Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is Summer Almost Over?

The heat. Y'all, it's killing me.

I know, I know....I live in South Texas...I should be used to it, right? Well, last week, the temperature gauge in my van looked like this:


And it was easily ten degrees warmer than that inside the van where my three children were wilting in their car seats. Needless to say, we've been watching a lot of TV and reading lots of books the last couple of weeks. If we go to the park or play outside, we have to do it before 9 am, otherwise, it's already 95 degrees and scorching. Not fun.

We did get away for a few days to my parents' time share near San Antonio for a weekend of swimming, splashing and fun. It was hot there, too, but it was a dry heat, which any Texan can tell you is much more tolerable than our coastal humid heat.

Despite the look on his face, Evan had fun crawling from the "beach" into the water:


Liam had fun splashing around all by himself thanks to his nifty life jacket:



All three of my boys enjoyed the double tubes floating in the lazy river:


Or just hanging out with Granddad in a single tube:


I don't have any good pictures of Sydney because she wouldn't be still long enough for me to take her picture! That girl swam so much I thought she was going to turn into a mermaid right there in San Antonio.

All three of the kids had a great time, so much so that naps were missed and bedtimes coincided more with the setting of the sun rather than the clock. Poor Evan looked like this before we reached the highway for our trip home (it was only a mile or so):


In case you can't tell, the little guy got so much sun that he is tan. I have a tanned baby. I'm pretty sure the pediatrician and any dermatologist would slap me for that one.

We came home from the time share and jumped right into Bible School, which was an adventure unto itself. My sister and I taught twelve first graders in a room about the size of my dining room. Out of the 50 or so first graders, we got stuck with the most obnoxious boy. Turns out he's a preacher's kid (surprise, surprise) and his parents were dropping him off at various Bible Schools all over The Land of Fruit this summer. Guess they didn't want to deal with him, either. Overall, he was a sweet boy, even if he exposed himself in the sanctuary of all places. See? An adventure unto itself.

Anyway, we're still trying to keep cool. We're hoping the heat wave (and drought) will end soon. Otherwise, we'll be cooking our Fourth of July ribs and chicken in the oven rather than on the grill outside.

And forget about the town's fireworks display. It's at 9 pm and it's still 95 degrees outside that late at night. Guess we'll just have to watch them on TV.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Looking for a Summer Read?

A year has gone by since I joined not one, but two book clubs here in The Land of Fruit. I've been keeping a list of the books I've read and after looking through it, I realize why my house is not as clean as it could be. Maybe I should clean more and read less?

Book Club #1
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons: a Novel (Lorna Landvik)
The Island (Victoria Hislop)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
Wicked (Gregory Maguire)
Animal Farm (George Orwell)
The Last Lecture (Randy Pausch)
Thunderstruck (Erik Larson)
Queen of the Road (Doreen Orion)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
The 13th Tale (Diane Setterfield)
The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins)
Edgar Sawtelle (David Wroblewski)
The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Skeletons at the Feast (Chris Bohjalian)

Book Club #2
Twilight (Stephenie Meyer)
New Moon (Stephenie Meyer)
The Last Lecture (Randy Pausch)
The 13th Tale (Diane Setterfield)
Time of My Life (Alison Winn-Scott)
A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Truman Capote)
Watermelon (Marian Keyes)
The Memory of Water (Karen White)
Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy (Robert Leleux)

For Fun
Eclipse (Stephenie Meyer)
Breaking Dawn (Stephenie Meyer)
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
19 Minutes (Jodie Picoult)
The Testament (John Grisham)
Angel (Marian Keyes)
The Appeal (John Grisham)
The Jane Austen Book Club (Karen Joy Fowler)
Midwives (Chris Bohjalian)

I know, I know, I should have italicized or underlined the titles (and a really nice blogger would hyperlink the titles to their descriptions), but I'm on a nap time deadline.

The book with a line through it is one I was supposed to read, but I never got to it since the library's waiting list for it is six months or more. And I do realize that two of the books repeat on the lists. Both of my book clubs read them, but I will admit that I did not read them twice.

There were some definite winners among the books: The 13th Tale, To Kill a Mockingbird, Skeletons at the Feast, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Kite Runner, The Island, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I'd highly recommend any of these for a fabulous summer read.

There some so-so books: Wicked, 19 Minutes, The Twilight Series (don't hate me for that one!), The Woman in White, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Jane Austen Book Club, Midwives. I liked these books, but they're not the kind I'd read over and over again.

There were some I really enjoyed re-reading: The Great Gatsby, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird. I definitely got a lot more out of them this time around. I hadn't read them since high school and all three took on whole new meanings for me.

And then there was a total stinker: Thunderstruck. It's either a love it/hate it book - I fell into the hate it category. I normally adore historical fiction, but this one was just too detailed and uninteresting to me.

The rest fell somewhere in the middle, I guess.

So, I'm on to Year Two of book clubbin' it. With any luck I'll be able to add 30 more books to my list by this time next year.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Maybe I'll Need Therapy After This

We are now knee-deep in speech therapy with Liam and if anything, we are more frustrated than before we started. I am aware that my level of patience is about two notches above zero, but as I work with him on certain sounds over and over and over again, I find myself wanting to pull my hair out. We're currently working on his B, M and P words since he uses the D and N sounds for them. Almost all of our conversations go something like this:

Me: Liam, say "baby."

Liam: Dady.

Me: Buh, buh, baby.

Liam: Buh, buh, dady.

Me: Liam, lips touching (while physically moving his lips). Buh, buh, baby.

Liam: Buh, buh, dady.

Me (moving on): Liam, say "mommy."

Liam: Nonny.

Me: Muh, muh, mommy.

Liam: Muh, muh, nonny.

Me: Mmmmmm.......muh, muh, mommy.

Liam: Mmmmmm.....muh, muh, nonny.

Me (inside my head): Argh!!!!!!!!

Me (out loud): OK, Buddy, good work for now. We'll work on it later.

I know he's not going to get it overnight, but it's just so frustrating for us both. I'm frustrated because the progress is so slow in coming and he's frustrated because he's trying so hard to talk, but we can't understand him.

The positive side of it all is that we are working on it while he's young. The speech therapist told me that she has seven and eight year-olds with the same issues. Can you imagine how frustrated those kids are? Another plus is that the therapist works at Sydney's elementary school, so if Liam still needs help when he turns three, we can go through the school district for speech services and keep his current therapist (at no cost to us - hurray!).

If Liam could talk, he would tell you that the positive side of all this is that he gets to eat a lot more popsicles and lollipops as we work on tongue movement exercises.

And since we try to be fair with treats, I think Sydney is enjoying that aspect as well. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summer 2009: Week One

Well, we survived the first full week of summer! We went to gymnastics and the library, Liam had speech therapy, we made popsicles and we managed to get through the grocery store in under an hour - with all three kids - not an easy task, I tell you. All in all, it wasn't too bad. Of course, my parents stole Liam for a couple of days so that helped. We found plenty to do, even in the summer heat:

We rode bikes:


We played dolls:


We horsed around a bit:


Evan began to climb the walls:


So we put on our swimsuits and headed to the neighborhood pool:



And played in our little baby pool:


Then pulled out the slip 'n slide:




And when all else failed, we reminisced about kindergarten:


Like I said: busy, busy, busy! Let's hope our entire summer is just as fun-filled!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Perfect Pet

We've been asked a lot lately when we're getting a pet. We've heard all the reasons: we finally have a yard big enough, pets teach kids responsibility, pets are fun. Blah, blah, blah.

We'd get a cat in a heartbeat if we could, but Ryan is very allergic to them, like thirty sneezes in a row and eyes swollen shut allergic. And while I know we could have an "outside" cat, I know I'd be a softy in cold/rainy weather and want to let it in the house which isn't possible. Stupid allergies.

Then there are dogs. Ummm, no. Dogs are too needy: washing, walking, feeding, picking up poo. And all the licking......ick. The upside to a dog? I wouldn't have to worry about sweeping the crumbs off the kitchen floor ten times a day.

Ryan mentioned fish as an alternative, but fish just seem too impersonal: too much like a doctor's office or something. Plus, you can't pet a fish. Well, I guess you could, but they're a little slimy and pulling them out of the water to do it suffocates them and although I'm not the biggest fan of fish, I don't want to hurt them.

I've been feeling pretty guilty about denying our kids a pet, though. There is something to be said for having a little non-human friend to snuggle up to when you're feeling down or lonely. And who doesn't want someone to love you unconditionally like pets tend to do?

So I thought about the qualities I was looking for in a furry friend and came up with the perfect pet for our household. See if you can guess what it is based on its qualities:

* Low maintenance
* Only has to be fed once a day
* Easy to clean
* Quiet
* Doesn't shed
* Has to live inside the house
* Easy to train
* Very little waste to pick up
* Prefers to sleep alone
* Doesn't mind being chased by children
* Can be left home alone for long stretches of time

And my favorite quality: Like a dog, it will take care of the crumbs under the kids' chairs.

The downsides to this pet:

* If too active, it won't live more than five years or so
* It can be a bit distant and stand-offish
* It's not warm and fuzzy
* It only comes in purebred form which is a bit pricey for our budget

Figured it out yet?

It's this little guy.

Isn't he cute?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Lotsa changes goin' on around here.

Evan is not only talking (add "boo" to his current vocabulary of "uh-oh" and "woof, woof") and walking (just one step, but that counts, right?), he is now transitioning from two naps to one. Most days he still takes two naps, but I can tell that he'll be down to one nap a day in the next couple of months. Hurray! Until then, we'll play the "Will he go to sleep or won't he?" game and plan our summer activities accordingly.

Sydney is officially a first grader now. She graduated from kindergarten this afternoon along with the other 120 kindergartners in our neighborhood. They sang little songs and got awards for art, music and athletics. Amazingly, Sydney got a medal for having the 12th best time (out of 75 girls) for running a half mile. Who knew a child of a total non-athlete could run that fast (half a mile in five minutes!). I guess it's a good thing we signed her up for gymnastics this summer.

Liam is out of school as well and is already going stir crazy. I finally called a speech therapist to help us out once a week to get him to talk more. After our first session, she told me that she's concerned with his lack of lip and mouth movement while talking. Basically, she's going to give me some exercises to do with him to get him to stop mumbling. I've been trying some and I'm pretty sure I look like Jim Carrey in some of his more animated roles, but I'll do whatever it takes to get him talking.

We also have a big family transition coming up. (No, we're not having another baby.....that ship has sailed, my friends.) We're thinking about changing churches. While we love our current church, it's just too far of a drive now that we've left The Big City for The Land of Fruit. We'd really like for our kids to have friends from church that live in the area and go to their schools. That just isn't possible at our current church since only a handful of people from The Land of Fruit attend services there. We'll probably switch toward the end of summer when Ryan's commitment to the contemporary band ends. So, sorry Sherri and Brooke - we're going to miss seeing you guys every week. :(

I'm going to do my best to keep up with the blogging this summer. With three kids at home, though, the only time I'll be free to do it will be in the evenings once they're all in bed. Add in the books I need to read for my two book clubs and the project I'm working on for Evan, and well.....no promises.

I hope everyone has a wonderful summer!