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Sunshine and Sillies

Posted by casey on August 24, 2015 in Family, Life as I Know It

DSC_0017_edited-1Yesterday was the last day of summer.  That’s it. It’s over. Ka-put.

Typically , this means nothing to us, as Texas temperatures stay summer-ish until well, October and our days are dictated by ourselves.  Therefore, over the past five years, we summer-on, well into the months other parts of the country declare to be fall.  But not this year. This year it is school time, for real.  For real, for real.

Our oldest starts Kindergarten.

Yup. The real deal.

Already.

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Our years of homework free, school function obligation, PTA meetings and day to DSC_0297_edited-1day freeness are officially over, tomorrow. I am in mourning.  In mourning of the simplicity that has been being at home with my littles the past five years. Now sure, this is one of the many milestones we have been waiting to reach right, as they are terrorizing the house and making my brain want to explode, but now that it is over, as with most things in life, maybe, just maybe, I will go back to that.  But that is a whole other post.

This is about the AMAZING summer we have had together.  With summer on the horizon I tried to  say “No.” to much and truly let them play, and run, and love, and romp, and relax, and rest and…well you get it, to their heart’s desire. It was a no holds bar, snuggle until you can’t stand it, swim until you are a prune, run around upstairs with each other until your brain turns to mush love-fest.  (With the usual day to day antics, discipline and routine, lets not kid ourselves completely here.)

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What was initially another period of anxiousness, welcoming our third son at the

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Sleepover Ready for Nonna’s

same time their pre-school got out for summer, DSC_0483_edited-1(marking the first time they wouldn’t also have pre-school during summer months since we changed schools with the move) turned out to be such a huge blessing. We have SO enjoyed being all together this summer.  Now, does that mean they have been angelic every.single.day and I haven’t been sleep deprived aDSC_0540_edited-1nd ready to pull my hair out over their tattle-taleing at times, absolutely not.

However, our days have been together and in some ways cementing in what a family of five looks like as we adjusted to adding Archer with everyone home together.

All three boys.All together. All summer.

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The slower paced mornings, where they still wake up at the crack of dawn but siDSC_0835_edited-1mply enjoy being on the couch eating cereal while I feed Archer and yes, having screen time together next to each other are a seared in memory for me now of our early Archer days and our “before real school” days.

The real memory, and blessing while having Archer at home as a new chicken has been how inseparable Caden and Everett are.  Two peas in a pod isn’t close enough for their bodies DSC_0297_edited-1and minds.  Which in some ways, merges their preferences and personalities and desires for their day.  But, I am so thankful they have had this summer before Caden starts his own journey at his own school for two years before Everett joins him there to really weld their bond together and their love as brothers.

Day after day I got to peek in on little moments like this.  Sneaking in to their imaginations in action, their teachings in motion.  A picture here, a superhero costume there, and a whole lot of toys and Legos everywhere.

Everywhere.

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DSC_0340_edited-1And so. I look back on this summer with a lot of appreciation for the family we have made and nurtured.  Last summer I loved that I had a glimpse of independence in them.  This summer I loved that simply, we were together.  We summered hard.  We pooled it every afternoon, we walked every morning, we cooked, we played, we napped, we read, we made crayons…and playdough…and sight word books…and hats…and block buildings galore…and so on and so forth.  We loved big and bickered small.  Mostly.

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I feel like I got to get to know them again without the interruptions of the outside DSC_0454_edited-1world.  It was one of those things I didn’t realized I was missing out on with them being in preschool just a couple days a week year round before and am loving that I had at this particular stage in life.  Once Caden is off to Kindergarten and real school is a regular part of life it may not seem so distinct in my brain having these days, but for this year, it was just what our fDSC_0569_edited-1amily ordered.

Time.

 

With tennis lessons, parties, friends, swimming, sprinkler runs and slip and slides behind us we are blindly looking forward to the adventure of this next school year as we insert ourselves into family life including school from here on out.

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Sweet, sweet, summertime we will miss your simplicity but we are carrying your memories, love and evidence in freckles with us as we forge ahead to a new season of the year and life!

 
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In the Four

Posted by casey on May 6, 2015 in Family, Life as I Know It

Looking back to 2011, I so clearly remember changing our family dynamic from three to four.  So lately, I feel as though my eyes have been zooming in on and recording every bit of our final moments together as a family of four…

waiting to be five.

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As a family of four, we have very much found our groove.  It has been three and a Bluebonnets 005half years so I suppose that should be a given, but that isn’t always the case. There are the ins and outs of keeping things “normal” while shifting and adjusting to accommodate this new little person and the new roles each person takes on.

With Everett, there was a lot of adjusting and accepting and admitting to what we could and could not do with a challenging newborn, infant and well…toddler due to all of his allergies.

Now, there is the making sure that oldest who whether he consciously remembers it or not was an only child at one point, still gets alone time and to feel like that one Bluebonnets 013and only.  Then there is that baby who is no longer the baby but now a big brother too still gets his snuggles, and bedtime love well, some baby time.  Oh yes, and then there is the prepping for the newest little one…though somehow the third time around you know that no matter what you prep and how you organize life is about to get R.E.A.L real, real quick once he arrives.

We have found our groove and our biggest preparation is preparing to be out of that groove for a little while again as we bond and nurture and love and make room for this third little love, our newest baby brother.

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We have been blessed with two very sweet boys who have settled us into being a fBluebonnets 006amily, being parents and have taught us what the real purpose of our life here is.  I think that they are as patient with us as parents as we try (and fail) to be with them.  They understand we aren’t perfect and so easily accept our apologies to them when maybe we are a little to harsh, or fall short on a promise, no matter how small.  I have been amazed at their sympathy to me as I have grown and waddled and have gotten to be a slower version of their mama.  Everett runs to pick up anything he can for me saying “Mommy, you just can’t do Bluebonnets 017that with that big ol’ belly.”  Caden will ask if I need to rest on the couch and then inform me that “You’re just so pretty when you are sleeping.”  Sweetness.  All for their mama who is not always so sweet and understanding to them.  That is what these children give me, a reflection and a reason to continue to grow and adapt and learn.

And so we get ready to do that again. All of us are so ready to meet him.  I think the boys might think he is never coming at this point, which I don’t blame them, and I wonder the same thing on occasion. But we are just ready to see who he is. What will he be?  How will he teach us to love more?  When will he understand his brothers’ love for him?  How badly they want to know him.

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All of the unknowns that you embrace and welcome as you feel their not so welcome (but contradictory grateful for) jabs to your ribs that you know you will miss even as you watch them run around.  How lucky are we?  But really.  We hope and we try and we love and we get to help shape these little people into what we think the world needs while giving them the room to become what they think the world needs.

The Balance of Parenting
And we are about to start the process all over again.

Bluebonnets 025Which means that just like that Caden and Everett will age at least five years in my eyes over the birth of their newest brother and for that, I am not ready.  I spend a little extra time snuggling Everett at bedtime, breathing in the last days of him being “my baby” and every ounce of Caden that isn’t just a helper, and the biggest brother and the “you are old enough to do…” because as I know all too well now, it just goes too fast.  These years that our sleep deprived brains beg to pass for some independence, predictability or organized chaos are gone just like that.  In the big picture of their lives as children and our roles as parents these years are so short and so small and yet so important.  And so here we are…waiting for the any moment addition to our family while breathing in and loving on every moment of our current four.  The final days of what we know as we excitedly await what is in store.

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Hop Hop Hop

Posted by casey on April 27, 2015 in Caden, Everett, Holiday Fun

My two little men enjoyed another fabulous Easter this year that they had been looking forward to in the weeks prior to the actual event.  Their school had beeDSC_0551_edited-1n doing a wonderful job teaching them and prepping them for what Easter is really about and each day they came home with new bible stories, songs and crafts to help us celebrate the day.

With a small egg hunt done at school we all were looking forward to the bunny celebrations of Easter as the weekend came near and they weren’t overloaded with other celebrations.  You see, our boys are VERY lucky because the Easter Bunny makes two stops for them.  Each year, he is so sneaky and leaves them a basket at our house full of fun and goodies and then hops his way to Nonna and Papa’s littering the garden backyard with all the eggs two little boys could desire.  I just love it.

They get to soak up both spots and experiences and make memories that will shape DSC_0507_edited-1what they remember of our family celebrations in the years to come.

As has been the case almost each year, there was a chance of rain Easter morning.  Sure enough when the boys woke up, it was already coming down and quite dreary outside.  Somehow, that didn’t stop our bunny who had delivered their baskets safe and sound to our front porch under the safety of the stoop. But first, before they remembered basket potential, they had noticed and searched for a smattering of eggs they found around the kitchen and living roomDSC_0509_edited-1 which that silly bunny had filled with their favorite cereals!

Sure enough after diving into their cereal eggs they recalled what the bunny had put in their baskets last year, and thanks to Daddy singing our quirky Easter Bunny song that the boys request each night year round it was off to think of where their baskets could be.

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Ta-Daaaaa! Someone saw them!

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Pure delight.
That is what their faces showed. Delight.

DSC_0531_edited-1Our Easter Bunny knows that we don’t eat a ton of sweets around here so he hooked our boys up with some surprises of their very favorite things and wishes.  Almost like a mini stocking full of what their age encompasses each year – coloring book, PJs, flip flops, stretchy bugs, playdough, little readers, superhero fans, light up bouncy balls, yadda, yadda, yadda, and yes…a transformer.  Because what says Happy Easter better than a robot?

Exactly.
Nothing.
At least not to the hearts of five and three year olds.

And so they unpacked, and squealed, and played, and admired, and commented, and traded, and traded back and stashed and saved, and spread out and well, I think you get it.  Happy as two boys who were just spoiled by a bunny that seems to have enough magic to get these baskets full and to them. Amazing.

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It was as it has been the past few years a nice little family morning, quieted by the rain but enlightened by the excitement of their spirits.  They enjoyed their Easter egg cereal, some bunny shaped breakfast concoctions of mine and were set to continue on with their treasures and day.  Knowing that we were going to be going to Nonna and Pa Pa’s shortly for our traditional Easter Brunch and what…egg hunt…for them…they were all geared up for the rest of the day.

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DSC_0586_edited-1With a break in the rain and sprinkling, the boys’ egg hunt was an almost immediate activity upon arrival at Nonna and Pa Pa’s.  After a few bites of snacks of course. As with the house at anytime of the year, or holiday for that matter, Nonna and Pa Pa’s backyard is a picturesque location for the bunny to do his best hiding.  The grass is green, the plants are full, flowers are blooming and there are plenty of nooks and crannies for stashing away those colorful finds.

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The boys were so sweet talking about helping each other and how they could doDSC_0579_edited-1 teamwork and while I thought that would surely go out the window, what do you know, it didn’t. In fact, they both gave each other several eggs when they had already found one like that (Spiderman) or thought the DSC_0569_edited-1other would like a specific color (blue in Everett’s case).  It was one of those little heart-warming sibling moments for me as they dashed about but still thought of the other.

I love that the bunny spreads out the fun and Caden and Everett get to have holiday traditions and memories at both spots.  They always have more than enough eggs to search for and yet still manage to miss a few and require a little coaching from Daddy and Pa Pa as they start to become sparse.  The past two years it has amazed me how well they literally haul around their full buckets, sometimes teetering themselves but not willing to consider an alternative.  Can’t.Slow.Down.     Must. Find.Eggs.

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DSC_0584_edited-1High and low, In and Out, their buckets were filled and their cardio workout was checked off for the day.

They came, they collected and he conquered with glee but the real treat, for the second year in a row, was a live Easter Bunny spotting.  Last year, on our evening walk just as we were approaching our driveway out he hopped from the bushes and into our neighbor’s yard cotton tail and all.  This year, just as we were hunting, Daddy spotted him creeping in the tall grass bushes.

Thinking that he was surely about to make his mad dash to keep himself secret we got the boys attention and what do you know, he hung out for a few minutes (probably trying to best plan his escape).  So the boys crept closer and closer trying to actually get a glimpse of him in his camouflaged hideout when out he came to say hello.

10012043_879832835407352_7343963627224062991_oA perfect little Easter Bunny, showing off his skills.  The boys thanked him as he hopped towards the fence and I remarked at how lucky they were that two years in a row they saw him just after he left his treats for them – what luck!

Caden watched him bound off toward the fence commenting on how much magic that little bunny must have to carry all of these things that he can barely carry and then back to a final scan of the yard and garden for any final remains of Easter fun.

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They delighted in their full buckets and as a parent it was fun to watch them get toDSC_0660_edited-1 another new age and stage where they wanted to open and investigate, “But not eat Mommy, just peek.” all of their finds.

We were able to all enjoy yet another delicious brunch DSC_0649_edited-1and even the weather a little as the rain came and went, came and went, keeping the temperature cool but fine for us to overlook as we ate.

With all of the fun an family time behind us we checked off one more event that would be a last for us as a family of four.  I really tried to soak up what this year looked like for us and how they interact together knowing that next year we will have an almost one year old among the bunch as well to give these two a little competition! With the boys getting to pick out one egg from their bucket after dinner each night, we might still be going through our eggs this time next year too!

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“Again?”

Posted by casey on March 17, 2015 in Caden, Everett, Life as I Know It
First: An Item of Business. If you have been trying to comment and cannot, due to spammers we had to set up a new system.  Please scroll down on the right tool bar to the “register” link.  This will guide you through so that you are able to comment again and we know that you are you and not a robot.  Because who wants robots?

After what we all thought was our annual Texas ice storm with the bonus of an DSC_0019_edited-1actual snowfall we were all prepped and ready to move on with our seasons because that is about as wintery as winter gets in Texas.

With the news outlets all abuzz with the “drama” of the weather that unfolded it was hard to take much of their predictions and scenarios seriously as we continued to look at the weather report.  With the predicted possibility of snowing we went to bed one night and woke up to this…Colorado. Bright Colorado.

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But really, it was blown up against our doors and windows, piled on the patio and in general a white winter wonderland to look at. The real beauty?  No ice.  Just 6-7inches of pure, fresh snow! What?!

DSC_0013_edited-1Colter, unlike most of the working world, made it into work for a scheduled conference that was slightly delayed and he even called saying how strange it was driving in with it being so quiet out and completely and totally covered.  So there you go.

Naturally, the boys didn’t mind much that Mommy had been in Labor & Delivery the day prior and wanted to go play in the snow. Everett in particular.  Caden who remembered that it made him cold initially chose to stay indoors and then quickly changed his mini mind after seeing us “gear up”.  Who was I to tell them we couldn’t go out again to play after the past outings when there wasn’t a spot of ice to be found?

What they discovered in another “first real snow” sort of experience is that they weren’t even cold being bundled up and running around without all of the wind and wetness that accompanies the ice.  They scooped and snow angeled and romped and ran to their heart’s content.  And then one of them turned the snow on Mommy in the drop of a well…shutter.

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Naturally I had to waddle his direction and retaliate.

This was about the time the boys were seeing how easy this snowfall was sticking together.  But not before what you can spot in the background as a little monster digging in the small snow drifts pushed up on the garage.  In true little man style, scoop and toss was his favorite game of the morning.

“Watch this big one Mommy!” “See this big one Mommy?” “I’m super strong Mommy.”

Yes dear, yes you are.

It was a fabulous morning in the snow. I took a few pictures as you can see, then promptly put my camera down inside and spent the next forty five minutes simply being present and participating in their fun, which became my fun.  While I originally told them I didn’t think we would be able to make another snow man without Daddy, we soon learned that this snow was the real deal and our snowman redemption from birthday day was about to come to us.

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For years I have been talking of how no, you really can just roll it and it sticks like in the movies.  But that never happens here…only in Ohio.  Not this year my friends, not this year.  While Caden was hoarding some snow-balls I saw how easily it was compacting and had him make me one. As soon as I sat down and started to roll, I knew our Snowman was going to happen and both boys got right to work rolling away.  Teamwork at its finest. They rolled and I patted and shaped. The result?  Two perfectly sized Caden and Everett snowmen which made for two thrilled little boys.

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I think I should call these their first official snowmen since we haven’t had one of DSC_0023_edited-1substantial size or shape built since I was pregnant with Caden. Ta-Daaaaaaa !!!!

A success indeed.  With all the usual snow activities taken care of, including Caden’s favorite, snow eating we began to wrap it up. It took a long romp before anyone wanted to go inside this day, but when they did, they were satisfied and ready for our now expected after a whopping three/four snow days hot chocolate and bunny grahams.  In we went to de-gear by the door so Thrasher could delight in eating the snow off all of our clothes, de-thaw and revel in our triumph…and then sit on the couch the rest of the day so this baby would stay put.  To which he did.  So it was a win all way around and when you turn around to witness the snowman smooch occurring, you know that you’ve done good and their hearts and memories are full.

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Snow in Love

Posted by casey on March 5, 2015 in Everett, Life as I Know It, Snapshots

When you get to build a snowman,

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sometimes you turn around and catch someone sneaking a smooch.
I wonder if his first heartbreak will be remembered as that time his snow girlfriend went and got the nerve to go and melt on him.

 
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A Whole Hand

Posted by casey on March 1, 2015 in Caden, Caden's Chronicles

My sweet baby boy, the seven pound bundle who made me a mother turned five.
FIVE.

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A whole stinking hand of fingers to hold up.

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Oh my gracious.  My heart is so full.  The proudest of little men waking on his birthday morning Friday knowing that he had full and well moved into a new positionphoto 3 in this world, a five year old.  Love him so…and his baby brother who is trying to figure out why he is on the table. Photo bomb like woah Everett. Moving on.  While I am grateful that my not so little man can still display his age on his fingers, I is a challenge to wrap my brain around this particular birthday knowing that Kindergarten is approaching and his days of the “at home bubble” are drawing to a close.

DSC_0622_edited-1Caden is all boy, all kid these days.  So, when I get a snippet of a needed snuggle, or a little too often still cry-fest from his sensitive heart I am really taking note and taking part in trying to give him just what he needs right then because soon enough he just won’t need it the same anymore.  The days of needing me all the time for everything are long gone, which in many ways is so nice and just what we wait for in those years right?

Independence. A moment to breath. A moment to ourselves.

And then all of the sudden, all too soon that is exactly what you have.

An independent, opinionated, thought-forming, epiphany having child who is takingDSC_0758_edited-1 on the world himself in his own way filling your head with all of the new information he is saturated with from his daily fun-filled, learning centered, carefree life.

“Mommy! Did you know that 3 + 3 = 6?!”
“I need my water. Wah – Wah – Wah, that’s a ‘W’ Mom, water must start with ‘W’.”
“Can I read you a book Mommy? All by myself?”

(he does have a few he can read now filled with all of the sight words we have been working on)

Just this month, in preparation for his second baby photo 5brother he has been learning how to bathe himself.  You know, the details of it.  The, we will run the water and be in here but you do the scrubbing details of bathing.  Because truthfully, we all know that as soon as we start a bath, baby brother is going to want to nurse, have a blowout, need a bouncing session or just well…be crying.  I remember various steps in independence we took before Everett was born too and it is so interesting to see how they do or don’t take to it.

Last Bath at the Old House

Last Bath at the Old House

At first, when it was suggested to Caden via Daddy that he could start washing all on his own we got a resounding “But WHYYYYYYYYYY? Nooooooooo.  I don’t want to do it on my own, how can I?”  It was baffling. The exact opposite reaction from pretty much every other opportunity to do something on his own.  It was humorous a bit to see his concern as if this was a devastating stage of growing up, which in some ways, isn’t it though.  One more thing someone stops doing for you.  But then it clicked.  Mommy and Daddy do this and Mommy and Daddy are really big and I want DSC_0804_edited-1to be big (sidenote: tears…why must they want to be big?) so let’s do this.

A similar recent lesson in growing up.
Shoelaces.

Not in the plan really was switching to tennis shoes with laces only.  But you see there was a moving debacle.  Somewhere between school, sleepovers at Nonna’s and the various last minute bags, baskets, suitcases and yes, boxes Caden’s main tennis shoes have been misplaced.  I am hesitant to say lost, because I am still confident that once he can no longer fit into them at all, we will find and/or unpack them.  I waited and waited, just knowing they would turn up.  Then the weather got nicer (some days) and trips to the park were abundant and we signed up for soccer and…I was tired of hearing about his tennis shoes, so I ordered some more.

They came in, the same size as the others, but his little toes were crunching the ends.  Evidence of that nonstop eating.  Silly to be buying new ones halfway through the year that seem on the verge of being too small, I sent them back for a half-size up.  Sad to see his new shoes go back yet antsy to tear open the next box when it came, he jumped up and down and grinned because “NEW SHOES MOMMY!” …but wait, what is this, it can’t be, what will I do, I will never, no I can’t, this is awful…

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LACES.

I swear to you. Never, in his almost five years of life has he had a meltdown like he had over opening his new shoes and seeing that they no longer had independence friendly Velcro straps across the pseudo laces but real-deal, loop-swoop-and pull laces.  The ease of the world has officially ended and coping is not an option.

MELTDOWN.

be warned: apparently, once you get to 10.5c Nikes, not 10c, it’s laces only.

So drama and tear filled that no reason, no conversation, no anything was getting through and he had to go take a rest so the world could right itself again.  He just wasn’t believing that this was a step forward in childhood. Couldn’t be.  If you think about it, in a logic centered mind like his (thanks to his Daddy) why would going from being able to do it quickly and alone to the confusing task of tying laces be a good thing?

I felt your pain son.  But I also felt the pain of a headache from the meltdown and a hip-ache from squatting next to you while supporting baby brother to rationalize why exactly we could in fact handle this.  Five years old.

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So ready to grow up, but so many little moments of little-ness left.

(I’ll have you know that Caden is now quite proud of his laces only shoes just like Daddy’s and all the other big boys at the park including his newest 8 year old best neighborhood friend who he kind of stalks.  But that is another story.)

Let’s talk about some of those traits of little-ness that are left too. He sweetly still IMG_5290sleeps with his two “snuggle-bears” as he has always called them and I don’t see him parting with those anytime soon.  Unlike his little brother he has had and still has an aversion to the dark and loves having a jar of Christmas lights on, a dump-truck nightlight, a wall nightlight AND a light bear that puts stars on his ceiling.

Still along the lines of bedtime, while he may enjoy helping me read now, he also loves being read to (with his brother…two books…each night) and then always asks if I can lay with him and sing a few songs.  One day he won’t ask, I just know it.  After our goodnights and kisses in response to my “I love you, sweet dreams and sleep tight, ” he instructs me to have a “Tight, tight, tight, tight, tiiiiigggghhhhht rest too.”  Sleep tight. Get it?

Caden has his Daddy’s brain. I just know it.

DSC_0595_edited-1I swear I can actually see those little brain wheels spinning away at any given moment working out the details of any anything really works, functions, plays its part in life…a machine…a story…you get it.  He will figure it out.  He will work it out until it makes sense to him.  He will remember (and use) exactly what you answer him with.  So, we have to be particularly thoughtful about how we answer his questions because he really hangs on to that and reasons with it.  There is no “pulling a shade over his eyes” or going over his head, not that we the most patient parents in the history of the universe would ever, ever, ever attempt to do that to end the endless question string.  But really, I find myself thinking long and hard to give him honest but appropriate questions.  Answers he can roll around and work out the kinks in, but that he can then also report to his friends/family/teachers/parents that are truthful and do make sense to his thirty year old five year old brain.

“Mommy, why does the water when we wash our hands come our hot sometimes and come out cold other times?”

Well son.

You have to turn the handles different ways.  You remember those pipes we saw the workers putting in the ground?  Those pipes take the water into this tank here (water heater).  If we turn the handles that way, the tank heats up the water so it can be hot for us.  If we turn the handles this way it keeps it cold…

“Oh I get it, I know Mommy.  That cylinder changes the temperature of our water and

Showing Off His Schoolwork

Showing Off His Schoolwork

if it comes old cold Mommy, that’s okay Mommy, because that means we didn’t turn the handle to make the cylinder know that it needs to heat it up super hot.  So it’s okay Mommy, it can still do it if we want it to.  But Mommy?  If it gets too hot, will it explode and then we will have to call the firefighters because our alarm will go off and we will need a rescue?”

Yup…if he is satisfied, the conversation usually ends in something exploding.

Boys.

DSC_0572_edited-1But there is also another tidbit of current Caden in that conversation.  His worrier heart has been highly concerned about alarms as of late.  Where are they, when will they go off, how loud will they be, who will come, how will we know etc. Lots of reassuring on the subject of alarms.

Also lots of reassuring on the subject of God and Heaven and life these days.  I can’t be sure, but if he doesn’t end up being an engineer he just might end up being a minister.  His heart is so very spiritually inclined, which I think matches up with the sensitivity and gentleness of his nature. He has so enjoyed his Christian pre-school introductions and lessons and has also really used this to make sense of his world. He loves to tell us the different Bible stories he learns in Chapel and how they apply to the world or spontaneously drop to his knees to pray.

Yup.  Like in the middle of the stairs.photo 1

“I’m just praying to God Mommy.  I’m thanking him for all the stuff.”

I try my best not to giggle, because it is a fantastic trait and something I am glad he feels comfortable leaning on or turning to, but it is just so darn cute.  One day recently at the park, we were talking about what I nice day it was and he said, “Oh I know Mommy, you see this sunshine and these trees, and those blue sky clouds and the birds and this playground?  God made all of this Mommy because ‘God created the heavens and the Earth, Genesis One One’ (Genesis 1:1).”

Apply to life.
That is what he does.

And then there is this side of him…

photo foxThe sillies.

The noise-making, face contorting, imaginative, giggling, innocent filled giddy boy.

All Dressed and Ready for the Wedding of "Q and U" at school.

All Dressed and Ready for the Wedding of “Q and U” at school.

I am so proud of the heart this one has.  He is certain to be a class act, a gentlemen and a good citizen because he already carries these intentions in his almost five year old heart.  He holds the elevator open for everyone else to get out first every day at school, his please, thank yous and apologies are automatic, and his manners towards other adults and teachers are always evident.  That whole “so long as he takes our lessons and knows to use them outside of this home” when he is driving me bananas not listening, having attitude or being a mopey man mess at home is there.  What he tries to get away with at home he does not try to get away with outside of and wouldn’t dare try.  Not this child.

Message Sent.

I pray for the woman who steals his heart.  I pray that she care for him and love him and still lets me in because walking home from the park last week, he stopped his scooter, looked up at me waddling and not at DSC_0897_edited-1what I might consider looking my best and stated, “Mommy, you are the most boo-tee-full (beautiful) girl in the whole world.”  My heart swelled and his spontaneous affirmation of love and at knowing that one day, one day he will feel this away about a different girl.  For now though, at five, it is me and our family that holds his loving heart and is setting his mark…and his expectation for breakfast feasts.

This year, from four to five has been full.  It has overall been full of happiness, sillies, immense learning and growth.  The challenges such as repeating yourself fourteen times until you have to raise your voice to get your point/question/statement across have been much smaller than the joys that this age and stage has brought us.  Caden has been a whirwind of realizations, self made jokes, questions, affection and independence this year which has been really something to watch as a parent to our first-born.

photo bdayAs  the video games begin to take over, I can only hope that year five to six be as good to us as this past has been and that he holds strong to his heart and little man convictions as this next year will bring an end to the bubble of home and a beginning to the outside influences and input of all that is “big kid school”.  He is such a sweet, confident and now social young man already that we cannot wait to see him thrive in this next year, as he is setting the bar very high for his younger brothers, just as we knew he would.

Birthday Cookies He Helped Supervise for School

Birthday Cookies He Helped Supervise for School

Happy 5th Birthday Caden!

 
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The Wrap Up {Eve}

Posted by casey on January 12, 2015 in Caden, Everett, Holiday Fun
Headed to bed for Santa!

Headed to bed for Santa!

Christmas this year can be listed under the same adjectives that I have used in years past; busy, chaotic, memorable and mostly, magical.  The boys were filled to the brim with activities, family time, stories, songs, celebrations, snuggles, treats and yes…spoils.  I worked very hard this year among the final weeks of new house building prep, this house being on the market/selling and packing up to be very intentional about what I chose to do with them this year and when.  Not everything all the time, but a few things when the time was right and you know what, we still made more memories and had more outing fun than I could have predicted.

Since next year we will have another new mini family member with us, embracing just our two boys this year and their perfect age for all things Christmas and magic was such an enjoyable experience as a parent.  Soaking up their excitement while containing it and allowing myself to just watch them just as they are.

DSC_0237_edited-1Christmas Eve we continued this year as a quiet night at home with just us and Nonna and Pa Pa.  Since my family no longer lives here to continue that celebration we started an easy takeout approach that allows us all to have a night-off, the boys to mill about while still being together.

Since we are also spoiled to having Colter’s parents to ourselves in town it is also nice to celebrate a little with them before the family filled days are on us that we so look forward to!  We wisened up this year and started allowing the boys to open gifts from extended family (so as to clear room for Santa of course) earlier that afternoon so they would have time to actually play with them as they opened.

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DSC_0242_edited-1I think we really got the hang of the timing and letting everyone just do their thing this year as their excitement started to peak after all of the counting down and waiting.  The boys were amazed at the generosity of their Pop and Nana and Uncle Drew and Auntie Jess both in Florida who re-filled their toy closets with board games, movies, magnet tiles, legos and Captain America helmets.  Auntie Laura in California sent them a Batmobile and oversized Imaginext dinosaur with rocket arms. Boy heaven? I think so.

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Nonna and Pa Pa even brought a little pre-Christmas Day gift to help spread out theunnamed onslaught of flying wrapping paper allowing the boys to take their “Alpha Team” Hide and Seek with Daddy to a new level with some mini nerf “shooters”.  So as you can tell, the big man in red has an even trickier job to carry out to get them just the right, on their list, but not overlapping surprise thanks to all of the love and showering from our families which we all SO appreciate.

 

The interesting tradition after the Christmas Eve opening is bringing out my family’sDSC_0242_edited-1 tradition (and many others) of new jammies just before bath-time.  You never know what the reaction will be after they just opened up “fun things”. Ha!  My hope is that it is a silly and sweet thing they know to depend on each year just as we did.  We would go and get in the shower even as teenagers pretending to not know that Mom was going to leave a box of fresh cozy PJS for us on our bedroom floor. So for now, it is their “one last box”  This year, Everett was pretty stoked, since I threw in a dinosaur/dragon robe that matched their slippers Jingle brought them.

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They were perfectly precious in plaid with their robes and teddy bears more than ready to hit the hay (after reading “The Night Before Christmas” of course) so that they could at long last make it to Christmas Day.  We were so impressed that they did in fact go right to sleep since there were many questions about when exactly Santa would arrive, would it be scary that he sneaks in (totally legit question by the way) and would they ever in fact get to see him.

And so just like that, the cookies were chosen and laid out, the milk was poured, the prayers were said and then the Jingle Bells of St. Nick rang over our house filling it with magic, surprises and a  lot of family love.

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Checking it Twice

Posted by casey on December 22, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Holiday Fun

We met and mingled with Santa, so then we had to get down to business.

Santa letters.

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Last year was our first official year to write letters.  Caden mapped out his simple request of “Santa, Scooter please. Caden”, and Everett drew lots of pictures and stickers to be sure Santa knew of him too.  This year was a little more in depth and the first year for them to both get their wants across.  With two writers on our hands now, both requiring some assistance Mommy was all brain on deck going back and forth to help them spell and sort out their messages.

DSC_1082_edited-1A few days prior the boys and I were doing our morning letter practice and they wanted to practice writing “Santa”.  So, they had that part down.  Caden, had requested lines on his Santa letter paper like his school papers so that he knew where to write and with a few blank papers to write out words for them to copy in front of us, crayons and stickers we were set to go.

We got our “Dear Santa” out, and then it was decision time.  What did they in fact DSC_1084_edited-1want (and in limited paper space please).  They had been talking about their wishes for awhile but putting down on paper was almost too much commitment.  So we chatted.  As they thought out loud the same items came up and were summed up in their four and a half and three year old minds.

What I love most (and frustrated Caden at times) is their “mistakes” on their letters.  The cross outs and adjustments made that really show their age and their hearts.  Both boys put all of their finger strength and concentration into their letters as seen by their broken crayons and tongues sticking out!

The result? Toddler and Kid Eloquence.

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Santa, Bow & Arrow, Kitchen Please. Everett
photo 2Dear Santa, I Want a Bow & Arrow, $ Machine (aka cash register)
and a big book please. Caden

DSC_1087_edited-1They were written, decorated appropriately with stickers galore and then the finale, signed, sealed and delivered to the mail.

Check it off our list and hope Santa DSC_1091_edited-1 - Copychecks it on his twice because these two boys are convinced they have been nothing but nice.

DSC_1098_edited-1The letters were sent and the waiting began but knowing that they had done their official work helped us all know what we hoped might be under our tree this very year.  And if you recall from Jingle’s second week with us, we even got a little sign of why our letters weren’t in our mailbox the next morning when they ran out in PJs to check!

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Jingle must have taken them to the North Pole!
Phew. I am sure glad someone is on top of it.

T-Minus two more nights left until we get our cookies and stockings ready!

 
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Believe

Posted by casey on December 21, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Family, Holiday Fun, Life as I Know It

Sometimes you get a surprise that just might make you BELIEVE.

At the beginning of December, we took our two well rested boys over to a friend’s home for a little pre-holiday gathering to kick off the post-Thanksgiving pre-Christmas season of fun and festivities.  While playing outside I heard a little rumor that a special visitor was on his way to check right on in with our littles.

DSC_0911_edited-1The look on their face alone when they heard he was coming.

And then then the grins and giggles when the man in red himself showed up and bellowed a bug “Ho, Ho, Ho” right at our boys with sleigh bells in hand.

Sometimes all you need is a simple introduction.

meetingsanta

Maybe a nice chat.

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DSC_0790_edited-1You know, just the basics, your Thanksgiving dinner, the weather, how are those reindeer, what kind of birthday party you had, what kind of birthday party your brother is going to have, your dog’s names and oh yeah…a few brief requests for Christmas surprises.

The basics right?

(Notice Everett’s priceless step -stool, Santa’s boot.)

And if you are really lucky, really, really lucky, maybe you even get a hug.

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 Magic.

DSC_0797_edited-1This could not have been any more perfect of a set up for our boys, it was spontaneous for them and just silly enough to believe that he might have actually heard they were there and stopped by to say hello.  Santa was so nice to us all and even told the boys about his kitten back at the North Pole. Kitties name? Snowball of course.

We watched our boys go up to Santa and back up to Santa and back up to Santa as some of the wee little ones were not so delighted with his presence.  They went from elated to confident, as if they were old friends, to shy when it came time to decide what SantaDSC_0826_edited-1c should bring them.  Caden who has been adding to his mental Santa list for some time and was quite chatty froze up and could only manage a shoulder shrug and bashful grin as if asking for something was surely too much at all.

And just like that, the Christmas season was underway and our Santa encounter was done.  We had smiles and stories at bedtime of their experience and memories of magic with the man who really does come to houses so it seems.

With homework to mail our letters just in case he forgets our chats assigned we set off to make this past month another great Christmas of celebration.

Thank you to Justin and Charlotte for having us over, what a shame it would have been to miss such a lucky surprise!

 
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Jingle the Elf 2014 {Week Two}

Posted by casey on December 14, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

Another busy week of fun for our family as Jingle made his way around the house each morning. Caden is quite the expert “Jingle-Finder” this year making me wonder if his hiding spots are going to get any trickier!

Poor Jingle must have had a crash landing on his way back from the North Pole!  He seemed to make do with some candy cane crutches, Christmas band-aids and domino splints which were all a big hit with our boys!  We were sure to give him lots of rest this day so he could better and make it back to the North Pole.

Clearly Jingle didn’t want to be left out of the crew.  Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael helped gear Jingle up for some Ninja lessons and boy were we surprised!  Teenage Mutant Ninja Jingle!

It appears that Jingle knows how many giggles his secret sleepovers get out of our boys each year.  What would you think if you woke up to find a little elf taking a snooze in your room with a blanket, pillow and snuggly like yours?!

Jingle most definitely hears Everett’s sweet requests for Jingle to rest in his room too, so after his flight back from Santa he swapped his blanket and snuggly for one just like Everett’s and tip-toed in his room under the tree to feel at home.

Choo-Choo!  Who doesn’t want to go for a ride on the Polar Express is the real questions?!  A Christmas tree train ride to show us one of the season’s favorite movies that we hadn’t watched yet this year.

Poor Jingle took a little spill off of the Polar Express or Everett couldn’t resist and touched him yesterday and had to stay an extra day at the North Pole to get his magic back.  It is a good thing he sent from photos from the North Pole showing that he was there and not only that, but he had delivered our letters to Santa straight from our mailbox to the jolly man himself!

I mean, there are only 11 days left Jingle, I guess you were right and we better get to baking!  Since he was ready to go, and the proper attire was all laid out, cookie making at 7:00 a.m. was the only obvious option to meet this request!

Knowing Jingle always has some tricks up his little red sleeves but that he also has some family favorites like the sleepovers definitely keeps us on our toes as to what the last week and a half will hold!

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