We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers. - I Thessalonians 1:2

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Way to End the Week

It's official-- my first week back was a success and Eric and is settling into the role of stay-at-home-dad perfectly. Though my first week back was exhausting (that 5am wake up call is rough), it was also the best first-week-back that I've ever had in 8 years of teaching. I'm doing several things differently this year. And I like it. The first couple of days at home were a little rough for Eric, but by the end of the week, he had a rhythm going. It's so fun to be able to come straight home to kids that are dressed, fed, and happy because they've spent the day with Daddy. He even braved the pool on his own once this week (something I only did once when Eric was still working-- it's a lot). Speaking of the pool-- we decided that was the perfect place to park ourselves yesterday. They're still open for one more week, but they have reduced hours (so I can't really join my husband and kiddos after school), and next weekend it will be a zoo with all the events they have going on for Labor Day (private labor union parties, Navy day, classic car show, balloon race, fireworks, etc.). I think we'll be steering clear of the madness next weekend. Which means yesterday was probably our last time at the pool for the summer. Eric's mom and stepdad joined us for a fun day in the sun. Thanks, Greg, for the great pictures!
Poor teething Brennan. He chewed on this dolphin almost the entire time. His first tooth came in last Monday (my first day of school), and I can see that number two isn't far behind. We'll probably be seeing it sometime this week. Don't let her face fool you-- this girl loves time at the pool.
I think this is the only picture we have of all four of us at the pool, even though we all went multiple times this summer. Cate and Grandma!
Time out for a picnic. I love how the color floats make a cool background. And you should've seen Brennan eying Cate's Oreo. Soon, buddy, soon.
Our pool is part of a larger park that has a few "classic rides" (nothing big or exciting like you'd find at your standard amusement park, but fun rides for kids). Cate has her rides she has to go on each time we're there-- including the Frog Hopper (above). My girl loves the Ferris Wheel.
And with Daddy as driver, Cate loves a good bumper car ride.

My in-laws were gracious enough to keep Cate last night so that Eric and I could have some time with each other (and little guy). We'll pick her up after church this morning.

Today we have a parent meeting for Cate's preschool. I can't believe she'll really be going in just a couple of weeks. She's grown up too quickly.

To our beloved pool-- it's been a fun summer and we'll see you in 9 months when you reopen again.

~Melody :-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


It has been 8 months.
He fills me with joy.

He got his first tooth yesterday (no pictures yet, it's barely through the gums).
Which explains why he kept getting me up the night before the first day of school.
The first two days of school have gone well. Both for me at school and for Eric and the kids at home. Praise God for that.
No crawling yet, but little man can get what he wants by rolling and scooting and kicking.

He's still super snuggly too. And a total mama's boy. Which I love. He can be squawking up a storm with someone else and just quiet down as soon as he is in my arms.

And with that, I'm gonna go snuggle him. And his sister.

Before I crash into what will quite possibly be one of the deepest sleeps ever.

Happy 8 Months, Brennan!

~Melody :-)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Nice Distraction

Last night we headed out to a park with some friends. It provided a nice distraction from the thoughts swirling in my head about the upcoming school year which starts-- gulp-- tomorrow. It's not that I'm not ready. As this is year 8 for me (year 9 if you count the year I student-taught and then subbed for the rest of the year), I know how to start a school year. I know things tomorrow will go fine with the 106 new students crossing the threshold of my classroom.

Friday was my first "official" day back-- our teacher work day. It was filled with a lot of meetings and I honestly only managed to print out my class lists and start working on a quiz the students will take the third week of school. Good thing I spent a few other days in getting everything ready-- my first two weeks are completely planned and copied.

But still-- there's always that little bit of back-to-school anxiety that clouds my thinking the last weekend before school starts. All of the what-if's that play games in my head. So yes, a picnic was the perfect antidote for all of those crazy thoughts. The view of the Ohio River was beautiful and provided the perfect backdrop. A couple of blocks up from the park-- an ice cream shop. Of course we stopped in to indulge in some cold, sugary goodness. Today brought a busy morning playing with babies (not my own) in the church nursery, followed by a great message about family during church, and lunch out with my three favorite people afterward. This afternoon, we've been taking it easy, getting a few things picked up around the house, and mentally and physically preparing for the week ahead: me for going back to work after 8 months off and Eric for his first full week as a stay-at-home-dad. Although, if the three days I worked at school last week and Eric stayed home are any indication of how things will go, he's going to be fine and our kids are super-lucky.

Happy Sunday to you all. And happy back-to-school time (if you and/or your kids aren't already back)!
~Melody :-)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

These Last Few Days of Summer

Summer isn't officially over for another month or so. But my summer, and my extended maternity leave, are coming to an end. This time next week, I'll be 2 days into the new school year, with 106 brand new students-- 106 young minds with which to share my love of literature.

But until then, I'm trying to drink in what's left of my time off. Cate and I painted rocks from our hike.
We've spent some time at the pool.
Our pool is really big-- it's hard for some people to grasp if they haven't been there. We used to go when I was a kid. The best part? No "adult swim." Today I saw a license plate that read: NJOY BN (enjoy being-- or at least that's what I took it to mean, even though my former Barnes and Noble employee mind wandered to a place where I briefly wondered if it was a license plate plug for my favorite bookstore chain). That's what I've been trying to do a lot of lately-- enjoy being. Be present. It's an attitude that's made for a great end to my summer. And I think it'll make for a great school year too.

~Melody :-)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wednesday Night in the Woods

Last night we went camping. With the kids. And the dog. A few weeks ago Eric was talking about how much he loved camping as a kid and he'd like to get us into it. I'd never really camped much before, and obviously never with kids and a dog, but I'm up for trying anything once. So when family started asking Eric what he wanted for his birthday, he said "camping stuff." And that's how we found ourselves in possession of a tent, four sleeping bags, an air mattress, a camp stove, a camp organizer, two new camp chairs, and a few other small items of camping goodness-- all of them ready for us to pop their cherry, so to speak.

We stuck close to home-- a state park about an hour's drive from our house and only a few miles from the college where Eric and I met and we both did our undergraduate work (and later where I went to grad school). We figured this way, if things got bad, we could pack up camp and head home. I was surprised at how well things went. We arrived around 4:30pm and picked a campsite by the playground and not too far of a walk from the bathroom.
We set up camp.
Brennan smiled a lot.
Cate loved the tent and made herself right at home with her books once it was set up.
We made a fire and cooked hot dogs and bratts for dinner.
Then it was off for a walk. A stop at the camp store for ice cream was a necessity.
We skipped rocks in a creek that feeds into the lake and enjoyed a beautiful view.
We came back and made s'mores. Eric played guitar for us. The kids rolled around on the mattress. We all were in bed and mostly asleep by 10:00. Around 11pm, Eric and I awoke to a raccoon fight. Zoey, our dog, had knocked over her food earlier in the evening. Apparently there were some stray pieces of kibble on the ground that the raccoons did not want to share with one another. Luckily the kids slept through it and the dog didn't bark (she was in the tent with us).

A half hour later Brennan started to whimper because he was cold. It was only supposed to be in the low 60's last night, so all I packed were lightweight footed pajamas for him. But it actually ended up in the low 50's. He kept trying to curl himself up into a ball in his sleep (in his pack n' play), so I picked him up and put him in between Eric and I, where he settled down immediately, warmed up, and slept until 6am. Cate slept through all of that. Next time, I'll pack him fleece jammies since he's still too young to have blankets in there (risk of suffocation, not that his being on the mattress was totally safe, but it was the only option we had since he was cold).

At 4am, Cate had to pee. She had a little accident trying to get her shoes on and walk to the bathroom. We'll bring pull-ups next time, just in case. Brennan slept through all of that.

And when Brennan got up at 6 to nurse, Cate remained sleeping until just after 7. I was surprised we all got as much sleep as we did. I was anticipating an all-nighter.

We packed up camp after breakfast, Cate took one last swing in the early morning light, and we headed home for showers, baths, and naps. We learned a few lessons (about dog food and peeing at night with children and bringing fleece jammies for babies). But we're already plotting our next outing into the woods (which might be within the week). Gotta squeeze in the last little bit of summer fun before the official start of school in two weeks.

~Melody :-)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Today I Went to Work

And I was totally okay with it. I listened to NPR and sipped coffee on my drive. I filled out a bunch of papers (to re-enroll in pretty much everything, which is standard when you take a large chunk of time off). I put my classroom back together (we have to take everything down/put everything away at the end of each year for cleaning purposes). I caught up with some coworkers I haven't seen in awhile. I wrote some lesson plans and looked through professional resources for new ideas. Yes, I missed these two: But I was comforted knowing they were home with their Daddy. I realize that stay-at-home-dads aren't so common and I love that we're unique in this way. I love that my husband stepped up and said he'd rather just be home with our kids than working all day to bring home a paycheck that would go straight to childcare (non-profit work is noble, but the pay stinks). And I'm glad this decision was further affirmed for us when Eric ended up getting laid off. It's been a blessing to have him home all summer.

My first "official" day back isn't until the 19th-- our teacher work day. But with all of the meetings and "catching up" and long lines at the copiers, I don't get much work done on the work day. So I come in a day or two before the work day and get stuff done. The new school supplies, the new ideas I have for my classroom, the new class rosters-- they all excite and energize me. I'll probably go put in one more day before the work day next Friday.

The only downside to going back to work? I have to work a full month before my paychecks start back up (it's just the way the pay periods fall as the district finishes out the pay cycle for last school year). Sidenote: teachers are only paid for the days they work (lest you think they are paid to have summers off). The daily amount a teacher earns is multiplied by 185 (the number of days we are contracted to work) and then spread over 26 pay periods (so we don't have to go without a steady income for the summer). So since I haven't worked since December, I was paid out for what I worked last year and my paychecks don't start again until the new cycle, which falls late this year. End sidenote.

The last 8 months taught me that yes, I could be a stay-at-home-mom if I chose to be one. Previously, I thought I'd go crazy. And I won't lie- it was hard work. But the last 8 months also showed me that I really do like my job-- the one I do outside of our home.

Anyway, it's time to start squeezing in all the last little bits of summer fun we can handle.

~Melody :-)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Birthday Love

Yesterday (Friday) was Eric's birthday. But we kind of celebrated it over the course of a few days. Wednesday we had dinner out with his parents, sister, and his sister's boyfriend. Cate enjoyed getting to see Grandma, Poppy, and Aunt Kristin. Grandma's birthday is today (happy birthday)!

Thursday we had part of our small group over (two families couldn't make it-- bummer). The kids all played outside and then we shared German Chocolate cake (Eric's favorite) and ice cream.
Thursday night, I wrapped Eric's presents.
What's inside? A John Coletrane vinyl (Love Supreme), the fixin's for making Irish Stout beer (he's lovin' the homebrew thing), and this (which he put together last night as soon as we got home from going out to dinner):
My husband has always been a bit of a stargazer. And a nature lover. Which is why today we went hiking. Brennan hung out in the Kelty Kids carrier that I scored secondhand from the fitness instructor where I've been taking classes. It's built for a woman's smaller frame, so it wasn't too uncomfortable to wear.
Cate brought along a bucket to collect "treasures." She picked up a lot of rocks and sticks (which we're going to paint tomorrow), but she also found a feather, some pinecones, and a few acorns.
Eric got a lot of camping gear for his birthday too. He enjoyed camping as a kid and wants to share that love with his family. The heat is supposed to die down this week, so we're hoping to head to a state park not too far away and camp one night this week. I figure we'll stay close to home the first night in case things get ugly and we need to drive home in the middle of the night. We'll see though. The blessing of Eric's not working right now while I'm still home on maternity leave is that we have the luxury this week of deciding on a whim which night will work best for us and then heading out. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm actually looking forward to it.

~Melody :-)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Belated 7 Months

In addition to July 23rd being the birthday of both my cousin and my uncle (her dad), it was also Brennan's 7 month birthday.

Days before he turned 7 months old (on July 19th to be exact), buddy started sitting up on his own.

He now eats fruits, veggies and meats. Most of them homemade (I'll do a post on that later, I promise). Like his big sister, Mommy, and Daddy, he loves books. Although he likes to eat them. Still no teeth-- we keep waiting. Brennan loves to be held and/or worn. He still hates it when he's left alone in a room (even if it's just for a few seconds). Sophie the Giraffe remains one of his favorite toys. That and the moon from his rocketship set. And his baby paper.

It's hard to believe he's closer to one now than birth. He's graduated to a convertible carseat (at 18 pounds, he was just too heavy to keep carrying in the carrier). He rolls all over the place and with some work, can usually get to what he wants. I'm sure it won't be long before he's crawling. But I'm not rushing anything.

More birthdays will be celebrated this week as Eric rings in the last year of his twenties and Cate officially turns three-and-a-half.

~Melody :-)