Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer's Over (sort of!)

So the blog has missed ALL of summer break! The biggest change since then is: the kids are swimming!!! It was a loooooong road and a lot of work but they are really doing it! They had 16 lessons (3xs a week for over a month!) and Ms. Jessica really worked hard with them! Audrey was just starting to gain confidence and was kicking her legs but not really using her arms much. Madison was making very little effort, honestly. Barely a little kick here and there. She mostly just glided to the wall. By the end of lessons they were at least (mostly) not crying. The first lesson.....oh my geeee! Screamfest. Elana was our little star! By the end of lessons she was jumping in and returning to the wall all on her own, swimming short distances and back floating!

We have continued working with them 1-2 times a week and I am happy to report the progress they have made since ending swim lessons. I guess it finally just clicked and now I have 3 little fishes! Audrey is now using her arms AND legs to swim and as long as she keeps her head down in the water, she's really moving!!! She is also doing very well jumping in and returning to the wall on her own. I loooooove her little sideways jump she does! Madison finally realized she can swim when she kicks her legs (imagine that!) After that day, it was all over. She is LOVING swimming and will ask to swim to you from the steps over and over again. She has also mastered jumping in and returning to the wall. Recently she swam nearly the width of the whole pool at Jemmie's house. Elana continues to do well also. She's a little more interested in playing with the toys than practicing her swimming but I think maybe that's just age related. She does this fun "chair jump" that they taught us in swim lessons. I think she likes it best when daddy does it because he adds some air to her jumps!! Going to the pool is now fun for everyone and they are crying when we have to leave instead of when we get there. Success in my book :)

We spent the majority of the summer in swim lessons, then had a break without any real plans besides the usual crazy. This week was the first week of school. All 3 kids are now attending their little school and they did surprisingly well! I was sure Elana was going to have a fit when I dropped her off but she did really well and didn't cry at all! Her teachers were just in love with her and begged us to sign her up for another day! Audrey and Madison did well at drop off also (yay!) I think they found comfort in their little buddy Charlotte who was also in their class last year. The teacher also said they had a great first day! Hooray! Mommy and Daddy enjoyed a peaceful lunch and Lowes run.

I'm keeping super busy working 1-2 days a week, keeping up with the kids and the house and driving Rusty crazy with all my little projects. I've been trying to eliminate unnecessary chemicals in our lives and have been making a lot of my own products....and saving money too!!!! So far I've made a sugar scrub, facial scrub, lotion, deodorant, laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent. Next on the list is hand sanitizer and bug spray made from my *new* essential oils. When I'm not doing all that, I'm reorganizing the closets and planning the remodel for our laundry area, mudroom area in the garage as well as the re-do of our master bath. Phew. I'm tired just thinking about all that at once!

The new Harry Potter has opened up at Universal and the summer has been busy for Rusty at work (and crazy hot!) He still gets up with us every morning and goes on outings or helps me get the crazies ready for an outing. He loves me and I am so very lucky and thankful for that. I know it may come as a shock, but all the projects I do that make me happy, also make me crazy and not always fun to be around. I am an ongoing work in progress....sigh.

So, what's new?

Audrey: This kid comes up with the craziest things! It is almost ALWAYS a fight to get her to eat her meal. So I'll portion out a little on her plate and tell her what she needs to eat so that she can be done. One night I said, frustrated, "Just eat this food I put in the square right here." Not missing a beat she says "It's not a square mom. It's a rectangle." WTH! Seriously?! How can you be mad and almost laughing at the same time? She continues to be out of her room the second her clock turns green at nap time. She will entertain herself, usually painting with water colors. That's a most favorite activity lately. I'll be getting dinner fixed in the kitchen and sometimes she will come out and help. The latest meal she helped with was breading chicken fingers. She gets the biggest smile on her face and you can really tell she is proud of the fact that she helped mommy fix dinner! Things seem to be getting better between she and Elana as well. I'll catch her being a little mommy to her or bossing her around in a sweet, big sister kind of way. The relationship between A&M seems to be hit or miss, and probably always will be. They are ripping each other apart and screaming one minute and giggling and playing together like best buds the next.

Madison: She's in a transition stage with her naps and usually gets up a grump! After a few minutes she warms up and will paint water colors with Audrey or put a puzzle together. Sometimes she wants to help with dinner also which inevitably creates a sister brawl! In the mornings, Madison has been getting up as the clock strikes 7:45am and her ready-to-wake clock turns green. I will usually wake up to A&M playing quietly in the living room. They have figured out how to get into the closet with all their crafts so they are painting (making a mess) with watercolors, crayons, markers, legos, puzzles, etc. etc. BUT, I do usually get to keep my tired head on the pillow until 8:00 or even 8:15 because little E will sleep until 8:30 or so (bless her). I still keep as much locked up like Ft. Knox as I can but Madison does like to dress herself in the morning. If I forget to set out clothes for her, I will usually find her in the most favorite outfit she can find in the dirty clothes basket....hahaha. The funniest thing she's done lately is play with the water spear in the back yard. Daddy was trying to wind down the outside time and was collecting all the toys. He asked Madison to bring the water spear to him and she walked slowly toward him and said "ok daddy, here you go...." and took aim and fired a direct hit of water! She learns from the best ;) Lately we have been dealing with some major listening problems but she has a kind heart and is a fantastic helper. She is my go to for "special jobs" and is always first to volunteer to set the table for dinner.

Elana is still my little sweetheart! I admit I have a soft spot for her...probably because she's not in the "terrible 3's" stage (yet!)...hahaha. She is really talking a lot now and can carry on a conversation with other people. It's so weird to watch your BABY carry a conversation. Of course, she doesn't think she's a baby! It's fun to watch her frolic around with the other two...she goes along with whatever crazy game they are playing and is only one step behind everything the older two are doing. One of their favorite things to do right now is to pretend there is a bear (RAWRRR!) and they will run and scream. Sometimes they involve Layla and get her going too. Poor Layla. Elana has hit, kicked, jumped on, tried to ride, pulled the tail of that poor dog and she just takes it. Last night I explained to her that she needs to be nice and not hit doggie and that she needed to apologize to Layla for being mean. She walks over to Layla, gives her a big hug around the neck, lays her head on her and says "I sorry Layla, I wuv you" in the sweetest little voice. Another fun game for her right now is playing with Daddy in the pool. Daddy will swim underwater, poke his head up and say RAWRRR! She'll laugh and squeal and tell him "Say RAWR to me daddy!" And of course he does <3 nbsp="" p="">

This life is so crazy and hectic right now but full of sweet moments. It's hard to soak them all in when you're in the thick of it, so it's really nice to reflect like this and reset. I think one of the hard things about motherhood is focusing on the good. Everyone says "enjoy every moment, before you know it they are going to be grown." Which is said with all good intention and really is true. But to be in it, day after day, cooking, cleaning, breaking up fights, disciplining, questioning everything, wondering if you are making the right parenting choices, wondering if you are ever going to feel rested again, if your husband is still going to love you when the dust settles, wondering if you are screwing up at this parenthood thing, it's really tough to enjoy EVERY moment. I just hope and pray that what I'm doing is enough. When the kids look back to their childhood, I hope they remember a happy days with a mom and dad that love each other and them than anything.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Summer time's here!

As usual, lots happening in our lives since my last post! Last month, Rusty and I took a 3 night cruise to the Bahamas. It was our first big trip away from all the kids and the first overnight stay away from Elana! Everything went very well at home and we had a great time as well. Glad that first trip is "out of the way" so we can relax a little more and enjoy the next trip. Date: TBA! And what's a Disney cruise without booking.....ANOTHER Disney cruise?! Next year, the family will be headed to Miami for a 4 night cruise. I know the kids are going to be sooooo excited!

This week was the last week of school. Audrey and Madison really loved being in Ms. Lisa and Ms. Noelia's class this year! In the fall, they are on to the 3s class and after that pre-K. So weird to think of them being in school every day. For now, they'll just be going once a week and Elana will be joining her big sisters at school in the fall which is also very exciting!!! Four full hours kid free!

Until then, we will just have to enjoy summer! Tonight we had the sprinklers going and the kids were running through the water with buckets on their heads. Ah, love nice evenings! Monday, the kids start swim lessons, so hoping that goes well. We will see......

Audrey: This kid has really been a chatter box lately! Talking, telling stories, imaginary play, negotiations for getting out of swim lessons, the list goes on! I am amazed at her memory also. She will ask me about things that happened months ago and remember details about the events. The big news with this girl is that she now poops on the potty! Woah, big deal here! Grandma convinced her to go while Daddy and I were away on vacation and she's been going ever since! Another big development is that she is free-hand drawing letters. She has always been really into coloring and she's been asking me to draw letters for her to trace. This week she busted out with "Look mommy! I drew A's and H's!" and sure enough she had!

Madison: Madison really ended up having a great year at school. I was worried because she was so upset the first couple of days I left her, but now she's doing great and becoming more and more independent. She seems very excited about upcoming swim lessons and I hope she really does enjoy them! We've been having some issues with her pushing or having temper tantrums if she doesn't get her way but she's mostly an easy going kid. After bath, she will run into her room and get herself all dressed and ready for bed...all on her own! She also goes in and get herself dressed for the day in the mornings. Sometimes its pretty crazy looking but Madison is always happy with her selection :) She's eager to help with the night routine and brushing her teeth has become a lot easier since she came to the dentist office with me. The hygienist was really sweet and explained how to brush her teeth and it seemed to make it click!

Elana: Elana has become very, very verbal in the past few weeks. She is using sentences a lot of the time and is using new words frequently. I find myself thinking "did she just say what I think she said?!" I am also having more trouble differentiating the voices when they are all in their room for nap. I sometimes really have to strain to figure out who is talking: Madison, Audrey or Elana! Elana is starting to enter the "terrible twos" although I do hate to label! She has been known to throw down quite the temper tantrum if she doesn't get her way. However, I will say, she is easier to deal with than A&M many times because she is still fairly distractible. It also helps to really talk to her and try to figure out what's wrong. She can usually tell you! We also use the phrase "are you done now?" a lot. She'll either say no and cry more, or take a deep breath, say yes, and continue playing. Another good one is "are you sad?" or "do you need a kiss?" that fixes a lot of problems also :) She's also just started to name her abuser after a scuffle. She'll start crying and run up to you saying "Ma-son" or "A-jee" if they did something offensive or mean!

Never a dull moment here! Lots of excitement coming this week with swim lessons starting and then Father's Day! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Audrey and Madison turn THREE!

Life in the Jones world is still spinning at top speed. Audrey and Madison recently celebrated their birthday and we had a big party to celebrate! Instead of gifts this year, we asked party guests to make a donation to the Pet Rescue by Judy charity. It was nice to take the focus off of gifts and on to spending quality time with family and friends, and giving back to the community! Grandma and Grandpa rented the girls a bounce house and it was soooo much fun. The kids had an absolute blast!

Since my last post, we have completed the guest bathroom remodel! It's been changed from an olive green to a cheerful yellow with lots of girly accents! We finally tore out the laminate and had tile laid after all this time. So happy with how it turned out!

We also took our second camping trip with all 3 kiddos. It went really well overall except everyone had the grumpies on the last day from lack of sleep! It's so great to spend that quality time with friends. Best of all, it was supposed to rain all weekend but it really only sprinkled a few times. I hope that the kids grow up with happy memories of camping like I have!

Lots of changes in the life of Audrey. Recently, we started taking her to see a chiropractor. She had just gotten to the point that she seemed very unhappy, crying often with lots of outbursts. She has struggled with constipation for some time now and I think that may have contributed to the problem. After the first adjustment, we already noticed an improvement. Now, she gets adjusted regularly and is on a regimen to help with her regularity (ha). She seems so much happier and I'm only sorry we didn't start seeing Dr. Erin sooner! I have stepped a bit further into the hippy zone with a more holistic approach to raising my kids, but it works for us so that's ok with me. Along with the chiropractic care, we also started using some essential oils. It's nice to be able to offer the kids relief that doesn't come in the form of mediation!! In fact, we cleared two separate ear infections in ONE DAY by using adjustment, essential oils and breastmilk. I'm sold!

Anyway, back to Audrey. She seems to be enjoying the special time she gets with mommy and daddy when it's her day to get adjusted. We also were having some nap time issues so I bought a "ready to wake" clock. It's been a huge help getting her to stay in the room at rest time (and eliminated a lot of whining and crying too!) She's always up at 3:30 sharp when her light comes on. She continues to enjoy helping me get dinner ready or playing outside. Her imagination is really developing too. She will self entertain and run around telling a story or singing a song. Some of her favorite activities to do right now is play with playdoh or paint! 

Elana's a real mess! She's becoming her own independent little person with (strong) opinions! Overall she's a really happy little girl that loves her mama! She's still nursing a couple of times a day but her sessions are shorter as the days go on. I would like to continue until she's two, at the recommendation of the AAP, but of course if she weans before then, it's her choice! I never would have pictured myself being an "extended" breastfeeder but motherhood changes so many things you thought you knew about life :) So hard to believe she's turning into a toddler and she's not my little baby anymore! Her verbal skills are probably the best of all the kids at this age. She says tons of words and regularly links two words together like "daddy's book" or "Elana's shirt." It's also really cute hear her refer to people...Poppie is one of her favorites...he is her little buddy! She just said "Tia" for the first time today ("bye-bye Tia")! and she refers to Madison as "ma-ma" and Audrey is usually "sissy" but she has started trying to say "A-jee" too! I wouldn't say she has a favorite craft at this point, just whatever the big girls are doing, she's not to be left out!!!! All I'm saying, is I'm glad paint and playdoh are non-toxic products because she eats A LOT of them! When she's not eating art, she's digging in the dirt in the back yard, chasing Layla, or doing daredevil stunts down the slide or on the swings.

Madison is such a good helper. She is (usually) willing to help clean up the toys at the end of the day, or help Audrey re-lace the velcro on her shoes, or put the dirty clothes in the hamper. Her favorite thing right now is puzzles and Mickey. If she can't watch MMCH, she's asking to play with puzzles!!!! Right now she can do as many as 48 pieces! She can also be a little bit bossy, making sure that everyone is following the rules....which gets her into trouble, sigh. She also has this funny thing she does when you are talking to her. If she doesn't want to hear what you say, she'll say "What?!" practically before you even finish what you're saying...haha. She recently became potty trained day and night. She had been dry several nights in a row so I encouraged her to choose some underwear for bed. She was NOT having it. So we had some special time and went to the store and she got to choose some new, special, bedtime undies. Of course, she choose SUPER MICKEY! and that was it! Potty trained night and day. Only one overnight accident so far. So crazy they are old enough to be done, done with diapers! During that trip, I also discovered she really likes to go grocery shopping with me and is actually, truly a good helper at the store too! Amazing how sweet these kiddos can be off on their own :)

Now, off to bed! I have to wear my nurse hat for a little bit tomorrow when I go in for a class. Don't get me started. In the coming months, I'm counting down the days until Rusty and I go on our kidless cruise, wow! It's been over 3 years! We have a lot of re-energizing to do! The kids will also be doing swim lessons this summer so that should be.....interesting!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Life lately. November, December and January....

Keeping up with this blog is proving more and more difficult for me! Between trying to keep up with the usual household duties, picking up some extra shifts at work, surviving Christmas, and trying to remodel and organize multiple areas of our house at once, I am utterly overwhelmed. Honestly, it's silly. I get to spend 5-6 days a week home with my family. I should be grateful for that (and I am) but I just feel those special moments slipping away. Some experiences with my children are truly priceless and I never want to forget them but I am learning that time fades so many great memories (and bad ones too thankfully...haha). I want to be better at keeping up with my kids lives by being current on their photo albums, home movies, art albums and things like this blog and my little notebooks where I write down funnies and everyday precious moments. First world mommy problems.

As Elana enters her second year, I've decided it's ok to work a few extra shifts a month. It's good for my sanity and good for the budget too! Not to mention that I'm simultaneously trying to remodel and re-tile both bathrooms in my house, organizing the garage, making the master bedroom a retreat instead of a dumping ground, organize my kitchen cabinets, purging my closet and making room for a build in desk in there. What a grand plan.....It will be grand in the end though! We've needed to do some things for "us" as a couple for um....about 3 years now :)

Our family of 5 Christmas morning was really nice and the girls had a great time trying out their tricycles! Madison is getting really good on hers and Audrey isn't overly interested at this point! Elana is having a great time tagging along beside the older two! We spent Christmas Eve with my mom, Christmas day at our place and then to Grandma and Pawpaw Hodge. The following day we had dinner with dad and came home and watched Superman! Really enjoyed our time with family this year!

Rusty has been busy at work. He is enjoying his job overall, although they have a few rides that have been giving them plenty of trouble! It's also been very cold the past few weeks and working outside or in a building that doesn't have heat has been a bit of a challenge, coupled with a case of food poisoning from work food makes for a fun time (not!) He has been working 4 10 hour shifts instead of his usual 5 8s. This has been really nice having him an extra day but he is also getting home later which makes doing morning activities with the kids a bit of a challenge. He has a good attitude and is very good at balancing my long list of needs (van, house, personal) with everyday life and work. I am lucky to have such a great husband and father to my kids <3 p="">
Our little ladies are growing up so fast! Here's a little about them these days....

Elana: My little pistol! She said her first word just after she turned one. We were watching a home movie I had made from video clips and she saw Layla walk across the screen. She pointed and said "Layla!!" and hasn't stopped talking since!!! It seems like she is pronouncing words better and saying more and more words by the day! Elana is a little chatter box and is always asking for daddy! She pokes her little lips out and says "da-da, da-da" over and over :) She is still very attached to her momma though! When I leave to take the big girls to preschool, she cries when I leave and asks for me until I return. When I get home, she hears me open the door and I see her little face light up when she realizes it's me. She will run to me saying "mama!!!!" One of my favorite things she does right now is wrap her arms around your neck and lay her little head on your shoulder. She gives the best hugs and it is really one of the sweetest things ever! Elana loves to be involved in whatever her big sisters are doing. She is especially fond of painting and coloring! She knows Mickey and Minnie as well as most of the other characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Some of her latest tricks are pointing out her body parts, especially her nose, belly button, eyes and ears. She also points to her diaper when it is dirty (early potty trainer?!) and loves to give me a heart attack when she climbs up the slide or into the swing in the back yard. Yesterday I went to the store and asked her if she wanted to ride in the cart or with me and she clearly said "backpack!" Way to make mama feel loved <3 br="">
Madison: Little stinker! She has this funny little face she does where she scrunches up her nose, looks at you and says something sassy! One of her favorite things to do right now is put puzzles together. She can put together 24 piece puzzles effortlessly! We have a box of mickey puzzles she assembles in just's amazing. She's got a whole thought process behind it too. Smarty pants! Lately, we have had issues with the older girls acting out so we started having day dates. Once a week we take one of them for one-on-one time. It's really enjoyable to get them out on their own and see their individual personality blossom! We took Madison to Monkey Joes and she had a BLAST! She was going down the biggest slides they had all by herself. Sometimes I look at her and I am shocked to see the beautiful little girl she is becoming.

Audrey: Oh Audrey. The zombie arm is still strong with this one! Once you get past the whining, she is such a pleasant and sweet little girl! We found that when we separate her from Madison, she will just chatter, chatter, chatter! She loves to talk and it's not necessarily TO anyone other than herself :) Audrey is also really into painting these days. Give that girl some watercolors and a pad of paper and she will go to town! Today we painted and she told me that she was drawing a dinosaur and went on to explain about how it was a T-Rex and that she was drawing his feet. She definitely doesn't have the same connection with Elana that Madison does but she has her sweet moments. Sometimes she will share her toy with the baby without prompting or give her a little hug while she thinks no one is watching. She also loves to push he baby dolls around in the shopping cart. The other day I snapped a picture of her with her "two babies." It's also fun to see the wheels start turning about being a twin herself. We don't use the term "twins" in our home so I'm not sure she knows that but she will point out that she and Madison were in mommy's tummy together!

I sure love my little girls (and their daddy too!) Times like these, when I think about the happy times, makes my heart swell with love. There are also plenty of hard times, especially with the trying age of 2-3 year olds and Elana beginning to assert herself. I struggle daily to find balance between work and play. I can only hope I am giving them the happy childhood they need and deserve.