Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dear Jude

Tomorrow you will start Kindergarten.  You are so talented and so full of life and joy, I know you will do great.  Your enthusiasm makes me excited to see you go, but it also is something I will miss having around me as much.  You have been waiting for this day for months.  When a friend asked you at the beginning of the summer if you were excited for the summer, you said, “I am excited for The Museum School.”  I hope you have a happy year.  I hope your confidence, kindness, and helpfulness only continue to grow outside my reach.  I hope your love of learning takes off.  

What I know without a doubt, is that my favorite part of the day is going to be picking you up from school.  Trying to get a glimpse of you from carpool line.  Trying to coax a smile from you even if you are grumpy after a long day.  Having you back home with me, where, no matter what happens at school, you can play, go crazy, hide, whatever you want to do.  Where, I will get to cuddle up with you, read to you, just be with you.

Jude, I love watching you grow up.  You make me so proud.  So, tomorrow, go have fun!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rory and Avie

Rory had such a good time with his best bud Avie during our brief stay in Greensboro.  These two two-year-olds are a stitch to they cooperate and communicate and just plain get along so well and so consistently.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Staunton, VA

This year, my mom and Aunt Paula planned our first ever Swint/Browning family vacation.  We spent a week at an awesome farmhouse in Staunton, VA.  The house had a pool, tennis court, ping pong, tons of fields, a nice walking trail, and we were surrounded by cows for the week.  It was great.  The kids loved playing with their cousins (my cousins' kids) and their Aunts and Uncles.  It was non-stop swimming, baseball, soccer, and ping pong.  We made a few excursions from the farm: the Frontier Cultural Center, Gypsy Hill Park (to meet my college friend Jackie), shopping in town, an awesome state park, and Grand Caverns.  I wish I could remember the name of the state park as it was my favorite excursion.  It had a short hike which was perfect for the kids and then we spent several hours playing at the lake's beach.  That trip wore me and Rory out, but Atticus, my parents and the older boys went on to tour Grand Caverns later that day and also had a great time there.  Apparently, Jude was very interested and was on the tour guides heels the entire time.  

Some other notables of the trip included family bingo.  Jude won the first round and for his prize chose green nail polish (meant as a prize for one of the girls), which we all got a kick out of.  Delia became Rory's best bud.  If he couldn't find her, he would wander around the house yelling Teeee-laaaa.  Finnan became pretty obsessed with ping pong and of course loved playing baseball with Paw-paw and Uncle Michael.  All of the kids stayed up to catch fireflies every night.  Jude started calling the fireflies stinkers for some reason and the name stuck with all of the boys.  One night my mom brought out a ton of glow necklaces and bubbles.  Jude said that was his favorite part of the trip.  Caelyn, Frank and Rudyard were able to come down for a day and we had a really nice visit and we are especially grateful for them coming since it could be the last time we see them before they move to London!  We were also able to stop in Greensboro, NC on our way to VA to visit the Helms family.  It was so nice to see our good friends and it was especially fun to see Rory and Avie back together again.

Now that we are back home we have less than two weeks before Finnan and Jude start school again.  We enjoyed the trip to the state park so much that we are contemplating trying to fit in a camping trip next weekend before they go back...we'll see!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Rory is two and a half

I have been wanting to write about Rory at two and a half for a couple of weeks, but I could never get started.  How could I express how fun and sweet this little guy is?  Well, I guess I just need to say it, Rory is incredibly fun and sweet.  He gives lots of big kisses to both Atticus and me, fully puckered. He loves to smile and laugh and loves to make other people smile and laugh.  One of his favorite things to say is, "[Name] is my friend."  Among the other most commonly heard phrases from Rory are: "No way Jose!" "Yes, siree!" "I won!" and "That's my favorite." Another one is "he/she said yes!"  This last one always comes after either Atticus or I gets him to ask the other parent.  And whether the other parent says yes or no, he gleefully comes running back, with a huge smile on his face saying "He said yes! He said yes!"

Rory is a very active little guy.  He is quite the scooter-rider.  He loves to play soccer and has even mastered several of the drills that Atticus uses with Jude's and Finnan's teams.  He enjoys playing baseball as well. This summer he is also become quite the water baby.  As soon as he wakes up from his nap he asks to go to the "outside pool" and swims every minute (besides pool breaks) we are there.  He positions me in the shallow end and he will dunk himself underwater and try to kick and paddle over to me.  As soon as he comes up for air he exclaims, "I do that again!"  He has also started working on swimming to the edge of the deep end as we push him toward it.

He likes to build with duplos, create train tracks (then destroy them), and loves trucks and speed boats.  He has several trucks and a speed boat that he keeps in his bed with him.  He will play out imaginative scenarios with his toys and his voice gets deeper and more serious whenever he is acting in character. He also loves baby dolls and can be quite the care-giver.  His favorite books revolve around trucks, trains, and Winnie the Pooh.  He rules the boys' nightly TV selection and always picks Curious George.  Every night before bed, we sing him a song and he sings along every few words.

For the most part he seems to run on fruit, especially "wamma-wamma" (watermelon).  Some other sweet words he says are: "Lemmy-lemmy" (lemonade) and "turny-turny" (a curved piece of train track).  He still takes one nap a day.  He is still in diapers and has made it pretty clear that he is not interested in the toilet, even when bribed with "mushrooms" (marshmallows).

Rory is quite the hit with both of his brothers.  Finnan really caters to him, giving him piggy back rides, letting him win, and simply giving in to him.  Jude doesn't extend him those same favors, but they still play really well together and enjoy each other's company.  Rory hates when one of his brothers is too far ahead of him and he will scream, "Finnan/Jude WAIT FOR ME!"  Rory also seems to be interested in his baby brother, often wanting to check on my belly and kiss it.  He still will show people his belly button when asked where his baby brother is.

This has been such a great age for Rory.  What an adorable kid.

July 4th weekend

This year we started our fourth of July with a new tradition: the Avondale Estates parade.  Our family walked in the parade, partly with The Museum School and partly under our own "Elect Atticus" contingent.  We threw out candy and Jude and Atticus handed out cards along the route.  When they ran out of cards, Atticus coached the boys (mainly Jude) to yell, "Happy Birthday America!  Please Vote for Atticus!"  The Avondale community is a huge supporter of Atticus' school board campaign, so not only did he get a lot of positive reception, but, while in route, our family also got invited to a large house party later in the day.  

Walking the entire parade route, and then all the way back to our car was pretty tiring...mainly for this pregnant mama.  Thankfully, it was a cooler morning and none of the boys needed any help.  Rory was a superstar on his scooter.  Frankly, he was just plain adorable, and the image of him riding along with his cape and balloons is going to make me smile for a long time.  But, after the parade we headed for some nachos at Melton's and then for naps.  As soon as we got up, Atticus and the boys started decorating the truck as we were going to be driving in the Decatur parade.  The truck got decked out with campaign signs, hand colored signs by the boys, streamers and silly string.  I drove the truck while Atticus and the boys chanted in the back and manned the bubble machine (one of the more exciting things in the parade considering we weren't allowed to throw any candy!)

Right after the Decatur parade we went to the house party.  It was fun and there were a ton of people for Atticus to talk to about voting.  The food was good and there was quite a kid's game of "World Cup Soccer" going on which occupied Finnan, while Jude jumped on the trampoline and Rory and I went from "corn hole", to basketball, to croquet, etc.  In the end, we decided to met our friends, the Links and the Smiths back in Decatur for fireworks.  At the beginning of the day, I never thought we would last for the fireworks, but it was nice to lay down on the blanket and hang out.  The last time we did 4th of July fireworks was 2009, and that was just Atticus and Finnan as I was home with newborn Jude.  Needless to say it was quite a treat.

When asked their favorite part of the day, both Finnan and Jude agreed on decorating the truck.  Rory went back and forth between seeing Mickey in the Avondale parade and the fireworks.  It was a great day all around, but I most enjoyed the Avondale parade.  It was great to feel a part of the school and greater community there.  

Saturday we washed Atticus' car, the boys slip n' slided in the front yard, and I headed out for a girl's lunch with Kathleen and Bridget, followed by pedicures.  As soon as I got back, we headed to the Sugarmans' for another bbq (and more World Cup soccer matches between Finnan and Jude).  Today we have mainly relaxed around the house.  While I took a nap (this has been almost a daily necessity during this pregnancy!), Atticus did mud sculptures with the boys, a cup, a birdbath, and two terra cotta warriors, still drying in molds brought back for the boys from Honey and Paw-Paw's trip to China.  

I am pretty sorry to see this weekend end.  Happy Birthday America!