Making Friends

Today I brought the boys to Mrs. B's Coffee House at Cavalry Church. They have a 2-story playland for the kids and a coffee shop for the mom's. What a beautiful marriage! I've only gone once before and Jackson enjoyed himself playing there. We've been cooped up recently so we decided to give it another go today. A few mom's from our church were planning to go too, so I was looking forward to some fellowship and time out!

Jackson ran right on in and began climbing around like a monkey. I was holding Liam and stepped back out to the coffee shop to grab a snack for Liam. When I came back I saw Jackson had apparently made a little buddy. He and another boy were tailing each other back and forth. There were probably 15 other kids in there, but these two just took to one another. It was cute! So I let Liam down to toddle around for a few minutes and when I looked up to spot Jack again I couldn't. I peeked out to the table where we set our things and sure enough, there he was - with his new friend! I went over to discover Jackson had invited his new bud to join him in having a snack. I packed lunch for the boys and some extra snacks, and it was all displayed on the table for the choosing. Too funny! I asked Jack who his friend was, and in typical 3-year-old-ese, he was, "I don't know!" I asked the little boy his name and all I got was, "E." Then shortly after he said, "F." OK, so we've got Jackson and E-F and I don't know if I have enough food to entertain our new guest with so I'm looking around for his mom. I spotted another mom looking around, we made eye contact and she came over. It was indeed E-F's mom! She apologized and we introduced ourselves. She asked her son what his new friend's name was just like Jackson said, he said, "I don't know!" How funny! We did learn that E-F's name was in fact Elias. ;) I sorted out what food could be shared with Elias and from that point on they were inseparable! Before Elias left, I was sure to exchange info with his mom and I couldn't believe it, they live a town away from us. I'll be sure to make a future playdate with Jackson's new friend. He does have a handful of little buddies, but no boys that are just his age. I think he could use a friend like Elias. :) His mom seemed really nice too. Heehee! Isn't it funny how stay-at-home-mom's make friends!

Oh, and I just had to add this... Right before we were leaving, I was talking with a friend and Jackson ran over to me, upset, because he hurt his arm. I asked what happened and he said a boy did it. I told him it was probably an accident, it's hard for me to judge since I didn't see what happened... So we left and the boys napped once home. When Jackson woke up I wanted to further prod him about what happened. I asked him to show me what the boy did, so Jack came over and he pushed me. I told him that's not something we ever want to do because it can hurt people and their feelings and it isn't nice. Here I'm assuming this boy was bullying my son, then it occurred to me to ask what was going on BEFORE Jackson got pushed, so I asked him. Are you ready for this??? I asked Jack, "So what happened right before the boy pushed you?" He replied, "I was pushing him!" Ummmm... I was not expecting that! I know it's wrong, but I kind giggled in my head, but then reminded Jackson that we are to be kind to others and love our neighbors.

Well it's no surprise now! Justin is 30! And shhhh! (He has his first gray hair!) ;)

Justin's family and I worked hard the past month planning a surprise party for him. He is tough to surprise! Not like me, I point blank ask question repeatedly, trying to pry out information... But Justin? He's just plain difficult. It started with asking him where he wanted to celebrate. Justin's family always goes out to dinner, usually somewhere in Montgomeryville because there are many places to chose from and it's an easy meeting location for all of us. Where does Justin say he wants to go? Allentown. Not anywhere NEAR Montgomeryville. Humph... Sooo Justin's dad worked out an idea and told him he had a job at the catering hall that he had to check back on after dinner. Not at all out of the ordinary, so Justin obliged that he'd *deal* with something around there. Macaroni Grill it is. We tried to work things out to have him go to the catering hall (where the party was!) but he was being too difficult. It was decided a kidnapping was in order. Very fitting for him.

So his brothers, Josh and John, sister Grace and friend Brian pulled what seemed to have been a professional Justin-knapping. Justin drove our family to Macaroni Grill and we parked. As soon as Justin got out of the car, they parked us in, Brian jumped out, punched Justin in the stomach (that was not in the plan, but it worked), blind-folded him, and threw him in the car, then took off. It happened so fast, luckily Justin didn't have time to get Jackson out of his carseat, nor did the boys see what happened. Jackson just asked, "What happened to Daddy?!" Then I finally got to break it to him that we were having a big party after all for Daddy at Poppy's work. Jackson is not good at keeping secrets, so there was no way I was going to trust him with that one! So off we went to the party!

It was wonderful to see all of Justin's friends and some family there to celebrate! We had fun! It was busy with all the children, but nice and laid back. Very Justin-esque. I even got the nerve to go up in front of everyone to share what I loved about my husband. I'm not sure if he heard me, or everything I even said, so I'll share it again. Happy Birthday Justin, I love you Babe!

Justin is a wonderful and husband. We've been married 4 years now and there has never been a dull moment. I think we can attribute some of that to our two boys, but them aside, Justin's youthful personality always keeps life fun. He is always very supportive of me and encouraging in how I care for our boys and how I keep our home, even when it's a mess! He doesn't laugh at some of my ideas that I think others would...

He is a wonderful father. Justin is the perfect balance of fun and authority. I love how our boys look up to him and love him. The know when it's time for Justin to come home and begin to get restless and are ready to tackle him when he comes in the door. He is so infectious that even the neighborhood kids come to our door asking if he can come out to play.

Justin is a faithful son and brother. He calls often to share his political views, eduction views, and of course sports talk. I often mistake him for a football or hockey manager during some of the overheard conversations.

He is a hard worker. Justin wakes up well before the sun has risen to go into work so he can make it home to spend time with his family. He does his best to assure his work doesn't get in the way of family time, and makes sure he's home in time in the evening to have a family dinner and spend time with the boys before bed. He and Jackson spend lots of time doing their bedtime routine of telling funny made of stories and praying that no Sasquatches or Zurg from Toy Story come.

He is a good friend. He is so loyal. Looking out at everyone today reminds me how Justin stays true to his friendships. No matter what season of life he is in, he still keeps in contact with all of his friends who have crossed his path through his 30 years.

I feel so blessed that God chose Justin for my husband. I love you, Just. Happy Birthday.

Of course I never take enough photos... I have a few, so enjoy... The last one would be our son Jackson after he snuck off to the bar and took out a couple dozen glasses, filled them with water and sodas from the fountain. Can we say bartender in the future?

Happy Birthday to our sweet baby boy Liam! How on earth are you one already?!

We had a great time celebrating in Stowe! Sadly it was a rainy day, but that didn't stop us from having fun. We celebrated by going to the Vermont Teddy Bear Store and letting Liam pick out his very own teddy (thank you Mimi and Poppy!) and Jackson got to do one of their Build a Bear style teddy's. Of course he chose a dinosaur. ;)

It was so cute lining up all the bears and watching Liam pick out the one he wanted. He knew right away, pointing to the black and white "cow" bear with the cow bell. He walked over to pick him up. So classic! Jackson also had to be in on the fun and enjoyed making his own stuffed animal. He picked out a dinosaur and got to put in a heart and watch him get stuffed. He named him on his own and see the concentration on his face as he works hard to chose the right name!

We all had a special family dinner that night, ravioli and meatballs made by me. I figured it'd be a fun dinner for Liam to eat, and he did love it! He also loved his chocolate cake... all over his face! :)

The Stats:
Weight: 19lb 8oz
Length: 29 1/2 in.
Head: 18 3/4 in.

The Hobbies:
Whacking any object against any other object to make loud noises.
Taking laps around the kitchen island while holding two of Jackson's smaller toys.
Climbing any chance he can get, up on Jack's step stool, up the stairs, on top of baskets, on top of toys... you get the idea.
Putting small things inside bigger things. Liam especially enjoys dropping things like puzzle pieces in the slots of Jackson's new Melissa and Doug wooden mailbox. Jackson's always finding interesting "mail." Also included I should add his mouth... We found a small tinker toy part he was "holding" in his mouth for who knows how long. I'm grateful he didn't swallow it or choke on it. How he handled it like a piece of gum is beyond me. It's nerve wracking keeping Jack's smaller, multiple piece toys away from Liam.
Pulling his diapers off the shelf.
Pushing his Radio Flyer walker
Eating - Liam is a garbage disposal. In one sitting he will typically out eat Jackson.
Following Jackson around like a shadow.

Overall, Liam's personality is SO sweet. He's the huggiest, smoochiest baby ever. He loves to give Jackson goodnight (and goodnap) kisses and kisses his daddy when he gets home from work. He's just so sweet! He has a more quiet temperament in comparison to Jackson. He will sit and try to figure out his toys, and will quietly sit and eat his meals, or sit and look at books on your lap. It's always fascinating to see how different the boys are. They are going to have a fun relationship with one another as they get older! I'm sure they will continually challenge one another.

So the other day Jackson dictated to me his birthday wishes for Liam. Enjoy!
From Jackson:
"I love you Liam. And I want you to be nice to me, Liam. And everything... Boys be's nice sometimes, and some boys go to jail." Me, "Why do the boys have to go to jail?"
Jackson: "Because they got shots right on their knee."
So what else do you have to say to Liam?"
"I want you to be very nice. I love you dear Liam," he finished.

So what do I make of this? I thiiiink that Jackson recalls Liam crying after getting his shots on his thigh at the pediatrician and he is not fond of watching his baby brother in pain. He doesn't initially show concern over Liam while these things happen, his action is to hang on the door and continue to try to escape while the shot is being given. So I think he wants the doctor to go to jail for hurting his brother? Maybe? No? ;)

Some photos from Birthday Boy's morning, opening his gift from Jackson, with lots of help from Big Bro!

Well we've been home for a week, but in my usual fashion, I've fallen behind on my blogging (don't mind my post-dating!). Not upholding well to that resolution so far! We were fortunate to join all of the Isabell family for a week vacation in Stowe, VT. We stayed in Dad I's cousin's, Steve and Mary's, rental home. It was so gorgeous! The last time Justin and I could join them was when Jackson was 6 weeks old. (That was an eye opening *vacation*!) We had to sit out last year because of how close I was to Liam's birth...

So this year... It worked out better than I anticipated. Vacationing with 2 children 3 and under is, well, not a ton like vacation... What can I say? It was great to have Josh and Bethany, Grace, Jon and Emily, and of course Mimi (who Jackson renamed "Mimsa" while there) and Poppy to help share watching the tots. It was busy! In between nap times, we ventured out often for various fun things. We all went cross country skiing one day at the Trappe Family Lodge. I was anxious about that. We brought up a wooden LL Bean sled Mimi had given Jackson for Christmas when he was one. We planned to strap that to Justin and he'd pull the boys along. We didn't think about what could happen going downhill, though! Fortunately for Justin, the lodge rented out these really neat ski sleds. I looked them up to see what they're called and the technical term used is a "pulk." It was really neat. It safely harnessed around Justin's waist and the attachment to the sled was rigid so it wouldn't come crashing into Justin once going downhill. It all worked out great. So great in fact that the boys both fell asleep while we were skiing! For like and HOUR! I was floored. Poor Justin couldn't stop though because once he did Liam would stir and we wanted them to rest since we were out during naptime. It was hilarious while they were awake though. Jackson would shout, "Mush, mush Daddy!" Justin wasn't laughing once we had to go uphill though. That was work... for him... I felt a little bit bad for him. ;)

We got out just the two of us for a ski day on the mountain another day. Justin skis and I snowboard, so we look like an interesting pair out together. I feel like I should learn to ski. It seems more "grown up" or something. But then I decide to embrace my youthfulness (or what's left of it!) and go for it again. It had been 5 years since I'd last gone snowboarding. I used to do it a ton when I was a teen and when I lived in Maine and Boston. But now that I have kids and am on the verge of the big 3-0, I'm afraid I'm going to severely injure myself doing this. And that wouldn't be good! Justin, of course, is like an expert skier. Having lived in Utah, semi-professionally skiing for some time, it's like walking to him. I was so nervous getting off the lift, but apparently it's akin to riding a bike, and I picked it right back up. Of course Justin could ski backwards faster than I was comfortable going forward, but I somewhat kept up with him. It was fun to feel youthful again, until that night and the next day with my muscles got very mad at me for making them do things they haven't done in 5 years.

So I'd have to say those were a couple of the highlights from our trip! Our little boy turned one while we were there, too, and that is entitled to it's own posting, so on to that... Oh, but first some photos! (and while Justin is crazy enough to wear a t-shirt in freezing cold weather, this is not one of those instances here, it was actually around 60 degrees!)

Oh, and Mary, (Jusitn's dad's cousin) had these kid size cross country skis from her kids that she so kindly gave us for Jackson. Check out the little man trying them out!

Our special boy

Jackson is so much fun. I just had to say it! I don't know what life would be like without him!

I also had to share a picture of his newest painting, all done himself minus the blue heart which I had salvaged a blob of paint into. He took it from there! If anyone is interested in this fine work of art please contact his agent to discuss payment options.

Happy New Year!

Wow! Hello 2008! Last year flew by for us... I *think* I can contribute that to having an addition in the family? We were richly blessed in the past year. I think the theme of 2007 was Family for us. We are very grateful for our family and love them very much! In this next year to come we have a couple resolutions we'd like to stick to. Justin has a some personal ones and I'll do my best to encourage him along... For me, personally, I'd like to have more of a routine. With two young ones that can be hard, but lately I've really felt like I'm missing out on something. My prayer time has been suffering as I get going in the morning taking care of the boys and the day just swallows me from that point on. I want to be more intentional this year with getting together with other moms and growing friendships with them. Also, as a family, I want for us to be more green. Ya know, more environmentally conscious...

So how does one start living differently?! I guess I just jump right in and begin by going to bed earlier and waking up earlier to get a jump start on my day. If I were to wake at 6am and have a shower, breakfast and prayer time, that gives me until 7-7:30 when the boys wake up. I've already had a huge headstart. Secondly, I want to begin going to a Mops group (Moms of Preschoolers). My friend Lisa goes to one and has invited me on many occasions. It's time to get it together and go! There are a few mamas that I go to church with who have been on my heart often and I plan to get my act together and make some phone calls!

My last resolution is to live more green. We've already made some changes in our home by changing most lights over to CFL's. As the regular ones dye out we replace them with the more energy efficient lights. We cloth diaper Liam to reduce the impact a) non-decomposing diapers in landfills and b) no chemicals against his skin. We're trying to "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" more as Jack Johnson's song says. And when I grocery shop, I use totes rather than getting plastic bags, but I'm not very good at that... Half the time I forget them in the car, and then during check out I remember them, but there's no way I can run out to the car with 2 kidlets to grab them real quick. I love using them when I remember them and it's awesome that I get 5 cents off for each bag I use at some stores! I was browsing one of my favorite blogs, 5 Minutes for Moms, and low behold there's a contest for really cool and stylish shopping totes from minusbags. I hope I win these! You should try to enter to win too, and if you don't, get some totes anyway to reduce your affect on the environment! According to the EPA, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the U.S. annually — and an estimated 100 billion are thrown away each year. Most clog landfills, but many end up snagged on trees and fences as an ugly reminder of our disposable society. And most plastic grocery bags are not biodegradable. They actually break down into smaller and smaller toxic particles that pollute our oceans, rivers, lakes and soil. Every year, thousands of animals, particularly marine mammals, choke to death after mistaking discarded plastic bags for food. You can enter to win a chance for 3 totes. I think if I had more stylish totes I'd remember them! The other thing of it is the green totes I bought from my local shopping market are made in China. I'd much prefer to support US Made products from here on out...

Speaking of US Made versus China made makes me remember how I wanted to note that we are also trying to support non-China made toys in our home. My dad sent me a clip with a smart warning against lead in children's toys. Though it's a little late for Christmas, there's still a good message to be taken from this! Thanks, Dad, for caring for your grandkidlets the way you! :)

In all seriousness, ever since the recalls from this past summer, I've really begun to rethink the toys in our home for our boys. Liam is a bit of a mouthy one, and has me more concerned. Jackson was never the mouthy type, but I still want "healthy" toys in our home. So we gathered up the plastic-y made in China baby toys that Liam typically goes to, boxed them up and stuck them down the basement. For Christmas we asked for more wooden toys (made in US or Germany) and tried to avoid anything from China. I think it's hard to avoid it in some circumstances, though. For instance, Jackson is 3 and has more preferences, so to speak, than Liam does. He also doesn't "eat" his toys, so we kept some things in his room that are off-limits to Liam. I think we are in a good place now with our toy selection being more safe now. So in the spirit of New Year's resolutions, I want to more carefully select what toys come in to our home and assure they are not toxic. ;)