Sunday, May 31, 2009


Yep, your eyes are seeing this correctly. My 1998 Ford Expedition has reached the 250,000 mile milestone!!

Old girl, we have been through a lot together! You have safely carried me around for the past 8 years. You have seen many different passengers but most importantly you have been there to carry around my new very precious cargo. While we have had a bumpy relationship at times and the kind folks at Tires Plus have rated us a VIP customers due to our frequent visits, you are still running and for that I am thankful!!

I know that I have not always been easy on you with my speed. I have also said some unkind things when I was a single woman driving you around, paying crazy amounts for gas on my ridiculous commute to work and making payments on you when I owed well more than you were worth. However, those days are behind us! I now need every inch of space you provide for our large family, gas prices a more reasonable, I live a couple minutes from the office and I have not had to make a car payment in almost two years. I have no idea when we will allow you to retire. I am confident you have much more life in you and we plan to enjoy our relationship until you convince us you can not go another mile.

Until that day, let's set our sites on 300k!!!

PS. Please do not worry about how this photo was taken but... please do not try this at home :-)

Take care,

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The After Party...

The day of Pooka's birthday party was a very long day for all of us. The party was from 2-4pm. Since the boys nap from 12:30-3:30, I planned to have them nap for about 30 minutes on the way there and another 30 minutes on the ride home. We would then take baths, have dinner with Aunt Kim and Uncle Lance, play for a little bit and head off to bed. Well, the party went longer than expected and while the boys were wonderful at the party, we had a couple meltdowns when we arrived home.

We arrived home after 7pm and Andrew did not wanted to wake up once we arrived home. We headed upstairs to give them baths and Andrew screamed the entire time. We tried to comfort him to now avail and put him to bed. As soon as we put him down, Jared had his meltdown. He began to scream uncontrollably and we ended up putting him down as well. Typically, the boys will cry may cry for a couple minutes but then fall right to sleep. Well, neither of them were falling asleep. Wesley, is able to function on much less sleep and was fine during the entire melting down.

Once Uncle Lance and Aunt Kim arrived, we got Jared to give him something to eat and he slowly settled down so he could eat. He started crying again during dinner but was much better once he had some food on his stomach. Once we saw Jared had calmed down, Aunt Kim went upstairs and rescued Andrew. He too calmed down and was able to have dinner with everyone.

After dinner, the boys were able to play with Aunt Kim and Uncle Lance for a while before going to bed well after 9pm... ugh!

Andrew thanking Aunt Kim for rescuing him....

Aunt Kim finds a black band among the toys in Grandma's goodie bag. She uses this headband to "play" with the boys. It starts out ok with a shout out to Rambo....
Then, she pushed the band back and fluffs his hair and proceeds to say, "I wonder what he would look like as a little girl?" While he would make a very pretty little girl... he is a boy!!! I have to watch that Aunt Kim; first headbands, then dresses and make-up.
Uncle Lance gets into the action and give Andrew a head band. Andrew looks like he is ready to "get physical, physical."
Sweet Baby J was safe from this game of dress-up as he was hanging out with me on the couch.
It was nice to finally get the boys down to sleep after a long day. However, they had a very restless night. It is true that good sleep begets good sleep. Since they did not nap during the day, the did not sleep well that night.

I learned a good lesson today.... stick to the plan!! I had a plan about how the day was going to work with meals and naps. I am not sure if I could have prevented the meltdowns by sticking to the plan but I we have successfully trained the boys to sleep, now we need to give them an opportunity to sleep or deal with the consequences.... and the consequences are not a lot of fun!

Take care,

Great-Grandma Pooka's 90th Birthday Bash!

Today was a great day! We headed out to celebrate the 90th birthday for Pooka, my grandmother, the boys' great grandmother. The party was at a Bed and Breakfast in Ruskin (Yes, there are apparently Bed and Breakfast establishments in Ruskin - who knew?). It was very nice to visit with family, old friends and see Pooka enjoy her day as the center of attention. Here are some pictures from the party:

Pooka with all 9 of her Great-grandchildren. Please note that 6 children are smiling and 3 are not smiling... yep, those are the Darnell boys. They are looking at the crowd trying to get everyone to smile with the look of "why are you yelling at us?!?!?"

Standing tall - Wesley being held by Elizabeth
Sitting on the bench - Anne, Pooka, Rebecca, Ryan and Robert (standing)
Sitting in front of bench - Jared, Andrew and Laura

The Grandchildren - L-R - Ormend, Kellie (me), Pooka, Lance and Susan...
The boys rolled up in style. Pictured with Susan's trio - Rebecca, Ryan and Elizabeth...
Yes, after about an hour, I had to give in and let them out of the stroller (did I mention the party was around a pool?). Here is Wesley with Aunt Kim (his keeper for the day)...
Uncle Lance and Andrew; doesn't Andrew look thrilled. Did I mention is was over 90 degrees? My boys love air conditioning!
No party is complete without a Patsy Cline impersonator...
There was a room inside where we could all take in a little bit of the air conditioning. Here is Grandma and Jared sharing a moment while cooling off....
Grandpa and Wesley share a moment...
Andrew is having some fun with Aunt Kim while cooling off...
Something about this picture of Aunt Kim and Andrew makes me think I need to get outside a little more.... hmmmm....

We enjoyed the day but it was a long day for the boys. We tried to give them a little dinner before leaving the party but Jared and Wesley were too tired. Andrew, like Mikey, will eat anything anywhere.

Happy Birthday Pooka, we love you!

Take care,

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ms. Thelma & Three Generations of Haircuts

The boys and I (Daddy had to work) headed down to Grandma & Grandpa Noller's house for the weekend to attend Pooka's (my Grandmother) 90th birthday party. We left late on Wednesday night so I could attend a meeting on Thursday. Grandma & Grandpa were gracious enough to babysit the boys while I attended my meeting.

On Friday, we took the boys to see Ms. Thelma for a very special hair cut. Ms. Thelma has been a member of our family for many years. Each week for the past 28 years, my mom has spent Friday morning with Ms. Thelma to get her hair done. When we were kids, Ms. Thelma also cut Lance and I's hair. Ms. Thelma also styled my hair for my first wedding in 1997. Well today, Ms. Thelma was able to put her special touch on the third generation of our family.

We rolled the boys into her salon and one by one they took their turn in her chair:

Wesley went first...
Andrew was second... Ms. Thelma joked that Andrew's hair was just like Grandma's hair... very fine! Everyone in the salon also stated over and over how much Andrew looks like Grandma - interesting but true.
And last but not least, Jared...
There was a lot of pressure on the boys during this visit. We had our appointment during nap time (1:30pm) and Grandma had been bragging about her boys. We knew that Grandma was counting on the boys to show everyone how well behaved they are. Well, they delivered! They were perfect little angels.

They felt very comfortable in a salon full of very nice Grandmas.

We thank you Ms. Thelma! We were now ready to go to Great-Grandma Pooka's party.

Take care,

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Shout out to Rylee!

They say everyone has a soul mate. Well, when I saw today's beautiful picture of Rylee, of the Kirby Crew, I thought that she and Wesley must have a special connection!

I was not going to post this "pick" (from Thursday) until I saw how beautiful Rylee looked in her pic. Dearest Rylee, this one's for you!

Take care,

Chewie's Rude Awakening

Oh my goodness is all I can say.....

Let me set up this story with a little background information. Chewie is my beloved Yorkie that is 10 1/2 years old and lived a long 9 years as my one and only child. Since the boys have arrived, he has struggled with the adjustment for many reasons. These days, Chewie spends his day in the living room which is "baby" proofed because it is proofed from the babies. While Chewie has never bit anyone, it was just best because he started to growl and show his teeth when the boys would get close to him.

My daily routine is as follows:

I wake up when I hear the first baby noise come through the monitor. I get up, I get ready for the day, fill the sippys with milk, get my coffee and then get the boys up. I change their diapers, get them dressed and give them their morning sippy. We all drink our morning beverage of choice for a few minutes and then I prepare their breakfast. Once the boys are all secured in their table, I let the dogs out of their kennels so they can eat while we are eating (and they can clean up after the boys droppings). Once we are all done eating and before I take the boys out of the table, I pick up the dog food, let Chewie into the living room and close the gate.

A couple days ago, Mike temporarily moved the beds out of the girls room because we are going to paint the room in preparation for the boys' move into this room. The only things in there are the dogs kennels and a mound of pillows. We are letting the boys also play in this room during the day and I finally got the door stop wedged tight enough under the door that the boys can not remove it and close the door. Because the door was finally secured open, I decided to not close the door overnight.

Now the story....

This morning, the boys got up and were having their milk in the family room. The boys were occasionally heading down the hall to peak in on the dogs and then return. I started to make breakfast and then I heard it.... Wes started to cry out. Usually, if he falls or starts to cry, I can say "come here" and he will come running straight to me. He gets a quick hug and he is back on the prowl. Once I heard his cry, I said "come here" and the cry did not get closer. I immediately ran to the open room to find Wesley was stuck INSIDE of Chewie's kennel WITH Chewie. I remind you that Chewie is a Yorkie so this kennel is not very big.

I began to panic because I knew that Chewie must have bitten or scratched Wesley. Chewie was standing and shaking in the very back of the kennel and Wes was just inches from him. I removed Wes from the kennel and checked him for injuries and he did not even have a scratch on him. It appears he started to cry only because he was stuck because once he was out, he calmed right down. I took Chewie out of the kennel as well and his little heart was just racing faster than Wesley's or mine! Poor little Chewie, he was sleeping peacefully and then one of the babies that he is usually separated from is inches from his face from within his safe place.... his kennel.

Chewie, I am very proud of you this morning! I take full responsibility giving Wes the opportunity to crawl into your kennel. I promise to make better decisions in the future. I thank you for not hurting your baby brother as he crawled into your crib and abruptly woke you from your peaceful slumber. I underestimated your ability to maintain composure around the boys and for that I am sorry! You will get a few extra cookies today!

Take care,

Friday, May 22, 2009

Brush-a Brush-a Brush-a... Brush the Baby's Teeth!

We have been brushing the boys' teeth/gums since Jared showed the first pearly white spec. We brush after breakfast at the table and before bed. We started using the little brush that fits on our finger so we could rub their teeth and gums. The boys have been wonderful by opening their mouths readily to have their teeth brushed and they even seem to like it (so far). A couple weeks ago, we switched over to a real baby toothbrush.

The title of this post is a silly little song that I have been singing to the boys when it is time to break out the tooth brush. I am not sure if it comes from somewhere but it makes them giggle so it stuck.

We recently started to give the boys spoons to hold when we are feeding them from a spoon. They are getting pretty good at getting the spoon into their mouths. This new found independence has spilled over to brushing our teeth. Jared was the first to resist opening his mouth for the brush. I decided to give him the brush and see what he could do. Well, he was pretty good. So, I have given in and the boys are now brushing their own teeth.

They are very funny because they get very excited when I move toward the drawer that has the toothbrushes. I put the toothpaste on the brush and hand them over to the boys. They are really chewing on the toothbrush but they will chew and chew and chew for several minutes. So it's official, the boys are now brushing their own teeth. Here are some pics from our first day of independent brushing:

Wesley showing off his fine brushing skills...

Wesley and Andrew are comparing notes on differing styles. Wesley grips at the end of the brush and Andrew close to the bristles.... different strokes for different folks...

Jared's style is even a little different. Please note the location of the bristles.... now, that doesn't work...

Don't worry, he recovered...

The boys will chew on the toothbrushes for about 20 minutes if I let them. After breakfast, I will say 'all done' and collect up the toothbrushes. At bedtime, they have started running from me so I will not take away their beloved toothbrushes. Don't worry, I win every time! I find it very hard to believe that my battle during tooth brushing time is getting them to stop. I am sure this will not last forever but I will relish the moment while it does. Brush on boys!

Take care,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Some fun with Murray...

We are getting ready to shuffle the rooms around in the house. The girls room is becoming the boys room and girls will no longer have to share a room when they visit.... congrats ladies!

Mike has emptied out the girls room in preparation for redecorating. The dogs are staying in there until the big move. The boys have been playing in the room since it is open and free of any major hazards. While the cleaners were at the house today, the dogs were in their kennels. The boys took this opportunity to have a little fun with Murray and while you may not believe it, Murray was having fun getting attention as well....

The extra latches are on Murray's kennel because he is able to open up the kennel with his tongue. You can actually see him try to open the door near the end of the video.

Take care,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Goes Up; Must Come Down...

Yes Jared, gravity can hurt! I have mentioned before that the boys are learning to climb up but have not learned to climb down. We had our first, but not last, injury from falling.

Jared has been climbing onto the couches. It's only natural that once you conquer the couch, you start climbing onto the next closest object. This object is the glass end table. This is a "no-no" item. Earlier in the day, before correcting and redirecting, Daddy took a couple pictures of Jared climbing onto the table. Little did he know that these photos would be used to tell a story of an injury later in the day.

Here are pics of Jared climbing onto the end table...
I love the look of innocence on his face! After the pictures, he was redirected off of the table. Later in the day, Daddy was in the kitchen and looked up to see Jared completely on the table. As Daddy rushed to get him off the table, Jared backed up quickly and fell off the table catching his nose on the edge of the table. What a scare and poor little guy! It took him a while to recover from this fall but he has returned to normal but has quite the bruise on his nose.

Jared and Daddy were shaken from this fall. Maybe this will be enough to teach him not to climb on the table... ha, ha!

Take care,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Cubby...

The boys have been using the play yard to assist with climbing so we decided that it was time to move the play yard. We were previously using the play yard to cover the fireplace and the built in shelves. Today, Mike emptied out the bottom two shelves and uncovered this area.

The boys loved having this new cubby for playing. A few times, the boys would climb in and try to stand up... getting stuck! It took them a little while to figure out that they need to climb out in order to stand up.

Here are a few pics from their new cubby...

We use these spaces to store their toys at the end of each day. However, who needs toys when you have fun hiding spots like this???

It is nice to slowly see the floor of the family room being reclaimed. Granted, the boys' toys are taking over the built-in but at least the floor space is coming back under our control. I should clarify, the floor is ours during the nighttime hours. During the daylight hours... the house belongs to the little people!

Take care,

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jared & Wesley are Reaching New Heights!

I knew the days of putting down the boys and having them stay in place were long gone. However, I was growing accustomed to our new world where the boys were mobile and we took precautions to make sure their environment was safe. Well.... bring on the next phase..... CLIMBING!! The boys have learned that the world around them is not only horizontal but is also much more fun when attacked vertically!

Jared is actually better at climbing than walking. The first thing he does each morning is climb onto the toy box. He has not mastered climbing down so he usually just sits there for a long time. He has stayed on top of the toy box for almost an hour at times. He just hangs out, watches TV and grabs things from passer-bys. There was one morning that he climbed up and forgot to bring his milk. He watched as Andrew and Wes would walk by. A few minutes later, Jared had... not one but two sippy cups with him on top of the toy box. Andrew gave him his cup and he took the cup from Wes. I hope that he quickly learns to climb down safely because it is usually a tumble that brings him back to the floor... oh my heart...

Here are a few pics of Jared on top of his favorite mountain....

He just sits and sits while everyone continues to play around him....
Here is another pic of Jared just maxin' and relaxin' while watching some TV (love the crossed feet)...
And then there is Wesley. Once he saw Jared master the climbing of the toy box, he said.... I can do that. Jared will climb up and sit on top of the box. It's very nice and sweet. What does Wesley do? I will let this picture speak for itself....
Oh my... Wes is WILD.... my Wild, Wild, Wes!

Their climbing ability has even surpassed the toy box. They are both able to climb onto... drum roll please.... the couch!!! Up until now, I have been able to sit on the couch and watch the boys play on the floor and roam around. It was like sitting on the deck of the pool and watching them swim around. Not anymore!! Jared and Wes are now able to climb onto the couch. They are using items to help give them a boost. They use toys, toy boxes and even Murray to assist them with their climb but the days are not far off when they can climb up unassisted.

I love the boys very much but the couch offered me a safe zone so I could still get some work done on Monday and Friday. I am going to have to rethink my strategy now that these faces are joining me up on the couch. Here are some pics of the Jared and Wes on the love seat and couch....
They are so proud of their new accomplishment! As with the toy box, they still know how to climb up but not down. They have also discovered a few more "no-nos." These new untouchable items are the pictures above the couch and the glass end tables.

Andrew is not mentioned here as he has not started to experiment with climbing. If he sees his brothers on the couches, he will continue to play on the floor or he will walk over to me and grunt a few times. Then, I will pick him up and put him on the couch.... smart!

I hope we survive this stage without any serious injuries..... let me rethink this one... does this stage ever end??? Let me just hope we learn to climb down very soon!

Take care,

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Daddy's Day Outside!

Today Daddy took the boys out to play with their new sand and play table. This time, Jared was awake and able to join in on the messy fun! Jared spent a lot of the time hanging out on the lid for the table but also played long enough to splash around and taste some sand.

Here are some pics from Daddy's day outside with the boys....
Andrew enjoying the water...
Wesley using the shovel as a spoon... Jared takes his first taste of the sand...
And realizes it does not taste very good....

We are having fun with our new table! The only problem is that it is blistering hot during the Florida summer. We do not have much shade in the backyard so we can not stay outside very long. We are working on getting some shade so that we can safely play outside for longer than about 30 minutes at a time. We are also ordering our swing set very soon and this will also offer a couple of sections that have shade.

Take care,