Friday, October 28, 2011

DeSoto Caverns Fun Park

This past weekend, we headed out to spend a family day at the Old Baker Farm, our favorite pumpkin patch.  When we arrived, the place was so packed we decided to think up a Plan B.  A few more miles down the road was a place we'd planned to visit for a long time, but had never made it out to.  We decided that that gorgeous fall day would be perfect for exploring DeSoto Caverns Family Fun Park.

Caleb shooting a bow and arrow for the first time.
Marcus, Caleb & Ethan in a really cool privacy-fence maze.
Lydia with her brothers.  Caleb is inside a cave-simulation crawl exhibit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lydia's 6-Month Pictures

A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I had our fourth photo session with my all-time favorite photographer, Heather Swanner.  Unlike the other three sessions, this one was a mini-session, so we didn't have as much time as we have in the past.  In addition, Lydia was very tired during the session and her typically quick smiles were much harder to coax out.  She actually spent most of the session staring blankly at the camera, despite our best efforts.  I honestly didn't think there were going to be any great pictures, and only a few good ones.  It is a tribute to Heather's talent that there were as many good pictures as there were.  Here's the slideshow, Mimi & Nanna :).

Ethan Starts Preschool!

Ethan started attending a 2-day-a-week Mother's Day Out at the school that Caleb attends.  I had originally decided to keep him home all the time this year, both for financial reasons and because I didn't want to be doing four different carpool lines in one day, but Ethan and I were driving each other nuts without Caleb around.  Ethan is super-social, and I did not realize until Caleb went to kindergarten just how much of Ethan's social energy Caleb normally absorbs.  

After several days in a row of thinking that one more "Mommy, watch this!!!!!" was going to make me lose it, I started looking into preschools again.  When I found out that I could enroll Ethan in an MDO program at Caleb's school and drop them off and pick them up at the same time, I was sold.  Now, for the first time since Caleb started kindergarten, I feel like I have my head above the water.  I am getting my housework and grocery shopping done during the two mornings a week that Caleb & Ethan are at school, and I also get to enjoy some one-on-one time with Lydia on those days.  The other three mornings each week that Caleb is at school and Ethan & Lydia are at home, I am able to give Ethan a lot more attention since my housework is mostly taken care of.  And Caleb gets plenty of attention in the afternoons, with practicing baseball skills, doing homework & reading with me, all one-on-one activities.  

I feel like we are in a workable rhythm for the first time since kindergarten started.  Both boys enjoy their time at school, I'm getting my stuff done, and I have good "protected" time with each child.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Zoo Field Trip

I was lucky enough to be one of the two parents who got to ride the bus with Caleb's class for his first kindergarten field trip.  He was so, so happy that I was there (and that he was one of the only kids with a parent on board).  Many of the other parents met the class at the zoo, and we all spent a leisurely morning walking through the zoo.  I especially enjoyed it since my younger two were in the school's childcare, so I spent the whole morning just being with Caleb and watching him with his friends.  The weather was perfect, and we were all surprised to see that the lion and lioness had a little family to show off.  It's been a long time since I've seen an animal as cute as those playful little lion cubs were!

"Alabama" Cousins

Marcus's younger sister, Traci, and her husband and kids came into town for a quick visit a few weeks ago.  As you can tell from their college football garb in the picture below, they had an ulterior motive for their trip:)  We had a great time hanging out with them on Friday night and then visiting the Montgomery Zoo with Traci, Maddie & Dallen on Saturday (while Josh was at the game).  By the way, I do feel the irony that Traci and Josh are from Florida, but are Alabama football fans, while we live in Alabama and we are Florida Gator fans.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Ethan's first season of soccer has been interesting, as well.  After Caleb played soccer at age three and it didn't turn out to be a good experience for anyone, we had planned to make Ethan wait until he was four.  But he talked us out of it.  He wanted to play so badly, and since he'd already had to sit and watch while Caleb played three seasons of soccer, we decided to give it a shot.

The first two game nights went well.  Ethan listened to his coach, stayed pretty focused, and (literally) ran circles around the other kids.  But at some point during the third soccer night, he started getting frustrated with other kids kicking the ball away from him and started checking out.  Now, Caleb checking out means that he sits down on the field and picks blades of grass.  Ethan checking out means that he finds someone to play with.  Unfortunately, all the available playmates were supposed to be playing soccer, so he decided to be entertaining enough (or annoying enough) to get them to stop playing soccer and pay attention to him.  You can imagine the effect a class clown has on a 3-year-old soccer team.  Let's just say when Ethan lost interest that night, there was a lot less soccer going on.  

The next time, he didn't even attempt to get involved, he just did his best to distract others until we took him out of the game.  The fifth night was the worst, and he ended up watching a most of the game from the sidelines after getting a spanking from Mommy for disobeying his coach.  We've got three more soccer nights left.  If things don't improve significantly, I will have no problem telling Ethan that he is going to spend the spring sports season sitting out and watching Caleb play baseball or soccer.


Caleb's first season of baseball has been interesting.  Apparently, 5-years-old is too old to start playing baseball around here.  The other kids on Caleb's team have been playing for two years, and most of them are really good.  Not just skilled, but also very knowledgeable about the game.  Caleb started out completely lost and now he hovers around mildly confused.  After watching him suffer through the first couple of games, I decided it was time for baseball boot camp with Mommy.  The next day, I took all three kids to a nearby park.  I put Lydia in her stroller, safely shielded from any runaway balls, sent Ethan to the playground, and spent 45 minutes teaching Caleb how to bat.  He was resistant and whiny (as he usually is when being taught something he doesn't necessarily want to learn at that moment), but we plugged away.  By the end of that session, he had down the basics of swinging a baseball bat.  

Over the next couple of weeks, I played baseball with him every chance I got: batting, throwing, catching, running bases, fielding, etc.  And he has gained a lot of ground in the five weeks since the season started.  He can hit pretty well off the tee (though 5-year-olds play machine-pitch here, so he first has to miss five pitches on the machine in order to get to the tee).  He can throw decently and stop a grounder pretty reliably, and he generally knows where to throw the ball when he gets it.  His favorite is running the bases, particularly that last stretch to home base.  I think he would like batting better if he didn't have to miss those five fast pitches before getting to the tee.  Most of the other boys on his team connect with the fast pitch every time they bat.  He's only hit a pitched ball twice this season, and one was a foul ball.  Even so, he is catching up, and, if baseball turns out to be his thing, he will probably be on par with his peers in a couple more seasons.  

His best moment in baseball so far was during his most recent game.  He was up to bat and the machine-pitched ball slammed into his thumb, mashing it against the baseball bat he was gripping.  It hurt pretty bad, but he choked back the tears, took a moment to compose himself, and then got back in the batting stance, ready for the next pitch.  That next pitch was one of the two that he's connected with this season :)  The coach was impressed with how he handled himself, and came over to tell us so right after Caleb got to first base.

Monday, October 17, 2011


We have been pretty busy around here this past month!  Here it is in under 50 words: Caleb is playing baseball, Ethan is playing soccer, Uncle Josh & Aunt Traci came for a quick visit, Caleb had a kindergarten field trip to the zoo, Marcus spent a week in Florida (visiting his family and attending a conference), Lydia had her 6-month-pictures taken and Ethan started preschool!  My goal is to write a quick post about each of these in the next few days.  Stay tuned!