Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pool Time

We finally made it out to our neighborhood pool for the first time this summer. Charlotte loved her first time in a "big" pool, and Trenton wanted to be Mr. Independent. His parents, of course, did not oblige. We had a fun time, and timed our walk back to the house just right. After going through a major drought this summer, we've had over 3 inches of rain this evening.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bass Pro Shops

Jarrod needed to do some shopping at Bass Pro Shops the other day, so we decided to make the trip into a family outing. Jarrod took Charlotte to do his shopping, while Trenton and I hung out at the fish tank.

Trenton loved watching the fish....until he noticed.....


The kid was seriously off and running when he spotted them! What a boy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mini Vacation to Virginia's Eastern Shore

We just got back from an overnight mini vacation to Chincoteague Island on Virginia's Eastern Shore. We had a great time and can't wait to go back!

Our trip started out with stopping at Island One on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The bridge-tunnel connects Hampton Roads to Virginia's Eastern Shore. It consists of more than 12 miles of trestled roadway, two mile-long tunnels, two bridges, four man-made islands, and two miles of causeway totaling 17 miles of an amazing driving experience. The total cost for the project was $450 million - none of it funded by federal, state, or local taxes. Wow! I was hoping to see a ship or sub crossing the channels, but we weren't that lucky. Trenton loved watching the cars go in and out of the tunnel and enjoyed watching the fishermen on the pier. The fish weren't biting, so we didn't get to see anything being reeled in. Since this island and pier are out in open water, I've heard that people catch some pretty big fish....even sharks!!!

Once we got over to the Eastern Shore, we stopped at the visitor center for a break and to pick up brochures. One of the employees at the visitor center recommended that we visit a local pharmacy soda fountain in Cape Charles for lunch. After lunch, the kids were ready for naps, and Jarrod and I were ready for an hour and a half of quiet driving time. The kids woke up just as we were passing the NASA station on Wallops Island (about 5 minutes from Chincoteague Island), so we did pretty good. It wasn't quite time to check in to our hotel yet, so we stopped for a snack at the Island Creamery. Since I'm not eating dairy because of Charlotte's milk allergy, I got a cup of margarita flavor sorbet - the only option on the dairy-free menu. Trenton and Jarrod split a cup of homemade Oreo ice cream. I think Trenton might have eaten more than Daddy!

Next we went to our hotel. We stayed at the Refuge Inn, a family owned hotel on the island. Each room is decorated differently. I was really excited because we were in a room with a Temperpedic mattress (which I LOVED by the way). Each room has a balcony or patio (depending on which floor you're on), and there are hibachi grills outside for guest use.

After relaxing in the room for a little bit, we decided to drive across the bridge to Assateague Island. Assateague and Chincoteague were made famous in the books of Marguerite Henry. Assateague Island is made up of a national wildlife refuge and a national seashore. Wild ponies (actually horses that have been stunted in growth over the years by eating marsh grass) roam freely on Assateague Island. Every summer at the end of July, all of the horses on Assateague are rounded up. They swim across to Chincoteague Island where some of them are auctioned off in order to manage the herd. Quite a few businesses on Chincoteague Island have some of these ponies on their properties (our hotel included). Anyway, because of the super hot temperatures and the drought that we've been going through, the wild ponies have been staying further back in the marsh and timber during the day. We weren't able to see them on the driving path. We could have walked out on the walking/biking paths and probably found some of them, but a couple of rain showers early in the week brought in the mosquitoes. We did find some deer on our drive through the wildlife refuge though.

Next we hit up Don's Seafood Restaurant for dinner. I had an excellent broiled flounder and Jarrod had cream of crab soup and a salad. We took turns eating because Charlotte was a very unhappy little girl. We didn't want her to bother everyone else in the restaurant so we took her outside.

Since Charlotte was such an unhappy little camper, I decided that Jarrod should drop us off at the hotel while he and Trenton went out for more fun. Charlotte and I checked out the hotel's indoor/outdoor pool while Daddy and Trenton went to the Chincoteague Pony Centre where Trenton got to take his first pony ride! Jarrod said that Trenton really liked it although he didn't want to hold on at all. They also looked through some museum exhibits and went to a pony show. They didn't stay for the whole show since it was already past Trenton's bedtime. Trenton was so excited when he and Jarrod got back to the room. He showed me the ribbon that he got for riding the pony. I think both he and Daddy had a great "boys night."

Jarrod and I were both surprised at what a pleasant night of sleeping we had. Both kids went down in hotel cribs without a problem and slept all night!

The next morning we got up and enjoyed the hotel's deluxe continental breakfast. After getting packed up and checked out of our rooms, we went over to the hotel's pony pens to get an up-close look at the ponies. Charlotte even got to pet one!

Next we drove back across the bridge to Assateague Island. We wanted to check out the beach. Wow! This was definitely the nicest beach I've ever seen. The whole island is run by the National Park Service, so there are no houses, hotels, shops, ANYTHING on the beach....just pristine white sand (and a few restroom facilities). We hadn't been to the beach since last summer when we went to the Outer Banks, so I was anxious to see how Trenton would react. Charlotte slept the whole time we were at the beach, so she didn't get to dip her toes in the water. Trenton on the other hand had to be dragged away from the surf! The kid LOVED the waves and could have stayed at the beach all day.

We stopped at the Tom's Cove Visitor Center as we left the beach. They had a touch tank with crabs, clams, etc, a touch pit with bones, snake skins, etc, and a neat gift area with a lot of books that Trenton liked looking at.

The visitor center/National Park Service offers tons of programs for both adults and kids. We'd like to go for a longer stay and try some of these out. We also want to climb to the top of Assateague Lighthouse, but that's going to have to wait until the kids are a little older. A boat tour of Assateague Island is on the agenda for another visit too. There are a few companies that have permission from the National Park Service to offer ecotours on their boats in the marshes on the island. We would have taken one of these on this trip if Charlotte would have been in a better mood. Maybe when we're finally able to take the tour, she'll actually be able to enjoy it.

After our beach excursion it was off to lunch at That Mexican Place (seriously, this is the name of the restaurant) and then we were back on the road for the 2 1/2 hour drive home. We loved the Eastern Shore, and hope to make a return visit soon!

Eastern Shore Mini Vacation - July 2010

Guam Reunions

We were really excited to be able to catch up with some Guam friends in the past week.

Sunday evening, we met up with Jana, Mallorie, and Madison for dinner at Jana's friend's house in Chesapeake. Jana and the girls had just gotten in from two years in Italy. The girls had grown up so much and had a great time playing with the kids. It was wonderful getting to catch up with Jana in person (we talked on the phone pretty regularly) and meeting her wonderful friends who opened their home to us.

Tuesday, we met up with Amy and her girls - Amber and Chloe - and Brandy. Brandy and her husband moved to the area a couple months ago, but this was the first time we'd been able to get together since they moved here. Amy and her girls were visiting from South Carolina. We all met up at the Virginia Living Museum. This was Jarrod's first time to the museum, and he loved watching Trenton walk around like he owned the place. Trenton and Chloe had a great time together. Chloe is going to be a great big sister to her new little sister that is on the way.

It was great catching up with old friends that we hadn't seen in a while. Hopefully we won't go two years before we see them again!

Here are some pictures from the Living Museum.

Virginia Living Museum with Friends

Growing Kiddos

Wow, how time flies! Charlotte turned four months old last week, and Trenton hit the 18 month mark. Someone needs to tell these kids to slow down!

Let's start with Trenton. Here are his 18-month stats:
Height: 33 inches - 72nd percentile
Weight: 26 pounds - 52nd percentile
Head Circumference: 19 1/4 inches - 80th percentile - This kid may look like his Daddy, but he sure doesn't take after him in noggin size!

Trenton RUNS everywhere! He loves the water and playing outside. Trenton uses quite a few words and phrases although over half are only recognizable to Mommy and Daddy. He is very interested in counting and letters. Trenton doesn't say all of his letters and numbers, but he recognizes all of his uppercase letters, about half of the lowercase letters, and the numbers 1-10. Trenton is somewhat of a picky eater now. He gets on these kicks where he wants the same things over and over. A few weeks ago, all he wanted were raisins. Now, he's constantly asking for "nanas" (bananas). Trenton is still loving on his baby sister all the time, but I can already see sharing troubles on the horizon. Now that Charlotte is starting to hold on to and grab toys, Trenton thinks he needs to play with rattles and such! Trenton still very rarely spends any time without some sort of bump or bruise on his forehead. About a month ago, he started spinning around in circles for fun. He makes himself good and dizzy and then tries to run. I can't believe that we haven't had to make any trips to the ER yet! Trenton could open his own library with all of the books that he has! He loves being read to and has started flipping through the books and "reading" himself!

Now on to Charlotte. Here are her stats:

Height: 23 1/2 inches - 22nd percentile
Weight: 13 pounds, 6 ounces - 43rd percentile - This girl is a CHUNKY monkey!
Head Circumference: 15 1/4 inches - 3rd percentile - Maybe she'll take after Daddy in head size!
Just looking at Charlotte, you'd never realize that she had been growth restricted and born early at a low birth weight. She is growing great! I had to move her up to 3-6 month size clothes sooner than I thought I would. We had to up the dosage on her reflux prescription because it wasn't helping. We also found out that she is allergic to cow's milk. Since I'm still breastfeeding, this means cutting all dairy out of my diet. We may be switching over to soy formula pretty soon! We hope that these changes help! Because of the constant spitting up, Charlotte hasn't spent a whole lot of time on the floor lately, so she's not rolling over yet. Trenton was over 4 months when he started rolling, so we're not too concerned. Charlotte loves sitting up and watching everyone, and sits pretty well with pillows propped around her. Because of all of the reflux issues and milk allergy, the doctor advised us not to start Charlotte on solid foods yet. We are waiting until we get all of her issues straightened out.

These kiddos definitely keep us on our toes, but we couldn't be more happy!

Having Fun With Daddy Home

Here are some pictures of all of us having fun around the house now that Daddy's home!

Fun Times with Daddy Home!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Daddy's Home

Daddy's home, but boy did getting him back here involve some headaches! Here is a rundown of our day last Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

1am - Jarrod emails letting me know that he is in Germany. His flight has been changed. He was supposed to be arriving at Newport News/Williamsburg airport at 6:53pm, but is now scheduled to arrive in Norfolk at 11:45pm. Jarrod tells me that he is going to try to change his flight back to the NN/Williamsburg flight once he makes it into Baltimore.

10:45am - The kids and I arrive at the Poquoson Library for a pirate puppet show. Charlotte sleeps through about half of it, and Trenton dances the whole time!

1pm - We're back home. The kids eaten lunch and are both down for naps. I'm still trying to straighten up the house.

1:15pm - Lauren, my babysitter/neighbor comes over so I can run errands. I go to the party store to get some balloons and decorations for the house, pick up my laptop at Best Buy after being without it for 3 weeks (it is now gone for another 3 weeks, but that's a whole other story), and then go do my grocery shopping. Jarrod calls while I'm in the grocery store. He is in Baltimore. He has been able to get his flight changed back to arriving in Newport News at 6:53. The first leg of his flight (a flight into Philly) has been delayed, but he should still make it into Newport News on time as long as he can catch his connecting flight.

3:30pm - Back home. The kids are both still sleeping. I have Lauren stick around so that I can get some things done. I put away all of the groceries and then go outside to decorate the house. By the time I come back in, the kids are awake. I take Trenton upstairs for a bath. Once I'm finished with him, I give Charlotte a bath. Then it's time for me to get ready.

4:45pm - Lauren goes back home. I check Jarrod's flight status, and it says that the flight from Baltimore to Philly still hasn't left. The flight from Philly to Newport News should be leaving fairly soon, so I assume that Jarrod isn't going to make it.

5:05pm - I have the nagging feeling that Jarrod would have called if his flight plan had changed, so I decide to call the airline to have them look up Jarrod's itinerary. They tell me that the flight that Jarrod was supposed to be on from Baltimore to Philly still hasn't left, but Jarrod was able to catch a different flight to Philly. He was already there and was ready to board his flight back here.

5:15pm - Off the phone with the airline. Trenton goes into his highchair for dinner, and I sit down to feed Charlotte. I've got too many butterflies in my stomach to eat dinner. I'm about 10 minutes into Charlotte's feeding when I hear a "plop." Trenton had obviously eaten all that he wanted, and now mashed avocado and yogurt was all over the floor. My canine vacuum cleaned up.

6:00pm - The kids are fed, dressed in their homecoming clothes, and we're out the door headed to the airport.

6:10pm - Jarrod calls. What? He should be in flight! The flight into Newport News has been cancelled. He says that now he's going to be flying into Norfolk but doesn't have a flight yet. I call my photographer to cancel (she was going to take reunion pictures at the airport), pull a "U" and head back to the house.

7:00pm - Jarrod calls to tell me that he will be flying into Norfolk at 8:30.

7:30pm - Back on the road headed down to Norfolk.

7:33pm - Jarrod calls to tell me that there's been a problem with his ticket. They have taken him off the plane, but the pilot is going to wait on him. The flight will probably arrive a few minutes late. We're already on the road, so we keep on driving.

8:05pm - We have just exited for the airport, and the phone rings. Guess who!!! It's Jarrod again! The problem with his ticket was taking too long, and the plane couldn't wait any longer. There was another flight into Norfolk that was supposed to be arriving at 9:30, and he was going to try to get on it. He wasn't sure if he'd make it, so I decided not to go pay for parking at the airport until I heard more from Jarrod. I pull into the Pizza Hut parking lot to wait for Jarrod to call back with more info. One problem - Charlotte doesn't like sitting in the car seat if the car isn't moving. So, I start driving aimlessly around Norfolk trying to calm her down.

8:30pm - Charlotte is calm, and I am hungry so I pull into Sonic. I barely finish ordering when she gets mad again. Thankfully service is fast, and I'm back driving around town in no time.

8:45pm - Jarrod calls. He is going to be flying into Norfolk but not until 11:45. There is no way I'm driving around town until then with two tired kids, so I head back home.

9:30pm - We're back home again. I change Trenton into his pajamas and put him to bed. Charlotte's turn next. She gets fed, and then it's up to bed for her.

10:45pm - Lauren comes back over to stay at the house while I go pick Jarrod up. Man, this girl is going to get rich off of me!

10:55pm - On the road headed back down to Norfolk.

11:30pm - Arrive at the airport. I notice on the board that Jarrod's flight has been delayed and will now be arriving at 12:15am. Go figure!

11:45pm - Jarrod calls from on board the plane - still on the ground in Philly! There has been a fueling problem, and 5,000 pounds of fuel needed to be let off. It would be at least 1:00am before his flight arrived. Good thing I brought a magazine!

1:05am - Jarrod FINALLY lands in Norfolk!!!

1:10am - We're reunited!

1:20am - Headed back home - NOT! Jarrod is now talking to the baggage people trying to find out where his bags are. They decided to stay in Philly and will catch up with us later.

1:25am - Now, we're headed home.

2:00am - Home - FINALLY!!!

Since we obviously didn't get any reunion pictures at the airport, we went to the Purple Owl studio later in the morning. Julie got some great shots! Thanks, Julie!

Homecoming Pictures

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Down to the Last Link

The kids took the last link off of our paper chain this morning. Daddy flies in tonight! Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, kind words, and messages through this deployment!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Muffin Tin Meals

My little man who used to devour pretty much any baby food concoction I came up with, has now turned into a picky eater as a toddler. Things that he used to gobble down, he won't touch anymore. Then I came across the Muffin Tin Mom website - I have started putting Trenton's meals in muffin tins a few times a week now, and although he doesn't always eat everything, he at least TRIES all of the food. Some of the moms on this website get really creative with their muffin tin meals. I don't have the time to do that right now, but since there are only two links left on our "Countdown to Daddy's Homecoming" chain, I'll have the time soon!

Today's meal - red bell pepper strips, wheat crackers, carrot sticks, apple wedges, vanilla yogurt, and banana slices

Friday, July 9, 2010

Down on the Farm

We spent the morning at Bluebird Gap Farm today. We met up with a groups of other moms and kids to watch a magic show. It was getting crowded, so we went to find a shady spot to sit about 15 minutes before the show started. Sitting for 15 minutes doing nothing wasn't really part of Trenton's plan, so we skipped out on the magic show and went walking around to look at the animals instead with another little boy and his mom. Trenton thought that looking at the animals was a lot more fun than having to sit still!

Doesn't Charlotte look interested??? At least she got a good nap in!

We're Here!

It's been a while since I've posted, but we're still here! We woke up two weeks ago, and as we were finishing up breakfast, I opened up the laptop and turned it on so that we could Skype with Jarrod. Nothing. I tried turning it off and back on a few more times, and still nothing. I loaded up the kids and the laptop and headed to Best Buy to see what the Geek Squad could do for me. Just a side note - don't go to see the Geek Squad on a Saturday morning if at all possible. After waiting in line for an hour, we finally made it up to the counter. The Geek Squad guy couldn't get the computer going either and told me that it would have to be sent off for 3-5 weeks. Since we've had the computer less than a year, it is still under warranty, so thankfully getting it fixed will be of no cost to us. I resurrected our old desktop computer that I've had since college and hooked up a web cam to it so that we'd still be able to Skype with Jarrod. Thankfully getting the hard drive cleaned up and throwing the computer out hadn't been checked off my to-do list yet!

Anyway, we've been hanging in around here. I had both kids at the doctor earlier this week - Trenton for what the doctor called a mild case of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, and Charlotte for reflux. Trenton was two months old when he got reflux, so thankfully Charlotte has held out a little longer than Trenton did. She's on medication now, so hopefully that will help.

We are counting down the days until Jarrod gets home. He is currently in Kuwait for out processing and a warrior transition course. He should be back home around the middle to end of next week. We can't wait!

And now for pictures (and a video). Here's a look at a typical day in the life of the Smith Family!


Morning workout with Bailey (I only caught the tail end of this)

Morning Lessons

Relaxing my brain!

Yard Work

Cooling off with a messy popsicle!