Crisp Autumn Eve 3 Column from TCBOTB

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July 4th Details and Then Some....

I can’t believe how long it has taken me to get this post out here… I think it boils down to being completely overwhelmed by the slew of photos I took over the July 4th week/end vacation we took. But I am forcing myself to now get this out here as I know the frequency of these posts is drastically going to change soon.

By that I mean my big news….. I will be soon joining the ranks of the employed and reluctantly giving up my “Stay At Home Mom” status. I was ideally looking for part time work that would make putting my kids in daycare worth it… but no employers are looking for part-time work right now and this offer presented itself. It is one of those offers that you don’t pass up (especially up here in Brainerd where options are a little more limited). I struggled immensely with the job offer for various reason but it came down to the fact that t is a great company with good benefits, I’ve given my children MANY years [more than I had ever anticipated] and didn’t want fear of trying something new to define me. I know the boys will be fine and crave the kind of education and routine that daycare would give them, Evie was the one that broke my heart with this decision as she is still so little and changing SO much. New words and concept that she understands every day….. but I’m trying to look at the big picture and what an additional income will do for us and enable us to provide to our family. So in mid August I will be working at a company called Landis+Gyr (formerly Hunt Technologies) that just recently was acquired by Toshiba. I will be working as a Project Coordinator, basically running the implementation of their solution (automated meter reading solutions) for their partnering companies. The one thing that made this decision incredibly difficult for me was the travel expectation… minimum of 25%, but I am confident that we can make this work. I have to note an interesting conversation I had with MacKay the day after I accepted the position though. He met me in the bathroom that morning while I was putting in my contacts with a very worried look on his face… very emotional, on the verge of tears:

MacKay: Mommy.... I want you to STAY
Me: You mean you want to stay home today? Don't you want to go to the park?
MacKay: No.... I just want you to STAY!
Me: What do you mean? I'm not going anywhere
MacKay: But I just want you to stay....
Me: Where do you think I am going? (starting to think he knows something is up at this point, though we haven't talk to them about this at all)
MacKay: I don't want you to go home!
Me: MacKay, I AM home, THIS is our home.
MacKay: But I want you to stay here ..... I don't want you to go where you "live" .... it's in that book. Here... I'll show you

At which point he goes and gets the book "Good Night Minnesota" (version of the classic "Good Night Moon") and goes to the page where it says "Good Night Minneapolis Skyline" and points at the LB/Thrivent building in the picture. A while back I had pointed out that building in the picture and told him that is where I USED to WORK (and pointed out the HCGC building as where Gpa Gary used to work). He has always construed that as where we "live" when he retells the story to us.

This brought me to tears and ripped out my heart… was this my son's way of telling me I made the wrong decision? Had he been listening to our conversations leading up to this? He hasn’t brought it up since, but he made it painfully clear that we are going to have to sit him/them down and explain this new change in their life that will be happening soon.
I am thankful for my mom though. She is going to make this transition SO much easier on me. She has offered to be my daycare for the kids (full time even) until the winter weather starts putting a crimp into her travelling. We’re going to take her up on that offer to an extent … meaning we’ve found a daycare center we really love that is nearby that is willing to do part time for us. So we’re still working out the details as to when to transition the kids into the daycare facility and just how many days they will be there vs with Gma in the comfort of our home. So a big public “THANK YOU” to my mom for being there for me when I need her as always and making this incredibly difficult decision just a bit easier knowing my children will be in good hands and buffering the blow of this big life change for everyone.

Enough about that … let’s talk about what’s been going on for us these past few weeks. We had an incredible 4th of July week/end with family. Saturday (7/2) we packed up after breakfast and headed down to Annandale to spend the 4th with the Hoglund/Ledwein/Hillmann/Rasset families. The kids had a blast playing with their cousins and swimming like little fish in the lake (Pleasant). I couldn’t believe how courageous they were …. Within minutes of getting into the lake they were jumping off the dock like champs, swimming around with control and getting up the ladder to the dock and doing it all over again.. and again … and again. I would venture to guess the boys jumped off that dock over 500 times during our stay there. They couldn’t get enough of it. They really get the concept of “Monkey Cheeks” now and holding their breath while they are under the water. Even Evie got some time in the lake though she wasn’t as big of a fan as the boys were. I don’t know if it was the lake/water or the fact that she was in that restrictive life vest. But she loved Gma and Gpa’s tree swings, specifically “Sugar Foot” the tire swing horse. We snuck out on Sunday afternoon to go visit Chris’s other side of the family (the Doerr’s) at Jerry and Char’s house in Monticello. Was GREAT to see everyone and the kids had a blast swimming there and riding on the golf cart they had there to shuttle people back and forth from the shore up the hill to the house. July 4th the boys amazed me with the level of energy they had. I struggled with the decision on whether or not to nap them (which they never do) to get them to last all night for the fireworks they had been so excited about for the days leading up to the 4th… but they actually made it. I think it was such an over-stimulating day that nothing was going to keep them from enjoying it all. We all got up and rushed out of the house for the Annandale 4th of July Parade. As always, Gma Bonnie gets us all matching Tshirts for the annual family picture that is taken that day…. And we got some good shots this year. The kids loved the parade… even Evie was taken aback by the big tractors and vehicles. Note about little Evie… that little peanut seriously put down about 3-4 turkey bun-wiches while we were there. Constantly demanding more “MAN-ICH”s while we were there. Then it was back to Gma and Gpa’s for swimming and a smorgesboard of food. After dinner I was convinced I needed to keep the boys active (they had a long day) to help them make it to the fireworks, so I headed off to the carnival with the boys while Chris & Evie stayed back with the family. I was almost in tears on many occasions watching the excitement in their faces to go on those rides. They were so stoked about the mini-rollercoaster and mini-looping starship/swing. Arms up in the air with the biggest grins on their faces. We got back to the house just in time to get them in some LS shirts, jeans and doused with OFF and ready for the fireworks display. Evie, as per usual, was begging for “Nah-NEE” (Night Night) at around 8:45pm – so Chris was putting her to bed as soon as we got back. As always I brought a ton of glow sticks for the kids and those kept their attention while waiting for the show the start. They had the best time commenting on all the different displays and telling us which were their favorites (pretty much all of them). Then they went to bed like champs…. completely worn out from a super fantastic day. The next morning we packed up and left to go back home and rescue our dog from the kennel (he hates being kenneled) …. Just to go home, do a couple loads of laundry, relax… and pack everything all back up again to leave the very next morning to head up to Island Lake in Duluth to visit Gpa Gary and Gma Terri at their lake house.

We again got the kids up nice and early to have breakfast and took straight off for Duluth Wed (7/6) morning. I was shocked that Evie didn’t nap even a minute of that 2.5+ hour drive up there. We got up there in good time and enjoyed some lunch before the kids were running for the lake again. They were particularly excited to do some fishing but we had to explain to them that fishing up at Gpa Gary’s wasn’t like the fishing they had done at Gpa Dean’s. That at Gpa Dean’s they fished during the day for sunnies…. That at Gpa Gary’s we were fishing for BIG Walleye and we had to wait until after dinner to do that. So swimming would have to suffice for the time being…. And again they were constantly jumping off the dock, climbing back up, jumping…. Swimming around etc. They got really good at floating on their backs during our stay up there as well. Gpa Gary had unfortunately informed us that he had been in the lake a couple days prior and had a couple spots of “swimmers itch/chiggers” which made me nervous…. So we kept them away from shore and they were only allowed to enter the water from the dock (jumping in…. which wasn’t a hard rule for them to follow) into the deeper water where they couldn’t normally touch bottom. And the minute they were done swimming we dried them off and threw them into a shower. This seemed to ward them off…. For the boys at least. Chris got a ton of “itchies” (as we called them) but I think that was because he was standing/touching bottom the entire time, and also got in and out of the water (went kayaking one day) without fully drying off/showering immediately. Chris said they really weren’t that bad (he’s had them before) and didn’t itch… so I was glad it wasn’t bad for him and that we avoided the boys getting it with all we were doing to keep them from shore and diligently showering them the minute they got out of the water. Evie had a hard time napping at Gpa Gary’s … but Gma Terri and Gpa Gary took Evie for a walk (every day) during her nap time and Evie took a nice little snoozer during that time (on most days). That night the boys got their first taste of Walleye fishing… which was a bit of a challenge for them. They had been used to catching sunnies non-stop from Gpa Dean’s dock in Annandale just days before…. Now they needed to learn about bobbers and have patience. Oscar lost interest quickly and headed into the cabin to watch some Sponge Bob. It wasn’t too long before we got our first bite(s)… although we were unsuccessful at reeling them in as it was darn near impossible to set the hook with the boys’ little kiddie rods. It took losing a few before Chris found the right way to set the hook (basically taking a spring down the dock)… but then we got that first one for MacKay…. on HIS rod nonetheless. He helped to reel it in once Chris set the hook for him and the look on his face said it all. He was so amazed to see this marvelous Walleye we had been promising he would see. We got pictures of him with his prized Walleye and he wouldn’t leave the bucket we put him in for the longest time. Just watching it in there and pointing out HIS Walleye. Oscar even ran out to see what all the commotion was about and reveled in his brother’s catch… though it wasn’t enough to keep him out there to try for his own… Sponge Bob was calling to him apparently. Evie got into it too and was having fun digging for leeches and staring in the bucket of fish. That night we proceeded to catch 5 more…. all around 15 – 16+”. We caught most of them on the boys’ rinky dink (pardon the wording) little kiddie poles that were SO hard to work with. Only 2 of the 6 fish were caught with the “real” Walleye poles. MacKay helped with all aspects of catching them too… helping to watch the bobbers, reeling, and helping to use the net once they got reeled in. He even watched Gpa Gary fillet the fish right there on shore and kept telling Gpa “You’re doing a good job, Grandpa!” He was so excited when we told him we were going to eat the fish HE caught later that week. All the kiddos slept well that night and we adults thoroughly enjoyed our adult drinks once they were in bed. Thursday morning we headed into town and took the kiddos to go see my Gma and Gpa Kamp at their retirement home. We had a nice visit and I even got to see my Aunt Sherry and cousin Troy while we were there. Again more swimming for the boys that afternoon …meanwhile Evie was taken on a walk to get her to nap. Friday my Uncle Denny and Aunt Sandy MacKay (my mom’s side) came by to visit us and see the kids. They also accompanied us to a little local bar for lunch. Always good to see them. Friday night we fried up (panko breading) MacKay’s catch from a couple nights before … he was pretty stoked about it all and proudly ate his Walleye. All the kids gave it a try and ate pretty well. Then that night we decided to give fishing another try and ended up with another 3 more fish – which enabled us to take home 4 frozen fillets). Oscar somewhat evened up the playing field and got to finally catch his first Walleye. Once Daddy set the hook for him he got to reel it in too. He was so proud and we got a picture of him with his first Walleye catch too. The picture we got is actually quite hilarious (as you will see) as on the side of the picture you can see MacKay standing to the side just proud of his little (by a minute) brother and his catch. We took off Saturday afternoon (planned around Evie’s nap) to go back home to take one day to just recoup from the busy week we had… and to allow our kids that wonderful day of crabiness that they always seem to go through after being so over-stimulated with experiences like this (unnnnghh). But it was SUCH a fun week. I wish every week could be like that.

I can’t think of any more "events" to share past that … Evie is changing EVERY day. She is learning so much and talking a ton. She loves to sing Ke$ha’s “Blow” … constantly asks you to “Watch” her do things. She’s got great manners and uses “Sanks (Thanks), Sow-wee (Sorry), and Peeese (Please) a lot. And about 200x a day we hear “SEWF” (Self) as she wants to do EVERYTHING by herself. She’s so much more independent than the boys were and even are. She demands to dress herself every morning and loves taking off her bottoms and diaper throughout the day, just to show you she can. She’s something else… just a hoot lately. Fiery yet lovey, independent yet still wanting attention in the form of help. Big news for Evie….. she’s now solely drinking out of a cup (she no longer wants her milk in a sippy) wanting to be like her brothers at the dinner table. We also broke her of her “Nuk” habit. She only got her nuk at bedtime(s) but she LOVED that thing and sleep was associated with that nuk. We took it away last Friday night and she cried for an hour that night (on and off). She proceeded to cry for about 20 minutes at her nap that next day…. And cried for about 10 minutes that night. Now she doesn’t seem too phased by it… she still mentions it as she is getting ready for going to bed, and might cry as we lay her down or leave the room but it is over as quickly as it starts. Wishing I would have done this a LONG time ago … wish I would have known it was going to go this well. But we always said we would break her of it by the time she turned 2 and that is looming in the near future. We’ve got a nice little day planned for her birthday (Wed 8/3) and a lot of family is coming for the event. Hoping the weather is nice so we can hit a local beach in the morning. We still want to bring her to the cities before I go back to work to bring her to Como Zoo as I think she is going to get a royal kick out of that. She loves animals and looking through books to point out the ones that she knows, which is a lot of them. And I have some recent news to share about Evie as well. Today while we were at Nisswa Park playing with our friends the Williams’ Evie came over to me and said “Poop” and grabbed at her backside. Shawna happened to be standing by her and checked her pants and informed me she was clean. She again said “Poop” and started walking away in the direction of the bathroom building. I watched her for a while to see if she seriously was heading to the bathrooms (I wasn’t even aware she knew where they were there) and she was. So ran over to her and again asked for clarification on what she was doing and she adamantly stated that she needed to poop. So I took her in the bathroom and sat her down (after laying down some TP on the seat) and she proceeded to do the deed. She had the biggest smile on her face the whole time like she was knew she was doing something I would be proud of. I made a big deal of it, got her dressed back up and washed her hands (though she was afraid of the hand blower) and headed back out to Shawna who shared in my astonishment. She got a high 5 from Shawna and was pretty darn proud of herself. And if that wasn’t enough, she came to me 30 minutes later saying she needed to go potty again. So we headed to the bathrooms where she again did her deed (poop) in the toilet. I’m not sure how I feel about having a potty trained 2 year old …. I think waiting until the boys were older really helped with them being independent about the whole thing (being able to go on their own, take pants down, pull up, clean up etc). But then again… Evie has matured much faster than they have in many ways and seems more ready to learn more things than they were ready for at her age. So who knows. I know at the day care center they will be going to that they take the toddlers (Evie’s class) to the bathroom 3 times a day.. they sit them on the potty and if they go, great… if not, no pushing. Why do I have a feeling that in the midst of starting a new job, I will be starting yet another job ….. potty training Evie. And not even because I want it, it seems she does more than I do.

Well, like I said… the thing holding me back from working on this post was the enormous amount of pictures. For those of you on Facebook you’ve already seen many of these… and I apologize but I had to reduce the amount I shared here to mainly just our family, otherwise this post could go on forever, it already seems it is. But here are the pictures of our fun week and the days that followed up until now. Whew…. The post isn’t completely done yet but I feel a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders just getting this far…. Be sure to check all the posts below this to get all the pictures as I’m loading them all out there in groupings: July 4th in Annandale, Duluth, and Random July 2011 Pictures. There’s a lot of them. Enjoy.

Pictures: July 4th 2011 in Annandale [and Monticello]

Evie swinging on Gma & Gpa's tree swing.  [Note:  Wearing her new Matilda Jane halter top which fits more like a halter DRESS]

My kids can't get enough of "Sugar Foot", Gma and Gpa's horsie tire swing.

Some fishing for sunnies off of the dock

Silly Oscar couldn't get enough of the kool-aid cooler drinks that Gma Bonnie had amassed in the fridge .... ended up turning his tongue blue

Daddy trying to show Oscar the ropes for riding a bike [Note: beer in hand, wouldn't want to put that down for a second].  And Oscar did quite well on the bike ... and since has become a pro.

More fishing .. MacKay just itching to get that sunnie off the hook and in his hands, and Oscar digging in the bowl for more wax worms

MacKay ... oh how he loved jumping off the dock and thrashing around. I love that I was able to catch that image of what he looked like when he surfaced every time - gasping and tryign to slap away at the beads of water on his face.

Meanwhile Oscar was more content doing some fishing with his cousin, Jack, who caught a pretty big pumpkin seed sunnie

Evie sitting with Gma Bonnie and having some trail mix after a nice nap

Oooohhhhh... naughty Oscar.  This is how Oscar apparently amused himself while I was getting showered up.  Tattoo'd his legs and face with a ball point pen... not to mention made some horrible designs in Gpa Dean's recliner.  Unnnnghhhh.

Celebrating an early 4th with the Doerrs in Monticello
Evie was like an eating machine that weekend... here she's even mooching off of Cortney's plate

Again MacKay can't get enough of the lake and jumping off the dock

Evie going for her first ride on a jet ski ... I don't even know if she could see over the steering console.

Going for a ride on Rick's pontoon
Evie chillin' with Daddy while MacKay and Oscar get their chance to drive the boat.... in circles 

Silly Evie.  I don't know what she was trying to do here but she kept lying back on the seats and sticking her legs up in the air and making goofy noises.  She's a trip.

4th of July Parade in Annandale
The kiddos cousins:  Taylor, Sophia, Jack and Stella

The traditional family photo

.... and then a more nontraditional photo ....

The boys covering their ears when the Veterans marched by and fired their guns

Evie chillin' with one of her many "man-ich"es (sandwich) she consumed during the parade.  It was like her stomach was an empty pit.

The kids standing on the curb waiting for the truck that was spraying water...

Evie pointing out the big tractors in the parade - she was quite impressed [Note: "man-ich" in hand...]

More swimming back at Gma and Gpa's .......
Oscar finally getting up the courage to jump off the dock by himself, and really enjoying just swimming/floating around in the water.

Oscar and MacKay got a kick out of having a water war with their cousin Jack... both out of the water and in.

Evie donning some patriotic colors after a nice long (and much needed) nap.

Mommy and Evie taking a dip in the lake

Cousin Sophia being SO good with Evie and keeping her entertained in the water by having her pour water over her head

Evie being silly and stingy with her train mix

The boys getting some fishing tips from their second cousin Brian James

Just some crazy pictures I snapped of the fireworks ... I was playing with the settings on my camera so don't even bother asking me what my aperture or shutter speed was, or how I got some of these... cuz I don't know.  :)