Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Home Stretch

This week we're back to school and work and the regular routine for one final month before summer. 17 school days left and counting. Woohoo!! The whole house has seemed to be a little peppier getting ready the past 2 mornings. Of course the sun shining and it actually being daylight in the mornings has helped quite a bit too. Today is rainy and we're dragging. Ha. But we're all excited about the home stretch and wrapping up the school year. Nothing like summer break on the horizon to keep us all motivated. =)

I've mentioned before that Kindergarten has been a big adjustment for my firstborn. It's been a big jump from PreK. The biggest difference being the longer school day. He still struggles with the day dragging by. He also struggles with the working part. Haha. In some ways I know that he just has to accept it and get used to it because school is work, just a fact of life and growing up after all, but in other ways I know that at this age school should still be fun for him. The majority of the time anyway. And I want that for him. I want him to enjoy school. For as long as possible! And right now school isn't his favorite. Even though I know he enjoys parts of it and he's learning a TON (I'm amazed at what they're teaching in Kindergarten now!) and he has some great friends and a sweet teacher, he's tired and just ready to be done.

He's ready for free time and down time and to put the work and schedule and long days of Kindergarten behind him. And honestly we are too. We aren't totally burnt out on Kindergarten but we are ready to turn the page to a new chapter. A nice summer break before heading onward and upward to 1st grade sounds like a plan.

(Even though he's already mentioned some anxiety over 1st grade and missing his teacher and wanting to be with his friends. Poor baby inherited some of my traits. Bless him. We're going to be praying about 1st grade all summer long!)

Summer breaks are always timely and needed, but this year's summer break feels even more so. We've almost completed our very first year of big school and that's made for a huge difference when it comes to looking forward to this summer. Big school is full time, the real deal so we're ready for a break something serious.

We're ready for slower days. More time together. No homework. Endless play time. Fun outings. Our week at the beach. Sleeping (a little) later. Water days. Time to be bored. Time to rest. Time to enjoy the perks of summer.

I know we'll have our challenges because we always do. Being together almost every second of every day for over 2 months always comes with a few challenges, but this summer feels a little different than the summers of the past. This summer break is needed. Garrison needs this break and time at home. Austin needs to have his best playmate home with him. I need more quality time with all 3 of my babies together under the same roof. We've missed each other and need this together time coming up lots.

I also feel more relaxed about this summer. Not sure if it's the ages of my kiddos or being back in the hometown or just that I've turned over a new leaf, but this summer I'm planning to go with the flow more and plan a little less. We most certainly without a doubt will still follow some sort of a routine. We'll still have plans for fun outings and even some occasional structure for when we're home. But it will be on a smaller scale. I want to keep things light. I want to give the boys an opportunity to be bored. (This post has me inspired and motivated on the boredom topic!) I want to allow for some laziness and allow for some last minute-ness. I want to try for a laid back summer. Gasp! Laid back isn't my strong suit, but I'm feeling it for this summer. My big boys are mostly independent and my baby boy should still be taking 2 naps a day (the days we're home), so I'm hoping that makes things more low-key. It won't be quiet or drama-free around here but it should be a tad more relaxed. And if laid back turns out to be a mistake and ensues total chaos around here, I can always go back to my roots and pull out the calendar and get to planning. =)

We're on the home stretch now. Almost there. Oh so close! Yay for Summer!!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Favorites: Spring Break Edition

Spring Break week has been full of fun! Mostly. =) I finally made it to the doctor yesterday morning with my 3 little men in tow (clearly I was desperate) and am hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel soon! We kicked things off with an adventure-filled mountain getaway and winded things down with relaxation and a few special treats at home. And it's still Spring Break for 3 more days counting today!!

Here are my favorite moments from our week off...

*A trip to Gatlinburg with my most favorite guys ever. Love these 4 more than they know!

*Watching my boys' dance moves, fascination, and sheer joy over the dancing water fountain.

*Knowing our Bailey girl was well taken care of while we were away. She got to hang out with Granna and Papa for a few days. So thankful we've never had to board her. She always travels with us or stays with the grandparents. =) A pretty big blessing for sure.

*The boys got to enjoy the pretty weather this week. They've driven their cars around, played golf in the backyard, picked  weeds  flowers, and watched their stomp rockets soar. =)

*They also got to enjoy some down time together. Something that doesn't happen very often during a regular week. Brotherly love sure is special.

*Wednesday was "Rec Night" at our high school's baseball game so half our family got to get in the game for free wearing their uniforms. The big boys were amazed. They loved watching the BIG Trojans and were so impressed with them. It was a really fun game for the whole fam. I was also super amazed at how many families we knew who had a son playing on the high school team. I am loving small town life! And excited about going back to some future games. =)

*Terrell and Garrison had one Spring Break practice this week and Terrell let Austin join the team for a night. Oh my. Can you say adorable?! I loved watching my baby play with the older boys. And he was pretty proud of himself too. =) While Garrison was still competitive with Austin and tagged him out twice, he was also the sweet big brother showing him the ropes and reminding him what to do for every play in the field. I am so thankful for all the sporting events I have in my future with all my babies!

*Layton had fun at practice too. Even though he's a little busier now that he's walking, he's so much easier to manage out and about. He's not crying because he's strapped in the stroller and I don't have to hold him the whole entire time while he fights for his freedom. He just toddles around and takes things in and is pretty low maintenance. Yay. =)

Today I have one more day of Spring Break fun planned. We're hoping for a possible picnic and trip to the park. We're also hoping to finally get pictures done of the boys in their Easter before they outgrow anything. Sigh.

This weekend is pretty wide open and we aren't sure yet of any plans. Which is probably a good thing. A blank canvas weekend is much needed every now and then. Happy Friday!!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring Break Getaway

We are back at home now from our Spring Break getaway! It was lots of fun with a side of sickness, sleeplessness, and changed plans. Ha! This trip proved to embody our "never a dull moment" motto to a T. It was exciting and adventurous, stressful and challenging. It was WILD. =)

Mostly, though, it was full of good times, special memories, and beautiful scenery. Here's a recap complete with lots of pictures.

Despite the fact that Garrison got sick at school (and then again at home) late Friday afternoon, we were able to stick to our original plan and hit the road Saturday morning around 10:45. The big boys were both feeling much better and on the mend and due to the timing of the trip and the fact that everything was already paid for, we felt we needed to try our best to make it happen. Our little men had a great trip up. GREAT. So did I! So comfy and roomy in our new ride. I'm seriously thinking I may never go back to a smaller vehicle. The mom bus has me sold... from this point forward. =)

Almost there! And ready to go out for Pops' birthday dinner. =)

Once we arrived and got settled into the condo right next door to Terrell's parents we waited out a downpour before venturing down the mountain into downtown Gatlinburg. We had a delicious dinner and fun time celebrating Pops' birthday. We had a really great first night! No sickness, no sleeplessness, no issues. Yay!!

Sunday morning we woke up to a rainy day and a slight change of plans. After getting ready and having breakfast we went down the mountain and discovered the store we had planned on visiting wasn't open yet... and we couldn't do anything outdoors because of the rain... except a quick picture of course. Because my boys are so into animals right now we just couldn't pass it up.

So we walked the streets of Gatlinburg before quickly deciding on a visit to the arcade. The big boys had so much fun! We spent the entire morning playing games, counting tickets, and picking out prizes. Even Layton got in on a game or two. It was the best solution possible to a rainy morning and change of plans.

We went back to the condo to have lunch and naptime and then got ready to head out again. Spring Break getaway so far, so good! 

The store we'd planned to visit that morning was open and the boys got to pan for gems. Kind of like panning for gold except you find gems. They loved it! They both came away with a bag full of precious stones and gems. They definitely want to go back the next time we're in Gburg. =)

We walked around a little bit and got a picture in the big rocking chair with Nana before heading to Pigeon Forge for the rest of the afternoon and evening. 

In Pigeon Forge the main thing we wanted to do was visit The Island. It's kind of similar to Pier Park in Panama City (on a smaller scale) and seems to be the perfect combo for kids and grown-ups. The boys really loved it there. They have a big water fountain that dances to music that could've entertained them for hours I think. They were completely entertained and smitten! So were we. =)

It even held Layton's attention because PURE FASCINATION. 

After watching the dancing water fountain (and the big boys dancing to the music) we decided to go eat supper at a restaurant there. But not before a picture with the big black bear. =) 

Unfortunately Terrell and his dad both started feeling kind of sick while we were there, so we had to cut our night a little short. Terrell was feeling so bad he didn't even order anything to eat and I was afraid he wouldn't be able to drive us back to the condo in Gburg. Thankfully we made it back okay and all the boys (including my sick husband) made it to bed at a decent time. Unfortunately the night went horrible. Terrell never got sick he just felt terrible all night, and our precious 3rd born decided he no longer felt safe and comfortable and like SLEEPING in the pack n play in a strange place. He was up almost all night long just wanting to be held. It was miserable.

At least we woke up to this view...
Monday morning wasn't good. =( Terrell was feeling a little better but I was feeling worse. I felt my cold symptoms coming back and I had just been up most of the night and neither one of us knew if we should stay another night or not. We didn't want to disappoint anyone (especially our biggest boy who was having the time of his life) but we didn't want to suffer through another horrible night or risk any of us feeling worse. Layton was very ill and clingy and Austin had no appetite and just wasn't himself. Mama was stressed. Big time. We were just a wonderful group to be around. Poor Nana and Pops.

We finally decided to cancel our original plans to visit the speedway/amusement park and to instead go out to lunch before making a final decision about whether we'd stay in Gatlinburg for our last night or get ready to head home. We went to Mellow Mushroom and ate out on the deck area. It was the perfect choice. Other than the fact that Austin still wasn't eating anything and just seemed off, we had a great lunch and loved people and car watching. =)

After we left Mellow Mushroom we got to hear a band playing and the big boys wanted to stop. They enjoyed it so much! We stayed and listened til the Firewater Junction took their break. =) So thankful my boys are easily entertained!

Layton clapped his hands the whole time...

And so did the big boys. (As you can see in the picture, poor Austin just wasn't up to par.)

By the time we finished listening to the band we knew we'd be pushing it to leave that day and get home at a decent hour, so we decided to risk it and stay. 

We visited the Ripley's arcade where the big boys got their picture made with Optimus Prime. It was like a dream come true. =)

Then we went back to The Island in Pigeon Forge for more of the dancing water fountain, ice cream, rides, and supper. (Or so we thought.)
Ice cream mouths!

The world's slowest carousel. Ha! The boys enjoyed it anyway. =) 

The big boys rode a fun swing with daddy. An adult had to ride with Austin. Which was a good thing because he was only all smiles at first...

He decided pretty fast he wasn't a fan of the Happy Swing. And come to find out, poor baby was sick. 
I will spare you the details that occurred Monday afternoon in the handicap bathroom stall of Dick's Last Resort restaurant in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee but it was epic in the most awful way. Austin and I were stranded in that bathroom stall 45 MINUTES while Terrell, Garrison, Layton, and my sweet mother-in-law drove all over in search of new shorts for Austin. Forget the underwear. We just need something to cover him up and get us OUT OF HERE. Gross. Yuck. Ick. From this point forward I am very, very, strongly opposed to bathrooms that are all "automatic" with no paper towels. They are not my friend and I do not support them saving the trees or whatever their purpose is.

So. We went back to the condo as fast as possible, put Austin straight in the bath, sent Terrell back down the mountain to pick up supper, and started packing up. We had a better night Monday night (not the best, not the worst) but I woke up Tuesday morning with a cough and no voice. Ahhhhhh! So frustrating. Thankfully we were able to get on the road by 9:00 and home sweet home by 2:45.

Even though we had hiccups and challenges galore on our trip, we also had tons of FUN! We laughed a lot. We made lots of memories. We enjoyed good meals. (Most of us did at least.) We took in amazing views everywhere we went. And we had some sweet quality family time. HUGE thanks to Nana and Pops for treating us to a wonderful Spring Break getaway!! I have a feeling we'll remember this trip's craziness and excitement with a smile and laugh for years to come. =)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Favorites: We Made it to Spring Break We Hope!

Well, we're still here. We're not really 100%, but we're here. And it's Friday. And Spring Break starts this afternoon. Yay! 

It's been a whirlwind of a week. A whirlwind of germs, sickness, not feeling good, and just about everything being thrown off. I came down with a nasty cold at the beginning of the week that I hope I'm almost totally over. Although this morning some of my symptoms are back. Boo. But I'm still hopeful I'm pretty much done with it. Then Austin came down with a short-lived stomach bug late Wednesday night. It was awful while it lasted but was over quickly. Praise the Lord! And poor Layton has had something going on with his tummy too that we're just trying to wait out. Thankfully we think, hope, and pray we're all headed in the right direction toward being WELL. We haven't made it to the safe zone yet but we think we're close. Please pray for us. We have plans for a Spring Break get-away (that's supposed to kick off tomorrow) that we reeeally don't want to be interrupted by all the sickies. 

I did manage just a few pics of my most favorite happenings during our whirlwind of a week...

*We were able to celebrate my mom's birthday Saturday night and the highlight seemed to be singing Happy Birthday and blowing out candles. =) It was a fun evening full of good times and laughter!

*This little man has discovered how to put himself in the baby swing. Which we still use on occasion when we're desperate. Ha! He gets so tickled and proud of himself once he finally reaches success. =)

*We weren't able to get in much school time this week but what we were able to do involved trains... A tens number train and our infamous alphabet train. Both trains turned out to be pretty big favorites for my student.

*Garrison requested an empty Little Debbie box from my mom on Sunday after church and this week he used it to make a space scene... complete with a rocket ship and planets. =)

*My biggest boy also made me the sweetest little card this week with one of my favorite ocean animals on the front (a whale in case you didn't know). The inside was full of hearts and a giraffe... one of my favorite zoo animals. =) It was so precious and totally melted me!

*Something else that melted me this week was whenever we read one of Austin's favorite books before naptime every day... Steam Train Dream Train. Every single time we got to this page in the book about 3 boys jumping in and falling asleep he would point out and "name" Garrison, Austin, and Layton. And he does this every single time, but this week it just really got to me. It made my heart smile and reminded me to just pause and take in the moment. My 3 year old baby sitting in my lap listening to his favorite book and sweetly "naming" his brothers in the book too. I'm so grateful for my boys and so thankful for the friendship they'll always have in each other. 

This week may have been a tough one full of lots of unexpected little interruptions but it still held blessings and laughter and goodness. We are sooo looking forward to all getting back to 100% and to heading out on a mountain get-away with Terrell's parents. We're hoping for a fun kick-off to our Spring Break in the mountains and a somewhat relaxing wrap-up once we get home. Happy Friday and Happy Spring Break!!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Favorites: Exciting News to Share Edition!!

This week has been a little on the crazy side, but it's also been an exciting one! A family secret is no longer a secret.................................................................................................................................................................................................... 

I'm going to be an aunt again!!! AnAn and Frankie are expecting a little bundle of joy this Fall!! Squeal!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was Anna's announcement on Instagram and FB. =) 

We've known for over a WHOLE MONTH but had to keep quiet until yesterday. We are so excited and thrilled for Anna and Frankie... and us! Ha! We can't wait to meet this sweet baby and can't wait to experience being aunt and uncle to Baby O!! We are praising God for this blessing and just THRILLED. This news is my most favorite to share this week!

And now here are my regular, not as exciting favorite happenings from our week... =)

*Last Friday when Terrell and the big boys got ready to go play "real golf". Such a precious picture I'll always love looking back at. One day they'll be as big as Terrell going off to play golf. *Tear* Soaking up their cuteness and adorable little selves while they're little!!

*Our littlest love is officially walking!! He is seriously the cutest thing. Seriously. =) He's all over the place and it's one of my very favorite things to watch! His adorable little unsteady walk melts me every time and I just watch and smile. Oh how these last baby milestones get me!

*One of the boys' Easter gifts from my parents was the game "Mousetrap" and it has quickly become their new favorite thing. One afternoon this week they played for over an HOUR. Of course I had to help with set-up once a mouse was trapped or had to step in when a rule was in question, but for the most part they were totally independent. It's the simplest little game but it has them hooked. Haha!

*We are big time Braves fans at our house. They've disappointed us with their off-season decisions (boo!) but we are fans nonetheless. Win or lose we love them. So when the Braves made their regular season debut this week, my big boys were pumped. They were so excited that Austin pulled out the tomahawks for him and Garrison to use to cheer on our team of unknowns. Hahaha. I have to say we've all been super impressed they kicked off the season with a sweep of the Marlins in Miami! Time to start letting the boys watch an inning or 2 before bed every night. So fun. =)

*Garrison has been asking for me to come eat lunch with him for a few weeks and I just haven't been able to work it out to go on a day off... until this week! Me and the littles enjoyed our lunch date with Garrison lots! Austin was out of sorts most of the morning but we still managed a fun lunch and a special visit with our biggest boy.

*Austin and I have kept things super simple with school time this week. Our favorite activity was a simple butterfly craft we were given at Storytime this week. I think this is a fun Spring craft I'll keep on repeat every year. =)

*Garrison got to walk to his classroom with one of bestie's yesterday morning. But first they made a stop by AnAn's room to draw a special message on her board. =) We are so thankful for sweet friends!

*I'm also pretty thankful superheroes live at my house. =) They were doing lots of rescuing yesterday afternoon. I heard Garrison send Austin to rescue someone so Austin came flying through the living room and into the kitchen and said Here! Grab onto my cape! I will rescue you! Then took off back to his room. Hahaha! This age is so fun!

We are so thankful for the exciting news we got to share this week courtesy of my sis and brother-in-law!! And that it's Friday! Now we're looking forward to fun weekend plans. Regular Friday night activities tonight... out to eat or take-out and then movie night. On Saturday we have back to back games with the big boys and then we're taking my mom out for her birthday Saturday night. Then Sunday after church we may try to squeeze in our Spring pics of the boys. Depends on the weather and the moods of our little men. Haha. We shall see. Happy Friday!!