Monday, April 22, 2013

Day at the Farm

Every Sunday night, our small group from church comes to our house.  We've been meeting since August, and now that it's April, we decided to shake things up a little.  The Newell's offered to host a day at their farm- and it could not have been a more fun day for everyone who came!

Clay, George and I headed out there just after church.  Clay and I had (unrealistically) high hopes that George would continue whatever nap he started in the car once we got to the farm.  George peeled his little eyes open just long enough to take in his new surroundings.  Once he saw the huge open fields, toys that no one was playing with, and a dog running around...there was no rest for this kiddo.  

This is literally what George did the entire time we were there.  He just ran around smiling and laughing.  I'm not sure I've ever seen him so happy.

 Katie and Charlotte Anne Newell

Once everyone was there, Luke took a group on a truck ride around the property.  Notice George is still smiling.  The truck ride was so much fun!  We went on a three mile loop through the woods, and Clay rode with Luke in the cab of the truck.  Every now and then Clay would pop his head out the window with some info from Luke about whatever we were passing.  It was quite the guided tour.

 A donkey started running towards the dog that was running alongside the truck.  The kids went crazy when they saw the donkey, and George just kept pointing and yelling "DONKEY!!"

 I kept thinking that George would get tired at some point.  Here he is with Connor Boney, just trying to catch a ride on the tricycle.  He ended up just pushing Connor around, I guess just to be close to the tricycle, should Connor get tired of riding it.  There seemed to be an unspoken 'line' for who got to ride the tricycle next, and George seemed to be at the end of the line :(

I'm telling was like moths to a flame with this trike.

 George and Charlotte Anne have been friends almost their whole lives, and I've been friends with Charlotte Anne's mom for most of my life, too.  This picture makes me so happy!  George absolutely loves Charlotte Anne, especially since they play together every Sunday night.  

 Here's the whole crew who was at the farm.

 Here's (most of) our KGroup that meets at our house every Sunday night.  We were missing the Burton's, and Robby and Margaret, since Robby and Margaret are getting married this Saturday!  Words cannot express how thankful Clay and I (and George) are for each of these people.  They are some of are dearest friends, and have loved and supported us throughout the past (almost) two years.  

 George and the Waldron's have such a special connection.  

 After dinner, George disappeared to the front porch with our friend, Laurie Holt.  Laurie is known around our friends as a 'baby whisperer', but I think I've found the source of her strength.  She gave George an entire peanut butter brownie, and this is how we found him.  

 We started a whiffle ball game after dinner, and put the kids in the back of the truck so they could watch.  George was in absolute heaven.

 I call this picture "View from the Cheap Seats"

 Whiffle Ball Game!

 So. Much. Fun.

George made his way out of the cheap seats long enough to finally get his turn on the tricycle.  This picture really captures his excitement- he took it out into the empty field.  I feel like he was really just trying to ride it home so he could keep it forever.

Katie and me at the end of the night.  We are due one month apart, both with little girls.  I know Emily and Nan will be the best of friends!

 While we were cleaning up, I looked over and saw these two cuddled up watching Winnie the Pooh.  Oh, the innocence and sweetness of this age.

We had the absolute best time at the farm- and I'm pretty sure George will be dreaming about this day for a long time to come!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Life Goes On

Life has continued to move forward, and Clay and I have been thankful for that.  Oddly enough, George has given us a 'normalcy' to our lives, and a predictable rhythm to every day that has helped us to move forward.  If you haven't been around George lately, I hope I can convey who George is/is becoming these days.  

George has become quite the talker these days.  He's added several words to his repertoire, and it just cracks Clay and I up on a daily basis.  He loves 'monkeys', 'puppies', 'piggies', 'Harper' (he actually says her name, which is hilarious), 'Max' (our neighbors' dog), 'Bullseye' (horse from Toy Story), and 'GI Joe'.  He has pretty good articulation, so it cracks me up when he walks up to me and says, 'GI Joe, peeees'.  In his mind, he really does need GI Joe in that moment.  

With all of these new characters, let's not be confused that Woody is still #1.  We literally listen to 'You've Got a Friend in Me' from Toy Story on repeat in the car.  He bobs his head back and forth the entire song, smiling, laughing, and loving his little life.  When the song is over and I'm sure he doesn't want to listen to that song one more time, he looks at me in the rearview mirror and says "more Woody peees."  He even does his little sign language to emphasize the desire in his heart to hear that song.  There are few Randy Travis songs that he likes that keeps Mom sane while driving around town.  

He's named a zebra that he sleeps with 'Reba', and he LOVES Reba.  We're thinking that he just couldn't say 'zebra', so he calls her Reba, but regardless, it's the first thing that he's actually named.  When we put him in his crib at night he snuggles up to Reba and says, "HEYYY, REBA!!"  It cracks us up every single night.  

In the midst of all that has transpired over the past month, I hope I never forget that George started saying 'love you' to Clay and me.  What a sweet gift the Lord gave us in this period of waiting and difficulty, to hear our son tell us he loves us.  

Other random George sayings include, but are not limited to the following:  "thank you" (usually sounds like 'zase youuuu'), 'Yee Haw, Bullseye!', 'bubbles peeees', 'outside?  outside?', 'monkey read peees' (when asking to read a Curious George book).  He loves both of our families and is starting to remember all of their names.  He asks for all the names he can remember when he wakes up in the morning and after his nap.  He just starts listing them and walking around the house like maybe someone will just pop up around the corner to surprise him.  I love how our families love George, and how he loves them too.

Okay...picture time!  

Anytime we go to New York Pizza in Homewood, George absolutely has to go to the arcade.  I felt like I was back in middle school as Clay was ransacking my wallet for spare quarters.  All of the lost quarters were totally worth it when I saw Clay and George's faces of excitement when this huge blue tennis ball dropped into the winner's bin.

 Our new gym, Lifetime Fitness, just opened up right around the corner from our house!  I met a friend here to spend some time by the pool and just looking out at this pool made me so excited for summer.  George is going to be beside himself when he sees this place.

 I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that we do bubbles 5-7 days of the week.  We actually have to hide the bubbles because George would be totally content to do bubbles all day, everyday.  

Clay is such a great dad.  He will sit and do bubbles with George all day and all night, just because it makes George so happy.  He gives so much at work all day, and then comes home and is so much fun for George, and such a sweet husband to me.

 I took George to Overton Park with our friends, Tricia and Lucy.  Maybe it's that we haven't been to a park in a while, but he was all over the place.  He could climb up and slide down the slide by himself.
When did he start growing up?!  

I have a sweet friend who started a screen printing business.  She made these gowns for Nan, and it made my heart so happy to see her name on something.  Everyday we get closer to meeting Nan, I can hardly contain my excitement for her to join our family.  

"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

When Dad's Away

If you know about this little blog, I am sure you know what our family is going through right now.  I'm not trying to avoid the 'elephant in the room' so-to-speak, or to act like everything is always happy and great at our house, but I won't be using our blog to keep our friends and family updated about our situation.  I need this blog to be a place of joy and escape- so you'll be finding the same old George shenanigans and cute pictures in the months to come.  

For Christmas this past year, my parents gave Clay a fishing trip.  Now that some of our friends are now dads, and even have multiple children, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a weekend that works with everyone's schedules.  I know the Lord had planned for all of the events of the last five days to coincide on purpose, so that I would learn to rely on Him more than I rely on Clay.  As hard as this was to learn, I was so glad Clay was able to go and be around his brothers, my brother, and a lifelong friend of his and just HAVE FUN.  

George and I had such a fun weekend here in Birmingham, and quite possibly, the most action-packed weekend (that wasn't a holiday) I can remember.  I knew myself better than to try to go it alone, so Saty actually spent both Friday night and Saturday night here at the house with me.  It was so good to have her here for me, but George was even more excited than I was to have her around 24/7.  When things are hard, I do much better if I stay busy- so that's just what we did.  

Friday night, KK, Rogers, and Frannie came over for dinner and playtime.  George was devastated when they left- even though it was an hour after he usually goes to bed.  He literally stood at the front door calling out after 'Rogies'!  But Saturday morning, all his woes were wiped away when Saty was there to get him up in the morning.  After breakfast, we packed up and met KK, Rogers, and Frannie at the petting zoo at Oak Mountain.  George was really thrown off by the fact that the animals are just allowed to walk around freely.  I think he is more keen on the way the zoo works, with the animals behind one-foot-thick-glass.  But he had a great time chasing Rogers and Saty all over the farm.

George left me in the dust most of the weekend.


George and Rogers taking in the sights!

We saw a group on a hayride, so we obviously wanted a turn.  We found out you had to have 10 people to go on the hayride, so Saty went up to complete strangers to coax them into joining the fun.
I'm so glad they were willing to join us because the kids loved it (even though it was one single loop around the parking lot).

 I stole this picture from Katie- it's just the best!

 I helped Rogers make a flattened penny- who wouldn't want to pay fifty-one cents for a penny that is now useless?  Oh the things we do for memories :)

 After we had exhausted all the petting farm had to offer, we found a field next to the lake in Oak Mountain and the boys had so much fun playing with the soccer ball and then playing down by the lake.  George was so sad we wouldn't let him jump in- which makes me excited about his swim lessons coming up in a few weeks!

 Rogers and George found this huge pile of leaves and had so much fun throwing them around.  I just love these two boys so much.

 George doesn't quite have the physicality that Rogers has- so he was getting pretty pooped.  He found his way over to KK and Frannie who were relaxing on a picnic blanket we brought.  He was more content with some Toy Story fruit snacks and a little rest period.

After all this, we headed to Chick-Fil-A for lunch and then we headed home.  I'm not sure I've seen George as tired as he was on the way home.  He took the hardest nap of his life, and then was ready to go all over again.  We had dinner with my family Saturday night, and by 6:00, I saw the delirium really set in on George.  But he was willing to push through for a little more playtime with Rogers.  

All-in-all, it was the best possible weekend considering what Clay and I are in the midst of right now.  I laughed really hard, I was able to have such sweet time with family, and I'm experiencing what it means to rely on the Lord.  He is the only thing that makes sense to us right now.  Clay came home in time for church this morning, and I was so glad he did.  I do not know what we would do without the community at Cahaba Park Church.  By now, I know you know how much I absolutely love hymns.  We sang this one today, and it was such a comfort to me.

"Jesus!  What a help in sorrow!
While the billows o'er me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my comfort, helps my soul.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah, what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end."
- from 'Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners!'

"I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.  Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His Name together."  Psalm 34: 1-2

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Celebrations

The more our families grow, the harder it seems to get everyone together- especially on holidays.  This year, Easter celebrations started on March 17.  You read that right- we celebrated Easter with the Howell family over two weeks ago because that was the only time we could get everyone together for a leisurely meal and family time.  It actually made this Easter 'season' filled with such anticipation for the actual day of Easter, and allowed us to enjoy the day as a family.

I've been terrible about having my 'real' camera with me lately, so I have no pictures from the Howell-Easter-Dinner-Festivities.  The next weekend we celebrated Easter with the Cochran family, and I at least had my phone with me this time to capture some sweet moments with the Cochran's.

Mama Zo had the boys help her make a Bunny Cake.  I thought this was a really brave endeavor, since all three of these boys could pretty much live on cake and frosting alone.  These boys had so much fun getting to do this with their Mama Zo!

 This could be one of my favorite pictures from the day.  I love these boys so much!

 All three of them were so excited!

Finished product with Mama Zo and Pops!  
Such a fun memory.

Fast forward to Easter Sunday morning.  I felt terrible that we never got George's Easter basket down from the attic, but all of his Easter Bunny gifts fit perfectly in his new wheelbarrow!  Plus I wasn't sure the Easter Bunny could fill up his basket too :)  George was so excited that he could hardly touch his new gifts!  This lasted no more than 5 or so minutes... 
I love his little face in this picture.

 Clay loves that March Madness is alive and well in the Cochran house.

 George absolutely loves his wheelbarrow.  The only two things he always makes sure to have in it are this little Mickey rattle and his Woody.  Woody always rides first class with Georgie.

 Family pic on the porch before church.

 Family pic outside of church while it wasn't raining!

 After church we met Saty, Pop, and Aunt Erie for Easter brunch.  Pop and George are old souls and kindred spirits.  I have no idea what they're laughing at here.

 Saty, Pop and George

 George LOVES Aunt Erie!

 We missed Scooter, KK, Rogers, and Frannie!
Howell family pic after brunch.

 George was on a pretty good sugar high after brunch, so we played in the front yard for a while.

 This kid loves his lawn mower.

 I think he was trying to make it to the Maddox's house.

Finally time to call it a day.

This Easter was such a meaningful year for Clay and me, especially.  Our pastor, Murray, preached about the implications the resurrection has on our lives today.  He said we are either consumed with death, or consumed with life.  Whatever we may face in this life, we have to remember that Jesus has already overcome it.  This was a powerful word for Clay and me, as we face this week together.  We sang this hymn during communion, and while the music and melody are beautiful, the words of the hymn were even more beautiful to me.  Happy Easter!

"How can it be, the One who died, has borne our sin through sacrifice
To conquer every sting of death?  Sing, sing hallelujah!
For joy awakes as dawning light when Christ's disciples lift their eyes.
Alive He stands, their Friend and King; Christ, Christ He is risen.

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed! Oh, sing hallelujah.
Join the chorus, sing with the redeemed; Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.

Where doubt and darkness once had been, they saw Him and their hearts believed.
But blessed are those who have not seen, yet, sing hallelujah.
Once bound by fear now bold in faith, they preached the truth and power of grace.
And pouring out their lives they gained Life, life everlasting.

The power that raised Him from the grave
Now works in us to powerfully save.
He frees our hearts to live His grace;
Go, tell of His goodness.

He's alive, He's alive!
Heaven's gates are opened wide.
He's alive, He's alive!
Now in heaven glorified."

-Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!
by Keith & Kristyn Getty