Site Meter

Monday, December 10, 2012

A few celebrations...

Look at my sweet little turkey
First, Thanksgiving.  It was our year to see my family on Thanksgiving - we usually trade out - and we went to my aunt and uncle's farm in Childersburg.  It was such a gorgeous day and so nice to see family and let the kids run and play.
Uncle Jim took the boys on a long golf cart ride all over the farm
Then they came back and went fishing
The "big kid" cousins 
Posing with his GiGi
And loving on their favorite Pop Pop
We even made it for a quick dinner in Andalusia
The day after Thanksgiving we were able to get a real tree for the first time in our marriage!  We finally have a space and a car big enough.  Heath was hesitant at first, but we have loved it!  We got it from some local Boy Scouts (Briarwood of course:)), and we were able to get a good one before they were all picked over.  Well, I mean it was still November!!  We decorated the day after Thanksgiving and the day of the Iron Bowl, and it has been so nice to enjoy the decorations for weeks and weeks.  However, I don't know that we will ever be this ahead of the game again so I am trying to enjoy it!

We let the boys decorate our artificial tree upstairs, and they have loved playing with the ornaments and such.  Such a balance with the Santa, tree, stockings and tying it in to the real meaning.  But their school is helping.  Today Turner begged to go to Jesus' birthday, and we had to go to our chocolate Advent calendar to count down the days, so maybe he is getting it?!  Doubtful but still so fun in this season!
My Pinterest projects - the Christmas card board is already full now.  I love getting Christmas cards!!
We started a new family tradition/Christmas celebration the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  We went to the North Pole Express. So fun!!
It is a train ride in Calera, AL
The kids dressed in their Christmas pajamas - look at the BFFs here laughing with each other
And Turner wouldn't give me a normal smile all night, but I just couldn't get enough of them in their cute pajamas, monogrammed by aunt Stacy

Waiting in line with our buddies Brooks and Read - they were SO excited, even though we weren't on the same train with them

Can you spot Collins?  She is oddly comfortable like that

Our train conductor was so so nice!  It was about an hour round trip and he called Collins "Trouble" when she walked on - please notice Turner's awesome smiles, ugh!

He liked her, but kept promising she would fall asleep because the train ride was at 6:30.  Of course she did not sleep a wink.  There was way too much excitement as we approached the North Pole!  We saw the North Pole in lights, and then stopped there while Santa and Mrs. Claus visited all of the cars.  Luckily we brought snacks and there was a man singing Christmas carols, which John Burke is ALL over by the way!  We were the last car, but finally we got to see Santa!!

This ride is done very well.  So many kind volunteers helping along the way - our favorite (besides Santa of course) were the elves that passed out cookies and chocolate milk and a magical key and an ornament.  The boys were SO excited!!

Collins just stared and giggled
I thought it was wonderful and every single day since John Burke has asked to go back and see Santa at his house.  I am not kidding, every day.  When we were leaving Heath mentioned maybe we could do this every other year, but I don't think the boys are going to let him forget!  And since we bought the tickets in early August, I might have to just mark my calendar again.  So worth it, we highly recommend!

Our final celebration was that Turner and York turned 4!!  Well, Turner already had his birthday, and York's is next week, but close enough!  This was one of the only pictures I had of them in all of the chaos.
Evan and I decided to have a small party for the boys this year.  With everything else going on and sibling birthdays around the same time, we decided to try and downplay their party as much as possible.  York had one good buddy from school and Turner had 2 and then cousin Blake was a mutual friend, since he used to go to school with York.  (You know, all the way back in 2K??!)  Anyway, when you add the cousins and such we had about 12 kids.  We decided to do a camp out in the backyard.

It was definitely geared for 3 and 4 year old boys.  Notice the guns!
We roasted marshmallows and made s'mores and had pizza (we were going to grill out, but I didn't want anything to take Heath's attention away from the madness!)  We rode riding toys and even had a "hunt" for animals.  The party favors were the red bandannas on a stick.  Inside there were guns with "bullets", a headlamp and some army necessities like a knife, walky talky, binoculars, etc. I love giving a party with Evan (or doing anything, really) because she is so creative and fun!

She made that board of animals to show the kids what to look for and Wes had hidden them around the backyard

The weather was definitely mild and in our favor...not sure what we would have done otherwise!  These kids needed the outside!

Action shot of the "hunting' with guns and headlamps

Even the girls had fun - and the dads (notice the beverages :) - is that redneck?  Oh well, fun nonetheless)

The pizza picnic in and around the tent in camo

Joyriding in one of the Jeeps

And the jumpy was set up too, though it didn't exactly fit in the camping theme.  Who cares?  Entertainment!!

Collins helped herself to an entire piece of pizza - and aunt Stacy tried to introduce her to a bow

"No you crazy aunts, I am BALD!"

A few army-themed cupcakes (beautifully created by Evan and myself) - look who Uncle Derek caught while others were hunting outside.  No shame.

Happy Birthday York and Captain Photogenic!  I can't believe y'all are four!!  We love you!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The ABCs of Thanksgiving

"Be joyful always, pray continually and GIVE THANKS in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

My little turkeys - best I could get:)

I looked back to see what I wrote last year, as I thought this was annual on my blog at Thanksgiving time.  But last year was the worst Thanksgiving on record because Heath's mom died and life sort of took a hit.  But, alas, the Lord has refreshed and renewed us in 2012 and here is what I am thankful for - some trivial, of course...

A - Auburn - Wow, not makin' it easy for me this year, especially this close to the Iron Bowl.  Part of me wishes I could give up on my Tigers, but every time we pull into the city limits, the memories flood and I just smile!  So many fun times, growing times and memories - so much more than a football team, thankfully :)

B - Bible Study - I have been trying to be regular at a Thursday bible study, and I have really enjoyed it.  God really uses Mary, the teacher, as she pores over His word and shares it with us.  Such a blessing!  And Heath is in a Bible Study that he has been in for years now, and it is a wonderful group of brothers in Christ and friends/fellowship for us!
Look who is getting some hair!  But not one tooth yet...
C - Collins Girl - I love having this little nugget.  She is so sweet and giggly and patient, with all of the antics of both brothers, but especially John Burke.  She is not crawling yet and I am not very worried, in fact I fuss at her teachers when they try to practice with her.  She will fall in line like my other 2, they take a while to sit up and then don't crawl very long before they walk.  I am thankful every day when I can plop her down somewhere and she stays!  She loves to eat, loves to watch things around her, and lets me dress her however I want.  My little doll - I have a feeling that will not last very long:)  What a blessing!  And lately she says "hey" (sometimes in context), "Dah Dah" and "Guh."  She is a genius.  Oh yeah, just this week she taught herself to clap and I haven't gotten tired of it yet!  She is so proud of herself!
Working on "homework" a few weeks ago with his favorite food next to him

D - Drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A - Heath and I need to tally up how often we go.  Lately I have been trying to eat better, but I cannot give up my large tea.  Delicious and gives me energy and can turn a day around.  The ladies there continue to love my boys and now my little girl, and tonight they looked surprised when none of their "friends" that work there were there, and they did not get red carpet rolled out for them.  Ridiculous.
His baby doll
Making her pretty 
Climbed on the counter and was fixing her bottle when I found him
E - Extra brotherly love - This guy loves his sister.  When John Burke was born, Turner was only 16 months old and DID NOT notice his brother.  He didn't react badly, just sort of indifferent.  Knowing Turner better now, of course that is how he reacted.  I know I have mentioned it on here, but I never want to forget how much John Burke adores his sister.  He calls her "his baby" and "Caw-wins" and "pwitty guhl".  Every morning he crawls into her bed and insists "I not wake her - her already wakey wakey."  But she is smiling so big and laughing so loud that I can't make myself stop him.  Last week he picked out a toy stroller and before we could get it unwrapped all the way he was trying his hardest to get her in it.  And I let him, for a minute.  But not to forget Turner, I walked in on him today tucking her into my bed, under the covers and saying "Look at my pretty Collins girl."  She laps it up!
Our family with our friends the Bennetts at the beach this summer

F - Friends and Family - Heath and I thrive on relationships.  We are so so blessed with wonderful friends and family - siblings, in-laws, parents that love us and our children even when we don't deserve it!  We saw this as everyone took care of us last year through Heath's mom's sickness and God provided hands and feet to carry us through it!  We are blessed to have so many awesome people to "do life" with.
Pop Pop came to their Thanksgiving program the other day because he is supposedly retired
G - GiGi and Pop Pop - My parents are such fun grandparents, and I am so thankful for the chance to watch them with my children and the other cousins.  They are so helpful and my kids light up around them!

H - Heath - This year was our 8 year anniversary, and we have been together for 11.  I don't always love sappy blog posts, but I must say I have seen this man go through Hell and back and grow stronger and deeper through it.  God has blessed me with a wonderful husband and father and leader, and I am thankful daily for Him, and should tell him more often!  Trying to keep him from having a big head:)
Daddy watching t.v. with his boys

I - Ipad - Well we actually had our Ipad stolen this year, and Heath found a way to weasel us into getting a newer Ipad 3.  Hmm.  Anyway, it used to be a great tool for the kids to play on, but now mysteriously it is only home when Heath is.  But, it is in much better shape than the other one was!  And, I have been grabbing it and catching up on t.v. shows such as New Girl and Scandal (obsessed with both!) when I can pry it out of his hands.
He sang "I'm a little turkey, fluffy and round."  There were 3 songs total and in between each he yelled up to me in the balcony and waved.  He didn't care that there were hundreds of people in there with us, he zoned in on me and Daddy.  Sweet and funny, but it made me sweat.

J - John Burke - I said today that 2 is the longest age.  This cat JUST turned 2 and a half, and he hasn't been "terrible" - just a mess in general.  At any age.  I love him to pieces.  He wakes up snuggly and is shameless about being held.  But I try to every chance I get, because I know this time is so fleeting.  I feel like I am always taking pictures in my mind so I won't  forget what they are saying or how they are relating to each other - not always well :)  Like I mentioned, he is VERY into Collins and feeding her, swinging her, bringing her toys, etc.  But I watched him in her classroom and he was like that with all of the babies.  And I forget when you are 2 that you don't think of babies as that, they are more truly like friends to him.  So he sometimes loves too hard, but I really see a compassion that I haven't seen in Turner - just totally different kids!  He loves school, can adjust to any teacher well and is fiercely loyal to Heath.  Will drop me like a bad habit when he hears his car pull in.  I am working on him watching t.v., because he is a perpetual wanderer and I look forward to the day he will sit still and NOT draw on sheets, walls, car windows, etc.  So thankful for him.

K - Keeping up with friends from every phase of life through facebook, texting, emails, blogs, Instagram.  So nice to feel like I talk to them daily, even if I don't get to.  Thankful for technology, though it can be distracting and time consuming, so I need to work more on moderation.
Running around in the driveway
Heath's favorite part of the new house
L - Leaving our old house!  We have almost been in this house a year, and I NEVER look back.  We have so much more space and neighbors we adore.  God blessed us immeasurably with this house this year!  We have space to retreat to, inside and out and that is so nice!
M - MeMe - As we come up on the anniversary of her death Saturday, we are thankful for our MeMe and her life every day.  Almost daily the boys talk about her and smile, young enough to escape most of the sadness and remember how much she loved them!
Miss Cynthia with her little Peanut, as she calls her
John Burke with his love, Kina, at an Auburn game this year
N - Nursery - Where would I be without our church's nursery?  Every year I am more and more thankful for the ladies that care for my children.  Daily they are loved on, fed well, cleaned (my ladies downstairs tend to give me lessons on childcare, because they know I need it).  They are family to us and keep me sane more than I even realize!

O - Overwhelming Love of our Father - God has remained steady and loyal and Loving and our Rock even as situations have taken us all over the place over this last crazy year especially.  Even when we wouldn't or couldn't, he graciously calls us back to Him and His loving arms.  Thank you, Father!
The boys and cousin Ellie
P - Pap - Heath's dad is such a fun grandfather and spoils my boys (and of course Collins) so much!  He is another that we ask about and ask to see daily, and when they see him, their faces light up.  He also has a new friend that we adore and they have been going on many adventures together.  God is healing him and all of us in the neatest ways!

Q - Questions - I need to write down the questions and comments that I get all of the time from my 2 and 3 year olds.  Like I said, we talk about MeMe and Heaven a lot, and I can tell they are learning a lot from school by the things they say.  The other day in the car John Burke was singing "Zaccheus was a wee little man...he climbed up in a tree...but he didn't see GOD!"  Close enough.  We get a lot of non-spiritual questions as well, like where Frannie (the dog down the street) is or if we can go to Target or if Leo, Raph, Mikey, and Donny (the new version of Ninja Turtles) have mommies and daddies.  Oh to be a fly on the wall to "normal" with toddlers.  Never a dull moment!

R - Running - My crazy BFF Evan has gotten me back into running with her.  Living next door, we are able to meet up almost every night and run together.  I have caught the "running bug" and really enjoy it now!  I was a stellar runner back in junior high and high school - ha - and have enjoyed it off and on over the years, but my trainer Evan has gotten me back serious about it!  Thankful for our health mostly when I think about this aspect.

S - Safety - I don't thank the Lord enough for the big and small ways He keeps us safe and directs our paths daily.  Beyond blessed for a Sovereign Father to protect and draw us back to His will.
Turner as a "little Indian" for his Thanksgiving program Friday

T - Turner Bug - I can't believe he is almost 4 in about 2 weeks.  However, to see him he is quite tall and looks around 5, so it will be nice for him to sort of catch up.  He is my child for sure - a few problems with authority at school, but loves going and his teachers are wonderful and patient with him. He is not like me in the sense that he is oblivious to what goes on around him.  I don't get juicy updates or even names of friends in his class.  He simply doesn't care or notice.  I guess that will be good one day.  Good thing John Burke will be nearby his whole life to hopefully keep me in the loop?!  Turner always wakes up in a good mood in the morning, he is overall cheerful.  I am hoping age 4 will help some of these random fits - usually brought on by late afternoon tiredness but sometimes just for the heck of it.  I love to watch him pray at dinner, and how passionate he is over every little thing - Ninja Turtles, George, PBS shows (that do not seem that exciting), Transformers, etc.  And I love that all of his friends are his "best friends."  No concept of BEST, but that is kind of nice.  He is not usually exclusive of others and though rowdy, is generally kind hearted.  He loves Burke Burke and Collins and the other night he said "All of us are best friends - Daddy, Mommy, Burke Burke and Collins.  Her just doesn't talk yet."  A mess.

U - Uninterrupted naptime - Every day for the most part, Collins and John Burke still take wonderful 2-3 hour naps.  At the same time - Hallelujah for that!  So late afternoons when we are in routine are a great break for me, and I am truly thankful for that.  Time to regroup, read, send emails, check the computer, watch excellent television :), rest.  And Turner stays either in his room or the den watching t.v. or playing with his toys.  He leaves me alone long enough, and it is a nice escape before hectic dinner time.  Thank you, Lord for time to regroup!

Before I paint the picture of daily leisure, I run into this situation quite a bit.  My boys love to pull up a chair and take matters into their own hands.  Busted. 

V - Viewing - television to relax or inform, but mostly pictures for memories.  I started the year off printing a bunch of pictures because we had moved, and I need to do another round.  So fun to have space to put these up, and the boys will walk around with them and recite memories.  I don't want to get lazy about that, I need to keep the photos going.  Turner also loves to look at past pictures on the computer - he just came in my room about an hour ago to try and do just that.  So thankful for memories.

W - Words with Friends and Scramble with Friends - so silly, but I love to play these games on my phone.  Heath may call it an addiction, but I don't time his Twitter surfing, so we keep said addictions at bay:)
Turner with his terrific, patient teachers

X - the eXperience of "Big School" - Turner goes to our Day School at church 3 days a week and John Burke goes 2.  They each have fabulous teachers that God picked just for their little personalities and I love what all they are learning and doing.  John Burke loves to sing and I love walking in on him with tidbits of songs.  The other day he was in my closet singing "Who built the ark?  Noah, Noah."  I tried to sing with him but he quickly shut that down.  His turn.  And Turner and John Burke both have a strong grasp on God and that He made them and loves them.  To have teachers that find my toddlers where they are and get on their level, I am so very thankful for!

Y - Yacht - as in Land Yacht, our suburban.  Today is the one-year anniversary of buying our Suburban.  I am SUCH a soccer mom (without the soccer yet), but I really love it.  I feel like I can conquer anything with my big car, and that is a little sad to write I guess, but it is the little things, right?!  I can strap my 3 in, they can watch a movie or listen to a c.d. and I can feel less frazzled!  God has blessed us with this sweet bus in this phase of life, and I am appreciative.  Side note - we still get visits from the old Jeep as a friend of our neighbor Wes bought it.  Wow, that makes me love third row seating.
Side view - used it this weekend to tie a headboard on to the top.  Awesome.

Z - the Zoo - We have gone so much this year and the kids love it every time.  John Burke loves every animal, and Turner loves to run and play and explore (tried to go home with another family a couple of times ago - he just welcomed himself into their stroller club and I found him near the trains.  Luckily they looked after him!!
So thankful for my turkeys!!