Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Three Tiggers

I was sorely tempted to dress Laura up as Hedwig the owl in order to have a complete trio of costumes this year. However, this was the one year when the heirloom Tigger costume would fit, so we stuck with tradition. Keep in mind that both Katy and Nicki wore this costume before my own kids (and we even loaned it to a neighbor one year, so it's held up quite well).

Here is Clare as Tigger in 2004:

Danny in 2007:

And Laura:
While I feared the worst, it turns out Laura was the easiest of the three to get into the costume. She kept patting her stuffed belly and pointing to her "hat." Terrific!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Annual Autumn Retreat

For the days leading up to the annual CKS auction this past spring, and then immediately afterward, both the Seymour and Franco kids were anxious to know if we had once again secured a weekend at a mountain home. Happily we had, with the added bonus of booking it when the kids had a three-day weekend. Last year's time flew by far too quickly, and we knew we'd enjoy an extra day. (Props to Tim and Luis, who worked until midnight and all night, respectively, in order to take the time off.)

This year we headed to Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, Georgia. This spot is so close to the North Carolina border that on the day we ventured to hike some trails, we crossed the state line about 5 minutes after leaving the house. Fortunately, we enjoyed paved roads the entire time. We traded lofty mountaintop views for a spot right on the lake, complete with a fabulous lawn that saw a lot of football playing, gymnastics and glow-stick glory. In fact, these activities topped the list when I asked Clare and Danny what were their favorite elements of the weekend.

On our first full day, we recalled enjoying a family-friendly hike last year and sought a similar experience. The nearby Jack Rabbit Trails seemed a good option, and we set out on what we thought would be a 3-mile hike. We took a small detour to get us down to the water, and thus it became a 4.1 mile walk that seemed significantly longer. Keep in mind it was a very hilly, tree root-studded trail (and I was pushing a stroller the entire time). Nevertheless, Danny and Gabrielle were intrepid and probably ran half of the way, if not more, eager to stay ahead of the pack and prove their mettle. Their elder sisters brought up a dragging rear, and I must commend the younger kids for not rubbing their noses in it too much!
The fearless hike leaders.

Looking for frogs and skipping rocks.
The next morning the kids asked what we had in store, and I could tell they were wary of any plans for further hiking. We adults had seen a corn maze that we thought would be a good bet, so we ventured out once again. We really had some beautiful weather, and it was glorious to spend time in the fresh air. We managed to solve the "FSI" puzzle as well as make our way out of the maze, enjoyed a hay ride, and the kids couldn't enough of the bed of corn kernels they could wallow in. After lunch we made a quick stop at Goats on the Roof, where there are, indeed, goats walking on the roof. Aside from the option to feed these goats, though, it's really an odd spot...

The bulk of our weekend revolved around football (GO IRISH), food, chilling out, and glow sticks. Deanna and I had both loaded up on them at Target's Dollar Spot, and we definitely got our money's worth. Something about the freedom of running around outside in the dark, unfettered by adults, really struck a chord with the kiddos.

So, I'm pretty sure this is a tradition for our two families. Next year I will work to find the Francos a bedroom that is not subject to the sounds of Laura's early morning wake-ups, and we have decided that we are bringing lots and lots of paper plates. Other than that, we've definitely got a winning formula.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Laura at a Glance

Laura gets a lot of flack for being a menace, strong-willed, etc. etc. But when I stop and think about it, she's a pretty accommodating kid. She spends hours in the car every day and is always more than willing to do so. She happily rides in the stroller every day. She willingly goes down for her naps and bedtime every single time. She even loves to have her diaper changed (in fact, I harbor not-so-secret hopes that she will potty train early and easily). For the most part, we ask her to adapt to our family lifestyle, and she does.

So what do her days look like? She wakes up early, which is annoying on weekends but works pretty well with our weekly carpool schedule. She greets me every morning by saying, "Breakfast! Dressed!" Laura really likes her meals and her clothes. She likes me to put a bow in her hair and a bib on her for meals, and these are all things she can now communicate verbally.

Sometimes she spends the morning with James, pictured below, and Misty, the Bergstroms' awesome nanny who is also my book club friend. We also attend music class with James, and another neighbor Emma. You can see why we are often asked if James and Laura are twins.

Other social occasions often involve Jane, the youngest of our carpool's family:

Laura asks to go outside every day, multiple times. Lately she is literally a tree hugger.

I used to joke that the only time Danny, as a toddler, was happy to play by himself was when he needed to poop. This is sometimes also true of Laura, but recently she has taken to spending time by herself in the playroom...with markers. This does not get old for her, and as they are washable I am more than happy to indulge her in this.

She asks several times a day where Danny, Clare, and Daddy are, and is definitely happy to see them when they return home. We both enjoy interacting with others, too, and running errands - I truly think she gets afflicted with cabin fever as much as I. Still, I think we're pretty comfortable in our time together. And as soon as I stop and think about what she was like a year ago, I realize yet again how quickly that time is flying by.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Danimal

Never has this particular nickname for Danny been more appropriate
that of late. While this summer he was intensely interested in reptiles,
now he has taken to wolves and animals of prehistoric times. Such
that a couple of weeks ago he asked me if I could please get him some
wolf pajamas. I scoffed that they do not make wolf pajamas, and he let
it go fairly easily. Curiosity got the better of me, however, and lo and
behold I found some on, where else, Amazon. He loves them.

Our most recent trip to the library garnered the selection of books
photographed here, which he has faithfully read. He told me the other
day that his assistant teacher enjoys when he reads to her, which he does quite expressively, and has
enjoyed the many facts about animals that he has shared with the class. In fact, she
suggested that when he grows up, he could have a TV show where he
teaches people about animals. I find this a much more palatable profession than
hunter, which he announced last week as his latest career ambition.
Suddenly a professional hockey player didn't seem so bad.

Of course, he's still interested in sports, and has found a way to
combine his interests: when he is playing a football or soccer game
around the house, his team is always The Wolves. He particularly loves
to go into detail, describing their uniforms. I'm not going to burst his bubble, as he thinks he's very fierce and tough. But as his teacher shouted to me across the parking deck the other day, "he's SO sweet - and SO smart." He's one of a kind, our Danimal.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pumpkin Pilgrimage

Gearing up for today's trip to Burt's Farm, I read last year's post about it, and will admit I got a tad nervous about how this would go. I was afraid maybe the place itself, or the tradition in general, was losing its charm for us. This was our fifth trip to Burt's, and I am happy to say that while last year may have been a B+, this was definitely an A visit. (Enjoy the memories from 2009, 2010, and 2011.)


In fact, I think it is safe to say this is an annual event for us. It's a haul to get to Burt's from our house, but it's a lovely drive through the North Georgia mountains that also allows us to take advantage of a good hour+ of together time for the five of us in the car - a rare event. We've learned to pack a picnic, which enables us to take our time throughout the visit. This year, as we strolled to our chosen picnic spot, we came upon another CKS family also enjoying their annual trek - which means Danny had a buddy to run around and play football with after he ate his lunch. Win-win for everyone!

Tim and I speculated that maybe this year was better than last because Laura is at a better age for such a trip. She was very interested in the pumpkins, touching them as she passed and content to run endless loops through the rows and rows. She also thoroughly enjoyed the hayride, which is a cheesy yet coveted part of every trip. Talking pumpkins! A fake bear!

As we had done in 2009, we decided to stop at Amicalola Falls before heading home. This year we made it a bit farther along the trail, affording us a better view of the falls themselves. Sadly, the kind European gentleman we prevailed upon to take our photo didn't quite seem to grasp the background scenery we sought.


In closing, a bit of nostalgia. Our very first visit to Burt's was in 2007, which predates the blog. Here is a picture from that visit, definitely prompting a "my, how they've grown!" feeling in my heart - Danny was younger than Laura in this photo:

Tonight Clare assured me that she'd be happy to make the pumpkin patch trip even when she's an old woman in a wheel chair. I sure hope so!