Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spooky sentiments

This was technically Bradley's 2nd Halloween, but it was his first to dress up and go trick or treating. Two thoughts crossed my mind tonight (well, two among many, but two that were "things that make you go hmmmm" thoughts anyways):

  1. I never knew how much more fun Halloween could be when you have kids and get to watch them dress up and get candy.
  2. It never occurred to me as being weird before to knock on strangers' doors, take free candy from them, and leave, until tonight.
This is what I like to call the Money shot of the night- Bradley in his elephant costume before going trick or treating. At the end of the night, he looked so cute in his costume that he went to bed a whole hour late because I couldn't bear to take it off him!

Here's all of us in our costumes. Brian and I are zookeepers/elephant hunters- Take your pick.

Bradley with Grandma Anna. She stayed at our house and passed out candy to all the trick or treaters.So easy, it's like giving candy to a baby... at least, I think that's the way the phrase goes...
Here's Daddy and Bradley walking up to a house to get candy. Bradley has learned how to knock, so he helped us out there. A couple of times he tried to go in the house once the door opened. I suppose he hasn't really gotten the concept of trick or treating yet! One older man answered the door and thought Bradley was a bunny. I promptly showed him Bradley's trunk and explained that he was clearly an elephant.
See our appropos tropical setting? Gotta love Florida. It was cool tonight- in the 50s- so it felt like fall, but it wasn't bitterly cold the way I remember some TN Halloweens being.
The whole time we were trick or treating it never occured to Bradley that the loot he was gathering was actually edible. He picked out the candy and dropped it in his bucket never bothering to pay attention to what it was, so I opened up a package of mini m&ms for him once we got home. Here's Bradley with all his candy, and his pumpkin with his name on it, thanks to Grandma & Grandpa B. After the m&ms, he had a whole Reeces cup, a dum dum sucker, and some Smarties. Ann and I both heard Bradley say "smartie" clear as day after I gave him the first one, but he wouldn't say it again. It was so plain that our mouths dropped as we looked at each other!
We Skyped with mom and dad so they could see Bradley in his costume, and I know that made their night. At that point he was eating the Reece cup and "sharing" his sucker with Grandma, holding the dum dum up to the computer screen.

Finally, the Halloween aftermath- with chocolate smeared all over his face, trunk, and sleeve! As soon as he dropped that sucker on the floor and wasn't paying attention, into the trashcan it went! That didn't stop B from peering into the trashcan every now and then though. He's no dum dum! We had so much fun going through the neighborhood that I can't wait til next year when he can go even longer!

Happy Halloweenie!

Happy Halloweenie, everyone! It's a cool 62 degrees here today, so I guess Fall has decided to grace us with her presence for Halloween. We carved our pumpkin last night with Kim and her munchkins, and are taking Bradley out trick or treating tonight for the first time.

This first picture was for you, Lu!
Here's me, carving our pumpkin- what would eventually turn out to be a ghost saying "Boo"
Our friendly neighborhood pumpkin carving event (only 2 of the 4 kids shown are actually Kim's!)

Behind Bars

The finished pumpkins

all lit up
Kim, Andrew, Catalina, me, and Bradley

Ok Grandma B, this is proof that I let Bradley have some of the candy you sent him!

Last but not least, this is a video I like to call, Trick or treat smell my feet. It will make you smile, I promise!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Calendar Calamities

Random bit of complaining for the day: It stinks having a birthday at the beginning of the month. Why, you ask? Because I have no chance to write my birthday on a calendar or in my planner, and get to look forward to seeing that date in ink for a month. Instead, I have to wait until November rolls around, wipe clean my magnetic dry erase calendar on the fridge, flip to the new page in my desk planner, and see my birthday taunting me in the past-tense for the other 28 days of the month. Not fair. And this year I can't even "cheat" and go ahead and mark my birthday on my current October calendar because the month goes all the way through Saturday, so there are no "open" days at the end of the month to fill in. Boo.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Can you hear me now?

We knew that it was only a matter of time before Bradley picked up the art of talking on a cell phone! Wonder where he would learn such a thing with two parents blessed with the gift of gab?

A few days ago I noticed Bradley picking up "his" cell phone (an old one of Brian's), flipping it open, and holding it to his ear. Now he's also adding some talking with the gesture- you can watch the video for yourself, but it sounds very much like he's saying "hi." It cracks me up every time he does it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Home sweet home

As of Wednesday night at 5:29pm Brian is home from Afghanistan!!!

Here's Bradley waiting for daddy in the airport, waving his flag! His t-shirt says "Welcome home daddy"

Holding up our sign, waiting for Brian's plane to arrive

The Vilendrers reunited after 3 long months

We had everyone in the airport crying at our reunion! Bradley and Brian bonded instantly. There was no question that Bradley knew exactly who his daddy was. We are so thankful to have Brian back home, and he has wasted no time making a trip to Lowe's and starting several home improvement projects already. He even fixed the icemaker that I had left broken months ago.
After picking him up from the airport, for his welcome home dinner Brian chose Buffalo Wild Wings, so that's what we did, then called it an early night. Tonight we'll grill out and have a few people over to celebrate.
Thank you to everyone who helped us out through this first deployment; for anyone who mailed Brian packages, to Ann for helping me out every week babysitting Bradley so I could go to choir practice, to Kim and Jess for making sure I got out of the house daily, to mom and dad for taking such good care of us on visits and giving me a break, and the biggest thanks goes for everyone who prayed for us. Now we will continue to pray for our other friends who are still deployed that they make it home safe and sound. God is good, all the time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So you will remember your first deployment

Dear Bradley,

You are too little to remember this first deployment, but since the end of July, when you were 13 months old, your dad has been in Afghanistan. He went there to do his job defending our nation's ideals that people should be free to live their own lives without fear. He went to help the good guys fight the bad men who are terrorizing and hurting their own people. It was a huge sacrifice on your part to let your dad go away for such a long time while he helped those other people, so thank you for understanding.

Your mom was very sad at first, but you made her happy, and helped her get through the days. From the moment you got up with your smiling face til you went down to bed at night you reminded her that she still had a job to do, even though it was just the two of you for a while.

In the 3 months your dad has been gone you have changed so much! No longer a baby, you are truly a little boy now, walking everywhere, and wearing shoes. You have learned how to point to your body parts, climb off the couch by yourself (much to mommy's chagrin), and do the "touchdown" sign. You have cycled through so many "new" favorite books, and stopped nursing altogether while adding many new favorite foods to your repertoire. You've abandoned most of your other toys in favor of any kind of ball you can get your hands on, and when you do, you throw it with all your might! Mommy has been teaching you how to kick the ball, and roll it on the ground, and you're starting to understand the concept of "catch." You went from taking two naps a day to one, and finally added your third official word to your vocabulary: hot. As in, No Bradley, that food is hot, you have to wait. And then you will knowingly say the word "hot" as you act like you have touched something warm and pull your hand away.

Mommy has kept you (and herself) busy trying lots of new things these past few months. You have experienced your first train ride (at the FL zoo with mom and Grandma Anna), your first black eye (falling off the couch when mommy wasn't watching you), your first time riding a carousel (at the Nashville zoo with mom), and your first time on a boat (the ferry in New Orleans), and been kicked out of a preschool library story time. You went to 2 Ravenwood high school football games, travelled to see Ari & Conley in New Orleans, Rhonda & Joe in Panama City, and Grandma & Grandpa B, and aunt Laura and uncle George in Tennessee twice. The first 2 months you went to the beach a lot, but now it is too cold. We took you to a special doctor back in August who gave us great news that you were perfectly okay, and you've had a couple of colds, but otherwise been totally healthy. It has been a quiet hurricane season, so we haven't had to worry about the weather while daddy was away.

Monday nights Grandma Anna has come to eat dinner with us, and play with you and put you to bed so mommy could go to choir practice in Pensacola. You love chasing Max around and touching his tongue that perpetually sticks out! On Wednesday nights you have been a trouper staying in the church nursery till 9 o'clock when mom gets out of church choir rehearsal. Three times a week you get a stroller ride in the park while mama and Miss Jessica and Miss Kim go running. Some nights you are cranky and we have to sing to you. Most nights you are content to ride along, and more than once you have thrown your sippy cup or pacifier down on the ground, leaving mommy to chase after it. Other regular activities are our weekly Kindermusik classes, and the moms' coffees where you get to play with lots of other kids your age.

The few times we have been able to video chat with daddy, your face lights up when you see him. You show off for him by giving high fives, blowing kisses, and giving mommy hugs; all new tricks you've mastered since he's been gone. I can't wait to watch your face when you spot your daddy coming towards us in that airport very soon. In the scheme of things 3 months is not that long of a time, but for a little one like you, you are growing and changing every day. I love you so much, and thank you for being such a good boy, and making this easy on mommy.

Love, mom

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Retail rant

Recently my world has been turned upside down, and I am striving to find ways to cope with the difficulties this problem brings. I literally don't know which way to turn some days, and finding my path is near-impossible. A once-menial task is now an overwhelming chore, and my patience is wearing thin. What has taken the sparkle out of this DIVA? Yes, you guessed it. Our neighborhood Walmart is remodeling!!

(Seriously people, what did you think I was talking about??)

For weeks now, our Walmart has been renovating. After one week in Tennessee back in August I returned ye olde trusty walmart, and immediately noticed something was different. (Warning flags should be popping up for anyone who knows me well, because I am about the least observant person on the planet!) As I stared at the produce wall, I realized it had been repainted a bright obnoxious yellow. This just proves that I spend way too much time in this store.

Well the painting was just beginning. Now they're redoing the grocery aisles, and you'd be hard pressed to find a quicker form of torture for shoppers out there, I'd wager. Nothing is where it used to be, and some items have disappeared completely (Kim complained that Walmart supposedly isn't going to be carrying kids' tv dinners anymore. I told her maybe this was God's way of telling her she shouldn't be feeding her kids tv dinners). Even the items you know are there, have gone into hiding, and no one, not even the Walmart employees, knows where they have gone. Case in point, the special Halloween Count Chocula cereal that I know I saw on an end cap just a few days ago? Vanished. I spent more than enough time going up and down aisles with Bradley today on a hunt for the breakfast specialty item, but when B's snacks were running low in his cup, I gave up my quest and headed to the cash registers. At least those haven't moved.

But of course not. The evil conspirators of Walmart want you to know where to pay for your items, but not how to get in and out quickly. The way they've arranged the store now leads you through a wild goose chase of both parallel and perpendicular aisles, so that you are forced to weave through the maze of merchandise, and undoubtedly spend more time in the store, and find more things you forgot you needed until you saw them.

Oh Walmart, how I loathe thee!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

First 5K

This morning was my first ever 5K, and I accomplished my goal- to run the entire race without stopping! My friends/neighbors Kim and Jessica and I ran it together, and we even had our own jody to sing as we ran:

Everywhere we go
people wanna know
who we are
so we tell them
we are the mamas
the hot hot mamas

That was Jess' idea, but you know me, I love anything cheesy and attention-getting! We don't have the official results, but I know we all three finished in under 35 minutes. Not bad for girls who were running 5 minute intervals just 2 months ago!! Kim could have run circles around us but she stayed with us til the end when she sprinted ahead, and Jess actually won first place for her age group after spinning for 3 hours last night for a benefit for a cancer patient!! These are 2 amazing women, and I'm so thankful to have them in my life. They are great motivators, running partners, and friends.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Livid with the Library

Apparently our libraries don't want small children to enjoy books. Apparently we want to delay them being read to as long as possible, like perhaps until they reach school age. That's the message the Santa Rosa County Library is sending me, anyways.

I have been waiting for the weekly story time to start back up so I could take Bradley. Our library system does story time in Navarre on Tuedays, and Gulf Breeze on Thursdays, and we live in between the 2 libraries, so I opted for the Thursday one today. I tried to take Bradley back in the summertime, but when I showed up I was informed that they were done for the summer and that it would resume in the fall. I went some time after Brian had left, so August, and it just now started back this week, October. There had been no information on the library's website that they were done for the summer, so I was a little disappointed when we made the special trip over there only to find out it wasn't happening, but no big deal right? Since then I have diligently been checking the website ever since to find out when it would be starting back up.

You can imagine my shock when, after the nice librarian asked the children to follow her away from the library's kid section, and down a hall into a meeting room where they were to sit on a brightly colored carpet, I was informed that parents were not allowed in the room. Parents are a distraction to the kids, she told me. So a little hesitantly, I sat Bradley down on the carpet and started to leave the room, reasoning that I could watch from the window outside the door, and make sure Bradley was okay. As I started to leave however, the sweet librarian asked me an obvious question. Is he 3? Well no, he's not. I'm sorry, she said every bit as sweetly, preschool story time is only for 3-5 year olds. I asked about sitting in the back of the room with Bradley and again was shot down. He loves books, I pleaded with her. We made a special trip out here for this, I said, but there was nothing to be done. I was steaming mad. I was being told that I could not bring my child into a public library and listen to someone read a story? Isn't that against some law or something for discrimination in a goverment funded building and program??

Upon speaking with the library's manager, I was told again that story time was just for 3-5 year olds. And there is no "toddler" story time. And in the state of Florida, 4 year olds go to pre-K, and 5 year olds are in kindergarten. Since the story time is not held during the summer, why do you have a program for kids, most of whom are in school at this time, I asked her. The manager informed me that they take the month of July off- which is a lie, because I went in August and have been checking the calendar ever since, but I couldn't think quick enough to make this argument. I still questioned why I was not allowed to bring my son into that room and sit with him, and got no answer I was satisfied with, other than that's how the programming was set up by the main children's librarian. Thanks for nothing, I said as I left in a huff. I know. Not the nicest way to handle it, but come on, this is America for goodness sakes! Every parenting magazine or child-rearing website you see will suggest taking your kids to story time at your local library! I wasn't showing up with my newborn and a pacifier in some lame attempt to get out of the house. I was genuinely trying to encourage my child to grow up learning to love books.

My next stop is to email the children's librarian and find out what can be done about this. There's also a library advisory board meeting that's coming up that is open to the public. I am not going down without a fight.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Surprise trip!

Never one to make spur of the moment plans, I surprised myself even, when Laura called me on Thursday and suggested I come up to Tennessee for the weekend and surprise my parents.  Planned spontaneity is more how I roll, but upon quickly realizing that this would be my best shot at visiting again before Brian gets back, I jumped at the opportunity to pull off the greatest shock ever for Grandma & Grandpa B.  Due to a slight snag with a late afternoon meeting that my sister had to persuade my parents to bump up so they'd be home, mom and dad weren't completely taken by our showing up on their doorstep, but that didn't stop them
 from meeting us in the driveway with smiles and tears on Friday afternoon.  It was a great feeling to make their day by showing up unannounced.

Friday night we dined at Blue Coast burrito and then headed to RHS for some Ravenwood football.  Here are three of the Raptors' biggest fans!

Bradley was sure interested in Grandpa B's cheeseburger, and had to sample the football fare himself.

Cheering for the Raptors

Bundled up baby:  Bradley didn't even make it to halftime!  Guess he was all tuckered out from the driving.  PS, in keeping with the theme of crappy football seasons, RHS lost Friday night to Franklin.  :(

Saturday the gorgeous fall weather (yes, you read correctly- I used those two words in the same sentence, Mary Anna) lent itself well to a trip to Gentry's Pumpkin Farm in Franklin.  It hearkened back to the days when me and the girls came out here, and posed behind corn stalks for one of my favorite friends-pictures ever.  I was disappointed that there were no sunflowers for picking this time, but I was shocked (in a good way) to see how much cheaper it was to purchase pumpkins here, from the source, rather than the grocery store!  Finally, it pays to buy locally and think globally!    

Bradley enjoyed Gentry's because anything bright and round is a ball to him right now, and therefore the object of his fascination.  We picked out a nice pumpkin to take home to Florida with us, and Laura found several things to decorate her new place.  

Pa-in-law with Son-in-law, relaxing Saturday night

Bradley helps uncle George on the computer.  (Today he deleted several of dad's emails... you have to watch him near keyboards these days!)

Sunday after church we went out to Laura & George's new place in Spring Hill.  We had chili and rotel while we watched the Titans lose (again) and then we helped Laura unpack and organize some of the residual boxes leftover from the move.  I love projects like that, and tackled her kitchen cabinets with glee, rearranging as I saw fit.

Bradley and Julius are seen here examining the doggie door together.

We've had a great weekend (minus all the football) and I am so glad I took Laura's advice and came up when I did.  The next time I'll be up, Brian will be with me, and we'll all be eating turkey.

Until then, au revoire fall!  It's back to 80 degree sunny fall days for me!

Oh (and) four crying out loud!

What the heck is going on?  My beloved Titans are 0-4.  Can this really be the same team who had the best record in the NFL last year?  And coming up, we've got Peyton Manning and the Colts, and then the Patriots after that.  I fear we might very well be this year's Detroit Lions.

To add insult to injury, My Kentucky Wildcats have yet to get an SEC win, and UT can't doesn't seem to be any better than they were last season, even with their new hotshot coach.  Add to that the fact that Brian is deployed so I've been watching a lot of games by myself, and you have one depressing football season thus far!