Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nine Months

Naomi pt. XI 
In looking through the pictures that I've included with this post, it's almost a travesty that not a single one has Naomi Janelle standing up, which is how you'll find her more often than not. One the other hand, the walker has never really been a big hit with her. Granted, I can't say that we give her a ton of opportunities to use it... which is odd, since Justin and Jasmine pretty much lived in their walkers for the first 10 months of their lives. In any event, let's hope that it doesn't slow down her progress towards walking. If she's gonna keep up with the Joneses, then she's only got about a month before we'll be blogging about baby steps again (did you say pressure?). Call me the naysayer, but I've got my bets on post 11 months. Let's see if she proves me wrong.

In other news, the ear infection that I mentioned during her last update cleared up almost immediately, and her appetite came back in full effect. At 9.5 months, she's still being breastfed and is slowly making her way towards a "table food" diet. I don't know if I mentioned it already, but we were gifted over 100 jars of baby food before she even started even solids. Incredible. And, of course, penny-pinching-daddy was determined to use every one of them... even if meant that she'd be 6-years-old, eating jarred baby food during first grade recess. Lucky for her, we've finally come to the end of the free supply (which was like 60% peas... not her favorite) and we'll now have to decide on whether to make our first baby food purchase or simply move Naomi up to the big girl table. Either way, the baby food thing is definitely on its last leg. She is absolutely hooked on the few table scraps that we throw her way these days, and will literally smack down any thoughts of eating baby food while we're all at the dinner table together. Just rude.

Speaking of rude... there's also her newfound scream [shaking my head]. Honestly, I can't take it. I think I lose my mind just about every time she does it. And it's not just the scream. You've gotta see the look on her face when she does it. It's the most irreverent high pitched squeal I've ever heard, and 70% of the time it translates to BRING ME MY FOOD NOWWWWWW!!!! Then she gives you that look like, "you're not gonna tip over my high chair for screaming like that, are you?"  All I'm saying is, she's lucky I'm not a single parent because... (ahem) let's just leave it there. The FBI might be listening. Naomi... I'm just saying: watch your back... because I've got your high pitched squeal right here. Grrrrrrrrr.

I can't wait until she replaces those screams with words. Well... unless she's gonna use the words to improve her screaming effectiveness. Then we might have a problem.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Late > Never

For about four weeks, our plans to celebrate Jasmine's birthday were thwarted by health issues, bad weather,  and a handful of schedule conflicts. After week 3, I was fairly convinced that the party simply wouldn't happen and was hoping that the in-house celebration we had on her birthday would satisfy any hopes for hoopla.  But last week, with everyone back to full health and Lela volunteering to shuttle Zuri (Jasmine's only requested invite) to the designated rendezvous point, it was finally time to kick off the second half of the birthday festivities. As expected, the 4-week wait was an instant distant memory for the birthday girl, and all 3 big kids had a ball. I personally reveled in the simplicity of it all (50 cent cupcakes and a leisurely stroll through Riverbanks Zoo); and (after 3 pony rides, 2 train rides, and two rides on the merry-go-round) the three musketeers were content and perfectly poised for a nap on the car ride home. Once again, happy birthday, Jasmine Olivia. Hopefully it was worth the wait.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

No Pots. No Pans.

This Mother's Day entry may be late, but we were actually a day early with our well wishes for mom.

Plan A: So, I had this video in mind. Justin and Jasmine answering fun questions about their mommy, and giving just the most wonderful and endearing answers as the camera rolled. I had all the camera angles in mind, the questions to be asked, shooting location. I had it all figured out; down to the special effects at we ended the video with a chorus of "Happy Mother's Day!" and the two older kids flashing their million dollar smiles for the camera. Fade to black. The only thing I was missing? Two cooperative children. Nightmare video shoot. Let's just say that I'm glad I didn't pay them in advance. I'll take their word for it that they love their mommy like nothing else in the world... But they clearly have no interest in expressing that in front of the camera. So for now, my wonderful video idea will be shelved until my actors are ready for prime time. I might've been too early with this particular "bright idea." We'll see what future years hold.

Plan B: How about we just grab a box of crayons and make a banner for mommy? Brilliant! I don't know what foolish soul thought a video would be a good idea... but a crayon banner is looking like a stroke of genius right about now. I'm going to take a nap, kiddos. Let me know when you're done.

End result: Justin and Jasmine presented Venesa with her "The Kitchen Is Closed" poster when she got home from her Saturday Zumba class last week, and we threw a padlock on the kitchen cabinets for a 7 days. I guess you can call it time off for good behavior. For seven days, mommy was exiled from the kitchen (after 3pm). We banished the budget and hit the restaurant circuit for a week (wait... you didn't think I was gonna cook; did you?). Anyone who knows my wife knows that she'll choose a Chik-Fil-A sandwich over a bouquet of flowers 99.74% of the time. And so, it goes without saying that this mother's day was a hit. A new tradition? That remains to be seen. But if shooting a video is the only alternative, then I may as well start making next year's restaurant reservations now. 

Happy mother's day, my love. Now get back in the kitchen before we go broke dining out.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fabulously Fido

Tasha... Revitalized.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


It's not like it happened overnight. That's my excuse for how our Great Pyrenees afro fiasco came about. One day we had a clean-shaven dog; and the next thing you know, we were walking down the block with a big white tumbleweed. Well, the time had come; and we had three choices: braid it and throw some beads in it (I'm thinking cornrows), pony up $90 for a haircut and bath at PetSmart. Or drop $150 for a pair of pet clippers at Option C seemed to make the most sense since the clippers would pay for themselves by the second haircut. And so, without further ado, we present to you... the before pictures.
The important thing to note in the last photo is that the entire lower portion of Jasmine's arm has simply disappeared from view, complements of the 'fro fiasco. The poor dog has a mane. As it stands, we have to actually reach into her 'fro before a walk to figure out if she has on her collar or not. I guess that should've been a clue. I don't think I've seen her collar in like 3 months. I'm pretty sure Naomi, my car keys, and the DVD remote control are somewhere in there, too. I haven't seen any of them since morning. But I'm not worried. She'll shake 'em out in due time.

 Coming soon: the after photos.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

4th and Inches

Welcome to our family circus.  Come on in. There's room for one more.

It seems like just days ago that we were on the phone with our local DSS foster program representative asking general questions, and wondering if, when, and how we should pursue "the whole adoption thing." But fast forward two Saturday training sessions, two window replacements, five smoke detectors, one fire extinguisher, five doctor visits, a DHEC home inspection, a lead paint test, and the completion of eight thousand forms... and here we are: closer to our goal of adoption or foster parenting than I think either of us realize. Yesterday we completed what will probably be our last hurdle of any significance; the fire inspection. The next step is the assignment of an adoption specialist; and the final step for approval will be our home study. To the credit of DSS, it is hard to imagine any part of this process going any smoother than it has. Like many others who've thought to pursue this path, we've heard (and read) our fair share of horror stories pertaining to this process... and granted, we know that the tide can change at the drop of a child hat... but, I have to give credit where credit is due. Dealing with a government agency of any kind is usually akin to getting teeth pulled without anesthesia. However, I have to say that in this case our experience has been anything but difficult. God continues to give us a level of peace about this process (not to mention the easy road) that makes it hard to believe that it's anything but Him orchestrating our path towards expanding our family.

A perfect example of how alarmingly nonchalant this process has been is to simply look at the blog. This is easily one of the most significant things that Venesa and I have done in our entire lives... and I think this is only our second blog entry about it. In addition to the fact that the pace of our family life as it stands already gives me plenty of other fun things to write about (like ear infections, antibiotics, and deadbeat tenants); I think the lack of blog entries on the subject also speaks to how uneventful the process has been. And in the midst of raising 3 children who are determined to deplete our energy, time, and sanity... I could not be more thankful for the level of peace and clarity that we've had every step of the way during this process. Is this the calm before the storm? Maybe. I guess we'll have to wait and see. And I suspect that we won't have to wait too long.

I started by calling this entry 4th and inches. But, in hindsight, that's probably the wrong football analogy. While it does suggests how close we are to the finish line, I think it also implies a level of pressure that doesn't really exist in this situation. Instead of 4th and inches, it's probably more like 1st down. With 3 time outs left. On the opponents one-yard line. And we've got God at the quarterback position. I smell a trip to the Superbowl.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Backpack... Backpack

Curriculum Check
It recently occurred to me that, unlike Justin who had the (mis)fortune of being in a "regular school" for 4 months when we first moved to Hartsville, Jasmine Olivia never really got the opportunity to celebrate her first day of school. With Justin, the milestone was obvious: We had to buy a boatload of supplies,
get him dressed, strap on his backpack, and ship him off to spend the day with a bunch of strangers. That whole transition was kind of hard to miss. But with homeschooling, it's just kinda like you wake up one day, think you're just doing a little something new with mommy and daddy, and boom... you're in school (where am I? How did I get here?). With that said, I thought I'd take the opportunity to snap a few photos just to commemorate the fact that our baby girl Jasmine Olivia has been in school since Oakdale Academy started in January... and she even gets to strap on her own backpack once a week when she and Justin head to Co-op. Delightful. As for her academic progress, I won't say much except that I think she's doing great. I've told Venesa for months that I think we tend to overlook Jasmine's intelligence simply because she has a 4 year old brother whose progress is easier to quantify in typical terms (he's reading this, adding that, etc.). But when we keep in mind that Justin didn't really start talking until he was 3, and compare that with the fact that (at the same age) Jasmine can hold a legitimately adult conversation; I'm willing to bet that (as many accolades as we give Justin for his smarts) his sister is poised to give him a run for his money.

As for outside of school... Venesa did the math yesterday and came to the conclusion that Jasmine has been on some type of antibiotic (3 different types, 5 individual rounds to be exact) for all but 2 weeks of 2012. I guess because I always think of her as the healthy child in this family, somehow I totally missed that she's been anything but healthy this year. Just that quickly, I forgot about her multiple bouts with a facial staph infection to start the year. And then the sinus infection two weeks ago... which morphed into (drum roll, please) a double ear infection. After the ear infection got really bad about 2 weeks ago, we were on the verge of getting some tubes put in her ears... but some unauthorized mixing of medications (talk to my lawyer) seems to have us back on the right track. She's doing much better, and we're really hoping that the infection bug has been conquered this time around. For us, the toughest part of the whole ordeal was the hearing loss that came with the double ear infection. Poor thing couldn't hear us at full volume standing literally just 5 feet away. To say it was scary (not to mention heart wrenching) would be a supreme understatement. But with the fluid levels down, she's back to her usual eavesdropping ways. Hooray for eavesdropping. And hooray for staying healthy (fingers crossed).

Friday, May 4, 2012

Random Space

3rd room painted: The computer room.

I think that we changed the name of this room every 2 weeks during the first 6 months that we lived here. Living room? Den? Family Room? As silly as it sounds, we simply couldn't agree on what to call it. To poke fun at ourselves at how absurd of a problem this was, at some point we decided to actually give it a name... and so it jokingly became The Benjamin Franklin Room (as in the guy on the $100 bill) since it's the room where I typically go to sit idly and comb over our finances. But good luck getting a 3- and 4-year-old to pay homage to Benjamin Franklin. And so, eventually it simply became the computer room. It is indeed where our only desktop computer is located... (ironically enough, that's the only corner of the room that I forgot to capture in the photos).  And that's pretty much the only thing that matters on this side of the house to our kids. So without further ado, we present to you... the painted computer room.

We're not quite done with this room yet, but I thought that it was deserving of a "halfway there" blog entry. We're thinking of painting the cabinets cream (same color that's below the chair rail), repainting the tan wall a slightly different shade... and replacing or painting the mantle wouldn't hurt either. But for now we've got more important things to spend our time and (Benjamins) on... so classify this one as a long-term work-in-progress. It'll all get done in due time.

Tea Time

Slowly but surely, we're making our new home our own.

On a limited budget, there's nothing like a $23 gallon (make that 8 gallons) of quality paint to personalize a living space and make it feel like home. The classroom, the girls' room, and (what we call) the computer room have all been splashed with color. For the girls room, we settled on a color palette called Tea Time. Painting one room four different colors was admittedly a chore... but then again, it also worked out nicely because it forced me to do it in stages. In any event, the kaleidoscope project is complete, and the girls (by far) have the most exciting room in the house. Look out, Sherwin Williams. I think I'm on a roll (no pun intended... but that did kind of work out nicely, didn't it?). 3 rooms down... Way too many to go. But we'll get there. One room at a time.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Three Cheers

Here's to Breakfast!

You'd think that we never feed them.