When I dream about my life in the years to come, I know that my life will always include this sweet family. Rad and I have separately known Hal and Sarah Lanier before we had kids. Although we live too many hours away, every time we are with them there seems to not be enough hours in the day. We spent the end of our Thanksgiving weekend at their Family Pecan Farm they were visiting just an hour outside Savannah. It was so cute to watch their son Rundle and the boys be ALL boys and we were excited to meet sweet little Merritt. THANKS Laniers for the fun adventure!
Our Saturday of traveling seemed long and gladly 7 hours into leaving Birmingham then Auburn we happened upon Lane Orchards while driving back roads. We were all ready to get out of the car and were in some serious need of something sweet. This was the coolest place. Not only was it a huge working orchard but it had a playground with tractors to play on, a corn maze, ducks to feed (Mera was most excited about the ducks) and you guessed it, lots of sweet things to eat. So we played and then sat in rocking chairs as we enjoyed our milkshakes, ice cream and bread pudding. I love Radford’s sense of adventure and hope we can instill that into our boys.
Our boys won’t remember our favorite parts of our grandparents. I so wish they could. There is something so sweet about seeing these little boys with 2 generations older than them. Great Grandma Margaret (Rad’s Grandma) is 96 years old and is so sharp. She still emails, she remembers things about you and engages you with questions, and you can tell her heart is so in love with these two little guys. I’m glad we made the trek to Auburn to see her.
Another part of our Thanksgiving journey included a trip to Birmingham to see Grandmommie and PawPaw and Uncle Tom, Aunt Lisa, Cousins Tyler and Sarah. It was oh so much fun. There was lots of hanging out time, lots of eating (which included pie for breakfast), family game night, outdoor games…soccer, football, corn hole, riding bikes, running through the leaf piles and a hike on the boulders. I love seeing the boys with their grandparents…so sweet! And Sarah and Tyler are the sweetest cousins and were constantly holding, sitting next to and playing with the boys. We are so thankful for family and loved every bit of our family time. We are excited to welcome a new cousin sometime in February or March!
There are always lots of giggles when the boys spend time with their Nana. We were lucky enough to spend part of our Thanksgiving with her. She made us an early Thanksgiving meal, let the boys feed the birds (which turned into Mera eating it all), and let the boys go crazy playing with all her toys. We also had a little funny dress up photo session for the boys and her (as it is part of a secret Christmas gift). We are so THANKFUL for you NANA!!
You probably already figured this out about us but we are homebodies. I never thought I would say that with our love for being in the great outdoors but our family finds happiness in just being at home. And for the last few days, we decided to fire up this crazy looking fireplace that sits in our playroom/school room. I rearranged the room so all the seating would be around the fireplace. I feel like we are in the great outdoors. We pulled the small table near the fire and even eat breakfast, lunch and dinner here. It is magical.
There are moments in my teaching Gress that I wonder what is being retained. I try and celebrate small successes for I know they will eventually add together to be one big success. This last week, after being on vacation and trying to get back in our grove, we surprisingly had big successes in the area of reading and math. It was awesome! And I always forget that there is this little 2 year old at the table that is retaining things as well. Mcree now counts to 10 thanks to Gress teaching him. They are sweet moments watching a big brother patiently teach his little brother things.
Oh, and just for fun…thought I would share a photo of Charlie our fish. Most times when I walk by his tank, my heart skips a beat thinking that he is dead. ESPECIALLY when I find him sleeping upside down. It is probably hard to tell from the photo because his belly is so gigantic but he is wrong side up. Mcree must think something is wrong too because I can often find him tapping the tank. No worries though, we fixed that belly problem and he is now a happy camper.
I remember 2 years ago wanting to savor every little moment with our family of 3 before it changed. I had no idea how this sweet little boy could change our family. We can’t imagine our life without him. Happy Birthday Mcree. We celebrated his birthday yesterday with some friends, hanging out by the fire and eating doughnuts. If you are wondering about the chief hat in the photos, that is a special gift from the farmer (turkey feathers and all!).
We were doing some serious memory making last week while the boys and I were in Arizona. Here are some highlights..
While at the Out of Africa Park we hand fed giraffes, promised not to stick our hands outside the vehicle so the zebras wouldn’t chomp off our fingers (apparently it happens), Gress held a 10 foot boa constrictor and it licked him on the face, we watched all the carnivores get fed their dinner (imagine 30 lb raw turkeys being thrown over tall fences…AMAZING), learned way more than we ever can retain, and watched these amazing animal handlers love on all the animals. We were in awe the WHOLE time.
We visited the boys Great Grandmother and Great Pop Pop. I really hope and pray that the boys remember parts of how great these 2 people are. I always chuckle at my Pop Pop’s sayings. I really should have started writing them down years ago. Mcree was being his busy self and Pop Pop said, “he is like a fart in a whirlwind, or a flea on a skillet.” Too funny. It was hard to leave knowing that another year may pass before we see them again (and honestly praying I do get to see them again!).
I knew seeing my Nana was going to be hard because she wouldn’t recognize me but I knew it was important to see her. I had decided to not bring Gress but he begged to go, so we brought him. There were so many things about this visit that were unexpected. I loved seeing my dad’s genuine caring heart for his mom, even if she couldn’t recognize even him on that day, or hear him one bit. I loved the humor that radiated amongst the people in this place. My heart ached for my dad, knowing that soon, he will loose his mom. And the most beautiful thing from that day was watching Gressett with these older people. My dad and I watched with melting hearts as Gress made his way around the table to hug each person and stay in embrace until the people got enough of a hug, or told him how handsome he was, or finished telling their story, or squeezed his sweet face. My nana didn’t know we were there but that’s okay because I got to look at her one more time and my memories flooded my heart of moments from my childhood with her.
The main point of my visit was so that the boys could spend time with Mimi and Pop. Oh, so many fun memories made with each of them from exploring the desert and finding animal bones and a bird’s egg with Pop to picnicking in the park and being chased around by Mimi, to exploring more animals at another Zoo with Pop, to watching Gress’ favorite movie with Pop, to hanging at home with Mimi and getting lots of quality time with both of them.
I am so thankful for this opportunity and for the etched memories the boys now have from their time in Arizona.
“Stay close, hurry up, don’t put your mouth on that, down eat that off the floor, hold my hand, please hold my hand, you really have to go the bathroom right now? Can you hold it for another hour?, okay don’t you dare touch anything in this airplane bathroom, Mcree don’t stick your hand in that toilet, oh where is the hand sanitizer? Mcree don’t kick the seat, please sit still, do you want another cookie?, how about a piece of candy? it isn’t your turn to sit by the window, and if you push you really won’t get to sit by the window, sit still, we can’t use the ipad or ipod yet Mcree (yes he asks for them), another cookie?”
I think I underestimated how challenging it would be to travel with 2 little ones. I had a backpack packed for each kid with toys, activities and snacks. And I had a stroller, a bag of my own, of course at times my chai latte, and 2 little people. I really could have used a sherpa. First a one hour flight, then a 1+ hour layover, then a 4 hour flight and then a 2 hour drive and on top of that a 2 hour time difference.
Was it worth it. YOU BET IT WAS!
For the kids (and me) to get to hang out with Pop, Mimi, Great Grandma, Great Pop Pop and Great Nana was priceless!
(More to come on our trip to Arizona)
P.S. The pacifier was for emergencies only. After too many hours of traveling out it came!
It’s a good thing there aren’t many photos to document our last week because you would think we 1) hang around in our pj’s all day, 2) we leave toys covering every square inch of the house, and 3) we have lots of tears throughout the day. It was an interesting week to say the least. Gress and Rad were under the weather and I think they are finally getting better. School still was in session for most of the days and that was interesting too. Gress was feeling much better yesterday so he decided he wanted to trick or treat with the Coleman Family. Though most of the kids are much older than my two, it is amazing how they include my kids. As each of the kids would take Mcree door to door and the others would watch over Gress at each house, Mrs. Coleman looked at me and said, “My kids would much rather be with your kids than around kids their own age.” It was so sweet to watch. I’m pretty sure Mcree got double the candy because of the way he would say trick or treat and thank you. Gress pooped out within an hour so after a visit to another friend’s Halloween Party, we got home and with all our safety glow sticks lit up, we turned out the lights and put on music and danced around the room. What a fun way to end a special night.
On Friday, Gress, Mcree and I head to Arizona to visit Pop and Mimi and Great Grandma and Pop Pop. Mcree will turn 2 in a few weeks so we had to get one last trip in while he was free. We can’t wait! No doubt there will be some great stories to tell!
On a side note, Gress decided to go as Daniel Boone for Halloween. And he also just finished up his soccer for the year. What a blast that was!