Monday, June 30, 2014

Three Years!

Jamie, my happy little jumper, turned three years old on Saturday:


He jumps, with chicken wings, ALL THE TIME.


He is constant movement, this Tasmanian Devil of a child.  He doesn’t lack focus, but he doesn’t have any downtime in his days, either.  Much like Charles, he is an on-or-off kid.  The difference is that focus.  Charles, at age three, craved our interaction with him, couldn’t be alone, and couldn’t focus on a single task.  About half the time, Jamie is content to ride his tricycle alone or play with his cars solo.  He’ll listen to me read stories for hours or he’ll play with his paints or playdough.  The only thing he won’t focus on is the television (honestly, I’m so glad).


He’s such an amazing child.  He stands and sings at the dinner table, dancing with his reflection in the mirrors on the wall.  He makes up stories and scenarios for his toys, he battles dragons with his sword and shield, and he cuddles up just so nicely in the crook of my arm on the couch.


So, what sort of birthday celebrations did we have for the incredible child?  We started with a party at school for which I made a Thomas the Tank Engine Rice Krispies Treat Cake:


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First, I sketched an outline of Thomas on parchment paper, then I put on latex gloves and covered them in Crisco, and finally, I shaped the train out of burning hot cereal-and-marshmallow mess.


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Then I frosted Thomas.  Not too shabby, eh?  As I’ve noted before, Rice Krispies Treats cakes are great for little kids because they don’t require forks, there are no allergens, they are infinitely customizable, and they taste delicious.


The cake was accompanied by singing and a piñata at school, much to the delight of twenty or so little kids.


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Charles got to visit from the school-agers class for the party.


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Tony was out of town on Friday, but my parents were there and took good care of all of us.


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And thank God they did; my mom did so much work to keep us all in clean dishes and fed.  She vacuumed for me and she and Loris did ALL of the party prep for Saturday (Tony didn’t get home until 8 am Saturday morning – the first text I had from him was to let me know he made it to Corvallis okay, the second was to check if I was in labor yet).  And my dad?  He read stories until he was hoarse.


I’m particularly proud of my party idea for Jamie.  How to keep a jumping kid happy while doing a minimum of work?  Rent a bouncy house.


With all the party invitations and party prep, I managed to keep the bouncy house a secret from my children.  We went to Baby Boot Camp on Saturday morning and returned to a fully inflated bouncy house in the back yard.  I don’t think they could have been more shocked.  The only disappointing thing was when they understood that we would not get to keep it forever.


photo 2 (53)photo 1 (52)photo 3 (43)Even Grandma Loris got in on some jumping action.  


I prayed for the weather to behave and, indeed, we only had a few quick showers.  Perfect jumping weather.  We had a million people come through to give Jamie their best wishes and a lot of kids who went home exhausted.


Three years.  I couldn’t love him more.


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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blame the Panic on the Pregnancy

I got all the information for church day camp for Charles in the mail yesterday.  Does is totally freak anyone else out the number of waivers we have to sign to have our kids do anything?  I’m pretty sure I just agreed to hold harmless anyone and everyone if my child dies from their negligence during this week.  Which seems CRAZY, since they are going to be interacting with venomous snakes and kangaroos and possums (they bite!), riding ponies, swimming in a pool (will there be a lifeguard???), playing at a beach, and riding on busses driven by VOLUNTEERS.  VOLUNTEER BUS DRIVERS.  My blood pressure just shot up.


And lunches.  You guys, in what will be my 39th week of pregnancy, I have to pack a lunch WITHOUT PEANUT PRODUCTS each day for a whole week.  I guess this is a preview of kindergarten and what I will soon be doing every day for the rest of my life, but I’ll admit it: I panicked.  I can barely figure out lunch for myself, let alone my kids.  They eat a lot of quesadillas on the weekends.  And eggs.  Anyhow, after I freaked out for a bit, I sat down with Charles and we brainstormed a list of lunch items he would enjoy, so at least I have a shopping list now.  And it’s mostly good stuff!  Sliced turkey, string cheese, raisins, apple slices, cold cheese pizza… turns out the kid is pretty easy going.  Maybe I’m the only one who’s hung up on peanut butter (because it’s so delicious!).


Or maybe the panic is just that I am really, really, really pregnant.  At 37 weeks, my feet are so swollen that I don’t fit into shoes, only flip-flops, and those leave marks on my feet.  I’m so tired I could nap all day and I really don’t want to eat anything but fruit and Oreos with milk (super healthy, right?).  I don’t feel nearly ready to have this baby, regardless of the fact that I have unpacked all my nursing bras and thrown a new toothbrush into my hospital bag.  There’s simply too much going on over the next two weeks (payroll and beginning of the month stuff at work, Jamie’s birthday, day camp for Charles, Tony’s Rotary Installation, bulk berry deliveries… I could go on) that I’m starting to feel like this was insanely poor planning on my part to have a baby in July.  And yet, I want to meet this little guy, so I’m hoping the next couple of weeks go quickly.  Except for Jamie’s birthday.  I’d feel terribly if I hurried that along at all.


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Maybe I should go get some more of those delicious buttermilk pancakes to pass the time.  I’m sure my double chin will thank me.  (Not.)

Monday, June 23, 2014


It’s funny, but regardless of how tired I am, the fast pace of my life continues, unabated.  Complain miserably or embrace?  How about “embrace, but compromise by taking lots of naps.”


I took the boys for a “Mommy-Charles-Jamie” day on Friday and spent most of the rest of the weekend on the couch.  One last hurrah before their world is turned upside-down by a new baby brother.


Because I am a working mom, and I have a lot of flexibility in my work schedule, I try really hard to take a few hours (sometimes a whole day) off to hang out with my kids on occasion.  Sometimes it’s one-on-one, other times, we do things all together.  I don’t want to be a stay-at-home-mom, I think that’s really hard and it doesn’t bring me joy, but working punctuated by the occasional “day out” with my kids is pretty great.


We started with breakfast out, and the best damn buttermilk pancakes you will ever eat, ever.


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Oh, yes, they’re big.  And delicious.  And I ate all the leftovers and I still want more.  I want one right now.

Then, we went to a play-date with friends from Boot Camp, where Charles found a costume that fit, both literally and figuratively, and stayed in it until we left.



After lunch, the boys watched a movie while I took a nap.  When I woke up, Jamie was in the arms of Morpheus and Charles was dutifully keeping him snuggled.


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Aaand, I made a startling realization: Charles knows how to navigate Netflix.  So, even though I have the users set up on my online account, I have to now figure out how to get them on my TV (they’re not there).  Any suggestions?


After Jamie woke up, we went out for ice cream, since there is a new Baskin—Robbins in our neighborhood.


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And then we had dinner, and then we went swimming, and then we all slept the sleep of the dead, except the pregnant lady, who was up every couple of hours to pee and switch sides.


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Car rally before 7 am on Saturday


Saturday was just as fun-filled, with Baby Boot Camp, playing outside, watching the Berry Dairy Days Parade (I stayed home) and a trip for the boys to the Speedway for races and the Demolition Derby.  They didn’t get back until nearly 11 pm, and Tony and I had to get them into pajamas while they were asleep and floppy.  Did they sleep in the next morning?  No, they did not.


They were up early, went to church and the grocery store with me, played outside in the pool with their friends, and fell asleep on the couch together at 5 pm.


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You can’t see it in the picture, but Jamie is sucking his thumb again.  He regressed about a week after kicking the habit when he and Charles started playing “baby and daddy.”  Sigh.

What did Tony do all day Sunday?


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He installed new flooring and baseboard in our bathroom.  Isn’t it lovely?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Moderation Rant

Do you know what I bought the other day?  Otter Pops.  Full of high fructose corn syrup and all sorts of dyes.  These kids are going to have a summer of popsicles and I am tired of spending $5 on a box of 12 organic-fruit-and-veggie-elitist popsicles that they will run through with their friends in three days.


This is probably an unpopular opinion, but sometimes I think we just need to relax.  Stop planning our lives and the lives of our kids down to the last second.  Stop worrying about food and what’s in it.  Stop agonizing over whether or not our kids are reaching milestones (not the medical ones, but the ones all your mom friends talk about, like reading and writing and potty training and talking without a lisp and playing soccer for reals on a team instead of just sucking one’s thumb and watching the other kids) (who does that, I wonder?).  Stop being that extreme family.


We talk about eating disorders in older kids, teenagers and young adults, and I wonder if our current national obsession with eating the “right” foods is exacerbating this problem.  We all know a family that is gluten-free but in which no one has celiac disease.  Or other families that limit dairy and sugar to an extreme degree (we limit sugar in that we don’t have treats every day).  When all the choices on the market for food appear to be bad, what are we left with?  It gives me anxiety, so I have called a halt to it, in my own mind.  My kids eat loads of fruits and vegetables (they asked for a smoothie this morning, into which I dumped a carrot, three handfuls of spinach, and wheat germ, in addition to the frozen strawberries and orange juice) and an otherwise balanced diet, so giving them sugary popsicles?  Not something I’m willing to worry about anymore.


How can we expect children to sort through all the cultish, faddish, and scientific food information out there if we ourselves can’t do it?  Every day I see people post the most ridiculous, un-researched, un-scientific “facts” on FaceBook and base their lives around these unproven statements.  That’s terrifying.  Not to mention the hyperbole involved (“Sugar is toxic and will kill you” – I actually read that today).  AND, we’re teaching our children that there is a “right” and “wrong” way to eat, which isn’t necessarily true.  Food is not the same as cigarettes or heroin, you know?  It’s not all or nothing, and a LARGE part of food is enjoyment, which includes gooey cheese and melty chocolate and yes, when these boys are older, alcohol.


I guess it all comes down to what your goals are.  My goals are to raise well-adjusted children who are productive members of society, who love other people, who aren’t afraid to live, and who live without anxiety, among other things.  It would be very easy to give them anxiety by over-scheduling sports and activities and limiting their diets.  Or even talking about food too much in front of them.  Just as I make a concerted effort to never call myself fat so that their little ears don’t pick that up and internalize it and then spit it back out in judgment of me or someone else, I will not allow them to think that people who drink soda pop are bad people or are making bad choices. (A little girl informed Charles last night that soda is bad and he shouldn’t drink it.) (It was a can of juice, full of just as much sugar.) (My kids get to have root beer and 7Up when we go to pizza because what is pizza without root beer when you’re a kid?) (Also, you know what are delicious?  Root beer floats.) (Treats are an important part of life, you know.)


I guess I’m just saying, let’s think about the bigger picture and the ramifications of our actions.  So who’s going to preach moderation with me?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Little Brother Big

I’m wearing a “scary shirt” today because, according to my kids, “Uncle Leland likes scary things.”


It’s Leland’s birthday, and we’re celebrating with barbeque take-out and lemon meringue pie (I make it once a year for his birthday) at work, a date night for me and Tony followed by a pub trivia birthday celebration with Leland and all his friends later this evening.  I’d better take a nap this afternoon.


He’s thirty years old today. 


“Mom, is Uncle Leland younger or older than you?”




“Were you born before him?”


“Yes, I was born three years and eighteen days before him.”


“Will you always be older than him?”


“Yes.  Yes, I will.”  And with those words, I felt much older than I did yesterday.


I love my husband dearly.  I love my children so much it hurts.  But no one, no one, will ever relate to me the way Leland does.  He’s my best friend, my business partner, and my baby brother.  Happy birthday, kid.


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Friday, June 13, 2014

Weekend Plans

I have big, exciting plans for this weekend: I’m going to do LAUNDRY.  Baby laundry.  Loads and loads of it.  I plan to fall asleep on a pile of tiny onesies, clutching sweet, little baby socks (probably mismatched) in my swollen hands.


Thirty-six weeks, y’all.  Livin’ large.


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I’m probably looking at all the mirror smears.

Tony’s weekend plans are slightly more robust.  He’s going to finish the bathroom remodel AND get the boxes of baby clothes out of storage for me to launder and probably weep sappy, sentimental tears over.  “My last baby!”  Then, in true Cook Family fashion, the boys and I will try to pamper him and probably only succeed in annoying the crap out of him for Father’s Day.


Speaking of, I love you, Daddy!  Don’t work too hard this weekend!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Thumb War That Wasn’t

I often pretend that I know what I’m doing with this parenting thing – and don’t get me wrong, I think Tony and I make good, informed decisions regarding our children and the myriad issues involved in rearing them – but sometimes it’s just dumb luck.


I’ve said it before: if we’d had Jamie first, we would have thought we were awesome parents from the get-go.  Since he was our second child, I know that, in so many respects, we’re just lucky.  He sleeps well, he self-soothes when he has to, he has an ability to reason and end-game a situation that is beyond his years, he potty-trained himself, and now, through no action of mine or Tony’s or anyone else’s, he has stopped sucking his thumb.


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I’ll admit that I didn’t even notice for a couple of days.  But there, just like it was nothing, he has shed this last babyish practice, almost on the eve of his third birthday.  What a kid.


(I’m pretty sure it was the illness that did it.  When one’s throat is so sore one can’t swallow, sucking one’s thumb just doesn’t have any appeal.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Headed for a Slowdown

A daily nap?  Please, I’ll take two.


Life is getting slower here chez Cook.  I still exercise, I still do laundry and make dinner, but I’ve started asking for help with many other household chores.  And I’m not really going anywhere anymore, except the swimming pool.  In the hours following a session at the pool (during which I watch my children splash and play while I just sort of lounge in the water), I feel 20 pounds lighter than before.  I wish I had access to one every single day.


All that to say that I am feeling particularly boring these days, so here are some photos of my brood to liven up this space:


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Moon Sand.  Get some, it’s awesome.


I love how pulling out a box of the next-size-up clothing is like Christmas for my kids.  Jamie has found some cool new duds in his drawers lately, and it’s always amusing to see what he’s drawn to.  And the sunglasses?  Well, the kid who refused to wear them for the first (almost) three years of his life can no longer be parted from his shades.


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His future’s so bright.


I try not to let Charles have access to my phone, because when he does, I end up with 25 photos just like this one:


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His father’s son, he is on his way to mastering the cheesy smile.


My mom brought some new toys for Buster.  It took him a few days, but he disemboweled them with his usual precision.


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Charles woke up and looked outside and said, “Mommy, is that SNOW?  In SUMMER?”  Nope, just the consequence of your dumb dog being dumb.  And then I made Charles clean it up, because I don’t bend down unless I have to.  Also, I am mean.


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In the heat, he acts more feline than canine, stretching out lazily in the sun.  His most active time is at night, which he spends outside.  Not because I’m cold-hearted, but because he wants to, and I am tired up getting up (or making Tony get up) at 2 am to let him out to play.


For all my idleness lately, Tony is working double-time.  He fixed our fence (which blew down this winter) and is working on the bathroom floor (new linoleum and baseboard).



That’s a lot of cement.


But he wasn’t too busy to bring me some beautiful flowers:



Friday, June 6, 2014

Late Pregnancy Woes

Things I have recently forgotten:

  • To turn off my turn signal.  Sorry, I know.  I hate drivers like me, tooling along, signaling for a turn I never make or did make, but half a mile ago.  The turn signal in the van is SUPER quiet, and I am slowly losing my mind.
  • My office keys, at home.  Not very convenient.
  • An item (or two) on my grocery list.  Staring at me, right there on the list, and I don’t put it in my cart.  It’s like I don’t even see the words I wrote.


Things that hurt and/or are uncomfortable:

  • Everything.
  • Everything, especially my back, shoulders, hips, pelvis, and legs.
  • Everything, especially my whole body when I’m trying to go from horizontal to vertical to go to the bathroom fifteen times a night.
  • Everything, including my lower abdomen, which is where labor started the past two times for me, prompting me to freak out a little bit, abandon my evening walk with the dog, lie down and drink a bunch of water, and ultimately come to the conclusion that I am doing too much, all the time, and I definitely need to STOP LIFTING JAMIE regardless of how sick and pathetic he is.  (Not labor, don’t worry.)


Times I am tired during the day:

  • All the time.
  • Every hour.
  • This morning when I got up.
  • 20 minutes ago.
  • Right now.
  • 20 minutes from now.
  • Later this evening.


Frequency with which I have parented alone this week after a hard, long day at work:

  • Three out of five days.


Point in this pregnancy at which Tony is going on an overnight bachelor party for a friend:

  • 38 weeks.


Point in this pregnancy at which Jamie will turn three years old and have a day-long birthday party, including bounce house, in our backyard:

  • 38 weeks.


Difficult things I have recently tried to do but have found I am unable to do:

  • Paint my toenails (why did I even try?).
  • Paint Jamie’s toenails (requiring just as much crouching as painting my own).
  • Weed the garden.
  • Jog.
  • Move full garbage cans.


Things I want to eat:

  • Sugar.
  • All the sugar.
  • Do you have something sugary over there?
  • Fruit.
  • Fruity, sugary desserts.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Viral Attack

Charles was, to put it delicately, a difficult baby.  He was colicky, had trouble digesting the dairy proteins in my breastmilk (which I didn’t figure out until he was nearly four months old, at which point I promptly gave up dairy products), had a painful and very large umbilical hernia, and had bloody, oozing diaper rash.  He either cried, nursed, or was exuberantly happy.  Only extremes, all the time.  He didn’t sleep except in 30-minute stretches punctuated by the screaming fits of a baby in pain.  We fed him the maximum amount of acetaminophen and ibuprofen allowed.  The months of his infancy left me and Tony hollow shells of ourselves.  I rapidly lost weight due to breastfeeding all the time and not eating cheese, Tony gained weight due to not sleeping and spending extra time behind his desk because tasks, especially when you are in a specialized and difficult field like accounting, take longer when you’re not sleeping.  It was agony.


I experienced a profound sense of déjà vu yesterday as I tried in vain to comfort wee Jamie, who was suffering from a (thankfully, mild and short-lived) bout of hand, foot, and mouth disease.  A lovely little viral present that left him unable to swallow without pain, drooling and unhappy, with open sores in his mouth and throat.  He slept fitfully, waking every hour or so on Tuesday night, unable to even drink down some children’s ibuprofen.  Since I can’t crawl into the bunk bed in my enlarged state, Tony “slept” with Jamie all night.  Jamie came with me to work in the morning and cried incessantly through the day.  I’m not joking, my ears are still ringing. 


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When he got hot, he took off his clothes.  Oh, to be young.


It’s the worst kind of emotional anguish to not be able to help your baby when he is in pain.  But here’s the dirty little secret: as nerves fray and the situation seems hopeless, numbness sets in.  By yesterday afternoon, I was going through the motions of comforting my sick child like a soulless robot.  He cried and he cried and he cried, and at some point, I had to feed myself (just like when Charles was little, I stood over the sink and shoveled food into my mouth without hardly tasting it) and make dinner for the rest of the family.  Jamie’s usual coping mechanism of sucking his thumb hurt, so calming down was tough for him.  I’d hold him while he drooled, read my book behind his back as he heaved with sobs, and eventually get some medicine down his raw throat.


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His diet consisted of cottage cheese, Sprite, scrambled eggs, and ice cream for two days.  He often stared catatonically at seemingly nothing when he wasn’t screaming.


In the twenty minutes after the medicine took effect, he was ecstatic.  Just like the highs Charles would experience whenever he wasn’t crying, Jamie was the happiest kid in the whole world at the height of the medicine’s efficacy.  Unfortunately, the effects wore off quickly and he was back to a whiny, hiccough-y cry in no time.


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Mommy, my mouth hurts!”


But!  But!  He woke up this morning (after having Tony curled around him all night, once again, I swear that man is the BEST) and told me, “Mommy, my owie is away!”  Two days of misery, two days of missed work and school, and he’s back to almost normal.  I’m hoping I don’t get a call from preschool to tell me that Jamie can’t sleep at nap and that Charles has fallen ill,     though.  Because that would be just about right, you know?


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Ice cream drool.  The first few bites set him to screaming in anguish, but if he persisted, he was rewarded with pleasant numbness.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sick Day

Jamie came home from school early yesterday with a slight fever.  After not napping and driving me crazy all afternoon, he rallied, so we got on with our regularly-scheduled evening plans. 


Life would be easier if he were the least bit interested in electronic babysitters, but he’d rather jump all over me, have stories read to him, or play with his trains, in the water table, or under his bed.  All of which would be totally fine, better than fine (since we are a pretty low screen-time household anyway) (like two hours a week low), if he would only be quiet for more than ten minutes at a time and let his largely pregnant mama nap. 


It’s like he just doesn’t understand how to be sick.  He should be cuddling me on the couch for the entire afternoon, not dancing on my legs, screaming at the top of his lungs, and then breaking down into hysterics because his throat hurts when he sings.


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That’s more like it.


His throat hurts.  That’s the extent of his illness.  However, that minor issue kept him, and all of us, from sleeping well last night.  I can no longer maneuver myself into the bottom bunk, so Tony spent the night there with Jamie.  Jamie woke up crying several times, only to refuse both Tylenol and water, two things that would have alleviated his misery.  You try reasoning with an almost-three-year-old at 2 am.  Impossible.


The agony has continued through this morning, though with the help of small doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, Jamie is as rambunctious as ever.  He just can’t eat or drink without screaming.


So he’s at work with me.  At some point, he decided to take off all his clothing, so he’s running around my office in his underwear (real professional, this kid).  I made the ill-advised decision to wear white pants and a light blue shirt today, both of which are now grubby beyond belief. 


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Dance party!


We’re throwing in the towel.  It’s nearly eleven o’clock, I’m hungry, and I’m not getting any work done.  I guess his sick day is my sick day.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be lucky and he’ll nap this afternoon, thus enabling my own nap.  Cross your fingers!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Exhausting Weekend (Heavy on the Parentheticals)

Because of these guys,



Yes, Jamie is ASLEEP on Tony’s shoulders


we ate off the land last night.  Between the three of them, they gathered enough steamer clams (and some manila and butter clams) for a meal for us and the neighbors.


Though we mostly went our separate ways this weekend, we were all more active than usual.  We had a lovely birthday dinner on Friday night, complete with fruit pizza (sugar cookie crust, sweetened cream cheese frosting with lime, and sliced fruit) (“But mooooom, where’s the cake???”) and staying up way too late.  Tony and I went to see Neighbors in the theater (a real date!) (aside: our theater’s bathrooms are upstairs from the screens, which is about the dumbest layout for a cinema I’ve ever seen.  I mean, who’s going to take a break from the movie when it means hoofing it up a flight of stairs?  I’m winded just thinking about it.  Instead, I let myself get dehydrated so I wouldn’t have to pee during the movie, which made me even more exhausted after a long and exhausting day), which we enjoyed, while the boys used all of the delaying bedtime tactics they know on grandma and grandpa.


Saturday included boot camp (I did lots of pushups!  Real ones, on my toes and everything!  And I’m still feeling the effects two days later!), a big yard cleanup by Tony, and a baby sprinkle thrown and attended by some of my favorite people:


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I don’t want to make you jealous, but that was some of the best damn cake I’ve ever had.  For God’s sake, it’s oozing.


Later that afternoon, Tony took the boys to the speedway for the sprint car races (Jamie hasn’t stopped asking when we can go back to the racecars since) while I settled into some girl time with a good friend whose husband was also initiating his son into the manly art of eating corn dogs while watching people drive too fast around a dirt track (ear protection was included in the evening’s festivities).  We were all up far too late again.


Yesterday, we had family photos taken after church:


30 Cook Family Maternity 59 Cook Family Maternity 84 Cook Family Maternity

22 Cook Family Maternity 37 Cook Family Maternity 120 Cook Family Maternity

These boys… so handsome!


That afternoon, I tackled this:


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Baby stuff madness


while Tony and the kids dug clams.


And then we stayed up until the normal bedtime hour, but it was still too late because we were so tired.  The children melted down and I decreed that I would do no more vacuuming or unloading the bottom rack of the dishwasher (which will only last as long as I can stand to have a dirty floor and dishes not put away).


Sometimes, weekend success is defined by how much relaxing we do.  Other times, it’s defined by how much fun stuff we do.  We win for the fun stuff!