Sunday, September 28, 2008

Photo Session with Jean!

A while back my friend Jean asked if she could use the boys and I as photography subjects. I have seen her work so of course we took her up on this great offer! Last week the boys and I headed over to her home and wore her out! It is not easy to get three kids to cooperate at the same time, so kudos to her for getting these great shots. Thanks so much Jean, we will cherish them!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Douthat "Dow-thit"

We just got back from a super fun three day weekend with our friends the Turners, Wadleys, Thiriots, and Seldens. We started out on Friday, when we caravaned with everyone south on I-81 and we stopped in at the Route 11 potato chip factory. We got to sample all of their flavors, the clear favorite being their enchilada seasoned ones. We saw how the potatoes get sliced, fried, seasoned and bagged, and even got to taste the freshest ones. The factory was small, and I'm sure the woman wanted to lock the door when she saw 11 kids with 22 little hands barreling towards the place, but hey, the sign said free tours and samples. Who can pass that up? It was a great pit stop and place to stretch our legs.
The factory was on our way down to Natural Bridge, Virginia, a place we have been wanting to go to experince their Animal Safari. Friends had been telling us about how you can feed the wild animals from your car, and we couldn't wait to take the kids. You drive through with these feed buckets and roll your windows down to let llamas, ostriches, elk, camels, zebras, buffalo, antelope, and other sorts of deer and cow looking things that I can't pronounce, come to feed from you. It was incredible to be so close to some of these beautiful animals! They have become really smart with the buckets, though and many of the animals had a "system" to eat while scooping to the side with their heads and trying to pry the bucket loose from your hands, which was very easy to do from the kids. Needless to say, or car was scattered with feed pellets and slimy with drool when we finished, but it was well worth it! After the drive through, they have a place where you can also go to feed things like goats and pigs, and even giraffes! And there were many unique animals to look at like kangaroos, tigers, and monkeys. It was a very neat place to go, and we can't wait to go back!This was Gavin's face just before he freaked out because he noticed his window was open. Not a fan of the big animals! Eventually he did feed a deer looking thing and an emu.

The camel and the Turners car

From the safari we headed up to our lodge in the mountains in Douthat, Virginia. I can't believe I've lived here all my life and have never even heard of this place! What a hidden gem! We arrived at our spacious lodge and settled in, and cooked up a yummy hot dog dinner. There was plenty of room for the kids to run and let loose and get out all of that energy. Jeremy's favorite part of the trip was after we put all the kids to bed and could enjoy some "adult time" talking and playing games until the wee hours of the morning. The next day we went down and walked around the beautiful lake and then attended the "Turkey-Capers" class that one of the rangers led. I'm not sure the kid that taught the class was all that knowledgable about turkeys and it was hard to understand him with his backwards Virginia accent, but the kids loved making the turkey craft and gobbled all the way home.

Our home away from home The kids with Ranger John and their turkeys Gavin and Coleman- Best Buds
The Princess Bride hill and everyone before the race down Eight of the "big" kids, three were infants

Later that afternoon we returned to the lake and we all rented paddle boats. This was my favorite part of the trip because it was so serene (well maybe until we got there...). Cameron sat on the back while Gavin steered us and Mason did what he does best- sack out- as if he was doing any of the peddaling! We also played a bit of bumper boats with our dear friends, and just soaked in the splendor of the place. We were practically the only people there and we almost had it to ourselves. We couldn't have asked for better weather.

Can you believe him?
Our crazy group! After a bit more exploring we went home and had dinner and made s'mores in the fireplace because for some reason you aren't allowed to have open fires, and then the kids went to bed and we had a repeat of the previous night. Then we were up bright and early and headed home the next day. We definitely call the trip a success and hope it is the first of many! Brooke and Travis, thank you so much for planning and inviting us! We are indeed grateful for such amazing friends!Mmmm, s'mores! The whole gang minus sleeping beauty Mary and baby Luke

Friday, September 12, 2008

Five Month Old Mason

Our little tag-along turned 5 months old on Tuesday. What a sweet blessing he has been in our lives! He has such a mellow, peaceful temprament that he adds such joy into each day. He has been babbling and drooling like crazy, he just learned how to blow rasberries, he can roll from his tummy to his back, and he is learning to sit up on his own, although it might be another month or so before he masters that one. The boys are so gentle with him (yes, even Gavin!) and they have competitions to see who can make him laugh the longest. In fact, there have been a couple of days when Cameron gets home from school that they have literally been fighting over who gets to be closest to him. Gavin even includes Mason as one of the "people" in his make believe play with his other little people toys. I often find him downstairs next to Mason's bouncy seat, giving him a kiss because he's "going to work." A day isn't complete until each brother has planted one on those adorable cheeks before bed. Cameron has taken on the role of caregiver and is happy to hold Mason as long as I will let him. He has even fallen asleep in Cam's comfy arms.

Ever since school started, we have tried to get Mason on more of a sleep schedule. For such a laid back little guy, this one sure can cry! I had never put Mason to bed while he was still awake, mostly due to the fact that we were always go, go , go during the summer and at night Jeremy and I loved to have him fall asleep in our arms, but no more! He fought back much harder than I expected and his little voice has been hoarse for days due to the solid two hour blocks of crying/screaming he has endured, but finally success! Last night he didn't even make a peep when I laid him down and for two naps today it has been the same. Hallelujah!

My favorite thing is still to have him all to myself and snuggle him like crazy and I just love that he loves it too! This baby is way more cuddly that Cameron or Gavin, probably due to the abundance of love we have been showering him with. And boy, oh boy does he love to be in the Baby Bjorn carrier, he would be content forever in that thing, which makes errands so much easier. For five whole months we have been lovin' this guy to death, and I can't imagine it any other way. He brings all of us so much happiness.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Suckered into Preschool!

I'm going to sound like the biggest hypocrite in this post after my tear jerker post about kindergarten, but it is what it is... You see, when Cameron was Gavin's age, we had this little co-op preschool with a bunch of kids from church that weren't quite old enough for "professional" preschool. Each mom got a week to teach and we took turns having it at each persons house. Some days were good, some not so much, and I didn't think all of the work was worth what my dear son got out of it all. Fast forward three years. Now Gavin is in exactly the same situation, too young for preschool, but in need of something, especailly now that his older bro is gone every day. And lo and behold, there happen to be several kids in this situation at church again and my friend Angie decides to spear-head another co-op. I said no. I would rather pay to send him somewhere than deal with the hassle of it all. Or even just keep him home with me, have some special time, do a mommy and me class or two. Well, as fate would have it, one of the moms in the group bowed out at the last minute and they needed someone to fill her spot. So after re-thinking the whole thing and making it very clear that at my house the kids might play more than anything else, I agreed to do it again. So far I'm pretty glad that I did because Gavin has been so excited to wear his backpack and go to "school" just like Cameron. Today was the first day and he loved it. From what I can understand from his little two year old brain, they ate marshmallows, read an Elmo book, played with play-dough and got to paint. What's not to love?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kindergartener in the house!

Today was the day... Nothing could delay the inevitable milestone that our family experienced today when our oldest went off to school. Cameron was more than excited to set off on this new adventure, and thank goodness for that, because his mother was a total disaster already! Last night we got his new backpack all ready with the school supplies we had picked out, made his lunch with all of his favorites, and laid out his new "first day" outfit. I am suprised he slept so well with all the anticipation, but this morning he woke up with enthusiasm and energy, which he will need for those seven hours at school. I tried my best not to let my nerves show when I inundated him with advice, "Don't forget your lunch on the bus","Make sure you find the lady with the big penguin when you get to school", "Just raise your hand if you have to go potty", "Make sure you listen really well today because this is the day you'll learn all the rules", etc, etc. He ate a big waffle breakfast and our whole family walked to the bus stop together. I couldn't get over how little he looked with that huge backpack on him, and I got many sympathetic glances from the more experienced moms that were at the bus stop with their older kids. When the bus arrived, I could barely contain my emotion, but Cameron confidently got on the bus and barely looked back. And then they were off and I could finally cry knowing Cam wouldn't be able to see how hard it was for his mom to let him go off into the great unknown and relinquish his care to another. Jeremy laughed at me and then attepted to console me, but nothing could change the fact that this was the beginning of the real growing up part, and my baby was gone.

I met my friend Angie for breakfast, her son Austin is in Cameron's class at school and we mourned together and sat and wondered what our boys were doing at that moment. At least she can empathize with me and how difficult this is! I am counting the hours until he comes home at 4:00. I just hope he gets on the right bus and gets off at the right stop and I'm gonna be a mess until then.