Monday, October 31, 2011

You better watch out...

You better not cry
You better not pout
I'm tellin' you why
Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

Somewhere during the hottest part of the summer, my incredibly creative 3 year old was asked what he wanted to be for Halloween.  He promptly and enthusiastically replied "Santa Claus!"

I'm thinking, "This is going to be a very bad idea.  Somewhere in middle school, the kids will hear about this, and he'll never live it down."  Derek, meanwhile, is thinking "AWESOME!"
We let it go for a while, thinking he'd change his mind.  Nope.  Santa.  Every time.  Derek asked his facebook friends whether this was a good idea.  As the only dissenting opinion, I was overruled, and the Christmas-o-ween was born.

Ho Ho Ho!  Happy Halloween!

But since we agreed that Jay could be Santa, we decided to go all the way.  Because really, how many years can you do a family theme costume?  The days are long, but the years are short.  So Luke became an elf, and Derek and I became the reindeer.  I'm going with Vixen, just so it sounds like I was something cool for Halloween.  Dear Hubby was Rudolph, complete with flashing red nose (thank you dollar spot!).

(Luke was NOT a fan of the elf hat!)

(Okay, I have to admit.  It was a cute idea.  And he was an adorable Santa.)

Look!  It's Sush!  She'll do us no harm on Halloween!

And Miss Sue!  She always has special candy for her special elves.

What's an elf outfit without the elf slippers?

I waited until the VERY last minute to make the costumes, thinking the kid would change his mind.  He didn't.  I went shopping on Friday (THREE days prior to the holiday, mind you!) and when I picked him up that afternoon, I excitedly told him that I'd found the stuff to make his costume.  His reply?

"I changed my mind.  I want to be something else for Halloween."

Oh no you don't, kid.  Not after I drug your LaLa to 15 different discount stores searching for a red sweatsuit, you don't!  Not after we bought a cheap tree skirt to make the fur collar and cuffs!  I got a red flashing nose for your daddy!  You ARE going to be Santa, you little stinker!  

But after seeing it, he came around again, and was pretty excited about it.  And while I was definitely not in favor of this idea in the first place, I gotta admit.  I came around too.  It was seriously cute, and really fun for the whole family to dress up together.

Merry Halloween from the Foster Four!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wild night... calling
-Van Morrison, "Wild Night"

Sweet Luke, who has been generous enough to sleep through the night for many, many months, has a little cough.  And it's enough of a little cough to wake him up in a big way.  So last night, he woke up numerous times and needed a little parental intervention to settle himself again.

First, this needs a little backstory.  When the boys were babies, we made what we believe to be a very wise decision by putting a single bed in each of their rooms alongside the crib.  These beds, which were actually 2 parts of a trundle bed, were great places to snuggle and read stories, great places for Granna to sleep when she came to town, and most importantly, great places for mom or dad to crash on particularly rough nights.  It worked really well for us.

But recently, Jay decided that he wanted to start sleeping with Luke.  We thought it quite adorable and they shared a room very nicely, happily chatting to each other every morning.  Good roommating is important because if we ever decide to have another wee one, sharing a room will become a necessity for the fellas as our house only has 3 bedrooms.  They were so happy together, in fact, that we moved Jay's toddler bed into Luke's room and put the trundle back together in the room formerly known as Jay's.  It made for much more space in each room.  This worked swimmingly until the grandparents came to stay a couple of weeks ago.  Jay wasn't about to let the chance to share a room with grandfolks pass him by, so he moved back into his old room on the trundle - and hasn't looked back.  He's stayed in the big boy bed.

So, last night when Luke woke up for the third time at 4:00 a.m., I mumbled sleepily that I'd just stay in his room after I got him settled.  I had forgotten a critical piece of information - the only available bed in there is Jay's toddler bed.  But honestly, I was so tired I didn't care.  I re-settled the Lukester and curled up on Jay's tiny old bed.

"Not too bad, actually!" was the thought that crossed my mind as I drifted back off.  "Kinda like sleeping curled up on the couch," something I've done by choice, over and over.

At around 4:45 a.m., however, I began to realize that it wasn't *quite* as comfy as our couch.  All the baby books suggest you purchase a nice, FIRM mattress to minimize risk of SIDS.  We shopped well, my friends.  It's certainly a nice, firm mattress.  And while it might be the width of the couch, there ain't no stretching out or letting your feet hang off.

Then at not quite 6:00 (the hour I've designated as worth getting up!) Luke woke up crying again.  In my not-so-wise state of grogginess, I picked him up and brought him into the bed with me.  They tiny little toddler bed.  And as he laid there snuggled up under my chin (quite literally!), I thought "If we're going to be the only 2 people in this house sharing a bed, why in the heck is it THIS one?!"  Thus endeth my attempts to sleep.

Oh, and just in case I wasn't confident of this already - I am most certainly NOT ready for another newborn in the house.  I like my sleep a little too much.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hey there little red riding hood... sure are looking good
You're everything that a big bad wolf could want.
-Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, "Lil Red Riding Hood"

This post is all about the quirky things my boys are doing these days.

1. Now that the weather is chilly in the mornings, they need to wear jackets to school.  They simply will NOT wear jackets without wearing the hood.  Little brother gets it from big bro, but he insists on the hood, even when big bro isn't around.  And try to get them to wear hoodless jackets?  No dice.  The adorable orange fleece that Jay's wearing at the top of the blog header?  Luke acts like it's we've asked him to wear sandpaper.

(We don't generally dress the little peanut in all red, but it was team spirit day.  
Had to Wolfpack it up.)

(And did I mention that it must be ALL the way zipped?  Every single time?!)

(Yes, he's wearing shorts.  With a jacket.  And the hood.  
Yes it's quite sunny.  Definitely not wearing the hood because of the rain.)

2.  Jay's attachment to Cow Lovey is pretty well documented.  But he's got lots of other fuzzy friends who make our lives interesting, including Siggy the Piggy, Jeffy the Sheep, and Mayonaise the Tiger.  Yes, "Mayonaise."  No clue where that came from - he just pulled it out of the air one day, and it stuck.  I think he gets it from his Uncle Matt, who named his blanket "Chest Of Drawers."  Unky Matt also had a stuffed friend named Willie Michael ... after his two favorite musicians:  Willie Nelson and Michael Jackson.  We McLeans have interesting musical tastes.

3. Jay will occasionally make random proclamations.  Yesterday on the way home he announced, "Mom - do you know why you have a tongue?  So you can clean your mouth!"  Hmmm.  (I'm choosing not to think about what dinner leftover he "cleaned" out with his tongue!)

4. Luke detests having his diaper changed.  He can twist and turn until he's pretzeled himself and you can't get anywhere near his tush with the diaper.   Meanwhile, he's spread poo all over the changing pad, the changing table, and occasionally the wall.  But we've learned the trick: give him a book.  He will lay there perfectly peacefully, examining every page with incredible detail.  Diaper dilemma solved!  At no other time of day does he show any interest in books.  Bathroom reading - it must be a man thing.

5. Luke still isn't really talking ... or at least not when we're paying attention.  But at 6:15 every morning, he wakes up chatting enthusiastically to the lion who hangs from his crib rail.  Loudly.  He continues for 45 mins or more, every day.  But as soon as you go in his room, he gets shy, flops down on his bed and hides his face.  Cutest thing ever. But if he'd like to start saying Mama to my face instead of just to the baby monitor, that would be cool.

They make me laugh, that's for sure.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wild horses...

...couldn't drag me away
Wild, wild horses
couldn't drag me away
-Rolling Stones, "Wild Horses"

***There were 3 songs I thought would be good intros for this anniversary trip. So as not to waste good musical inspiration, you get the 3 part blog post. Here's Anniversary Post, Part 3. Find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.***

Ahh, the wild horses.  The last 2 touristy things we wanted to do were to drive on the beach and to see wild horses.  How convenient that you can do both simultaneously!

On Saturday we headed north to where Highway 12 ends. I will admit that I was more than a little nervous about how sweet Maddie the MDX would handle sand in her britches, but she was a champ.

Dear hubby letting a bit of air out of the ol' tires. 
 More surface area or something? Car maintenance is outside my domain.

That's where the road ends and the sand driving begins.
 I held my breath there for a little while.

And lookee there! That's my car – with ocean right beside it!


Wild horses – right there on the beach. It was every bit as cool as I had imagined. But after we saw them, I pretty much said “Okey doke. Checked that off our list, now let's get my sweet little car back onto pavement where she belongs, whaddaya say?” While it's definitely preferable to drive on the beach at low tide (when there's wider areas of packed sand available), Driver Derek did just fine in our low clearance vehicle at high tide. Next time, however, we'll take the truck, primarily because it's not mine, therefore I worry less about it.

 And interestingly, I would not want to stay at one of the secluded houses up there - the ones that are only accessible by driving on the sand.  Because the beach is a freakin' highway.  I saw ONE person sitting on the beach, and that was only because she was in a chair right beside her parked car.  Next summer when I'm dragging towels, lawn chairs, umbrella, sand toys and 532 other things over to the beach, there might be a moment when I'll think, "Boy, sure would be nice to toss this stuff into the back of the pickup and drive it right onto the sand."  But then I'll remember that there would be no beach to enjoy because it would be covered with 4x4 vehicles out for a joyride.  And I'll get my dear hubby to drag all the stuff.

 Then we headed to see the Currituck Light at Corolla, which really is beautiful, inside and out.


 I climbed all the way to the top, and I was not scared one little bit. Nope. Not at all freaked out by looking down. No sireee. No fear here. Can't you see by the way I was willing to look right over the edge? I never considered myself scared of heights, but apparently I am. But the views really were gorgeous.

(See, not skeered!  I'll just stick really, really close 
to this large secure thing.  Not skeered a bit.  No sir.
I'm smiling!  Can't smile when you're scared!)

(Please notice the white knuckles.  I was holding on tight. 
But definitely not scared.  Nope.  Not a bit.)

And after we left the lighthouse, we headed back the northern route and spent the night at a B&B in Edenton.  
Lovely front porch - we spent the evening enjoying their porch swing.

It was cute and we enjoyed walking around and looking at the historic homes on Sunday morning.    But we were glad to head back to Raleigh and see our baby boys again.

Thus endeth our Outer Banks adventures and our 10 year anniversary second honeymoon.  It was a much needed getaway and a great time to reconnect and remember why we got hitched in the first place.   Happy anniversary, babe.  

And thus endeth the blog post series.  Next week, back to my regularly scheduled updates on the wee ones, which I know is what you're really wanting anyway. Thanks for following along on my little side road!

Monday, October 17, 2011

I wanna be there...

...Wanna go back down and lie beside the sea there
With a tin cup for a chalice, fill it up with good red wine
And I'm a chewin' on a honeysuckle vine
-Jimmy Buffett, "Tin Cup Chalice"

***There were 3 songs I thought would be good intros for this anniversary trip. So as not to waste good musical inspiration, you get the 3 part blog post. Here's Anniversary Post, Part 2. Find Part 1 here, and tune in for part 3 tomorrow.***

This song is perfect because the 10th anniversary traditional gift is tin or aluminum.  Weird, I know.  I think 10 years ought to be worth more than aluminum, but whatevs.  The song is beach + tin cup + red wine ... pretty much sums up the weekend in my book.

(Why does the decor in B&B places always have to be so grandma-ish?!)

Cheezily romantic OBX tourist attractions?  We hit them all.

(Lighthouse #1 - Hatteras.  Iconic symbol of NC - check.
It really was as beautiful as the postcards indicate. )

(Lighthouse #2 - Bodie.  More scenic than Hatteras in my opinion.
Nearly carried off by mosquitoes.  Us, not the lighthouse.  Though there were
enough of them to move large objects for sure.)

(Sunset from the top of Jockey's Ridge.
Does it get any more cheezily romantic than that?!)

(I love you as long as our shadows.)

(If you look closely, you can see the sand blowing across the dune.)

(Approximately half of our pics looked something like this.
The wind was unreal.  I now understand why it's a good place
 to try to fly the world's first airplane!)

(We even got up early to see the sunrise.  Well worth it - it was gorgeous.
But does the cheesy romance ever end?!)

So you're thinking "Aww, this sounds like a perfect trip."  One of my great fears is that my blog - and therefore my life - might be misconstrued as one of those Life is Perfect places where unicorns dance under rainbows.  And really, I did actually post a picture of a rainbow on my first entry.  I'm veering dangerously close to dancing unicorn territory.  Where's the hitch?

Well, there were a few.  And they aligned themselves so perfectly within 3 hours to be pretty dang funny, if they weren't so exasperating.

We'd asked for advice from about things we should do while in the Outer Banks.  My facebook friend KMK suggested a lovely place to stay and a couple of great restaurants which we didn't manage to squeeze in while we were in those areas.  New friends AC and DC (geez - I never realized their names were so perfectly electric!) both suggested Duck Donuts, which sounded great.  We planned to go there for a snack on Saturday. And our trusty Our State magazine from a few issues back gave us 100 Foods You Must Eat in NC - one from each county.  We've made it our quest to eat all 100 of these foods (though we are a really, really long way from getting there).  100 foods included Oceanfront Grille at Corolla Light Resort which was our plan for Saturday lunch.

Disappointment #1 - Oceanfront Grille doesn't serve lunch.  And even if it did, it closed for the season a week prior.  So we went to Harris Teeter, got ourselves a sandwich picnic, and found a lovely pier on the sound.  Mild bummer, but no huge loss.

Disappointment #2 - Headed to Duck Donuts for dessert.  It closed at 1:00.  We arrived at 1:53.  Forehead slap.  A very brief time with Google could have prevented both of these.  We were both pretty bummed about missing out on DD and spent the next 24 hours searching in vain for a cup of coffee and some form of cupcake/pastry/sweet treat.

Disappointment #3 - Our 100 Foods guide gave us a place on the way home that looked like it might just be the ideal pastry/coffee place to get our sweet tooth fix.  We found it - and found it closed.  Like permanently.  Seriously?!  Could these eating establishments work with me here?

Hey - looking on the bright side, we've already got a long list of places to eat at next time we go.  And we learned that it's wise to verify that such places are actually open BEFORE getting our heart set on dining there.

Tomorrow's update - the wild horses of Currituck.  Hey, is that the sound of horse hoofbeats I hear ... or unicorns?!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lola loves Frank...

...Frankie loves Lola
on their second honeymoon in Pensacola
tryin' to find a little privacy
-Jimmy Buffett, “Frank & Lola”

There were 3 songs I thought would be good intros for this anniversary trip. So as not to waste good musical inspiration, you get the 3 part blog post. Anniversary Post, Part 1. I'll follow up with parts 2 and 3 in the next few days.

First off, I must say that all married couples really ought to make time to get away from home, sans children, to spend some time alone together. I can't tell you the last time hubs and I had a conversation that didn't either begin or end with some mundane “Who's picking up the kids?” kind of discussion. That's not all we talk about, of course, but the boring stuff that's required to run a household always creeps in. So off we went, leaving the boys in the good care (or good spoiling) of their grandparents, and we headed east for the Outer Banks. It's pretty embarrassing when you meet someone from outside NC who goes there every summer and you have to admit you've never seen a lighthouse.

So like the good tourists that we are, we headed off to do all the touristy things that OBX have to offer, with the goal of squeezing in as many cheezily romantic moments as possible.

(crossing over to Roanoke Island)

First up, a rainbow to welcome us to the coast. It was beautiful – you could see both ends and it went right across the road in front of us. An anniversary treat to start our trip right!

(was much more impressive in person, I promise)
We arrived around dinner time and had a romantic candlelit anniversary dinner overlooking the sound at The Blue Point in Duck, NC. This was right up there with the best meals I've ever put in my mouth. I'll keep the appetizer a secret because we're going to try to re-create that one for some friends in a couple of weeks. Then she-crab soup, crab cakes, and pork chops (I know – who eats pork chops at the beach?!) … all fantastic. To top it off, I had a dark chocolate banana bread pudding concoction that was like eating a little piece of heaven. Holy moly. We ate very well all weekend, but that was over the top awesome. Follow it with a moonlit walk on the beach, a glass of champagne, and our second honeymoon was off to a great start.

On Friday, we started the day at the Wright Brothers monument, where I learned that what I always assumed was the tail of Orville & Wilbur's plane was actually the front. Who knew?!

(See!  He's facing what looks an awful lot like a modern plane's TAIL!)
Then we headed over to Jockey's Ridge to check out the sand dunes. Definitely one of those things where pictures just can't do it justice – they are HUGE! We hiked to the top and did goofy things like jumping off and pretending to fly. But I haven't had that much fun in a really, really long time. Nor have I had that much sand in my ears, cuffs of my jeans, or in my hair. I should just call it a couple's exfoliation spa – kinda like a couple's massage, right? Sounds so very romantic.  My hair was some kinda tangled and we were some kind of sandblasted. But it was a blast (the fun kind, not just the sand kind).

Next up - lighthouse looking.  Check back tomorrow for more pics and the rest of the OBX tourist attractions.  We hit 'em all.  Promise.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tell me shiny little star... the hell'd we get this far
in this world that we have made

There's a power in your eyes
Only thing that keeps me going when I realize that
I think that I believe in love
and in heaven up above
all the things that I can't see
-Cravin' Melon "Faithless Me"

Warning - moderately sappy post coming up.  Stay tuned only if you're willing to slog through the mushiness to see humorous pics of us in our early dating days.

Ten years.  TEN years ago - a decade ago - I married my best friend.  I know how cheesy that sounds, but it's so true.  Derek and I had a wonderful friendship first, and it turned into a very sweet romance and now into a wonderful marriage.  I won't pretend it's been a decade of wine and roses.  We've had our share of stressful times, and we've occasionally taken those stresses out on one another.  But it works because, at a very basic level, we genuinely like each other.  We like spending time talking to each other.  We rely on each other.  We try to put each other first.  And we make damn cute babies.

The rehearsal dinner cake - our rehearsal dinner was at "Perry Beach"

So, what do I remember about our wedding day?  In no particular order:

*I got my hair done and it was AWFUL.  Like, take it down and re-do it myself 10 minutes after exiting the salon awful.  I look at my wedding pics and wish my hair was the way I had envisioned it.  But amazingly, I didn't get uptight about it at the time.  I remember feeling really excited that day - not anxious and uptight like I had been during the weeks leading up to the wedding.  (And for much of the 10 years since.)

*I remember seeing Derek at the end of the aisle and thinking "Wow - this guy wants to be with me?  Forever?"

*During a hymn in the service, I looked at all the people in our church and was completely overwhelmed that everyone was there to support us as we began our life together.  Then I got the giggles because Derek and I (and Dr. Day!) were all trying to sing along without hymnals.  We definitely didn't know the words.

*One of my favorite moments was when we rode the Raleigh Trolley from the ceremony to the reception.  Cars were honking and waving and we were such excited little dorks.  The professional pics were cute, and actually one ended up on the photographer's ad the next year.

*As soon as we walked into our reception, I spilled an entire pitcher of tea on our table.  (I'm clumsy, and when wearing a big skirt, I'm extra clumsy).  But by the time I got the attention of the waitstaff, they had our whole table whisked clean and re-set.  Quite a feat.

*Our first dance was to Alison Krauss' "You Say it Best (When you Say Nothing at all)."  We sang to each other while we were dancing, and I can just imagine the silly grins on our faces.  But it was genuine.

*On our honeymoon in Jamaica, we planned out our 5 year anniversary trip (back to Jamaica) and our 10 year anniversary trip (Europe).  Let's just say that neither of those happened.  Twenty years?  Maybe our pocketbooks will allow the trip to Europe then...

*I didn't want the wedding to end.  We were having so much fun - the dancing was great, all our favorite people were there - we just didn't want to wrap it up.  I know you're supposed to love your own wedding (you planned it after all!) but it's truly the most fun wedding I've ever been to.  And I've been to a lot of them.

So, now for those pics I promised.

 First pic ever taken of us - maybe March 1997?

During our summer study abroad - July 1999.  Damn. we were skinny!

I love you, babe.  Thanks for a great decade, and thanks for being mine.  Here's to 65 more years of wedded bliss!