Thursday, March 22, 2012

To Do: Dig for Diamonds

Finally!  We finally did it!

One of the things on my bucket list to do while in Arkansas was to go dig for diamonds.  Leave it to our last weekend...but hey, now I can say I've done it.  I've tried to beg many to go with me, with no such luck.  I guess digging in dirt isn't for anyone.

But our neighbors, Jeremy and Lindsay, promised us at Christmas time that we were all going to make sure to get this crossed off our to-do list.

We ended up with quite an excavation team.  Another neighbor, Simon, and his girlfriend joined us, as well as Jeremy's brother and his family.

So the Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only place in the whole wide world where you can go onto a diamond field and keep what you find!  There are 37 acres that are open to the public, with plowed rows. I was just determined that we would find something.  My hopes were especially high considering we had 8 adults and a handful of kids.  Simon educated us on the way down about the diamonds that have been found there--nearly 1 a day!  Saturday was for sure going to be our lucky day!!

And because it was St. Patrick's Day, we sported our green, hoping that might help our luck!

Wanna know something funny?  All of the other 6 adults that joined Matt and I are native Arkansans.  But not a single one of them had been there!

Poor Simon was under so much pressure.  He has been dating his girlfriend, Megan, for awhile.  Our gang all adores her!  (Parker especially!).

And while I won't reveal Simon's age, let's just say he better get a crackin'!  He was more determined than anyone to find a diamond.  He searched and searched and searched.  But...guess he'll have to visit Zale's instead!

The best part of the day by far was watching the kids.  I mean isn't digging in the dirt a dream come true for them?  It didn't take long for them to venture to the giant puddle nearby.  They started off with just some dirty shoes...

and came home looking like this:

Oh they had fun!

And I will say that their parents were good sports.  I'm sure glad that Parker wasn't old enough to get that dirty...yet!  But Lindsay and I had just as much fun snapping away on our cameras.

And we finally got to meet Mr. Owen.  (My family thought for sure Parker's name was Owen, based on a story about this little guy).  He was born just 3 weeks after Parker.  He looks like he is 3 weeks older than Parker!

At the end of the day, we took our big "finds" to be evaluated.  Matt had found a clear, yellow one and we all got our hopes up that maybe he really had found one.

But, you guessed it, we were wrong!  In fact, I sort of felt like we had "suckers" written across our head.  Was there a hidden camera somewhere?  Maybe its all a big joke.  Oh well, it was such a fun day and another great Arkansas memory!! I think one day Parker wants to go back.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

To Do: Catch some zzz's

I have to admit.  I've been scared to write this one.  I hate to jinx anything.  But...

Parker sleeps through the night!!!

Hip Hip Hooray!!

It's actually not a new development.  But I thought if I shared our little secret, we would for sure be proven wrong.  That's what kids are supposed to do, right?

4 weeks (and 4 days--but whose counting) we decided we had to move Parker from the bassinet to the crib.  Since birth, he has slept right next to my side of the bed in the bassinet.  Because our other bedrooms are on the other side of the house (makes it sound like we live in a mansion, huh?), having the bassinet close was so helpful.  I'm a bit of a worrywart.  (But thank goodness for the awesome invention of the video monitor!)

The bassinet itself has a neat story.  My mom was the first grandchild when she was born (oh some 70+ years ago).  She was the first one to use the bassinet.  It since has been used by 2 additional generations on both of my grandma and grandpa's sides of the family.  Unfortunately, we don't have a record of how many babies started in this bassinet, but I'm betting a lot!  My grandpa was one of 10 kids and I know lots of my mom's cousins and their kids have used it.

Anyway, when Parker turned 8 weeks, he not only was growing like a weed and about to outgrow the bassinet, but also was becoming such a noisy sleeper!  So we knew it was time for the challenge.

Matt and I moved in to the guest bedroom next door.  The first night: Rough!  The longest Parker slept was 2 hours at a time. Eeks!

So the next night... out came the swaddle.  The result: 8 hours of sleep!

Now, it's like clockwork.  The little guy goes from talking and smiling to instantly tired and crabby.  Hmm..ok, maybe he got that from his mama!  We stall him as long as we can with a bath, a final bottle, then finally the swaddle.  We just hope they made those swaddles in like size 4T!!  But whatever it takes!

He usually goes to bed, falling asleep to the mobile and the sounds of the ocean, around 8:30 or 9:00.  And most days he wakes up full of smiles and babbling around 5:00 or 5:30 (yep, he got that trait from his dada).  Most days, I go get him and he will snuggle and snooze on my chest till 7:00 or so.

This is how he starts at night:

And this is often where we find him in the morning:

How he moves that much when he can only get there by kicking his feet like a mermaid is beyond us!

So assuming I didn't just jinx myself, you will catch the Ervins finally getting some Zzzz's at night!  Say it with us:

Hip Hip Hooray!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

To Do: Buy a House & Sell a House

Are you addicted to House Hunters on HGTV like I am?

It's so fun to look at houses...well, until you have to pick one to live in within a day!  

But for us, it's no big deal.  We made the trek to Peoria about a month ago with the intention of buying a house.  My grandpa's funeral occurred the same weekend, which meant we really did only have the one day to find that Home Sweet Home.  

This is our 5th house in 8.5 years.  Yep, we are pros!  We both were a little more nervous this time though, as we think we will be living here for awhile.  And thanks to the internet, house shopping is a little easier.  But--the Peoria are housing market is insane!  Just a day before we arrived, it was featured on the Today show as the #6 town in the nation to watch for a booming housing market--Go figure!  So needless to say, it's a seller's market.  We had picked out about 10 houses for the realtor to show us.  She started setting up appointments on Tuesday.  Wednesday she called to tell us that several had already sold.  By the time we got there Thursday, all of them in Dunlap were sold and only about 3 on our list were still available.  We searched the inventory again and came up with more options (more like 2nd choices).  But even after all that research, we somehow had both failed to see one certain house.

We ended up looking at 7 houses that day.  Guess which one we bought?  The first one!  

And ready for the best part?  Our address:
And No--It's not 123.  Our lenders, utility companies, realtor, etc. have sure gotten a kick out of it though!  (The house backs up to a new elementary school so I'm sure the builder thought this would be cute).  The house is in the town of Dunlap, which is growing like crazy.  These now city-kids are excited that it is just minutes from Wal-Mart and the new outdoor mall.  

And ironically, our relocation point person said she just got another CAT employee who moved to that street and I have found out that a former GS employee (she came after I left) lives just 5 houses down!

So, buying a house is the fun part.  Selling, not so much! But...

I know!  I know!  We are lucky ducks.  

We are super excited about this house selling--because we sold it to some friends.  Dick (who works with Matt and is originally from Decatur) and his wife purchased our house as their first house.  

It truly is a house that both Matt and I adore and we are thrilled that it will be in good hands.  We wish them years and years of happiness here.

2 weeks from today we will officially be Yankees again.  Headed back to one of those I states (yep, Sally, that was for you!)  Ready or not, here we come!

Monday, March 12, 2012

To Do: Celebrate my Girl Scout experience

Do you know what today is?  It's the 100th birthday of Girl Scouts!  It's kind of a big deal.  I may be a little bias.

I honestly couldn't even tell you how many years I was a Girl Scout.  I know I was a Brownie and maybe a Junior, so maybe 2 or 3 years.  I just know I was one.

Most people think of 3 things when they think of Girl Scouts: Cookies, Camp, and Crafts.  Guess what I remember??  Cookies, Camp, and Crafts!

Our troop, which I think had like 20 talkative, hyper girls, met at the Christian Church right after school.  We would wear not just our sash, but the whole get-up..beanie school on GS day.

For someone that rode the bus everyday, it was a highlight to get to walk to the church with my friends.  I loved it.  We had 2 leaders--Debra and Brenda.  I couldn't tell you if one was the leader and one the assistant.  I couldn't tell you how much time they spent preparing for our meetings.  I couldn't tell you if they didn't want to be there and wished they were at home watching the new episode of Family Ties or something.  For all I knew, they were a team that were just as excited and had as much fun as we did!  It's a little late, but I extend my deepest thanks 25 years later!  I have more respect than ever for all you did!

Sure we worked on badges.  I wish I could show you my Brownie sash--but I threw it out just a few weeks before I took my job with GS.  Oh how I wish now that my mom had dug it from the trash and hid in her cedar trunk (like our first 4-H sewing projects she surprised us with this Christmas).  But that's ok.  I have memories.

I know how excited and proud I was to get that squirrel stuffed animal at our end of the year ceremony for selling Thin Mints.  And door-to-door I did...despite living nearly a half-mile from my front door to neighbors.  But I did it.  I even remember delivering them on foot, in the cold, up hill of course!

If you know me a bit, it probably won't surprise you that I loved doing the crafts at meetings.  I remember making swaps and my newspaper sit-upon.  But for some reason, I really remember gluing dry pasta on a mason jar and splashing on some colorful paint for a Mother's Day gift.

Geesh--it sounds so beautiful that I can't believe my mom doesn't still have it on the mantel!  Little did I know that my leaders were teaching us about being resourceful, recycling, and thoughtful.

Now I will be the first to admit that camping was not my forte.  Even having grown up in the sticks, going to camp seemed like I was stuck in woods that were miles and miles from civilization (little did I know that camp was closer to city life than my own backyard!). I can still visualize the rickity cabin that had spiders and dust everywhere.  When we go now to visit our friends Jeff and Brittany, we drive by the old campsite in Spitler Woods.  I remember wanting to be picked to be the "hopper" in the dining hall and eating family style after singing Johnny Appleseed.  I even remember hiking down to the creek to pour plaster of paris onto animal tracks.  And of course, I remember walking to the school bus, singing A Ram-Sam-Sam and I met a Bear.  Where were we going at like 6am?  We were going to the pool across from the airport!  But we had to don our horrid swim caps and get our swim test before the pool opened to the public!  BRR!  And yes, Debra, I know you will remind me about the time I left my undies in the locker room at the pool and you held them up in front of everyone, making me claim them.  But years later, I did the same to other little girls, instead making them sing for them too :)

So what if Girl Scouts was filled with cookies, camp, and crafts.  Those were all great memories!

And honestly, Girl Scouts may have impacted my life more as an adult.  In 2002, I took a job as a recruiter and programmer in Springfield, IL not knowing how it would change my life.  I learned so much from that job.  (And after 6 years there, I later returned to GS when I moved to Little Rock for another year).  But most of all, I gained many, many, many more memories!  Enough to fill another 3 pages on this blog I'm sure!  But besides memories, I met the best people.

Some of my best friends (both in IL and AR) are former co-workers.

And while I admit there are some mean crazy volunteers (yep, I said it), I've found a few good ones along the way.  Ok, some great ones.  Ones like Debra and Brenda...who give hours and hours thanklessly to girls who will one day write about how being a Girl Scout impacted their life!

So Happy Birthday Girl Scouts from one of your "greenies"!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Parker: 1 month

Diaper Size: Newborn
Clothes Size: Newborn
Eats: 4 oz

Highlights from Month:

You poor thing.  Not only did you not feel good, but your silly parents were still trying to figure out how to do everything!  It was 70 degrees the first weekend you were home, so we attempted to meet up with the neighbors and go for a walk.  But you didn't really like the idea of being in the car seat!  (Luckily, you quickly learned to love stroller rides!)

Your fist bath wasn't very enjoyable for you either.  You screamed the whole time!  We ended up resorting to sponge baths on a bath towel and changed that uncomfortable bath insert to a squishy sponge. 

While you didn't sleep as much as most newborns, I loved watching you sleep!  I stared at every little body part--in amazement at how beautiful each was to me.  We spent many hours cuddled together on the recliner!  You especially liked to snuggle with your warm dad.

As soon as we got you home, you gained an appetite.  Forget the 2 ounces that the hospital recommended, you instantly gulped down 4 ounces!  You liked to eat every 2-3 hours it seemed.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

To Do: Fix Perfect Parker

Geesh, I knew I was behind on blogging, but I realized today that I really haven't posted as much about life with Parker as I had thought.  Since I didn't start a New Year's Resolution, maybe I can start a goal on March 1.  I'll try to post at least some pictures once a week.  Now if I don't, well, you'll just have to get over it.  

I would love to tell you that Parker has been nearly perfect since day 1.  OK, about 99% perfect.  But this last week, he practically is 99.9%!!

I've heard people talk about how they took the baby home and then were like "what do we do now?"  I really wouldn't say I had that feeling.

My mom was in town those first few days so that may have helped.  He started off as an easy baby.  This was going to be a piece of cake.  But starting when he was about 5 days old, Parker was tough.  This was exactly how we felt:

He cried and cried and cried.  I cried and cried and cried. Nights were especially rough!  Trust me, it was beyond how much a baby was supposed to cry (and geesh, so loud!).  The worst night was when he cried for 7 hours straight!

I thought newborns liked to sleep a lot.  That's what the books say.  But nope, not Parker.  He actually rarely slept.  Poor guy would get so tired, but just as he would fall asleep (and Matt and I would just begin to rejoice), he would wake up startled, shrieking.  Yes, shrieking.

Occasionally we were able to calm him with 2 things: Swaddling and white noise.

Yes, it's like a straight jacket for babies--but I'm not kidding, you put him in this magic velcro contraption and wham--peace!

Now don't judge us, but the white noise that works the best (because it is so loud)...the oven exhaust!

We've spent a lot of time near the oven.  We've even been known to have him chilling in his bouncer right on the range.  Whatever it takes!

He was quickly diagnosed by most nurses, friends, everyone as having colic.  The remedy for colic: NOTHING!  You just have to live it out.  Oh, only a few months they tell ya.  Months? Holy cow, I wasn't sure we would get through the week!  

We were told we had to rule out formulas first.  But he had to be on each formula for at least 1 week to tell.  After having changed him to sensitive formula and still no change, I had a break down.  Yep, called the nurse in complete tears.  I was so embarrassed but I told her I couldn't take it anymore.  It was the Thursday and MLK Day was on Monday--So I knew that meant I would have to wait 5 more days till we saw our pediatrician.  He had gone 14 hours without sleeping (That couldn't be right).  Drama=immediately got into doctor!  I called Matt in tears and he met me at the doctor's office.

(Do you think the doctor believed me when I arrived hours lately with what I said was a miserable child, when he looked like this?)

The doctor determined that his shrieking from sleep was a good sign that it wasn't necessarily colic, but rather GERD (aka acid reflux).  She told us to give him Maalox and see how that worked.

Holy cow--it did wonders!

Come to find out, GERD is often misdiagnosed as colic.  One in 5 babies have it.

So for the last 2 months and until at least 4 months, we give him Zantac twice a day and the result...that 99.9% perfect baby!  He is fixed!  He actually usually only cries when he is hungry or tired.  Now he does only give you about 5 seconds to make his bottle when he announces he is hungry.  But is nearly right on schedule (5 oz = 5 hours).  And sleep--well, I'll save that for another blog.  But he makes me so proud!  Like we deserve a blue ribbon kind of proud!

All in all, those memories of the rough days are starting to fade.  Especially when he smiles so often!