Thursday, January 31, 2013

Picture of the Week - 1/31/2013

The Mighty Quinn turns 9 on Saturday!
Can you believe it? 
Seems like just yesterday we were meeting that little dude for the first time.  And yet, it seems like he's always been a part of our crazy little family.
Quinn is a pretty awesome kid - if I do say so myself.  He's easy to please and, maybe more endearing, eager to please!  He will normally go with the flow and follow Spencer's lead.  And then he will swap roles and become a doting big brother, catering to the wants and interests of Zane and Beckett.  He is just as happy watching big boy movies and playing big boy video games as he is watching Sprout and helping Zane play something on the ipad. 
He is *delightfully* neither a little boy, nor a big boy.  He's in that delicious (and ever so brief) in between.  Some may call this awkward, but I know how fast it will pass and I call it lovely.
Quinn's always doing something to try to make someone happy.  He dances.  He makes funny faces.  He is agreeable and friendly.  He's a magnet!  He has gotten invited to 4 birthday parties in the last 3 weeks.  I think it's because he has never met someone who he wouldn't call his friend. 
One of my favorite times right now is the late evenings with Quinn.  Sometimes he will come out and sit with us while we watch TV.  Sometimes he will come up while we are putting the little guys to bed and get roped into reading books.  Sometimes he lingers far too long after getting instructions to go brush his teeth.  I know it's because he wants to spend time with us.  I know how much he enjoys the attention.  And I'll give it to him whenever I can.  There's nothing better than watching his face light up when I crawl into his bed with him for one last snuggle of the day.
I have probably mentioned this before, but I truly believe that Quinn is the easiest of the 4 boys right now.  He's also, easily, the most helpful.  That child has never heard a request that he balked at.  I am pretty sure I could ask him to change dirty diapers and he would give it a go.  His personality makes me so very proud to be his mom!
Don't get the wrong idea here...  Q is not perfect.  He has a tendency to pout.  He doesn't think about consequences.  He sometimes doesn't know the "time and place".  He still eats like a bird.  He has the craziest of cowlicks.  And he is loud.  He is SO LOUD.  He talks loudly.  He walks loudly.  It's really amazing that a little body can make so much noise. 
It's pretty clear that he's going to be seen.  And he's going to be heard.  And anyone lucky enough to cross his path should consider themselves blessed.
I know I do!
Happy Birthday sweet Quinn!  And thank you for being you!
Tomorrow we are letting Q stay home from school and spending the day doing what he wants.  And this weekend we are celebrating his birthday with a Minecraft themed party including a mobile video game truck.  FUN times!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Picture of the Week - 1/24/2013

aka - (alternately) The Boy Who Keeps Us Entertained or He Who Is Trying to Kill Us or Wreck-it Beckett (I give Disney's Wreck it Ralph credit for the last one, but maintain that Beckett would be a better name for their main character.)
Beckett is a wild man. 
(I really could just end things there and let you all imagine...)  ((Maybe I should...))
Watching he personality begin to appear is pretty fascinating.  He's the baby of the family and WHOA BOY can you tell!  He's spoiled.  I admit it.  But I am not the sole cause.  He is also spoiled by his dad, his Berber and Pappy, and every SINGLE ONE of his brothers.  He cries and someone is in his face trying to figure out what he wants?  He wants to sit on Berber's lap for hours on end?  She lets him.  He wants milk IN A BOTTLE* in the middle of the night (EVERY night).  Bob gives it to him.  He wants a bite of that cookie or a french fry.  Spencer hands it over - while nearly taking Zane's hand off for trying the same stuff.  And Zane...  well Beck is HIS mini-me!  He's got someone to boss around and someone to show stuff too.  And he beams when he's getting attention from his little brother. 
* None of the other boys had a bottle past their first birthday.  Shoot, Zane gave up bottles around 10 months old.  But Beckett...  well, he really LIKES his bottle.  And he is very vocal about it.  And (see above) having a 15 month old with a bottle isn't really a big deal, right?  I mean, he DOES drink from a sippy cup too, when he doesn't have one of the above people around to cave and fill up a bottle!
Beckett is starting to really communicate with us.  He has several words that he uses regularly (and appropriately).  He can say Willow (Wee Woo) and Bye Bye and Hi (which is freaking adorable when you get him up in the morning!) and Mine (me me me me meeeeeee) and All Done and Uh ohhhhh.  He also says dada and occasionally mama, but not consistently.  We haven't gotten him to say his brothers names yet.  I'm looking forward to that!  (And may fail to point out that he learned the dog's name first...)
Even with this somewhat limited vocabulary Wreck is pretty efficient at getting his point across.  Here are a couple of examples:
A couple of days ago Zane wanted a snack and came out to get some dry cereal in a bowl.  Then he went back to the toy room where all 4 boys were playing/watching TV/had their heads in various video games.  A few minutes later Beck came out, found Bob and HOLLERED at him.  He was NOT crying.  He was yelling.  And he yelled more when Bob tried to give him a grape.  And he yelled when Bob tried to give him a sippy cup with milk.  And he yelled MORE when Bob caved and tried to give him a bottle.  Upon the refusal of the bottle it became clear that Beck wanted what Zane had, simply because Zane had it.  A little dry cereal in a bowl and he was good as gold. 
One of the things that Beckett does that I don't remember the other boys doing is sign language.  I know they teach signing at school, but Zane didn't pick it up nearly as much.  (I admit that I LOVE watching him sign "please".  And sometimes I make him do it just to watch him.)  Anyway, the other day Beck came out to the kitchen, got into the drawer where we keep the plastic plates, watched over to Bob with the plate and signed Please while saying "me me meeeeee".  He then led Bob to the fridge.  Pretty clear he was a little hungry and needed a snack.  He was tickled pink with some grapes. 
Maybe my favorite form of communication recently is the temper tantrum.  I can tell by the way the Wreck surveys the child locks on the kitchen cabinets every time he walks in looking for one we left open that he's a bright little boy.  And he knows that he has us all wrapped around his finger.  So when we hold our ground and say NO to him, the resulting throw down can be pretty spectacular.  It's so dramatic, in fact, that it is usually REALLY hard to keep a straight face!  He yells (not cries) and then throws himself to the ground with style.  It's hilarious!  (Which I'm pretty sure is not the message he's trying to communicate!)
All of these little personality quirks are combining into a little boy that seems to make our lives complete.  His smiles and giggles and wide open mouth, slobber kisses are pretty awesome.  I wish we could freeze time here for a while.  I've always loved this stage.  So very sweet!
Here's a picture of Mr. Beckett on the back porch over the weekend**.  He's not quite as obsessed with being outside as Zane was at that age, but he never says No when you ask him if he wants to go out.  And he usually pats his belly, which tells us that he is actually saying "Yes, please!"
Have a great week everyone! 
**My favorite part of this picture is the dimpled knuckles. 
PS - Beckett had his 15 month check-up today.  He's doing great (with the exception of some surprise ear infections) and continues to be bigger than Zane and smaller than Spencer.  He is almost 26 lbs and almost 32 inches.  Growing up too fast...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Picture of the Week - 1/17/2013

Let's see...  what's going on with us...  lotsa little stuff and not too much of anything.  It's been pretty awesome actually!
So here are some random thoughts...
We decided to get some new furniture for our living room just after Christmas.  This is going to be good for 2 reasons.  One - obviously - is that the current furniture has seen better days.  I still love it, but the cushions aren't supportive anymore and it's just not very comfortable.  Two - we desperately need more than a small couch in the toy room.  We have more boys than places to sit and this has caused occasional conflict.  (As an aside, the lack of places to sit has also created an environment for CUTE because the current favorite arrangement of boys is big ones sprawled with one head on each couch arm and Zane perched in the middle between their legs.  Pretty darn adorable!)  So our plan is to move the current living room stuff into the toy room and the toy room couch/sleeper sofa into the basement which will look horrible, but will be functional for a while.  This whole furniture relocation plan has caused us to look at the toy room and realize that it was a mess and really wasn't working.  So Bob has (nearly single-handedly) undertaken a big toy reorganization plan.  He's moving the big boys stuff to the basement and moving little boy stuff into the toy room and they couldn't be more thrilled!  I guess when you can actually SEE the stuff you have to play with you tend to actually, ya know, play!  Here's a picture of Zane from last weekend after discovering some costumes and a bunch of similarly sized robots with Captain America.  I can't really tell if the robot army is protecting Spiderman from the dino or if they are all about to attack.  We may never know as Zane got engrossed into something on TV and never finished the story.
Speaking of Zane - he's been pretty awesome lately!  He's funny and creative and 90% of the time (which is a BIG improvement) pretty easy to deal with.  He has the same vast vocabulary that Spencer did at that age, which makes for some really AWESOME stories.  He talks nearly non-stop and usually requires, no demands, a response from whomever he's talking too.  A simple "umm hmmm" doesn't really cut it for him.  So I have found myself in some very odd conversations about dreams and plans and why things are the way they are.  That whole "why why why" stage - equal parts fascinating and exhausting! 
We have had LOTS of rain down here over the past week.  It's been cloudy and rainy and dreary for a full week.  I know this may not seem like a big deal to some people, but we are really spoiled here.  It's very unusual to go this long without sun...  and I'm not loving it!  The forecasters tell us that today is the last cloudy day.  I hope they are right!  The rainy (and honestly unseasonably warm and humid) weather has been good for one thing though - Zane's hair!  His wavy mop gets curlier and curlier the more humid the weather.  But unlike MY hair, which just gets frizzy and rather unruly, his just looks cuter and cuter.  I tried desperately to get a picture of him with his awesome hair on Sunday.  I failed...  he wasn't having it.  And no amount of pleading and bribing helped.  So I gave up on my hope for a shot of a curly haired, rosey cheeked, smiling boy and settled for this picture, which Bob tells me is totally a Zoolander Blue Steel stare. 
Finally I will share with you a couple of stories from last night.  One of them because I think it's a riot and the other because I hope that it will make you go "awww" the way it made me go "awwwwwwwww". 
So to understand the first story, I must explain that Bob and I have decided that it's high time (probably past time, honestly) to get the big guys more involved in the daily chores around the house.  We're starting with the post-dinner clean-up chaos.  What we're doing is asking one of the BBs to help with the dish clean up and dishwasher loading while the other BB is on little boy duty and responsible for entertaining the brothers.  This frees Bob and I up to sit back and eat bon bons.  (LOLOLOLOL)  So last night Q was on dishes and S was on LBs.  Beckett was still in his highchair and was pitching an absolute fit because I wouldn't give him a container full of spaghetti sauce.  Bob and I were ignoring the fit, but Spencer, who had been tasked with taking care of him was a bit distressed.  Spence asked if he could get Beckett down.  Bob said, "No.  He's not done eating."  Beckett hears this exchange, looks at Spencer, takes the food out of his mouth with one hand and throws it behind him.  Spence says, in the most deadpan, dry voice, nothing more than, "I'm pretty sure he is."  Cracked me up.  Actually it still cracks me up!
A little later in the evening, Bob and I were working on framing up a bunch of cool pictures of the BBs that I ordered (and will show you all as soon as we get them hung) and the BBs were playing downstairs.  Zane and Beck were in the living room playing with a bunch of Mr. Potato Head parts that Bob found during the great toy migration.  They were having a blast together.  Something caught Beck's attention in the toyroom and he left Zane.  This was OK for a while, but apparently Zane was really enjoying the company of his little brother.  So Zane starts calling Beck to join him.  "Beck, come back in here and play with me."  "Beckett, come see what I've got."  "Beck Beck, look at this."  All of these pleas were ignored, so Zane took things into his own hands.  He got up, went to the toy room, took Beck by the hand and led him back to the living room where they played happily for another half an hour or so.  Come on...  doesn't that just make you say, "Awwwww!"
Here's to the return of sunshine.  A big Falcons football game this weekend - RISE UP!  And more quiet family time to let everyone soak in the goodness of being together before our crazy spring schedule gets underway in a few short weeks. 


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Picture of the Week - 1/10/2013

I have a love/hate relationship with the camera on my phone.  I know I'm not alone...  I've read other blog posts and stories written by real photographers (which I certainly do not pretend to be) about the same thing.  The camera on my phone makes it so easy to capture every day pictures that I find myself grabbing for my "real" camera less and less.  I love the fast ability to grab a memory of something that's happening RIGHT NOW.  But I hate the quality of some of these pictures.  And I really hate that this is yet another way that the phone has made me lazy.  Love it.  Hate it.  Wouldn't want to live without it.  But I need to find a better balance.  (Hmmm...  bet I could say that about lots of things these days.  Bet you could too!)
Here are a few examples from just this week. 
The picture of Zane happened in our living room - after dark.  He was being particularly adorable (which, come to think of it, has been happening more and more often...  maybe we are past the worst of the terrible twos/threes...)  I was trying to get him to stop moving long enough to get a picture.  My phone decided to apply one of the most offensive flashes known to man.  The result was a shot of a super sweet boy with a super sweet smile, but devil red eyes and a totally blownout face.  As in crazy bright.  So I pulled the thing into photoshop and tried to salvage it.  This black and white was the best I could do.  A nice shot, but definitely not one I'll be blowing up and hanging on my wall.
The next one of Beckett happened on the same evening.  Again, he was in a super mood and got bonus points because he was also super cuddly.  He was in my lap and we were playing and I decided to flip the camera around so that he could watch it take a picture of him.  This shot was the result, which I love.  Unfortunately, the quality is utter crap.  It's grainy and (I think since it was taken with the flipped camera) pretty tiny from a pixel perspective.  I tried a few things to make this picture a little better, but when you start with poor quality it's pretty hard to see major improvements.  So I left this one alone and have decided to embrace the grain!  It's hip to be grainy, right?  Isn't that how Instagram has become so popular???
The final picture is a pretty good example of why I won't be turning off the camera on my phone any time soon.  We went out to dinner recently and some hilarity ensued.  We don't eat out frequently and when we do go, we usually have my parents with us.  Last night I didn't feel like eating what we had planned and felt like cooking it even less.  So we ended up at Red Robin.  Eating out (even at a relatively casual place like RR) with the boys can be an adventure.  Spencer eats A LOT.  Quinn eats next to nothing.  Zane can't sit still.  Beckett is very very loud - and has taken to eating everything off a fork, which makes him very very messy!  Toward the end of our meal Zane decided to gather all of the little red baskets and proceeded to do all kinds of things with them.  At one point, which was kind of inevitable, they turned into hats.  I was able to grab this picture of half of my crazy little family.  It is pretty awesome because it reminds me how much fun we had - and is also a pretty good reminder not to take ourselves too seriously! 
This week, I vow to charge up the battery in my "real" camera.  I vow to take some real pictures with good quality and more than 4 seconds of prep time!  (I will also continue to point and click with the iphone because you never know when a perfect photo op will come along!!)
Have a great week everyone!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Picture of the Week - 1/3/2013

This time of year lots of people do lots of retrospective thinking. It seems there are "best of" lists all over the place. I suppose the start of a new year is a good time to look back and take stock and make whatever changes compel you. I suppose I'm not much different.
I'm not a resolution kinda person. To me, making a commitment for change on some specific day is a little bit like only being thankful on Thanksgiving. Personal growth and change should be continual, not calendar driven. But that's just me... if you have made a new resolution - I wish you the very best of luck in keeping it!
Just because I have no specific new year's resolution doesn't mean that I don't enjoy some retrospection! It dawned on me around October that I have been doing this Picture of the Week email for 10 years. The first picture went out on 10/18/2002.  Wow! There's not many (optional) things that I can honestly say that I have done consistently over a 10 year period. Looking back, are there hobbies or activities that you have kept up with since 2002? If you have been with me the entire 10 years, THANK YOU!!!! It means more to me than you will know that you care enough to spend a few minutes reading about our life once a week. And don't forget that I really love to hear from you as well. You know lots and lots about what we are up to, don't hesitate to take a minute to let me know what's going on in your life. I care and I'm interested!
So I thought it would be fun to look back through the OVER 520+ emails I have written over the last 10+ years and share some of the pictures that you first saw in the fall/winter of each year. I also thought it was pretty interesting to see the highlights of what was going on in each of those POTW emails. (BTW - Having looked back over all these little messages, I have to thank you all again for continuing to read. There were LARGE periods of time when all I did was complain about someone being sick!*)
* LOL - For anyone on Facebook, Zane's pneumonia is much better and Beckett now has Hand, Foot and Mouth - but I'm not complaining! LOL (Yes, I'm laughing at myself!)
2002 - Spencer was born - and so began our great adventure!
2003 - Bought our first minivan, first Burt’s trip, Spencer started walking, we were blissfully pregnant
2004 - Quinn! The year of the doctor and therapy, The year we realized miracles were real and God had a plan for us all
2005 - Quinn heart surgery #1, Boys start daycare, More therapy
2006 - Sold our house, Lived with my parents for 3 months, Moved to our new house Quinn started preschool! Spencer started sports!
2007 - Quinn heart surgery #2, Disney Cruise! MRSA scare, LOTS of house work, Spencer rides a bike without training wheels
2008 - Ohio blizzard, Bob got a Jeep, We got a Willow (and fish and butterflies), Spencer started kindergarten and football, Quinn started baseball, Another Disney cruise, Goodbye to Grammy Lucy
2009 - Wii fun, Quinn went to Kindergarten, More baseball and football, Zane!
2010 – Wrestling and Football and Baseball and Flagball, Basement remodel
2011 – Giant GA snowstorm, Sports and school and vacations, Beckett!, Our family is complete!
2012 – Family of 6, Trips to beach and Disney, Lots of sports, Goodbye Sloopy, Tons of FUN!!!
Here's to an awesome 2013!  I wish you all peace, health, prosperity and a good dose of fun!