Monday, June 29, 2015

Andrew is Potty Trained!!!

Remember our attempt at potty training back in January...key word being attempt? Since then, Andrew has been having some pretty good success at school but was completely disinterested in pottying at home. So he's been in underwear at school for probably 3 months, but still wearing pull-ups at home. About 6 weeks ago, he told us "no more diapers!" and he was serious! Since then he's done awesome. It's definitely like a switch flipped for him. He's even a pro at going potty in public (and loves it--we visit EVERY bathroom while we are out--sometimes more than once, especially if it's during a mealtime). He's even waking up from nap and in the morning dry most of the time! So well done Andrew and well done Bumblebees Class Teachers (as parents, we seriously did nothing except follow his lead)!

He's still pretty pleased with himself and loves picking out his underwear each day. Now he says "Benjamin wears diapers...I wear underwears!"

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Boys and Girls

As a psychology major in college, I learned a lot about the "nature-nurture" debate, particularly when it came to gender differences. Before I had kids, I believed that most of what we think about gender differences was learned rather than innate. After having boys and being intentional to not perpetuate gender-role stereotypes with them, they still surprise me sometimes with things they say or doing being so stereotypically boy

Take for example one day when putting together a large puzzle with his friend Jillian....

As they are working diligently on the puzzle, Jackson is doing his thing, sorting the pieces and finding ones that go together based on their shape and such. Jillian picks up the box with the picture on it and says "Jackson, I think we need to look at the instructions". Jackson, not even looking up, says indignantly "I don't need instructions!"


Boy or girl, they are all pretty cute kids!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

26 Weeks

How far along? 26 weeks and 3 days -- hello 3rd trimester! We've reached the double digit countdown, with less than 90 days to go. Since the last time I posted, we've reached that all important age of viability. If Ben were to decide to come now, he would have a greater than 80% chance of survival. Of course we want him to stay in there for quite a while longer.

How big is baby? BabyCenter says about 14 inches about 1 lb, 10 oz. I'm guessing bigger.

Best moment this week: It wasn't this week, but since the last time I posted....on Jackson's birthday he got to feel Benjamin kick for the first time. His little face lit up and he was just so excited.

Movement: Lots of movement still, but I can tell that he's getting more cramped in there because his movements are less described as ricocheting off my internal organs and more like discernible body parts passing by. He's big enough now that we can see him moving.

Sleep: Still sleeping pretty well except when I wake up with a leg cramp that sends me hopping out of bed to walk it off.

Food cravings/aversions: See previous post. Also, lots of heartburn this time around, no matter what I eat. Tums are my friend.

Gender: Boy! Benjamin Thomas!

Symptoms: The hot flashes have started. I realized when I looked back at my 26 week blog post when pregnant with Andrew that I made the same comment. I can be sitting in a meeting and all of a sudden start sweating profusely and then 5 minutes later be fine again. Guests at the New Student Conferences have started asking when I'm due so I am very obviously pregnant now.

What I miss: Comfortably wearing my rings. I think I've just about reached the end for my wedding/engagement rings. Sometimes I can still get them on, but my hands swell throughout the day and are very hard to get off. My Aggie ring I can move to my left hand since it's a little smaller so it may hang in there a while longer.

What I am looking forward to: A long weekend this weekend for the 4th of July! Woohoo for a little break!

On the to-do list: Lots of things but doubtful that any of it will get done in the next three weeks. Most likely our to-do list will be put off for August when my work schedule settles down a little bit.

Daddy is...rocking his single dad gig. He makes it look easy (though I know it's definitely not).

Jackson and Andrew...give my belly so many sweet rubs and kisses. Andrew likes to come and talk to Ben and pokes at my funny belly button. They both comment that "Benjamin is getting bigger!"  

26 weeks with each boy

Friday, June 26, 2015

[Healthy] Cravings

Admittedly, most of my pregnancy cravings aren't exactly, ahem, healthy.

But this salad, oh my goodness, this salad is amazing. I've been keeping a jar of this homemade dressing (recipe below) and spinach stocked in my fridge for whenever the craving hits. 

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons minced onion (or more, the marinated onions are the best part!)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Just whisk those ingredients together then pour in a jar or container of some sort. Shake well before serving and then spoon over your salad (the dressing is pretty thin so it coats well and is very flavorful so you don't need much). I've been adding some sliced strawberries, blueberries if we have some, and praline pecans and it is the perfect summer salad. Bonus if we have some leftover grilled chicken I can toss on top and make it a meal. If I wasn't preggers, some feta cheese would be divine. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Father's Day Weekend

After several busy weekends in a row, we finally had a weekend with nothing planned to just enjoy some family time. Just because we had nothing planned didn't mean we sat around bored though...we are good at finding things to do!

On Friday night, we went to the Brazos Valley Bombers baseball game where the boys were much more interested in the fireworks at the end than they were the actual game. For some reason, we didn't make it to a game last summer, but Jackson remembered intricate details of the experience from the summer before when he was barely three. When I told him we were going to the game, he said "Mommy can I run the bases at the end of the game?" Sure, buddy. "And then I get a sucker, right!?" He was right--they got a sucker after they ran the bases. 

Thankfully the fireworks show did not disappoint!

Saturday morning we went swimming with friends. I actually didn't take any pictures of that adventure, but swimming pictures all look about the same, right? Please accept these substitutes from a few weekends ago that I never got around to posting...

After a late night on Friday, swimming on Saturday morning, and no nap for Jackson since he ended up staying for an afternoon play date, we made it an early night on Saturday. We needed our rest because Sunday meant we were celebrating our favorite man all day!

The boys "helped" me make Daddy breakfast in bed and were delighted to share in the experience too.

Andrew even helped Daddy read his cards. 

The day wrapped up with snowcones, a couple errands, and dinner at one of Justin's favorite places.

This man is such a blessing to our family. Especially during the summer when my work is so crazy, he is basically a single dad and is the glue that holds us all together. I never knew how much I could love him until I saw the way he loves our boys. We love you Justin!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Jackson is FIVE!

Dear Jackson,

You are now 5. I have to admit, I am a little sad. I was a big fan of 4. It was the perfect blend of independence while mommy and daddy were still your favorite people in the world.  
Physically, you have grown two full inches since Christmas, but you are still one of the smallest in your class (you are also one of the youngest). Today at the doctor, you weighed in at 36 lbs (18th percentile) and 41.75 inches (26th percentile). Your appetite has certainly grown though! When it's something you like, you can put it away. You regularly eat two sandwiches and can eat a man size cheeseburger when we go to C&Js which has become one of your favorite restaurants. 
But what you may lack in size, you definitely make up in personality. In your end of year portfolio, your teachers described you as the class clown and a "lady killer". Admittedly, this makes mommy and daddy a little nervous. You know how to use those big blue eyes, dimples and charm to your advantage. No one can stay mad at you for very long, and you are so smart and funny.
You are confident and eager to please. You are completely at ease with a microphone in your hand and a crowd to entertain. You can be a tad dramatic. Ok, maybe more than a tad. Lately, you have gravitated towards all things boy. You reject things that are "girl colors", only want to play with "boy toys", etc. You also only want to play with other boys these days. 
You have your mommy's intense focus. When you are zeroed in on something, it's hard to distract your attention to something else. You are great at puzzles. You received some big kid Lego sets for your birthday and we were blown away by how quickly you picked it up and are able to independently follow the directions to build some pretty sophisticated structures. (And then Andrew grabs said sophisticated structure and runs away with it and all hell breaks loose--but that's a story for another day...)
Year 4 has seen you fully embrace your role as the "biggest brother". You eagerly lead the way when Andrew is a little unsure. You are also known to convince Andrew to do things he knows he shouldn't do and take the fall for your collective mischief. The two of you wrestle constantly. You are also a sweet comforter to your little brother and Andrew's biggest hero. I can't wait to see how you continue to lead our little band of brothers as Benjamin joins the mix in the next few months.
As for favorites, here they are in your own words:

22 Birthday Questions

1.       How old are you? – Five!

2.       What do you want for your birthday? – A Thor hammer and a Harry Potter Wand

3.       What is your favorite color? – black and blue

4.       What is your favorite center at school? – Math Center, Home Center, Block Center

5.       What is your least favorite center at school? – Writing Center (true story, his penmanship needs work), Art Center, and Teacher Table

6.       What do you like to do with your family? --Going bowling, going to the Children's Museum and going down water slides.

7.       What is your favorite book? – Curious George and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

8.       What is your favorite tv show? – Curious George and Odd Squad

9.       What is your favorite movie? -- Big Hero 6

10.       Where is your favorite place to go? – Children's Museum

11.       What makes you happy? --  My favorite stuff. All kinds of stuff. Bowling, water slides, my favorite shows. Everything.

12.   What makes you sad? -- When y'all yell at me. 

13.   Who is your best friend? -- Jake Hobbs and my tough boy friends. Jack, Ethan, and Beckett. 

14.   What is your favorite food? -- Grilled cheese, sandwiches, quesadillas.

15.   What is your favorite toy? – My weapons. (Perfect example of scarcity creating increased demand. His "weapons" (foam swords, etc) are usually at the top of mommy's closet because as it turns out, they are not my favorite, so he doesn't see them very often.) 

16.   What song do you love to sing? -- Lullaby (by Billy Joel)

17.   What are you really good at? – Getting 5s (his school has a behavior chart and 5s are the best)

18.   What is your favorite restaurant? – McAllisters, C&Js BBQ and Texas Roadhouse. 

19.   What does your mom do for a job? – Help the Aggies! Help them to be new.

20.   What does your dad do for a job? – Help the people stay on the road. 

21.   What do you think about before you fall asleep? – I think about mommy snuggling with me all night. 

22.   What do you want to be when you grow up? – A zookeeper and maybe Santa.
Is there anything else you want to tell us? I like snuggling with my mommy. 

The next few months will bring you the challenge of a new school as you start kindergarten! I know you will thrive academically, easily make new friends and charm your new teacher. I know you are ready--I just hope we are. 

We love you so much sweet boy and we couldn't be more proud of you!

Happy 5th Birthday!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Happy 5th Birthday Jackson!

After his party last Saturday, Jackson's birthday celebrations continued. On Monday, the day before his actual birthday, we brought a treat to his school to share with his class. 

I'm not sure if he was more pleased with his birthday crown, the birthday song, or the cookie cake. 

We put him to bed one last time on Monday as a 4 year old and he woke up the next morning as a newly minted 5 year old! My heart longed to spend the day with him but he was unfortunately born during the summer when it's difficult for me to get away from work. But with Nana in town, he still got to skip school and play all day. They went to the Children's Museum, Barnes and Noble, and Jackson played with all of his new gifts. Once Justin and I got off work that afternoon, Jackson chose bowling and Texas Roadhouse for his special birthday activities.

Handsome birthday boy!
Since he's a big 5 year old now, he insisted on no longer using the ball ramp. He actually did pretty good without it, outscoring his brother who was using the ramp by 13 points!

I would say that bowling is not Andrew's favorite activity of the moment. He enjoys when it's his turn, but otherwise there is too much waiting around. He sure can rock those bowling shoes though, can't he?

Please take note of the winner (and disregard the fact that none of us broke 100). =)

This 5 year old loves his mama! And Texas Roadhouse!

Daddy, Andrew and Nana were excited to celebrate with the birthday boy as well.

Waiting for him at home was his present from Mommy and Daddy. There wasn't one big thing he wanted this year, so he got a few little things, including the one thing he had been wanting most of all...a Thor Hammer. He was delighted!

One more birthday cupcake, one more singing of happy birthday and one more wish made while blowing out that #5 candle followed.

I don't think he could have wished for a happier day! Happy Birthday Jackson! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Jackson's Shark Pool Party

Months ago, Jackson decided he wanted a pool party to celebrate his 5th birthday. He decided on a shark theme, because, you know, he's fierce like that and all. 

He was delighted with his invitations because he thought the black shark looked so cool and black is his favorite color. 

We put out a few sharky signs to greet guests as they arrived (there was a third but I didn't manage to get a picture of it).

Then as his guests arrived, they got to snap a picture with him in the shark mouth. Score for getting to reuse this photo booth from Jackson's 3rd Splish Splash party

He was so excited that two of his teachers, Ms. Natali and Ms. Kari, were able to come and celebrate with him!

Lots of old friends were able to come!

And lots of his friends from school too!

Pool parties might just be my new favorite. Everyone from the youngest to the oldest party goers had a great time enjoying the water. The sun even came out for the party which was questionable in the 12 hours beforehand when I was checking the weather forecast every hour.

The birthday boy chose the menu of simple snacks to go with his cupcakes.

I managed to snap a picture of the cupcakes before they started melting.

And after....oh well, if melted cupcakes were the worst part of the party, I think we did ok! But how cute are those shark fin cupcakes?

An enthusiastic rendition of happy birthday was sung (while the birthday boy protected his candle from the wind)....

And the #5 candle was blown out with gusto!

I think the birthday boy's favorite menu item was the blue gatorade. You've never seen a kid so excited about a beverage!

And so many presents! He opened them all in about 5 minutes and I think hardly realized what everything was. It wasn't until he got everything home and started going through it more deliberately that he really got excited.

Jackson thanked each of his friends for coming with a themed book. I love giving books as party favors because I suspect they are enjoyed longer than the typical party favor. I also order them through the boys' school Scholastic program, so their school gets points for the order too. Win-win!

What a fun morning celebrating our almost 5 year old! Do you think I can convince him to have a pool party every year?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Finally, a name!

Our littlest boy is no longer nameless! We have finally made a decision.

Naming children is hard in general, so by the time you get to the third of a single gender, it's super hard. The greatest challenge this time was that there is now a precedent to follow. Jackson Emory and Andrew Grant both have a bit of a presidential theme to them (this was purely coincidental with the naming of Andrew, but now that it's there, we feel like we need to embrace it). They both also feature a proper, full name with a logical, and often used single syllable nickname. They are both classic, traditionally masculine names, so a super trendy, non-traditional, or a name that is given to both girls and boys wouldn't fit. We also didn't want a name that started with a J or an A. See what I mean? So many factors to consider!

There were a few contenders, but just one that checked all the boxes in our minds--and was still a name that we liked.

  • Presidential - check! 23rd president Benjamin Harrison, and though not a president, possibly the most famous Benjamin is of course, founding father Benjamin Franklin. 
  • Long name with a logical, single syllable nickname - check! Jack, Drew and Ben go nicely together, don't you think?
  • Classic, traditional, masculine - check! 
The origin of Benjamin is Biblical. Beloved youngest son of Jacob and Rachel and one of the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel. His name means "Son of my right hand".

The boys' middle names, Emory and Grant, are both family names of relatives who have passed, so we knew we wanted to continue that tradition. That turned out to be the easy part. We decided pretty early on in the process on Thomas, after Justin's grandfather (his mother's father). Thomas is also a family name on my side, being my great grandfather's name (my mother's father's father).

So there you have it, Benjamin Thomas Malnar.

Now I must get busy monogramming all the things. =)