Thursday, December 27, 2012

Picture of the Week - 12/27/2012

We had a magical Christmas! It's difficult to put my feelings about this year's Christmas into words. Here are a few random thoughts...
- Christmas with 4 kids is loud
- Christmas morning with a toddler who doesn't like to sleep comes way too early
- Matching jammies are adorable, but this may be the last year I can pull that off which makes me kind of sad
- Tyler, our elf, doesn't come until the tree is up and decorated, leaves on Christmas Eve, and is kinda creepy with those eyes that always look like he's looking at you
- We made a LOT of trash
- We made a LOT of memories
- If anyone tells Spencer that the only purple robe I could find was a woman's, I will be very angry!
- Some of the best gifts were big surprises (hello, dollar bin stocking stuffers and birds you balance on one finger!)
- Watching movies about the holiday spirit really does put you in the holiday spirit
- So does alcohol
- Three year olds totally understand Magic
- Willow got a new dog bed which is about 2 sizes too small (was on sale), but in an effort to please us she curls herself into a ridiculously compact ball so her back end doesn't fall off.
- Our mantle (in the picture) is about to get a makeover with my favorite gift of the year - family portraits. Stay turned for an update. (And yes, that is a set of paper reindeer antlers up there. Classy!)
- The Polar Express is just as real as Santa - you gotta be able to hear that bell - and we watched it multiple times this year (also, the soundtrack is awesome on surround sound)
- Santa appreciates a LARGE glass of milk
- Hanging out with family has really been fun
- Bows are frivolous.  We had no bows and no one was bummed about that.  Except maybe the people who sell bows.
- Quinn made an excellent Santa Cop - making sure everyone took turns. His excitement this year was infectious
- Even skeptical 10 year olds get sucked in on Christmas morning.  (No way mom and dad could have gotten this much stuff.)
- Christmas cookie trays are the BOMB
- Chick-Fil-A peppermint chocolate chip milk shakes are addicting
- Peppermint Oreos are sinful
- Breakfast casserole recipe for Christmas morning was NOT a keeper
- Zane loves his flashlight from Santa (odd) and if you look closely you can see how dark it still was when we got started. Coffee!
- All boys got a Fisher Price Giggle Gang - don't get these if you don't like giggles. (No off switch) ((But super cute!))
- Beck was appropriately destructive and has now mastered opening presents. He also loved the boxes!
- Christmas is Magic
- Having time off to relax and play with my boys was priceless. They are, simply, what makes it all worthwhile. Love them!
- Is it too early to start thinking about next year???
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! We are semi-back to normal for a couple of days with the little boys at Goddard and the big boys off to a Lego camp. We just have to get through a couple of days before another nice long weekend to ring in the new year. We are looking forward to a visit from Grandpa Bob and Grandma Phyllis and then some more rainy weather, which is the perfect excuse to sit on the couch in comfy clothes and watch bowl games and movies and whatever Zane dictates for the day. 
Be safe! Be Happy! 
See ya in 2013!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Picture of the Week - 12/20/2012

Merry Christmas!
I wanted to take a moment today to send our wishes for a very safe and happy holiday season to all the people we love.  In light of all the recent "things" that have happened lately, we will be keeping our loved ones held a little more tightly this year, both literally and figuratively.  Enjoy each other.  Love each other.  And (hopefully) take advantage of some extra time to sit around in matching pajamas!
I didn't send out Christmas cards this year.  (Didn't think I could top last year's picture of Beckett sleeping on Santa.)  So please consider this your Merry Christmas wish from "The Bovenizers".
PS - Totally random thought...12/20/2012 has almost as cool a ring to it as 12/12/12!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Picture of the Week - 12/13/2012

One of the best things about this time of year is getting to spend time with the people you love the most.  For us, life slows down a little bit and we find ourselves with more time for things that are really important.
This probably sounds like it's in direct conflict with the impressive "to do" list that I'm sure we all carry around this time of year.  Along with the holidays comes a ton of extra activites.  (I refuse to call them chores.)  There's extra shopping and baking and wrapping.  There are parties and get-togethers and traditions.  There is always something that needs to be cleaned or picked up or washed and folded.  Someone, at least at my house, is always hungry.  And with all these extras, it's pretty easy to let the stress factor make every little activity seem like it's 10 times bigger and 10 times more important than it really is.  My sanity is often saved by the fact that I am choosing to refuse to let the "to do" list take the fun out of the holidays. 
We do all these extra activities for (or hopefully with) people that we love.  We do them because we want to make memories and we want to show others that we care.  And if taking a little time to bake our favorite holiday treats or shop for some silly gift that one of the boys will love means that my floors are dirty and the laundry doesn't get done, then I'm super OK with that!  If stopping a particularly productive Saturday afternoon streak to play Xbox means creating a memory, then sign me up.  If letting the boys "help" make cookies means that I get half as much done in twice the time making twice the mess while bumping into elbows and heads, I'm up to the challenge.  And while tackling all these activities, I will try my very best to keep a smile on my face, because I will only get to experience Holidays 2012 one time.  I'm gonna make the best of them!
We purposely decided not to participate in any sports or other extra curriculars through the winter so we could take a breather.  Our falls (and our springs) are so super crazy that, while we can, it's nice to take a little break.  It's nice to have evenings with nothing penciled onto the calendar.  And I think, based on the things we've witnessed lately, that the boys appreciate this time too.  We've watched the littlest Bovy boy turn from baby to toddler - aka wrecking ball!  We've literally seen him explode with new capabilities and interests and new ways to create chaos.  And it's impossible to get upset with him because he does it all with a giant, dimpled smile on his chubby little face! 
Zane has changed just as much lately, but in WAY different ways.  He's still stubborn (and spoiled) and he still gets his way more often than not.  Even though he can still be unpredictable and demanding, he gets a little easier every day.  He can occupy himself for long periods of time now.  He's really into a few shows that make me smile - Little Bear and Oswald. Zane is starting to understand his letters and has his own friends and is doing all those fascinating pre-school things that I take for granted in the big boys.  He's growing up - fast.  If only I could get him to stop calling everyone a "Pootie Tootie"!
Speaking of the big boys, they are pretty awesome.  It's nice to spend some time with them, especially Spencer, and get to know him a little bit.  Spencer's current favorite thing to do with me is sit side-by-side with iPod/iPhone and play Bloons Tower Defense 5.  (Don't knock it til you try it!)  He also seems to have more than his share of extra energy to burn in the absense of football and regularly initiates hallway battles with his brothers.  Our foam swords and shields have gotten quite the workout lately!!!  It never ceases to amaze me how awesome Spencer is when playing with the little boys.  He's just aggressive enough to give them an idea of a real battle while being ever vigilent about not hurting someone (badly).  I love his big heart!  It's pretty nice when our biggest challenge with him is the fact that he's going through books on his kindle almost faster than we can load them up.  That boy is a voracious reader!
And I can't forget Quinn...  could never forget Quinn.  He's probably the most visible of all the kids (except the wrecking ball).  He's always in one of two places lately - either right beside us just to be around or downstairs playing Madden on the xbox.  He's developed this new, and somewhat surprising, interest in the NFL and knows the players and the teams and who is better than who and what team should win what game.  It's pretty fascinating.  (Maybe moreso because Spencer could still care less about watching football on TV despite how much he likes to play!)  Quinn continues to by my worrier.  He worries about things being fair (which drives me nuts) and worries about everyone being OK.  He makes sure that his little brothers are OK and happy all the time.  His new favorite saying is "Oh dear", which just makes me smile.  Lately Quinn has become Zane's favorite bedtime reader.  There are many nights when Z won't let Bob read to him, insisting that his Quinn read.  And that's just about the perfect proof that slowing things down and focusing a little more on each other was just what we needed!
So here's to taking a minute or two during the fast and furious last 12 days before Christmas to slow things down and enjoy what's going on around you. 
"You will never have this day with your children again, tomorrow they'll be a little older than they were today.  This day is a gift, breathe and notice, smell and touch them; study their faces and little feet and pay attention.  Relish the charms of the present.  Enjoy today, mama.  It will be over before you know it."  ~ Jen Hatmaker

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Picture of the Week - 12/6/2012

I think I mentioned this before, but my word of the season this year is Magic.  I am really loving how the boys are getting into the season.  Their excitement is contagious!
One of the funniest things to watch is Beckett trying to figure out our Christmas tree.  We kind of knew that he was going to be a handful this year because he is SO busy and SO curious and SO ornery!!!  (He can empty the tupperware cupboard in 37 seconds flat.  He can sense when the bathroom door is open providing him access to play in the toilet.  He regularly runs away while giggling when someone tries to catch up after he steals something he shouldn't have.)
He has not disappointed.
At first he was content to stare at all the lights and point at all the pretty ornaments.  That lasted about 5 minutes.  Then he moved on to grabbing.  Then grabbing and shaking.  With vigor!
He was so interested in the fake cranberries that I got sick of trying to get him to stop (and I was also increasingly worried about the entire tree getting pulled over) that I took the off and gave them to Beck to play with.  He was SOOOO tickled with himself.  He wore those beads around his neck and dragged them all over the house for hours. 
I really can't wait to see how our Christmas Magic continues to grow this year.  We ought to be bursting with Magic by Christmas Eve!
Speaking of magic...  if anyone has a way for me to magically get back home without the 3+ hour drive I am facing, I would be very grateful!  (Being away from home for work during the holidays is cruel and unusual punishment!)
Have a great week!  I intend to fill my house with the smells of Christmas cookies and Gingerbread this weekend.  Yum!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Picture of the Week - 11/29/2012

Oh wow - it's Thursday already!  Man how time flies - both when having fun and also when super busy!
I had all intentions of putting together a thorough trip report from our jam-packed trip to Orlando.  I got so many great pictures and so many stories that I figured it would be no problem to put together a nice little summary to share accompanied by a collage with all our favorite pictures.  Alas, as so often happens, there was a disconnect between my plans and my available time.  Pesky life...  getting in the way all the time!
We had such a great time.  And yet, it was so exhausting that the end of the week was a welcome relief.  Was our trip all that we hoped it would be?  YES!  We got to spend time together.  We got to witness the joy of Disney through the eyes of four little boys who tend to see things in dramatically different ways.  We were reminded once again how special family is and were so very thankful to get to spend such a special time with Berber and Pappy.
We also all got sick.  And we fought some (expected) ridiculous crowds.  We didn't get to see and do everything we wanted.  And we remembered how hard it is to take care of small kids on a busy vacation.  At the end of the week, we were all (I suspect) ready to return to our normal, comparatively boring, lives. 
Does all that mean we regret the trip or will never go again.  Oh HECK no!!  We suck up the bad stuff and swallow the thoughts of what alternate plans would be like because of the kids.  We deal with the aching feet and the arms sore from carrying around babies because in a very small number of years we won't be able to do that any more.  We will plan another trip.  We will pack up our changes of clothes and our rain gear and save for months again.  We will plan and research and make reservations.  We will daydream once more.  Orlando, and Disney in particular although I will personally put SeaWorld a close second, has that kind of allure.  For all the challenges a trip like that assuredly brings, there aren't many things that can stand up to experiencing Disney magic with kids. 
It just so happens that one of the other special experiences of childhood was upon as during our trip, and has now kicked into high gear.  Christmas!
Christmastime brings with it a special batch of extra chores.  There's more shopping - oy vey...  my poor credit cards!  There's more cooking and baking - HELLO cookies!  There are more activities - parties and traditions and chores.  It's pretty easy to get caught up in all the extras and fail to remember the Christmas magic.
I consider myself doubly-blessed because we get to go through all the magic of Christmas all over again.  Not only do the big guys (at least as far as I can tell) still believe, but "Bovy boys round 2" is starting to figure this all out too.  Beck is still too little this year, but Zane...  oh my!  To Zane, Santa is DA MAN!  He's so excited about the season.  He rushes to turn on our outside lights every day.  He talks constantly about Santa and snow and building snowmen (yeah, about that...  Ga doesn't really have snow...).  Zane is a little blonde reminder of why we do all those extras.  And he just happens to be so high maintenance that he's not about to let anyone else forget either!
We got to see Santa while we were at Disney.  That sentence right there is full of so much magic that I can hardly stand it.  Couple that with the fact that the line to see him was shorter than you'll find in any mall around the country - Win Win - with a double-shot of WIN!  The big boys surrounded Santa to share their wishes*.  Zane grinned like a fool the whole time before sharing his biggest desire**.  And Beckett, while not entirely sure about the whole thing, did not freak out at all.  I suppose he figured that if his brothers were OK with the jolly old guy with the white beard, things must be A-OK.  I really can't think of a better combination of magic than Disney and Santa!
* Spencer and Quinn had some lengthy discussions about what they were going to ask for this year.  Spencer managed to figure out a way to "game" the system.  He talked Quinn into asking for an Xbox game that he's dying to play, all the while telling Q that he was going to ask for more Xbox controllers that they would both get to use.  When the time came, Spencer made Quinn go first and after Quinn followed through on the plan Spencer totally swapped his wish and asked for another Xbox game that he wants.  Quinn just looked at him.  Upon asking why the sudden change, Spencer's answer was very logical.  He figured that the controllers would be much easier to obtain than the game, which is very popular.  So he figured he'd give the heavy lifting to the jolly old elf.  Sometimes he cracks me up!
** This goes into the book of things I never saw coming.  Zane has requested a flashlight from Santa.  I really have no idea why.  He has never really played with a flashlight or asked for a flashlight.  Honestly, I didn't even know he knew what a flashlight was.  While an odd request, he's remained firm in his desire to see a flashlight under the Christmas tree.  I put this Santa request right up there with the time Quinn asked for a messenger bag!!!  Kids!  They keep ya guessing!  (PS - to any grandparents or other family reading this, please do not purchase a flashlight for Zane.  Santa is going to bring him a special one and I don't want to ruin the surprise for him.)  (PSS - to anyone out there who hasn't already had kids and doesn't already have a Santa tradition, limiting the Santa request to ONE item is totally the way to go!  We will, obviously, get other things for our boys from us, but only one gift from Santa keeps down the stress in ways that I appreciate every SINGLE year!)
Have a fantastic week everyone!  We'll be busy building up the excitement (and the magic) putting up our Christmas tree and kicking off our Advent Calendars.  I love this time of year!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Picture of the Week - 11/2/3/2012

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!
Sorry for the late email.  We were too busy having fun yesterday.  Trip report from our vacation next week...  we're off again today to enjoy our last day in Orlando!
I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Picture of the Week - 11/15/2012

The countdown is finally *almost* over!  And I am not ashamed to say that I think I'm more excited than any of the boys!!
We are leaving for a trip to Orlando tomorrow.  We've been planning it for a long time!  (When I say "we", I use that term loosely because I am blessed with a group of travel partners who have allowed me to shape almost this entire trip!)  We are going to Disney (of course), but we are also visiting the 2 Universal Studios parks for the first time and made a late change to the itinerary to allow us to get to Seaworld - just in time for their Holiday celebration kick-offs.  I really don't know if I'm more excited to watch Spencer vibrate with excitement over the coasters or Quinn doing his "mother hen" impression to show his little brothers all the wonder of Disney.  I can't wait to see Beckett's face light up with all the sites his little eyes will see.  And Zane...  well...  as we have some experience at Disney with spunky 3-year-olds...  this trip is really all about Zane.  He's old enough that I know he's going to have a blast.  I want to ride the Winnie the Pooh ride with him and show him the Dr. Seuss world and let him see live Polar Bears.  I can't wait until he sees Figment and talks to Crush.  I want him to be wowed by Lightening McQueen's stunts and tickled to feed a dolphin.  I just want to watch him enjoy all the things that I've watched his big brothers enjoy.  I want to make him some happy memories!
I'm so dang excited to get down there!!
We are thrilled that Berber and Pappy are going to be there with us too!  It's so nice to get to experience all that fun with them too!  (And a couple of extra pairs of hands is always appreciated when herding 4 independent pairs of feet!)  We are also going to get to meet my sister and her family for a day down there too!  What fun it will be to watch the kids play together and celebrate Ella's birthday in such a special place. 
We leave tomorrow around lunchtime.  Anyone have any ideas on how to make the next 27ish hours go more quickly???
I had to share a picture of Beckett this week engaged in his new current favorite activity - climbing in boxes.  This obsession started a week or so ago when my parents were visiting and my dad stuck Beck in a box and covered him up with toys  B thought this was the funniest thing EVER and belly laughed so hard that we were ALL laughing at him.  It appears to a 12 month old (almost 13...  ACK!) that getting into the box solo is nearly as much fun as the initial experience.  And we can't keep him out of ANY boxes now.  He's in, he's out, he's flipping himself onto his face...  It's dangerous business being so cute!
I saw a quote on Facebook the other day that I have to share.  As we are all going into a holiday week which I hope will include family and fun and yummy food for all of you, I think this is particularly fitting. 
"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy."  ~ Guillaume Apollinaire
Have a fantastic - and happy - week! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Picture of the Week - 11/8/2012

Somewhere around 7:00 last Sunday night you may have heard me exhale.  Sunday evening was the end-of-season football party (organized by the team mom - aka me and Bob) and marked the last of the 2012 fall sporting events for our family.  Lacrosse wrapped up with their party around lunchtime on Saturday and the football team lost our playoff game Saturday afternoon, ending their season. 
You are all probably tired of hearing me talk about the big boys sports, but they make up a HUGE part of our lives.  We had practice 4 nights a week, sometimes 5 - plus games.  That's around 10-14 hours a week at a field (not including travel time).  When you pile this on top of full time jobs and add in a couple of wee boys, it's impactful. 
We had a couple of really great seasons this year!  Watching Quinn play lacrosse for the first time was really fun.  I can honestly say that I really think he's going to be a significant player if he sticks with it.  He's already decided that he wants to play lacrosse in the spring instead of baseball, which is a pretty big decision for our resident baseball boy.  Quinn is fast.  Really fast.  (No idea how he picked that gene up, so don't ask!)  He also has a wicked shot on net and is a mostly accurate passer.  He can't catch the ball to save his life, but that will come with practice.  One of the best traits Q has is that he's really humble, which makes him super-coachable!  I can't wait to see him play again!
This is the 5th year Spencer has played tackle football.  And aside from the magical first year (undefeated and league champions) this one was easily the most fun - for everyone involved.  The parents all got along, the coaches mostly got along, the kids learned a ton and we won 4 games!  (Some people may not think a record of 4-5 is impressive, but to those people I will only say that over the preceeding 3 seasons we won a TOTAL of 2 games.  You do the math!)  Football is easily my most favorite sport to watch (although I do have to admit that lacrosse is really fun, and I'm really not just saying that...)  The fact that Spencer enjoys playing football is pretty awesome.  The fact that Bob and I remembered how much fun little league football *can* be is bonus!
So it's all over for a while.  Most of the kids roll out of fall sports and into a winter activity - basketball or wrestling.  We've done wrestling before and I would love for the boys to do it again, but they really didn't like it so we didn't push.  And aside from a single basketball skills camp the big guys did the year Zane was born, we just aren't a basketball family.  So we've got the winter off.  Exhale!
In just 4 short days I've realized that despite how much fun the big guys have playing sports and how much Bob and I enjoy watching and how well the little guys play along the sidelines every night, it's pretty nice to just be home.  To just be together with a little downtime to enjoy each other.  It's pretty awesome to get an opportunity to not only catch our collective breathe, but to re-cement family bonds at the same time. 
And it's pretty fascinating to sit back and watch what happens when we aren't racing out the door every night.  When S & Q have a chance to play together (which they didn't get much of for the last few months) they come up with some very entertaining stuff.
In the past week we have had wrestling matches, box head battles, cuddle fests, quiet TV nights, tickle fights, video game accomplishments, reading in bed time and relaxed family dinners.  I know by the time February rolls around we will be ready for something to do again, but for now we are blissfully happy.  I had to capture a couple of the more interesting activities with my camera.  These boys crack me up! 
Foyer jousting - one night the boys decided to joust using the toddler cars (which have gotten WAY more use by the big boys than I would have imagined) as horses and foam sticks as lances.  They even pulled out their shields to make things a bit more authentic!  Spencer and Quinn took aim at each other several times before Beckett decided he needed to get into the mix.  So like the good big brothers that they are, they prepped him for battle and stuck him on his horse.  He giggled the whole time!  (So did I!)
Pumpkin baseball - I think one of Spencer's favorite parts of Halloween is the destruction of the post-trick-or-treat night jack-o-lanterns.  He finds great joy in smashing these things to bits.  This year was even cooler because he had a BB gun which allowed him to shoot them first.  Oh my goodness was he excited.  He was so excited that Quinn joined in and then I joined in.  We each took our turns at shooting those poor pumpkins before we decided to play a little baseball.  We made the BIGGEST mess in the backyard.  But we had the BEST time!  We were loud and crazy and running around throwing pumpkin pieces at each other.  Zane even joined in so he could hit some pumpkins.  It was so much fun!  We had to stop because it got too dark to see and as we were walking back inside, wiping pumpkin goo off the baseball bats, Spencer summed things up perfectly when he said, "That's the most fun I've ever had with produce!"
Here's to more goofy games and more awesome memories.  Here's to a much needed and much deserved 3 month break!  Here's to FAMILY time!
PS - Beckett is officially walking now.  He's still in that most adorable wobbly, sea-leg phase.  He still falls down.  But he's on his feet and he's cuter than ever!  Pictures soon!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Picture of the Week - 11/1/2012

Happy (belated) Halloween!
We had a really nice Halloween last night.  The boys had a great time trick-or-treating and it wasn't nearly as cold as I expected.  Even the little boys stayed out with us until the big guys called it quits.  Fun time!
I am so thankful that my new boss suggested that we return home a day early from a business trip to Florida so we could be home for the evening activities.  I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have happened at the old job.  Life is good!
Here are a few pictures of the boys all dressed up and of our cool jack-o-lanterns.
We've got our last lacrosse game this weekend and the first football playoff game.  (It's a lose and you are out playoff, which means there's a chance we will be SPORT FREE by Monday.  Not sure we will know what to do with ourselves!!!)  We will end our weekend with the year-end football party, which should wrap up the team mom duties for Bob and me for another year too!  Three cheers for the light at the end of the tunnel!
Have a great week!  Get out and vote!  And please keep all the folks impacted by super storm Sandy in your thoughts.  What a mess...


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Picture of the Week - 10/25/2012

A couple of weekends ago we made the annual trek up to Burt's Pumpkin Farm.  We've been going up there each fall since Spencer was a baby.  It's tradition!  It's also my excuse to dress the boys up and make them pose for pictures.  This picture opportunity is not an original idea...  it seems like lots of people like pumpkin pictures.  So we've learned to go early and avoid the worst of the crowds - for sanity AND better pictures!  (Wonder if I can arrange a crowd-free zone somewhere at Disney during our trip next month???)
I've attached a collage from our trip this year.  It was a beautiful day!  This is easily one of the nicest October's we've had down here in a long time.  That's saying alot because October is my favorite month in Georgia!  After Burt's we stopped at Hillcrest Orchard to visit the petting zoo and milk the cow and all those other fun agritourism marvels.  And we ended our day with a visit to the Varsity for hot dogs and frosted oranges.  It's that's not the perfect day in north Georgia, I'm not sure what is!
This weekend we have more sports stuff, but things are slowly winding down.  Spencer's football team made it to the playoffs!!  And Quinn has 3 more games left.  No fall lacrosse tournaments down here.  The boys are also looking forward to wearing their Halloween costumes to the fall festival at our daycare!  Just wait until you see the goofy costume Spencer picked this year. 
I hope you are all having lots of fall-flavored fun!  I just love this time of year!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Picture of the Week - 10/18/2012

Tomorrow our baby boy turns 1.  Hard to believe, isn't it?!?  There's nothing like putting together the first birthday collage to make you realize how fast the time goes and how much that little squishy newborn changes in the space of 12 short months.  He's not really a baby anymore...  he's moving quickly into toddler territory!
Toddler territory brings with it a whole new set of interests.  I really enjoy watching the wheels turning through the learning process all over again.  Beckett has some strong likes and dislikes, but he's still in that phase where he's willing to try anything.  Believe me, I'm taking advantage of the fact that he will still pick up a green bean before pizza.  He loves to cuddle - especially with a soft blanket.  Beckett is a master at finding strings or cords and has a knack for sticking these bits directly into his mouth.  He still takes a bottle, but also drinks from a sippy cup.  He loves cheese and bananas.  He is still a terrible sleeper.  He is a climber and a tantrum thrower when he doesn't get what he wants.  I laugh every time he collapses into a 5 second fit - such drama.  Luckily it's almost always short-lived drama before he's onto something else.  Most often the something else involves a brother.  Beckett loves, no...  idolizes,  his brothers.  His brothers hung the moon and the squeals and chuckles he gives them are really something special.
Beck isn't walking yet, but he's SOOO close.  Spencer, Quinn and I like to make a game of trying to get him to walk.  We sit in a circle in the living room and put B on his feet and point him at someone.  He sometimes takes a step or two, but most often he just launches himself (in a fit of giggles) into the waiting arms of someone he knows loves him.  The most I've seen him do is 4 or 5 steps between me and Spencer the other night.  I know he'll get the hang of it eventually, but right now it's just fun!
Fun is something that Beckett is really good at spreading.  He's an easy EASY baby.  (This is somewhat challenging for me to write about today since he's been sick this week and has not been himself.)  I think I've mentioned before that Beck is a joy-spreader!  He brings joy to all kinds of people all the time.  It's hard to look at a little guy who is always so happy and not get a smile on your face.  Having a happy, smiley baby is one of my great joys.  I love that Beckett goes with the flow and fits right into whatever we ask him to do. 
And we ask him to do a TON!  I have to laugh when I think about the difference in the first 12 months of Spencer's life (and even Quinn's) compared to what Beck has had to put up with.  For first time parents, a dinner out in a restaurant was a big trip with an infant.  For us now, we don't sweat a trip unless it's overnight.  Packing up our portable, rolling wagon full of coolers and snacks and diaper bag and toys and chairs and blankets and changes of clothes on the way to a practice or game may get some strange looks, but I gotta say that Bob and I have it down!  We can take Beckett just about anywhere, just about any time with very little stress.  Some of this is the result of planning and preparation (and lots of trial and error), but much of it is just because Beckett is easy and pleasant and happy to go wherever we want to take him. 
That easy attitude does not mean that our youngest is content to sit quietly and play with a toy or look at a book.  Nope!  He is a whirlwind!  He's curious (and kinda devious) when he's in an exploring mood.  We have had to put locks on our cabinets that never made an appearance with Zane.  We have a little cabinet full of candles that we've had to turn around backward to keep Beckett from getting into it.  (It's a nice look...)  Between Zane and Beck, there are always toys spread from one end of the house to the other.  It's chaotic and messy.  And despite all those toys and child-appropriate activities, Beckett would rather sit IN the tupperware cabinet or pull magazines from the table or eat candles or climb all over the stone fireplace or make a bee-line for the stairs when the gate is open or charge into the bathroom to play in the toilet.  He's in that phase where he will easily entertain himself, but the things he gets into are not always the safest options.  He definitely keeps us on our toes.
I find it a little amusing to watch the reactions on people's faces when they learn that we have 4 kids.  Normally the looks they exchange are followed by something along the lines of "wow! you are brave!" or "That must keep you busy!" or my personal favorite "Are you trying for that girl?"  For the record...  Bravery wasn't involved in our decision to build or family.  YES!  It is very busy and lots of hard work.  And NO!  We are not trying for a girl and really, honestly, couldn't be more happy with our testosterone-laden family. 
I guess 4 kids is kind of a novelty.  It's a little unusual these days, I suppose.  With an average kid-to-family ratio of around 2, I guess it stands to reason that we are considered an anomaly to most people.  But to me, this attitude is funny because this crazy family feels SO RIGHT. 
Beckett was the final piece of our family.  He's the exclamation point on what was already a pretty awesome life.  I can't imagine life without Beckett.  He completed us.
I wish our youngest a second year as fast-paced and fun-filled as the first one.  I hope he gets at least a tiny bit of the joy he has brought to others reflected back to him.  I want him to know he is loved - by so very many people.
Happy First Birthday Little Man!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Picture of the Week - 10/11/2012

10/11/12 - how cool is that??? 
So my parents bought Spencer a BB gun for his birthday.  This purchase didn't occur before some careful consideration and an "OK" from Bob and I.  But it's true that Spencer is now the (very) proud owner of a gun. 
And I'm sure all of our family and friends back home are probably rolling their eyes and making some comments about our southern boys going all red neck.  I'm not even going to try to fight it.  The fact is, it's true that our boys are growing up in the south.  They all have varying degrees of southern twang.  They like chicken and dumplings.  They watch NASCAR.  They listen to country music.  And they will all (likely) own guns.  And I'm more than OK with that.  If your opinions differ, I'm OK with that too. 
This first gun purchase was something special.  What I can't decide is if it was more special for the recipient or for the giver.  I'm sure that my mom did the wrapping and the organizing and picked out the cool card with the "10" on it, but this gun is really from my dad.  I just know that he put more forethought into this gift and how to give it and train on it and share his knowledge of it than others in the past.  (I mean really, what does my dad know about a DS or a Wii game?  What does he care about clothes or books?  Guns...  that's something he knows and wants to share.)
So the package was opened and Spencer, in true Spencer style, tried to hide how excited he was to get the one thing he actually asked for.  He tried to play cool, but his eyes betrayed him and we all knew he was thrilled.  Pappy didn't even try to hide his excitement as he marched Spencer outside to teach him the safe way to enjoy this new hobby.  They carefully filled BBs into the gun's chamber (while thoughts of Beckett ingesting tiny balls filled my head.)  They set up a little orange clay target in the backyard.  They donned safety goggles.  And then they started shooting. 
And they shot and shot and shot.  I was more than a little surprised at how good Spencer was at hitting the targets!  He clearly has a good eye and steady hand. 
And the next morning Spencer was up before the sun.  He was dressed before breakfast.  He picked his own clothes out and ventured into his dark room alone - which if you know him you know is NOT normal behavior.  He was out on the back porch shooting targets again before Bob and I had finished our Sunday morning coffee.  In short, I haven't seen him so anxious for something in a VERY long time.  On multiple occasions over the next couple of days he stopped on his way out (or back in) and said, "This is pretty awesome isn't it?"  And I had to agree, that it was!  But my classification of "awesome" was for different reasons than his, I am sure.  I place this in the awesome category because it got him, willingly, outside and away from video games and ipods.  It introduced him to something new that he can enjoy for a long time.  And it made him SO happy.  Hard to argue with that!
Pappy was no less excited.  He rushed out on Monday to pick up more BBs and more targets and made sure he was home before the bus to give Spencer the replenished stock.  He took wire and somehow attached a coke can to our back fence.  He was clearly in his glory. 
My dad and Spencer have a really awesome relationship.  It's partly because they get to spend so much time together, but I think it's also because they are SO much alike.  Aloof, intelligent, sarcastic, stingy with hugs, yet always there when you really need them... 
My dad is the director for Spencer's football team.  He has been for the last 3 years.  He gets to see a side of Spence that Bob and I don't even get to see.  He gets to say things to Spence that no one else will hear.  There is a trust building between the two of them that I wouldn't trade for anything - in the whole wide world.  The football photographer for our team captured a special moment between the two of them that I love.  A photo that I know Spencer will treasure for many many years.  It was just a moment...  in a long string of moments that make me smile.
Is my dad living vicariously through my boys.  Yep!  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  They are the sons he never had... just so happens they are GRAND.
Thanks Dad!  For all you've done for my boys and all the things I know you will continue to do.  (And a special thanks to my mom for letting him be a little boy from time to time!!)


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Picture of the Week - 10/4/2012

Phew!  After two tough to write POTW with lengthy collage "assignments" it is nice to be back to a simple little picture and story this week!
Last Friday we took Spencer and Quinn to Stone Mt. to celebrate Spencer's birthday.  This has become sort of a tradition - which really stems from the craptastic way the boys' elementary school allows them to celebrate birthdays.  In a nutshell, to celebrate a birthday at school, you are permitted to take in store bought food (i.e. cupcakes) and meet your child in the lunchroom for the 25 minutes they are assigned lunch period.  If you want, you can eat lunch with your child (at a table away from his classmates) and at the end of the 15 minutes or so (takes a while to get through that line...) of shoveling food, you can take the purchased cupcakes to the class and give one to each greedy, grabby little body.  There is no singing.  There is no celebrating.  There is just the witnessing of lunchtime chaos and the handing out of preservative laden, peanut-free sweets.  After doing this one time I vowed never again.
And so now we let the boys take a "free day" from school and they get to choose what they want to do.  Normally it's a very nice one-kid-on-two-parents experience that is pretty hard to come by in our family!  This year was a little difference because we started the morning with family eye doctor appts and Spencer decided that he would let Quinn come with us for the day AS LONG AS he got to go with Quinn in February.  Win - Win!!
(Aside - I can't wait to share a picture of Q in his new glasses, which haven't come in yet.  He is SO flippin cute!!  Also, terrible mom moment...  the boy is nearly blind!!  When they put the eye chart up and asked what the lowest line he could read was, his face crumpled and he said, "I can't see ANY of them".  I feel terrible that he's gone this long not being able to actually see, but I can't WAIT to see how much better he is on a lacrosse field when he can actually see a ball!)
Anyway...  we had a blast at Stone Mt.  It has really changed a ton since the last time we had been there - all for the better.  I encourage any locals who haven't been there in a while to check it out again.  The boys had a great time on the sky hike and really enjoyed going to the top of the big rock.  We also go to play mini golf and had a very nice lunch.  Great day!
We followed that up with a nice visit from Grandpa Bob and Grandma Phyllis.  We started Friday night with the traditional Japanese steakhouse birthday celebration for Spencer and Zane and then proceeded to drag them all over the place to watch a football game and a lacrosse double-header on Saturday.  (All of which we lost...)  Sunday we were blessed with a rain day so we could huddle in the house and recoup from all the activity.  What a fun weekend!
Have a fantastic first weekend of October!  We don't have many leaves changing down here yet, but the temperatures are fantastic!  I love October in Georgia SO SO SO much!! 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Picture of the Week - 9/27/2012

Gone!  Gone!  Gone!
Pacis - GONE!  Diapers - GONE!  Chubby baby cheeks - GONE!  Chunky baby thighs - GONE!  Round little baby belly - GONE GONE!  Toddler # 3 - GONE GONE GONE!!! 
In the place of all that stuff gone missing is a brand new preschooler!  And it's an awesome exchange!  Zane is turning 3 on Saturday.  It's been a long year for the little guy!  And SO much has changed.  He's a big brother now; he's not the baby anymore.  He gave up his babyhood - quite willingly as a matter of fact!  He's in preschool now and learning about "his letters" and sounds and the very beginnings of how to read and write.  He's able to memorize songs and entertain himself and he has no problem whatsoever making his wants and desires known. 
This new found ability to get his way (for lack of a better phrase) is something that Zaney Pie got behind with gusto!  Turns out that the combination of new baby in the house plus busy big brother schedules added to a couple of tired parents equates to a 2 year old with an impressive ability to get whatever he wants - when he wants it - how he wants it.  Thankyouverymuch! 
And anyone who has been through the "terrible twos" knows that they are called "terrible" for a reason.  We knew the trying times were coming (ain't our first rodeo, ya know), but the timing caught us a little by surprise.  Spencer and Quinn really had more terrible THREE'S than two's.  So as Bob and I were despairing (around 6ish months ago) about our complete failure in boundary setting for our spunky 3rd child, it dawned on us that maybe Zane was just early.  Maybe he's an overachiever.  Maybe we were in the midst of his terrible twos.  And somehow that realization made everything better.  We just hunkered down and waited!
And what do you know, things are better now than they were just a few short months ago.  We still have times when Zane feels the need to push the limits or make sure that we're well and truly aware of his little presence.  He still likes to test our patience from time to time, but it's not a daily occurence any more.  And that's really nice!  Because Zane is a super cool kid when he's not freaking out about chocolate milk or whining about some imagined injustice!
He loves to be outside and if there's a ball involved he wants to play it.  Z would be perfectly happy if we would sit outside with him all day long.  Actually he'd be more happy if we would oblige his requests to rotate the game he's playing about every 20-30 minutes.  He plays baseball (with a T and bat and glove) and lacrosse (had to get him his own stick) and golf (has used the set we got for Spencer more than S ever did).  He likes to throw balls and catch balls and tackle our tackling dummy - or a brother, whichever is closest!  Zane is more coordinated at *almost* 3 than most 5 year olds I have seen - and certainly more coordinated than his big brothers were at 5 (or 6 or 7). 
And in a way that makes Bob's eyes sparkle with promise, Zane also has an aggressive streak that can only come from being the youngest first-born* in the family.  He has confidence that has come from his brothers challenging him just enough to make him better, but regularly letting him "win".  He is going to be, if current observations stick, a force when he starts real organized sports.  The fact that he's still 2 years away from being able to legitimately play is laughable.  I suppose growing up at the parks has it's perks!
*Not sure if anyone has ever done any reading on birth order, but there's a pretty interesting idea that if there is a big gap between multiple kids in a family then there are first born traits in multiple children.  In our case, Spencer couldn't be more first born if he were concocted in a laboratory and Zane is first born #2 with the added benefit of having built in playmates and role models.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think Zane is the luckiest of all the boys simply because of his position in our family.
Zane loves to play with his brothers - probably more than anything else.  He will wrestle with them and giggle with them.  Sometimes the 3 oldest will all be sitting together watching TV in the toyroom, perfectly content to have legs overlapping and be leaning on one another.  It's a heartwarming invasion of personal space to witness!  And there's already a pretty special bond between Zane and Beck.  It mostly stems from the shear and utter delight that B displays whenever he sees Z at the end of the school day or first thing in the morning.  It's pretty hard to ignore such blatant adoration, and Zane certainly isn't immune to the clear ego boast that he gets from his little brother.
I've particularly enjoyed watching Zane's imagination come to life.  He doesn't have much of an opportunity to play alone, but when he does it's really fun to watch.  He makes up stories and voices and plots.  He bends the original intent of his action heros and cars and dinosaurs.  When he gets into his own little world, he has a blast!  Very cool!  One time that he can regularly relax and play is when he's in his crib (yes, still a crib because he hasn't pushed for a bed and I'm not pushing him to one!) before he falls asleep.  We often watch him playing with the million stuffed friends he has in there with him.  He sometimes pulls books from the shelves.  (His room is always a mess with books on the floor!)  He sometimes plays under his blankets.  Sometimes he sings.  He has lots of fun up there before he puts his pillow pet on TOP of his head and falls asleep!
There are definitely things that Z doesn't love.  Eating pops to mind.  I swear that child can go for days without eating dinner.  I learned long ago (thank you Quinn) not to worry about it.  If he eats, great!  If he doesn't, he's not gonna starve.  He drinks enough chocolate milk to live on, for one thing, and I'm sure he eats when he's at school.  So dinner time isn't a big deal.  Normally he just sits with us anyway and plays with something on his plate.  Sometimes he whines and fusses that things are too hot or he doesn't like them.  Whatever...  it's just dinner.  It wasn't until I stopped and really looked at him getting ready for a bath (something he still loves even though he also takes showers now when the big boys let him in with them) that he's thinned out SOOOOO much.  He looks like (sniff sniff) a little boy now.  Flat belly and longer legs.  His face has changed...  it has features now.  No more round baby face.  It's an awesome thing to notice the changes.  Because they are so very swift!  Putting together this year's collage was another eye opener!  This time last year Zane was still such a baby!  Not anymore!
We're having a dino themed birthday party for him in about a week.  I'm excited for him to get a chance to play with his friends - because he has friends!  And he can tell you which are his "best friends" and which ones are "mean".  I hope his personality is as magnetic at school as it is at home. 
When we were choosing names for Zane we had a fairly easy time.  I loved the name Zane from the first time I heard it and Bob didn't take too much convincing.  It seemed like fate when we looked up the meaning for his name.  Zane means "God is Gracious".  And with Zane, God really outdid himself.  We are so very thankful that He was kind enough to give us such a special boy in Zane.  Bob and I were just talking the other day about how very glad we are that we didn't stop at two kids.  I can't imagine a world without a Zane.  And I can't wait to see what changes the next 12 months bring!
Happy Birthday to our Zane!  I wish him a smooth and easy year full of smiles and laughs and as much chocolate milk as he wants to drink!
PS - We're off to football practice tonight with 3 dozen cupcakes to celebrate Spencer's birthday.  I hope I made enough!!!