Friday, December 31, 2010

One Word Resolution

Happy New Year (almost)! Scott and I were talking about New Year's resolutions last night. The entire discussion consisted of simply one word - survive. I start school exactly one week from today. As excited as I am to start on this new journey, I'm terribly nervous, too. We are not quite sure how we will juggle Scott's demanding job, my accelerated school program, the kids, the house, the errands, and everything else. We are simply resolving to survive. We are also adopting a good friend's motto - done is good. In our time-starved new world we probably won't do everything well, but simply getting them done is good enough.

We hope your Christmas holidays were wonderful. Ours was a chaos of flying wrapping paper, but tons of fun. We enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner at home with Nana, followed by dessert at the Melting Pot. From the amount of chocolate on their dresses, you would have thought the girls dunked themselves in the fondue pot. It was worth it, the dessert was delicious. Then, it was home to prepare for Santa.

We were up bright and early to reveal all the goodies Santa left. Santa (and Nana) did not disappoint as our playroom is one again over flowing. The big gift of the year was a keyboard for the girls. Piano lessons start next week, so I went ahead and bought some ear plugs. I think we will need them.

It is a good thing the kids opened their gifts quickly, because we needed to get out of town before the snow. We cleaned up, loaded up, and were on the road by 11AM. The snow was falling 30 minutes later and it was a blizzard by the time we got to the mountains.

After 4 hours driving in the snow, we were thrilled to arrive at the toasty cabin. We unloaded and then celebrated Christmas all over again - how lucky are we??? With a lot of snow on the ground and 20" more on the way, there was no question about it being a White Christmas.

Since the roads were bad, we didn't leave the cabin. We sledded in the white powder. Marcus and Emily played endless games with the kids. Mimi made delicious hot chocolate for all of us. We even hosted our own version of Minute to Win It - thanks to Scott and lots of random household items.

When the snow stopped it was time to hit the slopes, the girls went to ski school, Mick went to the little kids' camp, and Scott and I rented snowboards. The conditions were perfect, which is much more than I can say about my snow boarding skills. I hadn't been on a board since 1999 - yikes. I may not have hit the terrain park, but I got down the hill. I had a great time, though my back side is still bruised. All of the kids had fun and the girls picked up a few ski skills, too.

While it many regards it was a wonderful holiday, it was quite sad too. Scott's grandmother took very ill and passed away this Thursday. Poppa traveled to be with his mom and the rest of the Harrell family. Scott is traveling to her funeral tomorrow. We will miss Grandmother Harrell deeply and send our love and prayers to Grandpa Harrell and all of the family.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cookies, Milk and Purell

Santa is due in less than 2 days. This year we are leaving him a plate of cookies, a glass of milk, and a bottle of Purell. He will need it after a visit to our germ-filled house. It is usually one of the kids, that kicks off the germ-passing, but this time it was me. That stomach virus - it made the rounds. I was the first casualty, followed quickly by Mick, Scott, and Sarah. Jaley was the only one to escape, she may be injury-prone, but she has the best immune system. As soon, as I thought we were in the clear - Mick was down again - this time an ear infection.

While will offer Santa a little Purell during his visit, it seems that we are all on the mend. Maybe if we are just a little (lot) lucky, we won't be knocked down again during this cold and flu season.

We are expecting snow on Christmas night, which is very exciting. It will be not only the kids' first White Christmas, but mine too. Growing up in Florida, we usually had the air conditioning running full force at Christmas. The only thing white was the ice in our tea as we tried to cool down.

That is life in the stroller lane. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Very Own Traveling Circus

Monday was vet day. I hate vet day. It isn't the actual veterinarian, he's very nice. It is the process of getting the cats to the vet. And while every vet day is a zoo, Monday was a full on circus.

Tennessee was snowed in and Scott's flight home was canceled. While he wasn't flying anywhere, I was here in NC flying solo. Getting three kids ready in the morning wasn't the problem, it was getting the two cats corralled.

Epy, in most regards, isn't the sharpest cat of the bunch. But when it comes to hiding, she might as well be Einstein. When I am lucky enough to find her, she is faster than a greased pig.

We were 20 minutes to departure and the hunt began. Armed with kitty treats, I started searching the house. My first find, under the Christmas tree, was soon a fast escape on her part. Over the next 20 minutes, I ran up and down, in and out, but couldn't catch her. The kitty treats were long lost and it was past time for Sarah's bus. Finally, with the help of Sarah wielding a roll of wrapping paper, Jaley making noise for distraction, and me lodged half way under my bed, I caught her and got her in the cat carrier.

Next up, Buford. Catching him wasn't the problem. He is 14 and mellow. The problem is that we only have one cat carrier. Now, the conundrum. How do I load the kids, do the school drop offs, and have a cat loose in the car? I figured I would learn on the go. With Buford in my arms, I drove down the street steering with my knee. I see a few parents walking back from the bus stop and know we've missed the bus. Then, my luck turns, the bus is still loading. I stop the car, Sarah slides the door open, hops out, and slams the door. Sarah out, Buford in - success at the first drop off.

Next up Jaley's school. This is trickier, I have to get Jaley , Mick and myself out of the car, without letting Buford escape. Bufor, was still confused from the ride, so we managed to slip out of the car. We drop Jaley and then back in the car again. Buford, is prepared this time. He is ready for the escape. Somehow, I manage to toss the baby in and slip myself in and grab Buford by the tail before he jumps out. He is screeching, but at least he isn't on the loose 6 miles from home.

We are off again. We are at the vet and, of course, the closest parking spot is a mile away. Another conundrum. Who do I unload first? The cat or the kid - 'cuz I can't carry them both. I choose Buford and lock him in the bathroom at the vet - I didn't even ask permission. I just put him in there and shut the door. Then, I run out and get Mick praying that no one saw Mick alone in the car for that 90 seconds. I manage to carry Mick and carrier with Epy in it - remember her. She has been stashed in the cargo area of the car for all these stops.

After a quick visit with the vet, the assistant kindly helped me back to the car and made sure neither cat nor child escaped. I arrived home two hours later and $250 poorer. Good news, both cats are healthy. Better news, my traveling circus won't need to make the rounds for another year. Like I said, I hate vet day.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What a difference a year makes!

It was a year ago yesterday, I had my last surgery. I wasn't sure if it was a cure. Heck, the docs weren't even sure if it was a cure. But it was. Here I am a year later pain-free. So as holiday blessings go - that is a wonderful one.

One year later, what are we up to? Well, I spent yesterday in bed with a stomach virus. Unlike last year, I was recovered in 36 hours. Scott saved the day and took care of the kids. I have the best hubby.

Today, I'm off to a holiday tea with my girl friends. The girls are out Christmas shopping with Nana. Mick is resting since he seems to have caught the stomach virus from me.

Tomorrow Scott is off to Tennessee to visit his grandparents and wish the Harrell side of the family a Merry Christmas.

Basically, life is back to the regular routine - a little bit of passing germs, a little bit of running errands, and a lot of fun. Like I said, what a difference a year makes. How nice!!!!

That is life in the stroller lane.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Great Advice

One of my best friends recently shared this life tip with me. "Never regret anything that once made you smile." That sure takes the edge off of a whole bunch of choices in my teens and twenties (and a couple recent choices too). May it do the same for you.

And when I'm not philosophizing with friends, we are busy around here. It is glamorous stuff, like a recall on the Mazda last week and a recall on the Toyota this week. Add in a new garage door opener and it's a trifecta. Don't all the machines in my life realize this time of year is already busy even if nothing is breaking down.

What else is happening? Jaley and Sarah are counting down to Santa. The closer we get, the longer their lists get. Too bad that Santa has already finished his shopping for the Harrell kids. I guess they will have to wait until their birthdays.

While Santa has yet to deliver on my wish for a sleeping baby, he is definitely trying. The no-soy and no-dairy trick is definitely helping. Mick is only up 1-2 a night, which is infinitely better than the 4-5 times a night we were sometimes averaging. Sleeping aside, he seems to be feeling a whole lot better. And that makes me happy!!! Trying to figure out food issues with babies is so darn tricky, but we are hoping this may be a solution.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How can it already be December?

How can we already finishing 2010? Wasn't it New Year's just a couple of weeks ago? I can't believe just how fast this year has passed, but it has. Here we are 11 months into 2010. The kids are year older and as much as I hate to admit it, so am I.

I guess I better slow down and enjoy December or the entire year will disappear on me. In that spirit, we are off to go sledding today. No it didn't snow - though, ironically, it may later today. The town brought a snow maker to a local park and has covered a hill in fluffy, frozen fun. We have our sleds ready and are bringing a couple of friends along.

I hope that you are getting a little Winter Wonderland in your neck of the woods - even if it takes a snow maker to get it.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

All I Want for Christmas...

We may still be eating Turkey, but as of 12:01 Black Friday morning we are officially on to Christmas. And I'm telling you now, all I want for Christmas is a sleeping baby. Why don't my babies sleep through the night? Mick is 14 months old and we are still waiting for him to give up the graveyard shift. I was up 4 times last night and Scott was up 3 times. I finally gave it up at 4:30AM and decided to get a jump on the day. It seems to be genetic. Read some old blog posts and you will hear this same story told about other babies of mine. Not to mention there are crummy sleepers on both the Harrell and Pereira family trees.

Over the past 14 months (plus 6 prior years of practice with Jaley and Sarah), we have tried just about every method there is. We have tried Mindell, Ferber, Brazelton, and Sears. We have tried the advice of first-time moms and great grandmothers. We have tried tough love and co-sleeping. We even tried something called Baby Whisperers. None have worked - and trust me we have tried.

Our current approach is a new one. Mick is on a no dairy, no soy diet (he seems to have the same food allergy issues Jaley once did). Plus, we are trying to keep Mick's room allergen-free. The diet restrictions are really tough (dairy and soy are in EVERYTHING). Those are easy compared to keeping the cats out of Mick's room. Since this probably won't work either, it is time to ask the big man himself.

Santa please bring me a sleeping baby for Christmas!!! No other gifts needed!!!

On the positive side, most of my online Christmas shopping was done before the sun rose this morning and I arrived at the gym before it opened. Heck, it's been a full day and it isn't even happy hour yet.

Hope your Thanksgiving was terrific.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

No Stroller This Weekend

Before I even start, I have to say thanks to my wonderful husband. He is on day 4 of a cold and day 3 of watching all three kids by himself. Despite what we moms sometimes think, dads really can man the fort without us - from spelling test to lunch packing to midnight wake ups he has juggled the Harrell clan this weekend. From the reports on the phone, he has juggled the clan quite well.

And where am I? I am in paradise. I am on a much delayed (about 3 years) mother-daughter get-away. We started in Charlotte, planning to enjoy the sites of the city. Instead we shopped for 7 hours (yes, 7) at the Outlet Mall. We were carrying so many bags my mom has tendinitis in her elbow. Now that is power-shopping.

Making sure not to miss out on all of Charlotte - we spent that evening - drinking and eating our way through the city. We never got passed the appetizer menu at any restaurant, but somehow managed a five-course meal before we called it a night. Unfortunately, we called it a night before much of the rest of the city. There was a late night club right next to our hotel, that didn't wrap up the music until 3:30AM. I'm definitely getting old, because I neither wanted to be at the party nor could I sleep through the racket.

Our poor night's sleep was no problem, because next we were off to a "rustic-chic" spa in the Smokey Mountains. We have indulged in spa treatments, gained zen with morning yoga, and reacquainted with nature hiking through the Smokey's. I have read one book and five magazines. I have taken long showers and just sat and relaxed. It is so far from the regular routine, it feels sinful. Did I mention nightly wine and cheese? It has been a fabulous get-away at Lakeview at Fontana, I highly recommend it.

Tomorrow it is time to go home. Scott will hand over the reins and head out of town for work. After a few days away, I'm ready to get back to the kids and Scott. I miss my little chick-a-dees.

But it isn't tomorrow yet. Evening wine is starting in two minutes and a massage is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

That is life in the no stroller lane.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wow - that's a busy week!

Some week's I wonder where they days went, I don't get anything done. This week was not the case. I mean, wow, I don't think I could have squeezed much more in - so here's the run down....

Emily and Marcus's Wonderful Wedding Reception
It is definitely the TOP of the list. When your sister gets married it is pretty special. Add in Jaley and Sarah as the leaf (flower) girls, a "not-quite rehearsal" reheasal dinner, and the arrival of all of the Kennedy, Harrell, and Beeman families into little ol' Raleigh and that is one hell of a big event.

Emily and Marcus are the perfect couple and we had a fabulous time. They included us in every event and all the celebrating. Though they might have used a little less of us, especially when Mick threw up in the car as were were arriving at the reception. We hadn't even taken pictures yet and he needed a complete change and a bath. Apparently three kids had brought some wisdom - and I'm always prepared. We had towels, soap, and even an extra suit ready - JUST IN CASE.

Tricks, treats, and the ER.
The party didn't stop when the reception ended - Halloween was the very next day. The kids woke up ready to tackle the day and tackle they did. We will never be quite sure what happened. One second, Jaley was putting on her shirt, and the next second she had whiplash. Best we can tell is that Jaley's turtle neck shirt was stuck half way over her head. Her shirt got tugged one way and her neck tugged the other. Her neck didn't like that.

By 10AM we were in the ER. Good news no bone or major ligament damage. Bad news her neck is going to hurt for about a week. Thanks to the strong meds in the ER - Jaley felt well enough to go trick-or-treating to a couple houses. Thanks to the Carson's who took Sarah out on a big trick-or-treating trip. At our house, wardrobe malfunction now has nothing to do with Janet Jackson.

Tests and Term Papers
Just to remind me that still have a regular life, school was at full speed too. I had to write the big term paper for my class, go to Orientation at UNC, and take this 4-hour standardized test - that involved lots of long-division and no calculator. UNC wants proof of all my vaccinations. That is hard enough at my age, (where the heck are all those records???!!!!), but it is darn near impossible since most of the immunizations they require didn't exist when I was a baby. I had Chicken Pox the old fashioned way - I itched for a couple of weeks and infected the other kids that hadn't had it yet.

That is the last 7 days at our house and life in the stroller lane.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Do You Really Want Your Kids to Be Quiet?

As much as I say to the kids, "please be quiet," it seems like every time they are actually quiet, they are up to something. Is that the case in your house, too?

Yesterday, Mick was really quiet. After a minute went by, I went exploring. He had figured out how to open the baby gate and he was playing with the cat food. At least I hope he was playing with it, because I sure hope he wasn't eating it.

Last weekend, the girls disappeared upstairs. We didn't hear a peep for about 45 minutes. Then, they descended the stairs to reveal Jaley's updated hairstyle. If you were wondering, they put 97 clips in her hair.

Beyond unlocking babygates Houdini-style and trying out new hairstyles, life here is pretty good. We picked pumpkins right out the field at a pumpkin farm. We got lost in a corn maze only to be saved by one of the workers watching from a cherry picker overhead. We enjoyed a short visit with my cousin and her family last weekend. They survived the chaos we call regular life. Sarah conquered another spelling test. And best of all, Scott got some bad news from the doctor on Monday, that was complete reversed on Tuesday. Thankfully, he is still as healthy as a horse.

The big countdown is on to Auntie Em's wedding reception. We are t-minus 8 days. We are so excited to see Emily, Marcus, and spend time with family and friends next week. We can't wait.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bad School Pictures and Other Random Thoughts

A couple of random thoughts for the week.

  • In this era of digital pictures, why are school pictures still so bad? Sarah came home with her 1st grade pictures yesterday. Couldn't they have snapped one extra picture! A picture without her left eye shut or her head slanted strangely to the side. The pictures won't make the mantle or Scott's frame at the office, but at least they aren't at that poor girl from the 1980's.
  • How long does it take you to watch a 30 minute TV show? If you have a DVR/Tivo, it takes about 20 minutes. If you're me, just after the kids' bedtime, it takes about 2 hours. I started watching a show at 8:15 just after I put the kids to bed. Getting them nestled all snug in their beds while visions of sugar-plums dance through their heads - is much easier said than done. About 20 interruptions later - I need water, the baby's crying, I fell out of bed, I can't sleep, I had a bad dream (how the hell does that happen if you haven't fallen asleep yet), the baby's crying again, the cat's hungry, the phones ringing - I finished up my show at 10:15. Whoever says watching TV is lazy, just needs to watch TV at my house. I climbed more stairs that night, than I do on the StairMaster at the gym.
  • Will our HVAC system last the winter? I'm taking bets. The Vegas odds are a resounding No. All of the houses on our street were built at about the same time. And in the last year, just about every house has had to purchase a brand new HVAC system or two. Our two units are like the last ones standing. The HVAC guy was out yesterday to tune up the furnace for the winter (which was funny being that it was 90 degrees and the AC was on). He showed me several parts that didn't look very healthy and just shook his head sadly. He simply said "call me if she stops working." Not exactly a glowing review. We will see - but I may be asking Santa for an HVAC for Christmas.
That is the random life in the stroller lane.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Have you been to see the Wizard?

We have. We hopped right into the story and went to see Wizard of Oz. It was complete with a spinning tornado, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Toto. Even the talking trees were there.

Last weekend, we went to Beech Mountain for the Autumn in Oz festival. The girls dressed up as Dorothy and Mick was the scarecrow. Then we rode a hayride right into the land of Oz. It is a yearly festival and lots of fun. This little land of Oz was created in the 1970's and a few parts definitely had quite the "trippy" feel - but that even added to the novelty of the day. It didn't hurt that the weather was perfect.

We also enjoyed hanging out with Mimi and Poppa. Since they missed Mick's birthday we made sure to celebrate again - complete with cake and ice cream.

With another fun trip in the memory book, 2010 is definitely our Fall of Fun.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Flinstones Car

The Flintstones turned 50 yesterday. I must say Fred and the gang are still looking pretty good.

With school back in session, I'm feeling a little like I have my own Flintstone mobile. I have a Toyota Sienna minivan and as the commercials say, "Mommy Likes." However, the folks running school carpool would disagree.

In what is apparently the newest in the list of deadly sins, I purchased the low-end model without power sliding doors. I might as well be driving Fred Flintstone's car and pushing it with my feet. That is how the carpool line react to my manual sliding doors. On the few occasions I brave the mile long carpool line it is inevitably a disaster. The safety patrol kids and adults running the carpool line have no idea what to do when my doors won't close automatically. Sarah gets out of the car and heads into the school - just like she is supposed to do. I'm stuck there hollering, "please shut the door." The folks manning the line look at me like I'm speaking German and say something like "why isn't your door closing." I say "please close it by hand." Then they say "push your close button, your door isn't working.' I holler back, "I don't have a button, it's manual." Then, the people in line behind me start honking - wondering why the crazy lady in the white minivan won't pull forward. Next, I try yelling a little louder. It is to no avail and eventually get out of my car, walk around to the passenger side, and slide the door shut myself.
Thankfully, Sarah usually takes the bus. Maybe my next car will have power sliding doors. Since I believe in driving a car until it is ready for the grave - that will be a while. Sarah will probably have a license of her own and it won't matter anyhow.
That is life in the stroller lane.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Convenient Camping

Scott and I like to camp. In the BK era (that's the before kids era) we camped all the time - in the rain, in the snow, and if we were lucky in sunny weather too. Not everyone agrees, but it is really nice to get away from it all. No phone, no TV, just some time outside.

If we have any hope of the kids enjoying camping, we figure we need to initiate them young. We especially need to catch the girls before they are angry that hair dryers won't work in a tent. Despite many failed prior attempts, we have yet to succeed in the family camping trip. There was the stomach virus of 2005 and the hail storm of 2006, plus little things like bed rest pregnancies and newborns in the house which kept spoiling our camping plans. All told the closest we have come to camping is setting up the tent on Mimi and Poppa's covered porch.

This year we didn't even try to camp for real. Open fire and toddling Mick definitely don't mix. Plus the idea of trying to get everyone to actually fall asleep in the same tent seemed a little too daunting.

Instead, we camped out convenient style. We ate dinner on the porch, roasted marshmallows on the grill, and set up the tent in the backyard. There were plenty of mosquitoes to make us feel like we were really camping, plus we were able to quietly tuck Mick into his crib upstairs.

By morning, most of the family was in the house. But, two of the gang spent the night in the great outdoors. While the forecast was for dry weather, we still had drops falling on the tent at 5AM. Someone (me) forgot to turn the sprinkler system off - oops.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wonderful One!

Mick turned one on Friday. He is definitely wonderful at one! We had a perfect one year old birthday. There was cake, ice cream, and a few gifts. The gifts were wrapped in blue and lots of toy cars were in the mix. There wasn't a single pink princess item to be found - a first for kid birthday's at our house.

Mimi and Poppa sadly missed the fun due to a family emergency. We still enjoyed the evening with the family and Nana. Even though we didn't host a giant birthday party, we did decorate the house. The girls used skills that would make the producers on HGTV proud. With their hard work, our home was turned into a birthday mecca with streamers, signs, and balloons. Even Mick's high chair was decorated.

With Mick's first year ended, we are looking forward to a new year of many adventures. We went from newborn, to infant, to toddler. By the time is two, he will be leaving all traces of babyhood in the dust.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Let's Go Fly A Kite

We were off to the mountains over Labor Day. We met up with the Schroeders, friends from Atlanta. They have two girls that are the same ages as Sarah and Jaley - needless to say it was a terrific weekend. We squeezed so much fun into the short vacation - I'm still recovering.

We hiked and made s'mores. We sampled wines and picked blueberries. We went trout fishing and caught nothing, but then went to the stream and caught minnows. We played on the playground and went to the pool. We even feasted on the world's largest T-Bones (thanks John). In between, we lounged on the deck and watched the start of college football season.

As if that wasn't enough, the highlight of the weekend was the Mile High Kite Festival. Beech Mountain gave out kites to the kids and let them run wild. There were literally hundreds of kites in the air. The wind was perfect - lofting a kite has never been easier. Mick preferred just to play with the string. It took about 10 minutes to get him untied, but he had a ball.

All told it was a wonderful Labor Day. Now it is back to the real world. I'm neck deep in house projects. Scott says I just can't help myself - which is probably true, since I'm on a first name basis with most of the staff at Home Depot. In short we are all good. What a difference from a year ago.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mama's Boy

Mick said his first word - MAMA. I couldn't be happier. For the girls, mama was way down the list of early words. I had to wait until Sarah was 18 months. She said dog before mama - we don't even own a dog. It turns out, I am "top dog" for Mick - mama is definitely his first word.

As great as hearing his first word - the back story is even better. For weeks the girls have called me mama instead of mommy. We live in the South - I didn't think much of it. A few days ago, I asked Jaley why mama instead of mommy. She said, "it's a secret, but I'm going to tell you anyhow." Jaley then explained that Sarah wanted Mick to learn mama. Sarah felt the best way to teach Mick was by example. In a secret pack together, Sarah and Jaley started calling me mama to teach Mick. Not only did their plan work, I never caught on. Don't tell Jaley and Sarah that I know their secret, but that story was just too kind and sweet not to share. It is the kind of thing that assures me I have the best kids in the world.

Mick wasn't the only one getting educated this week. Sarah and I are back to school. Sarah is a big-kid first grader now. She is had a great start to the new year and loves her new teacher. I had a chance to meet Mrs. Burr last week. I agree with Sarah, she seems great.

After two semesters of a 45 minute commute, terrible parking, and an early start, I am very much enjoying my online class. It is go at your own pace and I work right from home. I could definitely get used to this online school thing - though this is a one time deal. The rest of my classes will be hands on - which is definitely a good thing for nursing.

With summer winding down, we are trying to get in the last of our playtime. We went to the beach last weekend. It was a great time thanks to the Olivas, our terrific hosts. We even caught a few crabs from the docks. For Labor Day, we are off to the mountains. Simply stated, things are pretty darn good around here.

That is life stroller lane.

Monday, August 16, 2010

11-Months Old

Mick turned 11 months yesterday. He is in the final days of his first year. I can't believe it. As his days of being a baby wind down, he is on a mission to prove he is fully ready for the toddler stage.
  • Walking - Check - Mastered that this month, though he really hates wearing shoes and prefers to be barefoot (which is no problem with the record heat this year).
  • Climbing - Check - The stairs are his personal favorite - anything with an riser, step, or incline is fine. As the mom, I'm trying to have him avoid this one.
  • Trouble - Check - Mick gets to everything and does it fast. His preference is for all things dirty, disgusting or dangerous. He tends to ignore all the soft, safe toys which I (of course) prefer.
  • Temper - Check - Just try to take anything away from him and you can see this first hand. His temper is proof of those Irish & Italian roots.
All systems for toddlerhood are a Go. All Mick needs to make it official is his first birthday. If this month goes as fast as the past 11 - that will be in the blink of an eye.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Momnesia (mom-nee-zhuh) - noun: Mothers who forget child and baby stages between the rearing of subsequent children.
I am definitely suffering from some serious Momnesia. Jaley is only four. Since her transition from baby to toddler to child, I have completely forgotten about all sorts of details and idiosyncrasies about raising little ones. For example, I completely forget:
  • How hard it is to change a toddler's diaper. Mick squirms, kicks, and tries to reach right into his dirty diaper to help.
  • How messy dinner time can be. One piece in Mick's mouth, one piece on his shirt (the bib never catches anything), one piece on the floor. The cats scrounge around for snacks, but I still have to sweep the kitchen 5 times a day.
  • How fast a toddler can get into trouble. Just one moment with my back turned and Mick dumped the entire garbage can on the floor. How he ever got it out of the cabinet and lifted it out of its holder - I'll never know.
  • How difficult it is to figure out just what a toddler wants. Mick has a definite opinion on what he wants. With a vocabulary of zero words, I'm forever trying to guess just what that want is. At least, we are getting better with the non-verbal clues. When he is thirsty he goes to the cabinet and pulls out ALL the bottles. Next, he tries and drink out of them. Then, I know it's time for some formula (since, I happily gave up breast feeding a couple of months ago).
I know lots of other moms suffer from this syndrome as well. I'll mention things about Mick to friends with older kids and I see that look on their face. That look that says "oh yes, now, I remember that stage." That look that says, "oh I had forgotten all about that, and boy am I glad that stage is over."

Moms may not actively admit that they forget things about their children. In fact, we pride ourselves on remembering every detail. It turns out, Momneesia is selective. We mommies remember all the good stuff - every kiss, hug, and cuddle. Instead, Momneesia only strikes on the challenging parts. And in the long-run, it may not matter if we forget that stuff.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Teething - Stage 2

All my recent teething stories have been about Mick. As you know teething is a two-step process. Sarah officially entered Stage 2. She lost her first baby tooth this week. It happened at camp during lunch. The fateful tooth was consumed along with her peanut butter sandwich.

Good News! The Tooth Fairy pays up even if the tooth is lost. I had no desire to search for that tooth upon its exit. I have enough dealings with stinky messes via Mick's dirty diapers!

It has been a busy and fun-filled week. Scott returned with wonderful tales from St. Lucia. Emily's wedding was wonderful. Sarah was at a YMCA camp this week while I finished up classes. They hosted a family fitness fun night complete with obstacle courses and a fun "triathlon." The family ran, biked, and finished with a ride down the water slide. We were soaking wet and had lots of fun. Next up was Jaley's birthday party. Our Friday night was hopping good fun at Jump Zone.

It is a good thing that there was lots of fun, because life got a little less playful. Mick is sick with some type of nasty stomach virus. All he has had for the past three days is saltines, apple sauce, and apple juice. Rumor at the day care is to expect a week of this - yuck!

Scott is missing all the germs. He left yesterday for China. He is in China for 5 days (plus 3 days of travel) going to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and another city I can't pronounce. No Great Wall or Forbidden City for him - just airports, hotels, and customer visits. He called a few minutes ago to let me know he had arrived. He asked just one question - Gucci or Coach? Apparently you can get knock-offs at the airport. If I'm lucky, he will arrive home with a "Couch" purse. My gift for solo parenting most of the past month.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Four, Finals, Forever, and the Bonus

Today is the big day. The big day of celebrating at the Harrell house. And it was underway at 5:50AM.

FIRST UP: FOUR!!!! Jaley was up and ready to start celebrating her 4th birthday. By 6:30AM she was all dolled up, with braids and headbands and glitter in her hair. She is truly my "girly girl." I got her off to school - along with enough cupcakes to feed an army. And her partying will go on all day. Nana is surprising her and taking her out for lunch today at Red Robin (Jaley's favorite). This evening we have a picnic planned for the pool - followed by (more) cupcakes, ice cream, and presents. If that isn't enough - there is her party on Friday evening. I'm saving this post - in case my kids ever gripe about not being spoiled (he, he).

NEXT UP: FINALS!!!! School's out for summer. I finished my final final this morning. I already got my grades - all A's. Better than the grades is the break. I'm only taking one online class in the fall - so it will be a very easy term before the real start in January. As for nursing school, my application is ready to turn in. I just need to send it. Then the long wait - 12 weeks - to find out if I'll be a Tar Heel again. Cross your fingers. Either way - it's summer now and time to kick back. Bring on the wine.

LAST UP: FOREVER!!!! Today is Emily and Marcus's wedding day. The news from St. Lucia is that it is beautiful and relaxing. Scott, the parents, and the wedding couple are enjoying themselves in the tropics. The wedding is at 5PM right on the beach - how romantic. I look forward to seeing pictures of the big event and to the reception in Raleigh in October.

I posted on Tuesday that Mick was close to walking. I wasn't kidding. He started walking on Wednesday. He will be ready for the track team soon. My little baby is growing up fast. I better snuggle him now, because I won't be able to catch him pretty soon.

As I said before July 27th was going to be a big day at our house. It hasn't disappointed and there is still plenty of day left.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

10 Months Old - Lots to celebrate!

There is lots to celebrate around here. As of Saturday, Mick is 10-months old. Time sure does fly. I managed to catch him in diaper-only attire when we were playing in the hose to escape the summer heat. This month he sprouted some new teeth, given up baby food (which I won't miss), developed stranger anxiety (yikes), and is sooooo trying to walk. He isn't quite there, but he keeps trying (and falling).

Mick isn't the only one growing teeth this month. Sarah has her first wiggly tooth - a sure sign that her baby teeth are on the way out and her permanent teeth are on the way in. She is so excited for a visit from the tooth fairy, she is ready to take pliers to her tooth. Who can blame her it's free money.

While Jaley doesn't have any dental news, she is growing up nonetheless. She turns 4 on Tuesday 7/27. I can't believe that she already a "big kid." With Sarah teaching her the ropes, Jaley seems to be growing up even faster than her sister did. As usual, we are going to celebrate all week. The festivities start next Tuesday and continue through the weekend.

I am in the throws of the end of the semester cram. During the last 8 classes of the term, I had (have) 4 tests, 4 finals, 3 homework assignments, 1 project, and 1 presentation. My final exams start tomorrow and finish on Tuesday 7/27 - which is another reason for celebration on Jaley's birthday.

As if that wasn't enough reason to celebrate - Scott's sister is getting married on Tuesday 7/27 too!!!! It is a destination wedding for the immediate family - in beautiful St. Lucia. While we wish we could have all made the trip, it isn't really a kid-centric local. There was no chance Scott would miss watching his his little sister walk down the aisle to marry a wonderful man. Scott is headed to for a very quick trip to paradise for the wonderful event.

And that is a lot of celebrating. But it isn't quite time yet. I need to get back to the books and get ready for these finals.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

We are celebrating in the 4th in the NC Mountains! We couldn't have paid for better weather. Right now the girls are with Mimi and Poppa at a 4th of July Party at the Beech Mountain Rec Center. I am waiting for Mick to wake up from his nap so I can join the fun. Last week, Sarah had a stomach virus and croup (Yes, you can still get it at 6 years old. Yes, it is still just as scary when your kid is having trouble beathing). Here in the mountains, Scott seems to have caught the stomach virus and Mick definitely has croup. Bummer, but at least the girls and I are well. Plus I was able to finagle my way into some OralPred medicine - so at least we can keep Mick's breathing in check and he doesn't sound quite as much like a barking like seal.

I'm starting to think I'm more likely to win in Vegas than take a trip as a family of five without at least one person taking ill. One of us is always passing something around to the rest of the family and our germs don't take any vacations - they just travel along with us. Since I'm taking Microbiology this semester, I guess I can even officially claim that it is true.

Of other note, Sarah officially graduated from Kindergarten last week. And while Sarah was winding out the school year, Jaley spent her first week away from home. She went to "camp" at Mimi and Poppa's house. She had so much fun she didn't even have time to get homesick. It is a good thing Mick is still a baby, because all my other kids are growing up too fast.

It is time to wind this up - there are hot dogs and apple pie waiting for me at the party.

That is life in the stroller lane. Happy 4th of July.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Look Dad - No Hands - I'm 9 months old

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. I hope you are enjoying the day kicked back and relaxed. If instead, you are chasing kids around, I guess you are officially "dadified."

Thinking about fatherhood this week, I had a realization. In the world of moms, I think we ladies tend to feel more changed by parenthood than our father-partners. We become "momified" and we think that fathers don't become "dadified." Well, I'm hear to tell you this believe just isn't true. Oh I have definitely become momified - I run carpool wearing sweats and make-up, feel that a pony tail is the height of hair fashion, and have trouble starting conversations without the phrase, "The kids..." But it turns out dads become "dadified" too. I saw the proof at the gym just this week. There was a man - a dad - quietly working out with free weights. He took a break to enjoy some water. Water right out of a hot pink water bottle printed with "Girls Rule." I'm sure that he needed a water bottle for the gym and this was all he could find. A 20-year old guy probably would have gone thirsty - but the dad didn't care so he brought a pink water bottle to the gym. He was officially "dadified."

So thanks to all the "dadified" fathers out there. We don't sing your praises as often as we should. We definitely don't always recognize the sacrifices you make (pink water bottles and all) To Scott, Poppa, Grandpa Perry (we miss you), Granddaddy Harrell, and Papa Bob thank you for being the wonderful fathers of my life. You are each terrific. Happy Father's Day.

In addition to celebrating Father's Day - it was time celebrate another man in my life - Michael and his 9-month birthday. Jaley's record as our earliest walker (9 months and a few days) will definitely stand (bad pun intended). However, Michael is trying hard to enter join the world of bipeds. Here he is hands-free. Unless I resort to putting weights on his feet, he will be walking soon.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

On the Flip Side

There are those weeks in life that you want to savior every moment - a week on a great vacation, the week you get married, the first week of summer vacation as a kid, - those weeks you never want to end. Then there are all those other weeks in life. Well, the Harrell house is coming off one of the latter. It has been several weeks since my last post and it's time to catch up on the gossip.

Usually, I'm the one with all the medical drama. Gratefully, I turned over my "it doesn't cover a damn thing" hospital gown last year and am healthy as a horse these days. However, I didn't realize I was turning my gown over to Scott. Never to be outdone, it was his turn to have his own bit of medical drama. Scott has diligently battled sinus and allergy issues for decades. He's tried every thing - from OTC, to prescriptions, to Eastern medicine, to 5 years of allergy shots. But his sinuses didn't care - to the tune of 6 sinus infections in 12 months. He was starting to think that antibiotics were the lesser known 5th food group. So on the 2nd of June, he put his nose in the hands of Dr. Jones for surgery to help fix what probably began as an undiagnosed broken nose as a kid.

According to the Doc, the surgery went great and his expectation is that Scott will breathe better than ever and he can permanently cancel his sinus infection frequent flyer account. Like any surgery, the part that involves the doctor is only the tip of the iceberg. They kick you out of the hospital with a friendly smile and say good luck. Since then Scott has been recovering. For any of you out there who have had sinus surgery, I tip my hat. Let's just say after watching Scott recover (of which he has been a trooper), I no longer have any desire to "fix" my Italian nose. It is one tough recovery, worsened by a couple of post-op complications (nothing too serious, but no fun either).

However, 10 days later he is on the flip side. Is he 100%? No, but he is on his way. Today, he even took the girls out for to play so I could have a few quiet minutes at the house while Michael was napping.

Scott's health has been in the center ring recently. With our circus of a family, there is always much happening in the side rings, too. All of us (with Nana taking Scott's spot) finished a charity 5K this morning. I'm so proud to say that Sarah walked/ran the entire race!!! The girls also finished swim lessons today. Sarah is a apparently part fish. Jaley will be following suit soon. Michael is into everything. I caught him reaching into the cat litter box this week (YUCK!!!). After a very thorough scrubbing, I immediately bought a kiddie gate. The laundry room is locked off and hopefully our speedy crawler will stick to reaching in his toy box from here on out.

While the past week won't go down as the "funniest" week ever, I'm very grateful Scott is on the mend! A special thanks to Nana and all the friends that lent a hand this week. The play dates with the girls were such a help when Scott needed quiet in the house. Thank you so very much!!!

That is life in the stroller lane.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

8-Months Old - My Little Caveman

It's hard to believe, but Michael is already 8-months old. He truly is busy as a bee. Since he has mastered onward, with crawling. This picture shows, his next step is upward. He is getting so close to pulling up. It is a very scary thought that he'll be running around soon.

Beyond the obvious differences in diaper changing, I'm finding that lots of things are different raising a little boy. We all know that we ladies are the more chatty gender - apparently this starts in infancy. By this stage, Jaley and Sarah were doing a whole bunch of babbling - mamama , ahhhh, gaaaa, etc. Michael is having none of that - he just grunts. He is like my little caveman. But, don't think he isn't communicating. Each little grunt has it's own little meaning. It is up to me to decipher them. So far, I've figured out the grrrr - I'm hungry. And the gghhhh - I'm playing with my toys. And the ggmmmm - I'm tired. Who says every word has to have a vowel in it? Michael speaks in only consonants.

Maybe I should ask Scott for help in translating. Last night he was so tired after work, he was only grunting too.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Survived Vacation

Another family vacation is in the record books. Everyone knows that vacation means R&R. However, what used to translated to rest and relaxation, now translates to restless and rambunctious. Vacation with 3 kids is a tiring trip. Exhaustion aside, we had a wonderful time.

We headed South to Florida to spend some time with Mimi and Poppa. As usual they were the hosts with the most. There were toys for the kids, golf for Scott, and champagne for me. Everyone was spoiled. The weather was perfect - mostly in the 80's. We went the pool or the beach everyday to soak up the sun. Like all parents, I dosed the kids with sunscreen. The only one that got burnt was me - oops I forgot to sunscreen up my own back!

We started the trip with Michael's Christening at Jan and Mike's church. For memory sake, I wanted Michael to be Christened in the same clothes as the girls. It was Mother's Day and I had the final say on the special outfit. Scott is still angry that his son's formal introduction to God was in a "dress" (aka Christening Gown). Oh well, Michael didn't care and it made me happy.

After a few days in Vero, we headed a wee bit North. The first stop was Daytona Beach to spread my dad's ashes. We lost Perry two years ago. With a few delays, I finally made good on my promise to make a final visit to his favorite beach. As for the delay, I know he wouldn't have cared in the least. We miss ya Perry!!!

Then it was East to Orlando. Yes, we were crazy enough to brave Disney with all three kids. Luckily, Jan and Mike joined us. We spent one day at the Magic Kingdom. Sarah rode all the roller coasters - even Space Mountain. Jaley skipped those, but rode everything else. Jan and I also took the girls to the Bippity Boppity Boutique for a princess transformation. And never one to waste a good hairdo - we then enjoyed High Tea at the Grand Floridian complete with scones and cucumber sandwiches.

Finally, it was home once again. It was a great welcome home. Nana not only picked us up at the airport, but made dinner for the whole family too. What a treat.

With vacation over, it is back to the grindstone - and I mean it. For the summer term, I'm taking close to a full load of classes. Micheal is even starting day care part-time. Wish me luck - I'm gonna need it.

That is life in the stroller lane.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Finals Done - Party Time

One semester down. I had finals this week. I still can't believe I'm back in school, but the backpack sitting in the corner keeps reminding me. Like any good college co-ed, I had to do a bit of celebrating to properly finish the term. There was loud music, wild dancing, a 3AM bedtime, and a headache the next morning. Ahh, yes that is fully explained at the end.

Otherwise, this week was busy (aren't they all). Scott was in CA (arriving home tonight) and we are headed to Florida tomorrow morning to visit Mimi and Poppa. I'm not the only one on break from school. Sarah has class tomorrow (yes on Saturday) to make up for a snow day back in January. As soon as we pick her up to head to the airport, she is tracked out. She and I are both excited for a break from the books.

Michael is getting into everything. Now that he is mobile, he is sniffing out trouble at lightning speed. Yikes, I found him chewing on my shoe today. As soon as we get back from vacation, it is time for some serious baby proofing. Once again, opening cabinets will be like breaking into Fort Knox.

Jaley is just as zany as ever. Her fun spirit is infectious, though I find it hard to describe. This picture helps. This is how I found her the other morning sound asleep. I asked her why she slept surrounded by her shoes. She answered, as if the answer was obvious, "Mommy, I didn't know which shoes I wanted to wear today, so I slept with them. So I could dream about them and decide which was the most beautiful." As for her choice - the pink boots - and they are quite fabulous.

As for my excesses for the end of the semester. I celebrated by going to see Wicked (music and dancing), the baby was awake until 3AM (so, of course, I was too), and the headache was thanks to peak pollen levels. Did you envision a different explanation to my story? It definitely wasn't how I partied when I was 20, but it was still a fun evening.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.