Trains

This morning we loaded everyone up and headed to the Raleigh Convention Center to see the train expo.  We usually don’t do anything like this, but Travis brought up the point that there is always something fun going on around here and we hardly ever take advantage.  The kids are  getting older and more manageable and it’s easier to do fun things now.  We were sure that Maddox would be ecstatic and we were right.

Walking in

Walking in

IMG_0679

There were a lot of vendors set up with model trains that you could look at.  Some had buttons you could press to control the trains or toot the horn, ring the bell, etc.  There was also a Thomas train setup where kids could go for a ride.

As you can imagine, we had a pretty long line to stand in.  I was surprised, but Maddox was very patient.  We probably stood there for fifteen minutes and he kept saying, “You have to be patient, Mom.  We have to wait your turn.”  Then, he got a little bit intimated as we got closer and he said, “It’s not scary.”  When it was his turn, he hopped right on the train and went for a ride all by himself.

IMG_0674

Levi and Laney were pretty amused by all the trains and exhibits and they didn’t once cry or try to get out of the stroller.  We spent about three hours there before we packed up to head home for naps, but there was so much going on we could have easily spent another hour there.  We ate a little snack and came home.

IMG_0688

Just before leaving, Travis and I agreed that everyone had been so well-behaved (although the picture above does not depict it!) and Maddox had not asked for one single thing, so he had earned a little treat.  We told him he could get a surprise and it didn’t take him long at all to decide what he wanted.  He chose Connor from Thomas the Train.  As soon as the purchase was made, he strutted around the convention center with that train in tow and a little more pep in his step.  He didn’t want to put Connor in a bag.  He wanted to carry it around on his own.

IMG_0696

IMG_0698

We had a pretty good little adventure!

A Full Week

Well, friends, it’s Friday night and I’m sitting back relaxing, listening to the low hum of the dryer and reflecting on what was a really full week for us.

This was my last week at what I can now refer to as my “old job” and next week I’ll be starting “the new job”.  So, Monday night after work, some of my buddies and I went out to eat Mexican food and celebrate.

On Wednesday, the forecast was calling for some wintry weather and slippery roads and school was delayed for two hours.  Since Levi had a cold and we had been using his nebulizer more than usual over the past twenty-four hours, I decided to run him by urgent care before taking everyone to daycare.  I had no idea how long the wait would be so I ran through the McDonald’s drive-thru and got sausage biscuits to keep everyone satisfied and it worked like a charm!

IMG_3044

IMG_3045

Thursday, Levi had an appointment at the Eye Center and we spent some quality time walking the halls and wreaking havoc in the waiting room. The whole process can take anywhere from two to four hours. Levi was particularly wild on Thursday and wild is not generally a word I use to describe him.  He is very cooperative when they’re checking his vision.  At one point, the doctor said we could walk in the halls and take a break for a little while.  He was throwing himself around and climbing all over the furniture, and I was breaking out in a sweat and checking the time to see how much longer we had.

When I went to pick him up from school later that afternoon, his teacher told me he didn’t sleep all day.  And, then I realized the combination of Prednisone and ’round-the-clock Albuterol was hyping him up.  We did snap a picture or two in the waiting room, though.  His vision was slightly better this time than it was last time and he’s going to keep trucking along with his glasses.

IMG_3064

On Thursday evening, some of my co-workers at my new job were going to a dinner at Angus Barn and invited me to tag along.  It was a great way to meet some people I will be working with.

And, today, was my last day at Duke.  Six and a half years of my life were spent at that hospital and I have a lot of history tied there.  It was my first job out of school, the place where my mom was treated for cancer and had several surgeries.  It was also the place where all our kids were born and a lot of friendships were formed.  My co-workers cooked and brought in lots of food yesterday and today and we celebrated what feels like the end of an era.  I may have shed a tear.

After I cleaned out my drawer and gathered up the artwork I had hanging above my computer, I got in my car and called Trav as I drove away.  He did what any good husband would do and said, “Hey, I think we should go eat Mexican food tonight.”  Sounds good to me!  And that was the end of our week.  Full bellies, fuller hearts.

IMG_3074

 

IMG_3076

 

A Recap of the Holidays

Well, it’s been a while since I posted an update, but things have been going well around here.  Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went and I didn’t take the time to write any updates because I’ve just been enjoying being home with the kids, not picking up the computer, and being completely lazy.  I have spent a lot of time home with the kids over the past few weeks and for the sake of family that we didn’t get to see, I’m going to post way too many family photos!

We spent Thanksgiving with the Marshalls in Jacksonville and before we left for the weekend, we decided to put up our Christmas decorations.  I never feel like it’s too early to put the decorations up and I wanted everything up and looking like Christmas when we got home from Thanksgiving.  Maddox helped us decorate and this was the first year that he really understood all the magic of Christmas.

Maddox proud of his Christmas decorations

Maddox proud of his Christmas decorations

Our exterior decorations are compliments of Charles Taylor himself.  Thanks, Papa!

Outside decorations

Outside decorations

We also went to Maddox’s first school Christmas program performance. He was less than thrilled about it, but he looked super cute and was proud of his reindeer vest.

Mr. Handsome

Mr. Handsome

We also took the kids to Hillridge Farms with a  co-worker and her family to see the lights display and ride the train.  According to the pic, only a couple of us were happy to be at the farm, but it was a great time for all!

IMG_2776

Travis and I went to the Sokal Christmas party and had a fun night out.

IMG_2838

The extent of my December goals were: 1) order all gifts online, 2) spend a lot of time at home watching Christmas movies with the kids, 3) enjoy the season and relax.  We did check each of these things off our list.  And, on Christmas Eve Santa made an appearance at our neighbor’s house.

IMG_2888

Maddox marched right up to Santa and told him he wanted a “Salty Train” and I was proud that we made it through the entire Christmas season without him changing his mind about what he wanted.

Maddox relaxin' and using Travis' back massager.

Maddox relaxin’ and using Travis’ back massager.

Levi and his Christmas gifts

Levi and his Christmas gifts

Laney and her cute Christmas outfit

Laney and her cute Christmas outfit

Maddox and Laney tearing into a gift that does not belong to them.

Maddox and Laney tearing into a gift that does not belong to them.

Watching The Polar Express yet again!

Watching The Polar Express yet again!

Twins chillin in the tub!

Twins chillin in the tub!

And on one of the last days of our Christmas staycation, I ventured out with the kids to Marbles Museum.

IMG_2908

IMG_2905

And, today I’m gearing up for another week back at work and getting back into a routine.  I spent a small part of the afternoon like this and didn’t manage to take a shower until 6 pm.

IMG_3012If this says anything about what 2015 holds for me, I’d say I’m gonna be having a pretty good year!

 

From One to Three

We are quickly approaching birthday season in the Marshall household.  I probably say this all the time, but I’ll say it again.  I CANNOT believe that we are about to have a three-year-old and two one-year-olds.  Since we are so close to October, I’ve started answering, “Three and one,” when people ask how old the kids are.  It’s easier than saying, “Almost three, and eleven months.”

Just around the time Maddox turned one, I started thinking, “We gotta have another one!”  His first year of life, dirty blonde hair, and dimpled cheeks left me wanting more.  I remember thinking I always wanted our kids to be close in age so they could grow up together, play together, run in the same circles of friends, maybe have some of the same interests and have an automatic BFF.  I envisioned a future where the kids played on the same sports team, drove to school together, and yes, went off to college around the same time!   For some reason, I thought having kids within two years of each other would make that possible.  (I say all this as if I were able to control any of it!)

At the same time, I could NOT imagine being able to love another little munchkin as much as I loved Mr. Maddox.  We had a special first year together and I loved being able to spend time devoted to him.  I also loved the fact that with only one kid, I could nap when he did.  And Maddox was known as a champion napper!  I know that everyone adding a second child probably goes through this.

As we all know, number two ended up being two and three.  I was THRILLED to find out we were expecting twins (which is kind of an interesting story for another day).  When I thought about having kids close in age, I never dreamed I would be part of the “three under three” crowd and I never considered the immediate challenges we would face.  Here are some things that really changed in our household when we quickly went from one to three kiddos:

1. I became terribly outnumbered by the kids.  This is always pointed out by well-meaning onlookers just about anywhere we go.  It’s also painfully apparent to me, when we are out and about and someone is not on their best behavior.  Last weekend, I needed several things from BJs and Travis wasn’t home.  We set out for the store and I put Levi and Laney in the front part of the cart where I could buckle them in.  Maddox sat in the basket.  I knew his long, gangly legs would not allow much space for our cargo.  My only option was to push the kids in one cart and pull another behind me with our loot.  All in all, they were good.  We got what we needed and got out of there… but not without a few comments that no one with kids this age has ever heard, including, “Mommy has her hands full.”  One guy even said, “Whoa!  I didn’t see the third one back there!”  Of course, it’s tough, but manageable.  Taking all of them out versus taking only Maddox out, has been a big adjustment.

IMG_2291

 

(As I look at this pic, I realize that Levi didn’t have pants on!  Guess it was a more difficult trip that I remember!)

2. Travis and I together, became outnumbered by our kids.  Even with Travis, or any other set of hands helping out, the two of us will always be outnumbered by the kids.  I kind of like it that way.  It adds to the crazy.

IMG_2189

3. The cost of everything tripled.  Well, not literally.  We didn’t have to buy formula and baby food for three kids.  (I pray for those with triplets!)  But, for the better part of this year, we had three in diapers, three in need of full-time childcare, three carseats and three cribs.  It all adds up.  I am happy, happy, happy to announce that Maddox is now potty-trained!  Levi is eating table food AND we polished off our last container of formula last night.  And all the people said a very enthusiastic, “Amen!”  Oh, and did I mention that on their birthdays, the cost of daycare decreases a tiny bit?!

4. We learned (and continue to learn) to master the art of time management.  This fact alone deserves its own post, but  we have learned how to cram about forty-eight hours of work into a twenty-four hour timespan.  I will venture to say that I have watched a grand total of two full television shows this year.  We have learned new ways of doing just about everything.  On Saturday morning, I looked at the clock and realized that by 10:00 am we had already: gotten the kids up and dressed, everyone had eaten breakfast, load of laundry was done, dishwasher had been run and emptied, trash was taken out, beds had been stripped and sheets washed, Travis had gotten in a workout, I ran an errand, stuffed and addressed birthday party invitations, and put the twins down for a nap.  With all the upkeep that our home requires, we have learned to do what needs to be done, very efficiently.  This means we may not watch as much TV as we used to, or stay up past 9 pm, but it works for us.  We meal plan now.  And, once the kids are in bed, we get to work tidying up the house, laying out clothes for the next day, taking out the trash, making bottles, and the list goes on.  It may sound exhausting, but it actually feels satisfying to get it all done… which brings me to my next point.

5. We have embraced the concept of teamwork.  It’s always interesting to me how some women say, “My husband never changed a diaper.”  Or, “I am always responsible for bath and bedtime.”  In our house, the only division of labor is when we divide and conquer.  There are no jobs that “I” do and jobs that “he” does.  We both do it all.  We both change diapers, feed the babies, cook food, empty the dishwasher, load the laundry, do the shopping and care for the kids.  We both work jobs outside our home, try to exercise consistently, participate in Small Group and are active at church.  All these things require us to be united on all fronts.  Maybe if we had a big boy and only one baby, it would be different.  But, with three small kids, no one gets to say, “Oh, I don’t do that,” or, “Your mommy/daddy will take care of that.”  Having three little kids has been the best team building exercise of all.  I am confident that if Trav and I were on that show The Amazing Race, we would win!

This is how we usually feel at the end of it all!

This is how we usually feel at the end of it all!

6. I embraced the concept of the muffin top.  Three babies.  Two years.  No explanation needed.

7.  We used the TV more than I had hoped.  I am not a TV Nazi walking around cracking a whip at anyone holding a remote.  I think television is great for some downtime, but I closely monitor how much screen time Maddox gets.  On the flip side, he has watched far more than his share of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Thomas the Train, Mighty Machines and The Magic Schoolbus this year.  I tell myself these are educational and he doesn’t watch anything all day at school and if the weather is nice we go outside, so it balances out.  Sometimes dinner and my personal hygiene take precedence, so he gets to watch a few shows!

8. Transportation became more complicated.  I drive a minivan and I am not ashamed.  Previously, I could have a babysitter pick Maddox up from school or they could go to the park or run an errand.  That’s not so easy when you need three carseats.  Few people can fit all of them in their car, so if I ever need someone to take all of them somewhere, they have to take my van.

I am thankful beyond words for the three babies that God has given us.  We are so undeserving and I thank Him daily for the privilege of being their mother… and I thank Him for the fact that I don’t know what two babies is like because I might have been too scared to go for a third!

 

 

 

 

Laney’s Helmet Graduation

I previously shared about Laney’s head and her noggin’ accessory.  I am happy to finally report that she has graduated out of the helmet!

And now she can wear bows!

And now she can wear bows!

On day one of picking up the helmet, I remember thinking, “This is gonna be a great couple of days!”  I just knew she would be miserable, but surprisingly, she adjusted just fine.  We were first told, she may need around twelve weeks in the helmet to correct the “flatness” of her head and help her neck muscles.

When you first start out, they do some skull imaging and rate your baby’s head from 1 to 5.  One is the “best” meaning your head is not very abnormally shaped.  Five is the “worst”.  At her first appointment, she was a 4!  I was surprised, but that really gave me the motivation to be persistent with it and keep that helmet on just like we were instructed.  This meant wearing it twenty-three hours a day.

Three months came and went and she still needed the helmet.  I wasn’t too anxious about getting it off because it wasn’t bothering her and she was making progress.  She had an appointment two weeks ago and much to my surprise, they said she can now go without the helmet during the daytime hours!  She seems to be so happy now that it’s off and spent the first few days scratching her head and messing with her ears.  She’s adjusted well to life outside the helmet and I think her new look is pretty cute!

IMG_2352