Friday, September 27, 2013

November News (2012)

November was a time of great fun and great sadness for the Newhouse family.  In September, our dog Duke started sneezing blood.  After several trips to the vet, we deduced that Duke had nasal cancer (very common in his breed of dog).  For a couple of months, Duke seemed to be back to his old self, but as the cancer made it's way up his nose into his brain, our old man went deaf and blind.  It was horrible to watch.  As soon as Bob got home from a business trip, we made the awful decision to put him down.  In my ultimate wisdom as a mother, I talked to the boys about how Duke was going to the doctor who would help him to go see Jesus in Heaven.  I told them that one day, we would go to Heaven too, and then we would get to see Duke again.  This seemingly innocent explanation sparked off months of questions and concerns about doctors, dying, and going to Heaven.  Even now, Ryan will randomly say to me "I don't want to die, Mom."  Great parenting, grrrr.
Uncle Stephen and Daddy picked Duke out for Easter one year.  I spent many years grumbling about him wiping his rear on my carpet, eating everything in sight (including a two pound block of fondue chocolate and a 5 pound bag of Reeses mini peanut butter cups complete with foil wrappers in Easter colors).  I did not enjoy poop duty in the backyard or having to make sure that we were home in time to get Duke (and Dusty) out to go to the bathroom.  All that being said, I sure do miss our dogs.  We have become a one cat home.  There is a lot less hair on the floor, but there sure is a lot of food that gets spilled under our table that doesn't magically appear.  Ryan keeps asking us to go to the pet store and get another dog, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.
One of the boys' favorite pass times, eating popcorn.  If we needed proof that these kids were related to Kathy Hadler Newhouse, here it is.  Grandma Kathy could eat popcorn three meals a day.  She loves it, and so do her favorite grandsons.  I enjoy the taste of popcorn very much, but the detritus that is left on the floor after these messy boys get hold of a bowl is a sight to behold and definitely requires a broom.
My sweet Ryan.  Ry loves to give hugs and cuddles, for which I am mostly grateful.  At times, I just wish that the kids would play their video games on the iPad next to me rather than on top of me.  I can't express the state of chronic pain my breasts have been in for the last four years.  It seems like there is always some elbow digging in and bringing a tear to my eye.  I'm sure as soon as they decide they no longer want to hang out with me, I will cry for the days of aching boobs, but until then, I'll just try and remember the good hugs and kisses I get.
The unceremonious draining of the pool with help.  I think this picture is representative of at least a thousand words and needs no further comment or butt cracks.
Perhaps the most common sight of my children, all three of them enjoying the iPad together (only slightly more common than the three of them in full brawl over said iPad).  James is an iPad master.  He has moved from Temple Run to Lego Batman.  Tragically, the kids have learned to check out the app store (especially Ryan who is always looking for a new game).  Through several mishaps, we have now banned any purchasing of free items in the app store while the kids are awake.  Recently a thirty dollar game (which we are still not sure what exactly it is or where it is), was purchased by some stellar child in the fifteen minute window Apple allows for purchases without passwords.  I think this must be a billion dollar industry for Apple all at the expense of hapless, overburdened parents who have been worn down by constant harassment.
Michael the musician.  The boys still love playing their instruments together in the band, but it doesn't seem to happen much anymore - it might be the programming changes around the house.  Anytime Jake and the Neverland Pirates is on, though, there are lots of instruments that make their way to the living room, and everyone must participate.  It's very funny how they have a group mentality versus an individual one.  I know that they are individuals, but sometimes, they must perform as a group.  When Michael went with Papa to get his hair cut, as the hair dresser asked him questions, he always answered "we."  They do lots of things on their own - James hides with the iPad under the bed, Ryan demands you play baseball with him, and Michael can entertain himself for hours, but when push comes to shove, they really are a team.
The cozy coupes have recently found new homes as the boys have gotten too big to fit inside them anymore.  Here James and Ryan are showing off their teamwork skills.
James loves new clothes and dressing up.  Here he is wearing his "work shirt" and Daddy's tie.
One of the best parts of November was a girls trip with Lainie and Anne to Orlando.  Our first night in town, we went to Downtown Disney and had a nice time checking out all the stores looking for souvenirs for the kids.  The following day, I convinced the girls to spend the day in Winter Park going to the Morse Museum to see the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass in the world (I absolutely LOVED it!).  We also popped in to a turkish restaurant and ate ourselves silly, and I drank like I was an actual adult.  We then decided to get pedicures at a random spa in Winter Park.  Since I had imbibed a little more than normal, I somehow decided to pick electric blue as a polish color and spent weeks wondering whose toes I was sporting.
We also spent a day at Universal Islands of Adventure.  We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.
Lainie and I posing in front of Captain America and the other Avengers.  The boys were so impressed that I got to see those Avengers.
Wild women sporting Seussical hats.
Anne and I have always been ones to enjoy a good boob joke.  We certainly couldn't pass up this prime opportunity.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Grandma Comes to Jax (October-November 2012)

At the end of October, Grandma Wendy and Aunt Faith came for a visit.  After we picked them up from the airport, we went outside to play.  The boys had started "making a garden" with the dirt patch that resulted from moving the sandbox and the water from the pool.  The cute "garden" turned into a mud pit and great fun ensued.  
James gets ahead of the situation.  This crazy child would dip his head into the mud and let it drip into his face.
Ryan's favorite part of the mud pit was squishing his feet as deep as he could into the mud and then trying to walk.  I'm pretty sure those shoes were never the same.
Had Grandma not been there, we probably would have cut off the mud fun before it even got started, but she had such a great time watching the madness, that I didn't have the heart to get too upset.
Michael is my most fastidious child, and he usually gets pretty stressed out by messy hands, but he was more than happy to drop the neurotic tendencies in favor of some mudpie mania.  I'm not sure that we have gotten all of the mud out of the various crevices yet.
One of my favorite fall things to do is pumpkin carving.  I usually do the face carving (I wish I had those mad skills to make grandiose designs of cats and bats frolicking, but alas, I'm more of a triangle and jagged teeth kind of artist).  Bob made the first cut, we put Grandma and Aunt Faith in charge of pumpkin guts, and it was a family affair.
The boys get their scoop on.  I don't think Michael or James really liked the slimy insides, but Ryan took care of business.
James enjoyed creating the face so much that he would put the pieces back into the pumpkin and "cut" them out again.
Aunt Mellie sent us a great pumpkin decorating kit (along with a box with tons of other Halloween goodies).  Michael and I got these small pumpkins at the pumpkin patch, so we decorated them in a very unique and interesting way.
Ryan loves to put stickers on things, but he is easily distracted.  He did manage to get the eyes and a few extras on before he found something more enjoyable to do.
James was by far our most invested and dedicated decorator, and his pumpkin is quite amazingly festooned.  He kept coming back to add more and more to his decorations.
As the big trick or treat event approached, the costumes came out in full force, even at the beach!  Grandma and Aunt Faith enjoyed our walk down to the end of the pier and back.
The boys had two different costumes to chose from, and only Batman went with the new costume (although, now all of the costumes are in play all the time - I am constantly putting on "suits" and finding Superhero cast offs all over the house).
I can't believe how much the kids have grown in the last year.  The shoes they are wearing have been sent down the road, and they just look so much older.  They were really pumped about going out and collecting candy.  By the end of the night, Ryan was a little too eager (I had to tell him to quit asking for more candy), but all three of them went from shy to running from house to house following the big kids.
Aunt Faith took advantage of the opportunity to go trick or treating with the boys.  She was pretty excited to find a pirate costume and even more excited to get a pink pumpkin full of candy.
On our way to knock on some doors.  By the end of the night, the kids had trouble holding their own pumpkin.  I guess it was a pretty exciting thing to get a pumpkin full of candy.  
Checking out the loot with Daddy.  Bob and I have such different ways of dealing with holiday candy. In his family, his mom slowly doled out candy for weeks in lunch boxes.  Our family did a full glutinous consumption of as much candy as possible.  We did a combo platter and had a large quantity of candy before bed, and we still have candy in our candy dish from last year.
The dinosaur museum is one of the boys favorite places to go.  It only made sense that we took Grandma & Aunt Faith there.  One of the kids asks to go to the dinosaur museum at least once a week (Michael asked me today if we could go to the museum).  
The first time we went to the museum, the boys didn't even notice all of the cool things in the body exhibit, but now they love it (they are still a little leery of the burp and toot machine).
This black and white silent movie is always a hit with the kids.  We must have watched it ten times before everyone was ready to move on to the next exhibit.
Grandma Wendy loves the beach (I think it's her innate ability to tan rather than burn), so she is always up for a trip to the beach.  We decided to stop at Hanna Park and check out the shells.  There were thousands of shells.  It was amazing how many there were to look at and chose from.
Of course, no matter how many times I think to myself that we can make a quick stop at the beach and not go into the water, I am ALWAYS wrong.
James was the first to take the full body plunge.  There's nothing as wonderful as a tide pool.  We've seen all kinds of wonderful things in tide pools this summer.
Everyone decides to get in on the action.  This is why I try to keep towels in the car.  Maybe I should throw some swim suits in there as well.
On Saturday, Daddy was able to join us at the beach.  We went to the drive on beach.  Aunt Faith was more than happy to go out deep and jump in the waves.
Ryan wants Aunt Faith to take him out to the deep water.
Daddy watches all the action.  I'm pretty sure it wasn't very long before he pulled out the football.  The kids LOVE to throw the football into the waves and chase it as it washes back in.
This picture of Bob and I is not the most flattering, but it is nice to have a picture of the two of us.  Bob has had a dramatic weight loss in the last few months, and this picture makes me realize how much weight both of us had gained.  His face is so much slimmer now that he almost doesn't look like the same guy.
Daddy and the boys in the sand "suits."  This is a very cute picture but does not represent how much work this mommy had to put into it before the picture could be taken.
Hanging out with the family.  Bob is the best at getting the umbrella deep enough into the sand so that it doesn't blow over.  Every time I put this bad boy up, I wish that Bob was there to take care of it.
My little sand fleas.  The sand castle building has progressed a little, but the sand castle smashing is the best part of any building.  I think there is about a two second window to enjoy your sand castle when these little monkeys are around.
Grandma Kathy and Papa were gracious enough to keep the boys so that we could take Mom & Faith to a fancy restaurant in St. Augustine.  The Columbia Restaurant is delicious and so fun.  They make sangria and their famous salad (complete with ham and swiss cheese) at the table.  We had a delicious meal and a nice "grown up" visit.
One of the last places we visited while the dynamic duo was in Jacksonville, was the zoo.  The boys know the zoo like the back of their hands.  They really enjoyed showing Grandma where all the animals live.
Grandma springs for the cash to feed the giraffe.  It was great fun, and we now have to discuss why or why we are not going to feed the giraffes at the zoo.
Grandma makes things special.  We took a rare moment to swing from the elephant's tail and trunk.
Ryan has an elephant by the tail!
One of the most enjoyable spots in the zoo is the river otter exhibit.  Not only do the birds get up close and personal, but the river otters in the right mood will put on quite a show.
Manatee!  We do enjoy the gentle giants even if they are painted blue.
The alligator hop.  One of our last stops on the way out of the zoo is the Florida exhibit where we can see snakes, tortoises, alligators, and bobcats.  The alligator is always fun to climb on (in fact, we often miss the real alligators because we are too busy climbing on the fake one).