Saturday, December 20, 2014

Be safe

When Noah was not even 6 months old yet, his Bebe came to pick him up for an afternoon at his grandparents' house. It was just a few hours of playing with his loving Papa and doting Bebe, and they were going to stay in their house and travel no where else with him, so I felt completely confident my baby boy would be perfectly safe. It was even going to give me a chance to catch up on house work and maybe take a nap. I was ready for this!
  Still, as I handed my mother Noah's diaper bag and then the boy himself, I felt this strange, faint, yet very real sensation in my chest. As corny as it sounds, I felt a tug. A tug in my chest. I watched my mom walk away, and my baby watched me over his Bebe's shoulder. The tugging became undeniable. Then,when my baby disappeared into the back seat of my mom's car, the tug turned into an all-out pull, and I started to cry.
   I pulled myself together by reminding myself that this was my loving mother and not a basket in the Nile river taking my baby away. Also, silly, emotional woman, you'll be picking the kid up in, like, three hours, so stop it! And I did get Noah back, and he was completely fine, and my parents were very happy to have spent an entire evening with their only grandchild. It was a happy and good event. So why the tug?
   Four years ran by way to fast.
Noah wanted to play with his sweet friends Anne and Abby, who live a quick walk down the street from our house. Anne and Abby run over to our house often to play with both my boys, and I have dropped Noah and Witten off at their house several times. Today, however, Witten was napping, so I suggested he go play at the girls' house. He eagerly agreed.
   Stephan was at the gym, Witten asleep in his bed, and I was soon to put Belle down for a nap, too, so I knew me dropping Noah off was out of the question. An idea struck me. Grabbing up my phone, I shot a quick text at Karen, the kind and patient and lovely mother (and fellow blogger) of Noah's friends. Could she maybe send one of her girls to escort Noah to their own house? My answer was a chorus of knocks on our front door an impressively short time later. Anne and Abby skipped through our house and out the garage, where Noah was waiting for them.
     I helped him shrug on his jacket and then sent him off with the girls, then I stood in the doorway of the garage and watched him go. I don't think it was my mind making up stuff when I saw Noah proceed with great trepidation at first. He stood for a while in our driveway, watching the sisters dance around and tell him exciting things about what they'd heard from school or what they were going to do at home. Then, as the girls marched off, taking the short cut through the neighbor's yard, he pulled up the hood to his jacket and got to steppin' after them. By the time they moved out of my sight, Noah was jogging right along with the girls, clearly excited to play.He didn't look back once.
   Again, I knew the place Noah was headed to. I knew the girls and their parents and even their grandparents would be right there, should help be needed. I could even hear their happy playing from my front yard, even if I couldn't see them. Sure, there were a few more risks involved, what with the residential road that separated our neighbor's house from the girls' grandparents' house where they were headed, but I could proceed with confidence, knowing my boy was safe. Yet once again, I felt that tug. And once again, it got harder the farther Noah moved from me.
     I prayed, as I did on that day four years ago, that God would keep my first baby safe. I prayed it as if Noah was headed off to a week long camp an hour away from me. That kid is so disastrously tangled up in my heart strings that he cant leave my side without me feeling it in my chest. It's the same with his brother and sister, too. That over used saying about your children being your heart walking around outside your body is startlingly true. I love these three kids God gave me so much it physically hurts, sometimes, but in a good kind of way.
    I'm glad to see Noah expanding his horizons and testing his limits. I want him to be brave and independent. I love the idea of him and his siblings running over to their friends' houses to spend the day playing outside and using their imaginations. But seeing my big boy, my first baby, walk away like he did today, well, it made me all emotional and inspired, so I wrote a blog post about it.
   The End.
my little, bald-headed baby

Where'd this kid come from?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Du Toit Vacation 2014

The Du Toits went a-travelin', and it was good.
After over two years of working his tail-end off, Stephan decided to venture in a new direction, vocation-wise, and sold the Stand. For weeks before this took place, the man promised, repeatedly, that, as soon as the transaction was completed, we were going to pack up and take off. I was excited, to say the least. This would be our first vacation in over a year, and our first vacation as a family of five.
  The plan: load up the mini van and drive across half the continental United States to the east coast. (I would include pictures of our road trip travels, but I used my old camera instead of my phone, thanks to the camera on my phone having terrible photo quality, and now I can't find my connector cable or any other means of transferring the pictures I took from my camera to my computer. They may be trapped there forever! And there are some beautiful pictures from the aquarium on that stinkin' camera!!)
The plan included 3 phases. Phase 1: Hit up Atlanta, Georgia, to visit the Robersons. Our dear friends, the Robersons, recently moved from Texas to Georgia. Since we know two other points/peoples of interest we wanted to visit in the area, we decided to make Georgia the focal point of our expedition.
   The drive there was not too bad. The boys were happily distracted with a constant stream of movies, and Belle did as well as could be expected of a 4 month-old confined in a car seat for extended periods of time. We stopped every 3-3 1/2 hours to take potty breaks and so I could feed the baby. I will say this; this road trip made me long for the days of old, when you could take out the back seat of your van or suburban and make a pallet to lay on while you watched movies or snacked or wrestled with your dad, who was taking a break from driving for a while and thereby giving your mom the chance to take a break from quilting to drive for a bit. *Sigh* good times.
Crisi and I collaborated and decided to surprise Madi. Madi still swears that, one day, she and Noah will be wed, so she has been missing her guy a lot. When we arrived, Crisi had Madi open the door, after I nudged Noah forward so as to be waiting for her on the doormat. Madi's reaction was adorable! I think she may have cried a little bit. And from then until we left her house, Madi was always at Noah's side, whether he liked it or not.
Madi's on cloud nine. Noah could care less. Such a boy.

Noah actually did enjoy her attention, he just didn't want to admit it.
While visiting with John and Crisi, we not only got to experience Atlanta traffic, but we visited the largest aquarium in the world. It. was. AWESOME.
The animals housed in the aquarium we visited ranged form tiny, floating jelly fish, to massive, awe-inspiring whale sharks. (Yes, SharkS, as in four of the things!) There were so many sights to see and displays to gawk at and even a dolphin show that made me tear up a little bit.  The kids loved it! I would love to go back someday.
  Immediately after the aquarium, we headed to the Coca Cola museum that was right next door. We weren't there for long, as it was not all that entertaining for small children, especially children who were missing their naps. We did get to check out this nifty room where coca cola brand flavors from all around the world were available for sampling. Stephan found a South African brand he vaguely remembered called Bibo. It was okay, I guess. Then we tried this brand of drink from Italy called Beverly. It was the most disgusting thing I have ever intentionally ingested. Seriously. If you ever go to the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta, Georgia, keep an eye out for Beverly.
  We spent three days enjoying our dear friends' company.

Witten loved on Annabeth so sweetly!
Then, it was time to move along. We drove 6-ish hours to North Carolina to visit a friend of Stephan's from high school. We spent the weekend with them, during which time we watched The Guardians of the Galaxy. (It's currently my favorite movie) That was Phase 2.
  Phase 3: Visit cousin Cody and cousin-in-law Mary Beth in Pooler, Georgia. Never heard of Pooler, Georgia, you say? Verily, neither had I. But Pooler, Georgia is half an hour away from Savannah, Georgia, which, dear readers, is my new favorite place in America.
    I don't know if you know this about me, dear readers, but I'm a bit of a history buff. I love history. I don't know why, but all through school and into college I hated math and science with a passion and loved learning about the history of not just the United States, but ze VERLD! I tell you this to explain why I enjoyed Savannah so much: It was stuffed full of history!
This little pretend boat was planted on the river walk, surrounded by the original cobblestone street that was built in the late 1700's. I was literally walking on history.
  My cousin, Cody, was quite the tour guide. He lead us on a walk all through historic downtown Savannah and handed out cool facts and tidbits of information here and there for our enjoyment. I tell you, friends, if we had left our kids at home and I had worn more comfortable walking shoes, I could have explored that city all day!
  We lunched in a place called The Pirates' House. This building was, by far, the coolest place I have even been in in my LIFE! It was an authentic tavern from the 1750's that had been refurbished to be a restaurant, but I tell ya, readers, the air was thick with weighty history and the floors creaked with the footsteps of former occupants from centuries past. Sailors were shanghaied from that place! The stuff you read about in history books and nautical novels took place in a deep, dark, now-blocked-off-but-still-creepy tunnel not even six feet from where I sat to eat a super-tasty meal from the buffet! Seriously, I can't talk up enough the wow-factor a place like that had for a history nerd like me. If you want to read more about The Pirates' House, you can easily google it or click *HERE*
   Besides The Pirates' House, we toured Fort Pulaski (again, steeped in history and super awesome),
This is my happy face, mid-blink. I looked like this a lot in Savannah.

 ate at a tasty burger joint,
It was such a simple concept for a dining experience, and so, very tasty.
  Visited the beach (a place I have never been to during winter months),
Pier. Neat.

Empty beach. Cool.

Stephan had to pick up Witten, 'cause he kept flopping into the sand. Noah took over the flopping.

The boys loved it!
And lastly, we enjoyed some super tasty ice cream at an ice cream parlor that's been around since 1919 called Leopold's.
Seriously, it was abnormally tasty ice cream.
In between all the fun outings, I got to reconnect with my cousin and really get to know one of the newer members of my swiftly expanding family. All-in-all, phase 3 was a raving success.
   For the trip home, Stephan and I decided not to break the drive into two shorter trips by stopping halfway, as we did on the way there. Though the vacation had been loads of fun and time off well spent, we were homesick, and we just wanted the drive to be over. Friends, it was a long       stinking          drive         home. 16 hours, if I do recall correctly. As we neared familiar territory, we swore, once again, that we would never drive anywhere ever again, if we could help it.
    As I think back on the whole experience, I sigh with contentment. That was a good vacation.
But boy, am I glad to be home.

  A few notable things that has happened within my family during and since the vacation:
During the trip, Belle started to roll front-to-back consistently. She won't stay on her tummy now that she can help it. And today, she started trying in earnest to roll to her tummy from her back. She's also getting really close to sitting up on her own, and she can now take snacks like yogurt melts and those puff things that Stephan likes to eat.
 Also big news- Witten decided that he was potty trained yesterday and wore big boy underwear all day without any accidents at all. I type this with trepidation, as events such as these have a tendency of reverting as soon as I brag about them to the internet or even in person. But if this is the real deal and Witten is done with potty training, I just might go on another vacation to celebrate!

So now we are back to normal life. As I have mention in the above paragraphs, I am so glad to be home in my own bed. Stephan and I did discover, however, that the source of much of our sleep issues and back aches and general body pains is our bed. Every bed we slept on during our trip, event an air mattress, left us feeling rejuvenated and sound of body when we awoke, unlike our own mattress. Therefore, for Christmas, Stephan and I are getting each other the best mattress we can find/afford. I am excited!    
Oh my gosh! Christmas is next week! We have to shop so badly!

I hope your Christmas is a blessed one, dear readers!