Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Good Day

This experience has been an incredible roller coaster and, for the past few weeks, the boys and I seem to be on different waves of the ride. We're not all on the same page, on the same day, at the same time. Finally, today, we were! They were up very early again, but I can deal with that. Without much persuasion they both went down for a nap at 10:45 (!!!). I thought we would be out of the house by noon but, to my incredible surprise, they napped for THREE hours!

When they finally popped up, we headed downtown to the MOSH (Museum of Science & History) to make use of our membership. While we were out, John had the chance to call. Turner was happy to talk but distracted. He did have time to ask for money to buy something at the gift shop!
Talking to Daddy!

Say "aaaahhhhh!"

He cannot help himself!

Downtown Jacksonville

In the .05 seconds it took me to snap the above picture and then put the camera on my shoulder Eli was on the beam behind them. I try not to freak out but, wow, that child! The St. John's is a major river and the current is swift!

After playing in and around the museum, we headed to 5 Points to get an early dinner at the Mossfire Grill. I had thee most amazing gorgonzola steak salad! I even ordered the kids a cupcake after they devoured their dinners so I could keep eating! Turner must be growing; he ate an adult size portion of black beans and rice, some steak, salad and later TWO PB&Js.
This boy loves him some 'kuh cakes!'

Turner's sly 'don't even think about taking a bite' face.

After dinner we headed to Riverside Park even though it was getting a little late. It's one of Jacksonville's oldest city parks and I love the location in the 5 Points area. It's fun, eclectic and full of people the kids never get to see!
They sat in these swings for a good 20 minutes just watching other kids play.

Eli made a little friend. She was crying and he walked up to her and said "hand?" The stood like this and just stared at each other.

The absolute icing on the cake was talking to John 3 or 4 times! It's hard, at times, because when we get to talk "often" it makes things seem as though he's just on duty.

Another day least it was a great one!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Daddy's on 'a-poyment'

I might not seem like much to you
Because, you see, I'm three
But I can do a lot of things
That are quite beyond me

I like to do the usual deeds
all boys like to do
I crash my cars, I pick up sticks,
And play with my brother, too

Not only can I ride my bike
And run and scream and shout
But I can do a lot of things
Not all kids think about

I can stand up for my brother
When he doesn't understand
I can tell him Daddy loves him
Though he's in a foreign land

I tell my mom she's beautiful
I love her dress and hair
I even talk to her tummy;
There's another boy in there

Mostly I can help my mom
She tries to stand so firm
I tell her that I miss him too
And can't wait for his return

My Daddy's on deployment,
He is out to sea
I can count the days with numbers
Even though I'm just three

I live without my dad
And learn new things alone
So you can sleep in peace at night
In the comfort of your home

I learned to send an email
And how to cross off days
I learned that I can talk to Dad
In many different ways

I understand that this takes time
And that he'll miss a lot
I even save things just for him
In a very special spot

Please don't feel so sad for me
This freedom, it's not free
My Daddy loves his family
But it's Duty, Honor, Country

My Daddy's on deployment,
he is out to sea
My Daddy is an officer
In the United States Navy

Monday, April 26, 2010

Operation Sleep: Debrief

So, the week of Operation Sleep was just terrible. It was draining and made me doubt my every skill as a parent. It needed to happen, though, because I was emotionally and physically drained from Eli's late bed time, fighting him to sleep and then fighting him in my bed.

After the crazy 4 days of vomiting, Eli and I talked "extensively" about not throwing up. Finally, I bribed him with a mint (at my parents' house, my Dad has these mints the kids love). I told him if he didn't throw up he'd get a mint in the morning. I know sticker charts are a little above him right now and I wasn't even positive he'd understand the "if, then" conversation. Sure as hell, wouldn't you know it: he didn't throw up! He woke up the next morning and said "I no fro up. I need a mint!"

The next few nights he continued to whine when I put him down but not cry. When I got him the first morning it went smooth I said "I'm so proud of you!" Now, when I get him in the morning, he says "I so pwoud you!" and gives me a kiss.

Two nights ago was the first night it was totally silent, so it was a fluke in my mind. The next night it was a repeated fluke and tonight I'm finally happy to say I think he's back to loving his bed. He asked for Beaker and his motorcycle and it was quiet again. He's waking up very early in the morning (anywhere from 4-5:30) but I'm ok with that now that he's going down easier. I able to deal with that by adjusting my sleep. Plus, he LOVES the cuddle time. I prop up pillows quickly and let him lay on my chest and he pats my arm and doesn't move. Eventually he rolls off and back his little butt right up to me while I scratch his back.

For the past few mornings, he's fallen back to sleep until 7-7:30 and Turner will find us in the bed. He gets in to cuddle and I end up sandwiched between those sweet boys before the craziness begins. I have never been a fan of a TV in the bedroom, but it would be SO nice to have one these days! I feel really bad because Turner thinks Eli is sleeping with me so I've been trying to explain that Eli is waking up early so I go and get him from his own bed.

Tonight Turner called me in his room after he had been in there for about 20 or 30 minutes. He wanted me to pet his head and I was able to do that without being annoyed or rushed because I had to put Eli down on the couch.

All in all, though, we're back to a more 'normal' sleeping arrangement. They can come visit when they want and need but must fall asleep in their beds first.

Oh, and I have to say thank you to my John stand-in. Jennifer, I would have NOT been anywhere near as strong if you hadn't been there for me! You and the Waldorf-y mammas at Turner's school really helped me through the week.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Conversations with Daddy

Daddy's in port so he was able to call today. I willed him to call all day long and, finally, around 11:30 the phone rang! We've come to realize that the first call should go to the kids, that way, if we get cut short, at least they heard daddy's voice. So, Turner got to talk first. I said "Do you know who's on the phone?" He just smiled and thought for a second and said "It's my Daddy!" He went straight to his room to sit in his chair for "quiet."
It's adorable to watch his actions and reactions while he talks. He uses his hands and facial expressions galore to really express his emotions. I even heard him say "...and I was just, like, freaking out." Ahem, he's never heard "freaking out" from me! Turn's speech, while understandable in person, is some times a little difficult to hear over the phone -especially for John, sitting in a cafe.

The first time Turner talked to John during this deployment, he had a hard time understanding (later that day) that John was still gone. They have been able to chat two or three times since and I think Turner finally understands that Daddy is still on the ship and is still not coming home until July.

It's fun to listen to Turner talk without my prompting or coaxing. He is becoming such a little boy, but his cognitive abilities are still very much toddler (and I LOVE that). He's used video chat before, so, while it's less often now, he still really believes he can "show" you things. Also, he's starting to understand general times (now, later, today, tomorrow and "this much time" shown with fingers) but a real concept of time still eludes him. While I'm thankful for that it makes it so hard to hear him ask John "Daddy, are you coming home now?" It makes my heart hurt for John to have to hear it and for Turner for just not understanding.
I'm so happy and thankful that John can call at all.
Even Eli, though distracted, was able to take the phone all by himself and sing Twinkle and "Rocka My Baby" for his Daddy. I can imagine it was the sweetest sound on the other end of the phone to hear this little baby you left four months ago singing songs!
We miss you so much, my Love! I'm so happy you've been able to read this and see those crazy boys of yours. They miss you like you'd never believe. Turner wanted his "little Daddy" to sleep on his chest tonight. That's the tiny, imaginary, you that I pull out of my pocket. He also has his Daddy Doll by his head, he's sleeping in your shirt, and he's got his Daddy's heart (that heart rock he was trying to tell you about) in his hand. Thank you so much for calling!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Today, I was asked: "And what are you going to do to celebrate Earth Day?" I wanted to be standing there pregnant with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth, Schlitz malt liquor in hand, and say in a rather raspy voice "I'm just happy I got out of bed, lady!" Instead, I just smiled and said "Oh, we'll see!" I knew that we were just coming home to play and not going to pick up trash on the beach, or save the baby humpback whales.

For real? I don't have time to celebrate Earth Day. Maybe one day I will make my kids green popsicles, and volunteer to collect trash and all that other Earthy stuff.

We have had time to grow our own garden, though. It was a slow start but we're on our way to a lot of squash and pickling cucumbers (the large leaf stuff).
Some time during the Great Freeze of 2010, we made our way to the local nursery to pick up some organic potting mix and organic fertilizer and Earth Boxes. I chose to go with the Earth Boxes in spite of their price (something like $60 per box) so we can clean them out and bring them to our next duty station.
I ordered non GMO seeds from a mom and pop store out of Hallendale, FL, and I love the seeds! I purchased a variety, knowing I can use them at our next stop.

The boys enjoyed digging in the dirt and getting the boxes ready.

I can't remember when we actually planted the seeds but I decided to let the kids help. Luckily, Eli was more interested in jumping on the trampoline so it was just Turner. I wasn't paying too much attention and I'm pretty sure all these seeds were planted pretty deep.

After the planting, I let the boys water the boxes with their new watering cans. Before I could say anything Eli used his can to dig around in all the boxes to check out Turner's work.

I think the worst "damage" was to the tomato/basil bucket. Not only did Eli dig around in the box but weeks later he added some sand to the mix. Poor tomatoes and basil; we'll have to buy you at the store.
The kids like to check on the garden and Eli loves to dump his entire watering can in one spot. They say it's the experience, not the outcome...right?

Monday, April 19, 2010

If You Give Two Toddlers Markers

And a box.
With out much further instruction say "Let's draw on our house."

Then, go inside to get your camera (I'm talking 4.2 seconds)...

You'll find marker all over the outside of your actual house (remember to take evidential picture).

On one toddler you'll find a moustache.

On another, you'll find make-up.

On both you'll find smiles on a day that started out completely terrible. So terrible your three year old did this to his beloved books during a "break" (new word for time out).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day By Day

by day, by day...

We're here. I have been trying to get Eli back to his crib but he knows how to play me like a fiddle. If he wasn't so irritable when he was in my bed, it'd be a fine situation to embrace sleep sharing. It's terrible, though. No one sleeps, and I even end up sleeping with one eye open so I don't get hurt.

Any way, the process has been emotionally and physically draining. If I were in any other situation than being a married single mother, I don't think it be so tough. I'm dealing, though. Just beating myself up...

It's been a week since we made it back from my parents' house. I can't believe it takes so long to get back in to our groove. Finally, today, I feel like we're cleaned back up and prepared for what the week might throw at us.

Since I don't concentrate much on a completely adult dinner, I've been focusing on finding things the kids like and making their meal plans. I've been using Weelicious for inspiration and recipes. The creator rocks at these sweet bento style lunches and I use that for ideas for lunches and dinners. Lots of times things are spit out, but at least the being exposed to lots of foods during their picky years. Today I made oatmeal-on-the-go bars (Eli LOVES them) and finally got around to making chewy granola balls.

They are great and the kids enjoyed them! As a plus, the rice cereal can be substituted. I didn't have any and used crushed up Total.

In other news:
The kids are super cute. Turner has grown an inch since John's been gone. I've been marking it on the wall. You-know-who won't stand still to let me measure him so I've got no record of how big he's getting.

Turner is pretty sure there are monsters in his room again. We are currently conducting counter-monster exercises every night.

I am trying every day to put aside my exhaustion and just enjoy my boys at the ages they are. It's tough and take a lot of lip biting and secret crying, but it's working. I think...

John was selected for an early command and I couldn't be more proud. He's such a balanced guy; I know he'll make a great CO!

We've decided that, when the slate comes out, to really try for the PC out of Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek. I found out the MCM tours out of San Diego and Sasebo are 30 months and that's no good for this family. I get the itch to move and 30 months is a loooong time! I really hope it works out and we'll be in Virginia by the end of the year.

I've settled on having baby Deacon in the comfort of our home. Well, it's not our home, but it is comfortable. It's, obviously, up to the midwives, but I don't see a reason for conflict. I'm a healthy low risk pregnancy and they deliver at home as well as at the birth center. Having the baby at the birth center, I'll return home just hours later at any rate -so why not just have him here?!?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Operation Sleep

Deployment affects how you parent: for better and for worse. There are days I'm amazed at my self and days, like yesterday (and today), remind me that I am so flawed it's painful. I am battered, bruised, emotionally and physically drained and I haven't slept in months. Months. I am doing everything possible for my kids at this point and I am just done. So, something's gotta give...

John and I have always agreed on a sort of open door policy for our bed. As infants the boys slept in the bed; we never really had any issues, so we never changed. Turner transitioned to his crib easily and Eli took much longer. Still, now, if Turner wakes up he comes in and either sleeps with us or we take him back to his bed: he's ok with taking things as they come. After Eli started sleeping in his crib he was amazingly happy! His naps got better and we were all well rested. He could NOT sleep with us as he woke up to play and would not go back to sleep for hours. It was never a good idea to bring Eli back to bed...

Now, I understand toddlers wake to some extent multiple times a night just like adults. I can hear Eli stir and he just rolls over. Turner will often come check in on me or even say something and just want to be tucked back in. This is not what I have issues with. Since December (we went to Disney, were all affected by a stomach bug, then had to say good bye to John) my nights have been sleepless and the 'problems' have escalated. I know the boys need me more right now but I'm giving all I can and I'm miserable.

Here's what our nights have looked like since March:
Usual bed time routine that's worked for ages. That's where the 'normal' stops, though. Turner goes to 'sleep' in my bed, I bring Eli to the living room to hold him until he falls asleep. I put Eli on the couch until I'm ready to go to sleep. Play Russian Roulette with Eli; maybe he'll stay asleep, maybe he won't. Transfer to the bed where the trouble gets worse. If Eli stayed asleep, I can fall asleep. If he's woken up from the transfer he's up for quite some time and it's not pretty. He's slaps me and Turner, kicks, flips and head butts (on purpose). By this time I'm ready to toss him. I try everything and, eventually he passes out for a few hours. If he and Turner touch during this 'sleep' they kick, hit and do all sorts of things that don't involve sleeping. Finally, someone wakes up way too early (let's say around 6) and eventually wakes the other up. They might play nice or they might decide to jump on me and, almost always, my stomach.

Now, the above scenario is typical. Last night I was going to try to put Eli right in bed and, when I went in to make room on the bed, saw that Turner was up...AT 9pm! He went in a 7:30 (normal bed time assuming he's going to stay up for a few minutes). When I put Eli down later he tossed started whining, slapped Turner and then they were both up. I quickly got in bed and just prayed I didn't lose it...big time. We woke up this morning (never really woke up but got out of bed) and I realized something has to change. My temper is short, the kids have been cranky and no one is sleeping. Ever. At all.

Today was trying, to say the least. The boys have been grumpy all day, they were tired by 11 (well, by 9 but I tried to get them to play longer), Eli only slept for 30 minutes and Turner was just terrible. They have been just mean to each other all day and I think I finally reached my tipping point. Some people would be happy their kids slept at all, but I am not. I know my kids and they need a nap as well as sleep at night. Turner is no where near giving up his afternoon nap and I know this by his behavior.

Commence Operation Sleep. I circled today on the calendar and told Turner that Daddy said it was time to sleep in his own bed. We had a chart set up from last week when I swore I'd start this. We talked about how bed time was going to go all afternoon and, at one point, he told me to stop talking about it! When the time came I started the routine extremely early, anticipating some resistance and because they were yawning at 4! Eli made himself throw up after not even 30 seconds in his room. I know he made himself do this because I had barely made it to the living room when I heard the "something's wrong" cry (also my parents reported he tried to make himself throw up when he got mad because I was in the shower). After I cleaned the bed and him up it took all but three trips and just a few minutes (it would have been less if I just patted him and played with his hair but I want him to return to the soothing himself). Turner never peeped.

It's 9:15 now and I'm almost afraid to go to bed. I love these boys so much. I feel terrible that I made them sleep in their rooms but I had to do this.

*yawn* Better go see what might happen...

Monday, April 12, 2010

These Boys...

Call it brotherly love or sibling rivalry: these two are really going to be the death of me.

They pick and pick and pick all day long. Eli tries to kiss Turner, but Turner misinterprets that as an invasion of space. Turner tries to hug Eli but nearly pops the poor kids head off so there's crying involved. Now there's hitting (mostly Eli walking by and slapping Turner on the head!), pushing and simple annoyance. I know some of it is typical toddler behavior, but some fights stem from their completely different personalities! Already...

Today was spent around the house; trying to unpack and ready for our next adventure (a trip to the Duurty Jerz). I had finally remembered to bring home this tent that Aunt Princess Katie gave Turner a few months ago so after nap time, Turner wanted me to put it up. Well, chaos ensued as Eli wanted to get up and walk around in it and Turner wanted to sit calmly. I put the tent away for a time out and after a few minutes the boys really did try to play together in it.

What happened next was the funniest thing I've seen in a very long time: they both stood up in the tent and tried to walk in opposite directions! It was straight out of a cartoon or movie where two people are in one of those horse suits and can't make the horse coordinate. I'm kicking myself for not turning the video camera on. The pictures do NO justice to what was going on in that tent!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


No, not this kind...

This kind!

Last week my grandmother and I took the kids strawberry pickin'! Plant City is known as the winter strawberry capitol of the world. Now, California does have some fabulous berries (especially if you have the chance to live near Watsonville and catch them at their absolute peak) but my childhood memories are of Plant City strawberries.

I wasn't interested in picking a trunk full like we did as kids but just letting the boys enjoy the experience. Luckily, I hadn't planned on much because the berries were not ready! The freezes from earlier in the year made for an odd season and, even though it was early April (a full month after the usual peak season), there was hardly a berry to be picked!

Turner was so excited and did a great job picking his berries. I explained that we were looking for nice red strawberries and to try to leave any that weren't red for someone else to pick later in the week. He did a wonderful job and really enjoyed "hunting." Every few feet he'd shout "I found one! Is it red enough? Can I eat it?"

He took the whole "you may pick a berry for the basket and then pick one to eat" thing to an extremely hilarious level! He literally picked a berry, took a tiny bite, and then put it in his carton. It was the most adorable thing.

Eli had a great time, too! I tried to tell him about picking only the red strawberries but he's too little to understand. He did a great job picking, at any rate! A few times he tried to climb over the rows but I told him it hurt the strawberries so he went back to his business.
You can see the dent in the basket under his thumb; he refused to let me hold it.

This was our last spring in Florida for a while so I thought we'd at least get out to Plant City for a visit. I was bummed there wasn't better picking, but I guess you can't control the weather.

You can see the little green guy in the background. Usually, everything is nice, bright, red!

To make up for the lack of strawberries, we stopped by Parksdale Farms Produce -Home of the Jumbo Strawberry Shortcake!

Even the National Enquirer knows about Parksdale!

Of course, Brusier demolished almost everything!

My Strawberry Kings!