Wednesday, August 27, 2008

City Life

We recently visited my sister Christina and her husband Tee Jay in New Jersey. It was a whirlwind visit - very fun, but also very tiring! (And I know everyone we saw in NJ and NYC can attest to that!!)

Chris and Tee live about an hour outside NYC, so we thought it would be fun to take the kids into the big city for a day. Shawn has always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty (and I have never seen it either), so we discussed that possibility. Then Jamie mentioned one day before our trip that he wanted to see the Statue of Liberty someday (apparently he saw it on the Wonder Pets). That cinched the deal for us! Between Christina and I, we came up with a convoluted schedule involving a train ride from NJ into Penn Station, subway ride to Battery Park, and ferry ride over to Liberty Island. I think Jamie was the only person out of the seven of us going who fully enjoyed every bit of the travel! Thankfully, Christina's best friend lives in NYC and was able to be our tour guide when navigating the city (props to Heather and Ben - you're the best for devoting an entire Saturday to our crazy family!).

Seeing the Statue of Liberty up close was astounding. I never realized how big she is! Jamie was in awe of the statue and begged us to take a photo of him with her (he posed the photo himself - Coke bottle and all!). After Liberty Island, we came back by ferry and walked to Ground Zero, which is only a few blocks away. Unfortunately, you could not see anything because it is all closed off since the plans are in work to finally build the memorial. It was still a somber moment to realize how much destruction was wrought on September 11. Just like the Statue of Liberty, I never realized how much space Ground Zero encompassed.

From there, we headed back to the subway to make our way to Times Square. (And for those of you have never had the pleasure of traveling around the NYC subway system, it is most definitely NOT stroller-friendly! Never mind two strollers-three small children-two pregnant women-friendly!) Times Square was its typical hustle-bustle crowds everywhere. The kids were in awe - I don't think they have ever seen that many people at one time before! By this time, it was getting late, so we only had time to do one more thing. And with three children that turned out to be Toys 'R Us! It was pretty cool, I must say. The store has a ferris wheel inside! With each car being a different theme - M&M's, Barbie, Sponge Bob. Jamie and Clare loved every inch of the store. Even Simon was fascinated with everything we saw (and loved playing with the big Thomas train table). I would say the only downfall to the biggest Toys 'R Us we've ever seen is that we walked out of there with Tickle Me Elmo (Clare would not be dissuaded from her choice of toys!).

After a late night and exhausting train ride back to NJ, we had a lazy Sunday morning, went to church with my sister, then met her husband at the Staten Island Zoo, where he is the coordinator for special events and volunteers. Other than during our trip to Florida, we have not made it to the zoo this summer, so Jamie and Clare were excited to go to the zoo. The Staten Island Zoo is a small zoo (perfect for a relaxing afternoon), but with Tee Jay working there, we were able to do some neat stuff. We received a hands-on experience with some of the animals, such as a ball python, Madagascar hissing cockroach (yeah, you can just put that one back in its box), and a monitor (aka BIG lizard!). We were also able to watch the zookeepers feed some of the animals, including mice to some really big snakes and a 5'6" moray eel. And then there was the excitement of Jamie playing with Tee Jay's zoo radio and stating, "The bobcat has escaped" to the zoo! Two seconds later, a voice comes over the radio asking, "Repeat that transmission, please?" Oh, Jamie! Thankfully Tee Jay was able to clear everything up very quickly and no damage done. After the zoo, we headed back to their apartment for a delicious home-cooked dinner.

We had a great time with Christina and Tee Jay. It was awesome to see my pregnant sister (whose belly is as big as mine!) and talk baby talk. This was our last summer fling, and school starts soon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One, Two, Three...

Clare can count to 10! Popped out of her mouth one day. Her vocabulary continues to rapidly expand, and she is doing a great job forming sentences. I love her top three new sentences - "Fight me, Mama," (as in brandishing a sword at me), "Go away, Simon," and "Leave me alone, Simon" (poor Simon!). There is a big BUT, though... unless you hear her say the same word over and over (and can realize in context what she is referring to), she can be very difficult to understand. Her consonants are very soft, especially her final consonants, and her speech is somewhat slurred. Clare receives one hour of group speech therapy in school (which was cut to one half-hour during summer session), and we have noticed great results, but I still feel that she needs something more. I also don't necessarily want to increase her services at school which would cause Clare to be removed more often from her classroom. Therefore, we are looking into private speech therapy outside of school. Lucky for me, I have some great friends with some great connections! (You know who you are!) We are hoping to get her in with the best shortly (fingers crossed). In the meantime, we are content hearing that sweet little voice count, "One, two, three..."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Super Jamie

Poor Jamie has had a rough summer. (Not really, but I think he thinks so.) The weather here has been extremely erratic, to put it mildly. Almost daily thunderstorms, hail, even a tornado just north of us, and lots and lots of rain. Our outdoor outings have been few, and we don't even get the luxury of lazy afternoons and evenings spent in the backyard due to the temperamental weather. We met friends at a playground the other night, even though it had rained on and off all day and was threatening more rain. We just had to get out of the house! Jamie was in ecstasy, being able to run, climb, and yell to his heart's content!

But we have had a busy summer as well. Since Clare had a five-week summer school session, I wanted Jamie to stay active and involved as well and our days not just be wrapped around Clare's drop-off and pick-up. He is enrolled in some programs at our local children's museums, and those have been a big hit. Each program has a different focus - forts, muds 'n suds, frogs, fun boy stuff like that! Jamie also just completed a week of Vacation Bible School at our church. This was his first time going to VBS. He was a little nervous at first because there was only one other child he knew there (and that boy was in a different class), but by the end of the week, Jamie enjoyed himself and is already talking about next year. Jamie starts soccer in our town league in a couple weeks. Shawn took him shopping for his cleats and shin pads, and Jamie begs to go outside and practice daily.

Today we finally had our appointment with the allergist. When Jamie's seasonal allergies kicked in big time this past spring/early summer, it took four allergy medications to get his symptoms under control. The pediatrician referred us to the pediatric allergist, but the waiting list was months long. So today was the day. After going over Jamie's history with the doctor, they did the scratch test on Jamie's back, testing for 22 environmental allergens. Jamie tested positive for 18 of those! He is allergic to all the trees, grass, weeds, dust, cats, dogs, and one type of mold. (The four allergens he was not allergic to were the other four types of mold they test for.) His back instantly was filled with angry-looking red welts and hives. He had to lay on his stomach for 20 minutes without touching his back. It was a painful struggle, but Jamie was a trooper. Right now, we are adding one more medication to Jamie's list and keeping him on his allergy medications year-long (we used to just give them to him seasonally). The doctor advised us to wait until next spring and see how he does through the remainder of the year until the start of allergy-season. We were warned that his allergies would most likely get worse, since he had such strong reactions at such a young age. Allergy shots are highly likely in his future, but I want to hold off as long as we can for those (once started, they involve 4-5 months of weekly shots followed by 3-5 years of monthly shots). I am not surprised that Jamie has allergies (given his severe symptoms this year), but I was shocked by the number of allergies. Like everything else, we're going to take it one step at a time and see what happens.

Next comes kindergarten! Jamie's open house is in two weeks, and then he starts right after Labor Day. He has seen his best friend from school over the summer (they just had a marathon six-hour playdate yesterday!), but I know he is ready to get back to school and seeing his friends there.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Blueberry Picking

The Rules of Blueberry Picking:
1 - Simon: Eat more than you can pick.
2 - Clare: Pick only the green berries.
3 - Jamie: Fill your bucket as high as you can then complain that you were given the smallest bucket there.
4 - Tree: Spend more time taking photos than picking.
5 - Shawn: Not only pick blueberries, but pick garlic, zucchini, and red potatoes.

We have not made it strawberry picking yet, but had a blast blueberry picking at our favorite organic blueberry farm. After picking blueberries and veggies, we enjoyed a picnic lunch (complete with the most fabulous blueberry lemonade) and watched the helicopters from the nearby fair. Then we stumbled across the Discovery Center of the Great Bay Estuary. One of those diamonds in the rough - the kids were able to hold horseshoe crabs, green crabs, lobsters, all kinds of marine animals collected from the local tide pools. So cool! Enjoy our day! (The last photo is Baby Bonita's progress - s/he was feeling a little left out.)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Monkey Boy

Simon turned 15 months old on August 1. Where did my baby go? Jamie and Clare were both a few months older when I became pregnant with the next child, so I was totally with it during their transition from baby to toddler (as in not completely fatigued and feeling like I got hit by a semi every day). (Okay, Clare more made this transition over the age of 2, so Simon was already born, and I was almost fully functioning again!) But with Simon, I feel as if I completely missed the day when he decided that he was no longer a baby. I am sure I was in the bathroom during this point, but I wish someone had told me it was coming, because I would have popped my head out for a little bit at least.

We have two words to describe Simon in our house - "sweetness" and "trouble." He is the sweetest baby. He loves to crawl up to me and lay his head on my leg. He loves to cuddle and snuggle and has the brightest smile. It stretches from ear to ear, displaying all eight of his shiny little teeth. He throws his head back when he laughs and loves to be involved in all that Jamie and Clare do, much to their frequent dismay - I hear lots of "no, baby" (from Clare) and "no, bubba" (from Jamie). However, (a BIG however!) Simon is definitely a mischief-maker. Although he does not walk yet (thank goodness because I truly fear that day), he is a fast crawler and is starting to become a fast cruiser as well. More frightening, though, Simon is a climber. In and out of the bathtub. Up the stairs (but has not figured out down except by lunging, so he has fallen down the stairs 3 or 4 times already - no serious injuries yet!). Climbs onto toys to get on top of other toys. One day, at the pediatrician's, Simon was safely strapped (or so I thought) into the double stroller, which was parked next to the examination table. I was helping Clare with something, and when I turned around, Simon was sitting on top of the table. I am kind of glad I missed how he was able to crawl out of his buckles and climb onto the table. He sat there, so proud of himself, with his trademark grin.
Simon is definitely making his mark as the third child (following in the footsteps of some other third children in our family!). Independent, strong-willed, determined, and as sweet as can be.