you who know my big brother, that's HUGE! ) So, are their kids in his future?  I guess we have to find him a wife first, but Katy didn't rule it out for him all together! ;)

There is nothing more exciting than the buzz in the air when family members are gathered to welcome home loved ones from a deployment!!  I am a sucker for a good military reunion--find me an online clip anywhere of complete strangers reuniting and I'll bawl like a baby!  Throw in the fact that it's my baby brother--and I'm sharing in the excitement of my boys who ADORE him?  Perfection!  We were welcomed at the hanger by a nice committee who had donuts and coffee (Dunkin' Donuts Coffee...YUM! Good thing... I was DYING at this point because we were up at 5 a.m., after getting in LATE, and not getting much sleep because it was the Little Rose's first night in a strange place...THAT might have killed the kid thing for Uncle John) and waited for word that the helicopters, that were flying in ahead of the ship, had landed.  Although I had totally hoped we would actually SEE them land UP CLOSE and personal, they landed out of view and then "drove" in where, out of the many, we were looking for the magical "704" that we knew was piloted by Uncle Chris!  Once the copters had settled, we were given word that we could "Go get them" and got to run over and attempt to knock him down (that would be my boys who LOVE a good tackle!).  There is nothing like an extra long HUG when you haven't seen someone in awhile!!  After the appropriate displays of affection, Chris was able to show us all around his helicopter.  The boys (and the Rose!) got to actually sit in the cockpit and try it out!!  Pretty darn cool and the looks on their faces showed it!
After Chris did all his technical, post-flight routine, we were able to go back to the hotel for a little siesta before heading back to the base to welcome in the USS Abraham Lincoln that was still, pokily, making it's way through the Atlantic Ocean behind the Seahawks! ;)  The boys were not too entertained watching it docking, etc as it is a VERY long process.  And the weather was quite a show--sun baking down one minute and then buckets of driving rain the next (luckily no lightening!)... but, waiting pays off.  We got to see some cool reunions.  Because, really, these Navy folks all kinda look alike, sometimes family members missed seeing their sailor come down the plank (well, technically, it is NOT a plank as Chris told me about 60 million times that day, but I can't for the life of me recall now what it's called...whatever).  So, we saw a couple of sailors actually sneak up on their loved ones and tap them on the shoulder and give them a sweet surprise themselves.  After all the sailors came off, we were able to make our way on board.  Chris had a great time showing the boys around.  I think it took them until then to realize what it meant that Uncle Chris was living on a ship!  While they thought it super cool, it kinda bummed me out seeing his TINY room, which he shared, that is sealed off by a cold, metal door... rather claustrophobic in my humble opinion (worse than a jail cell, because those are at least "open"), but gives me even more respect for our service men and women who call similar conditions (if not worse) "home" with a smile on their face and not even batting an eyelash.  I'm not sure what the most exciting part was for the boys... they did get to see the flight deck and get some little tutorials on how it all works... they got to see Uncle Chris' room... Uncle Chris' work "space"... and the rec room.  But, I have a feeling that, if I asked them (they are sound asleep as I type), they will tell you that their favorit part was climbing up and down the ladders between levels on the ship!! :) 

I am going to close with a bunch of pictures from our carrier tour.  I think I'm going to even post the little video clip of Chris' tour of his quarters... the boys biggest question was, sadly, "Where is the TV?"  Certainly man cannot live without a TV, right?  And, yes, if you are looking at the calendar, I did manage TWO posts for August.  Of course, I feel pressure to do a Part II here SOOOOOOOOOON (it is Yankee-Red Sox baseball weekend, so my goal is to get it done this weekend while I am a baseball "widow"), so that I can gear up for documenting our back to school this year... especially since it, *sniff* *sniff*, brings the first day of Kindergarten for my sweet Ryan!!!  Hope you enjoy!

<3 Kimberly, John, Two Boys & A Little Rose

"Patiently" waiting to get on board! :)

Heading to the "plank" LOL

We <3 Uncle Chris!

Does it get any better??

Katy is more impressed by the puddles than the jets all around her!

Ryan finds a jet with a skull that he claims as "his"

Uncle Chris shows the boys how the jets take off and land

WHAT??! (I can't remember what he was impressed with!)

Don't look down (unless you're admiring my toes!) ;)

The halls

Uncle Chris' Room

Uncle Chris' bed with desk on left

Uncle Chris' desk

Back end of the room, next to the door, has enough room for a sink... lap of luxury!

Nothing like a good old beer on solid ground, no (except a pitcher with your siblings!)?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer Bucket List, Part II

OMG!  Where to begin?!  The obvious, having just come back from FL and SC, is to blog about our INCREDIBLY exciting road trip... However, after reviewing my last entry, I realized I did a Part I, which begs for a Part II... and, naturally, I missed my July date (if you haven't gotten the gist yet, I tend to be a day late and a buck short... always!  I'd like to think it is because I have three kids, but, truthfully, I was that way far before any of them came along:  a great procrastinator who works FAR better under pressure! LOL).  So, I hope to make up for it by having TWO entries for August... might be ambitious considering it is almost mid-August and the grind starts back up soon!

 6. Spend Time with Ms. McCullor (now Mrs. Jones!)
     We have gotten to spend LOTS of time with Ms. McCullor...not only because she and I are such good friends, but also because she LOVES kiddies and we have had a BLAST on our little field trips with the kids.  In July, in addition to our lake treks, we also went to the zoo and took the kids (minus the Rose, sorry Katy-Kate... next time!) to D.C.  Of course, we have learned, the hard way, that the best time to catch up on "stuff", is not in the car or we are likely to end up somewhere other than where we intended to go! ;)  In any event, we battled traffic to make it to the zoo!  It was a great day to go.  It was pretty warm, so the crowds weren't as big as we have seen them.  Plus, they have these really cool "mist"ers that the kids LOVED! 
     As for our trip to D.C., we thought we would integrate the metro into the experience.  We took the metro to the mall-- first stop?  Showing Patrick (with Ryan in tow) one of the monuments he'd just learned about in 1st gradeup close and personal--the Washington Monument!  And, because of my recent obsession with Pinterest, we played around with seeing if we could make it look like he was holding the monument in the palm of his hand! Not bad for a first try, huh? Our second stop was a bit of a walk on a hot, humid day, but totally worth it-- the Museum of Natural History.  Finally, a bonus stop (thanks Ms. McCullor!) was the Old Post Office Building where we got ice cream (another thing on our bucket list... too bad the coupon we tore off our map happened to have the metro stops on the back that we'd later need... Ms. McCullor learned, first hand, why ooooooops! is really a Lennox family mantra) and then were able to take the elevator to the top of the tower and look out over the city, seeing the capitol and the monuments from a bird's eye view!

7.  Take Advantage of Daddy's Four Day Weekends
Okay, so that didn't make the kids' bucket list, but that, I think, is simply because they didn't know it should be ON the list.  This summer is our first summer since John became a detective.  We are lucky that he not only has weekends OFF (and holidays, but I'm on my way off topic), unless on call, but he also works 4 day weeks (10 hour days).  It is Mon-Th one week and then Tu-Fri the next.  That gives him a four day weekend every other weekend-- YIPPEEEEEEEE!  So, we talked about taking advantage of the schedule to do mini-getaways.  Of course, our first one we hit NY... the third was while we were on vacation... the fourth (and final!) was right when we got back from THE road trip of the summer, so I figured the 2nd, in reality, was the only one in which we'd actually be able to get away.  So, we pricelined (my FAVORITE!) a swanky hotel in Baltimore and went up there to explore the Inner Harbor and hit Port Discovery.  Although the Inner Harbor is a favorite of ours, we'd only been to PD once--during Patrick's "babymoon" about 6 weeks before Ryan came along.  In any event, the kids had a BLAST!!  Minus, of course, the Mr. Potato Head Incident of 2012.  See, sweet Ryan is DEATHLY afraid of characters.  So, when a life-sized Mr. Potato Head came waltzing through the Spaceland exhibit we were in, Ryan went for cover.  John, on the other hand, who has been likened by co-workers as a bit of a Potato Head himself, was DYING for a picture with him.  Luckily, Katy did not inherit the same gene as Ryan and is the PERFECT excuse for a picture (and, DUH!, who WOULDN'T stop the ho-hum moseying through the museum for a picture with the most BEAUTIFUL little Rose out there??!)...  While that was the highlight of the day for SOME, the kids had a blast throughout the museum--most especially climbing and sliding... or, maybe it was "squeegeeing" (John liked that he could teach them proper technique on someone else's window!) in waterworks... or, serving mommy a nicely cooked meal (just like I do for them! ;) in the diner... whatever the favorite, Patrick was excited to hear that Port Discovery is the BIG field trip for 2nd grade and is already planning on having me chaperone! ;)

8.  Go on Vacation with LIIIIIIAAAAAAMMMMMM!!
Of course I have to give a quick shout out to my sweet little Godson, Nathan, who was born two years ago while we were at Massanutten.  Last year, we celebrated his first birthday there.  This year, his birthday was BEFORE our week, but we haven't been together in FOREVER (that's according to Ryan and Patrick) since Ali is staying with the boys at her parents' while their new house is being build.  In any event, HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATHAN! ;)
     This year our week was a little quieter than most.  My parents decided to stay back (except for water park day!) to continue caring for my grandfather.  So, it was just our two little families for the first part of the week and then our little family for the second part.  We enjoyed just hanging out-- it is incredibly cool to see how WELL our kids get along and truly enjoy just being together... whether it's hanging out back at our villa or swimming in the pool or mini-golfing or riding the go-carts, they really look out for each other!  There is a definite divide at this point-- the "older" three and then Katy-Kate and Nathan.  It will be interesting to see as the years go on and the age divide, which is big when you are 1 or 2 versus 4 or 5 (or 7, YIKES!), feels smaller!  In the meantime, they are all just happy little clams who are content just to be with one another and that's great to see when you're from a close-knit family! :)

9.  Go to the Waterpark
     One of our favorite stops on our annual vacation is the Massanutten Waterpark.  The kids REALLY look forward to it!  This year, Ryan had been having Grandma Sue measure him regularly as he was DYING to be the required 42" to ride the BIG water slides.  We all held our breaths-- especially since Liam, 11 months his junior, at times, seems like he is taller and both boys are right around the 42" mark... how would they measure up to the official Massanutten measuring stick?  Liam missed the mark (no big deal, he is still working up to the excitement of the BIG slides and feels no pressure to keep up with Patrick) by a hair, while Ryan made it, wahooooooooooooo (and thank GOD for John and I!)!!!! :)  So, you can guess what Ryan and I, pretty much, spent the day doing... riding the BIG water slides (well, 1/3 of the time was spend riding the slides, 1/2 the time was spent CLIMBING the stairs- my poor body was BEAT by the day's end, and 1/3 of the time was spent by me hiding from Ryan while floating on the lazy river so that Katy could nap! ;)  We usually stay from when the park opens to about 2 when the kids conk out... this time?!  The old fuddy-duddies were DRAGGING the kids out as the clock neared 5-- they had SUCH a blast!

10.  Another Annual Trek
Another trip we make annually while we are down at Massanutten, is a trip to the Children's Museum of Harrisonburg.  It is, I think, our favorite Children's Museum to date (and we are becoming quite proficient at them! ;)  It is a smaller museum, but we have watched it really blossom over the years we've been coming (think we are up to 4, maybe 5!).  It has moved to a little larger location and has exhibits the kids LOVE... most notably, for Ryan, is the ambulance shell... he LOVES to "drive" like a madman to the next emergency.  Patrick, on the other hand, LOVES the theater.  He has always been passionate about costumes and dressing up and, of course, DIRECTING others in his productions! ;)  Katy's favorite, this year, was the HUGE cow (umm, that you can MILK... interesting addition)!  She would just stand looking up at it in awe and be downright gleeful when it would spontaneously "moooooo!" at her!

So, it seems, another entry in our lives is done!  That, pretty much, encompasses our month of July!  It was QUITE a busy month.  Of course, August started with a BANG as we probably squeezed more action in the first week of August than we did in the entire month of July and are now trying to decompress here at home as the end-of-the-summer crunch time is upon us (well, me, the kids are oblivious!)!  One more trip left!  The boys are heading to NY on Sunday for their now annual week with NY Grandma and Grandpa... we are not sure who is more excited... the grands or the kids (or the parents who suddenly find themselves with "just" one kid)! ;)  In any event, stay tuned!  I hope to get one more entry in to cover our East Coast trek before school is upon me... I think I can, I think I can...

Ryan is not one to be "directed"
<3 Kimberly, John, Two boys, & a little Rose!