We returned from our Sea World adventure happy, relaxed and proud of ourselves for tackling that adventure without any real mishaps. At least, no criminal, legal, financial, medical or majorly life altering mishaps. Dirt, dishevelment, embarrassment, tears, frustration...well, all that just goes with the territory, right? So summer begins.
We celebrated Father's Day with a trip to St. Augustine, Florida (one of our favorite cities), where we visited the fort, shopped and rode the river boat on the Matanzas River.
On July 3, 2007, Austin's adoption was final and we celebrated with a party/BBQ at the house. We invited our usual group of friends and family to join us, and as usual, it was a lively bunch. July 4th that year fell on a Wednesday, which I hate because I only the THE DAY of the 4th of July off from work, and without it falling on a Friday or a Monday, I never get a long weekend out of it. So we didn't do anything on the 4th of July itself, just used it as a bonus day in the middle of the week for Momma to log some heavy nap time.
Alex developed an odd obsession that summer. It began at the vet's office. One by one over the summer, we took all our cats to the vet for their yearly check-ups. Usually, Pete and Alex would drop off the cat early in the morning and leave me home with Austin, and then when the cat is ready, they go pick him up that afternoon. Now, you must know that taking Alex (and Austin, too, for that matter) to the vet's office is an absolute requirement, because all the technicians and office staff absolutely adore these boys. They always have a treat ready for Alex, talk to him, show him around, and generally just ham it up with him. And he's a very good sport about it. Anyways, our vet's office always has an animal up for adoption that they promote, usually an animal that was picked by ASPCA. The poor creature has usually been neglected or abused or abandoned. The animal has been nursed back to health by our vet's office and they keep it in a nice, roomy, comfy pet cage out front in the reception area with the adoption information. Over the summer, they had a cat looking for a home, named Isabelle. Isabelle was a soft, pretty, full grown, short-haired white kitty with black and orange spots. Poor Isabelle had been abused and had only one eye. She did well with her one little eye. The other eye had been taken out and the eye socket was sewn shut. This created unending curiosity for Alex: "Daddy, what wong (wrong) with cat eye?" "Where cat eye go?" "Daddy, fix cat eye!" "Hello, kitty cat, you see Alex?" Very curious and worried about poor kitty's eye. All this is great, I'm so glad Alex is caring and compassionate. But little Alex took it to another level. Over the 6-week Summer Time Fun program he attended at church, they did a lot of coloring and craft projects. At the end of the program, they sent home all of Alex's projects, a lot of which were animal and pet-themed pictures and crafts. And guess what? In each and every animal project of Alex's, every animal had only one eye! So we have a clay lion: only one eye. A color picture of a dog: only one eye. A felt project with a giraffe: only one eye. Even the "Jesus Loves Me" self portrait he did: Alex gave himself only one eye! Poor Alex, I'm just glad he hasn't gone after any of our cats to pull out their eyes!
Having a two year old in the house was proving to be a lot of fun, if you can find fun in dirt, mischief, misunderstandings, disobedience and the like. A sample: A Wednesday night, 8PM, after a long day at work, I was unloading a ton of groceries. Austin's crying, Alex is getting into all the grocery bags, dumping stuff out, knocking things over, generally just making a mess, trying to avoid us putting him to bed. I'm distracted trying to put everything away. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Alex getting into the cabinet where we keep the food processor and juicer. I ask him to stop. He doesn't. I ask him again. He still doesn't. I'm moving back and forth from counter to fridge to pantry, tripping over things, trying to hurry. Alex is digging deeper and deeper into the cabinet and I finally say, "Alex, does Mommy have to start counting? One....two..." I get distracted again by Austin and sort of forget to keep my eye on Alex to see what he's doing, so my counting stopped at two. Alex hesitantly comes over to me, sort of tip-toeing, and yanks on my pants and says, trying to be oh-so-helpful, "Free, mommy, free. One, two, free!" Big smile. Me: "Oh, yeah, that's right! Three!" Thanks, Alex, mommy forgot how to count there for a minute!
Next scene: a Sunday morning, after church, Perkins Restaurant: Pete, Jamaica, Alex, Austin, Aunt Chris all seated and waiting for our brunch. It's busy and we forgot to bring Alex a toy to keep him occupied. So he's into everything, grabbing napkins, glasses of water, silverware, and we're pulling things out of his way. Then he starts in on the salt, pepper, catsup and mustard containers, trying to pull the lids off. He's growling and really tugging on things. I ask him what's he doing. He says: "try to get lid off, want to see inside". When he's finally gone through everything on our table, and our table is completely bare and there's nothing left to grab, he bunches up his fists, and puts them under his chin, and starts grunting and pushing and pulling on his head. This goes on for a few minutes and although he's not hurting anything or making a mess, he's making an awful grunting noise and I finally ask him, "what on earth are you doing?" This sweet child looks at me with a very frustrated look on this face and says, "try to get my head off, want to see inside"!
Then, the last weekend before Andrew is born: Saturday night, 6PM, I was cleaning and polishing the house like a crazy woman all weekend. I wanted to bring our new baby home to a clean house. The kitchen floor was cleaned, mopped and waxed. It was time to feed the big boy. Alex wa in his high chair. I fixed him a plate of veggies and cheese and fruit. The fruit is a mix of berries, very ripe. Probably over-ripe. Blackberries and raspberries. But it was the last of them and I wanted to use them up. He nibbled on his dinner and was being very good. Pete and I are exhausted. We sat in the family room for just a few minutes to catch our breath and have some peace and quiet. It's too quiet. We lean back on the couch, assuming Alex is cleaning his plate. Well, he was. Just not how we had hoped he was. He has taken every piece of the berries, and thrown them on the floor, hard. And because the berries were over-ripe, they absolutely exploded when they hit the floor. It looked like blood. It looked like a crime scene with all that berry juice, everywhere. Some splashed on poor Crazy Luck-luck, who made the mistake of walking through the kitchen while Alex was having dinner. Crazy Luck-luck now had red berry juice on him and lookedlike he was the loser in a big cat fight. There was berry juice literally from the high chair to the kitchen door going outside. Everywhere. On my nice, clean floors. My fault, really, for cleaning before feeding him, and for feeding him berries, and most especially for leaving him alone for two minutes to feed himself. My fault entirely. I'm more mad at myself than mad at him. However, the fun has just begun.After scolding him about throwing food on the floor, I took him out of the high chair. I told him to go into the family room and let us clean up the mess. Well, Alex wanted to help clean it up. "Alex help". I told him this is really a mommy and daddy job. He says, "Alex get broom". I told him that this is really not a broom job, it's more of a mop job, so he needed to get out of the kitchen so we can clean up. He can tell we're upset and aggravated, mostly at ourselves, and he really wantedto help and make it all up to us, so he kept insisting on helping. We had a long talk with him about throwing food, explaining to him that when he makes messes that mommy and daddy have to clean up, that takes time away from doing fun things, like playing outside or reading a book. So we asked him to please wait for us in the family room, so he doesn't walk through the mess and make it any bigger. Alex went into the family room, watching us and chattering away. He kept coming back into the kitchen, stirring up the mess. I finally picked him up and really have a long talk with him and he can tell I'm upset. I go back to my hands and knees on the floor, mopping up the mess, with Pete's help. Alex is right in the doorway, watching. He bends over and leans against the chair. It is, just for a moment, completely quiet in the house as Pete and I were mopping up the floor. Austin is in his swing in the kitchen, watching and listening to everything that is going on. Alex says "Mommy, mommy", I turn around to look at him and he passes a big, loud gust of gas. Then it's "Mommy? Mommy? I farted. I farted, Mommy! Guess what? I farted!" It was timed so perfectly, and said so innocently, and it all just happened so funny, I burtst out laughing. Pete laughed so hard he cried. Literally, tears came out of his eyes. I began shaking with laughter. Pete tells me to quit shaking, because Alex will know I'm laughing and think it was funny and think he's off the hook for the food throwing. Well, it was funny, but I tell Pete to quit crying with laughter for the same reason. Alex knows something is going on with his parents, but he can't quite figure it out. He starts in with: "Daddy, mommy, what you doing?" "Mommy, daddy, what you say?" Pete and I laughed for a solid five minutes before we could get ourselves under control. Priceless.
A Thursday morning, 6:30 AM: a long, sleepless night with Andrew and Alex (Austin slept the whole night though). Got up and went into kitchen. Alex is there. He had gotten ahold of a box that had arrived the day before with a shipment for me. It was a huge box, filled with styrofoam packing peanuts. I do not know why they sent one small picture frame in a box big enough for a microwave oven, but they did. And filled it with packing peanuts. We should have gotten rid of the box immediately. But we got lazy the night before, and never gave a thought to Alex getting up at the crack of dawn to find it and play with it. But, he did. He emptied the entire box all over the kitchen and was making "big piles" for his trucks to drive through. So not only were the peanuts everywhere, but they have been ground down into an even finer, tiny, frothy, foamy mess by Alex driving over them with his trucks. Also, he had taken the huge empty box, and trapped two of the cats, Trouble and Crazy Luck-luck, inside and was pounding on the box with their food bowl, terrorizing the poor animals. So this is what I walked in on at 6:30 that Thursday morning. I look around, taking it all in, taking a deep, slow, cleansing breath and counted to 10 before I spoke. Alex sees me and says, "Hi, Mommy, what you doing? You waking up?" I begin: "Alex, what is going on here?" He replies: "Look, Mommy, big piles! Look, Mommy, Luck-luck and Bubbie in here!" He raises the box just a little bit so I can see the poor cats, who probably now have permanent hearing loss. Luck-luck needed only a split second, so he took off like a bat out of hell. Trouble, the older, heavier cat, couldn't run as quickly. He sort of trotted off, and Alex started running behind him, trying to drag him back to his box of torture. Trouble got as far as the kitchen/family room doorway and stopped, dead in his tracks, sensing Alex right on his tail, literally. So Trouble stopped, Alex did the same. Trouble remained standing, tail held high in the air. Alex dropped to his knees, face close to Trouble's behind. I stood, paralyzed, watching the whole thing. Alex leaned down and forward, stuck his nose against Trouble's behind, took a big whiff, wrinkled up his nose, looked at me and said, "Mommy, smells like poop!" After I picked myself up off the floor, laughing, I cleaned up the kitchen and went to work. Kid's lucky he's so cute and funny.
Well, we were preparing for the arrival of our newest baby. So life was feeling frantic and anxious at times. Good thing he had our two older boys around to break up the tension, huh. They sure do keep up laughing at times, and it was a good thing, because our first visit with Andrew's birth parents was right around the corner.