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…