I scored this sweet gig as a Mystery Shopper. We spent all summer trying tasty treats, watching movies in the theater with concessions, dining out and having a blast all on the company's dime.
It was amazing. The two non-kid included highlights were lunch at the Neiman Marcus Cafe with Leslee Rosenlof (my fish tacos were amazing, but nothing compared to the popover with strawberry butter)
and my ultra fancy dinner with Zannie Seguin at Tao. The food was TO DIE FOR. I ordered the Chilean Sea Bass under high recommendation (not a typical order for me) and it was the best fish I have ever eaten. By the time dessert came around, we were bursting at the seams. But the bread pudding and fortune cookie were so good, it was worth feeling like a taxidermied squirrel for an evening. The fortune cookie was soft and filled with vanilla and chocolate mousse. Then there was the enormous pile of fresh fruit to go with it. Ah-mazing. Such a fun night out.
My friend Alyssa and I came up with a summer calendar to keep our kids busy and to help motivate them to get things done. I give myself credit, but in all reality she put the whole thing together and gave me the info so we could follow it too. The kids earned tickets to attend different activities. They earned tickets by putting dishes away after meals, doing their jobs, working in their school workbooks, reading, etc. Then they could spend the tickets for activities. It usually went pretty well. We even had it set up so if one of the kids didn't earn their tickets, they stayed home with one of us while the other took the kids on the activity. They must have been convinced we would do it though because I don't think anyone came up short. There were a few last minute desperate ticket earnings but they all made it through. We went to different library activities, splash parks,
went swimming at different pools, and even went to the Children's museum.
We got to go to a library magician show and Rhode got called up to be the assistant. He did a really good job. He was wearing a thumb sucking glove to remind him not to suck his thumb. The magician kept asking him if he had hurt his thumb and Rhode just ignored the questions. It was pretty funny to watch.
We signed up for two summer reading programs this year. Our regular library has a great childrens section but their reading program is pretty lame. For every five books you read, you get a free book. But the book are either old donated books or library rejects that never get checked out. We found a few "okay" ones but it was a pretty slim crowd. For finishing the club, you get a gold medal. But at the Henderson library district, you get prizes along the way (which included toys or even coupons for free treats at good stores) and in the end you get to pick out a brand new book and you get a free ticket to the Shark Reef. Not only that, but they had an Adult summer reading list so I got a free drink at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and won a summer prize package in their drawing. Totally worth the extra drive.
Jude got all kinds of big this summer. I think of things all the time that I want to say about him on my blog so I don't forget it, but I am sure I am going to forget most of them anyway. He crawls all over the house looking for someone to play with. I put the baby gate on the stairs up for like a day but with so many little kids it was such a pain getting everyone over it. So we just taught Jude to crawl up the stairs. Actually, it was mostly Scarlet who taught him. But he is really good at it. He has taken a few tumbles but carpeted stairs make that pretty surviveable. Now he just barks at the top for someone to come help him get down. He gives the best smiles when we finally come fetch him.
Jude still loves food but he would much prefer feeding himself. I have even given up trying to feed him things like yogurt. He is only interested if I'm willing to hand over the bowl and spoon. Messy? Yes. But hey, what is child rearing if not a large stream of messes?
This baby is so good at baby sign language. I had only been showing him some signs off and on for a few days when all of a sudden he was staring me right in the eye while clearly signing to me. I've never seen anything like it. He has days when he loves to sign and days when he loves to scream but he definitely knows what he wants. He knows "more", "eat", "milk" and "all done."
I have also been trying to wean him for a while now but he was not taking a bottle very well. He decided formula was a definite no so I started to do a little whole milk every now and again. Jude was only kind of interested. After one very long night where I realized I just wasn't making enough milk to keep him full, I warmed the milk in his bottle out of desperation (I always give my babies cold bottles). He devoured it. And in three days, he was weaned. All he wanted was warm milk. Babies...
Jude hates to get his diaper changed but he will do anything you want if you are willing to sing Old Macdonald. He loves that song. It has saved me from many escaping poopy bottom crawl away attempts.
One Sunday while Jon was gone, Karleen was sitting in the row directly behind me. He fought me all through the meeting. As soon as the prayer was over, I stood up and handed him to Karleen so I could gather kids and stuff. He wrapped his arms around her neck, laid his head on her ample bosoms and was out cold before she left the room.
Asher has almost decided to stop hurting Jude. It has been awhile since he has randomly bit him. But I kept catching him holding onto Jude's upper arm. I couldn't figure out what he was doing. Finally I realized he was picking at Jude's rash. He has a keratin buildup on his arm so basically an ongoing rash on one arm all the time. Asher likes to pick at it for him. He does it almost absent mindedly. Just sucking his finger and picking at his brother's arm. I have almost put a stop to it...
Asher turned three this summer and the switch from two to three was distinct and dramatic. I have heard that kids go through a hormone switch at three that is similar to their teenage years. Well that would make a lot of sense in his case. All of a sudden, life is hard and there are a lot of tears involved. Asher loves to watch shows. It makes him easy to take on car rides because that is where most of our show watching happens. He is never very happy to get out of the car, but he would get over it quickly. But just about a week after his birthday, I took him out of the car crying and screaming because I had turned off the show. He then cried for the next 20 minutes in the house. 20 minutes! And there have been many more instances of this nature. He had to leave nursery today because he cried for 15 minutes straight for no apparent reason.
On the plus side, he is oh my goodness cute and says the funniest things all day long. He has picked up really funny phrases like, "Speaking of Scarlet, where is she?" when nobody has been talking at all. He is terrible at doing chores and usually pouts through all of the ones I do make him complete. But he loves to be in the backyard and spent many hours out there, even in the hot sun.
He was a little nervous about swimming this summer. Not the no-fear attitude we had to save him from last summer, but he still loved jumping in the pool. He got to take swimming lessons and be in the preschool class. It was a little difficult to get him to attend some days, but I don't back down easily. One time they had lined up out of the pool to jump in to their teacher. Asher was standing behind a kid who was a head taller than him. Out of nowhere, he reached around and gave the kid a big hug and kissed him on the back. You could tell the kid was totally weirded out. I came over and extracted him from his line friend.
His two favorite shows are Leapfrog and Power Rangers. Thanks to the former, he knows all of his letters and their sounds. Thanks to the latter, he really likes punching people.
I don't seem to have any other pictures of Rhode from this summer... Maybe that's because Rhode is so cool about everything. Even though Scarlet decided this was the summer of tormenting her younger brother, Rhode was such a sweetie almost all the time. He shares a room with Jude and I catch him playing with him in his crib all of the time. He is so agreeable about everything. The only thing that occasionally brings out his unreasonable side is asking him to clean his room. He finds the task impossible to do alone. There has been multiple times when he has chosen to spend an entire morning in his room while we do fun things without him because he won't pick up the 10 items on the floor. When he finally gets to the task, it usually takes about 10 minutes to finish. He then remembers sheepishly that it makes a lot more sense to just clean the room the first time. But it is a lesson he has had to learn quite a few times this summer.
Rhode loves having friends over and going to friend's houses. He is a good friend too. Scarlet can usually be heard bossing around whomever is over but Rhode always seems to want to go with the flow. He has been reading all summer and started chapter books. He loves Captain Underpants and My Weird School.
I learned an important thing about my daughter, Scarlet this year. She has an amazingly creative mind and loves to use it to create and decorate. She is also the messiest person in our family. Not only does she leave a wake of items everywhere she walks, she also cannot see an empty room without coming up with an elaborate fort plan. She has turned her bedroom with Asher into what we refer to as the "Hobo Tent Village" or "Occupy Wall Street". My summer was filled with cushionless couches, empty blanket bins, toyless toy boxes, and missing mom items from all over house. My house was also filled with tea parties, picnics, restaurants, amazing games of pretend, and lots of sister and brother play time.
I miss her while she is at school... but it is nice to still be able to see my carpet every evening.
Scarlet spent the summer reading millions of fairy books along with Junie B. Jones, Ivy & Bean, Judy Moody, and a few other more creative titles. She is a really fast reader and would stay up all night if I let her.
Sometimes the days were long, sometimes we drove each other to the near reaches of insanity, but it was really a fantastic summer.