Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

We are truly, truly blessed and hope everyone else has a blessed and happy Christmas as well.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Meeting Declan

For the full story on this, you can visit Katie and Brandon's blog; but I wanted to share a few pictures of my beautiful new nephew, Declan Thomas Bean.

On the night of November 17th, we were up at the cabin celebrating Thanksgiving with the Suskays when I saw call come through to my cell from Brandon. I was mid-soaping-one-of-the-kids up in the bath so I ignored it for the time being. Usually when Brandon calls at night it's with a question about game consoles, how to hook up some part of his home theater system or just to tell me I'm a great guy (not really on that last one). I also knew that the Beans weren't expecting their baby till November 26th when they had their planned C-section so I didn't think too much of it. But, moments later, I got a text from Brandon that simply said "baby's on the way." And only a couple hours later, Declan was here.

Angie and I came back Sunday morning to visit while the kids stayed up at the cabin with the rest of the Suskays. It really was great that it worked out that way because we each got to visit baby Declan at the same time and didn't have to worry about the kids (who both had a cough) touching the baby or getting hungry or bored or tired. Instead we just got to hold Declan for as long as we wanted. Which was a pretty long time. 'Cause, just look at him...

Declan thought Angie was hilarious.

The day after Thanksgiving, we all headed out to the Bean's house to visit some more. This time the kids got to see Declan for the first time and hold him. Needless to say, they were THRILLED....

When Maddy held him, she wanted to make sure her one arm was free at all times so she could stroke his head and touch his fingers. She also couldn't stop kissing his little cheeks (I don't blame her).

Welcome to the family Declan! You're already perfect and we can't wait to see you grow with such amazing parents and a wonderful big sister! And congratulations to Katie, Brandon and Carson - you four are a beautiful family.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Boys' Night Out

Oh hi ... we have a blog. I've been terrible about updating here as things have gotten busier towards the end of the year. It always seems like we're out of town (or at least out of our house) more than we're in for the last few months. But it's all been for fun stuff so I'm definitely not complaining.

One thing I've been meaning to post are some pictures from a boys' night/girls' night we did with the kids back in September. Since I was really only part of the boys' night (for obvious reasons) I'll stick to the stories and pictures from the that perspective.

Ang and I had been talking about the fact that we don't get a lot of one-on-one time with the kids. It's so cool to see them play together and so fun to be a family of four but it's also neat to see what the kids are like when they're apart. Patrick and Madelyn are very used to the other one being there and do almost everything together. They finish each other's sentences, questions and jokes so much that sometimes they don't get to fully say whatever it was they were going to say before their sibling jumps in. And we feel like we don't always get to answer their questions or really hear them out individually because we're usually trying to talk or listen to both of them at the same time. So we decided to split them up and pick an activity to do with each one that we wouldn't normally do.

Ready to go!
For the boys, we decided to go indoor rock climbing. There was a time when Angie and I would go climbing a few nights per week before we had kids but at this point, I hadn't been climbing in years. It seemed like a cool activity to do with Patrick that we don't normally do and something fun for "the boys." Patrick was SUPER EXCITED. I don't think it really would have mattered what we chose to do, he was just really happy to have a boys' night. All week he would randomly yell "Hey Dad!" and when I'd look at him he'd say "The boys!" in his "cool guy voice" and give me a thumbs up. It was really cute and it was all he could talk about.

As soon as Patrick woke up from his nap, we jumped in the car and left. The first thing on the agenda was actually to go through the car wash. For some unknown reason, Madelyn is really, really frightened of the car wash. Like, terrified. A few months before the boys' night, I tried to go through the car wash with the kids and Maddy panicked. Patrick wanted to go through though so I told him we would sometime when it was just the two of us. So, the week before boys' night when I asked Patrick what he wanted to do with just him and me, he immediately said "Let's go through the car wash!" And so, we did...

Then we got down to business and hit the rock climbing gym.
Chalked up and ready to climb.
Patrick had zero hesitation about anything in the gym and made himself right at home. He climbed everything he saw and ran all over the place making up imaginary scenarios that involved him having to climb. The gym has a small kids' section with a little black-lit tunnel, small climbing wall and slide that Patrick loved. He would pretend he was an animal and hide out in the tunnel from predators then when he saw a chance to make his move he'd come running out and climb the wall to get away. Then he'd fly down the slide and do it all again.

This is the tunnel that only has a black light in it. Hence the blur.

The other thing Patrick really loved at the gym? Chalk.

This is what the floor looked like everywhere Patrick went in the gym.

It was a really fun night for both of us. He was the only non-adult in the gym and it was really cute to watch him act like a grown up. If I was climbing a route or looking at the wall for something to climb he'd say to me "Hey Dad, I'm just gonna be over here doing some climbing if you need me" in his most serious and grown up voice, then walk off by himself and start climbing things. I loved watching him get to be independent and feel like a big guy. It was also really nice to be able to have full conversations, completely uninterrupted by anything or anyone else for hours in a row.

After a few hours of climbing, when our hands couldn't take any more punishment, we met the girls at the food court in the mall to get some dinner and swap stories of our nights. We got in the car to leave for the mall and Patrick said "Dad, that was the most fun thing I've ever done. We should do that all the time. Maybe sometimes we'll bring Maddy and Mommy though so they can see me climb. But sometimes let's climb with just the boys." Sounds like a plan to me :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Random, Random and More Random

Found these little nuggets when I was cleaning out the videos/pictures on my phone. Some of them are only a few seconds long but they still made me smile...

Madelyn executing some killer dance moves while Patrick introduces me to his assistant.

Tossing water balloons at the beach house. (It's really too bad Patrick never gets excited about anything. Especially bird nests).

Zumba with Aunt Mollie at the beach house.

Mo trying to herd Toby, Carson and Madelyn as they sing Ring Around The Rosie.

Carson, Patch, and Madelyn dancing in church at St. Ann's Life Teen 20th reunion.

And finally, a little Call Me Maybe to end this random post. We were at a surprise party and everyone else was inside the clubhouse waiting on the birthday boy to arrive so the kids got the dance floor to themselves for awhile.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Meeting Moira

Sweet Moira Elizabeth was born midmorning on September 13th. We were lucky enough to spend two weekends in a row with the Garity family and their precious new baby girl. The first weekend we visited Asheville and the next weekend the whole family met at the cabin in Blue Ridge for some apple picking and fall fun. 


Creighton has stepped into his role as a big brother with ease.
Patrick and Madelyn were in awe when they saw baby Moira. They went on and on about how tiny and cute she is, wanting to touch her hands and feet. Madelyn, especially, can't seem to get enough of her. When she held Moira for the first time she looked up at me and asked. "She's my baby sister?" (wishful thinking)

Patrick's first impression, "You have a ball head, baby Moira."
Madelyn literally could not stop kissing Moira over and over again.
Patch, Maddy and Creighton had a blast playing together, as usual. Have I mentioned how lucky we are to have family close by? And to have the cousins so close in age? Very lucky and extremely blessed indeed.
The "big" kids. And one very ugly, yet very loved opossum.

cloud watching
Congratulations Tim, Mandie and Creighton! Moira is an angel. Toby and I are so very honored to be chosen as godparents. We look forward to spoiling her in the future.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

An Open Letter to the Insanely Rich

To: Insanely rich people everywhere
From: Toby, on behalf of the not rich people everywhere
Re: Let's make a baby (dinosaur)

Dear Rich People,

For as long as I can remember, I've loved dinosaurs. They're big (or not), majestic and a reminder that something much cooler than us used to dominate this planet. There were literally millions of years where these creatures were at the top of the food chain (and the bottom). They had daily routines just like animals today and had to learn to co-exist. When I was three years old, I decided I wanted to be a vertebrae paleontologist just so I could get close to any part of these animals. Later in life, I realized that I wanted a wife and kids and to not spend every evening washing sand out of all my nooks and crannies after laying on the desert all day searching for fossils. But, I'm still pretty amazed by dinosaurs and sad that I'll never actually see one run or eat.

When the movie Jurassic Park was released almost 20 years ago (20?! WHAT THE HELL?!) I watched it countless times and imagined what it would be like to drive in a jeep to a field and catch my first glimpse of a brachiosaur eating its breakfast. I prayed that one day someone would be able to recreate just one dinosaur to see in person.

Well, it looks like somebody is going to try. I caught wind of a story about an eccentric billionaire in Australia who is going to try to make Jurassic Park and my whole day (life) got better. Now, I'll admit, I don't know much about Australia. The only things I'm positive exist there are great white sharks (thank you Shark Week, my other love), kangaroos and this dancing hurdler (courtesy of my wife, who loves this girl). But if this guy really exists in Australia and is crazy/rich enough to attempt a Jurassic Park, then my opinion of Australia just went soaring past my opinion of any other country I have limited knowledge of; which is most every country. 

So, rich people, here's my request to you: let's make a baby. A baby dinosaur. You know what? Let's make lots of 'em. And let 'em get all big and cool.

Like this.
And this.
And this. But, with skin and stuff.
See, you have TONS of money (literally tons if you put it on a very large scale) and if I've learned anything from watching TV or governments, it's that you can make whatever you want happen if you throw enough money at it. 

Let's take a look at what you're doing with your money right now:

Buying yachts: Boring. You all have one. Nobody is impressed. Knock it off.
Buying helicopters/private jets: Again, you all have one already. Stop it.
Buying lots of cars: You lack creativity**. Just because you wanted to buy an expensive car when you didn't have money doesn't mean you should buy dozens of them now that you do. 
Putting the money in overseas accounts so you don't get taxed: Ugh. Really? You might as well stash it under your enormously large mattress made out of baby angel feathers. Yawn.

Just imagine how all your rich peers would react when you rode up to their stuffy fund raiser on an Allosaurus. Think how much more exciting your boring garden party would be if, occasionally, a giganotasaurus walked through and ate all the hors d'oeuvres and you casually commented "Oh that one? He's new. Come around back and I'll show you my others." 

Isn't that exciting? I don't want you to think about whether or not you should do this or if it's "right." I don't want you to think about the science behind it or if it's even possible (from what I gather, most of you hate science anyway). I just want you to find the closest group of scientists and start giving them all your money. After all, this HAS to be possible given enough resources. If you look at the time line of the earth, we're closer to a Tyrannosaurus Rex than he was to a Stegosaurus. Here...


See? This can't be that hard. Make it happen.

Stop buying dumb things. Stop buying lots of things. Just invest all your money into making some dinosaurs. I'll happily be a spokesperson for the project if you need one, given my obvious enthusiasm. Actually, you should probably use that Australian hurdler girl. She seems WAY more enthusiastic than me. Anyway, I'll be here if you need anything from me. In the meantime, I expect to see lots of dollars flowing into startup companies with names like DinoTech, BioDin and iDino.

Also, if you haven't seen Jurassic Park, don't watch the ending. No big deal; just don't worry about it. Let's get that money flowing.


*This post is just an excuse to post pictures from our visit to Fernbank this summer. 
**If you get a chance, you should really watch the entire interview starting at Part 1. Malcolm Gladwell is always amazing.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Double proof that the kids take after their mother in the singing department...

Exhibit A: Our baby-wearing duo singing, "grow little flower, grow."

Exhibit B: Madelyn's debut of her self-written and choreographed song,"I am a diamond, I am a star", while cleaning out the playroom.

How early can we start those singing lessons, Aunt Anna ? ;-)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pacis and Potties

Apparently Madelyn was tired of being a little girl because one morning she woke up and decided to shed two major indicators of her youth: her pacifiers and her diapers. We had bought some underwear for her just in case and she even tried them on a few times; but it was clear she wasn't ready yet. But on August 3rd, just a few days before she was 2 1/2 years old, Maddy woke up and said she wanted to wear underwear and that she was "all done with diapers because I'm a big girl now." We went along with it thinking she'd have an accident sometime that morning and then not want to wear them again. Instead, she put them on and hasn't looked back since. She had the occasional accident in the first week if she was playing outside and misjudged how bad she had to go vs. how long it would take to get inside, but other than that she handled it like a champ and is in underwear all the time now. She even naps in them!

As if we weren't excited enough about saying goodbye to diapers (can't tell you how weird it is to not have diapers to change after four years of it) Madelyn rode the momentum of growing up right into the decision to ditch her pacis that same afternoon. This one was a little crazier because we were rushing around trying to get ready to go to Aunt Anna's senior recital when Madelyn grabbed her pacis out of her bed and said "I wanna give these to the babies. I a big girl now and don't need them. I wear underwear." Angie and I REALLY wanted to say no because we were in such a hurry to leave but we didn't know when she might give us such an easy out again so we jumped on it. We decided to do the same thing we did with Patrick and have her "send the pacis to the babies." After she sends them, the babies give her a little gift in return which, thankfully, always-10-steps-ahead-of-me Angie, had purchased a month earlier just in case.

Since we were so short on time, the whole ordeal was done very quickly. We decorated the envelope...

Dropped the pacis in the mailbox...

Then left for Anna's recital and happened to spot a gift from the babies on our way out. Needless to say, Tinkerbell attended the recital as well.

Chanting "Anna! Anna!" on their way into the recital while holding the flowers they picked out for her.

After the recital and celebrations we came back home for a movie night (also known as "keep Madelyn up late so she falls asleep easier without her pacifier). We watched her brand new Tinker Bell movie, put the kids down for the night and crossed our fingers. She did awesome that first night but we knew not to get our hopes up after doing this with Patrick. The next day we put the kids down for nap and braced ourselves for the endless crying and story telling of a heroic mailman who rescues the pacis from the babies. Amazingly, Madelyn just sang a song then went to sleep. That was it.

She really made the whole thing very easy on us. She barely even asked about her pacis in the beginning and by now seems to have almost completely forgotten about them. It takes her a little longer to go to sleep but she's always happy. She'll just lay in bed and talk and sing and hug her new Tinker Bell.

We're very proud of our big girl. She took on two pretty major milestones at once (especially the potty training) and conquered them both with no problem. Congratulations on being such a big girl Maddy! We love you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


In the series of pictures below Patrick is trying to explain a rocket launch to Madelyn who is more interested in her fairy book.

After several minutes of talking and gesturing wildly, simulating a rocket blasting off, he realizes Madelyn is not paying attention.

Patrick: (sigh) Why do you like just pink and purple things?
Madelyn: I like pink and purple and yewyow and green...
Patrick: (totally flabbergasted) I mean you just don't like things that are REAL! You like fairies. Stop learning about things that are not real. You're wasting time!!!

Madelyn's reaction is pictured below...