Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A new sport



I thought the river farm could not get any better.  It has.  Now, in addition to beach, boats, fishing, tractors, pool, backhoe, chickens, and cousins, it has two street hockey courts.  Uncle Dan built the pictured "barn" for his large machines.  However, the floors made it a perfect street hockey court.  So, the little lads (a group of cousins that work on projects for Uncle Dan) built goals, barriers for the courts and put together a shipment of hockey sticks in time for Thanksgiving.  On Black Friday there was a round robin tournament (which we missed for a side trip to Pennsylvania) and on Sunday the stragglers got together to play some more.  Although I didn't get to play for too long (little boys kept running onto the court), it was so much fun to play a competitive team sport again.  Finnan and Jude also loved playing hockey.  However, watching us play, Finnan developed a somewhat debilitating habit- running toward the ball then sliding/falling to the ground when he got to the ball.  Judging by the bruises on all of the hockey players, we fell a lot.

Anyone up for commandeering a tennis court?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A life lesson


While we were at Southern Belle Farms this past Sunday, a calf was born.  We were able to see the calf with its mother at 3 hours old.  Although it had not yet mastered standing, the calf was surprisingly big.  I was amazed the mother was still standing.  That is, until I saw her udders.  I felt for her.  I think it would have been impossible for her to lay down.  Finnan was very taken with the cow and calf.  Asking what the mother was eating (err...the placenta) and what the farmer was doing (helping the calf nurse).

Finnan: What is on her back (really her behind)?
Me: That's blood.  She just had her baby.
Finnan: She got hurt?
Me: No, she didn't get hurt, but when you have a baby, sometimes there is blood.
Finnan: Did you have blood?
Me: [Silent Smirk]
Atticus: A little.  Just a little bit, but she did not get hurt.

Right.

Below are some more pictures from our day.  The best way to describe Southern Belle Farm is an entertainment farm.  It is a working farm, but it seems like only for fun crops- pick your own fruits, pumpkins, flowers.  They also had an array of animals, but they seemed to be for petting and feeding.  They had a corn maze, hay ride, giant pillow jump thing, corn pit, corn cannons, pumpkin cannons, pedal powered go-carts, pig racing...you get the idea.  This year Finnan's favorite part was their little playground where they had a child-sized pedal-powered tractor.  He could not get enough of acting like a farmer.  He kept getting off of his tractor, putting his hand over his eyes (as if shielding the sun) and gazing around, occasionally waving.  I guess farmers do this in his world?

Finnan's beloved toy tractor.

A try at the real thing.

Waiting for the pig races to start.

A highly coveted souvenir.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jude is 18 months





Jude is toddling between baby and little boy.  He amazes me every day with things he can do.  He leans himself back in a big boy swing, eats with cereal with a spoon, drinks from a cup and is working on hitting a baseball off of a tee.   Most of his day is spent in a game of chase.  When playing with Finnan, Finnan will say 1, 2, 3, and then Jude will scream GO!!! as they tear through the house.  His game does not end there and continues when it comes to clothing and diapering him or while shopping.  He can be such a terror in stores that people have actually let me go in front of them in line.  Jude is clearly meant to be free.  Ultimately though, Jude is still my baby.  He loves to be held, cuddled, and read to, and will whine incessantly at my feet if I can't get to him soon enough.  And he still has perfect baby cheeks.  

Atticus used to describe him as 'a force,' and this remains true now.  Jude is bold and forthright in everything that he does, whether that is exploring, climbing, cuddling. . . or screaming.  It is highly advisable not to put yourself between Jude and whatever it is that he is keen on doing, the results are often disastrous.  One of his first methods of communication was a very assertive point of the finger, and both Atticus and I have often walked the entire house during the wee hours of the morning, carrying Jude and being directed by his outstretched finger (which also seems to change direction for no reason whatsoever).  Luckily, the offer of a popsicle or chips or an attractive distraction will often assuage his determination for nothing in particular.  Although now he is considerably more verbal than we remember Finnan being at this age, with a vocabulary of probably 50 words or so, he surprisingly does not use 'no' frequently at all with us (Finnan is a different story).  Instead, he has opted to shake his head (with vigor) when we offer anything that he doesn't want.  "Jude, are you ready for night, night? Jude, can you sit in your seat, please? Jude, do you want to put clothes on?"  On the other hand, Jude is a very well-mannered toddler in that he often says please and thank you, and he always waves bye-bye with an offer of hug/kiss.

Jude is a product of his environment and is unquestionably all-boy.  He loves to wrestle with his brother, play with trains and trucks, dig in the sand or mud, and play ball.  He already verbally differentiates between footballs and baseballs.  He can not yet jump, but practices every day.  Thankfully, he ultimately requests my hand before he launches himself off of Finnan's bed.  He loves animals.  When feeding the goats this past weekend, he stuck the feed directly into their mouths, pulled away when they nibbled on his fingers, and then proceeded to put his fingers right back in their mouths. 

Jude did well at his doctor's appointment, keeping himself busy playing in the sink and using the extra chair as a climbing/jumping implement.  He weighed in at 23.5 lbs (20th percentile) and was 2'8" tall (50th percentile).   Jude has three teeth left to go (not counting his two-year molars).  He often still wakes up at night, requiring one of us to go lay in the bed in his room and sing to him.  (We are very thankful that his crib is in the guest bedroom!) His food sensitivity to tomatoes and berries has disappeared and although I feel like he has slowed down in consumption, he still eats a wide variety of foods.

Atticus has always commented on how having kids puts your life in fast forward.  I honestly have not felt that way until these last 6 months, but this summer and fall have flown by, leaving me to marvel at how much my boys have grown and changed.




Friday, November 12, 2010

9-2

From 9-2, I had a quiet house.  I actually enjoyed working for the first time since my recent consulting started in July.  I had five hours without interruption and without worry of interruption.  And for the rest of the day, I did not have to think (ahem, stress) about when my next free hour would be to try to sneak in some more work.  

Jude joined Finnan at Gabriela's for the first time today.  She said she would call me if he started to cry.  Although I kept the phone close by, I was pretty confident I would not hear from her.  Jude has grown up with Gabriela, seeing her multiple times a week since he was 4 months old.  In fact, for the past couple of months, Jude has been getting upset every time I take him away from the play group action.  Today, he seemed to immediately grasp that he was spending the day there and before I even reached Gabriela, he found a dump truck to race around the yard.  Finnan whimpered at my legs a bit before I left, but all I heard was Jude shrieking with delight as his dump truck gained speed.  I had planned to pick them up at 1, but at 12:50 I got a call.  Jude had just fallen asleep in a stroller, so Gabriela said she would call when he woke up.  I got the call at 2 and headed over there.  Jude was sitting peacefully in Gabriela's lap eating an orange.  He didn't even budge when I got there.  He was content and happy.  Gabriela said she was shocked- he did not complain once.  She said he called out for Mama when she was changing his diaper, but she quickly picked him up and brought him outside to make popcorn with the other children.  As I was talking to Gabriela he joined Finnan and some of the other children collecting worms.  They were digging and loading the worms up in the wheelbarrow.  Occasionally the children would scream and scatter, then sneaking back toward the worms to load them up.  He was one of them.

Unfortunately, Gabriela isn't able to take on another child regularly right now.  However, I am hoping Jude will be able to go a couple of times a month.  It not only helped me getting some work done, but I was also ready for a break.  A few whine-free hours and seeing him in that environment was exactly what I needed.

Saying "Cheese!" after his first day at Gabriela's

Somebody likes Thomas



Tonight, Finnan fell asleep in the bathtub at 6:30, and no, I'm not kidding. He is obviously a firm believer in playing till he drops, literally.  Fortunately for Jude, this meant he had the train table all to himself.  He bypassed all of our other trains, dug out the four Thomas trains and has been dutifully navigating the track.  His focus is very sweet and as he goes around the track he is saying, "choo-choo,", "woah!,""scuse me," "here you go," "oh no," "uh-oh."  He is making it pretty hard to put him to bed.  Right now I just want to gobble up those chubby cheeks...but I won't...the moment is too perfect, and every time Atticus asks for a hug, Jude politely shakes his head.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An enchanted Halloween with a bit of fright



First, thank you Mom for making these great costumes.  When she delivered them a couple of weeks ago, I had a momentary fear that after all of her work, they would not wear them.  Boy, was I wrong.  They loved them.  When told he was cookie monster, Jude started running through the house making monster sounds and Finnan wanted to wear his costume at every opportunity.

The baby panda's first public debut was on Saturday night for the "Enchanted Forest," a festival inspired by Gabriela and Sara (a play group mom and Waldorf teacher).  Lanterns lined a path through the woods on Sara's large property.  At nightfall, the children wandered on the path stopping at stations along the way.  The stations were manned by parents who put together scenes based on nursery rhymes and then gave out a homemade treat.  Little Jack Horner, Where o where has my little dog gone, Little Boy Blue, Jack be Nimble are examples of the scenes.  Atticus and I did Itsy, Bitsy Spider.  I'll admit- I was intimidated by the event and almost did not attend because I did not want to create a scene.  Luckily, my friend Christi told me a few of her ideas and I realized how many nursery rhyme scenes could be created without much effort.  I was very impressed by the evening.  The children enjoyed it and in the end I had fun sharing my scene with the children.  I am already thinking about next years' scene!

On Halloween night, we gathered at David and Shelly's house with Jarrett and Christi for a chili dinner and to decorate cupcakes.  After an attempt to get our excited children to pose for pictures, we headed out trick-or-treating!





Trick-or-treating is not a huge event in our neighborhood.  Less than half of the houses have lights on, but we only planned on stopping at a handful of houses, mainly to say hello to friends.  Jude did not really like wearing his hat.  But he learned quickly, in order to trick-or-treat, he needed it.  Before he got to the front door of any house he would ask, "Hat?", put it on, and then immediately take it off as we left the house.

At one of our last stops, we had quite a scare.  Our group of kids and another group of neighborhood children that we know congregated on a small porch at the same time.  All of a sudden I heard Atticus yell, "Get her down!"  A witch's cape had caught fire from a luminary.  Atticus was right next to her trying to hold the cape away from her skin, but was holding Jude and the porch was packed with kids.  I don't know how her mom did it, but she did an amazing job of rushing in and getting the girl to the ground.  Christian and Elsa were crying.  Finnan was shocked into silence.  Jude was oblivious.  And I was shaken for the rest of the evening.  It wasn't until Finnan got home that he started to react and he woke in the middle of the night and ended up in bed with us- a first and I can not imagine it was a coincidence.

So that we did not end on such a scary note, we stopped at three more houses before calling it a night.  When we reached Russ and Shelly's house, they had run out of candy, so they offered the kids fruit.  Amazingly, the kids dove into the fruit and they all started eating it.  By the time we got home, there was no mention of candy at my house.  I know my father-in-law would think I am cruel, but I have the candy stashed away until someone asks for it...and still no one has touched any Halloween candy.  Don't get any ideas, Paw-Paw!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Swing set




To Finnan, there is nothing better than a project that involves a tape measure.  He immediately becomes a wonderful listener, constantly on call to deliver the next tool or part needed.  His voice even lowers an octave or two...no joke.  Lucky for Finnan, he has Atticus as a father.  It seems impossible for Atticus to be project-less.  A couple of weeks ago Paw-Paw was in town and the three guys got to finish working on the swing set.  In actuality the process took about a month- we had to finalize and clear the location, re-orient the slide, and Atticus had to salvage as many free parts as possible.  But now, we have as many swings as our favorite local park (there is a fourth swing- our original swing in between two trees)...


The boys love the swing set.  And I love being able to open the back door to a playground.  We are hoping to soon replace the baby swings (apparently Jude no longer needs it!) with a trapeze or rings and eventually will run monkey bars across the top.  Another recent project was creating a pulley system with bucket which could be operated from the tree house.  The bucket can efficiently deliver sand to dump trucks in the sand box below. (In the picture below you can see Jude filling the large orange paint bucket.)


In the background of the above picture you can see my contribution- a makeshift balance beam made out a long piece of wood and some scraps to prop it up.  Atticus has already made adjustments to it...     



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Popsicles!


Since all of my posts recently seem to revolve around food...here is another one.  Well, at least the picture has to do with food, quite possible the food with the most cry stopping power in this house.

Now for the real post.  Can you guess what they are sitting on?  My old potty- yes they save everything!  Yes, Atticus has officially broken me down and I am potty training.  The first weekend was a nightmare.  I didn't want to be potty training and at every potty related suggestion, Finnan just about ran the other way. This was an improvement from the few hours I tried potty training last month.  Then he curled up in the small space between the toilet and wall and whimpered.  Really, I was not even pressuring him.  Apparently, he really likes his diapers!  Over the past week, it has gotten easier.  Finnan still has absolutely no motivation, but I guess has figured out that I am not going to give in too much.  I have dangled candy and underwear as motivators...he doesn't seem to care about either.  Even if he is talking about getting an M&M or Skittle while on the potty, he rarely remembers to pick it up after a successful pee.  I did present him with Richard Scarry's Cars, Trucks and Other Things that Move and reserve it for visits to the potty.  That is a decent motivator but extends the time of our visits to the potty significantly.  

In short, I think this is going to be a long process.  After about a week and a half he doesn't have too many accidents when he is diaperless (only while at home), but does not go to the potty without prompts from me and has yet to do his morning business in the potty.      

Apples!



I thought we would only make one day trip up to the mountains this year- to the pumpkin patch.  But with the beautiful warm fall weather and the allure of changing leaves, I found myself researching apple orchards.  At first, I was disappointed.  Only one farm seemed to be open for pick-your-own during the week: B.J. Reece Orchard.  However, B.J. Reece did not have a hayride.  After going, I am so glad they did not have a hayride.  The orchards were vast and set back from the road.  The fields had beautiful mountain views.  And, although we heard other pickers and saw many go into the fields, we rarely saw anyone else.  It was wonderful to be able to take your time, sit and enjoy apples while you picked and not worry about getting in line for the hayride or any other attractions.  

My mom was in town and was able to join us for the outing (lucky for me as I would not have been able to carry all the apples and a tiring Jude!)  We picked Rome Beauty apples.  They're delicious.  We filled a 1/2 bushel bag and Finnan carried a pint bag as well.  We also bought another 1/2 bush of Fuji apples.  Equally delicious.  A gallon of apple cider also came home with us- yum!  Even though we had all stuffed ourselves with apples in the field, we ventured out into Ellijay (with very bad directions) and found Poole's BBQ.  Their pig hall of fame (a hill covered with hundreds of pig cut-outs with names on them) and pig car greatly amused the boys and the BBQ was surprisingly good as well.  

And the best part- apple picking just keeps giving and giving.  Even after using countless apples to can applesauce, apples for apple pie and giving them away, we are still enjoying the apples.  I am just hoping we might be able to get up their again before apple picking season is over.






Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkins!


Thanks to my very organized friends, we made it to a pumpkin patch before Halloween this year.  Monday we headed up to Burt's Pumpkin Patch in the Georgia mountains with Christi, Elsa, Kate, James, Shelly and Christian.  I was impressed- they had huge pumpkins!  The kids ran around the pumpkins for a few minutes until their attention was directed toward the hay ride.  Unfortunately as they eyed the tractors, I saw the line.  I take that back, two long lines.  One to buy tickets and one to board the tractor.  (One benefit to going to the pumpkin patch after Halloween- no line!)  The kids were troopers and waited fairly patiently.  When we within only a few tractors of boarding, Finnan identified the perfect pumpkin.  I suggested that we put it to the side so we could ride the tractor.  Despite his inquiring about the tractor every minute for the past hour and a half, he said he didn't want to ride the tractor so he could stay with his pumpkin.  As you can see- it is a special pumpkin.  Needless to say, we took the pumpkin on the ride.  The hay ride went over little creeks, up hills, through the pumpkin patch, through a covered bridge and even stopped at a talking pumpkin display.  Both Finnan and I were glad we decided to take the pumpkin on the ride.  After the hay ride we ate a picnic lunch and Jude picked out a pumpkin as well.    











Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A late harvest


My blogs are not the only things not coming on time these days.  Over the past two weeks we have been enjoying community garden fresh watermelon.  Our community garden was planted last spring on a plot of land that had been clear cut for development while the market was crashing.  The soil was bad.  There were conflicting personalities.  In the end, there was little community and it had seemed like very little garden.  I was disappointed.  My visions of children squatting in a community sandbox while neighbors picnicked amongst the produce might be forever squashed (this actually does happen in a community garden about a mile west of us).  But is was not all for naught.  The beginning of October brought small ripe watermelons (about the size of Jude's head), thai chili peppers, green peppers, tomatoes, and very squatty eggplant.  Not exactly the harvest the neighbors involved were hoping for, but it was a very nice surprise nonetheless.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

At the cottage, 2010


I have to preface our 2010 family "portrait" with the picture of Finnan above.  For the only picture which included all of us looking at the camera, Atticus had to catch Finnan mid-jump!









3, Take 2



Yes, that is Finnan with a very brightly iced Dora and Diego cake.  I don't know if I am cringing because of the color, the characters, or the fact that it cost $40.  But that is the cake Finnan picked out for his 3rd birthday.  He successfully blew out all three candles on Sunday and we had a great birthday weekend.  Paw-paw, Honey, Uncle Michael, Aunt Rebecca, Uncle Dan, Aunt Jean, Aunt Ginny, and Aunt Leedle, along with a handful of Atticus' wonderful cousins were there to help us celebrate throughout the weekend.  As shown by the pictures below, Finnan was in little boy heaven!

Catching crabs.
Riding (and operating) the backhoe with Paw-Paw.  At one point they actually came back with a twelve foot long section of a tree trunk!
Getting his bearings on the four-wheeler.  He actually got to ride a larger one with Paw-Paw and Atticus.
Finnan's first sailing adventure.  Luckily this time Atticus kept the boat afloat (a story for another time).
Crusing around with one of the four-wheeler helmets.
And just digging on the beach.

   

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

3, Take 1

Finnan is turning 3 this week. Instead of a party, we are going to spend a long weekend at the cottage on the Eastern Shore. Since my mom will be missing Finnan's big day, she came up this week to take Finnan to a Brave's game. Finnan watched the National's beat the Braves today from the fifth row, behind home plate. He loved it. He clapped, did the tom-a-hawk chop, and sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," or as he likes to sing, "Take me out to the baseball game...1, 2, 3 strikes you're out at the old baseball game." (A subtle difference, I know, but I find it endearing.)

Being a grandparent, my mom could not stop there and surprised him with a present as well. For the past month, every time Finnan was asked what he wanted for his birthday, he said 'a crane truck'. He was also very specific that it should be able to lift up his trains. I don't think he has been this consistent about anything in his life. So, when he found out that Weggi was taking him to a baseball game, he was very excited, but after talking about the game for a few minutes he stopped and asked her (via Skype), "I still get a crane truck, Weggi?" Weggi could not resist and presented him today with a fabulous, working crane truck. He was beyond himself. And, to top it off, Lala (my Aunt Paula) sent him a Cranky the Crane for his train set. He was squealing with excitement. He was in his dark room directing his workers and the crane truck for an hour after I said good-night. Usually, when he "works" he uses his deep, worker voice. He was unable to come down from his squeal even when giving his commands: "No time for dinner. We need to do more work!" He is now finally asleep, cuddling up with the crane stabilizers.

For tomorrow- our trek to Maryland, followed by real construction machines, fishing, beach, Honey and Paw-Paw, Uncle Michael, and (soon-to-be) Aunt Rebecca.