Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's that Time Again...

...Time to start thinking about Christmas shopping!

I know Christmas is still a ways away, and I'm not ready to decorate or wrap presents that I don't have or skip over Halloween (which we're very excited about tomorrow!!) and Thanksgiving or anything, but Christmas is on the brain lately. I just can't help it! For me, it's just easier and way less stressful to NOT be last minute when it comes to the shopping part. This has become especially true since I became a parent. And this year my shopping days are fewer and farther between because of working and busy weekends. So I've got to at least get a mental start on things. At least.

Of course my financial planner of a husband has already come up with a tenative budget, so we're ready to make lists for the boys and ourselves. =) (I hope we're not the only family that does lists for the grown-ups too.) I start a list for myself and the boys every year sometime in October. The boys' lists usually start with more practical, stocking stuffer type items. Then, I move onto bigger and more expensive things. The only problem is the budget I mentioned above, plus the fact that after the 3 previous Christmases with Garrison, and last year Austin too, we've determined that we have a tendency to purchase gifts for our children just because.

Referring to Garrison...

Aww, he might like that. I'm sure he will. Let's just get it. We need more stocking stuffers. It has to be full so let's think of something. We only have 1 wrapped present so far. We have to come up with 2 or 3 more. Santa Claus can't get him everything... there has to be stuff from us too. (For some reason it bothers me if my children think Santa gave them tons and mama and daddy gave them, well, not a whole lot. )

Then, there's what we said about Austin...

I know he's only 3 months old, but it feels like we aren't getting him anything. Look at how much Garrison is getting. I feel guilty not getting Autstin more.

Oh my gracious. Bad habit. Do not fall into the trap. It's a waste. Of course there truly are times when you're confident your child will love such and such, but once they get it, they just don't. Or they have nothing to do with it for approximately 6 months and then they love it. (Although I'm happy as long as they love it eventually.) And trying to compare gifts for an almost 3 year old to a 3 month old? Ridiculous. Sometimes you know in your gut that it isn't worth it and it's just going to add clutter and take up space but you get it anyway just for the sake of adding another present under the tree. Or, you're too focused on appearances and how it will look to someone else or in pictures if you only get them X amount of gifts. I hope I'm not the only crazy mama who looks at it this way. Then again, there's a very real possibillity it's just me. Oh dear.

Another challenge for us is our kiddos. Garrison isn't really obsessed with or into any particular thing. He has general things he enjoys like playing outside, baseball, and books, but we don't really get into characters at our house. Garrison's big thing right now is taking things apart and putting them back together. He loves doing stuff like that. And working with tools and "fixing" things. And creating things and using his imagination. Sooo... we have some ideas of things he'll like but we haven't quite finalized his list yet.

Then there's Austin. Austin who will be 15 months old at Christmas. It's a tough age for gifts. You never really know what he'll like or what he'll just toss aside. Plus there's the fact that he's got several hand-me-down toys from Garrison that are in perfect condition. If we ever come across something that's very used or that we know has been updated since Garrison was a baby, we'll get Austin the same or possibly updated toy, brand new. But when it comes to things that are pretty perfect it doesn't make since to get another one. Sooo.... again we have some ideas but nothing really final.

However, this year, while keeping our strict budget in mind we want to make our gift giving for our children more about quality. Things that are 1. practical or 2. they will use and enjoy and have fun with for months or even years to come. Not about appearances or quantity or "just because" gifts. It won't be easy breezy but we're up for the challenge and determined to make our gift giving different this year. Quality is the key. And sticking to the budget as closely as possible. Can't forget that part.

I also read something recently called the "4 Gift Rule" to use as a way to simplify gift-giving for kids...

1 Thing They Want
1 Thing They Need
1 Thing They Wear
1 Thing They Read
I like it because it's simple and can easily be used as a guideline and reminder. I know we'll get more than 4 gifts for our kids between Santa, us, stockings, and a gift from each other, but, this little 4 gift rule will help us out a LOT. It's a great reminder that does simplify things and focuses on quality, our #1 goal this year. Guess we better get to work. Time to research and brainstorm and analyze until we come up with the perfect gifts for our babies. Here's to shopping smart and getting it right!  =)
PS... Today is my dad's birthday. Happy Birthday Daddy/George/Papa!! We love you!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Busy, Busy

Things around here feel really busy. And my house has suffered. Soccer practice was cancelled for tonight (we weren't going to brave the wind and cold anyway, but it makes you feel better when you're not the only ones...) so we had frozen pizza (which was already on the menu) for supper and cleaned the house instead. There's still some work to be done, but at least we made a dent. I just feel better when my house is decent and in order.

Anyway, here's a quick look into our busy weekend...

Soccer went great on Saturday. GREAT!! Terrell and I have deemed our child as Most Improved. =) My number 6 scored a personal best 5 goals. Woohoo! We were thrilled he was so into it and had so much fun! This was his best game by far. Now we're ready to be done. Ha! It's been a long season. Only 2 weeks left. We can do this.

After soccer we loaded up and headed for the hometown to celebrate my dad's birthday. Austin was a handful this weekend and gave me a workout as usual... but he was also happy as can be and oh so cute.

Garrison got to help Granna make Papa's birthday cake... specifically the icing. What a treat!
Saturday night we enjoyed going out to eat with the fam, carving AnAn and Frankie's pumpkin, eating a yummy homemade cake, and giving Papa his presents.
Unfortunately, Saturday night wasn't too fun. Our baby boy decided he wasn't interested in sleeping for a couple of hours during the middle of the night. Ahhhh. So he stayed home with daddy Sunday morning to nap while Garrison and I went to church. Needless to say, Sunday night we all went to bed early!
Even though it was busy (and exhausting come Sunday), we had a really good, fun weekend. I love having a close knit family and I'm so grateful for the one God gave me.  

Happy Birthday Papa!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Carving Fun

This year we didn't make it to a pumpkin patch as a family. Between soccer, going out of town, our Fall Festival at school, and just an all around busy schedule, we never made it a priority so it sort of got left out. Shame on us... I know. We still had lots of fun with our pumpkins though! (Which I purchased at a farmer's market while the boys waited in the car. Shame again.)

Terrell got off work early yesterday afternoon so him and Garrison got started on our pumpkins. One pumpkin is for my class at school so they went ahead and cleaned that one out for me before starting on our family pumpkin. Austin was napping when they got started so we didn't get any pictures of cleaning out the pumpkins. Garrison was a close observer and helped scoop with a spoon. Little man decided not to put his hands in.

Before we carved our pumpkin, I let Garrison hammer golf tees into the back of it (an idea I found on icanteachmychild.com) and he loved it! I had to penetrate the golf tees into the pumpkin for him and after that he was ready to hammer. We hammered, counted, removed tees, put them back, etc. It was a big hit! And Austin got to have some fun one-on-one play time outside with daddy while big brother was occupied and busy at work hammering.

After supper we got ready to carve our pumpkin. Garrison was totally into it. He was curious and helpful and all about the process. Austin was a little curious and showed some interest too. If he got bored with it, he moved onto something else before coming back to check on things with daddy and Garrison.

Everything was going great and as expected until Austin started getting tired and ill and ready to be held and Garrison had trouble pulling out all the golf tees from the back of the pumpkin. Before we knew it both boys were crying and things had gone south fast. All I could think was "Memories! We're making memories!" Ha! It was crazy. It didn't last too long though. I held Austin and we helped Garrison get all the golf tees out and finally the boys were able to see the finished product. The Selph Family Jack-O-Lantern! And Garrison was so smitten, he gave it a kiss. It was precious. Then he encouraged Austin to come give it a hug. Too sweet. Our new, pet jack-o-lantern. =)

Then we took our jack-o-lantern outside with the fake candle inside and got one good picture. We'll take it!  

I'm thankful we enjoyed another year of pumpkin carving fun and memories... with never a dull moment!

Pumpkin Carving 2010
Pumpkin Carving 2011

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

1st School Field Trip

Yesterday was Garrison's first ever school field trip... and my first ever field trip as a preschool teacher! At our school we do mostly "walking" field trips because they're just easier, cheaper, and more convenient, so we went on a walking field trip to the Methodist church and visited their pumpkin patch.

Terrell met us there and was able to stay for a few minutes and took some pictures for me. He's such a good daddy. =)

There we are heading to the pumpkin patch... Thankfully we had lots of parent volunteers!

Once we got there we got everybody sitting on the front steps of the church and the coordinator of the field trip read a Halloween story. The kids loved it. My baby's the one in the red jacket smiling at the camera...

After the story they got to go around and do 3 "carnival style" games, prizes and all. Shortly after the games started, Terrell had to head back to work so I didn't get many pictures after that.

Once everyone had a turn with all the games we went into the sanctuary to watch a short movie about pumpkins and how they're grown. Then, we walked by the patch and across the street to the Square where we had a picnic lunch. I was able to get away from my class for about 2 seconds to snap this picture of Garrison... mid- Cheeto. =) 

It was a really fun field trip that everybody enjoyed. The only negative about the field trip was not being able to experience it with Garrison. I saw him a lot and checked up on him as much as I could, but my ultimate responsibility was my 14 three year olds. (I conducted a head count no less than 21 times yesterday.) It made me kind of sad. I think I'm gonna need a sub for the next field trip so I can just go as a mom. Another teacher told me they've actually done that in the past for moms who have kids at the school. That would be awesome. I'm pretty sure my little man had fun with his BFF and chaperone anyway. So I'm thankful for that! Yay for fun Fall field trips!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mountain Getaway

This weekend our family enjoyed a "mountain getaway" to Suches, Georgia. We had the BEST time. The boys had a blast and so did we!

Suches is a little bitty place above Dahlonega where my aunt and uncle retired and built a house big enough for everyone to come visit. And I think we chose the perfect weekend to go visit. The weather was great and the leaves were beautiful. We really did love every second. My parents, grandparents, and Anna and Frankie went up on Friday and then our crew arrived on Saturday, and then my cousin's family arrived after that. Talk about a full house! We hadn't been to Suches since Garrison was a baby so we really enjoyed being back... and have decided not to wait another 3 years before our next visit. =)

As soon as we got there, Garrison was ready to play and explore. My big boy had his first ever true mountain experience. He got to do so many new and fun things and he loved every bit of it. He stayed outside approximately 95% of his stay. He played on the mountain, collected leaves, pine cones, and rocks, went for a ride in Uncle Terry's Jeep, and roasted marshmallows and made smores by the fire. He came inside to eat, paint a pumpkin, and go to sleep. =)

Outside play time...

Painting his pumpkin...

Getting ready for his Jeep ride

Going off road in the Jeep...

The Jeep ride was really fun. Terry drove around me and Garrison (in the front seat) plus my mom, sister, and cousin Meghan in the back. We had so much fun and laughed and laughed. Mainly because of the fact that I'm sheltered from "mountain life" and couldn't believe more than one car could fit on the road at once. Do you see the road in the picture above?? I'm just sayin... we had some scares... according to me. Ha! Anyway, it was such a fun experience. We even saw people camped out and walking the Appalachian Trail. Garrison was totally fascinated. So was I! I hope both of my boys get to go back a lot more in the future.

Speaking of Austin, after lunch baby boy was worn out from the trip up and ready for a nap. Terrell stayed with him and watched football while half of the family went to the Blue Ridge Apple Barn and the other half went on the Jeep ride. When we got back from our excursions, Austin had a lot of play time with some of his own mountain experiences. He went on lots of walks and crunched up lots of leaves.

Loving on PawPaw

During one of our walks
On the bridge again
Once it got to be Austin's supper time, we fed him and shortly after he was ready for bed. All of our mountain fun had exhausted him! One of the things Terrell and I were nervous about before this trip was bedtime, but both boys did great! Austin went right to sleep and slept all night. Yay!!

Austin was asleep by the time we ate and enjoyed a huge feast... which actually worked out perfect. Then, after supper, we built a fire outside and roasted marshmallows. How fun?! Garrison got to stay up way past his bedtime for that treat. It sort of had me stressing at first because I didn't want him to start melting from exhaustion, but then we decided he just couldn't miss out on the fun and that we'd take our chances. Afterall, not letting him particpate might cause a scene and then we'd definitely regret it.
Granna and AnAn hanging out by the fire
Garrison and his cousins ready to roast marshmallows
I'd say he's a fan of smores...
As soon as he finished his smore we got him ready for bed and he went right to sleep. What a blessing! I can remember a time when playing hard all day with no break/nap/rest time/etc would have resulted in a meltdown at bedtime, but not Saturday night. He did awesome and mama and daddy were soooo thankful!

Sunday morning was full of more play time and a huge delicious breakfast before taking some family pictures.

Everything about our mountain getaway was just about perfect. (Which isn't easy to do when it comes to traveling with little ones.) Before we left, Garrison asked me if he could come back to Uncle Terry and Aunt Marie's house again sometime. And he thanked God for the pretty mountains on the way home. The view was gorgeous. Even Bailey had the time of her life. She got to be a mountain dog for the weekend. A dream come true. God blessed us with a wonderful weekend full of fun and we're so thankful. We're also thankful for Terry and Marie welcoming our wild and crazy crew into their home for the weekend. We enjoyed every second and are looking forward to our next visit!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Day in the Life of Us

***Before I recap our entire day yesterday I forgot to share one little thing on my last post that happened over the weekend. It's pretty special so I want it recorded. =) Sunday night between supper and baths/bedtime, during a stretch when Austin was actually feeling okay, my boys had the most fun ever playing together. It was music to our ears!! Terrell and I were in the middle of making lunches for the next day when out of the blue Garrison and Austin starting chasing each other around and having the best time. They ran (or walked as fast as they could in Austin's case), squealed, laughed, giggled, and ran around some more for several minutes. They had SO much fun together. It was truly the first time they'd ever played that well together and had so much fun. And nobody was too rough or got hurt or anything! Terrell and I loved every second. It really was priceless and we were so thankful for it! I hope those sounds are a regular thing in the future. I loved it.***

Okay, moving onto yesterday. For some reason I only do one of these about every 7 months and when I looked back and realized the last time I recapped our entire day start to finish was back in March... I knew it was time. =) Here's all the events and happenings of our day yesterday~

I woke up and started the day, got ready, had my quiet time, and read a few blogs all before the boys woke up. They both slept until almost 8:00 and got to see daddy for just a little bit before he left for work. Then they were ready for breakfast.

Garrison wanted a waffle, cheese grits (with a big spoon), and muffins. Breakfast is his favorite meal and he's always ready for it the minute he wakes up.

Austin had his regular breakfast of a banana and cherrios. He loves bananas.... and shoves them in like he hasn't eaten in days. We can't give him a plate of food yet because he'll grab everything on it by the handful and put way too much in his mouth. Instead we give him a few things at a time... which leads to a very messy highchair and Ausitn begging for more, but I haven't come up with a better system yet.

After breakfast we got ready to take Garrison to school. Most weeks he goes to school at least 4 days and Tuesdays are one of them. Austin and I didn't have school so we dropped Garrison off in the car line and went straight to the dry cleaners to drop off a pile of clothes.

As soon as we got home from dropping of Garrison and the dry cleaning I put Austin down for his morning nap. While he took an almost 2 hour nap, I cleaned up the kitchen, fed and took out Bailey, and then went to work on several Premier things I needed to do.

Once Austin woke up we had some play time together before lunch. We read books, played in his room and the living room, and rode Mater around the house. 

Next, it was time for lunch! Daddy was able to come home for a few minutes and eat with us too. =) Austin had ham, cheese, pears, apples, crackers, and yogurt melts. And he wasn't happy when lunch was over. So dramatic.

After cleaning up from lunch it was time to go pick up brother from school.

As soon as we got home from school Garrison started his after school routine... changed into comfy play clothes, went to the potty (since he doesn't go at school), washed his hands, and ate a snack. And since Tuesdays and Thursdays are days he goes to school by himself he doesn't have a traditional naptime when he gets home. He has "rest time" on the couch and picks out something to watch before the 2 of us get to have some one-on-one time while Austins sleeps. So, after getting him settled on the couch I took Austin back for his nap.

Unfortunately, Austin wasn't having it yesterday. I still have no idea what was up but he refused to take a nap and sobbed the whole time. It was crazy. I literally can't remember him ever doing that during naptime at home. Finally, after troubleshooting, letting him cry, and going in and out of his room for an hour, I gave up.

Since it wasn't even 3:00 when I gave up on Austin's nap, I decided to take the boys to Hibbitt Sports in hopes of finding some stuff for Garrison's Halloween costume. Cause Halloween is quickly approaching! And we've got to get on the ball pronto! Too bad my little trip was a total bust. Ahhh. So I called Terrell to get his opinion on what to do next which led to a teensy little argument because the stress of this costume is getting to us which led to me going home and calling Wal Mart and wasting a whole bunch of time while searching the Internet while the boys made messes everywhere. Glad I got that out. The good news is, a little progress was made. The bad news is, we still have a ways to go.

Then, after that craziness, we went outside. Yay for fresh air and fun! Garrison drove his car around til the battery ran out and decided to take over pushing Austin in his car. Precious. Then, Garrison rode around his tricycle while Austin helped me go through tons of books stored under the garage from my 2nd grade teaching days and pull out lots of Halloween and pumpkin books for my preschoolers. Talk about being productive and multi-tasking.

Then we went inside so I could start on supper. But as soon as daddy got home all the boys went back out... and mama cooked in peace and quiet.

Terrell grilled pork chops and I made green beans and mashed potatoes. This is one of Garrison's favorite meat and vegetable meals so he loved it. Austin loved the pork chops and his fruit but didn't care for the green beans and potatoes. We're not giving up though.

After supper we cleaned up together.... for a little while... 

Once things got too crazy in the kitchen, Terrell finished cleaning up while I removed Austin from the dishwasher and got him ready for his bath. He loves taking a bath. He doesn't love getting out of the bath. He hasn't thrown a major tantrum yet but still lets you know he isn't happy. After refusing to take an afternoon nap, baby boy was super fussy and extremely tired. So I put him to bed at 7:00 and he went right to sleep.

In the meantime, Garrison and Terrell were back outside and didn't come in until after Austin was asleep. Garrison took a bath, got in pj's and got ready for bed... but insisted on just a little play time first. Then, he requested daddy to put him to bed for the 2nd night in a row. I didn't know what to do with myself!

Once both boys were in bed we made lunches, caught up on a couple of shows, and went to bed early. (Terrell actually went to bed earlier than me. I can count on one hand the number of times that's happened in 7 and a half years.)

I am SO thankful for days like this one. Days that are just normal. (Except for the part about Austin's missed nap.) Days that include playing with the boys, taking care of some errands, cooking for my family, being home in the evenings, and fast and easy bedtimes. Nothing exciting or eventful, but heavenly nonetheless. A blessing I'm most definitely grateful for.