Home Ownership Blues

You might have been wondering why we haven't been out and about as much recently. Besides being super pregnant and it's being super hot, our world has been more than chaotic. In February, a house near my mom that we loved was bought by a flipper after being vacant for several years. We watched as a new roof was put on, new hvac was installed, and the whole house transformed.  New windows were put in, the house gutted, and plans seemed to unfold. We put in an offer on the house before it even went on the market and our offer was accepted. We were all set to move in during March. We put our house on the market and it sold in less than 48 hours. Everything seemed awesome!
Well...... the story is that the contractor lied to the owner of the house. They would tell us that they were there working when they were not. (I pass the house twice a day to pick up RT, plus we know all the neighbors who would report to us!) They promised us that the bathrooms were done, which you could see from the windows had not been started. Apparently shady sub contractors were hired then fired, and they broke back into the house and stole all of the materials. They swore the house would be done, but it was pushed back to mid April. Then the end of April. Then the end of May. Meanwhile, as we had sold our house, we needed to be out. So everything that we had went into storage, and we headed to my mom's for what we thought would be a short stay. When we packed, in February, we packed all of our summer clothes away- so here we are, June still in pants. Neil has slept on the couch for weeks and RT asks us constantly when we will be going to the new house. We love my mom, but three adults (one pregnant!), three dogs, and a toddler is a lot in a house.
The latest is that they will be done with the house on the 31st. Now I don't have the power to see into the future, but I would assume that things like floors and walls are needed to be done before moving into a house. They keep telling us that it will only be a little longer, but from March to June seems like a while to us.  When we first met the contractor, he told us how much he loved Chip and Joanna on HGTV. I can't help but think that, unless they had the entire HGTV crew, there is no way this house will be done by then. We have started looking into other options, but are really heartbroken about this house. I loved this house, but I can't keep waiting while they argue with each other and get nothing done. The issue now is that even with a normal 30 day closing, this baby will be here before we move. Our family has been uprooted, in transition, lied to, and now I'm full of anxiety and dread about a move. I thought this was going to be so exciting, buying our forever home, setting up a new nursery, nesting and getting a new house ready for this little man, but it's been nothing but stress and frustration.

Maybe I seem whiny. We are lucky that my mom has been letting us stay with her, and to be honest it's been great having dinner together every night. But... to be playing around with that kind of money and investment in addition to all of the stress of living with all of our stuff in storage is rough. We plan to back out of this contract, which is the only real legal action we can take and are protected by, and look for a new house. But with this comes the frustration of searching and bidding on houses again. Plus I'm sure whatever we find won't be as move in ready as the house we already put all of our time and effort into. I mostly am angry and feel bad for RT, who keeps asking to go to his home and sleep in his bed every night.
In the mean time, we threw together his very low key and laid back birthday party, and my family threw me a "sprinkle" to get ready for the new baby. The teachers at school were kind enough to throw me a shower there too. We have help from friends and family to help move our stuff into either storage, my mom's garage, or my mom's computer room. We are just hunkering down in the mean time, waiting for the baby to come, looking at new options, and trying to regroup. All we can do is make the best of the situation that we are in.

A Letter Before Your Third Birthday

I started writing these letters before birthdays, so that one day RT can pull them out and read them. Our lives are often a whirlwind of school, work, swimming lessons, exploring new places, and trying to have a decent meal in the mean time. It's nice sometimes to slow down and reflect on the last year and put into words what I'm looking forward to with RT for the coming year.
Dear RT, 
This past year has flown by. I can't believe it's time already for me to write this. Tomorrow you turn THREE! Since your last birthday you've started going to school five days a week, something that I was both nervous and excited for. While your vocabulary has increased exponentially, you still sometimes cry when we drop you off and it breaks my heart. You have learned all of your letters, and counting to at least twenty. You know every type of construction truck there is.  You've discovered trains and became obsessed. We took you to your first monster truck show, and you got your first dental x-ray when you jumped at the playground and hit your tooth. We took you to your first show and you caught your first fish. You skinned more knees, got more bumps on your head, and learned how to make us even more nervous. 
This coming year is going to bring huge changes, and I worry that with the addition of a baby brother, you'll get jealous and feel left out. I worry that you'll learn to say your R's correctly and lose the baby W sound. I worry that you wont get to spend as much time out doing things and running around because of the new baby. But I also know, that you're excited for baby brother to come, and that you can't wait to be a big helper.
I also know that as you get older and more aware of the world, you'll be more aware of what's going on outside of it. It can be a scary place, but if I've learned anything since you've been born, it's that it is also so full of so much love. Your family is so happy you're here, and we are all so in love with you. You light up all of our worlds, and we couldn't imagine life without you. Here's to another year of light, love, and laughter. Bring on the three's! 

VB Field House

I've heard mixed reviews about the VB Field House, but we recently attended our first birthday party there and we had a great time. The party was broken up into sections, first on the fields playing with balls, hula hoops, pop up tunnels, and buckets. After that we went into the typical party room, followed by the Fun Zone.

The Fun Zone is an indoor play area for children 48 inches and under. Their website claims that it is closed on the weekends for private parties, but there was no one working there and several kids were there playing seemingly without parties and without the yellow wristbands. Because there was no one working, the sign for no food or drinks or to not climb up the slides went ignored. The cost for the Fun Zone is only $5.00, but you can buy a monthly membership for $25.00.

There are several "lil" leagues, including soccer, baseball, basketball, and cheerleading. Soccer starts at 18 months with a parent; baseball begins at 2 with a parent, basketball at 5, and cheerleading at 4. All classes can be started midseason and can be prorated. There were several classes and games of different leagues happening while we were there.

Playing between the field and the playground forced us (all) to take a nice long afternoon nap. Thank God, because between moving and being 32 weeks pregnant... I'm exhausted! I'd call to check availability and what the crowd is like before heading out, but for five bucks, you really can't complain.


3rd Birthday List

I can't believe I'm already thinking about another birthday for RT. So much is going to happen in the next year of his life, including becoming a big brother. We are so lucky to not need a lot of things, so I sometimes have trouble when I think about what to get him for his birthday. If you've been reading this blog for some time, then you know my whole deal with gifts. I really love when people give us passes or tickets to things rather than toys. Not that we don't love toys, but we don't have the biggest house, and they take up a lot of space.
Last year, some of our favorite gifts were our Zoo membership, giftcards to Funville, Skinny Dip, Hooray, Chick-fil-a, and a Penguin's Snowballs punch card. We even got a Highlights magazine subscription which stays in our diaper bag for when we go out to eat. We would love all of these again, and I've tried to come up with a few more items because it's a question that I'm asked often. This year, I'd add:

I'm planning on giving him his Busch Gardens pass, and while I know that he is free with the Preschool Pass, mine isn't. In order to make my life easier, I'm also stocking up on cups. I'm not sure where these things go, but they seem to disappear in our house. 
Because I'm a sucker, I'm also giving him this cool pool float which I picked up for $4.00 on Black Friday and have had sitting in my house since. It seemed like a great idea at the time, and I'm loving not having to buy one now!

For kids turning three who need toys, (we don't- we are mid move, with our "new" house not yet complete and our old house sold, living at my mom's until we can get into our new house...) I love Magnatiles, Lego Duplo sets, goggles, sunglasses, underwater rockets, train sets, and sticker books!

I'm sad to see two go, because I think it's been the most fun age yet, but also really excited to see what new things we all learn in the coming year! 

Meal Tip Monday: May

Nourishing our bodies before and after working out is super important. This is a great chart from SELF magazine that gives sample recommendations for pre- and post-workout foods. And, it specifies what types of foods to eat based on the specific workout you're doing!

What do you use for fuel before and after working out? Other mamas weighed in.
  • Siggis yogurt 
  • Larabar 
  • My go to is 0% Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp peanut butter, and a clean granola (aka not crazy high in sugar). It’s BEYOND delish.
  • Granola Bread 
  • Before: depends (handful of almonds or banana w almond butter) after: plain Greek w berries or protein smoothie (oats, Pb powder, cherries, coco, flax milk, spinach)
  • A pot of coffee before AND after? I need to be better about the after snack because it usually gets claimed by the kids but before it two eggs with avocado and Everything But The Bagel seasoning early enough it’s not too heavy in my stomach
  • This is helpful. I try to get some oatmeal or half a bagel in before but after is where I'm slacking.
This tip brought to you by Fit4Mom Norfolk. For more like this one, like their facebook page. 

5 Tips for Summer Swimming Success for Parents

If you missed our post on Katie's Kickers Swim Lessons, check it out here. We started about 10 weeks ago, and I've seen so much progress! We have gone from from crying getting in the pool to leaping in with a full smile! Katie was kind enough to put together a post for us on swimming success ideas for the summer. Check it out! If you're interested in starting lessons with Katie, you can find her on Facebook or email her directly at katieskickers@gmail.com

For a child, learning to swim can feel like an adult learning to skydive. The rules of gravity are suspended, and this foreign place can be a fearful experience for new learners. Swimming is learning to balance oneself in a new environment. A good instructor will gently bring the child outside his or her comfort zone each lesson and towards personal achievement. The gradual path is most often the most successful in this arena. Here are some suggestions that can assist parents in preparing their children for a successful summer of swim lessons.  
01. Avoid Floaties
These devices actually retard a child’s progress for proper swimming. Though parents use these with good intentions, the problem lies in the fact that floaties are designed to keep the child vertical in the water, and a bent leg kick is then developed to navigate around the pool. When floaties are taken off, the child instinctively tries to kick the same way, and this kick forces her down under water where even greater fear sets in. Children who have not used floaties tend to learn about two to three times faster than the floaties kids. Not surprisingly this disclaimer is never found on the carton of floaties at the store.
02. Pre lesson preparation-
In order to protect swimmers from infections and communicable diseases, pools maintain high levels of chlorine. To avoid unnecessary stomachaches, limit dairy (eg: milk, yogurt) and acids (eg: berries, tomatoes, and citrus) for 30 minutes before and after the pool session. To guard children from the harsh glare of the sun, long sleeved rash guards are best, followed by all natural sunscreens (eg: Blue Lizard or Beauty Counter). Do not apply sunscreens between one’s eyebrows and hairline since it will leak into the eyes and can burn. Hair worn longer than one’s shoulders should be tied up in a braid or ponytail to keep long strands out of the swimmer’s eyes and to keep the pool filter clear.
03. Keep the water temperature warm-
One of the most essential swimming lesson tips: the pool needs to keep the water at 86 degrees minimum but closer to 90 degrees is ideal. Because of the liquid medium, a pool feels about 10 degrees cooler than air temperature to a child. A 90 degree pool is like 80 degree air. The focus should be on learning well, and shivering and blue lips make for less effective retention.


04. During lesson time, make sure things are kept fun and playful.

An important swimming lesson tip: Children’s attention spans are short, so keeping them engaged with water toys and skills work wonders for the lesson. When it comes to effective teaching, it’s 75% enthusiasm and 25% educated skill. Finding a good personality match between child and teacher can catapult learning forward dramatically. Likewise, distractions and excessive noise or stimulus in the environment inhibits learning. This is why some parents opt for private or semi-private lessons rather than public group lessons, even though it can be a great social scene. Trust of the water and building an individual’s confidence is built more easily in a less crowded pool.

05. Post lesson practice- Practicing can help children to feel at ease in the water. The calmness and enjoyment they feel will allow them to fully grasp the techniques their instructor is teaching them. In the end, a skilled swimmer receives the benefit of a lifetime of water fun.
Have fun with pool toys during bath time. Let the swimmer play with small pool toys during bath time. Use this time to allow them to get familiar with some of the teaching tools used during swim lessons. Bath time is a great place to introduce goggles for fun games to explore the depths of the sea for sunken treasures. Timid swimmers can easily reach toys without needing to submerge in the water and work towards being comfortable with their face in the water. Quality Goggles have non-adjustable nose pieces so there is one connecting part around both eyes and across the nose and Two straps around the back of one’s head (eg: TYR Swimple Kids or Speedo Hydrospeck Jr).
Submerging and breathing. Most children are not big fans of getting water on their faces but breath control is a key component to most all more advanced swimming skills. Practice putting the swimmer’s face in the water and expel air to create the bubbles. If they are nervous, show them that they can start by just putting their mouths into the water, easing them into it. If they can master this tip, they will have learned some breath control and gain more confidence when it comes to getting up for air safely
Show your kids examples of positive swim technique. Sit down with your child to watch a few videos before and after their lesson and look at the different strokes. Even early on, it can be beneficial to their swim development to talk with them about proper head position, keeping a straight spine, and correct arm positioning. It’s important for kids to see someone else exhibiting true form.
ALL children in lessons learn to swim eventually; just as all children learn to walk, some get it a little sooner, some a little later, but all do. Enjoy the process and enjoy the child’s achievements along the way. A new arena of play is opening up for them and the whole family to enjoy. Let water learning be a safe and enjoyable experience and the rewards will last a lifetime.

Thanks Katie! Hope you have a happy and safe summer everyone!