Monday, April 30, 2012

Congratulations AnAn!

"Congratulations AnAn!" This was the theme of our weekend. (Along with "AnAn's Special Day" since my little man didn't really understand what it meant to graduate with your Master's degree.) We had a wonderful weekend full of celebrating an amazing accomplishment, specifically a Master of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education. And eating cake of course.

Bright and early Saturday morning we made the almost 2 hour drive to Waleska, Georgia, home of Reinhardt College's main campus and the location of Anna's graduation ceremony. Terrell's parents were at our house a few minutes before 7 am so they could get up the kiddos, feed them, grab some of our stuff, and head to Barnesville until we got back to pick them up. (Thanks a TON, Nana and Pops!)

The ceremony was nice and we really enjoyed the keynote speaker, Michael Thurmond. He was funny and entertaining and made us forget we were sitting in uncomfortable chairs. But most of all we just enjoyed celebrating and rejoicing and giving thanks and feeling elated about a goal being reached and a journey completed. Ahhhh. The journey. It was a whirlwind and a roller coaster and a ride like none other... but more on all that later.

Walking in...

Receiving and accepting her diploma... or the pretend one they give you since they mail the real one

Exiting with her fellow graduates

After graduation photos...

The journey to this day was eventful, stressful, busy, overwhelming, and down right crazy at times. Many hats were worn and many hours were spent working... and not sleeping. I would say my sister has been the definition of sleep deprived for the past 2 years. And this is coming from a mama of 2! Throughout the pursuit of this graduate degree, she has worked 2 full time jobs plus a couple of part time gigs. Did I say she was the definition of sleep deprived? I also meant the definition of multi-tasker.

As a full time Kindergarten parapro and Resident Director at Gordon College, she started graduate school in August of 2010... which required a 2 hour commute every single Monday and Wednesday after working a full day at her "day job". She kept up this routine for an entire school year, then became the Interim Children's Minister at FBC Barnesville last summer. After the summer she resumed her regular schedule of working as a parapro during the day, RD every other hour, 2 hour commute to Reinhardt twice a week, and added a new hat... Children's Church leader every Sunday morning and Sunday evening. I think she completed room checks while writing papers about the importance of differentiating instruction and planning fun activites and crafts for 35 plus Children's Church kiddos simultaneously... on a regular basis. I'm just estimating here, but I think she's had maybe 5 minutes to herself over a 2 year span. Okay, that's an exaggeration. But only a little one. She seriously worked around. the. clock. Talk about busy. And making me tired thinking about it. Goodness.

I couldn't tell you how she did it. Seriously. I just know that God wanted her to have this degree and accomplish this goal. Doors were opened and opportunities were provided that made this wild and crazy journey possible and we're all amazed and grateful the day finally arrived! And that now a new journey and chapter can officially begin. That's the part we're all so excited about. Especially her. =)

After graduation we enjoyed lunch together at her favorite restaurant, Texas Roadhouse, before making our way all the way back to B'ville. We picked up the boys from Nana and Pops' house and then went over to Granna and Papa's for a "special day" grill out.

Austin spent time with AnAn...

Garrison spent time riding his Jeep around and playing hide and seek with Granny....

They both spent some time with PawPaw...

Then we all enjoyed hamburgers and hot dogs before partaking in this delicious, sweeter than sweet cake...

Then it was time for presents. Garrison, Austin, and I worked on an art project for AnAn... It said We Love You, AnAn! And the handprints were precious.

AnAn also received lots of spending money and goodies for her future classroom.

We had a great time celebrating and are SO proud of AnAn's hard earned Master's degree! We're even more excited to see her put it to use! Congratulations again AnAn!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Austin's Adventures

My littlest man has been a busy, busy boy lately... especially since he learned how to do an army crawl where he remains on his belly but uses his forearms, elbows, and the inside of his feet to scoot super fast wherever he wants to go... and how to climb under the coffee table... and get on his knees in the pack n play and crib... and get into big brother's toys...

He definitely keeps me hoppin! Oh yeah, this mama is tired. But I am loving this age so, so much. It's been tiring keeping up with him but I still find myself loving every minute. It's just so fun watching him scoot around and trying to beat him to Bailey's food and water bowls and hearing him laugh when he knows he's being "chased" and figuring out how to keep him out of everything. He makes me smile and laugh, gives me energy, and wears me out on a regular basis. And I just can't get enough of him. Have I mentioned lately I'm grateful I'm home with him every minute of the day, because I am. SO grateful. Now, time for some picture overload that capture some of Austin's adventures...

Here's my proof that he does, for sure, know how to climb onto the bottom part of the coffee table. Gracious. Caught red-handed.

And here's my proof that he knows how to get on his knees in the pack 'n play. Sorry bud, peering over the side of the pack 'n play will no longer be happening. Not on my watch.

From now on your view from the pack 'n play will look slightly different.

He's at it again... hot pursuit of Bailey's bowls. Thankfully he's never gotten his hands on anything that belongs to Bailey but we have to intervene/chase him down/head him off at least 3 times a day.

Yesterday afternoon he enjoyed watching Garrison ride his car and tricycle around, plus a little stroll from big brother himself. Precious.

Last night after bath time I decided to make a few pictures of him sitting and playing because I have tons like that of Garrison at this age. Garrison actually had a full blown "stage" of being able to sit up and play but not able to go anywhere or change from that position. I remember it well. It was heavenly. Austin skipped over that stage. He rarely sits and plays because he likes being on the move. There's just so much more fun to be had when you're mobile! He humored me for a second though.

Then he got ready to move into position. Sitting and playing is just not how it's done, mama. (Unless Garrison is nearby and keeping me entertained.)

Then he was off.

Love him! And all the adventures that come with him!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Learning Time" Series: Fine Motor Practice and Graphing

{This is my last post of the series. =) I've enjoyed recording the ways Garrison has learned new things and the little activities I've done with him. And since we're currently working on learning lowercase letters I'll have to write about that sometime in the future. Hopefully all this documentation will come in handy once Austin gets a little older. Speaking of Austin... since I've been so focused on writing about Garrison and all the things I've done or do with him, I've missed writing about my littlest man. So, coming soon I will be posting all about what baby boy has been up to for the past week or so. Let's just say he's kept me on my toes. Big time!}

Fine Motor Practice

I've been working on fine motor practice with Garrison for a while. It's something boys have a harder time with and it's something as a teacher I always wished was focused on more at a really early age... way before 2nd grade when they got to me (again I'm referring more to boys). The good news is that it's SO easy to work those fine motors and you can use things you already have. And most of the time you don't even have to plan for it, it just comes up in their regular "play".

There is one activity I did plan for and I found it here. Little man enjoys it, plus we've added creating shapes to the mix. =) It's time consuming (so much so that the 2nd time he did this activity he decided to do a few, go do something else, come back and do a few more...), it requires some patience, and it works the fine motors. =)

The other "on purpose" thing I like to do for fine motor practice is Lace and Trace/Sewing cards. At first Garrison wasn't interested in them, but once he finally came around he got into doing them and actually enjoys it. We usually only do 1 card or animal at a time since that's about all his attention span can handle, but it's practice nonetheless and it will definitely be something we take to restaurants or doctor's appointments. 

Here's my generic list of ways to introduce and start fine motor practice:

*Puzzles (especially the ones with knobs)
*Play doh
*Writing/drawing on a magna doodle
*Gluing with a glue stick
*Using saftey scissors  =)
*Tracing letters or shapes on the magna doodle or a sheet of paper
*Stacking anything small (blocks, puzzle pieces, Cheez-Its, cereal, etc)
*Clipping clothespins onto something (we've tried paper and it was really hard for the little man)

There are tons and tons of ideas out there for fine motor development but we're just not ready for all of them yet. 


I found this graphing activity and decided I had to try it with Garrison. I'm not sure why I just had to do it. I guess I was just impressed by the idea, plus I see everything through the eyes of a teacher. Which is good and bad. I'm not sure if Garrison was ready for this or not. In some ways I'm thinking he was because it was just an introduction to graphing so it was a new and challenging learning experience for him. But in some ways, I think it was just so much to process that maybe with Austin I should wait until he's closer to 3.5 or 4. Hmmm.

He did have fun with it though after he finally understood what we were doing. He pulled a mode of transportation out of the bag, we decided if it traveled on land, water, or in the air, then we graphed it. Of course the picture of our final product was deleted. Oh well. And I discovered that he doesn't know what "least" means. Cause when I asked him which mode of transportation had the least... these, these or these?... he looked at me like I was crazy. Ha!

After doing the transportation graph I decided to do a quick graph of Fruit Jammers. He "got" this one a little more and even got to enjoy a few for a morning snack after we finished. =) We've also pulled out this graph again for graphing more Fruit Jammers, and Skittles from his Easter candy stash.

Graphing is serious business!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Learning Time" Series: Spelling your Name

Except for randomly pointing out and spelling Garrison's name for him when a card arrived in the mail or he received a monogrammed something, I didn't start intentionally working with him on learning to spell his name until he turned 3. He'd known for a while that his name starts with G but that was about it.

The first (and pretty much only) "activity" I did with him involved his magna doodle and alphabet magnets. I wrote his name on the magna doodle and then had him search through the container of alphabet magnets to find the letters needed to spell his name. We went in order and found the G first, then the A, etc. He enjoyed going on a "hunt" for the letters in his name and then we spelled it together. Then, I had him spell it by himself but pointing to each letter. Then we erased his name but re-wrote it together (he helped me hold the little pen) and we said all the letters aloud.

After having some practice with spelling his name and saying all the letters out loud a few times, I gathered up the alphabet magnet letters (not all of them just the ones that spelled Garrison) and put them in a ziplock bag and we went into the kitchen where we played another little game. I had him reach into the bag and find the letters needed to spell his name so he could put the magnets on the fridge. He knew to look for a G first and then an A, and then two Rs. After the Rs he mixed up the I and the S and I corrected him and then he finished with the O and N. After that he spelled his name for me again while pointing out the letters on the fridge.

And for the next few days I'd ask him to spell his name before opening the fridge... or anytime we were in the kitchen. Plus I started asking him to spell it when we were in different rooms away from the kitchen. We made a huge deal about him spelling it correctly... or even almost correctly!

I also made up a game called the "Name Game" (haha) where I have written down all the letters in his name on small sheets of scrap paper. (So there's 1 piece of paper with a G, one with an A, etc.) And all the letters are inside a paper bag. He reaches inside without looking and pulls out a letter and figures out where it goes (he knows G is at the beginning, Rs are in the middle, N is at the end), and then eventually he has pulled them all out and has spelled his name. It's really simple but good practice too.

Since then he's learned to spell Selph, but doesn't have it completely mastered yet. We get spelling practice in by spelling his name a lot on his magna doodle or if we're signing a card for someone or if we're just coloring. (Although he hasn't spelled his name for us in a while...maybe I should ask him to make sure he hasn't forgotten.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Learning Time" Series: Shapes and Sizes


We started shapes around age 2 when he got really into Sesame Street. We had a little Sesame Street book that introduced circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles. He learned to recongize/identify circles and triangles first (because Cookie Monster loves the circles cause they're the shape of cookies and Telly loves triangles because there are entire episodes of Sesame Street dedicated to Telly's love of triangles, so those 2 shapes really stood out to the little man) and the magnets that came with his magna doodle are a circle and triangle.

Then he learned stars and hearts. I think he learned those next because of playing with star and heart play doh cookie cutters and because of a little shapes puzzle we have that also has star and heart pieces. For the longest time those were the only 4 he really knew and could identify every time with accuracy. And he pretty much learned those on his own. We never did any shape "activities" or pushed him learning those.

Once he turned 3 (or was almost 3) I started working with him more on learning shapes. We read more books about shapes and also found real life things to sort into groups based on their shape. He learned square next and eventually learned rectangle, diamond, and oval although he still doesn't have those completely mastered.

One of the fun ways we practiced shapes was by cutting out shapes from construction paper and gluing them down on another sheet. I mainly did the cutting, little man just sort of practiced using his safety scissors. But he loved gluing down the shapes! So we talked about what shape we were gluing and where he wanted it glued, and after we finished it was proudly placed on the refrigerator.... which meant the shapes could be discussed a lot more. =) Another way we practiced shapes was by making shapes out of play doh. We used cookie cutters some, but Garrison loves using his play knife when he plays with play doh so I helped him cut out shapes with his little knife. (A picture of that is somehow the very last picture even though I didn't want it to be last... can't seem to get the hang of the "new" blogger yet.)

I also think having a "thing" or "clue" to associate with each shape has helped Garrison. In the beginning he associated circles with Cookie and triangles with Telly. He associates squares with "box", rectangle with "long", and diamond with "kite". We still don't have a good one for oval... hmm... maybe that's part of the reason it's so hard to remember.

Sizes and Ordering from Smallest to Biggest

I honestly can't remember when Garrison learned to differentiate between "big" and "little". Hmmm. Guess I'll just play it by hear with Austin. I know with Garrison it pretty much started with this puzzle:

We always discussed finding the "little, baby animal" and then the "big, mama animal". Once he could distinguish between big and little and really got the hang of that we gradually threw in "medium" especially when making balls out of play doh. He always requests a really big one and then we always end up making several so there's some little, some big and some medium. I don't think we really got into ordering things by size until he was 3. We would talk about it if it came up but I never intentionally "taught" him until he was about 3.

Ordering by size can be a little confusing, especially when using tons of play doh balls (which I don't recommend until they sort of have it down), but with practice my little man finally got it down. Ideally we start with 3 (small, medium, large) play doh balls, cars, dinosaurs, whatever you have around and then let your little guy or girl figure out the biggest and the smallest and put the medium sized one in the middle. Then you can add more and more. I think the most confusing thing for Garrison was the "vocabulary". He looked at me puzzled and confused when I said things like, okay which one is bigger than this one, but not the very biggest? That was tough for his little mind to comprehend. Finally I switched gears to building up to bigger and bigger so he was focusing on which one is a little bigger than this one... and a little bigger than this one, etc. That worked a little better.

There are all sorts of things around the house that can be put in order it's just a matter of getting my busy 3 year old to slow down long enough to do it. I'm thinking I might have him line up his bowls (really my bowls he declared ownership of as a crawling toddler who claimed his very own cabinet) from smallest to largest while I cook supper tonight. Wonder if he'll go for it?? Maybe I'll throw in a surprise of Cheetos if he cooperates. =)

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Learning Time" Series: Counting and Numbers

Garrison's introduction to counting and numbers came through books before he was 2 years old. We had a few counting books that went to 10 and I can remember reading them to him as a little 1.5 year old and 2 year old and trying to teach number recognition and one-to-one correspondence. I may have gone a little overboard... just a tad. I would point to the picture of a penguin and say, "1 penguin", then I'd point to the number 1 on the page and say "Here's the number 1 for 1 penguin." We'd do that for every number and then count the penguins on each page. Poor child. He just needed me to read him the book about penguins!

Honestly I think it's great to point out those things and to count the little objects or animals on the pages of those counting books, but you don't have to be crazy about it or do it every single time or start before age 2. I'm definitely planning to switch around the order of things for Austin.... because (in my opinion at least) number recognition and one-to-one correspondence need to be put off a little longer.

The Christmas before Garrison turned 2 he got a new book that had a whole page of objects and numbers to match them 1-10. And they were all on the same page so we weren't having to flip through page after page after page to finally finish counting to 10. At some point after he turned 2 and finally took an interest in the book, he learned to count to 10. And it happened almost overnight. After "reading" that page a few times and just sort of rote counting to 10 a few times, he had it down. He couldn't actually count objects up to 10 yet, but he could rote count to 10.

After he learned to count to 10, then we started practicing counting actual things... hotwheels, crayons, Fruit Jammers (his snack of choice most days), raisins, money for his piggy bank (as in number of coins, not value), etc. It took a while for him to master. Probably months before he got really good. And it definitely required patience from both of us because there is a big difference in spouting off numbers and having to actually concentrate and count. Sometimes he still has trouble keeping up with what he's counting. I try to have him move the item to a new pile once it's been counted... but sometimes he just doesn't want to do it mama's way.

Finally, after he turned 3 at the beginning of February, we revisited number recognition and one-to-one correspondance and by that point he was ready. We pulled out the numbers that came in the packet with the bath letters. We worked on a numbers puzzle. We started pulling out "old" counting books and asking him what number was on each page. And because he already knew some stuff... like what number was coming next and how to count the penguins (or whatever) on the page, he always had a clue to help him remember or guess the number. He officially recognizes all of this numbers, but still mixes up 6 and 9 and sometimes 1 and 7.

My favorite one-to-one correspondence activity has to be an idea I found at I had to thoroughly explain the directions because at first Garrison wanted to put his little Fruit Jammers all over the page in any box he wanted. I think I ended up saying, Which color only has 1? There is only 1 and it's all by itself? What box do you think it goes in? What number should it be beside? Okay, now which color only has 2? There's only 2 ______. So what box should they go in? What number should they be beside? Very thorough I tell you. But you can do it with any numbers and any small objects or food... but I recommend food because then they can eat afterwards and it's more fun. And I also recommend starting with something that's all the same color.

And I know I keep talking about books, but any of the counting books are great, once they're ready of course, to show a picture of 5 penguins and the number 5. =)

Next up... shapes and something else. Haven't decided yet.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Learning Time" Series: Colors and Uppercase Letters

The idea for this "series" (I feel like a real blogger now! Ha!) began when I decided I wanted and needed to remember the different ways Garrison has learned various little things... like his colors, ABCs, shapes, numbers, etc. I want to be able to do all these neat little learning activities with Austin in the coming months and years but was afraid I would forget half of them, or I'd start them a little too early or maybe even wait a little too late. (I am so paranoid about providing Austin with every single learning experience as Garrison at the exact same age as Garrison that it's borderline ridiculous.)

I was hesitant at first because all I could think about was how I'd probably be inviting secret criticism from the tens of people who read this blog. I know I'm not doing everything perfect and I'm certain there are better ways/methods/ideas out there, but this is what my "teacher-self" came up with and what worked for Garrison; therefore what I'm planning to do with Austin.

I was also hesitant because even though I love getting ideas from other moms about how they've taught their toddler/preschoolers new things, it also sort of makes me feel insecure. It's kind of like when you hear/read about someone else's 2 year old already knowing all their letters and you think, Oh, we haven't even started that. Man. I've got to get on this as soon as possible or he'll be behind. I never want to make anyone feel that way. Discouragement is the last thing I want. Children have different personalities, interests, ways of learning, etc that all play a part in when and how they learn. They're all going to learn at different paces and they'll all have their own little areas of strengths and weaknesses. Having said all that, I do hope my simple little 'opportunities for learning' I'm always working to create can be helpful or useful to someone else. I know I sure do love stealing great yet simple ideas!

Honestly this "series" is mainly for me. I'm excited about having everything recorded so I can come back to it in the next few months and years and remember the exact little ways I did things with Garrison and at what age I did them. I know Garrison and Austin are different and they will probably learn differently too, BUT, as their mom and very first teacher I also believe it's up to me to introduce new things and create learning opportunities, AND, if it worked the first time around it just makes sense to do it again. That's one thing I learned when teaching... no need to reinvent the wheel. =)

Okay, now for the learning of colors and uppercase letters...

I started working with Garrison on learning his colors before he was 2. (Disclaimer: I'm not saying this is best or right... just what I personally decided to do when I thought he might be ready... because my niece knew hers sometime around this age...) If I'm remembering correctly I think he was around 18 or 20 months. And it seemed like it took him a long, long time to finally learn them. The main way he learned his colors was through books and blocks.

Everytime we read a book about colors, we practiced. If we were reading the "red" page, I'd point out everything on the page and say red strawberry, red flower, red crayon, etc. Then when we got to the green page I'd say green grass, green grapes, green shirt. I'm not sure if it was helpful or not, but if nothing else it was repetitive! I also pointed out the colors of his little spoons or toys or clothes... focusing on the primary colors.

Also, everytime we played with his red, blue, yellow, and green mega blocks we practiced. I would start building with yellow blocks and then ask him to find me more yellow blocks. Or we'd sort them into piles based on their color. I remember there being lots of times when he wanted no part of sorting or building with certain colors. He just wanted to play! Nevertheless, I still tried to incorporate a little color practice every time we played with them. And finally, one day it all clicked. He learned blue, red, and yellow first and eventually figured out green, orange, pink, purple, black, etc. Now he knows them all! And we were so proud. =)

Uppercase Letters

We started working on uppercase letters right after he turned 2. I'm not sure why it was so important to me. I think as a former teacher I just know how valuable a good foundation is entering school. It gives children such a head start to enter school already knowing some stuff. And I had also read another blog... and her little girl was already recognizing the letters in her name and she was the exact same age as Garrison... so I got motivated. Haha.

The main way Garrison learned uppercase letters was through alphabet books, alphabet magnets, an alphabet puzzle, and bath letters. We started with the bath letters. The bath letters (and numbers) were a gift from AnAn and used a ton. I started by only putting the letters A-G in the bath with him and leaving the others put up. Every. single. night. we played a game with the letters when we were cleaning up before getting out of the tub. I'd say, find the letter A! It's blue! And he would find it and put it up. Then I'd say B.., C..., etc. Sometimes I'd go out of order. Sometimes I'd give the "color clue" to help him narrow it down. And eventually he mastered A-G. After that we removed those letters and put in the rest, but by that time we'd started reading alphabet books, playing with alphabet magnets, and putting together his alphabet puzzle so he had a little bit of a head start on the remaining letters.

The Sesame Street puzzle was a big hit. He got it for his 2nd birthday from Nana and Pops. He loved seeing the characters and loved puzzles so it was a perfect way to learn more letters. When putting it together I always tried to get him to help find the letters first. I'd tell him the color or the character to look for and he slowly mastered the other letters. It was definitely a long-term process... months I think. And it certainly required patience, but now he knows them all. Sometimes he still gets V and Y mixed up, but I would say he's been able to officially recognize all uppercase letters for a while now. Whew. In the words of my little man, that was hard work.

Next up... counting and numbers!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Keep It in Perspective

This morning I woke up early and had just enough time before the kiddos and hubby were up for my quiet time and daily devotion found in my Mom's Devotional Bible. God's timing was perfect and a big eye opener. A wake up call. A slap in the face even. Here's the whole thing:

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife. Proverbs 17:1

It is so easy to trundle down the path of the insignificant! Twelve trips to different stores in search of a tablecloth to match plates. Dressing and redressing, piling one outfit after another in a heap on the closet floor because none looks "just right." Throwing a tantrum over a husband's tardiness, thus setting the rest of the evening on edge. Battling over a bath when a sticky, happy child would rather go to bed dirty.

In some moments, these issues might matter. But in the long run, how much? Hmmm.

When the writer of Proverbs pens, "Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife, " he is speaking to (among others) busy moms who focus on the insignificant instead of the eternal. Ouch.

The next time you catch yourself spinning out in a frenzy, ask one simple question, "Will this matter in five years?" If so, focus your energy on completing what is before you with grace and efficiency. If not, forget it. Double ouch. Time to ponder. And pray. And meditate on what I just read.

This little devotion was short and simple and to the point, yet profound. I was spoken to big time. Maybe it's become an excuse, but my so-so/Type A/planner of a self struggles with letting things go and not focusing on the insignificant. It's tough (most of the time) for me to not sweat the small stuff. Because I guess at the time it doesn't seem so small. Yet deep down I know it is in fact small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Some people have a natural ability to go with the flow and never sweat the small stuff, therefore keeping it in perspective... my husband is one of them. But, in a word or four, I am a Martha. (Luke 10: 38-42)

And this short and simple devotion opened my eyes, and the Lord is changing my perspective... even as I sit here typing. It won't be easy and it won't happen immediately, but slowly I know and trust that my perspective will shift, away from the insignicant and toward the eternal... and what will matter in five years.

Yes, it's still important for me to maintain a routine and order in my home. It's still a big deal to keep the house somewhat clean and organized. And I will still strive to make myself presentable and nicely dressed before going out. But, I am also going to work really hard to ask myself "Will this matter in 5 years?", as often as I need to. Without over-analyzing. Sometimes it's okay to not have everything together... for bedtime to be a little later (or naps or supper or breakfast... can you tell I'm attached to our "schedule"?), the house a little messy, the outfit not so perfect, the boys really dirty. It's okay. And I will continue to repeat it to myself until it sinks in. Ha! And if it's not okay, I will work on focusing my energy on completing what's before me with grace and efficiency... not a bad attitude, or pouting, or stressing, or complaining. Yep, God revealed more than one "issue" this morning. I'll probably be tested on this pretty soon. Time to get myself in gear. And keep it in perspective.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Selph Family Trip~ Part 2, Ober Gatlinburg and other stuff

Saturday morning we got ready and made the 5 minute drive over to Ober Gatlinburg, the amusement park type place where we'd be spending the first half of our day. They had a few little rides, an ice skating rink, a "chairlift" that took you up the mountain or to the alpine slide, a small zoo area, and a playground. It was really perfect for our kiddos and their ages. Except for the ice skating rink. But more on that later.

After arriving the first thing we did was ride the carousel. Austin even got to ride on a horse this time. He was sliding all over the place. We didn't get a good picture but I think he enjoyed himself even though he didn't know what was going on. I know Garrison and Allison loved it.

After the carousel ride we went outside and rode motorcycles and cars. This was a big hit. Especially for my little man. He loves cars and motorcycles and turning a steering wheel and pretending he's driving the real thing. He rode these rides multiple times and never got tired of them. And since we arrived right when they opened, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. There were absolutely NO lines. Perfect.

Garrison and Shannon also spent some time on the playground. Allison distinguished herself as the oldest and ventured out on her own quite a bit.... with a parent of course.

Kara and Allison were the first ones to do the Alpine slide and many, many years ago on a trip to Gatlinburg I also braved the slide. Sooo, Terrell and I thought about maybe him and Garrison doing it together. Garrison wasn't interested (I would appreciate this much more later), so I went instead. The ride up was nice and so was the scenery. And the conversation with my hubby. But once we were on the chairlift way up high, I was very thankful Garrison didn't want to do the slide. Because I decided it wasn't safe for him. He could get squirmy. He could change his mind half way up. He could freak out and get squirmy. And there's not much holding you in. Yeah, my protective mama instinct came out with big flashing red lights going off in my mind. It said, It's Not Safe! Haha! The slide itself was pretty harmless. You're riding on something that has a brake and everything. I used mine regularly. Because I'm cautious and safe like that.
Once we got to the bottom, I got off my slide so Garrison could ride a little ways.
After the slide, Garrison rode the cars and motorcycles a few more times before discovering that Allison was ice skating. It was approaching lunch time (the time we had planned to leave) and I had a bad feeling about the whole ice skating thing. What good could come from a 3 year old attempting to wear heavy ice skates and actually maneuver around on a slippery surface? Oh dear. But, I could tell that Terrell wanted him to experience it... or didn't want to tell him no... not sure which, so they went ahead while I hung out with Austin. Needless to say, ice skating took a turn for the worse when Garrison fell down, started crying his eyes out, and then let everyone in the whole place know his devestation when Terrell removed him from rink. Oh dear. Again.

Thankfully there wasn't too much more drama after I stepped in and told him he needed to stop all this llama drama (love those books). He snapped out of it after a few minutes of a public temper tantrum and we finally got back to the house, the kiddos fed, and down for naps. After our full day the day before and a busy morning, I was determined to make naps a priority.

While the boys napped, Terrell and I went into town to walk the streets and go in and out of all the little stores. It was fun getting away for a little bit and we both enjoyed ourselves. I was able to regroup after having my feelings hurt mulitple times by my 3 year old (another post for another day), we were on a mission to find something for my mom (which we accomplished), and it was good alone time (with hundreds of strangers). Ha!

After naps, we all got ready to go out for Terrell's dad's birthday... but not before family pictures. We went out on the deck just like last year, except this year we added a member! Getting pictures of everyone turned out to be an adventure... and a challenge. Whoa. Family pictures are hard work! Glad we were ready early. My favorite one is the one of all 4 cousins. They're not all looking at the same camera but every single one of them is happy. What an accomplishment!

We had dinner at a restaurant in downtown Gatlinburg (another adventure) and then enjoyed frozen custard afterwards. Despite the name and my husband's skepticism, okay mine too, it was really good. And Nana got up in the ginormous rocking chair with all the grands again this year.
Once we were back at the house, I fed Austin and put him to bed while everyone else did birthday stuff for Pops. Then later on we played another fun game together. And I laughed hard again.

Sunday morning we packed up, loaded up, and filled up on pancakes and a delicious breakfast before saying our goodbyes and heading home. Our trip was filled with lots and lots of memories and we were so grateful for our time away with everyone. Thanks to Nana and Pops for another fun trip!