Wednesday, December 9, 2009

HE'S HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, so I know I've been a blogger slacker lately and I really have no excuse other than I was just plain tired out!  We haven't been doing anything particularly exciting lately anyway...  We did, however, have a wonderful Thanksgiving with Grandma and Grandpa Lambert - thanks to you all for making the trek down here!!

Our biggest news is that JAY CAME HOME YESTERDAY!!!!!  It was exciting, tearful and COLD.  :-)  We met the ship at the pier and while it was 45 degrees outside the wind was really blowing which made it seem much, much chillier.  I had the boys all dressed alike in jeans and matching button down shirts but unfortunately I had to cover it all up in non-matching jackets...oh well!  Jack didn't recognize Jay at first but I'm pretty sure it was because Jay was in his cover and dress blues which is a uniform I don't think Jack has ever seen before.  They have since fallen right back into the routine of being best buddies almost as if Jay was never gone in the first place.  It is so sweet to watch!  The twins changed significantly in the last seven months - Jay left two babies who couldn't even sit up and came home to two toddlers who walk, say words, eat big people food and drink out of cups.  Quite an astonishing transformation for him to witness.  Nathan (who is generally more gregarious and people-friendly) warmed right up to Jay but Matthew is still a little unsure.  You can tell there is definitely a recognition there but he is still more hesitant with Jay.  Overall though it really seems as though he never left which is a fantastic but weird feeling....almost like he was gone, gone, gone.....and then, poof! he's back again right where he was before.  :-) 

Our current project is to find Jay a car because he turned his lease in right before he left and so right now we only have one!  I'm not sure which Jay was more excited about - seeing his family or getting a new car!!Those of you who know my husband are well aware of the fact that he LOVES cars.  :-)

Here are a few pictures of his homecoming yesterday.  Like I mentioned earlier, it was freezing so we didn't linger around outside too long before heading back to the car.  Thus, we don't have all that many pictures of him coming home.

Waiting in the car (and watching Curious George) for Daddy to call and say he was able to get off the ship.

Daddy's Home!!!!!!

Jay couldn't believe how much the twins had changed in seven months.

We were all SO very happy to see him.  :-)

Jay's dad was able to join him on the last two days of the trip home on what is called a Tiger Cruise so he came off the ship with Jay.  Hopefully the next time Jay deploys, Jack will be old enough to go on the Tiger Cruise.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Trip to Williamsburg

Yesterday Grandma and Grandpa Heichel treated us to a trip up to see historic Williamsburg, VA.  We didn't make it up there until late afternoon (even though it's only an hour drive)....getting everyone napped, dressed, fed and ready to go takes a while!  I think G & G have a new appreciation for why I'm perpetually late.  But we had a beautiful fall afternoon nonetheless and we enjoyed walking around and taking in all the scenery.  Jack had fun watching the reenactments and seeing the various "townsfolk" dressed up to play their parts.  It did seem as though there weren't too many buildings open to actually tour but that may have been because we were there during a more off season time. 

The Governor's Mansion. 
I think we all would like to go back and take this tour on our next trip (it costs extra)!

Can I get one of these at home?  Just kidding!

Beautiful horse-drawn carriage.

The twins hanging out in their usual spot.

I dressed the boys similarly in the hopes that I might get a nice shot of them together and this one didn't turn out too bad!  The original photo was really washed out but thanks to the magic of photo editing I was able to make a bad picture look pretty good.

One of the houses in the village. Jack is on the front steps making friends with a cat who was trying to nap in the afternoon sunshine.

As we were leaving we were able to listen to a special performance by the Fifes and Drums which were marching and playing as part of a commercial they were filming on the grounds.


Grandma and Grandpa Heichel came down for a visit over Halloween which was good timing because I realized that in order for all the kids to really enjoy the festivities I needed back-up!  I was able to take Jack out trick-or-treating while Grandpa handed out candy at our house.  Simultaneously, Grandma was feeding the babies their dinner and getting them to bed on time. I could never have done all this by myself!!  Jack had originally (long ago) decided that he wanted to be Spider Man for Halloween.  So we made a trip to Target early in the season to ensure that we would have first choice over all the costumes (you see, I have not one single crafty bone in my body so all my children will have store-bought costumes at Halloween...I suppose there are worse things...).  Unfortunately, all the Spider Man costumes came complete with a full mask which was something Jack was not going to entertain.  This made the Batman costume (which only had a half-mask) seem much more appealing and this is how we ended up coming home with the Batman outfit.  Also a bonus, Batman had awesome muscles.  :-)  Jack thoroughly enjoyed the actual obtaining of the candy but tired after walking around our neighborhood for about 45 minutes.  His pumpkin bag was filled by that point anyway so we headed home (sweaty because it was hot!) to check out his loot and help Grandpa pass out candy.  I think Jack may have had just as much (if not more) fun handing out candy to the other kids as he did going around to get it!!

Yay for fall leaves! 

Jack's little pumpkin and our fake lighted one.  I unfortunately failed to remember to buy any larger pumpkins for carving...oops.


I was too cheap to buy the twins costumes since they weren't actually going trick-or-treating but I did get pumpkin onesies for them so I'm only sort of the worst mommy ever. Well, maybe not because then I forgot to take a decent picture of the twins in their pumpkin onesies. Hence the hasty shots of them in their highchairs before heading off to bed... :-)


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trip to DC!

This past weekend the kids and I traveled up to Washington DC to spend some time with Aunt Lynn, Uncle Ed, and "Aunt" Jennie.  (Note to "Aunt" Annie -- You were missed dearly!) Jack, along with every other boy  his age, has an obsession with dinosaurs.  So I thought it would make a fun trip to take him to see the real thing at the Natural History Museum.  After an uneventful drive up on Friday afternoon, we woke up Saturday to scattered showers and clouds.  But, undeterred, Jack, Jennie and I headed off to catch the subway to the museum where we met up with Uncle Ed.  Jack LOVED the subway and if you ask him today what his favorite part of the whole trip was he'll say riding the "underground train" (aka: the subway)!  The Natural History Museum was very crowded so I'm glad that Aunt Lynn volunteered to stay at home with the twins....people were having trouble maneuvering single strollers so I don't even want to think about the trouble we'd have had with the double-wide!!  Jack was surprisingly hesitant about checking out all the dinosaur skeletons and only reluctantly ventured into that portion of the dinosaur exhibit.  I think the actual massive size of the bones caught him off guard and may have scared him a little.  But we checked out some other fossils, watched a paleontologist dust off a real T-rex bone, and then ate lunch in the museum's main cafe. Now, the day prior, Uncle Ed discovered in the paper that the new hit PBS kids' show "Dinosaur Train" was going to have a special showing of a never-before-seen episode at the museum followed by a live appearance by the show's cool paleontologist "Dr. Scott."  Jack also LOVES this show and we have seen every episode many, many times so when we told him that Dinosaur Train would be at the museum he could hardly contain himself.  We came to discover that it was an RSVP event but were able to snag wait list wrist bands which would get us into the show if there were enough no-shows from those who had RSVP'd.  After lunch and while waiting for the Dinosaur Train showing, we had the treat of experiencing the butterfly pavilion (thank you Uncle Ed!).  This is a fantastic enclosed butterfly habitat where literally hundreds of the most beautiful butterflies you have ever seen are just fluttering around you!  It's a climate controlled environment filled with gorgeous tropical flowers and fruit all for optimum butterfly enjoyment.  It was truly fascinating to watch them and observe them up close!  Finally, we made our way to the auditorium and as luck would have it we were able to get into the Dinosaur Train show!!  Jack had a ball watching the newest show live on the big screen and seeing Dr. Scott in real life!  What a treat!!  We also checked out the Hope Diamond but Jack was largely unimpressed with that display.  :-)  Jack wanted to ride the subway home and of course by this time it was pouring rain so we got a little wet on the way home, but otherwise it was a great day!

Sunday, we had an early lunch and then packed everybody up for a trip to the National Zoo.  It was a beautiful day with temps in the mid-60s and plenty of sunshine to accentuate the stunning fall colors...I think DC had just hit its leaf peak!  I always forget too that all the museums and the zoo are FREE!  You can't beat it!!  The zoo was much less crowded so we were able to meander all around without any problems.  The twins spent the entire afternoon in the stroller but never even so much as made a peep.  I think they too enjoyed being outside on such a great day checking out all the amazing animals. 

Monday morning we, sadly, headed home but had a speedy and again, thankfully, uneventful drive home.  We had such a wonderful visit and although we came home tired, it was a good tired - one that comes from spending time exploring a fantastic city with our family.  :-)

Immediately upon our arrival, the twins made a break for the stairs and managed to get pretty high up!  Too bad they still have no idea how to get back down.

Jack on the subway...his new favorite thing!

Washington Monument.

The one and only picture I could get of Jack with the dinosaur skeletons (this is of the smallest on display and I guess less threatening).

Checking out the butterfly guide in the hopes of identifying a few.

First of MANY butterfly pics...sorry! But they were spectacular!!

Dr. Scott the paleontologist!!!  In real life!!!!

The twins wreaking havoc on Aunt Lynn & Uncle Ed's house.

Checking out the rain.

Try as he might, Matthew could not get the freezer door open.  So he resorted to eating the handle instead.

At the zoo!  They were all decorated for their annual Boo at the Zoo event.


and tigers,

and bears...Oh My!!

Jack entertaining the twins at the zoo as he so loves to do!

These are NOT fake leaves....see what I mean about fantastic color!!

Yay for the zoo and a beautiful fall day!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

Today was Jack's preschool field trip to a local farm/pumpkin patch/petting zoo (Hunt Club Farm).  We had a great day - partly sunny with a nice cool start to the morning.  Welcome fall!!  The farm was so much fun for the kids!  They started their trip with a hay ride (which, due to the stroller, the babies and I had to watch from the sidelines), then they were able to play in a large area that contained chickens, rabbits, goats, ducks, pigs, donkeys, and peacocks most of which you could get right up to and pet.  There was also a gigantic mountain of hay bales that all the kids loved climbing, falling, and sliding on.  Even better, they also had several large swing sets/slides (the really nice wooden kind with tunnel slides and rope ladders, etc.) which kept the kids occupied for a long while.  After they all played and petted to their heart's content, we had our snack, a few coordinated photo opportunities with the respective teachers, and then all the kids were able to wander through the pumpkin patch and pick out their very own baby pumpkin to take home.  As usual, the babies were confined to the stroller the whole time but they endured it fairly well.  They're such good sports (most of the time)!  I can't wait, sort of, until they are walking and can explore all on their own without having to sit back and watch everyone else have all the fun.  :-)

Hay rides!!

The twins waiting with me for Jack to return from the hay ride.  It will be your turn soon enough little ones!

One of the wagons all decorated for photo ops.

"Driving" the tractor.

Jack's "perfect pumpkin."

Children's Festival

The Virginia Children's Festival

On Saturday, I made a last minute decision to take the kids downtown to the Virginia Children's Festival.  This is an annual event that looked really promising in the entertainment department - plus, it was only a $3/person admission so it was cheap too!  So, we ate an early lunch in order to wait out a passing rain shower and then I packed everyone up and headed down to the waterfront park where the festival was taking place.  Unfortunately, once we arrived downtown we quickly discovered that there was NO WHERE to park.  We finally found a parking garage (many, many blocks from our destination) that still had spots and, of course, they only took cash....and do you think I had cash?  Of course NOT.  Thus, we made a speedy exit out of the garage in a frantic search for an ATM so that we had some hope of making it to the festival before the next rain shower hit.  Finally, I located an ATM and made it back to the parking garage so we could actually start our adventure!  After walking what seemed like about 10 blocks, we were approaching the entrance when, as luck would have it, a man with his son gave us re-admittance wrist bands that they did not use - score two free passes to the festival!!  Yay for us!  A good thing too because the weather was looking ever threatening as the afternoon waned.  It was worth all the trouble, though, because the festival was fantastic!  They had tents with all sorts of fun activities for youngsters (from cooking, to painting, to building, etc.).  Jack had a blast and we managed to meander around for about an hour and a half (with spotty rain most of the time) before the rain became too much and we headed back to the car.  The twins were good sports the whole time too despite being restricted to the stroller and enduring the wind and wet toes.  :-)

Jack standing in front of the "toddler zone" which will be perfect for the year.  :-)

Play-doh everywhere!!

Jack really loved all the physics experiments (part of a display by the ODU Physics Dept).

And magnets are always a hit!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Three Little Munchkins

(from left: Nathan, Jack & Matthew)

I posted this pic on Facebook but then forgot to put it on here as well.  It's increasingly difficult to get everyone to sit still (which is why Matthew is blurry) but this is still a pretty good shot of all three boys that I thought those of you NOT on Facebook might appreciate. :-)