Thursday, November 28, 2013

So Thankful!

On the eve of Thanksgiving I was actually looking forward to the next day.  I'm not a huge turkey fan, and Thanksgiving has never been a favorite holiday of mine, but I think that is starting to change.  I was just excited for the chance to spend time with all of my family, have a wonderful meal, and just to cherish these moments as my family is growing up all too quickly.

Here are the boys dressed in their "festive" colors.

For the first time EVER in my life (or my dad's which would be slightly over 2x my age) we ate the Thanksgiving meal for supper instead of lunch.  That would be the one thing that I would change about this day.  It felt like all day long we were waiting for family to arrive and eat!  I'm definitely a fan of a large meal at lunch time with the leftovers (or whatever you feel like eating) later on at dinnertime.  Let's go back to that, okay?

We spent most of the morning watching the Macy's parade and the boys playing around inside.  We sang songs and danced around and with four boys it's not long before everything we try to do turns into WWE.  I guess that's just how it goes.  Later on, Jamison enjoyed knocking down Nanny's towers.  

Here's a picture of the table, pre-food.  I used my china, because I like to do things like that.  Even though I've also been known to pull out the Chinet because, frankly, cleanup is a breeze.  Since my only job this year was desserts, I figured I could handle the real china.  We had wine and cider for dinner.  Derek had sprite since he didn't like my muscadine wine selection.  That's about the only type that I really like that he does not.  It was what we had on-hand, so that's what you get.  

Diane/Grandma made a wonderful turkey and it was even better the next day when I used the leftovers in a pampered chef recipe.  All the boys enjoyed that!  We have so much to be thankful for.  We enjoyed a wonderful meal and spent quality time with our family.  What more can you ask for?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Godzilla Baby Attacks!

One of the fun things that our boys like to all play together is what we call "Godzilla Baby"

The bigger boys will set up cities complete with army men that are trying to protect the buildings from "Godzilla Baby."  Jamison always has the best time attacking the cities and knocking everything down.  I love my boys!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Christmas Parade!

On a whim, we decided to go to the Raleigh Christmas Parade.  We had been before, but not since 2010, and the two big boys didn't remember it.  In other years, it has been too cold, or interfered with the baby's nap.  Today wasn't too cold, and we thought Jamison would do okay missing his nap.  I'm glad we decided to go as we all had a wonderful time.

We did our best to leave early, but since we hadn't really planned for this, we were lucky that we made it out the door just before 9 a.m.  We actually scored front row seats for the big 3 on a blanket that we brought and Jamison was content in mom's lap (or being held by dad) for most of the time.

Jamison did fall asleep briefly in the ergo towards the end.  I had not remembered that the parade lasts 2 hours!  The boys loved all of the parade, especially all the candy that they got being in the front row.  

Jamison is such an easy, happy baby!

Finally Santa arrived!  What a fun day!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Praise God for the Playground!

Today our entire family headed to Nashville, NC for the playground dedication that was being held at NUMC in memory of my grandparents who bequeathed a large part of their estate to their beloved church.  It was approximately one year ago that they had a special church service to announce this, and part of the money that was given to the church was earmarked for the children.  It was decided that the children's playground would be updated.

My grandmother would have loved this as she taught Sunday school for 50+ years!

Waiting for the ribbon to be cut.

Mary Lou Braswell and Granddaddy Bob cut the ribbon to officially open the playground.
(the Braswell family also substantially gives to NUMC)

Everything on the playground was new except the Arc.  It is a staple to the church and playground, so it was given a new paint job.

Grandaddy Bob even tried out the see-saw.

Notice our dare-devil, Maverick, flying down the slide face first!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

In Defense of our 5th Child...

The following is my Version of an article originally published on April 1, 2013.
And no, I'm not pregnant.
If sometime in the future my husband and I were to announce our big news: we’re expecting our 5th child.  Here are somethings that we might expect to hear: 
"Are you still trying for that girl?"
“Do you hate money?”
“Are you done now?”
“Are you crazy?”
“Was this planned?”
“Don’t you know there are things you can do to prevent this?”
“You must be Catholic or Mormon.”

Critics of large families mention the burden that our children will be on society and the Earth.  We hear about the health care costs our children will generate and the size of our family carbon footprint.  Others simply express concern for my husband and me, that we will be too tired, have financial stress, or not have enough time for each other.
Here’s my question: why can’t we look at children as future contributors to society, not burdens on society?  My children are the best gift I have for society.  Children bring hope for the future and model unconditional love.  Have we forgotten?  It is the sign of a dying society when we see our children as burdens rather than beacons of hope, future innovators.
The National Center for Health Statistics says the over all birth rate in 2011 is the lowest in this country since 1920. As a college-educated Caucasian female, I am predicted to have 1.6 children per 2011 statistics.  America’s overall fertility rate is 1.96, which is below the replacement rate of 2.1. The replacement rate refers to the number of children each woman needs to have to maintain current population levels, or zero population growth.
We do not have an overpopulation problem in the United States, we have a low-birth-rate problem.  Experts predict that global population is also slowing.  This trend is likely to continue as contraception becomes increasing availability in the developing world.  When birth rates fall below replacement rates societies suffer.  The average age of the population increases, creating a top-heavy society with heavy health-care and resource needs.   Children are the answer to this problem—our future workers, innovators, and supporters.  Children are our hope and future, not our burden.
But I’m not having kids to re-populate the earth, I’m having kids because I love them.  Yes, I will have a few more years of diapers and crying babies at night, but the rewards are many.  Here are my favorites:
  • Children keep me young and joyful.  I have to turn my anxiety off and play pretend with my 6-year-old, I rest every few hours and breastfeed my baby, and I share my five-year-old’s delight in drawing a construction site complete with diggers and front-end loaders.  They get me to eat home-made snow cones and play in the rain.  I play outside almost every day.  Do you?

  • Younger kids bring joy out of my older kids, no matter how grumpy they get.  My son can have a terrible attitude, but when his baby brother wants to play with him, he always smiles and obliges him.  And then I smile, too.
  • Life is never boring!  Our kids are each so unique, so different from the others.  And they keep growing and changing.  We never know what to expect.
  • I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.  I used to clean and polish away every nick in my wooden furniture and keep my bathroom spotless.  These days I figure a few marks in my furniture adds to their antique value.  
  • Parenthood makes me work hard.  Without kids, I’m sure I’d watch more TV, drink more wine, and become a more selfish individual.  With kids, I’m forced to think of others and avoid self-absorption.
  • Kids make me realize how ridiculous I can be.   One of my kids complains about dinner almost every night.  It’s really annoying.  Then I realize there are things I complain about too much, too.
  • There is nothing like parenthood to keep you humble.  Just when you think you have it all figured out, they throw you another curve ball.
  • I want less stuff.  I keep thinking, if we had fewer kids and more disposable income, what would I do with it?  Drive a fancier car, live in a bigger house?  I don’t want a fancier car and I certainly don’t want to clean or care for a bigger house. 
So in a nutshell, I'm quite happy with my "large" family.  Honestly, I don't consider it a large family, but everything is relative when compared to the average American family.  I did not start out with the goal to have a large family and I'm not competing with anybody else.  I just love kids and love the joy that they bring to my life.

Yes, it is hard work.  Yes, I would like a break every now and then to renew and recharge so that I can give my all to my family.  But would I change it?  No!  God has a plan for my life and he is unfolding me just like he unfolds the rose…one petal at a time.  I just have to be patient and see what God has in store for me next.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Budding Artist

Brighton is my budding artist.  His middle name is Sean, and how fitting for him since his Uncle Sean loved to draw.  Brighton can spend hours and hours "crafting"

He used his birthday money to buy an art kit that helps kids create their own versions of famous paintings.  He selected Monet's "Water Lillies"

See that tongue out?  That's concentration, folks.

I need to take a picture of the finished product which I framed and immediately hung up.  It is really good.  You would have no idea that a five-year-old did it all by himself (I only helped hold the stencil)  Keep "crafting" Brighton.  I love all your creations.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Jamison is 7 months!

Yesterday, Jamison turned Seven Months!  

How is that even possible.  My favorite baby age (6 months) has come and gone already.

I wish Jamison would stay little like this for just a while longer.  I love having a baby around and it makes me sad to think he may be the last one!  

My two blonde cuties!

Jamison at seven months is starting to change.  He is starting to drop his 3rd nap and be awake during  dinner time.  He sits at his highchair and likes to try whatever we are having for dinner.  So far, his favorite things are pizza crusts and meat!  We still haven't worked at all on getting him to take a bottle and at this point I'm not sure if it will ever happen, but we may give it one more try!

Jamison still does his scrunch/scoot/roll/stretch to get anywhere he wants to go.  He is not officially crawling and I'm not sure if he will.  His favorite things to go after are Maverick's potty and shoes (yuck!)  He Finally got his first tooth (bottom left) the day after he turned 7 months.

He absolutely loves the "Johnny Jump Up" and can be content in it for a very long time.  He loves to go on walks in the stroller and generally likes being outside especially watching Daddy do yard work.  

He still gets swaddled for nap time and I've finally relented and let him have his lovey to cuddle without fear of SIDS.  Can't wait to celebrate all the firsts with him this holiday season!

Weight: 17 lbs, 8 oz
Length: 27.5"

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The End of October...

The end of October came and went in such a blur...

Derek was gone and traveling for the last two weeks which meant I was in survival mode.  Not much got done unless it was a necessity.  Unfortunately, carving pumpkins was one of these things and so I did my best.  I normally like to delegate this job to Derek, but it's not possible using Skype :(

I started out by having the boys "help" me get the pumpkin guts out.  Chandler is normally squeamish about doing this and started out with a spoon.  He finally caved in to his brother Brighton and used his hand.  I think this was a first for him.  Maverick was not too sure about touching the icky mess either.  Mainly, it was all left up to me.  

Brighton and Chandler drew designs on paper and I tried my best to copy them onto the pumpkins.  I think the boys were shirtless in an attempt to stay clean cleaner.  

On Wednesday night before Halloween, the boys attended a fall festival at the church where they go to AWANA.  Grandma helped out with me to control the chaos.  Chandler dressed as "Superman" since no scary costumes were allowed and we weren't sure if Dracula was scary.  Jamison went as "Santa"

Halloween night finally came and Derek was home...thankgoodness!  

We took a few obligatory photos before heading out.  Chandler was Dracula.  Brighton was a cowboy (second year in a row).  Maverick was a bumble bee.  Jamison was a parrot (thank you Megan).

Mom and Dad even got dressed up and off we went.  This was the most trick-or-treating that we have done so far and the boys came home with LOADS of candy.  

 Jamison saw the pile of candy and he was all over it!

Too bad he couldn't eat any of it, although he tried!

All that candy in my house is too much of a temptation for me.  I think I would gain 20 lbs or more if I didn't get rid of it pronto.  The big boys selected 10 pieces of their favorite ones and the rest went with Daddy to work.  If not, it would be a never-ending candy fest around here and we just don't need all that junk!  What do you do to get rid of all the candy?  Do you let your kids eat whatever they want for one night and then dump it?  Do you set a daily ration?  Do you let them trade their candy for a toy?  I thought 10 pieces seemed reasonable (rationed as to 1-2 pieces per day till gone).


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Happy Birthday Brighton!

It's hard for me to believe that my teeny, tiny, Brighton has gone from this

See how tiny in my arms!

To this!  My Brighton Buddy is FIVE!

Dad has been traveling a lot in the weeks around Brighton's birthday and missed the actual day, but was able to be here for the party when we celebrated on Saturday 10/26.

Brighton was so excited on the morning of his party.  He shot out of bed and was ready for the day.  We held his party at our church and that sure made for some easy set up and clean up.  It was a great thing since I didn't have help from Derek before or afterwards.  The two days he was in town was a whirl-wind of activity.  

The party was attended by mainly his preschool friends and siblings.  Brighton loves crafts and we had plenty of them.  First we decorated treat bags to use later for the piñata.  

We also played games.  There was a skeleton scavenger hunt where two teams each tried to find their skeleton bones hidden all over the house.  

Grandma helped out with one of the stations where the kids made popcorn hand-gloves.  They turned out super cute and were part of the favors.  

Daddy helped out with the "pass the spooky ball" game.

I helped the kids play "pin the nose on the pumpkin" and we also decorated foam pumpkins as well.  

Finally, the kids headed outside for the piñata.  There were no injuries (except some mild trampling to get the candy when it was over) and everybody got a turn to hit it, so it was a success.

On Brighton's actual birthday, Grandma brought over doughnuts in the morning and we sang "Happy Birthday"  Brighton even got to go to a friend's party that night to have more fun.  

At age Five, Brighton is such a joy in my life.  Here are some things I want to remember:
Stats:  Weight: 46.25 lbs (82%)
Height: 45.15" (89 %)

His favorite color is still yellow, but he also likes red.  He still sleeps with his "giraffey" at night and still takes a nap in the afternoons for about 1.5 hours.  He can skip his naps occasionally, but still falls asleep most days.  He is afraid of the dark and probably enjoys having a roommate (Maverick) although he complains about it sometimes.  He is definitely a lover and a cuddler.  

We don't allow our boys to watch much television, but he likes the shows Wild Kratts and Curious George.  He LOVES arts and crafts.  He would "craft" for hours if I let him.  He got an art kit and made a beautiful watercolor of Monet's "Water lilies" that I will have to post a picture on the blog of.  I framed it and hung it up.  

He loves to play both inside and outside with his brothers.  He can ride his big boy bike (that he got last year) without training wheels, but can use some more practice starting and stopping by himself.  He still prefers his run-bike.  

Brighton does very well at preschool (3 days a week) and I'm sure will do fine when he goes to Kindergarten next year.  It will be a big transition for both of us and I know I will miss having him around so much.  Happy Birthday Brighton!  We love you!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Fair---two weeks later!

Two weeks ago we went to the NC State Fair!  We love the fair and had a good time.

We picked Chandler up a little early from school and left for the fair about 3 p.m.  We headed home about 7, and it was a whirlwind four hours.  Time flies when you are having fun.

The games are such a waste of money, but the boys love them.  We let each boy play 1 game, for a cost of $15 to ensure they won the coveted prizes.  Both Maverick and Chandler chose a Dolphin (Maverick's is named "Remy the Cat") and Brighton got a frog.

Jamison and I took a "selfie"

Jamison had a good time at the fair and did well even without his third nap of the day.  He did fall asleep for a few minutes on the way home though.  We tried to keep our paraphernalia to a minimum while at the fair, so I didn't even bother with my nursing cover.  I really don't feel embarrassed to nurse in public, but sometimes use it in places where I have to be sitting and others are standing.  Well, I was sitting on a bench nursing Jamison while Derek watched the other 3 on a ride.  I had finished with one side and was burping Jamison when I laid him down to nurse on the other side.  I unlatched my bra and was getting him into position when another woman and I locked eyes.  I could tell she wanted to come over and speak to me and she started heading my direction.  It was in this moment that I wondered what she would say and how I would react.  I'm not very good at reacting to things "in the moment" so I braced myself for being told off for exposing myself, etc….

Luckily, the mom thanked me for breastfeeding in public and went along her way.

All the boys enjoyed the PBS tent.  

Derek and the three big boys rode the kiddy swings.  I think it went up and around about 3 times before  the ride was over.  Way too short….I think they were trying to move the line along.

Maverick and I rode one of the jungle jeeps.  

Brighton and Maverick on the caterpillar being chased by the bird.

All in all we had a great time at the fair.  Enjoyed a little of the food, a few rides, and didn't spend too much money.  Can't wait till next year!