Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Small Group Fellowship

Our family had such a great evening with church friends. One of the couples in my small group hosted a dinner for the small group. The couple happens to own a barn full of horses, and are also professional golden retriever breeders. Between three of the families in our small group, we have seven children under two! 

I am adamantly against getting a dog, but these puppies were hard to walk away from. Thankfully the puppies are already claimed. Our kids absolutely loved the puppies when they were behind the fence, but less sure when the puppies licked and nibbled them outside the fence.

Dinner was a potluck cookout. I made banana pudding and pound cake. The kids chowed down on fruit, chips, cheese, potato salad, hamburger, and pudding. 

After dinner we toured the barn. The kids were having so much fun until the owner took James inside the stall. The horse got spooked and the trio started screaming inconsolably. The incident did not dissuade Jackson from wanting to ride a horse. Jesse and I were skeptical about Jackson actually getting on the horse once the horse was saddled up. Jack surprised us with his excitement and persistence about getting on the horse.

Jackson was able to ride four laps around the large field, while I waked beside him. He grinned ear to ear the entire time!

As if the animals and open fields weren't enough entertainment, there were baby pools, water balloons, and a water table out for all the kids to enjoy. At one point there were toddlers chasing puppies, kids throwing water balloons, and big kids riding horses. We let the kids play until it was dark, which was nearly 9 pm!

It was such a blessing to be able to enjoy an evening of fellowship together. I am so thankful for this particular small group and the relationships we've formed. I love that our families lives have intertwined.

Half of the families in our small group

Monday, June 29, 2015

Family Fun Uptown

I absolutely love uptown Charlotte. The six of us headed uptown to go to the museum. Since the museum parking is good for the whole day, I always feel obligated to make the most of our day in the heart of the city. We didn't plan quite as well as we should have, but it was a really fun day anyway.

We made the rounds at our favorite exhibits, beginning with the aquariums.

We then checked out a cool interactive area to construct a shelter. James thought this was especially hilarious to crawl under the camouflage netting. Jackson impressed us with his vocabulary by discussing habitats.

Jackson finally got to ride the chair lift.

And we all took turns walking across the rope bridge  in the rain forest.

The highlight of our museum trip was the new guitar exhibit. Jesse and Jackson briefly participated in a  music game show where you had to complete the lyrics to popular songs from the various decades. It was way more fun for the adults in the audience, but the kids were happy to win prizes.

The guitar exhibit had a fun stage where you could pretend to rock out on the guitar, keyboard, or microphone. So fun!

After the museum we walked to First Presbyterian Church. They have such an elaborate, well shaded, completely enclosed playground. If we lived uptown, we would go to this playground daily. The only downside is you can't use it while the preschool classes are outside. We seem to always have great timing, though.

At this point in our day, things got a little tricky. I hadn't gone grocery shopping yet, so we planned to purchase lunch and have a picnic in the park. Jesse took us on quite the detour. Despite passing dozens of restaurants, Jesse got frustrated and wanted to go home. We were only a block from another park, so I took the kids to run under the waterfall and jump on the interactive bells.

It was such an ideal summer day for me--learning, exploring, and playing together as a family.

Friday, June 26, 2015

My Most Awkward Moments of Motherhood

My Most Awkward Moments of Motherhood

All mothers have found themselves in the middle of a predicament with their kid(s) and thought, "Is this really happening?" I've only been at this mothering business for four years, but I've already found myself in some highly uncomfortable situations. Here are my top six most awkward moments of motherhood to date:

1. Stroller Mishap
With four children ages two and under, a quad stroller was a necessity. I was very nervous about using the mammoth quad stroller in public. After using it for neighborhood walks, I finally got the courage to take the kids out to the recreation center. I practiced opening, pushing, folding, and lifting the 84 pound beast into the van.  Then I collapsed the stroller, lifted it out of the van, and opened it again. I repeated the process over and over until I was comfortable. 

The whole time I was practicing with the stroller, I had (unknowingly) never opened it fully until it clicked. I had pushed the seats back as far as I thought they could go and assumed it was open all the way.  It strolled fine in the driveway. 

Once we arrived at our destination, I lifted the stroller out and unfolded it just as I had practiced.  I buckled the babies in their seats.  As soon as my two year old sat down the whole damn thing collapsed and folded up...with all four kids inside!  I immediately unfolded the stroller and was relieved to find everyone unscathed.  I glanced around, grateful to confirm there were no witnesses.

2. Nip Slip at School
After an extended maternity leave with Jackson, I returned to my teaching career at a new school. Since I was still nursing, I had discussed with my administration my need to pump at school. The plan was to pump right before the first bell, at lunch, and immediately after dismissal. At the conclusion of the second day of school, I escorted my students to the bus lot, then returned to my classroom to begin pumping. At the exact same time that I pulled my bra down, an administrator unlocked my exterior door. Apparently my classroom was used as a holding cell for students on late buses. In walked twenty or more bright-eyed children. They received an impromptu anatomy lesson while I struggled to cover up!

3. A Black and White Lie
We unofficially adopted a black and white stray cat. We named her Cowbell. Though she was an indoor cat, she liked to sneak into our garage, vehicles, and in the back yard.

One afternoon I picked up Jackson, age 2, from preschool. I immediately knew something wasn't right when I saw his face.  He asked me to hold him and was unusually whiny.  As soon as I picked him up, a poop stench filled the air.  I sat him down in his carseat so I could grab the diaper bag. The most vile liquid seeped up his back and down his legs.  At this point, both my son and I were smeared in poop. While ushering him back into the school building, another teacher shrieked "Oh my God.  A cat just came out of your van!"  I glanced back to see Cowbell running through the parking lot, and impulsively exclaimed, "Nope. That's not mine."  I stripped my son down and used half a pack of wipes to scrub him clean.  A teacher found a 4T shirt and pants to drape over my son. We left the school with one more outfit and one less cat.

4. Driving in the Buff
It was Halloween, which meant "Dress Like Your Favorite Book Character Day" at work. My teammates and I dressed as the three little pigs. We each wore solid pink footed pajamas, along with a DIY tail, headband with ears, and snout.

It hadn't even been an hour into the school day when I received the dreaded phone call from daycare. "Your son has thrown up twice. You'll need to pick him up." I rushed to get my emergency sub plans in order and headed towards his daycare. I stopped at a grocery store along the way to pick up Pedialyte and Lysol. Several customers and employees stopped to stare as a large blur of pink rushed past them at 8:45 a.m.

I traipsed through the daycare entryway, weary of what scene I might come across. My heart sunk once my eyes met my pitiful 18 month old son laying on his little cot. As I cradled him through the parking lot, he began projectile vomiting all over me in the parking lot. Once his little body had stopped convulsing, I buckled him into his car seat, saying a prayer that he wouldn't throw up in the car. Vomit trickled down my pink onesie, into my bra, and down my legs. I stripped in my car and drove home in just underwear, crying the entire way.

5. Shit: It's What's For Dinner
We had just arrived at the park on a gorgeous fall day. I unloaded the kids, then spread a blanket out on the ground for our picnic lunch. I had packed a Tupperware container full of sweet potato, turkey breast, and green beans. As I was distributing sippy cups, my 3 year old son declared with urgency, "I have to poop!" This particular park had no available restrooms. I scanned our surroundings to determine where my son might be able to relieve himself. He shouted, "I need to poop RIGHT NOW!" With the van close by, I rushed him inside and gave him the only container I had. He pooped directly on top of our sweet potatoes, turkey, and green beans.

6. Edible Fashion Trends
The triplets were taking a late morning nap. Before I knew it, it was time to pick up Jackson, age 3, from preschool. We had afternoon plans immediately after school, so I hurriedly made pimento cheese sandwiches for the toddlers to eat in the van. I knelt down on the van floorboard to put my daughters' shoes on.

I pulled into the preschool parking lot and rushed inside. Several parents stopped and smiled as I passed them in the hallway. My son's teacher handed me his folder and made the usual small talk. The preschool director stared at me on the way out, along with several more parents. When I returned to the van, my son innocently asked, "Mommy, what's on your leg? Are you wearing a sandwich?" Sure enough, I looked down to discover an entire piece of bread cemented to my jeans by pimento cheese.

I can only imagine the stories I'll be able to share in another four years. There's never a dull moment with our kids!

Trio Love

Today was Jackson's last day of preschool until September. I think it was a good experience for him to attend a summer session, but I'm definitely ready to have the flexibility to take an overnight trip to the mountains or spend the morning uptown without coordinating with his school calendar.

Since it was Jack's last day, Jesse and I chose to intentionally focus on the trio and make it a fun morning for them. While there were great moments, James and Maddie had at least a dozen tantrums between the two of them. That seems to be the norm lately.

We played outside while Jesse dropped Jackson off. James, Amelia, and Maddie absolutely love their new water table. It retails for $50+ but Aldi had the exact same model for $30. Score! 

Next, we painted. James made it twelve minutes before he threw anything. That might be a record for him.

Jesse and I took the trio to Discovery Place Kids. We rarely go there anymore since it's overrun by tiny children and Jackson prefers the museum uptown. It was chaotic as usual, but the trio blended in with the excitement. Here are some of my favorite photos from the museum:

Drive-thru bank deposit
Grocery shopping
Picking apples
Milking the cow
Taking care of their "patient"

Thursday, June 25, 2015


FYI, Jackson likes blogging. Every night when he sees me blog he sits beside me and says, "Can I tell you about my day now?" In this post, things that appear in italics (and aren't grammatically correct) are Jackson's interjections.

Today was the annual Teacher Appreciation Day at Zootastic. I took the trio and Jack by myself last year while Jesse interviewed for a teaching position at the middle school. Thinking back, it's hard to remember life a year ago, when we were uncertain about where Jesse would be working and the trio couldn't even walk yet. 

We tried to leave as soon as possible, but we still didn't get to the zoo until 10:30. Jackson fell asleep on the 45 minute drive. 

Zootastic's Teacher Appreciation Day is exceptional. It provides zoo admission, a wagon ride, lunch, and a show--all free of cost! The amount of walking made strollers necessary, though the thick gravel, dirt, and hay made it difficult to maneuver. As soon we entered the park, James and Amelia began pointing and yelling at the colorful birds. 

"I got to stand right in the middle of the birds. Well, Daddy helped me. I didn't know which spot to stand, so Daddy lift me up. There were two pretty birds. They were orange, blue, red, and green."

Almost every exhibit had feeding stations. We only picked one area to purchase feed, but we watched strangers feed the animals. You could feed the tiger raw steak on a giant skewer.

My favorite zoo animal is the giraffes. The kids did not share my enthusiasm.
"I did not like seeing the giraffe. I was just tired." 

There was a barn full of animals that you could feed. We purchased a $2 cup of food and took turns feeding the llamas, rabbits, pony, etc.

Only the boys were brave enough to let the animals eat out of their hands. Amelia enjoyed watching the animals up close. Maddie sat in the stroller and wished she was anywhere else.

"We even feed the animals. There was a porcupine and a peacock on the way out. And we saw a bunny in there."

The only thing I didn't do last year was take the kids on the wagon ride. Since strollers are prohibited, it was impossible for me to hold three wiggly infants and Jackson on a 45 minute wagon ride. I was excited to experience the ride and see the animals closer than I ever have before. We befriended the people sitting across from us right away, and learned that they lived in Jesse's hometown, attended the same college as us, and their brother/son has triplets just three months younger than ours. Small world!

"On the wagon ride we took a picture. Well, someone took a picture of us. I was in between Daddy and Mommy. We saw the pig. The pig was like, "Wait! Wait! Don't go. I just go here." 

"Mommy bought us a fan at the store in case I get hot., even though I wore my hat and sunglasses. Daddy had a hat and sunglasses, too. Of course Clifford was there. "

At one point we were bombarded by cattle with fierce horns. James was unfazed.

I was a bit more surprised. Look at this bull's crazy eye!

We were able to see the Asian water buffaloes. There was a mama with her three day old baby behind the rock.

After the wagon ride we waited in a short line to receive lunch. They served hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, slaw, chips, and drinks. All six of us had a full plate.

"At playing time there were tons of playgrounds. There were big slides."

Maddie genuinely did not enjoy animals up close. The only time I saw her run around and smile was after lunch on the play sets.

We were scheduled to attend a 1:30pm show. In hindsight, we should have let the kids continue playing in the shaded playground and skip the show. The presentation was interesting, but it was too hot, too crowded, and too close to nap time for the kids to enjoy it.

"We saw a show. It had a bird and a snake. The man had gloves and white shirt. The man kissed all the animals."

"Millie just keep biting the fan."

We did not make it through the entire presentation. We made a somewhat quiet exit, took a final bathroom break, and walked back to the van. It was a long morning and all four kids were asleep in a matter of minutes. We took a detour through Lake Norman State Park, and returned home around 3:30. I am so appreciative of free entertainment, educational experiences, and time to spend together as a whole family!


Seriously, the 2015 me laughs at the 2010 me. If I only knew then what four kids in two years would do to my body!