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!!