Each time we leave a family event Toby and I share stories of our interactions with Carson, what she's learned, how she's changed and grown since the last time we saw her. It always seems like we never have enough one on one time with Carson since playing with her comes between tending to the needs of our own two and trying to share her with the rest of the family. I don't ever want to be the Aunt-in-name-only who interacts with her solely at big family events but that she doesn't really know and is not comfortable with me holding her or playing with her. Toby felt the same way and came up with the idea of a cousin swap (brilliant!) a couple weeks ago and Brandon, Katie and I shared in his enthusiasm. (For the other side of the Cousin Swap story, check out the Bean's Blog
We were so excited to dedicate a day to Carson and couldn't wait to get her all to ourselves. After meeting the Beans for a quick breakfast, we gave our little munchkins hugs and kisses and headed out for the Chattahoocheee Nature Center. After 30 seconds of silence both Toby and I looked at each other in awe (in our car there is always someone a) talking, b) singing c) crying d) all of the above) and then checked to see if Carson had fallen asleep. She was just calmly looking out the window as peaceful as could be. We were actually able to have a full conversation on the way to the nature center. Right about the time we were going to text the Beans to let them know how sweet and quiet Carson was being we received a text telling us how chatty Patrick was as he narrated their entire drive and described in detail every car they drove past (Surprise! He never. Stops. Talking.).
Carson ended up taking a little nap on the way and when we got to the Nature Center we let her rest for a bit then woke her up as gently as we could - knowing that it must be kind of a weird thing to wake up without Mommy and Daddy, in a strange place, with a pair of overenthusiastic relatives smiling and gawking at her. First we went to the pavilion where there was a crowd of kids gathered around a guy who had all kinds of drums and instruments using them to tell stories. Carson was the quiet observer the whole time. She sat on Toby's lap for awhile and then mine, her expression serious, her eyes moving from the children dancing to the guy telling the story and back again. She was SO cuddly, we loved just holding her and having her little arms around us.
After the show we wandered around looking at the animals and taking our time to talk about each one, enjoying time with our precious niece. One of my favorite moments from the day was when we were sitting on a small dock by the water. Carson was sitting on my lap soaking up the sun (she had sunscreen on Mom and Dad :) ). She was looking around quietly content with where she was and then she spotted the fish gathered in the water below and her eyes widened with surprise and her mouth opened as she jumped up to take a closer look. She would look at the fish and then look up to make sure we were seeing what she was seeing. It was so cute!
Inside the Nature Center the fish were her favorite attraction as well. She went right up to the glass and kissed them. We had fun watching her play and discover the different animals and made probably the most pathetic bird feeder I've ever seen.
I know I am a little biased but she is seriously the sweetest little thing ever! I love the way her eyes can say so much about what she is thinking and feeling even though she may not have been her chattiest self during our little excursion. I love the way she ate her banana that day. She would never reach for it or ask for another bite but as soon as I would hold it out to her she would take a bite, keeping her hands by her side. I love the way her petite little body feels even lighter then she looks when I hold her. After holding my kids, who are seemingly filled with lead, carrying Carson was like holding a doll. I love how she didn't cry or fuss at anything the entire day...I didn't even know it was possible for a child to be that quiet and well behaved! And I just love...well, her. There is no one like her. If there were one thing I would want to tell her teenage self it would be that she is perfect. Never to doubt herself or the love we have for her. She is like one of our own and we had a blast pretending she was our one and only that day. We hope for many more Cousin Swaps! (...with many more cousins to swap ;) )
Here's a short video I took with my phone of her watching the show followed by some more pictures from the day...
|Coloring a picture for Mommy and Daddy|
|Vogue Pose 1 - "Blue Steel"|
|Vogue Pose 2 - "The Stunna"|
We had so much fun. Patrick cracks me up and Maddy, can she get any sweeter? I can't wait to do that again. Sorry Carson wasn't more chatty but she definately had a blast. We have to read her the fish book at least three times in a row every other day. Oh, and Angie, about your "moving in down the street comment"......SOLD! Love you guys, thank you so much for suggeting this and loving Carson as much as we love Patch and Maddy.
oops, forgot to mention, I taught her those poses :)Love "the stunna"
I read both blogs. sounds like everyone had a great day. Thanks for sharing, it was so much fun to read about.
Cousin swaps, great idea!
How hilarious are those last two pictures?! You're too funny. You guys have great pics of the whole day. Thank you for showing Carson such a fun time--and showing her how much you guys care about her. We just can't express how much we enjoy our families growing up together!
It amazes me that no matter what child you guys have you always are letting them learn in the most creative ways!!! I am so glad that you all have these fun days!
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