Mr. Bear is 6

Oh my little bear… I love so many things about you and I can’t wait to celebrate your 6 years of life today.

B6

BRAVE: I love how brave you are.  You love a challenge.  While the rest of your family takes comfort in things we are familiar with, you love trying new things, even if it will take a while to master it.  You begged to try the catcher position in baseball this fall – and turns out, you loved it!

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CUTE:  You are such a cute little bugger and you know it.  I love the faces you make and the personality you add to everything.  You bring the excitement to our household.

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CONFIDENT:  No matter what, you nail it.  You walk into any room with confidence and are the opposite of a wall flower.  If I ask you to get in character, you have no problem doing just that!

B2

GENEROUS:  I love how thoughtful and generous you are.  It reminds me of my sister when I was growing up. She never hesitated if I asked to borrow her clothes or play with her new toys, even though I wasn’t always so quick to reciprocate.  I see this in how you treat Landon like gold – always willing to give him your dollars if he wants to buy something, or like in the picture above when we took you out to lunch and when the bill came, you pulled a $5 you had tucked into your pocket and told us you wanted to pay for lunch.  We love encouraging this generosity and spirit.  This is definitely a trait God handpicked for you and it makes you so special.

B4

SILLY:  It makes my heart smile when I find random selfies you’ve taken on my phone or iPod, little reminders of your silly personality shine through with funny stories and crazy candid shots.  Mini treasures that I stumble across unexpectedly in my days.  I hope you always keep this silly playfulness in your personality and the world doesn’t soften this in you.

B3

AWESOME: You are just awesome.  You bring so much fun to our family. I’m amazed at how observant and smart you are.  You don’t think like others, you think in your own special Brooksie way that is beyond your years. I love you Brooksie Matthew and can’t wait to sneak you out of school this afternoon to hit the mountains for a snow day (your birthday wish!)

Happy 6th Birthday Brooksie Bear!

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Recap of 2017

Hello blog… it’s been a while.  2017 was a crazy year.

In the summer we spent a ton of the time at the pool watching those boys master things like dolphin dives and backstroke. We also hit the road for our annual trip to visit Dean’s family in Baltimore.  Of course this included an O’s game.

swim

Brooks graduated Pre-K in the spring and got lost in the exciting world of elementary school this fall. Here is his last week with his cousins and his first day.  Yes, Brooks is definitely the extrovert in our family.
kinder

To celebrate his new status as Kindergartener… we took Brooks on his special “mom-dad-Brooks” trip right before school started.  What can I say, it was a blast – water park, swimming, beach, donuts, ice cream.  We did it all and Brooks got to run the show, picking everything we did.

kinder trip

(Side story: Dean lost his wedding ring at the water park and someone found and turned it in at the end of the day.  Talk about a miracle!)

We also took a mini vacay in September with Dean’s brother and his family.  The kids loved all the cousin time and we had a great long weekend.

vacay

In the fall, the kids played baseball again. Both of their teams did really good. Brooks played rookie machine pitch and loved playing catcher and started getting a few hits each game by end of the season.  Landon played machine pitch for the second season in a row and his team lost in the championship game.  Landon also hit his first (in the park) home run.

fallball

With school starting, we got into our groove in September and October. I even got to chaperone Landon’s field trip to Panther stadium.  But then, we got to Halloween and it was a rapid blur until Christmas.

We also had a few visits from the toothfairy… look at this smile (or lack of smile with that big gap in front 😉 )

tooth

That brings us to the holidays.  For Thanksgiving we went to Asheville with my dad’s entire family (including my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and cousins kids). There were about 50 of us! My mom coordinated a great weekend where we had plenty of family time, but also time to do whatever everyone was most interested in…. great since there were so man of us.  We did the Polar Express with my sister, brother and cousin who has kids.  We also hit the Biltmore House to see it all gussied up for the holidays. I’ve always wanted to do that, and it was great to visit it again – the first time I saw it was the day Dean proposed about 10 years ago.

tgiv

(While every other kid told Santa what they wanted out loud, Brooks insisted on whispering in Santa’s ear because he wanted to ask for Pokemon cards which is something mom banned from our house the second half of 2017 – too much fighting, leaving them all over, and not doing chores, homework, etc. because they were busy trading. The boy is ballsy – isn’t he 🙂 )

One thing that was nice this year is that we tried to take a step back and not force so much at the holidays.  We still did all kinds of fun activities like building gingerbread houses, visiting Santa, lots of Christmas movies and hot chocolate, driving to see Christmas lights in nearby neighborhoods, but I feel like we are often traveling or trying to fit in other extras and we really took a lot of that out and it was just Dean and I with our boys.  Another really special thing at Christmas this year is when we went to the Christmas Eve service, Landon raised his hand and committed his life to Jesus. That was the biggest highlight of the holiday for me.  I definitely cried when he said his prayer.

xmas.jpg

 

santa
So that was our 2017 in a single blog post (from where I cut off last Spring.)  Of course, I missed so many of the details of each month like weekends away with friends/family and special cousin activities throughout the year, but I think the highlights cover it pretty well 🙂

Why I said yes (Shaping my kids)

Over the weekend, I asked Brooks to go upstairs, shower and get ready for bed, then he could open some gifts he received.  (He’d been begging to open them for hours, but we were trying to get the house in order, clean up, etc from a busy weekend at home but never at home).

About 2 minutes later, he comes upstairs to my room and says, “Mom, can I open one of my presents now and then right away I’ll go take a shower?  I’ll be really fast and hang my towel and get pjs on.”

Normally, my answer is no when my kids push back on something they are asked to do.  I don’t like to have gray area where they think that every time they whine or ask me to change my mind, I’m going to do it. That’s a slippery slope that’s hard to recover from.

But the way he came up and almost presented it as a business option made me smile inside.  (Gosh, this boy is just like his papa – a master negotiator.)

I said yes and the reason I did is because I want him to recognize when he chooses to take a little risk in a negotiation, sometimes it will pay off. Especially when he approaches it the way that he did – a reasonable compromise and a win-win for both of us.  (He did in fact, take a quick shower, hang his towel and get PJs on right after he opened the gift.)

I also want him to experience WINS.  I feel like I can often come across as a NO mom.

Can I bring all my pokemon cards to the grocery store? No.
Can I have a piece of candy tonight? No.
Can I play outside after we come back from dinner? No.

I want to have my kids feel like they win, too.  That if they approach things reasonably (without crazy whining and complaining), they may be able to argue their case.  I don’t want to turn my kids into little Gingers because I like them better as one-of-a-kind Brooksies (or Landons).

I’m trying to do a better job saying yes.  And letting them figure out what approaches result in success in our house.

Gotta go bathroom.

Brooks is the master of having to go potty at the worst times.  We’ll remind him regularly- when we’re leaving the house, when we pass a bathroom at the store – Brooks, do you need to go?

And it’s always “no”.

And then we get to enjoy this:

Yes, that’s my first-baseman in full potty dancing, holding himself form!

I even got some video and he literally dances around between plays, then the ball is hit to him, he runs to get it, finishes the play, then starts potty dancing again!

 

Landon turns 7: Cooking Party

Landon and his cousin, Harleigh, are three days apart.  They were born in the same hospital, side by side in the nursery, just down the hall from each other from the start.  They’ve been in the same preschool together and now are in the same elementary school.

While they haven’t been assigned the same teacher for K or 1st grade, they still try to find each other during lunch, recess and other times to say hi.

Plus, we are regularly doing family dinners, so the cousins get to hang out a lot.

Since we’ve started seeing more “gender separation” over the course of the past year (i.e. Harleigh wanting to do more girly activities with the girl cousins and Landon wanting to roughhouse with the boy cousins), we weren’t sure if they would still want to do a combined party – as they’ve done for every other party in their life.  We thought she might want a pedicure party and he’d want a superhero party or something.

We asked and they insisted on a joint party together and wanted to do a cooking class.  And it was awesome, because they each got to invite some of their classmates – who also know each other thru school – and everyone had a great time.

L bday 7lbday72

The class was great – they did individual pizzas and molten chocolate cakes.  And to take home, they made slime/flubber.  The instructors did a great job keeping their audience engaged and also made it very interactive.  For example, if they needed 4 cups of flour, they did it in 1/2 c increments so 8 people got to do flour. So everyone got to pour, mix, add a lot of things!

If you’re in Charlotte and looking for a fun cooking experience for a kids party, Flour Power was great!

First game.

I love using the blog to keep track of milestones and highlights.  Occasionally I’ll find myself taking a walk back to remember first steps, first time on the slide, etc.

So, of course, I need to document Brooksie Bear’s first t-ball game.  It was a long time coming for him, with a rain out first game that had him in tears because he wasn’t going to be able to wear his uniform and play.    This after a few canceled practices because of rain and cold weather.

He was beside himself to finally get out there:

Bgame1

And he did such a great job.  He stayed focused on the batter and didn’t get distracted by the grass, dirt, flowers, bees, etc that so often distract 4 and 5 year olds 🙂  He was so focused – which is a little outside of his personality.  It was so cute to see him ready to go.
After a year of sitting on the sideline always watching his brother play, he was so thrilled that he was the guy in the field and at bat.

And of course, the best part according to B:  batting and the snacks!!

Bgame2

 

Sweet dad moments.

My boys lucked out with their dad.  He really is a hands-on daddy who is constantly shuttling them to their activities, cheering them from the stands and involved in what they have going on with school.  He just loves being the dad of Landon and Brooks.

The other night, I came home to the sweetest images:

Yes, those are our boys uniforms cleaned, laid out and ready to go.  Complete with their belts and socks.  Courtesy of my husband.

Dean takes so much pride in being a baseball daddy – he takes special care to clean their uniforms just so (just like his mom did for him when he played), and always making sure they have all the gear they need and are ready to hit the field with plenty of warm up time.

Seeing those uniforms laid out just reminds me how much he loves his boys.  I see it in the hours they spend in the driveway playing catch, ,throwing pop ups, or taking some swings.  I hear it in the excitement in his voice as he sneaks into the dugout between innings to give a high five or word of encouragement.  And it’s evident in the time he takes to not just show them the skills, but also to teach them the nuances of the game.

He’s a proud dad of two growing ball players.  And I love that I get a front row seat to all the action (and the behind the scenes highlights, too).  Because all that action is the result of lots of behind the scenes work.