April 6, 2014

Home, Sweet Home, Tuscaloosa!

So we just got back from our longest vacation to date...five nights and six days!  The girls did so, so well, and it was so refreshing for us all to get outta Dodge for a little while.

We left last Saturday morning, about 10 minutes after 8am, and I was really proud of starting out on schedule!  We drove to GG's house and enjoyed a wonderful lunch and some sweet family time, and then we headed to Tuscaloosa.  We have been looking forward to introducing the girls to The University of Alabama campus since before they were born.  We were so grateful for such a wonderful homecoming!

On the way to the Quad, the center of campus, we swung by the business building...HOME!

Unfortunately, Hubby didn't realize that he only captured half of Baby A's face in each of the pictures he took.  Sigh.  Guess we'll just have to go back!

The day was a little on the crisp side, but the trees and flowers were in bloom.  It was gorgeous!!!

My favorite picture!
 The girls loved hearing the bells at Denny Chimes.

And they stopped to smell lots and lots of flowers!

In front of the President's Mansion...

More flowers in front of the main library...

Love this close-up of B!
 And then we headed back to the car for one more stop...

A few months ago, my BFF emailed me a picture of a plaque on campus with Hubby's name, a credit for having started the women's soccer program.  When we pulled up in front of the newly constructed Champions Plaza, we had no idea how HUGE it would be!!!  WOW!!!

One more picture in Champions my Bama Belles!!!

A sweet close-up of Baby A!
We went to dinner at one of our old favorites, Cypress Inn, on the Warrior River.  The girls had their first taste of catfish...they loved it!

The following morning, we headed to breakfast at another favorite hang-out, the Waysider.  I remember the first time Janko took me there, after we'd been dating a few weeks.  It's a place we always revisit on every single trip, so it was really special to finally introduce the girls.  

B gave her breakfast an enthusiastic "two thumbs up"!
Before we packed up to head to New Orleans, our ultimate destination, we made one final stop at The University Club, where Mommy and Daddy got married.  WOW!!!

For a brief time, this building served as the state capitol of Alabama.
Fast-forward a few days, we stopped again in T-town on our way home from New Orleans.  We had a fantastic dinner at our then-favorite Mexican restaurant Wednesday night.  Thursday morning, we headed to downtown Northport, the next little town over, for breakfast at the famous City Cafe.  This place is such a dive...but it's THE BEST!!! 

This picture was taken on the block before the City Cafe.  I love the verbiage on the window..."Real Living"...yes, indeed!

Some of the posters on the walls date back more than 30 do the waitresses!

Heading out after an amazing breakfast...

And I couldn't resist taking pictures of a couple of signs.

Notice they open at 4am!!!
It was such a blessing to be back "HOME".  Pictures from New Orleans to come!

March 23, 2014

Sleeping "In"!!!

I can’t even begin to complain.   

KNOCK ON WOOD (as I do each and every time I mention the girls’ sleep habits), my babies have been excellent sleepers from very early on.  Over the past year or so, bedtime has gotten even earlier…usually around 6:30pm!...but they are up BRIGHT and EARLY – religiously – at 6:30am.  Every.  Single.  Day.

Occasionally, Baby A will sleep past her “OK to Wake” clock turning green at 6:30.  I don’t think Baby B has missed the mark more than a handful of times in her tenure, though.

Still, I had the idea to try the girls “sleeping in” after the time change.  They are SO tired at bedtime…and I can’t imagine them going to bed any earlier than 6:30!  I adjusted their clock to a 7am wake-up. 

KNOCK ON WOOD AGAIN…so far, so good!

Baby B is excited to get up, as usual, and Baby A is still all snuggly under the covers.  I can’t tell the extra sleep is affecting them one way or the other, which is a great thing.

The change is affecting this mama, though.  I can’t say how luxurious it feels to have that extra 30 minutes in the mornings!!! 

Unfortunately, during the week, the girls sleeping in until 7 means they miss seeing their daddy before he goes to work.  But the extra 30 minutes gives me more time to make lunches, if need be…or shower AND dry my hair…or just chill out before the chaos of the day begins.  And a few times I’ve slept until shortly before 7 myself…the latest I’ve slept in YEARS!

On school days, we do find ourselves rushing just a bit more than usual…but the countertop-height barstools in our new house mean that the girls can safely sit and watch me cook breakfast, which substitutes for our usual snuggles / book-reading in the morning.

It’s pretty awesome what a difference just 30 minutes can make!

March 20, 2014

How to Get Your Kid NOT to Like Jellybeans

It wasn’t intentional.  But I’m certainly not going to beg you to eat jellybeans.  They’re not exactly prominent on the food guide pyramid…and…if you don’t eat them, there’s more for Mommy.

For Christmas I got a beautiful jar of Jelly Belly jellybeans.  It was really an awesome gift…in addition to the beautiful jar…it was an edible, delectable confection that didn’t have to be consumed in the midst of all the holiday goodies we always have on hand.

The girls were drawn to the beautiful colors, though, and they did NOT want to wait until a beautiful spring day to break open the seal.  I held them off until some time in January, when I finally acquiesced to opening the jar.

I didn’t go through a very detailed process in selecting approximately 6 jellybeans as part of their afternoon snack (in addition to nuts and pretzels, if I recall).  Apparently the girls each landed a cinnamon flavor Jelly Belly, though…and those are a bit on the spicy side.

They were not impressed.  At all.

A week or so later, before I had polished off the jar (!!!), I asked the girls if they wanted more jellybeans.  They both declined.  I promised I would be on the lookout for any mean flavors, but they refused.

OK.  Suit yourselves!  More for Mommy!

For Valentine’s Day, I ran upon the cutest miniature boxes of Jelly Belly jellybeans, and I bought one for each of the girls as the treat in their little heart-shaped bags.  They didn’t much react…but I didn't think much of it, figuring maybe they were taken with the cool new sunglasses I gave them.

Later that week, I opened one of the little boxes and again awarded them six jellybeans.  I read the flavors on the back of the box, assuring them there weren’t any spicy beans to be found.

I think my A ate her jellybeans, but B only had a couple.  One she remarked tasted “like dirt”...maybe the coconut one?  Yikes!

I didn’t think much about this until St. Patrick’s Day.  The Jelly Belly jellybeans were long gone, but I’d just gotten the first bag of the season of Brach’s Classic Jelly Bird Eggs.  I found two green ones, and one white, for each of the girls (in addition to nuts and pretzels, served in green bowls).  I thought they would be delighted at the festiveness.

While A was more excited, B didn’t say much.  After snack, I noticed she’d eaten her almonds and her pretzels, but left the jellybeans untouched.

The poor kid is scarred.

I certainly didn’t mean to ruin her for life, but I guess there are worse things than not developing a taste for jellybeans.  Oh, and did I mention that means there’s more for me???

March 15, 2014

The Perfect Snowy Day

(That’s the closing line to one of our favorite Curious George stories…where he has lots of snowy fun, and comes home to a big mug of hot chocolate and a cozy blanket on the couch.  It always makes me sigh contentedly to read that last line.)

A couple of weeks ago, we finally had quite a bit of winter accumulation, although it wasn’t your standard variety snow.  Instead, we got about three inches of frozen sleet = ICE, and then a couple of inches of silky, powdery snow on top of that.

The girls and I went out to play in it on Day 1, Monday, after it fell Sunday night.  The girls had fun with their sand pails and shovels, although it was an odd sensation, scooping up just the top layer of snow, as the ice underneath was packed tight.  

I reeeeally wanted to sled, like the neighborhood kids, but – alas – our sleds were still at the old house.  I asked Daddy to get us a lid from a plastic storage bin, hoping that might do the trick…but it definitely did not work well.  Still I got a handful of super-cute pictures of us trying to sled.

Trying...and giggling!

She decided to lie down on the "sled"...she wasn't going anywhere, but she was cute!

All in all, it was a fun adventure, although it didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped.

Tuesday and Wednesday went by with us holed up warm and dry in the house.  By Thursday, temperatures warmed above freezing, and the glorious sun came out.  FINALLY we felt safe to attempt a trip to town.

We enjoyed a wonderful family lunch at the Thai restaurant, and we were far too excited about going grocery shopping to restock on fresh fruit.  Afterwards, Daddy suggested we run by the old house to pick up our sleds, thinking we might still have some sledding time to log.

And was that the best idea ever?!!!

Temperatures were relatively decent, and the top layer of snow wasn’t quite as powdery as it had been.  I simultaneously put away groceries while getting the girls dressed for the snow.  In the meantime, Hubby scouted out the best hills behind our house.

Daddy did the first trial run, followed by Mommy, and then the girls were OFF!

Ultimately, Daddy positioned himself at the bottom of the hill (as there are large rocks covering a drainage area).  My job was to get kiddos situated on sleds at the top of the hill, and give them a swift push.

The girls didn’t have a moment of hesitation at flying down the slick, steep hill.  In fact, they were GIDDY!  And so were WE!  It was SO much fun to watch our girlies have SO MUCH FUN!  They squealed all the way down every hill, and then huffed and puffed to climb up the hill to do it all again.  Well…Baby B didn’t always make it up the hill.  Many times she got halfway up, sat down again on her sled, and squealed for the shortened ride to the bottom.  Hee hee!

(And one of my favorite memories will be how much fun Hubby had.  He gushed for days about how much joy he got from seeing the girls sled.)

I took video of sledding, so this is one of the only pictures I have from the day.  You can see how invigorated Hubby is!

After an hour or so of bliss, we were all soaked.  I took the girls in to change, and sent them back out to make a snowman with Daddy.  Unfortunately, the snow wasn’t the right texture, so that little adventure will have to wait for next time.

We came in to enjoy mugs of steaming homemade hot chocolate, followed by a bubble bath.

While our day didn’t exactly mirror Curious George’s, it was definitely the perfect snowy day in my book.

March 9, 2014

Exercising Their Independence in the Mornings

By and large, I have maintained the same wake-up routine with the girls since they were itty bitty.  They call for me when they wake up…I go into their room, give them lots of hugs and kisses…they use the bathroom…and we head downstairs to start the day.

It’s VERY rare for them to “sleep in”.  Since they got their “OK to Wake” clock when they were about three, they very rarely ask to get up “early”, but I can probably count on two hands how often they have slept past 6:30.

I just imagine B waking up at some point before 6:30, and waiting with baited breath for the green signal that it’s OK to call Mommy.  Sissy usually joins in the chorus, and our day begins.

Very occasionally, Baby A is still asleep.  A handful of times, B has recognized this and slipped downstairs by herself.  She has been SO proud!  Of course I know she enjoys her solo snuggles with Mommy.  And sometimes she gets double goodbye kisses from Daddy, to pass along to her sister when she wakes up.  But as much as anything, I think B loves the idea of “treating” her sis to some extra sleep…taking care of her in that way.

And then, when A does wake up, B loves to go upstairs with me and tell her good morning.

I love the glimpse of independence from B, particularly in a routine I’ve {purposefully} kept the same since the girls were born.

When the girls get up, we usually come downstairs and play for a bit before breakfast.  After breakfast, there’s usually more play time (on non-school days, that is), while Mommy tries to sneak in some coffee.  At some point in the morning, we’ll switch gears and head upstairs to get dressed and “officially” start our day. 

I usually make a suggestion about the type of outfit to wear, based on the weather and what we’re doing.  The girls are mostly agreeable…sometimes wanting to match…sometimes wanting to coordinate…and sometimes wanting to wear completely different things.  Unless we have something special to do, I have been letting them guide their dress, as long as it’s weather-appropriate.

Over the past couple of months, the girls have surprised me here and there by getting dressed completely by themselves.  One day last week, they came downstairs with a “Ta-Da!!!” to show me they’d chosen their Alabama jerseys for the day.  (It was a very proud moment for me!)

Of course, sometimes they come down in something a little more “creative”…

…and that’s OK, too.  I love seeing how proud the girls are at taking care of themselves…

...even if it’s a little bittersweet for this sentimental mama.
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