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.

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