"When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to You."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How I spent my lunch break...

The countdown to my "happy place" is on. September 1st is circled in big, bold, purple and gold colors on my mental calendar, and I've got my first pumpkin candle on hand just waiting to take its proper place on the end table beside my couch.

It's true that opposites attract. Cody and I are so different in so many ways. He lives and breathes for hunting season... I shuddered when I came home one day and saw bloody, dead ducks filling up my garage after one of his hunting excursions. I know nothing about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers history, but I can do more than just hold my own when discussing why they should go for it on 4th and 1 rather than settle for a punt. He could watch the same movie 100 times... I prefer reality TV and a new book on my Nook. We actually rejoice when we find a television show that we both enjoy watching. (Parenthood, Grey's Anatomy, Big Brother, Modern Family and the highly-missed Friday Night Lights).

But there is a huge part of our lives that we connect on... it's the season in which we started dating and the passions which brought us together. We love Fall... and we love our football. And the fact that the two go together like peanut butter and jelly? ...It's like the cherry on top of our Sunday night chocolate shakes.

Football is in my blood. It was part of my upbringing. I never played it... but I get it. I know that there is nothing more exciting than the first kickoff of the season... that nothing smells better than a cool Fall afternoon and a cheesy dip in the crockpot, that nothing looks sweeter than the site of a full parking lot full of tailgaters, that nothing feels better than putting on your favorite jersey or hoodie and a cheek tattoo... and that nothing sounds better than the contact of a well-executed tackle and stadium full of fans clapping to the Fight Song. When I was younger, I chose staying home on a Sunday afternoon to watch Dedric Ward play for the Jets... over going to a movie at the mall with my friends. One of my all-time favorite memories of traveling is from a cold night on the football field at the Texas State stadium... not that time I stood outside Buckingham Palace. (Although that was pretty cool, too). And since Cody played football, coached it... and is a true expert on the sport... and since his work is much more enjoyable when temperatures aren't 100 degrees outside... we bond over the anticipation of September 1st, kickoff, cooler temps. and weekends spent watching The Boys of Fall.

It's true that our very first date... was to a football game. It's true that as a college student in my senior year... I spent my Friday nights attending high school football games 30 minutes away... just for the chance to watch him coach and be able to talk to him for five minutes after the game before he'd run off to watch film and discuss strategy for the next week. It's true that I started falling in love with him while watching him mentor young kids on the field under the tutelage of the late and great Ed Thomas. The football field is home to both of us. And since we have the NFL Sunday ticket this year and will be able to watch the Bucs from the comfort of our own home and my Sunday sweats... I'm going to try really hard to fall in love with his team almost as much as I love my own.

Sports brought my parents together. Football brought Cody and I together. And that's why I eagerly countdown to my happy place. That is why today during my noon hour, I ventured out to Hobby Lobby where I could fill my senses with the colors of Harvest garland, the scents of Pumpkin Spice... and the thrill of a 40% off sign in every aisle! I purchased that pretty white-lighted pumpkin I've had my eye on, and for 30 minutes... I returned to my happy place. Until we meet again, that is. (In just one month!)

Now I just have to dig through the boys' closet and make sure last year's football jerseys still fit!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Four... AND A HALF!

Happy half birthday, Jaden!

I can't believe you are halfway to the big FIVE! That's right, buddy - you are thhiiisss close to being able to fill up a whole hand with the number of years that you've been our silly goose.

Who are you as a 4 1/2 year old?

...you are a smarty pants only getting smarter. You're obviously soaking it all up, and I think we're all a little anxious for you to get back into preschool in a few weeks so you can start soaking up even more.

...you are SO energetic. I call you our little energizer bunny. It's amazing how the MINUTE you wake up in the morning, you are on full alert and ready to tackle the day. You are always moving, "bouncing off the walls," and are never interested in just relaxing. Yes... this gets exhausting. But you just love life and don't want to waste a minute of it. I love you for it.

...you are becoming braver. No longer afraid of the water, you have surprised us this summer by having a blast jumping into the pool, dunking your head under water, loving the rides at Adventureland, and tackling those water slides head first on your tummy. You have come a long ways from your first swimming lessons when we had to drag you kicking and screaming into the kiddie pool!

...you are thriving as a big brother. I think this might be one of the ways I'm most proud of you. Though you can be bossy and aggressive at times, you are so very protective, are always asking Brandon to join you in any activity you're doing, and can often times understand what your brother is trying to say before we can. And I think you love that he looks up to you... evidenced by the fact that you are always asking him to watch you do certain things so that you can show off a little bit. I love that Brandon has you.

...you are a goofball, and you LOVE to laugh. You ask people to tickle you, and once you start giggling about something, it's hard to get you to stop!

...you are sensitive. There are times where you don't request it, but I can sense that you need a hug... and when I come to you with one, you instantly squeeze on tighter, rest your head on my shoulders, and let out a big sigh in appreciation. Though you try to act like you're "so big" and grown up now... I know you're still my little boy inside, and I hope this lasts for quite a while longer!

...you are Daddy's sidekick. You want to do everything he does... whether it's mowing the grass, helping take out the garbage, learning how Daddy flips the meat on the grill, or pretending to "drive" from your booster seat... you are eager to learn how to become a man. A couple weeks ago, you begged your daddy to let you go to work with him. I think a few years from now... he'll let you. (Though he probably WILL put you to work!)

...you are learning the ways of the world a little bit more. The other night, the discussion at the table was where our meat comes from. Daddy finally told you how we got our pork chops that night, and for as sensitive you are and for the animal lover that you are, you surprised me by not caring at all that in order to eat meat, we have to "die it." You can't wait for your first hunting trip.

...you're becoming more interested in sports. You told me the other day that you missed playing soccer like you did in the spring, you love to shoot hoops in our driveway and you ask us all the time to play baseball with you. You get impatient with yourself very easily... and though we are trying to teach you what it means to have to practice something, I think you will have an inner drive as you grow up to be the best that you can be at whatever it is you choose to take on.

...you still love music. You are constantly humming. It's like second nature to you... most of the time you don't even realize you are doing it. You sing yourself to sleep every night and wake up singing every single morning. Though I don't always appreciate that at 6 a.m. -- I think we should probably all approach life this way, and the world could learn something from you.

...you are a true sweetheart. Example: this morning you were playing Mario Kart on the Wii with Papa Bob. You beat him in several races, and eventually turned to him and said, "You're not very good at this game, Papa. BUT... you're a good person!"

...you LOVE to eat. I swear you are a bottomless pit. You could eat all day if we let you, and you are always asking for snacks. It's a good thing we don't keep junk food in the house. Your favorite foods are pizza, noodles, fruit, crackers, fruit snacks, juice, chocolate milk and cookies. You also do pretty good with most soups, and I think you might have your mama's love for Fall/Winter foods because you've been requseting soup a lot lately.

...you love going to parks, and you're getting better at trying to make friends when we go places. The problem is that you're so big for your age, that you try to blend in with kids your own size... and they usually turn out to be a couple of years older than you are. You'll get there!

...your favorite shows right now are Sesame Street, Higgleytown Heroes and Bubble Guppies. I secretly love that you have found a new passion for Higgleytown Heroes. This was a show that used to be on Disney when you were a baby, and your daddy and I remember watching it a lot in the early mornings at our old apartment before we bought our house. It hasn't been shown on the regular Disney Channel for a few years now, but we recently got a new channel that shows old Disney cartoons. You have us record it every day, and whenever we watch it, it brings back memories of your first year.

...you like to look at books and pretend you're reading them out loud to yourself. You take a book with you to bed almost every night even though you can't really see anything as it's getting dark. You don't have a favorite book... we have lots of them!

...you love to play the Wii. As long as we let you play a little bit, you're okay with us telling you when it's time to stop. We usually give you about a half an hour a day... because there are many days where we don't have time to play it at all. It's definitely an activity we try to restrict you to when we're not able to be outside. Luckily, you love to be outside so we have no trouble keeping you active.

...some of your favorite activities: driving your John Deere tractor around outside, listening to your little music player in your bedroom where you can have it as loud as you want, wrestle and play chase, play at the pool and play with anything that has any sort of button or mechanical feature.

...you are in the Pre-K Sunday School room for the next year, start your second year of preschool on August 20th (three half days a week) and will be starting kindergarten in just one more year! (In one year we are pulling you out of daycare completely since Mommy will be able to be home with you before and after school. Our bank account can't wait!)

...you still take naps. Mainly because you have to at daycare so we like to keep it consistent when you're at home. That will obviously be going away in a year!

We love you so much Jaden, and it is so much fun watching you grow as a brother, friend, student and person. Happy half birthday!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Video Friday!

Enjoy some home movies :)

...looking forward to this weekend! For pretty weather, a pizza night in front of the Olympic opening ceremonies, date night at a camp site... and hopefully some rain??

...and so much else to look forward to...
...the Panther football team reports this week!
...the Fall season's Dancing With the Stars cast has just been announced...
...and pretty soon... THIS:

I am giddy with excitement for Fall! Won't be long now...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless(ish) Wednesday

Brandon discovered a new use for our bunk beds...

I think I've mentioned before that he's a monkey, right?

...He's a also a lady's man. This is the routine now when going to daycare in the morning... sunglasses on and an "ice cream cone for Aubrey." Aubrey is this sweet little three year old that goes to the same daycare. I think Brandon has a thing for her. He always takes the pink ice cream for her... saves the vanilla for himself. I do have to say... she's a doll. He's got good taste.

Such a cool dude...

{P.S. Note the faint lipstick mark on his cheek above... I swear Mama kisses those cheeks 50 times a day. Gotta do it while he'll still let me.}

Sunday, July 22, 2012

This weekend...

...we gathered for a very last minute family pizza night at Ella's house. Jaden played the Tangled game on their Wii, while Brandon found a favorite Barbie in her room and was content to carry it around with him all night. This reminded me of when Casey would play Barbie's at my house, and I would play marbles at his house. Glad to know my boys can adapt to the environment they're in... and since they're okay to play with girl stuff... they're bound to be great daddies someday, right??

...we sold our double stroller. I had been contemplating this and going back and forth about it all summer long. I kept telling myself we might just need it just one more time, but have realized that with Jaden's size and weight and the fact that neither of our kids really like to sit in a stroller anymore... that we could probably make due with just our single-person stroller again. I had Cody pull it out of the garage so I could take a picture of it and dust it off. And of course... I got a little teary-eyed. It never fails... this happens every time we get rid of a major piece of "baby" from our house. I stood there, stared at it, and remembered that first spring, summer and fall after Brandon was born. Jaden was the age Brandon is now, and we took so many walks with the two of them and that stroller. In those days, Jaden was only talking a little bit and Brandon was just an infant... so those walks were always peaceful and provided the opportunity for Cody and I to talk uninterupted for 20 minutes while our kids were happy and peaceful and buckled in tight. Thankfully, when we pulled it out of the garage yesterday, Brandon wanted me to take him for a walk in it one more time. He hasn't wanted to sit in a stroller all summer long... maybe he knew his Mama needed that. :)

...we fought with Brandon over taking a nap on Saturday, and he eventually won. After a little over an hour of battling it, we let him come out into the living room with us for quiet time. He did a good job of laying with us, watching cartoons and playing with some quiet toys for almost an hour...

...while Brandon played quietly on the floor, I treated myself to a mid-afternoon cup of coffee (with plenty of Chocolate Caramel creamer)... and some bread and Honey. Honey has been my new addiction lately... I have to have a little of it every day.

...eventually Brandon began to get bored without Jaden to play with and started shouting Jaden's name over and over again no matter how many times we told him to keep quiet and that Jaden was still sleeping. I eventually gave up and allowed him to go wake poor Jaden up...

Brandon LOVES his big brother!

...we played outside while Daddy put the finishing touches on our Chicken Enchilada crockpot meal...

...and after supper... since I knew it would probably be one of our last nice nights for weather before the awful heat wave of the next week... we went to a park by the river.

It makes me so sad to see the grass that brown and crunchy. This  morning at church, our pastor prayed for rain. We need it so badly!

Our kids are in their element whenever they are at the park. It's so fun to sit back and watch them. Last night they both figured out how to climb UP the slide... all the way to the top. So they did it over and over again, of course.


...after a good hour of wrestling on the floor, Brandon was happy to go down for his three hour nap. But... it had to be on the top bunk. During nap time, we split the boys up and have Jaden sleep in our room to make nap time more successful. Brandon has decided that now that he can climb to the top of the bunk beds... he gets to sleep on the top, too...

...we got creative with things to do inside since the temperatures were rising quickly outside...

...we played games of Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders and made one of my favorite spicy pasta dishes that we haven't tackled since Winter...

...we then decided to ignore the dangerous heat warnings and took a post-supper trip to the boys' most favorite park...

...while at the park, Jaden's shoe completely fell apart so we made a late evening trip to Target to buy him a new pair so he wouldn't be without tomorrow...

...before bed, we hit the books and practiced our letters a little bit. We've been slacking quite a bit this summer, and with Jaden's second year of preschool starting in LESS THAN A MONTH... it's time to get back after it so Mrs. W doesn't scold us come August 20th. ;)

...now ready to sink into my couch for the three-hour season finale of the Bachelorette! Sleepy tonight... and tired of the heat. It's hard to enjoy Summer when you can't even be outside. We are looking forward to Fall, the start of school... and Football! And since we have the Sunday NFL Ticket at our house this year, Cody is excited to have Wade over to our place on Sunday afternoons this season. I've been browsing Pinterest for some good Fall appetizers to feed the older boys while also trying to figure out how I'm going to keep my little ones from getting in their way while the Bucs are on TV. ;) The countdown is on to the best time of the year, and with this week's forecast... I can't wait.

Have a good week... here's to hoping for a good thunderstorm and some green grass before September!