Monday, July 26, 2010

Triple Dip

Madelyn Claire, her cousin, Carson Danielle and another new member of our church, Shannon June, were baptized on Sunday. The girls looked like angels, dressed in white from head to toe, pure and perfect, just like their little hearts. As I looked out upon the faces that were witnessing the sacrament I was profoundly grateful for our family and friends, the community that loves our girls and will guide them as they grow. And for Carson herself, I am so thankful she and Madelyn will have each other as they walk through life. I pray their bond only grows stronger as time goes on.

Madelyn's Great-Great-Great Grandmother, Artimese Michaud, sewed a gown long ago that many people in my family have worn at their baptisms (including my mother, Aunts, and sister, Abbie). This gown was far too old and fragile to be worn by Madelyn but I really wanted her to wear something from that side of the family since that is where her namesake came from. What to do? Well, if you're my mom, you just simply replicate the French hand heirloom sewing techniques (which uses entredeux, a narrow strip of batiste with small holes to join lace to lace or lace to fabric) to whip up a new baptismal gown. The dress is absolutely exquisite and once again my mom amazes me with her talent for crafting all things beautiful. But then again, this is the woman who sewed her own wedding dress (two of my sisters and I were baptized in a gown made from the left-over fabric), bridesmaids' dresses and flower girls' dresses. She is also the same woman who would sew for hours and hours after the four of us kids went to bed at night. Many times I would wake up to a new Easter dress or birthday dress, all perfectly smocked and sewn down to the last detail. Thank you, Meme, for all those late nights and for putting so much love into every detail. Grandma Bernice will be so proud when she sees pictures of it!

Carson wore the Flowers' family baptismal gown. At one point we took a picture of ten family members, including Toby and Patrick, who had worn the gown at their baptism. What a special family tradition!

After the baptism we headed over to Grandma and Grandpa's house, the perfect place for an after-party because of its close proximity to church. Grandpa had the backyard prepped for some pool fun but since it turned out to be a particularly hot day (107 heat index) we decided to keep the little ones (and ourselves!) inside. We enjoyed an afternoon of visiting and eating lots of yummy food. Thanks again for the great get-together Grandma and Grandpa. We're all still full from eating :)
Congratulations to Madelyn and Carson on their baptism and thank you to everyone who made this occasion so memorable. A very special thanks to Madelyn's two amazing Godparents, Brandon and Mollie. We love you all! Not a day goes by that we don't thank God for our huge extended family and wonderful friends. We are truly blessed!

Here's a slideshow with some of the pictures from the day or you can see the whole gallery here:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Santa Rosa Beach Trip

Only a few hours after we returned from our beach trip with the Flowers last weekend, Patrick was getting dressed after his bath and said "I'm tired." Angie replied by saying "I'm with ya buddy. I'm tired too." Patrick realized he had been misunderstood and rephrased his statement to "No, Mommy. I'm tired . . . of this house." And after an awesome week at the beach, we really couldn't blame him.

The whole trip was great. The ride there and the ride back went better than we could have imagined for our first long trip with two little ones. Both there and back we left around 5 or 5:30 in the morning, stopped half way for breakfast and leg stretching, then drove the rest of the way. Madelyn slept almost the entire time both ways, waking up just a few minutes before we stopped to play with some toys hanging from her carrier. Patrick did awesome as well. We got him (really, us) a portable DVD player for the car for his birthday. He's now been introduced to the world of, and is in love with, the show 'Go, Diego, Go!' (or "Degyo", as he says it).

The house we stayed in was amazing. It had tons of room for the whole family, a great place to chill out on the porch and a swimming pool we all loved.

The best part though was getting to spend time with the family. It was awesome having everyone together for a whole week and just getting to relax. There were no schedules, no "we can make it for dinner but then we have to run so the kids can get to bed" and tons of laughs. Patrick of course loved having an audience for his silly antics. He was thrilled to have a houseful of playmates willing to indulge him in whatever game he wanted to play every second of the day. And it was so cool to have Madelyn and Carson together for the week. I think Carson taught Madelyn to sit up, as since we've been home, Madelyn has loved sitting up to see the world from a whole new vertical perspective. It also gives her access to a new range of toys which is exciting for her.

Something very different about this trip from ones in the past was that, while it was relaxing, having two kids means someone is always awake. No hours on end of laying on the beach and reading an entire book in one afternoon. In fact, I think there was only one time the whole week when Carson, Patrick and Madelyn were all napping at the same time for more than 15 minutes. Naturally, we used our "grown up time" to do incredibly grown-up things like play Marco-Polo and try to push each other off the giant inflatable Nemo pool toy. When the kids woke up we told them we had been discussing politics and literature; to which Patrick replied "I want to go to the beach", Madelyn spit up and Carson growled. I don't think they're onto us.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Grandpa and Grandma for such an amazing time. Words can't tell you how happy we are to have been able to spend a whole week with the family in such an incredible place. When we first got home, Patrick ran in from the car, walked to the living room and quietly lamented "Everybody's...not here." He's asked about each of the family members every day and has retold the stories of sand castles, crab leg-cracking, waterfalls, dino delight, the couch cave and every other special moment countless times.

Here's a slideshow of pictures from the week or you can view the gallery in its entirety here:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Two Years Old!

We say it all the time but this really does just keep going by faster and faster. Our little boy is already two years old. And what a wonderful and amazing two year old he is. We usually try to keep outright bragging about our kids to a minimum here, but it's his birthday so I'm allowed.

A lot has happened in this last year of Patrick's life and we couldn't be more proud of him. Every day we're amazed at what a loving, mild tempered and smart little man he's turned into. In the last year Patrick has been on countless out of town trips, started school, gotten new teachers and changed classrooms a couple times, gained a little sister and tons, tons more. All of this while trying to just be a one year old and handle everything that goes along with developing language, social skills, motor movements, cognitive processes, learning numbers, learning colors, learning letters and a million other things kids brains have to compute this early on in life. Through it all he's been the best little boy Angie and I could have ever asked for. There has literally not been a day in the last two years that we haven't stopped what we're doing at some point during the day, looked at each other and said how happy he makes us.

In the post I wrote on his first birthday, I included a video of the first year of Patrick's life. We still occasionally go back and watch that video and marvel at how much he's changed - and, how much he's stayed the same. His laugh now is identical to what it was when he was 5 months old and his beautiful big eyes are the same sweet boy we've always had. But to hear him talk now and to see his personality more every day is such a joy. He has a sense of humor, he speaks in full sentences, he challenges EVERYTHING and he openly shows affection unprompted. There's nothing better than when he stops in the middle of playing to come give us a hug and tell us he loves us.

There's a video that goes along with this post as well but it's not of the entire last year of Patrick's life. That's a "first birthday only" kind of thing for now. Mostly because holy cow does it take a lot of time. The video in this post is a short one with some highlights of Patrick's second birthday party. We had the party on the 4th of July at Meme and Papa's "train station." It was, of course, a train themed party since those are currently the love of Patrick's life.

Meme and Papa went all out with the decorations for the party. We had decided to keep the party a little smaller this year and really only have the family and a few close friends with their kids come over. That didn't stop the families from going over the top in spoiling Patrick though. When we got to the house, there were train tracks drawn in chalk from the driveway to the front door where a welcome sign hung with a big picture of Patrick on his train ride a couple weeks ago. He walked up and down the train tracks for the first 20 minutes we were there. The rest of the party was just as exciting for him. And how could it not be? There was a bouncy house, three pools and a giant beach ball that squirted water out! We also got him a birthday cake shaped like Thomas the Train which was a big hit.

Anyway, the video shows it all. It's set to one of his favorite songs and includes a couple musical numbers by Patrick himself. Enjoy...

We had such a fun time at his party. Oh yea, and we're pretty sure he did too. He went on kind of a hugging spree at the end of opening presents that hopefully showed how thankful he is for this big, wonderful family.

Patrick's birthday has really been going on for about a week now, though. Last Friday afternoon, Grandpa and Grandma came over with their present to Patrick: a gigantic train set. Grandpa had been setting it up all week (setting it up = playing with it) at their house but had to put on the final touches at our house. He snuck upstairs while Grandma, Angie and Madelyn distracted Patrick with something shiny and finished the assembly right as I was getting home from work. I'll post some video soon of Patrick's reaction to seeing a small city in his bedroom but for now there are plenty of pictures in the slideshow below.

We got Patrick out of bed this morning singing Happy Birthday and carrying his presents into his room (hopefully he doesn't expect that every day). The first present he opened was a training potty. He promptly took his pants and diaper off and opened the rest of his presents sitting on the potty, nude from the waist down. Somehow, we managed to not get pictures. It was a very funny way to start our day though.

Here's a slideshow of Patrick's second birthday so far:

Thank you again to our family and friends, not only for making his birthday so special but for making this whole last year such a fun adventure. From trips to the zoo, to the pool, to the beach, to cabins and train rides and nature centers and everything in between it's been a blast for us and him.

And a special thank you to Meme and Papa for hosting Patrick's birthday party. As you'll see in the pictures, there are a lot of little details Meme and Papa threw together to make the day that much more special. We spent all day Saturday preparing for the party and making food and we were still surprised when we got there at all the cool stuff they had come up with that morning.

We're headed to the beach this weekend with my family, so we may not have another post up till we get back. We hope everyone has a great week though!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fathers' Days

Warning: long post. Lots of stuff happened though, so, you know, not much I can do about it.

We had several different celebrations for Father's Day this year, all of them super fun.

First up, we had FD with the Suskays. We headed up to the Suskay Cabin and, on Saturday, took a train ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. Along with dinosaurs, new words and the one episode of Dora the Explorer Patrick's ever seen (I hate that girl), trains are one of his favorite things in the world right now. He loves Thomas the Train a lot, but really any train will do, he's not picky. He's woken up from nap saying "All aboard the choo choo train!" more times than we can count and sleeps with three little toy trains in his bed. So, we were really excited to take the kids on an actual train and let him see one up close.

We left straight from my office on Friday night to go to the cabin. We had a blast once we got there. Patrick got to see his first lightning bugs and chased grasshoppers and beetles for hours. He jumped on the big trampoline for the first time too. Watching him discover things like lightning bugs was amazing. He was so intrigued and excited. He squealed every time one of them would fly by and couldn't pry himself away from staring into the jar we temporarily housed them in. It was the same story with the grasshoppers and beetles and pretty much everything else out that night.

On Saturday, we got to the train station early so we could take a few pictures, meet the conductor and have some time on the train before all the chugging got underway. Patrick was immediately in awe of the train. We could tell because his eyebrows furrowed and he got quiet. There are only a few things that make Patrick stop talking: sleep, eating (only sometimes) and a new experience he's trying to soak up. Then, we saw The Conductor. Patrick got almost scared as The Conductor approached and didn't want to talk to him or even look at him. I was confused at first but then thought about it from P's perspective: when you like trains as much as Patrick does and have read as many books that all talk about The Conductor that controls all the trains in the world, this guy is like The Wizard of Oz and Jesus all rolled into one. Seeing him in person is something you're never quite prepared for. Once The Conductor passed though, Patrick was able to regroup and absolutely LOVED the train ride. He even was happy to let The Conductor punch his ticket later on. Patrick also figured out about 15 minutes into the ride that when the train turns, you can look over the side and see the front and the back of the train. This meant I spent the next 45 minutes holding a very excited little boy horizontally over the edge of a train so he wouldn't miss a thing. He chatted away the whole time about everything we were seeing, the bridges we were going over, the steam coming out of the engine in the front and the caboose he could see at the back, only occasionally stopping to make sure everyone else on the train was appreciating the ride as much as he was.

Madelyn did great on the train as well. If you've never been on a train, it sounds like it's constantly trying to stop itself from taking off at light speed. The squealing breaks aren't reserved for major turns or stops and the train whistle isn't only used at Railroad Crossings. Even with all the noise, Madelyn managed to take a nice long nap for almost the entire ride. She woke up when we stopped for lunch and was awake for a good part of the ride back to town. She was as happy as ever and smiled at everyone who walked by. Angie got her all dressed up for Father's Day in a pretty little green dress and hat which was really cute too. I'm actually glad she can't talk yet; because if she had asked to take the train home with us that day I probably would have tried to figure out a way to do it.

The next day was Father's Day and we were back home. After playing drums at church in the morning I came home and took Patrick to the pool for a little one-on-one time. Ang cleaned the house while Madelyn was napping and when P and I got home and he went down for a nap, I got some great play time with Madelyn. Then Patrick woke up and we hung out as a family for the rest of the day. Ang ran out and picked up some ribs and steak for dinner that I had been craving and we had a nice glass of wine. All in all, a GREAT Father's Day. It's still hard to believe that two years ago we didn't have any kids and now these two are the center of our life.

The next round of FD was with the Flowers family. We spent Saturday morning at the Chattahoochee Nature Center with the whole crew. It was awesome. Patrick literally loved every second of our time there. If you were at CNC that day, you knew that because he squealed and yelled "Whoah! What's that?!" at every single thing he saw. And, to his credit, there were some pretty cool things to see. We saw fish, turtles, snakes, vultures, an opossum (that was RIGHT in Patrick's face), several different kinds of owls, a very lazy beaver, some pretty big hawks (or "honks" as Patrick calls them), bald eagles and tons more. We even got to see a butterfly that had just come out of its cocoon while we were sitting there get released. It didn't know how to fly yet so Patrick was able to get a good long look at it while it tried to figure the whole flapping thing out.

Patrick was also apparently feeling very confident that day as he was somewhat bossy with the group, leading them around the park. When he was done looking at an animal he'd say "Come on everyone!" and just start walking up the ramps to the next attraction. Of course, we all followed so you can't really blame him. After walking through the outside exhibits we went inside where they have a more "hands on" area. Patrick was able to look at all kinds of bugs up close (he yelled with excitement every time one of the "bug drawers" was opened) and touch things like shells and huge pine cones and gourdes. He was also able to ride an elevator...several times. I thought his head might explode with excitement every time the elevator doors opened and closed. It's good to know we won't need to take him to Six Flags for roller coasters - I'll just take him to the mall and we can ride the elevator all day.

The Nature Center has a lot of beautiful flowers and garden areas as well. These were awesome for Madelyn. She didn't care so much about things like beavers or lizards but standing in front of flowers of all different colors was pretty great. Her eyes got big and she started cooing and reaching for them. She was such a trooper being carried around in the heat, happy as could be.

After the Nature Center, we went back to Grandma and Grandpa's house and had burgers and hot dogs on the grill for lunch. Then somehow, amazingly, both our kids and cousin Carson all napped AT THE SAME TIME. So we actually got to have some adult conversation as a family and were able to complete our sentences every time we started one. A rare event at family functions with 3 kids under the age of two around. When all the kids woke up we had some great play time. Patrick and Carson played together with the little kitchen/cookwear set. Carson is crawling and pulling up on things now so Patrick is kind of amazed and excited they can interact a little more. He also called everyone into circle time and made Uncle Jonathan read a book. Thank you again to our families for humoring our little boy. He's very spoiled by everyone's willingness to go along with whatever crazy game he's made up :)

So, that's about it. A great couple weeks of celebrating the Dads. Thank you to both families for making such special memories with our children and with us. We're so grateful we get to experience things like train rides and nature centers with our kids and even more grateful that they get to experience it with all of you too.

Here are two slideshows from the weekends. The first is of the trip to the cabin and train ride* (direct link here):

And this is from the nature center and Grandma and Grandpa's house (direct link here):

This weekend we'll be celebrating Patrick's 2nd birthday! We can't believe he's 2 already and what a fun 2 years it's been.

Also, Madelyn had her 4 month checkup last week and she is now 15.3 lbs, 25 inches long and still perfectly healthy. She smiled and tried to play with the doctor's hair the whole appointment. The doctor told Angie she was the happiest baby she'd seen all week :)

We hope everyone has a great holiday weekend!

*You may notice that Patrick has something by his nose in the train pictures. It's not that we forgot to wipe his face. He got a big scratch from a mock drawer mishap the night we got to the cabin. Don't worry though Matt, we won't tell anyone whose fault it was.