Happy Halloween!

We had a busy couple of weeks leading up to Halloween, here are pictures of all the fun we had!

We started off Halloween with a spooky story time at the library. They had lots of fun activities and candy for the kids and also stories of course!

Then Daddy came up to visit us and we were able to all go to the pumpkin patch and pick out pumpkins together. Lexi slept the whole time so I missed some cute photo-ops :( Oh well, there's always next year!

We got our pumpkin carving on. Charlotte poked the holes for one eye on the cat and was done, she decided it would be more fun to play in the dirt. Lexi dug right in and proceeded to eat as much raw pumpkin as she could, then when she was done with that she joined Charlotte in the dirt. Both girls were hosed off before going back inside.

We went to Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens. Charlotte LOVED it! She had her face painted, she got to ride her first roller coaster, she watched a few great shows, one she was extremely excited about was Monster Stomp Revamped, she even got to meet some cast members after the show. Lexi on the other hand was not as thrilled, it was very very loud. Word to the wise, get out of Howl-O-Scream before 6PM if you are a scaredy cat like me!

Charlotte's dance class got to wear their Halloween costumes to dance in.

We went to ZooBoo, which is pretty much trick or treating at the zoo. It was very crowded, especially traffic/parking. The girls had a good time but it might be more fun for them when they get a bit older.

We had a bunch of fun decorating the playroom for Halloween. My favorite being the humongous spiderweb made out of yarn. The spiders kept falling off though. We made pumpkins and ghosts and bats and spiders. I drew a whole haunted scene on the chalkboard with a cemetery and haunted house and pumpkin patch with scarecrows and witches. It's pretty awesome, in my opinion.

Last but not least! Halloween day! Woo!! I can't wait to do it all over again next year!

Now after a long break in our schooling units, we are starting this next week with Forest Week!


I'm Thinking It

I've been thinking for sometime now about starting a toddler art group and I want your insight.

1. Is this something you are interested in?
2. A good time/day?
3. A good location? (I would like to avoid having it at someone's house)
4. Willing to pay a small fee to help pay for materials, supplies, snacks, room rental?
5. What kind of art would you be interested in seeing done?
6. Art v. Crafts: one, the other, or both?
7. Smaller or larger group?
8. More structured like a class or more lax like a play date?
9. Age range of kids? (I'm thinking between 1-4?)
10. Anything else you'd like to add...possibly a group name...

I have a lot of ideas in my head and would love it if this was able to become a reality!


Wordless Wednesday: Me Hungee!

Lurkers, I'm Talking To YOU!

I see all you people out there reading my blog.
You can at least say, "Hi" so I can feel the love!


Feeling Hopeful!

Today was the day of my biopsy. I have been sweating it big time. I hate needles and I hate having stuff done to me that I know is supposed to hurt but it doesn't because it's numb.
So the best news of the day was: I didn't get a biopsy done today! Woo!
The appointment was with an ENT Nurse Practitioner which, let me tell you, was a lot more informative than a general doctor.
She was extremely thorough, explained things without dicking around or sugar coating and I didn't feel like she was a cold hearted robot. I really liked her a lot and felt pretty good leaving the office. She was what I call "efficient".
She said the mass isn't fixed which is a good indicator it's probably not cancer but she still mentioned we can't rule it out.
I had to snort some nasty liquid (which tasted like ear wax) to numb my throat so she could stick an endoscope down my nostril and take pictures of my throat. That was a crazy weird experience and I hope I never have to do it again and I hope you don't have to do it either!
She told me they don't just do biopsies without trying other things first. So I was prescribed a 10 day round of antibiotics and steroids and after that I have to have a CT scan, then take the CT pictures to a follow-up appointment which is scheduled for November 23 and we'll discuss things from there.
So now that's where I am.
Here's hoping the antibiotics and steroids work, even though Travis says steroids are the last thing I need to give it, a little "it's big enough without beefing up on steroids" humor...



I'm not even sure I want to blog about this but it might make me feel better. I mean, if it's nothing I'll feel stupid for worrying so much about it, but if it's something then people are going to be mad I didn't tell them sooner and I won't have an established support group.

So here goes, I have a swollen lymph node on my neck under my jaw. I've had it for about a month or so. Honestly I didn't think it was that noticeable. Travis claimed otherwise and was rather impertinent about telling everyone we met about it. Finally when my Mom came home he made a huge fuss about it and they made a huge fuss about it so I eventually agreed to go have it checked out.
Travis was also quite convinced it would be an easy fix with taking antibiotics, turns out not quite. I had basic blood work done to see what was going on and all the blood work they did came back normal. So I got the news I was afraid I would hear, I need to get a biopsy done.

The only word that comes into mind when I hear biopsy is CANCER. I know I shouldn't get all worked up about it now and try not to freak but when I get on Google and start searching things like lymphoma it's hard not to make the connections. There are other things it can be but obviously cancer is the main thing on my mind.

So that is where I'm at now, I have a biopsy scheduled for tomorrow and I'm assuming the results will take a couple of days to get back. I have a huge pit in my stomach. I am scared to get a biopsy, I really really am not looking forward to having a needle stuck into my neck and I'm really really scared to wait on results and I'm really really scared to get results back.

I'm so thankful to have my Mom back now, she will be going with me tomorrow. I know Travis feels terrible he can't be here since he is down in NC but I know he would be back here in a flash if worst comes to worst.

I'll update after the biopsy to fill everyone in and then of course I'll update on the results which I have my fingers crossed will be something easy to fix.

Wish me luck.


Turning A Blind Eye

So this little incident forced me to do something I tend to turn a blind eye to.

Scrub the heck out of the tub.

The girls had black paint all over them and then my tub had a dark black ring around it. I always clean the bottom of the tub quickly before the girls get in but we always take showers so I hardly take notice of the sides and quite frankly I actually HAVE blind eyes so I never really notice how bad it really is when I'm taking a shower. It's not like I'm checking out how dirty the tub is for fun when I'm not in there.
Anywho, while I was scrubbing the evil dark black ring I notice the shower curtain looking pretty, well....ish.
Guess I ought to get a new one, I mean it has been there for 2+ years...eek. So it got me thinking about things that probably should be changed out or done that people just don't do (as often as they should) and I compiled a little list in my head. Here it is:


Destination Births?

The last time we were at the library we checked out a beautiful book called: All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan.

In short it's about a family that lives on a farm and when the son is born (at home) his family introduces him to everything that's around him to love and then he passes it to his newborn sister (also born at home). In the first couple pages his Grandmother holds him after his birth up to the open window to first hear the wind and see all the wonders around him.

How beautiful an image is that?!

All I could think about was if I had a home birth and held my newborn baby up to the window, hmmm...nevermind, I wouldn't want to hold my newborn up the window. Then I got to thinking, what if I owned a farm in the country and opened it up to people (kinda like a bed and breakfast) but specifically for women who wanted to have homebirths in a gorgeous location far away from hustle and bustle. I suppose I could have room for 1-2 women (and family) to stay for maybe the month before they were due and the first month of the baby's life. How wonderful would that be! Maybe I could call it a birthing bed and breakfast? Would you want to have a destination birth?



This came out of my most recent issue of Parents magazine. I only semi like this magazine, I do not pay for it, I have been getting it free for about 3 years I think from Motherhood Maternity, and when the subscription is up I will not be renewing it. If you want to get a parenting magazine get Mothering.

The main reason I'm writing this is because this magazine is read by thousands of new moms and moms-to-be and this Janet K. Kennedy, Ph.D., a founder of a sleep-consultation service is telling these women that it's okay to let the babies cry it out. She even admits to doing it to her own daughter! I guess it must be okay then..."It took a couple of days and was really brutal at first..." Here's my thought, if it was brutal for her, think of how brutal it was for her sweet baby daughter who had NO idea what was going on!

I'll admit, when Char was a baby I was afraid to tell people she wasn't sleeping through the night, I thought there was something wrong with me, I must have been doing something wrong. "Let her CIO" people would tell me, my own mom said, "That's what I did with you." So I gave it a whirl, I let Charlotte CIO one evening, against my gut instinct. She cried for an hour or more, not just crying but screaming, she finally settled down and I didn't hear another peep out of her. Wow, I thought, it worked! So when I went in to get my gorgeous girl in the morning what horror did I find? I found she had thrown up from crying so hard and then slept all night in it. I was beyond mortified. I vowed never, NEVER to do it again, ever.

I'm by all means not a doctor, heck, I'm not even the perfect mom, but I do know that CIO should not be an option, if your child is crying go and soothe them, comfort them, love them. Don't leave them in their huge dark room to wonder if you're ever coming back for them. It is not a baby's mission in life to disrupt your sleep schedule, they have no clue what you are doing, where you are, that you're tired, you had a bad day, blah blah blah. They do know that they are hungry, wet, cold, hot, lonely, and they also know they are tired but sometimes need extra help getting back to sleep. Believe me when I say, your baby will eventually sleep and then you'll be fighting them to wake up in the morning, just be patient and have compassion and read this.



I saw this commercial last night and couldn't believe my eyes. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, I did happen to be watching Spike, but seriously, does AXE really think men are that stupid and amused by double entendres that they are going to go out and buy this silly little (ball) scrubber? It was a little humorous at first but then it just didn't stop and then there was the golf balls bit, I was watching TV by myself and felt uncomfortable. My husband uses AXE but I'm really not sure I want to keep buying it to help fund their advertising. Utterly disgusted.



We love the show Between The Lions. We DVR the series and save them for whenever Char just HAS to have TV and sometimes when I'm sitting on the couch nursing Lexi to sleep and I don't want Charlotte causing a ruckus. One day Charlotte just started reading the words from the opening song and I was amazed! I thought she must just be repeating what she's hearing because they read the words as well, but I muted it and she kept on reading the words! I don't know if she just has the words memorized but even if she does it's still reading and it's a step forward because eventually she will put two and two together and realize the words she's saying and the words on the screen are the same thing and it will just click.

Another thing we just recently started is instead of reading picture books at bedtime we've decided to read chapter books. We are actually getting ready to finish our first one, The Witches by Roald Dahl, she picked it out by herself. I decided to let her decide from all the Roald Dahl books because I absolutely love his books! Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is my favorite movie, I haven't actually read the book (which I can't believe) but it's on the list as well as all his other books including the others that were made into movies. I just think the stories he creates are fantastic and ridiculous and tons of fun, they take you into a whole new world. Anywho, at first Char wasn't interested in the book but once she realized what I was saying was actually what was in the book she starting asking questions about the story and points to words every once and a while and asks what they say, it's great, I can't wait to pick out a new book. Even better, I was explaining to Travis the story of the book and he says, "Oh, like that movie?" I had NO IDEA that The Witches was turned into a movie! So maybe after we finish the story I'll find a copy of the movie and we'll watch it, I wonder if she'll realize it's the same story as the one we read...



So now for a personal touch to this blog. I never really blog about what's going on in my life, just mostly the things that relate to the kids. This actually relates to the kids and both Travis and myself. The Friday before Lexi's Luau, Travis lost his job. There was really no time to think about it seeing as we had to put our chins up and celebrate our daughter's first birthday on Saturday. Sunday we decided to just finish of the weekend right and went to the Neptune Festival.
Monday started the crazy whirlwind of trying to figure out what we were going to do. We already had a list of possible options in our heads because this is not the first time Travis has been without a job, most people do not know that pretty much through my entire pregnancy with Alexis, Travis was unemployed starting from April 2009 until January 2010. Sure he had a few jobs now and then but nothing that would pay the mortgage let alone feed us. It was especially worrying because I didn't want him to take any out of town jobs considering I was pregnant at the time and didn't want to risk him missing anything. We made ends meet, with a lot of help from some wonderful people, and luckily Travis got his job back and that was it, we caught up with everything and continued about our lives.
This time when we got the news we obviously were worried but knew what we had to do and that we can't sit around waiting forever for a specific job to open up we have to jump on an opportunity as soon as it happens which is what we did. Travis was running around that first week trying to get leads to jobs and making himself available. The start of the second week he found out that there was a job opening up down in Whitsett, NC which is near Greensboro (about 4.5 hours away from us), so he applied on Wednesday, by Friday he knew he was leaving on Sunday so he could be there by Monday to start. So this whole thing is just a bit of chaos and craziness that we are all going to have to adjust to.
We aren't sure how long the job will be (I've heard rumors of 18-24 months) we aren't sure how often we are going to see each other, I guess we just aren't sure of anything at the moment! I guess the main point of this post is to let everyone know that I may not be posting as often as I usually do and that's pretty much it. I actually don't think I'll have as hard a time adjusting to this life since we've been apart before (once when Char was from 3-7 months old and once right after Lexi was born) I suppose I'm more worried about the kids but my plan is to just keep busy busy and this will go by quickly and easily.
And who knows, if everything goes well down there and they want Travis to stick around we might just be calling Greensboro home one day!

Andalo's Clubhouse

Today we ventured out to our local children's museum in Portsmouth which, right now, is under a renovation and expansion project so, they've taken a few of the exhibits and turned them into something they call Andalo's Clubhouse. It's free for the little kids (2 and under) to enjoy and $5 for everyone else. It's pretty small and pretty rundown but the kids had fun so I guess that's all that matters. I don't think we will be going back anytime soon though, probably not until the actual children's museum is done with renovations. Parking was a butt to find, all the close parking was metered and we weren't sure about the parking garages, Portsmouth doesn't make it very clear what's legal and what's not so we parked where we knew it was okay which was a bit of a walk.

The very first room you come to is a Thomas the Tank Engine room.

Then you go through a doorway into a room for 3 and under only, this is the room the girls liked best. It is filled with a bunch of soft blocks and a pyramid thing but nothing really special about it, we spent at least and hour and a half in there. There is nobody watching the room so if an older kid does go in (which there were quite a few) the 3 and under rule isn't enforced.

This was my favorite part. They have a few imaginary places set up (a bank, grocery store, library) and the kids can have fun being a banker or cashier etc. The grocery store was the best, Lexi kept stealing pieces of bread and running away and Charlotte found the feed button on the cash register (a real one) they have and would not stop pressing it!

They had a little room that had some illusions and this contraption you put ping pong balls in. It reminded me of Plinko.

There was one more room full of some sciencey stuff, like Newton's balls made with bowling balls. They had some other stuff like the sit and reach test to see how flexible you are (Travis will be happy to say he reached to 23" which is excellent for a man his age) and also to test your reflexes (which I am happy to say I have better reflexes than Travis!) 

The last room leads you straight into the gift shop and straight out the door which is where we went! Overall I would say that if you live close, know where you can and cannot park and have kids under 2 then it would be worth $5 to go during the day so the kids can play but I don't think I would be paying $10 for me and Char to go so they can play in the one room with the soft blocks, hopefully the actual children's museum is not as big a disappointment Andalo's Clubhouse turned out to be.


Phrases Your Kids Say that Remind You to Stop Cussing

As you remember from this post I'm making notes on things that Char says so I can write a book about what a terrible influence I am. This week's entry:

"Freakin' Jesus Christ"

Aww...my sweet little angel...


Oak Grove Lake Park

I haven't given a park review in quite awhile and since today's weather was so lovely I knew we had to check out Oak Grove Lake Park . We've been to this park before when Charlotte was little and really enjoyed it but we don't go around the Greenbrier area very often so it's not a park that's high on our go to list but it actually might make it's way up there. 
If you keep going down the road that Home Depot and Lowe's are on it takes you back into a commercial area but somehow a park is squished in the middle which kind of makes it like finding hidden treasure. There isn't much parking at the actual park entrance but there is overflow parking across the street and I've also seen people parking along the sides of the road. 
When you first get there it doesn't look like much you have to take a little walk and then it opens up to a nice playground and a huge lake, you may have actually seen this lake driving on Route 168 toward Norfolk, there's a nice wooden fish statue there.
Directly on your right is the playground, in front of you is the lake and a shelter and portapotties and then around the whole lake is a trail (1.5 mile circle).
The playground is nice, newer equipment, no graffiti or gum or nastiness (only on one of the little plastic globe things some teen, I'm sure, decided to burn it a bit). There are two different pieces of equipment, a bigger and smaller one. Plenty of swings, my only gripe about the equipment is that the big swings and baby swings aren't close enough that I could push them both at the same time.
The whole thing has mulch as the ground cover which I really dislike, it's dirty, it's dusty, it's pokey and gets all matted down and hard, ugh! Not to mention it's also hard to walk on, Lexi was falling all over the place. I would definitely suggest they upgrade it to something else.
Charlotte was really happy because there was a steady stream of kids coming through which is one of the reasons I would consider going there more, the park we usually frequent is always dead and that's no fun for her.
The lake is a pretty good distance away from the playground so even if a little person got loose and adult would be able to catch them before they got to the lake. There is no fence around the lake.
We didn't do the trail this time because we didn't realize we had the stroller with us but we have done the trail before with a wagon and it was pretty easy. It's not a paved trail but it's cleared out and smooth enough for strollers and wagons. 
Overall I would recommend this park to people, I would only recommend bringing your own potty seat  because the portapotties are all that's there.

Here are the girls enjoying the park (and don't let the pictures fool you, it was quite busy, I just try to avoid getting other people in our pictures):