Saturday, October 26, 2013

Field Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

It's one of our favorite field trips every year, the fall trip to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch. The boys look forward to the slide and the playground. I look forward to the delicious ribeye sandwich from the grill. And it's fun to see the boys riding on the wagons and picking out their very own pumpkins.

And have I mentioned the slides? Because that's what the boys love the most ...

Downtown Parade

The Fire Prevention Parade was a few weeks later than planned because of some uncooperative weather, but we still managed to get everyone there. The twins and I met up with Grammy, Pappy and Louie close to the beginning of the parade route. We set up our camp chairs and got out our snacks, which is required if you expect the twins to cooperate for just about anything. 

Josh and Connor were actually in the parade, dressed up as minions as part of his fire station's "Despicable Me" themed float. That would be them spraying bystanders with the giant fire extinguisher. 

Super Louie was not so impressed with the noise and the lights. He also tried to steal the show, as most of the people on the floats kept talking about him.

The twins and Louie may not have been thrilled, but they survived. They also got candy and treats tossed to them, so it wasn't a total loss. Xander enjoyed some Nerds and Sawyer had some Gobstoppers. And Connor had a blast being in the parade.

A good day.

Bowling Night


A few weeks back, the boys got to spend an evening out with some of their TOPS Soccer friends and families. We met up at the bowling alley for a night of pizza, bowling and fun. One of the boys enjoyed it a little more than the other.

Xander would bowl all day long if you'd let him. He was bowling his turn, Sawyer's turn and anyone else who wasn't quick enough picking up their ball to play. He played three games, but if you count all the players he was playing, he probably played more like six games before the night was over.

Sawyer took a few turns with the ramp, and even rolled it from the ground one time. But he was more interested in the food. He was into the cooler the minute we sat down, and the gluten-free-casein-free pizza I'd made and packed to bring was gone within minutes. And then he wanted the real kind that was being served by the TOPS Soccer group for the party. That made for a long night as far as he was concerned. Everyone around him was eating pizza and cookies, and he couldn't have any of it. Never mind that he'd had his own of both, that wasn't the same. Poor kid.

Xander was too busy bowling to care about the food. He ate some of his in between bowling turns, but not nearly as much. Bowling was much more fun. He got several strikes and spares, which is his favorite part because it flashes blue up on the scoring screen.

All in all a good night. Connor and Daddy couldn't join us, as they were doing their weekly Cub Scouts meeting across town. It was a divide and conquer kind of night.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Buster Brown (in Instagram Shots)

Every image is a snapshot of his personality. Love him. Miss him more than words could ever express. Rest in peace, sweet baby boy.

Kickin' It

You Want Me to Do What? by here we wander
You Want Me to Do What?, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
A few weeks back, the twins participated in their very first soccer tournament. Our local TOPS soccer club participates in a regional tournament with five or six other clubs every fall. It was actually the first time they had ever played a game (usually we just practice drills and following directions with their coach on Sundays).

It was a long, long drive. That was strike one for the twins. And because my truck was having some minor issues, we ended up going in Daddy's work truck. Not nearly as comfortable, particularly for the twins in the crew cab back seat.

It was also an early start to our day, which normally is not a problem, but of course was on this particular day. It never fails, the twins are up early every single day that you don't want them to be. They notoriously sleep late on every single day you need to leave early. It's just how it is.

It was a really long day for them. The drive, then the opening parade, then the first game, then a lunch break, carnival games and bounce houses, and then a second game. I have to say the tournament was an amazing event - well coordinated, well attended and impressive for how many different special needs that were being accommodated.

All in all, I'm calling it a success. We made it. The boys participated, with some resistance, but actually participated. They practiced with their teammates, they allowed us to help direct them on the field during the game, and they stayed on the field the entire game.

Xander took the ball toward the goal several times. He ran hard and played hard, with some gentle prodding. Sawyer, who is less a fan of the ball or running, was happy to support the goalie as a defender. We stopped a few good plays, and he didn't complain too loudly.

All participants received medals, tee shirts and water bottles. The medal ceremony was a bit much, just because it came at the end of a long day, but they made it all the way through.

And, of course, we stopped at Wendy's on our way back home. That helped. That was part of our normal routine.

"Soccer first, then Wendy's" ... as Xander would say.

Additional photos are here.

Third Grade Field Trip

I'll Make You Smile by here we wander
I'll Make You Smile, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Just a day after we came home from our mountains trip, Connor's third grade class was going on a field trip to a local nature sanctuary. I talked to Josh into tagging along with the class.

Connor is at that fun stage where he really wants you to go (and tries to make you feel guilty if you opt not to go), but he also totally ignores you while you're actually there. He has a good friend from his second grade class in his class again this year, and they spent most of the field trip giggling and getting into minor trouble for not listening or staying with the group.

And that's how he acts while we're there. I can only imagine what it looks like when we're not there.

A nice way to ease back into the daily life.

To the Mountains

Time to Unload by here we wander
Time to Unload, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
It's our place. A few times each year, Josh and I sneak away to a friend's cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains. It's a reasonable drive for a long weekend, and it's a great place to unwind.

This time around we opted to take our bikes with us for the trip. We had great plans of getting up early on Wednesday of our trip and riding through Cades Cove, when it's closed to vehicle traffic until mid-morning. The weather did not cooperate with those plans, so we found a few other trails to try out like this one near Cherokee.

We spent several days relaxing, driving through the mountains, taking a few hikes and riding a few paths, and just enjoying the peace and quiet.

Grandma and Grandpa from the lake came up to our house to take care of the boys for us for a few days.

A good trip, a good break from the daily life.

Some additional photos are here.

Five Cousins

Five Cousins by here we wander
Five Cousins, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Our Labor Day weekend started out with Daddy's side of the family at the annual family reunion. It ended at the lake with Mommy's side of the family.

Though we battled some storms throughout the weekend (as the boys and I have done all summer long on our lake visits), we still made it out onto the water a few times. There was lots of swimming and jumping and snacking, all big things for my boys.

I LOVE this image of all five cousins. We were simply moving the boat back out into the middle of the water during a swim session. It was windy, and we kept blowing toward the bank. It's kind of hard to anchor the boat in over a 100 feet of lake water.

I have so many great memories of summers and holiday weekends spent at the lake. I hope that the boys have the same memories someday.

Special thanks to Grandma and Grandpa who put us up in their cabin, who take us out in their boat and who feed us really, really well every time we come to visit. Charcoal grills really are the best, and Grandpa knows his way around a great steak or burger.

Enjoying those last few moments of summer before it fades away for the year ...

A few other photos are here.

Family Reunion


Every Labor Day weekend, Josh's extended family has their family reunion. It's at a church camp just outside of town, so it's not too far of a journey for us to make. The boys are not particularly crazy about all the people, at least not the twins, but there's enough outside space to make the outing work.

And then there's the creek. It's a big draw for all three boys. Connor was the first one to jump all in (yes, shoes, socks, clothes and all). Xander quickly followed, and Sawyer eventually found his way in, too. It was a little messy on the ride home, but it was a happy few hours in the creek.

Connor also had a big time playing with cousins. First he got to see Ryleigh and Daniel, who are always good play friends at family gatherings. And then his more extended cousins, Jack and Paul, who he got to know really well during preschool and kindergarten. The boys attended the same private preschool for a few years together, and Connor and Jack started kindergarten together at the magnet elementary school on the other side of town (near our old house).

It was a good day. Food. Outdoor fun. Family.

A few other photos are here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Hard Goodbye

Our lives changed last week.

And it's going to take a long, long time for anything to feel normal again.

When I come home from dropping the boys off at school, I expect him to greet me at the door. Or to come sit down by me while I eat breakfast at the dining room table, looking over his shoulder hoping for something good from my plate.

When I sit down at my desk to work, I still see the scratch marks on the wood floor near the front windows. It's where likes to lay, right by my side, usually staring out the window, waiting to bark at anyone who dared to walk on his sidewalk (or even the other one across the street).

When I get ready to leave the house, I want to check and make sure he's back inside the house just in case it rains. I want to say, "Bye baby, I'll be back later," just as I always have.

When I pull back in the driveway, I expect him to be sitting in front of the windows watching for my return.

As I come back home through the garage door, I still see his collar and leash hanging on a peg near the door, ready to take him on his walk around the block.

When I'm dressed up in nice clothes for work, I expect him to come up for a hug, to cover me in red hair and slime.

When there's leftovers from lunch or dinner, I want to drop them in his bowl and say "treats" so he'll come running into the kitchen.

When we go outside to play, I expect him to come running. He loves to be part of the family, to chase the balls or dig in the dirt while the boys are bouncing on the trampoline.

When I walk into the sun room to help the boys clean up toys at the end of the day, I expect him to be laying there on his big, blue bed.

When I sit down on the couch at night to watch television, I expect him to come lay by my corner of the couch, so I can rub his back with my foot, just as I always do.

When I'm watching a favorite show, I expect him to come stand at the end of the couch just looking at me, telling me it's time to go outside right now, just as the good part is about to begin.

When it's time for bed, I expect him to want to go outside and bark at the wind, just because that's what he always does. And once he comes back inside, I want to pull some pepperoni out of the drawer in the refrigerator, to bribe a little love and snuggle time.

Everywhere that I look, everything that I do, makes me think of him. The house feels so empty now without him. It's so hard to believe that he's not here with us anymore. He was the first baby. And he always will be.

Everywhere that I go, everywhere that I am, he'll still be with me, even if it's only in my heart now.

Rest in peace, my sweet puppy. You were very much loved, and you will be very much missed. I am so glad your last day with us was a happy one. You stayed at my feet while I worked, and you barked at the other dogs who walked down our street. You had your favorite bone in the back yard, and you got Daddy to take you for a walk around the block. You even had special treats for your dinner. And we were right there by your side as you said goodbye.

Buster Brown, March 12, 2003 - October 2, 2013
Music: The Dance, vocals Garth Brooks, songwriter Tony Arata, producer Allen Reynolds (1990).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

At the Club

A few weeks back, Grammy and Pappy invited us out to their club pool for the afternoon. The weather in our part of the world finally started to feel like summer. Never mind that it was August pushing into September. So we packed up after a baseball and soccer game, and headed out to the club. 


And the boys swam. And swam and swam. And slid down the slide. And jumped off the diving board. And ran back and forth between the three different pools and the snack bar. In other words, they had a great time.

Soaking up the last days of summer vacation at the pool. My boys can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.