Tuesday, January 15, 2013

August on the Move

August was a busy month for the Newhouse clan.  Between Bob's regular travel schedule, we squeezed in my favorite thing - time with family.  Our month started with a bang as Uncle Stevie came to see us.
Uncle Stevie gets lessons on the proper way to play with knights.
Uncle Stevie was dad's first true baseball boy.  He and Bob have gone to stadiums to watch baseball all over the country, and there was no way dad was going to let Uncle Stephen slip away without a trip to our hometown greats, the Suns.  Ryan loves going to games and tagged along with the big kids.
While Stephen was here, he and Bob took a work trip to Tampa which happened to nicely coincide with the Rays being in town.  Bob and I went to a Rays game right after our honeymoon, and I thought it was great fun with all of the rules about hitting balls off the rafters.  Bob prefers his baseball outdoors, though.
James convinces Uncle Stephen to try vacuuming.  I have to admit that I love how the boys grab the vacuum and work alongside me.  I'm hoping that they remember how much fun vacuuming is at the age of 13.
What does a real Jedi do?  Play baseball with a light saber, of course.  Uncle Stephen has much higher baseball standards than mom does.  You have to catch, throw, and you get tagged out.  When mom does it, we all get home runs.  I guess that's why moms aren't baseball managers.
Uncle Stephen was there for Bob's birthday.  We had such a great time with the singing, lighting of the candles, and the Star Wars cake.  I'm pretty sure there's not much that makes the kids happier than a birthday sing along.  A couple of months ago, I heard Ryan talking to the boys about his birthday party.  He told them they had to give him a dollars to come to his birthday.  We had to have a talk about how we don't charge people to come to our parties, and that people don't have to bring you presents.  I'm not sure if it sunk in, but if not, he can always follow in his grandpa Robin's footsteps and be a bouncer at a club.
No trip to Jacksonville is complete without a trip to the beach.  While Bob holed up in the office and made money for us to play, the rest of us took off for the beach.  The boys love splashing in the water and playing in the sand, and Stephen really enjoyed throwing them around in the water, which they couldn't get enough of.  Sadly, I don't have too many beach pictures between the glare of the sun, the water, and enjoying myself, I tend to shirk my photography duties.
Watermelon!  One of the hardest stains to get out of clothing.
Uncle Stephen and his adoring fans.  When we dropped him off at the airport, the boys were so sad to see him go, but for months afterwards, they would tell me "Uncle Stevie ride on a BIG airplane."  I'm not sure if they knew he actually got off of that plane until we saw him at Christmas.
For those of you who are familiar with these pictures, feel free to skip ahead, but I did have to include our trip to Orlando to do things that only nerds are proud of.  Our day of fun and frolicking at the Star Wars Celebration VI was quite lovely.
On the Millennium Falcon, a fabulous family portrait.  The boys really enjoyed the day.  Bob and I were a little overwhelmed by the crowds at first, but once we got past the first few minutes, we had a good time as well.

The boys and a "stormytrooper."  James loves nothing quite as much as a stormytrooper, and to see one in real life, well, it just goes without saying that it was a monumental moment in his world.
We did manage to squeeze in some time with our Jacksonville friends, the Vances.  Mr. Matt joined our band, and he showed us he's got some real chops.
Miss Ella checks out the guitar while Ryan tries to commandeer the sax-o-pone from Mr. Matt.
Along with all of the other stuff happening in August, my lovely redheaded namesake, Nicole, graduated from boot camp in South Carolina.  While we didn't actually attend the service (there are just some things that 3 year old triplets should not do), we did make the trip to see her and all of our lovely Leleuxs.
Julie & Kris (proud parents) rented cabins at a state park, and we hung out with them there.  The boys had a great time just hanging out with the big kids, and I loved having big kids to entertain them.
Horseshoe king James.
Gettin' rowdy with Alie.  Our best redhead cousin from Nebraska was so much fun to play with.  Cousins are awesome.
Bob & David hanging back from the fray discussing sports of some kind, I'm sure.
Jonathan & Ellie take charge.
Kris mans the grill while the rest of us sit back and watch.
David & Jonathan hadn't seen each other all summer, so they had to get some friendly brotherly wrestling in.  After three brothers of a smaller size started imitating them, those grumpy grown ups had to put a stop to it.
Loribeth and the moth.  The boys were fascinated by the large moth we caught and sadly tortured with love.  It flew off eventually, but I don't think it made it through the night.
Cousins jumping on the bed.  I think Alie is under the covers somewhere.
I don't think this family could start a forest fire.  We had quite a production just to get a campfire going, but the kids were fascinated by it, and when Kris started putting lighter fluid on for dramatic effect, James just about had heart palpitations.
Roasting smarsh-smellos with Daddy.
Cajun cousins.  It wasn't our normal outing to the beach and crabbing, but it was just as much fun.
Ready for smores!  We stayed about 45 minutes away from the campsite in a hotel with wifi so that Bob could get some work done, but the boys had a blast at the campsite.  They were so dirty that the bathwater was black and so tired that they passed out in their seats before we pulled out of the park.
Lunch with the graduate who revealed that she did such horrific things as letting her eyebrows get too scruffy and sleeping on the bathroom floor during boot camp.  She even walked like a soldier.  It was great to see her, but I don't like the no hugs rule.
Cousin Jonathan made his first big impact in South Carolina, but this fall, he came to Jacksonville to be a part of Youth With A Mission.  We were able to have lots of good times with him this fall, and if you are a praying person, say a prayer for him as he is currently wandering through the countryside in Thailand.
We also worked on our biking skills in August.  The boys are such good riders now, but I remember August being a lot of pushing, pulling, and sweat as we "rode."
We haven't found the right church fit yet in Jacksonville, and with Bob being gone so much, it's hard to find the energy to get everyone up and dressed to go someplace new, so one Sunday morning, we went to the zoo instead.  It was amazing.  The animals were out and frisky, we were able to get so close to the birds.  Ryan got his head pecked (that flying blonde hair must have looked like a tasty treat), we fed the lorikeets, and had a great time having fun with Daddy.
Too short to con those lorikeets down from their perches.
Joyous James.
Rascally Ryan taunting that bird.
Considerate Michael patiently waiting for his bird to finish.
When we moved to Jacksonville, I saw there was a place called the hands on children's museum.  The boys and I finally got a chance to check it out this summer.  We stayed for hours, and I couldn't even con them out with promises of ice cream.  James, master of dinosaurs.
Fireman Michael.
Postman Ryan looking for that invitation to Momo's 80th birthday party.  The last day of August, we loaded up and headed to Texas by way of Louisiana to celebrate my grandma's 80th birthday.  It was quite a long and fun trip, but thankfully, most of this trip took place in September, and we can finally end this extremely long post.  We've almost made it to the fall!  This plan to catch up might actually work, and I might (don't hold your breath) be able to stay current with our blog.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Baby You're a Firework (July)

July in Florida was great.  Papa and I started taking the boys to the beach more often (by the end of the summer, we were beach bums at least once a week - we all LOVED having fun in the sun, and Grandma Kathy enjoyed a morning to herself).  We had so much fun that we fell asleep sitting up.  Michael is leaning against the side of his crib sound asleep.  The boys are still in cribs with containment cubicles (crib tents).  I have sown and resown those bad boys until they are mere tattered shreds held together with a hope and a prayer.  Michael insists that he gets a "full zip" every night and that I zip it "even downer."  I am thinking about converting their beds to toddler beds the next time Bob is home for a week or so (sometimes Mamas need reinforcements).
When the boys were little, we loved taking their picture in the big chair.  We tried this year, and this is the best bad picture of the bunch.
Most of the pictures we took look a little something like this.  
Michael just chillin' with Papa.  Since he was a tiny little man, Michael has loved his Papa like nobody's business (I think the feeling is mutual).
When Bob drives to Kentucky, he always tries to bring Papa along for the ride to help share the driving duties.  One of the perks of the summer trip is baseball.  Here the two peas in a pod are attending a Reds game.  I asked Bob to send me a picture of the two of them at the game.  I think it was 90000 degrees at the game and that might explain why neither of them look too happy.
As patriotic Americans, Bob and I have a civic duty to bring our boys up to be good citizens which is annually celebrated with a parade and fireworks.  Since leaving Arlington, we haven't been to a 4th of July parade, and I sure do miss it.  Hopefully, next year I can convince Bob that we need both a parade and fireworks (he made me choose one or the other this year).
When we moved to Jacksonville, everyone told us how awesome fireworks at the beach are.  Sadly for us, this year, due to budget cuts and that stupid housing crisis which drops property values and thus tax revenues, there were no fireworks at the beach. 
The city of Jacksonville puts on a display over the river near downtown, so we parked in a parking lot nearby and watched the show.  It reminded me of hanging out in parking lots to see the Ranger's 4th of July fireworks when we were kids, it was nice to keep the tradition going, but next year, I want the beach).
The boys had a great time.  They had snacks and were so happy to be hanging out with a parking lot full of patriotic Americans.
Of course, Grandma & Papa came with us (we had to learn that firework patriotism from somewhere), and we enjoyed every hot second of it.
James spent the majority of the time racing.  That kid loves to run.  I have no idea where he picked up that gene, but I'm glad that we were able to contain him between the white lines.  After the show was over, we should have applied some of those racing skills to getting strapped in and out of that parking lot.  I'm pretty sure we spent more time waiting to get out of the parking lot than watching fireworks.  My fingers are crossed that they bring back beach fireworks this year, and if not, we may just have to go to the beach and light a few fireworks ourselves.
One of the best parts of summer is that the zoo splash park is open.  The kids love splashing.  Unlike most moms, we head to the splash park first then cut out when everyone else starts to show up and dry out as we look at the animals.
The boys loved hanging out with all the sea creatures.  Michael was obsessed with the dolphin blow holes.
One of the hardest things to learn at the splash park is that you can not run.  I'm pretty sure my kids don't generally walk anywhere, so getting them to slow down at the splash park is quite a challenge.  Thankfully, there are lots of teen volunteers to yell at them as well.
I have always loved sea turtles and ocean life in general, but I had no idea that by watching the Turtle movie put out by SeaWorld that I would spark a three man turtle love fest.  The boys are really into sea turtles.  We talk about their nests at the beach, we pretend to be sea turtles and wiggle our way through the sand to the ocean, we reenact the sea turtle ride from SeaWorld, and we refer to our mom as "Mommy Sea Turtle."  Ryan especially likes to be a baby sea turtle, and I guess you can't always be Princess Leia.
While the sting ray looks really cool, it is also very slippery.  We had a couple of unfortunate incidents on that sting ray, and let's just say, they really stung.
Dolphin rider and a whale of a tail.  We had a summertime love of the movie Dolphin Tale.  The poor dolphin, Winter, loses her tail in a fishing net and the rescue people figure out how to make her a prosthetic tail.  At the zoo, there is a whole herd of Winters.
My baby sea turtle.
For now, the kids are still bathing in the same tub at the same time.  James loves the shower, and he will  stay in for hours.  The other day, I had two in one bath tub and one in the other and before bath time was over, they were all in the same tub.  That tub sure is getting crowded, though.
Michael is a quirky kid.  He has certain likes, dislikes, and insane habits that I might have to admit he got from me.  He likes things to be in their place.  He will fight me every step of the way when I change where certain toys are kept.  For Christmas, my parents got me a great organizational cubicle thing.  I must have fought Michael for days on which toys went in which tubs.  Thankfully, we have come to a mutual agreement that only a few things have moved locations.  Perhaps the strangest thing he does is smell hair.  Too much Tarzan watching, but this little loon likes to get up close and sniff with purpose (I think he substituted sniffing for biting - which is a good thing, but we have to address that sniff before he goes to school).
I have raised three dino nuts.  The boys love dinosaurs.  This summer, the t-rex named Sue was at the MOSH in Jacksonville.  The kids and I went a couple of times to see her.  They love going to the dinosaur museum.  Most of these pictures are somewhat blurry as the shutter speed on my iPhone is definitely not triplet friendly.
Digging for fossils.  What's better than big ol' bones and sand?
Back in the phone booth.  I keep trying to get the kids to sit at the lunch counter and pose for a picture, but they will have none of it, so I guess settling for a phone booth is an adequate compromise.
Sue's biggest fans take another look.
Disney Junior made an appearance on DirecTV this summer, and the boys embraced it like a long lost pal.  We adore Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and here is our version of a club house.  Let's just say, that Mom is not a very good clubhouse engineer and we have no couch cushions that are removable - that's pretty tragic when you think about it, no pillow forts.  We gave away all those couches with cushions when we moved.  Oh well, sounds like pillow forts at grandma's are in order.
Ryan, as ever, on the move.  When I look at our pictures, I notice that every picture of Ryan seems to be the back of his head or blurry.  He is in constant motion.  No wonder I'm tired at night.
Fancy clubhouse complete with comfy chairs and a "picnic."  This is the life.
In July, Bob and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary.  We took advantage of Jim & Kathy's generous offer to watch the boys and spent a weekend in Savannah.  We had a great room overlooking the river with a small balcony to admire the view from.  It was so much fun (although when I made Bob take a second trip around on the sights of the city tour bus, I thought he might revolt).  Our trip did have somewhat of a rocky start.  Jim & Bob were out on the road, so Jim dropped Bob off in Savannah, and I borrowed Jim's car to meet him there.  About 5 blocks from the hotel, the car died, and I learned the hard way that you should put the hood up when you are stuck in traffic & waiting for a tow truck.  I never even thought to do that, but my knight in shining armor booked it from the hotel to where I was and saved me from my distress.  It ended up working out just fine, and Jim came to pick us up and the Firestone guys gave us a ride to our hotel.  It was a great time, and we were glad that the car didn't poop out on them halfway to Sue's house.
My soulmate enjoying a beer as we waited for dad.  Gotta love waiting with cocktails.
In July, Bob took James and Michael on their baseball date night.  Michael loved clapping along and was really into his hotdog and popcorn.  I'm pretty sure that he ended up scoring some popcorn off of the neighboring dad if I remember the story properly.  Who could resist this cutie?
James was the most challenging baseball attendee.  He is a doer.  If Star Wars is on TV, he will go get his Star Wars figures, Doc McStuffins brings out the doctor kit, and baseball brings out the run.  This picture makes me think "watch out boys, he's gonna blow!"
James on the move.  He is sporting Ryan's "Jackson-wheel Suuunns" souvenir cap.
James picked out batting gloves for his souvenir.  Bob said he spent the whole night running up to people and telling them "I've got two hands, TWO HANDS!" (Which is sometimes what I feel like yelling, haha).