Thursday, May 30, 2013

Picture of the Week - 5/30/2013

I'm overwhelmed by cuteness! 
This week I have found myself grabbing my camera all the time.  I want to capture these early puppy days with the boys.  I know they will pass quickly and, like newborn babies, it's hard to remember how small and how cute puppies really are! 
We've had Ozzie for about a week now.  (Yes, we decided to stick with the name the breeder gave our puppy.  Ozzie just seemed to fit him!)  He's settling into our family nicely, but I'd be lying if I said it's been easy!  I forgot how much work puppies are!  It's good we didn't try to do this during lacrosse season.  I'm not sure I would have survived!
The first few days home, Oz hung out and just took it all in.  He was trying to figure out where he liked to lay and who he should run to when he got scared.  The boys were enthralled and poured attention on him.  It was a very nice puppy honeymoon.
Then we took Quinn (half of the BBH - aka Big Boy Help) to camp and Ozzie simultaneously decided he was pretty comfortable with us.  It's like someone turned his switch to ON.  Now he's racing around all over the place.  He gets going so fast that his back end gets in front of his front end and he does the equivalent of a spinout.  Puppy funnies!  He has also decided that chewing is a good thing.  Chewing ANYTHING is a very good thing.  Chewing fingers and toes is the very best thing.  I can't wait until the chewing stops. 
We are having a blast with him.  Spencer has taken more walks since we brought Oz home than in all the rest of the time we've lived here.  Zane is a little skittish of the sharp pointy parts of the new puppy.  (He's also been feeling under the weather...  so hopefully when he feels a little better he will relax more around Ozzie.)  Beckett...  sweet Beck.  I am so so so so looking forward to watching Beck and this puppy grow up together.  Beck is so interested in him and wants to hold him and pet him and love on him.  It's good that Beckett has a high tolerance for pain, because he's been used as a chew toy more than I'd like to admit.  And he keeps going back for more.  When he wakes up in the morning the first thing he asks for is milk...  followed closely with "Oddie  Oddie  Oddie!"
Having a puppy is fun!  It's forced us outside and away from the TV.  We have WAY less down time right now and way more "on the lookout for a puppy showing signs that he's about to pee" time.  We also have more family time - which is, honestly, an unexpected surprise.  I'm fairly certain that without Oz I wouldn't have taken a walk with Spencer last night and I'm nearly positive our evening would not have ended with me, Bob and Spence eating popsicles while sitting in the front yard.  Forced exercise, overload of cute, AND more family time...  I think getting a puppy may have been the best decision we've ever made!
In other news...  I REALLY miss Quinn.  We go pick him up from camp tomorrow and I really can't wait.  Our house has felt incomplete without him.  I know he's having a blast and I can't wait to hear all about his week.  I really just want to wrap my arms around him and give him a big squeeze! 
We're leaving for our beach vacation early on Saturday - with Ozzie.  We are going somewhere new this year - St. George Island.  I'm anxious to try a new place.  I'm really anxious to hang out for a week with my boys and my parents and just enjoy each other.  And I will be sure to grab my camera and get some pictures of all the cuteness while we are there!
Have a great week!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Picture of the Week - 5/23/2013

Very short email today.  I may have to send an extra email this week...  tomorrow is puppy pick up day!! 
We are currently in discussion about names...  HARD!!!  I think we are down to 2 choices.  Of course we're split just about down the middle.  Might have to give Beck the last word!  The breeder calls him Ozzie.  We're town between Woody and Eddie.  (Yes, the Ohio State influence is still strong despite our adoption of country music, BBQ, and NASCAR.)  Feel free to throw in your opinion!  Here're some pictures of our newest baby.  He's smack in the middle of the group picture. 
I also want to take a second to wish a Happy Anniversary to Bob.  (16 years tomorrow!)  I wouldn't want to take this crazy ride with ANYONE else! 
Be on the lookout for more pictures...  I might not be able to wait until next Thursday to share the cuteness! 
Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Picture of the Week - 5/16/2013


How often do you sit down and think about where you are, what you are doing and how you could be doing things better?  Who has the time, right? 
There have been several different things that have happened recently (or are occurring now) that have lead me into a retrospective phase.  I wish I could say that I, personally, go through a continuous cycle of doing-reviewing-correcting.  But, like lots of you (I'm assuming), I sometimes get into that day in/day out rut.  I see a series of MTWTFSS - one after the other - and just go through the motions trying to get through the weeks.  I find that when I realize it's happening and THEN do something to stop the cycle, I'm much happier.  So in a way, I'm glad life has thrown me a few pretty blatant messages lately.

First there's work.  Work is work.  I'm definitely not one of those people who live to work.  I work to live.  I enjoy what I do (most of the time) and I really like the people I work with, which is super important considering I see them more than my family.  But the 45-50ish hours a week I spend doing my job is not my passion.  It's not how I define myself - not entirely.  Recently at work we've gone through some training in preparation for a bunch of process changes.  For anyone "in the business" my company is embracing Agile.  I happen to have worked in an Agile shop before, so the training isn't new and the processes we are hashing out are mostly ones I've done before.  (Which may be why I get the "pleasure" of helping to define all the new processes.)  One of the main features of Agile is a regularly scheduled (and very consistent) retrospective ceremony.  We meet to discuss what's working and what's not.  We aren't afraid to point out weaknesses and errors and areas for improvement.  It's sometimes painful, but the goal is always to get better.  And who can argue with that?

The second thing that's pointing me to do some self-review is simply the time of year.  We're wrapping up school next week.  We are done with another season of sports.  We are moving on to new schedules and new challenges and (hopefully) more fun times this summer.  We found out that Zane is moving to the "big" preschool room for the summer because he's ready for pre-K in the fall.  Beckett is not a baby anymore, but more a BOY every day.  We are about to have 4th and 5th graders in the house.  Change is rapid right now, so it's naturally a good time to investigate what's working and what might need some changing.  I don't love the attitudes we get from the big boys sometimes (every parent out there just rolled your eyes because it's such a common thing), but I'm not willing to accept things like greed or selfishness or lack of compassion willingly.  I am prepared to be the bad guy and to make some angry boys if I think I can change the ultimate outcome for the better.  If we simply "got through" each day, there's no way I would be able to recognize trends that point to a path I don't like until it is too late to change course.  Retrospection, for the right reasons, is a powerful parenting tool.

And then there's Facebook.  Ahhh Facebook...  This website has turned into a filler of my time, a way to keep up with friends and family, and (somehow) a primary source of news for me.  I can't even tell you how many times I learned of some big world or national event first through the pages of Facebook.  I saw a link to this short video (less than 10 minutes) the other day.  It was posted on FB by someone I went to high school with.  Someone who has posted other thought provoking links and messages.  I was intrigued and so I set aside a minute (while having my afternoon snack at work, if you must know details) to watch.  Wow.  Universe speaking.  I love the message.  It is simply another way of portraying one of my all time favorite quotes.  "Most people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be." ~Abraham Lincoln  If you have a free snack break, I HIGHLY encourage you to take a peak at that short little video.  Maybe book mark it to watch again later if you find yourself caught in the MTWTFSS grind. 

Here's a good example of a school-related event that happened just yesterday.  I had a choice in how I felt about this.  I will honestly say that I chose badly (at first) and felt sorry for myself (for a while) and got angry at the imposition (for a minute) before I caught myself and realized that this was NOT a big deal.  I changed how I felt about the whole event and can say that I now am glad it happened - really!  Here's what happened: 
Spencer is learning about economics at school.  As part of this lesson he had to determine a product to sell and has had to put together marketing, pricing, etc.  On Friday the entire 4th grade will open up their "stores" and the 3rd graders (hey, I've got one of those too!) get to go shopping with pretend money.  Spencer didn't choose something he could make himself.  He didn't choose something simple.  He didn't choose something free.  He chose to make caramel apples and fruit kabobs.  Oy vey!  I knew this was going to cost me more money than the kid who was making duct tape wallets (which Quinn has already decided he's going to buy).  I also knew this was going to take more of my time than the kid who is making those rubber band bracelets.  So last night I told Spencer to get his shoes, we were going fruit shopping. 
As we were walking out, Quinn saw us and asked if he could go.  He asked LOUDLY and from across the room.  I cringed a bit and said yes.  (Side note to point out that I nearly ALWAYS grocery shop alone.)
And wouldn't you know it, Zane overheard the whole exchange.  He also asked to go.  I suppressed a groan and agreed that he could.  I didn't do it (at the time) because I wanted him to go.  I agreed because I didn't want him to get left behind when I was taking his brothers.  I didn't want to hurt his feelings.
Off we went.  We bought all variety of fruit.  We found caramel and kabob sticks.  We picked up some milk (because apparently 5 gallons is no longer enough to get us from Saturday to Saturday, sigh...).  It took us way longer than it should have.  I had to remind a certain 9 year old to walk slowly way more often than I wanted to.  I had to stand and wait for a curious little boy to get his fill of the lobster tank.  At one point I sent a text to Bob that I needed a drink.  And I meant it!
But then a funny thing happened.  I had a moment of retrospection which saved the night.  And I chose to stop feeling sorry for myself and to have fun.  We stopped in the frozen food section and I let each of them pick out a treat.  We bought the good stuff - Ben & Jerry's.  Zane hand picked 18 different things before settling on psychedelic-colored push ups.  I let them put stuff on the check out counter by themselves.  I let the big boys pack the groceries into the car and didn't modify the placement of the milk jugs.  I let Zane hold his melting push ups on his lap all the way home.  I stopped and enjoyed the moment.  In the chaos of a grocery store, I enjoyed my kids.  (Can you see now why that video made such an impact?)
Here's a picture of the fruits (ha, pun intended) of our labor on day one.  Tonight I will arm my boys with knives and we will make fruit kabobs for the 4th grade store until we are all sticky up to our elbows!

Goodness, this email turned a little preachy.  Sorry about that.  No...  actually I'm not really sorry.  I am listening to all the signs and taking direction from some higher power here.  I'm sharing thoughts and feelings that are important to me.  I want you all to listen and to do a little retrospection in an effort to be happier.  I want to do what I can, while I am able, to make this crazy world just a little bit better.  And honestly, if you are offended or think I'm smoking something or simply don't have the time, that's OK too.  Just hit that little delete button and move on with your day.  (But save that link and watch it sometime!  You won't be sorry!)
This weekend we are going to be in packing mode.  I want to try to get most of our stuff packed for our beach trip (which is a few short weeks away) and for Quinn's camp trip.  We pick up our new puppy next weekend and I'm sure it will be a little more difficult to get chores done after that.  Lots going on - all of it fun!

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Picture of the Week - 5/9/2013

Letting go...  at least a little.

This whole topic came about in one of those stream of consciousness ways.  I have finally finalized summer plans for Spencer and Quinn.  (Does it blow anyone else away that they only have 2 weeks of school left?  Where did this year go???) 

Anyway...  their plans for the summer are pretty varied, compared to years past.  They are, as in the past, each spending several weeks at Goddard doing the summer camp/daycare thing.  Surprisingly, THIS is what they both said they wanted to do this year.  Not any of the other (IMO cooler) options.  Maybe they want to be near their little brothers.  Maybe they want to visit with friends they have really grown up with, but see very rarely.  Maybe they just want it because it's familiar. 

Along with the Goddard registrations, they are also going to a YMCA day camp.  They did this last year too.  (You may recall me complaining about 1) Quinn leaving something behind every day and 2) the VAST amount of dirt they wore home every day.)  I liked this camp though because it's entirely outside.  No AC.  No electronics.  No creature comforts.  Maybe this is why they didn't put YMCA camp at the top of their lists...  I think it's really good for them to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow.  How to maneuver a canoe.  I think it's important that someone is teaching them scary stories traditionally saved for campfires.  I like the Y camp!

And then there are the sports camps.  There are SOOOO many to choose from.  All around sports?  Speed and Agility?  Lacrosse?  Football?  Baseball?  What to choose...  What to do...  We decided - partly due to interest - partly due to cost - partly due to schedule - to sign up for a lacrosse camp for each of them (on different weeks) and a Speed and Agility camp for Spencer.  It makes me chuckle a little to write Speed, Agility, and Spencer in the same sentence.  He's not fast.  He's not agile.  But maybe practice will make perfect???  I also liked the idea of them doing the lacrosse camps at different times this year.  As much as they like to hang out with each other (no, really!), it's good to spend some apart time too.

And then the letting go parts of the summer...  The boys are each going away for a while this summer.  Spencer is going on his "10 year old" trip with my parents.  They are heading out west to visit parts of the country he might not otherwise get to visit.  They are going to a dude ranch.  They are riding on a plane!  They will visit Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore.  He's so excited!!!  I am excited for him.  It will be a wonderful trip - and I think a wonderful opportunity to spend some real quality time with his grandparents.  While I'm sure I'll miss him, I know he'll be in good hands and I know I'll get regular updates.  So yes, we're letting him go, but it's not like "letting go".

Quinn, on the other hand...  Ugh!  My Mighty is growing up.  Quinn is going to a sleep away camp called Camp Braveheart.  This is a camp organized by the Kids at Heart program.  It's for kids with heart defects.  I can't wait for him to be surrounded by a bunch of other kids with the same ZIPPER scars.  I can't wait to hear about all the new friends he makes.  (That child can make friends anywhere he goes.)  I can't wait for him to realize that he's a self-sufficient little dude.  I can't wait to see all the confidence pouring out of him as he tells people that he went to a sleep away camp.  I am NOT, however, looking forward to letting go for a week while he's away.  I can't imagine what it will be like to not be able to talk to him.  To not have him crawl his lanky, boney limbs into my lap when I'm trying to watch TV in the evening.  I don't know what we'll do without the Mighty in the house for a whole week. 

Letting go.  I know our time with these precious boys is limited.  I know the day we have to "really" let go looms in the distance and will be here before we want it to arrive.  I see kids graduating from high school and getting married and I know these little tests are good for both the boys and for us.  It's a mini-trial run to test the strength of their wings. 

While I pray hard that their root system is firmly planted.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Picture of the Week - 5/2/2013

We have totally become *those* people!
You know the ones.  They had a whole list of things that would never happen.  Things they would never buy.  Would never do.  Wouldn't think of saying. 
And then they break all those rules when kids enter the picture.  Yes.  We are those people.
I suppose we could feel bad about this.  Lament our inability to stick to our guns or something, but who has the energy for that?  Instead, I choose to believe that the ways our behaviors and attitudes and actions have changed are a direct result of all the lessons we have learned along this awesome road called parenthood.
Yep - we said we'd never get a minivan.  But BK (before kids) it was impossible to envision the vast amount of stuff that would be required to get through a typical weekend.  Don't even get me started on packing for trips.  Plus, minivans are just so darn convenient.  We have never been "cool", so who cares that we are seen around town in a "well used" Man Van!
Bet you didn't know that BK we didn't have a TV in our living room.  Bob and I would often just put on some music and sit and read or - gasp - just talk.  We didn't get a TV in our living room until Spencer was over 2.  Now...  well, let's just say that TV programming plays a pretty significant role in 1) our downtime activities 2) our babysitting options and 3) maintaining our sanity.  Thank goodness for 24x7 Disney programming.  Just saying...
And then there is the whole world of sports.  I played sports.  Bob played sports.  Having boys, I knew we'd be in that sports world in some way.  But BK, I honestly figured given the physical appearance of both parents and our lack of post-middle school sports success, that sports would be a passing phase.  Something that the boys could do to learn the benefits of teamwork.  A way to get some exercise and fill up some hours. 
Sports has turned into something so much more for us.
I've mentioned before that being involved with these sports teams for our BBs has allowed us to build a community.  We live in a BIG city.  We live in a world (and a time) where kids don't play outside without supervision.  The temptations of video games (and yes, TV) are too great and the risk of the terrible is too high.  If we didn't have sports, our kids would play with a very small handful of kids and we, as parents, would have a pretty limited group of friends and acquaintances.  Sports, while a HUGE time drain and a HUGE money drain and a HUGE part of our persistent fatigue, allows us all to expand our community and build relationships and, yes, even friendships.  All of this while accomplishing all of those things for the boys that we thought would happen all along - boost in confidence, better physical fitness, learning how to bond with friends, learning how to lose, and how to win graciously. 
I don't know how long it will last, but for now, I can't think of any better way to spend the VAST majority of our "free" time than being involved with sports.
So I am beyond thrilled to break another of the rules we thought we were so committed to BK.  Spencer has made a travel football team and will be leaving behind the rec league he's been a part of for the last 5 years.
I can feel you all rolling your eyes from here.  And that's OK.  There's a long, LONG, story behind why we chose to go this direction.  It involves a desire to create the best possible experience for Spencer.  It has nothing to do with our desire to watch a winning team or our expectation that he's the best one out there or our hopes that he'll someday play in the NFL.  (Because, ha ha ha - not gonna happen!)  Our decision was driven by an unfortunate political environment that happens to be very unique to the rising 5th grade age group at our rec league park.  It has to do with our fear of ending up on another team with a brand new coaching staff and a lack of organization and commitment.  It is, quite simply, what we think is best for Spencer.
And we are so VERY proud that he made this team.  It was not a foregone conclusion.  It was not a given that he would walk up and they'd hand him a jersey.  He's not the best kid on this team - by a long shot.  He may end up as practice fodder and never start a game.  And you know what, we are totally OK with that.  In the 2 evenings he has spent trying out for this team he learned more from the DEDICATED line coach than he did ALL of last year.  Maybe all of the last 4 years.  He will be challenged.  He will likely learn some hard lessons.  And we will get to experience yet another facet of this weird and wonderful world of youth sports in the south. 
I can't wait!
A couple pictures today.  One is an old one - 5 years old to be exact - of Spence playing in a game his first season as a Kindergartener.  The second is from this past season.  There is simply nothing better than getting to watch these young men of ours grow up - in every single way.  We are so blessed.
This weekend we are supposed to have a lacrosse tournament which would mean somewhere between 7 and 12 games between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.  Mother Nature may have different  plans.  I'm very angry with Mother Nature.  We are not supposed to have high temps in the low 60s in May in GA.  And it's been SO rainy lately that for the first time in like 5 years Lake Lanier is above full pool.  Yuck!  If the forecast holds, we may just get some time off from the games and have a chance to enjoy Grandma Sharon's visit from the comfort of our home this weekend. 
Have a great week everyone!