Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kids Say the Sweetest/Funniest/Most Heart-Wrenching/Creative Things

We have a Christmas post coming, I promise. We just have to go through pictures and all that good stuff. But, I thought I'd do this post because it basically writes itself and there were getting to be too many to remember. This is a post of notable things Patrick has said recently. He's always been chatty but lately he's been saying more and more things that are completely unprompted or more mature than we're used to him being and it's catching us off guard. These are some of the quotes from the last couple weeks:

  • While staring at the Christmas tree we just brought in the house: "When we go to God's house we should say thank you for this beautiful tree."
  • While getting ready to go upstairs for bath, stories and bed: Hugs the tree (as best he can) and says, "Good night tree. Your branches are so lovely. I'll see you in the morning."
  • After a very busy and present-filled Christmas day, I laid Patrick down in his bed and said "Merry Christmas sweet boy", to which he whispered back, "Merry Christmas Dad. Now go to sleep so Santa can come again." I then told Angie and we prepared ourselves for a very disappointed little boy in the morning.
  • First time he picked up his new guitar at home he yelled "Let's rock this room!" Let it be known that we have never said "Let's rock this room" in front of him (or possibly at all, but I can't commit to that level of certainty). He'll also sometimes say "I'm ready to rumble" lately and we don't know where that came from either.

  • Debilitating conversation while getting Patrick dressed today:
    Patrick: Dad, who gave me my train set?
    Me: Grandma and Grandpa did buddy.
    Patrick: Who gave me this house?
    Me: Um, Mommy and Daddy.
    Patrick: Who gave me you, Dad?
    Me: Well...ummm...(stammering for an easy answer)
    Patrick: Maybe God.
    Me: That's exactly right. God did.
    Patrick: Yea, He brought you to me.
    Me: That's right, Patrick. He brought me to you and you to me.
    Patrick: I'm glad He did. I love you.
    Me: ...
  • Disclaimer: This one is probably only funny if you were there, seeing his furrowed brow and his head shake slowly back and forth; but I was there and I want to remember being there, so I'm putting it here.The other night Angie and I had some banana pudding for dessert while Patrick had some Jell-O. He wanted to try the pudding though so we tossed a spoonful on top of his Jell-O. After a few minutes, I looked over at him and noticed he was just staring at it and then he mumbled to himself, "I'm not sure about this. This...pudding in my Jell-O cup...*long pause*...I don't know about this."
  • This last one really isn't a quote but just makes me happy. After lunch today, while cleaning up the dishes and hosing Maddy off, I kept hearing Patrick in the other room say things like "And that bump made us jump!" He would come into the kitchen every once in a while and say "Why are you sitting there like that?!" then walk out. After I had cleaned up, I walked to the front hall to see what he was doing and found him like this...

    Now that I was close enough to hear him, I realized he was reciting and reenacting the entire The Cat in the Hat book. He had dragged his chair from the other room to set it up by the front door just like Sally and Dick in the book and was staring out the window saying "Sun did not shine...too wet to play...we sat in the house the cold cold wet day."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cabin Christmas

This last weekend we headed up to the cabin to celebrate Christmas with the Suskays. As always, we had a blast. I don't think I ever stopped eating. I tell myself that I was just making up for not eating at Thanksgiving, but really, I would have eaten just as much even if I stuffed myself last month.

Watching Patrick and Madelyn was super fun this trip. It's the first time at the cabin that Madelyn's been old enough and mobile enough to really move around and enjoy it. Now that she's starting to walk a little (video to come, I promise) she felt even more independent. Everywhere she went she seemed happy to be there and ready to smile at or cuddle with the closest person. She loved looking at the tree, touching all the ornaments, watching the fire, rocking in the chairs, bundling up to go outside, chasing Beau and, of course, playing with her new toys.

Patrick had a great time as well. He was so excited the whole weekend about every detail of Christmas that was happening. It took him five minutes to even start opening his first present because he was so excited and couldn't stop bouncing around. You'll notice in the picture gallery that there are a few pictures where his feet aren't even on the ground because he's jumping up and down. Ang and I are really having so much fun watching Patrick experience Christmas this year. He loves every bit of it and we can't help but love the season that much more because of it.

Rather than bore you with typing every second of the weekend, I'll let the pictures do the talking...because, I think we may have taken a picture of pretty much every second of the weekend. You can check out the slideshow below or go view the whole gallery here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Songs in the Key of Patrick

Tuesdays are the worst. I know conventional wisdom teaches us that Mondays are the day of the week to dread, but honestly, I disagree. Monday? I see that comin'. I've had the whole weekend to rest up. I've usually had a bunch of family time so I'm in a great mood too. I wake up Monday and I'm ready for it. It's a fresh start to a new week, and I like that. But Tuesday? Ugh. The worst. When it comes to Tuesday, well, I've just been through a Monday. Not only that, but it's still so early in the week that it feels like an eternity till the weekend; not like Wednesday with its "You're halfway there! Just keep going!" kind of feel. Tuesdays can take Thursdays* and go walk off a bridge as far as I'm concerned.

But for me, this Tuesday will be a little better. I've got the video below to make me smile any time I need it. It's a video of Patrick singing some of his favorite Christmas songs after dinner one night. There's one short clip at the end of him singing as he was waking up from his nap, too. I just thought it was cute that he woke up and started singing right away so I filmed the monitor :) Here's the video:

We've been trying to get a video of Patrick singing Christmas songs for a month now. He sings them ALL the time...except when the camera is on. So when he started singing at dinner last night, I didn't care that he had both spaghetti sauce from dinner and whipped cream from dessert on his face. I just pulled out my phone and started filming. When he's looking off to the side in the video, it's because we said "sing and see if it makes Madelyn smile." Then he watched Madelyn's face the whole song to see if she was smiling. Luckily, she was. 

I really only included the first take of Jingle Bells because of his strange "woffee kwoffee" thing at the end of it. It's his new phrase that he made up and uses it usually where you or I would say "blah blah blah." He also just says it when he has nothing else to say but HAS to keep talking by the very nature of being Patrick. I also love the kiss for Mommy at the end of Holly Jolly Christmas. Every time he sings that song he won't consider it complete unless he kisses somebody. Madelyn has been tracked down, tackled and kissed on more than one occasion due to this. Lucky for Maddy, Angie jumped in and took the bullet on this one. Something tells me she didn't mind :)

*Yes, Thursdays. What with its "Oh, you wanna get to Friday so bad do ya? Well ya gotta go through me first!" attitude. Dear Tuesday and Thursday: please get married. Then drive over a cliff together. Thanks, The World.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Smooth Operator

In Patrick’s short life he’s already proven to be partial to smart, talented, attractive women. Below is a list of his top five crushes in the order they occurred:

Name: Betsy E. Bowers
Occupation: Paramedic
How it began: She bribed him with candy the day after he was born, rides on an ambulance every day for work and even gets to sleep at a fire station sometimes.

Name: India Arie
Occupation: Singer/Songwriter
Where it Began Hello, she’s INDIA ARIE. We have this song clip DVR’d and he would request to see it at least once a day from 10 months old to somewhere around a 1 ½ years old. At first I thought he liked it because of Elmo but then I noticed every time Elmo would sing Patrick would furrow his eyebrows and shake his head. Quiet Elmo, he wants to hear India!

Name: Sophia (last name unknown)
Occupation: Friend. First friend when Patrick started school two days a week at 12 months old, to be exact.
Where it Began: Phia, as Patrick affectionately calls her, smiles and giggles whenever Patrick talks to her. They remain close to this day and enjoy playing on the playground and exploring in the toy kitchen together.

Name: Alicia Márquez
Occupation: Diego’s older sister, animal scientist (in training) and dinosaur expert.
Where it Began: She’s the first girl he’s ever “met” that loves dinosaurs as much as he does. Alicia and her brother introduced Patrick to some of his most favorite animals- pumas, pygmy marmosets, sloths, coatis, etc. The fact that she has a jeep, submarine, kayak, snowmobile and other things of the like doesn’t hurt either ;)

Name: Chelsea Hopkins (pictured here on left)
Occupation: Student at UGA
Where it Began: Now, I wasn’t at Thanksgiving dinner to witness the event but I was told by a reliable (kind of) source that Patrick was totally smitten with Toby’s cousin, Chelsea. He followed her around, gave her goofy grins and even faked having his leg stuck in the sofa so she could rescue him! The kid's smooth.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving in Barfsville

You can't say we're not consistent. This year, we kept with our tradition of getting sick on major holidays by all getting sick for Thanksgiving. We had a great weekend planned and were really looking forward to it. It was Madelyn's first Thanksgiving and, well, you only get one of those so we were pretty excited. The plan was to spend Thursday morning and afternoon at home as a family and just relax. Then we were going to go to Aunt Ellie and Uncle David's with the Flowers for Thanksgiving dinner. Friday, we were going to head up to the Suskay cabin for the weekend to have Thanksgiving dinner and time with Great Grandma and Grandpa Stuck.

All that changed when, mid-Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Madelyn's breakfast came back up all over my lap and the floor. So, Madelyn's first Thanksgiving was also her first time being sick. She seriously handled it like a champ though. We didn't really even know she was sick sick till the afternoon. We just thought her reflux had come back with a vengeance. But by the afternoon, she was very tired and just laid on Angie's lap and tried to sleep. Patrick and I managed to make it over to Thanksgiving dinner though while Angie helped Madelyn rest at home. Patrick had an awesome time with the family and created a special bond with our cousins Chelsea and Lindsay and got to hear some great silly stories from Uncle David that still puzzled him the next day :)

However, Friday, the puke potato was passed to Patrick. Followed by Angie and me on Saturday and Sunday. Being sick is no fun. Having sick kids is even worse. But both of us being sick AND having sick kids was THE worst. In the spirit of  Thanksgiving though, we kept trying to remind ourselves of things we were thankful for over the weekend (in between our sprints to the bathroom). Here are a few we came up with:

  • We're actually kind of thankful that it happened over a four day weekend. This way neither of us had to take off work to stay home or leave just one of us trying to handle both of our little geysers. 
  • We're thankful for Pedialyte. Seriously, this stuff is like child re-animator. Once Patrick felt good enough to keep a little liquid down, we gave him some Pedialyte and his energy level skyrocketed.
  • We're very thankful our kids are independent. It was so nice that while one of them was getting sick and Angie and I were focused on them, the other just kept on playing by themselves and self-entertaining.
  • We're thankful our illness was spread out over the weekend (kind of). It really would have been terrible if we were all full-on sick on the same day. Ugh.
  • We're thankful for Resolve carpet cleaner. I'll leave it at that.
  • We're thankful for the Thanksgiving dinner Patrick and I got to eat with the family and all the food they sent home for Angie. We're also thankful for the wonderful Chicken Noodle Soup Meme sent over for us.
  • Personally, I'm thankful for Angie, even though the word "thankful" doesn't begin to cover it. Saturday, when we were both sick, was our six year wedding anniversary. It's not really how we had envisioned spending it but we did vow "in sickness and in health" at the start of all this. Watching Angie this weekend take care of our children, fill their every need and still remain positive all while not feeling well herself reminded me again how blessed I am to have her in my life. And not just have her in my life, but get to spend it with her and experience every day by her side. That is truly something to be thankful for.
  • We are thankful for our kids. The only upside to kids being sick - as any parent who's had sick kids will tell you - is that they're extra cuddly. Patrick would get sick every time he moved so to keep him still we put on a movie, which meant that I got to cuddle with him for the entire length of a movie. That is worlds better than any cranberry sauce out there. Our sweet Maddy would crawl over to one of our laps, smile at us and lay her head down on our legs when she wasn't feeling well. We would have been happy to stay like that the entire weekend if she had let us. Being sick also reminded us how much fun we have playing with the kids. After just four days of not playing, getting to tickle them and chase them and hear their giggles was the best thing in the world.
  • We're thankful that this happened at Thanksgiving because hopefully that means we won't all be sick for Christmas this year :)
There were a lot more but this post is long enough already. Obviously, it wasn't the Thanksgiving we had planned but it was still four days in a row together, as a family and that doesn't happen all that often. We were even able to see Great Grandma and Grandpa Stuck on Monday at the Suskays when we went over for a great dinner. And now, we're all feeling much better. We hope everybody had an awesome Thanksgiving with tons of food and family!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Last weekend, we went to Tanglewood Farm with the Barkers. This place was awesome. It's a miniature Old West-type town with mini saloons, mini jails and everything. But it's really a big petting zoo full of miniature animals. I didn't realize so many animals came in miniature. We saw mini cows, goats (two kinds), sheep (two kinds), horses, ponies, donkeys, pigs, cats (yep, miniature cats), yaks (!), llamas and even chickens. They also had a few full-sized animals like buffalo, bunnies, very large dogs and a couple ponies to ride on. The kids LOVED it. Patrick, of course, had to wear his cowboy hat and boots from Halloween once he heard the kind of place it was. Maddy spent most of the day squealing at every animal she saw and trying to pull their fur/hair out. Here are some pictures from the day:

The three "big kids"
"Hey kid" (get it?!... I'm a moron)
Maddy thought the horns were great
Two cowboys coming out of the saloon
Taking Mommy to the Buffalo
Maddy loving her Uncle John
Maddy loving her Aunt Wendy
Jordan and Patrick in the sheep barn being silly
Exploring the pasture
There are a bunch more cute pictures of the kids and the little animals in the slideshow below. We had a lot of fun and can't wait to go back again. As always, you can see the full gallery here. We hope everybody has a great Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Madelyn is 9 Months Old!

There is no mistaking that Madelyn is Toby's daughter. Lately she's been revealing more of her personality and with that we have discovered her love of climbing, computers and chatting. She tries to climb everything and is surprisingly agile for such a small, chubby chickadee. We keep a laptop in the family room and if it's open and Maddy is anywhere near, she squeals and crawls as fast as she can to get to it then starts pounding away at the keys. She even tries to use the trackpad.

She's starting to be quite the chatterbox as well. Her first attempt at a word, besides Mama and Dada, was birdie. She's been staring at her bird mobile in the crib for months and finally is tall enough to touch them...and eventually grab and pull them down, cracking the mobile in half. She was so proud of herself for reaching her goal. She now carries those birds around in her mouth while she crawls around the house and anytime she sees them tries to make a 'b' and a 'd' sound.

Madelyn also woofs when you ask her what sound a dog makes. The woof sounds like "woos" but it's still pretty cute. If you ask her what sound a car makes she'll blow a raspberry, food in her mouth, or not, as you can see from the video:

Maddy can also stand on her own for a few seconds before she gets distracted and starts waving her arms or dancing and then plops down on her bumper.
At her 9 month appointment last week she was 26 3/4 inches long and 17.14 pounds. She is turning out to be a social little butterfly albeit a shy one.  Madelyn smiles at everyone she sees but then quickly buries her head in our shoulder. Our greatest joy continues to be watching as Patrick and Madelyn's relationship grows as siblings and as playmates.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cowboys and Indians

Our Halloween lasted several days this year. It started Friday morning with a party at Patrick and Madelyn's school. They had a "trunk or treat" followed by a party in the classrooms. I was working but Papa was able to go with Angie and the kids and join in on the fun. Patrick had a fun time showing Papa around his school and seeing all his friends dressed up. Madelyn had a great time getting to play in the "big kids" room with Mommy and Patrick. Here's a slideshow:

Saturday we went to the Woodstock Square for a Halloween Kids Fest. However, an overly tired, overly hungry and slightly overwhelmed by the large crowd two-year-old made for not the most enjoyable trip. So, we won't spend any time on that here.

Sunday was awesome though. This Halloween was one of those days that reminds Angie and me just how lucky we are and how great our families and kids are. Both sets of Grandparents came over to see the kids go trick or treating as well as Aunt Abbie and Uncle Matt. Patrick was beside himself with excitement from the second they all walked in the door. It was actually difficult to get him in his costume because he couldn't stop wiggling and moving around trying to talk to everyone and tell them about what was going to happen.

Speaking of costumes, we really had good ones this year for the kids. When Patrick was born, his Aunt Mandie and Uncle Tim gave him a pair of chaps and a cowboy vest with a sheriff's star on it that says "Idaho." Patrick is finally big enough to wear it so that pretty much decided what he was going to be this year. Even with his costume decided months in advance, Patrick had several ideas of his own for what he should be. He had dozens over the last few months, but here are the top 5 he kept coming back to:

5. A Mosquito
4. A family of pygmy marmosets
3. A Howler Monkey
2. Parasauralophus
1. A Bench

The bench was his favorite choice. Angie and I kept trying to steer him towards other costume ideas but he continually came back to the bench. Luckily, once he tried on his cowboy boots and learned a few key cowboy phrases ("Rope and ride!", "Saddle up partner!", "Come along little doggies!" and "There's a snake in my boots!") he forgot about being a bench and set his sites on riding into the sunset. Since Patrick was a cowboy, I went as a cowboy too. That basically meant dressing in a pair of jeans and a brown button-up shirt that I wear to work and putting on a cowboy hat borrowed from Papa. Business-casual + hat + scarf = cowboy. Who knew it was that easy?

Madelyn and Angie both went as Indian Princesses. I don't really know what the difference between and Indian and an Indian Princess is but I went with it. Both of their costumes were made by Meme and looked great. Angie's was actually one Meme made for Abbie for a past Halloween. Madelyn's was made just for her and she looked adorable in it. We put a few feathers in a barrette for her to top it off.

The kids loved trick or treating. Like, really loved it. The amazing grandmothers stayed back at our house to hand out candy so Angie and I could both go door to door with the kids. And Aunt Abbie brought her camera - since ours took an unfortunate spill off the office desk and broke the lens (spill=Madelyn pulling it over) - and took all the pictures for the night. We are very spoiled. It was wonderful being able to just focus on the kids and spend as much time as we wanted letting them wander the neighborhood knowing that our candy-distributing duties were covered by Grandma and Meme and our memories were being captured by Aunt Abbie.

Patrick went house to house filling up his pumpkin with goodies and usually asking for candy for Madelyn too - he's very clever. The kids also made some good friends. A little girl walked by Patrick and remarked "hey there cowboy!" in a very...mature way, to her mother's surprise. Madelyn tried to make friends with the alien baby sitting in a highchair at one of the houses by chatting him up. Then she realized he had a bowl of popcorn and wanted nothing to do with him and everything to do with the popcorn (pictures in the slideshow). And, Patrick tried to make friends with a man "fixing" the ride on lawn mower at the same house. Despite yelling under the lawn mower and even tapping the man's legs, the top half of him never came out from under.

It was a great time. The only thing that would have made it better if the original plan of having Aunt Katie, Uncle Brandon and Carson come over had worked out. Unfortunately, Carson came down with a cough the night before. We missed you guys a ton though and can't wait to try again next year! Thank you again to the grandparents and Abbie and Matt for making the day so memorable and fun. Thanks to Meme and the Garitys for the kids' costumes and to Aunt Abbie for taking so many awesome pictures. Here's a slideshow of the fun or you can see the gallery here:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Goofy Gus and Pretty Kitty

A couple weeks ago we went to Berry Patch Farms with Brandon, Katie and Carson. It was a beautiful fall day and we had fun watching the kids meander through the pumpkin patch. We got a kick out of Carson toddling around, enjoying her new found independence. She's walking like a champ these days!

Patrick liked trying to walk through the pumpkins rather than around them. He also tried to pick most of them up. I think that's why he loved the field with the mini pumpkins so much - he could pick up everything! Madelyn loved the little pumpkins too since she could hold them and hit them together and throw them. As soon as Patrick noticed, he wanted to bring her every one of them he saw and ended up burying her in them.

"Look Daddy!"
"You like this one too, Madelyn?"

Patrick and Madelyn had fun helping Daddy clean all the "gook" out of the pumpkins and carve them this year, which really means that Patrick helped Daddy some of the time with random dance breaks and sprinting up and down the driveway yelling, "Roxy, stay in OUR yard!" (Apparently that is a phrase he's heard once or twice before...). He also thoroughly enjoyed being the big brother and explaining every step of the pumpkin carving process to Madelyn. Maddy had fun playing with the "gook" and even sampled a taste or two. By her expression I highly doubt she'll try it again. She had a great time pulling up on the pumpkins and dancing; and loved when we put the candles in them at the end.

He had to wear his firemen boots

Here's a slideshow of the pumpkin festivities or you can see the gallery here:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Apples for Angie

Although the title of this post sounds like a bad fundraiser for a little girl who's never tasted an apple in her life and for every comment you leave we'll donate one dollar to solving her apple crisis, it's actually about our trip to the orchard. That little girl gets no help from us. There are bigger problems in the world and she needs to stop being so selfish and focused on apples.* Anyway, a few weekends ago we celebrated Angie's birthday with the Suskay family up at the cabin. There's a great store nearby (Mercier's) that also has an apple orchard. They have over 100,000 apple trees and over 50 different kinds of apples. That seemed like the perfect place to start our celebrating. 

The kids LOVED it. While you're picking apples, you can eat however many you want, to try out the various kinds so you know what you should fill your bags with. It was rare to see Patrick without an apple in his hand while we were wandering the orchard. He really liked the idea of just pulling an apple off a tree (if he was next to me while I'm writing this he would say "No Dad, we don't pull them. We twist them off so they don't get hurt.") and going straight to eating it. It was great for us because it meant the morning had a built-in, healthy snack! The other great thing about having Patrick there was that he's easy to lift up to get the apples that are way up high, as you'll see in the pictures :) Madelyn rode on Papa's back for the orchard trip and had a blast. We gave her an apple to check out that was almost as big as her head and she held onto it the whole time. She liked rolling it around, hitting it and, most of all, licking it and trying to take a bite. She also loved reaching for all the leaves and apples as we walked by them.

For the afternoon, we split up. The girls took Angie to a spa where they all got massages and the guys stayed at the cabin with the kids listening to football and relaxing. It was a perfect day outside and we spent pretty much all of it on the porch or in the front yard. When the girls returned from their time at the spa, looking very relaxed, we made a campfire and had dinner outside. Patrick got to roast his first hot dog over the fire and even got to make S'mores. The S'mores were the highlight of the night for him and he had been telling everyone about them all weekend. Madelyn enjoyed watching the fire and snuggling up to everyone there to keep warm. She's turned into quite the cuddler lately and I can't say I'm against it.

Here is a slide show from the weekend or you can view the whole gallery here.

Over the next week Patrick and I made apple sauce several times (using this really easy recipe) and ate apples with almost every meal. The following weekend something rare and wonderful happened: Angie and I went out on a date night! It's the first time in almost a year that Angie and I have gone out for a nice dinner just the two of us. We had a great time and surprisingly managed to talk about topics other than the kids for a good portion of the evening; although, we couldn't help but discuss how proud we are of them, all their quirks and which obstacles we see coming up in our future with them and how we want to handle them (I'm looking at you Patrick's pacifier).

Thanks again to the Suskays for a fun filled weekend! And, happy birthday Angie. You are the best wife, friend and mother anyone could ask for and far more than I deserve. We love you.

*This girl does not actually exist.

Friday, October 8, 2010

8 Months Old!

Madelyn turned eight months old yesterday! Here are a few of the things she started doing over the last month:
  • Consistently sleeping through the night!! (Only a couple nights of letting her cry for a few minutes before she figured it out. Why didn’t we do that months ago?)
  • Transferring from object to object while standing
  • Saying new sounds: In addition to her dadas and babas she’s added F, P and S sounds.
  • Using her new sounds to babble
  • Waving hello and goodbye
  • She climbed a couple stairs one time. She could probably do it again but we don’t want her to know that so we’ve not let her try :)
  • Taking a bottle…JUST KIDDING…we’ve pretty much given up on that
  • Dancing to every sound that could even slightly resemble a song (i.e.: the bubbling sound when I made my coffee this morning)
  • Pointing at things – usually on your face. She loves to point at mouths when a person is talking
  • Getting teeth like it’s her job. In the last month she’s gotten five: three on top, two on bottom.
And here are a few of our favorite pictures of Maddy from the last month:

Over the last few days Madelyn seems like she’s gotten older. Some of it is that her fifth tooth finally broke through so the month-long crankyness has come to an end. But, she’s started verbalizing more lately and seems to have a new understanding of language and interaction. She still idolizes her big brother and thinks every move he makes is worth watching and every sound he makes is worth a giggle. Last night at dinner she had an apple slice in her hand and would hold it out for Patrick to eat. Patrick thought it was hilarious that Madelyn was feeding him (“Madelyn, you’re feeding me? That’s silly!”) and every time Patrick took a bite out of the apple it would send Maddy into a fit of laughter.

We’re so excited for this time of year and all the firsts Madelyn gets to experience. Her first Halloween is right around the corner and then we get to have her first Thanksgiving and Christmas and so many more firsts. Before we know it, she’ll be one year old and our baby won’t be a baby any more. Every day we try to remind ourselves to focus on the time we have now because she’ll never be seven months old again or eight months old again. I can tell you though that there is nothing that slows my day down and makes me live in the moment as much as a smile or hug from Madelyn. Happy eight months my sweet girl!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Old McCagle Had a Farm

Last weekend, we went to Cagle's Family Farm with the Barker family. They have tons of stuff to do there but we did a tour of the farm and part of the big corn maze. Cagle's Family Farm used to be Cagle's Dairy Farm and had a ton of milking cows. The farm tour included visiting the milk processing plant and watching them actually process and bottle all the milk they made, seeing fields full of cows grazing and move into the milking station and so on. However, Cagle's is now a meat farm. We talked to the grandson of the original owner who told us that they were basically unable to compete with huge producers. They're a small farm, doing the milk process right and that costs more. So they were somewhat forced out of the dairy game and are now in the meat business. Lucky for us, they don't show the meat making process on the farm tour. Something tells me it's not quite as kid friendly as watching cows graze and make milk.

The good news is, the kids neither know or care about the economics of milk making. They just like to see farm animals and ride on tractors. The farm tour first takes you to a small part of the farm where they have several calves, goats, chickens and ducks the kids are able to feed. Patrick thought feeding the cows was a lot of fun and had a great time watching the chickens ride on the goat's back. We also got to meet the dogs we would later see herd a group of cattle. After that, we went to a milking demonstration given by Rosie The Cow followed by a trip to the defunct milk processing plant to see how the milk went from cow to shelf. Farmer Al explained the whole milking process and history of the milking process to us in great detail. The kids just liked the part where they got to put their hand on the suction thing they use on the cows' utters. Don't worry, this one was for demonstration only and not actually the one that was just on the cow.

The next part of the tour was really fun. We got to ride on a big trailer pulled by a giant tractor to see a herding demonstration. We watched as Tib, the herding dog, moved a group of large bulls from one side of the field right over to the side of our tractor. The kids got a VERY close look at the bulls and thought it was awesome. The tour ended with the kids getting to feed a group of goats. Patrick mostly just dropped the food on the ground, despite Uncle John's patient help, due to his inability to cup his hand. That must be a toddler thing. At least, I hope it is. Either way, he had fun holding his empty hand out for the goats.

After lunch, we headed into the corn maze. It was just after noon and the day was heating up tremendously so the grownups did the best they could to speed the maze process along. I imagine the maze would be really fun when it's the middle of fall and cool weather is on your side. But when it's 90 degrees and you're carrying a diaper bag, a hiking backpack and at least one child, the maze is more an exercise in "how fast can we do this." Also, Angie and I are TERRIBLE with directions. I can't tell you how happy I am that we live in a time of GPS. I hear people sarcastically say things like "we all drove without GPS for decades and somehow managed to live through it"... we honestly wouldn't have. Angie and I literally would have died. We are that bad with finding our way around. So a maze is an odd activity to participate in. I know there's help around the corner if needed and we won't really be stranded, but the back of my mind says "you might be lost forever in this corn." Luckily, the Barkers aren't as navigationally challenged as we are and made it out of the maze in record time. We'll have to go back when it's not so hot sometime and do the second part of the maze though because it was actually a lot of fun. Madelyn took this moment of quiet as an opportunity to catch up on her morning nap and fell asleep on Uncle John.

Then came the jumping pillows. I had never seen anything like this before but they were pretty awesome and the kids went nuts over them. They're basically a giant inflatable pillow to jump on, and who doesn't love that? When we first got to the jumping pillow, it was just the four of our kids and one other family with much larger kids. Patrick, Jordan and Andrew all bounced and ran and flipped and fell for close to an hour, giggling the whole time. As it got later, Patrick got increasingly tired and climbing up a bouncing pillow over and over again started to take its toll, so he figured out a way to get down without doing any work. He would start by climbing up yelling "sube!" the whole time (Spanish for "going up") then lay down at the top and let the bouncing do the work for him. As everyone ran and jumped around him, he would just flop his way down the side laughing hysterically all the way. The best video I got of this was messed up but here's a pretty good one that gives you an idea (there are more pictures of this in the gallery). He and Jordan started laying face down next to each other after a while and bouncing side by side. You'll also notice that the two of them are about half the size of everyone else on there:

And, here's a slideshow from the day or you can go straight to the gallery here:

Friday, September 17, 2010

What's In A Name

Just a quick post to say that we're changing the name of the site. It was originally 'All About Baby' when we just had Patrick. Then, we cleverly changed it to 'All About Babies' when Madelyn came along.

But, since Patrick is no longer a baby, Madelyn is rapidly approaching adolescence (at least, in her mind) and we said we'd change the name about 6 months ago: it's time.

The name we finally decided on, as you'll see, is "Flowers. Family of Four." ("Like when they call our name at a restaurant," Angie tells me.) This one seemed like a solid choice because it's simple and has a nice ring. Plus, it's a proven fact that we as Americans adore alliteration (did you catch it?).

Here were some of the other names in the running:
  • The Flowers Files
  • Two Cute
  • Double Chubble
  • All About Babies...still
  • The Flowers Four

And now to make a boring post more tolerable, here's a video Ang took with her phone (hence the TERRIBLE quality) of the kids playing on the driveway. It starts with Patrick operating his bike with pretend levers then goes to Madelyn giggling because she's using Patrick's cup while he's not around then the camera goes back up and Patrick is doing yoga for some reason. Even Roxy seems confused. And something about the sound of the bike horn makes me laugh every time.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Miss Maddy-Cakes

Among other things I love about my job, getting a 30 minute lunch break all to myself is a beautiful thing. I get to sit back, relax (unless my pager goes off) and lately, write about my kids...

It’s hard to believe that Madelyn has only been with us for 7 months; it feels like she’s always been part of our family. Our lives surely would not be complete without her but that’s the way it is with babies, isn't it? When they become part of your life you wonder how you ever went one day without their sweet little smile. How did I go 32 years without having this perfect little girl in my life? With only the hope and dream of her in my heart for so long and then all of a sudden, she’s here and she’s more than I could ever imagine. Our little Maddy girl is all personality and a tough little cookie - she needs to be with daily love tacklings from her big brother! She weighs 17.4 pounds (68th percentile) and is 25 1/2 inches long (32nd percentile). Here are some new and exciting things in the life of Madelyn:

School: She began attending The Goddard School two days a week while I am at work. Maddy was immediately taken with her teacher, Mojgan (pronounced Moosh-gan), who is very sweet and animated. Madelyn loves when she sings to her in Farsi while clapping her hands and dancing. It was no surprise on the first day when she refused to drink a bottle but we were told she made it through the day smiling. Each day Madelyn comes home with a daily activity report that tells us what she did throughout the day. It's adorable to read the things the infants do in language arts, life skills and creative art. I appreciate the details they include, the titles of the books they read, the music they listen to, etc. The teachers let Patrick visit Madelyn a couple times each day and often email pictures to us of him kissing her or talking to her. He is so proud to tell his friends in his class that his little sister is in the baby room.

Crawling: Right now her movements are not fluid or the most coordinated but she’s crawling nonetheless and getting where she needs to go. Of course when she finally gets to the object of her desire (usually Patrick or Roxy) it has usually moved and this frustrates her a bit. Madelyn loves to crawl into my lap while the three of us are playing on the floor. She giggles and makes happy little noises as she cuddles my legs. I never can resist the urge to scoop her up and cover her with kisses, which she tolerates for only a minute before she wants to be put back down to crawl again.

First Teeth: Madelyn’s first tooth broke through the morning I was getting her dressed to meet her new teachers and other babies in her classroom. She kept making a funny little face and a clicking noise. Sure enough her first pearly white was popping through! The second one made it's debut at Uncle Thomas's birthday party last weekend. Happy birthday Uncle Tom, sorry about our little fuss pot!

Love Bug: Maddy loves giving hugs and full-on open mouth kisses. She is content to be held if she is outside, especially if she's being rocked on the front porch swing or in one of the big rocking chairs at the cabin. She’ll even lay her little head down on your shoulder for a while to snuggle while she watches the leaves blow on the trees. Madelyn seems to prefer women to men (besides her Daddy, of course), and little kids to adults. She loves Jordan Barker because Jordan lets her stare at her face really close and even pull on her beautiful curly hair. Bless you, little JB!

Ba Ba Babbling: I went out one Saturday to get groceries and when I came home Toby had taught Madelyn to say "ba ba ba". (Side note: he's pretty amazing with the kids. He would be an incredible stay at home Dad. If there were no such thing as a morgtage I am pretty sure he would be content to be with them all day, everyday). It's quite possibly the cutest thing Madelyn has done thus far. Her lips curl in, which makes her cheeks look even more full, her jaw juts out with each "ba" and her saucer eyes look around the room, talking to everyone and everything.

Veggies, Fruits and Baby Shots: She loves her veggies - sweet peas, carrots, green beans, you name it, she’ll eat it! The day I first fixed her squash for lunch she went nuts. Each time I put another spoon-full in her mouth she would swallow and then giggle until the next bite. This went on and on until she finished the entire helping. Since Maddy has an aversion to bottles she's been practicing drinking out of a cup. Plastic medicine cups and shot glasses have a small enough rim that she doesn't dribble too much while she attempts to drink. She squeals and smiles when we let her hold it (with help) and she immediately brings it to her mouth and sticks her little tongue inside.

Pulling Up: Daddy started a pull-up game with Maddy a couple months ago where he puts out his hands, palms up, when sitting face to face with Madelyn. She grabs on with her chubby little fingers and pulls herself up then smiles and looks around proudly. It’s an easy way to become her new best friend, although when Patrick tried it with her it didn’t quit work out as he planned ;) She tries to pull up on everything now- on permanent and not so permanent objects alike (her brother and the dog). Last night she was standing in her crib twice in the middle of the night, crying. Her little brain couldn't help but practice her latest skill but her body wanted to be sleeping.

Big Bro: Patrick remains her most favorite person in the world. Whenever, wherever; he can always make her smile and laugh. This is very helpful when she is tired and fussy in the car. All he has to do is sing (which, as you've seen, takes almost no convincing) and she kicks her legs and shakes her head in excitement. When she does fuss he says sweetly, “It’s Ok, Sassy, we’re almost there”. She still has issues with reflux so when she spits up Patrick’s face distorts with the most disgusted look and says disdainfully as he backs away “she spit up! I better get away!” He’s not mad, just disappointed. It’s hilarious every single time to Toby and me. Maddy doesn’t seem to notice, she just keeps grinning and cooing at him, happy with any attention he gives her. Lately, all he has to do is look at her and talk and she bursts into a giggle fit. Patrick is starting to figure this out and loves it almost as much as she does.

There are days when I wish the kids would nap at the same time so I could get a bit of a break but when I take a second to think about it, I really am grateful to have the one-on-one moments with both of them throughout the day while the other one sleeps. This time is so precious and I want to be fully present for each moment no matter how small it may seem now. All the little moments are what we’ll remember anyway…singing and dancing after dinner, rocking on the porch while the sun sets, hearing Toby read Patrick a bedtime story over the monitor, watching the kids splash around in the bath…

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Perfectly Patrick in Every Way

I always say, “This is the BEST age” no matter what age my kids are at the time and it’s the honest truth. With each age and stage in development there are all kinds of amazing things they are experiencing and learning. This post is about Patrick and a few of his favorite things as he ventures into his hardly terrible twos. He is 30 ½ pounds of all boy and a bundle of nonstop energy.

Letters: It’s cool to see the progression from this video taken when he was 11 months-old and could only identify 5-8 letters and their sounds. (I love the way he used to say “O.” At the time I thought he was SO grown up. Looking back, I realize he was still just a baby!) Now he sings the ABCs, identifies letters, their sounds, and then says a few words that start with that particular letter. The other day while he was playing with magnetic letters he brought me the “M” and said “This is what you start with, Mommy. And Madelyn too”. He then went on to find a “J” and said jaguar, "G" for gorilla and grandma, etc.

Animals and Bugs: I found a HUGE Diego, the Animal Rescuer book at a consignment sale (for $2.50!) and Patrick takes it everywhere. We’ve learned about pygmy marmosets, chinchillas, condors, spectacled bears, howler monkeys and Patrick’s favorite, the puma! Patrick also loves his bug vacuum (many thanks to the Garity family) and has fun catching all kinds of fun creepy crawlies in it then looking at them with a special magnifying glass. We had a ton of spider webs on the front porch when we got back from the beach last month so I threw some baking flour on them so Patch could see the intricate details of the webs. He loved it and told the spiders they did an excellent job. Of course, it made a huge mess but thankfully Roxy licked the porch (and the webs) clean which both kids thought was hilarious.

Dramatic Play: He usually starts with saying a certain animal (usually a puma or an orca) is going to “come to my house.” Then we'll prompt him by asking questions about what they are going to do together, what he’ll say to the puma, what toys he would like to show him and so on. He’ll point and gesture wildly, talking about the puma having no "pots" (spots) and about how they will run together, ride his fire truck, play with his basketball “poop” and then with his trains. I thoroughly enjoy listening to the stories he makes up and the excitement with which he tells them. Now that he is talking in sentences and capable of having a full conversation it’s so entertaining so see what he comes up with. He also loves making tents and forts and, once we are inside the fort, telling us where everything is; the refrigerator, the dishwasher, the vacuum, the grill, the puma…

Counting: We used to use his old baby spoons as a visual counting aid but now that his little sister needs them to eat we had to think of something new. So, while we were making a family scrapbook page for his school (newsflash; 2 year-olds and 6 month-olds are not the best helpers while trying to make something that requires the use of many dangerous scissor-like objects, numerous choking hazards and glitter) we used my hole punch that makes the shape of a flower. I helped him punch 10 pink flowers, 10 green and 10 blue. He counts 1-13 well so I lined them up on a big sheet of black paper. Then I asked him if he wanted to count in English or Spanish and he said English. So I started, one…he stared at the flowers but did not say a word…twooo I prompted, waiting. Finally he cried out with tears in his eyes “No Mommy! I want the uno dos tres kind!” I had to laugh. I guess we’ve never talked about what the languages were called. I usually just start counting in the one I want him to practice. As you can see, I am learning too :)

Words of the Week: We usually do 3-5 new words a week. Patch loves to learn and usually listens intently when I explain what a new word means; the process of developing film or the definition of hypothesis or stethoscope, the directions left and right (he's taken a special interest in that one lately and gets them right more times than not). Lately though, he’s been questioning our authority. Last week Toby and Patch were reading a book and Patrick pointed to a picture of the water asking about the little lines that were drawn near the shore of a river. Toby explained they were called ripples and went on with the story. Patrick, a moment later asked,”See the rickles Daddy?” Toby gently corrected him saying slowly and clearly,” They are called rip ples”. “No, Daddy, rickles!" Patrick shouted," Ri CKles!!!”

Spanish: He says vamanos about 50x a day, asks for fruta for snack, yells ayuda me in more situations than he should and any time he climbs he calls out subir. Very cute. But I realized we had issues when Patrick sang a whole song in Spanish he learned at school and I could only pick out 2-3 words. Between my lack of knowledge and his lack of pronunciation we’re a mess! I can’t fully help him progress in this area which makes me feel both ignorant and motivated. Part of me wants to reconsider having Miss Nidia come to the house to take care of the kids while I work, and ask her only to speak Spanish with them, but then there is the issue of wanting him to be with other kids to develop his social skills without the crutch of Mommy being around…or maybe Uncle Jonathan can take him to see his friend, Pedro, in Mexico City or maybe a reunion mission trip for the whole family to Akil is in order…practically speaking we’ll just have to learn Spanish from Toby and from books for now, but it’s still fun to dream.

Making Us Cry: It seems like lately Patrick’s main objective is to bring us to tears...in a good way though. He’ll look up at me while we are reading a book and whisper, “I love my Mommy” then give me a kiss. Or, when Toby walks though the door from work he’ll jump into his arms for hug and say “I love you the BEST, Daddy”. When I served him lunch the other day he asked, tilting his head to one side, “You made this Mommy for me?” I said yes, and then he said “Thank you Mommy” so sweetly I choked up. Last night Patrick laid down next to Toby after they had just finished wrestling around and sweetly said ," Daddy; we're two best friends." I think he's trying to make my heart explode. I’ve said many times that we have no idea what we are doing as far as parenting goes but we must be doing something right to have such a tender hearted little boy.

Here's a video we took this weekend on Toby's phone of him "reading" one of his pop-up books from Meme and Papa (which is why he apologizes to Meme when he's sees one of the pages is ripped).

Maddy's six month post (now that she's seven months old tomorrow...oops) will be up in the next few days. It's already written; I'm just looking through our millions of pictures of her for the perfect one :)

Friday, August 20, 2010


Although this picture may not look like much, it was the first picture Patrick took by himself with the underwater camera we found at the beach house.

Meme and Papa bought Patrick a book called Flotsam as something new for him to read at the beach. This is one of those books that only has pictures to tell the stories and no words. Like most books, Patrick loved it. To be honest, there was a time I really didn't like reading these kinds of book to Patrick. As an adult I had apparently forgotten how to use my imagination to create anything inventive or a story worth telling when the words weren't given to me. Now though, I love when we get to do books like this. Both because it's fun to make up a story and because I now see the advantage of a completely open narrative in terms of timing. On nights when I need to make it a quick story, I can. Sometimes I need to draw the story out a bit longer for whatever reason and I'm able to do that too. But really, reading anything with Patrick is fun because he enjoys it so much.

Anyway, this story is about a boy who goes to the beach with his family and, while playing close to the water, gets knocked back by a wave that washes an old underwater camera up on shore. The boy takes the film out of the camera and has it developed then goes back to the beach to look through the pictures. He sees all kinds of crazy underwater activities like robotic fish and an octopus family sitting on couches reading, but the last picture is of a little girl. That little girl is holding a picture of a little boy holding a picture of another little girl and so on. The boy who discovered the camera takes out his magnifying glass and looks all the way back to the first, black and white, picture taken with the camera of another little boy standing by himself on the beach waving at the camera. Our boy then takes a picture of himself holding the developed photo and throws the camera back in to the ocean. On the last page, we see it wash up on shore in front of a little girl on the other side of the world.

Patrick thought this was pretty great and had us read it at every nap time and bed time for the whole week. Since we had found a disposable underwater camera when we arrived at the house we thought it would be fun to recreate a little bit of the Flotsam story for Patrick. One day while he was playing near the ocean I put the camera in the water and let the waves wash it up on shore near Patrick. We all made a big deal out of it and he got really excited about using it to take pictures under and in the water.

So that's just what we did:

Patrick had a blast getting these pictures developed when we got back home. The coolest thing was that one of the pictures was of the little girl who must have had the camera before us. Patrick is still convinced she's the little girl at the end of his Flotsam book.