Monday, December 31, 2012

Mountain Bikers

Long before we had the kids, Lehr and I spent plenty of time on the mountain bike trails. Unfortunately we don't get out there much anymore, especially not together. In the past few years we've discussed when the appropriate time would be to get them out there, but with training wheels, it seemed silly to frustrate one or both kids with a trail their bikes couldn't handle.

In the last year Maddux has graduated to her two-wheeler, and she's recently picked up a bunch of speed. Between that and Eli's new Christmas bike, we decided to give it a go this afternoon. We packed up Lehr's and the kids' bikes and drove to our favorite local spot. This particular spot is great because it has a very tame, flat-ish beginners loop (about a mile) in addition to two more advanced ones. There is also a flat approach 'trail' that links the three, which would also be an option for the kids. I opted to not bring my bike in anticipation of one or more kids needing extra assistance while halfway down the trail.

I could not have been more pleasantly surprised; the kids didn't need ANY help. In fact, I had to run REALLY fast to keep up with them! Both Eli and Maddux did really well, even with the one steep downhill halfway through the beginner trail. Maddux rocked it out, and Eli was quick to follow. They both rode it a few times, Eli falling once and taking a quick 'hurt break'. After we rode the trail, we took the approach section out to the more advanced trails. In the last few months they have built a new BMX trail. We sat and watched several more experienced bikers rock the trail before we saw a few kids. That was enough for Eli; he quickly talked Lehr into following him down the trail. He did great, not falling at all, but bouncing all over the place. We decided Maddux might need another few months riding before she takes a trip down the trail, but it is definitely in her future.

Both kids rode the beginner trail again before ending on the 'field' where there were several logs and bridges and jumps to practice on. Both kids really enjoyed it and really REALLY improved their confidence on their bikes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas was great this year. The kids and I discussed it was an odd pairing of excitement (over next year with the baby) and a slight sadness (over this being the last Christmas with the four of us). The good far outweighed the bad, as the four of us got to spend some quality time together, celebrating our family and the real 'reason for the season'.

I have to say that I was SO excited that this year, more than any other year, the gifts under the tree were not in excess (yay, extended family!!) We've struggled every other year with the amount of 'stuff' that gets wrapped up and delivered for the kids. Lehr and I stick to giving them each one gift and Santa delivers three (SMALL) things for each child. However, the rest of the loot that is usually found under the tree ends up so high in numbers that no one can even remember who each gift comes from. This year, while there were still plenty of gifts to go around, there was a more manageable amount. Yet Eli was still so in awe and in appreciation of what he got. He even commented later in the day that one of his friends that would be visiting later today "won't believe all of the stuff!". I love love love that he was able to look at the wonderful gifts he got and think only of how blessed he was to have them (rather than 'missing' what gifts he didn't get). I know if he'd walked through many other houses yesterday, his 'stash' would have paled in comparison, but (thankfully!) this year, he wasn't comparing his stuff to any one else's.

And when I tucked Maddux in for bed, I asked her how her Christmas had been. Her answer was, "Perfect." Again, with gifts that took up barely any space on the floor or on a credit card, it warms my heart to hear that her day was just as it should have been. I know she and Eli both know that Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus and they both know that Christmas is about spending time not money, but knowing and really getting it are not always the same, especially when you're a kid. But the responses of the kids this year really gave hope to Lehr and I that they just might get it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Polar Express

The kids have loved the book for years, and last year I heard about a train in North Carolina that replicated most of the trip taken in the book. Scheduling and life got in the way last year and I completely forgot about it until just after Thanksgiving this year. Then it hit me that I have kids that are growing up really really fast, and the magic and awe around all things Christmas, including that book, may be short-lived. I quickly hopped online, moved a few photo shoots around and grabbed tickets for the four of us to take a holiday train ride. The only available time slot for the only day that worked for us was 8:30PM; that meant we had to stay in NC for the night after deboarding the train. Perfect for a quick family trip!

The day before we left, I told the kids to pack a small bag because we were going to drive to the Carolinas to take a train to find snow (no mention of the Polar Express at all). Our car DVD player, which only gets used on long car rides, failed us, so the drive up was a little more challenging. Eli has fallen into the habits of his mommy; he is a total bookworm. But Maddux doesn't have the attention span to do anything not involving talking or singing for more than five minutes, so the ride would be fine for a few minutes, followed by a few minutes of Maddux bursting out in a very loud singing voice while Eli loudly protested. Joy. We did stop a few times to do short short short hikes on the side of the road.

Once we arrived in town, we grabbed some lunch and checked into our hotel. We walked around town a little, but the cold and our fatigue at the *late* hour of 7PM made it less than fun to kill time before our later train ride (18-degree windchill!). We opted to drive around and look at a few neighborhoods of holiday lights before getting the kids dressed in their PJ's for the train.

Once we boarded, the kids woke up big time. We were able to sit in a 4-seat section, facing each other. Almost as soon as we were seated, we were served a small thermos of hot cocoa. The kids were in heaven. And minutes later, chocolate chip cookies. Seriously!??! The train drove through some woods, on the way to the North Pole, as a ticket checker came and punched the kids' tickets. Then a hobo (is that the right word?) walked through our car and said, 'hello'. After a few more minutes, they played a recorded reading of the Polar Express book and the car assistants walked around to show the book pages to those of us that forgot to pack our own book. Soon after that we arrived in the North Pole and could see the decorated houses of Santa, Frosty, some of the elves, and Rudolph. (The kicker here was that Maddux was a critic: "That's not REALLY Santa's house. But that's not REALLY Frosty's house. I don't think that is actually an elf's house..")

Once we passed the houses, we saw Santa and his reindeer outside of the window on the other side of the train. Joy....the kids were giddy. Santa was waving and the excitement in train was everywhere. A few minutes later, the train reversed and we started to sing some Christmas carols. The kids loved this, especially when we sang "The 12 Days of Christmas" and our family got to be the first day. Somewhere around the end of the song, Santa boarded our train car and entered from behind Maddux's back. She was the first child he talked to, and given her inability to speak to him, I think he caught her by surprise. She just smiled and he gave her a bell. When he asked Eli what he wanted for Christmas, he grinned and said, "A football". Life is good. He also got a bell before Santa moved on to another family.

Eventually we returned to our boarding area and we drove back to the hotel. The kids passed out pretty quickly, which was good because we had a full day on our drive home. The weather was much nicer, so we stopped for a real hike at Tallulah Gorge. The trail was about a mile around the top and then we opted to take the stairs down to the water and back up. 1100 all together (yup, half of those were coming back up). The kids did REALLY well. Eli even ran up most of them with me.

So so glad we took this trip because it will definitely be harder for the next few years, and as much as I hate to think about it, after that the kids may not crave that Christmas magic anymore.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Big Reveal

So the news is out now: we are expecting another baby in June 2013. We held off on telling the kids until we were about three months around for a few reasons, one of them being the fact that once they knew, it would likely be public knowledge soon after.

The tough part (for me) was finding a time to tell them. During the week was basically out of the question because by the time Lehr gets home from work, we only have time for dinner, bath, and books before the kids have to be in bed. Since this was such big news for our family, I wanted to be able to tell the kids and allow some family time for it to sink in a little. That leaves the weekends, and those find me just running from one shoot to another these days. This last weekend we had another busy one, but I didn't want to wait any longer. The only way it could work was for us to skip church. (You might argue that we could just tell them after church Sunday and then have the afternoon together, but the weather is always so great on Sunday afternoons that we always end up playing outside with the neighbors.)

So Sunday morning we woke up and came down to have a big breakfast together (something I always miss out on because the three of them typically do that Saturday mornings when I'm gone). Before we started breakfast, we sat them down on the couch and I showed them the ultrasound picture. I was shocked when Maddux knew right away what it was (because she's seen it in her baby book). She thought it was one of herself though. I then explained that yes, it was a picture of inside my belly, and yes, there was a baby in the picture, but this particular picture was taken a month ago, not five years ago. Both of their jaws dropped right then and they grinned like crazy. Eli was so excited to find out that we would have a baby soon, and of course Maddux went into overdrive, telling us all of the things she will do with and for the baby.

Eli first thought the baby would be here in time for Christmas, and was a little disappointed to find out he'd have to wait until after school finished for the year. Next came lots of questions and concerns over what I could and could not eat. They quickly learned that the baby couldn't eat regular food for most of the first year, but for some reason, they translated that to mean that Mommy couldn't eat those foods either. The first thing they told me was, "You can't eat pancakes this morning then." I assured them that even though the baby is getting fed through the food that I eat, my body changes the food into baby-friendly food.

Have I mentioned how excited the kids are? Because they are really really excited. They had a million little questions and comments, but they were all really great and positive ones. As usual, right around lunch time we made our way outside and play ensued with many other neighborhood kids. Within minutes, our news was spread. And then next morning at school? Eli and Maddux told their teachers and friends right away.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Night and Day

This clip doesn't show the full extent of it (and it was taken over the weekend), but every morning Lehr gets to see the polar opposite ends of the spectrum with Maddux and Eli. Since I'm still at boot camp when their alarms go off (and up until they're on the bus), Lehr get to spend the morning with both kids, getting them up, ready and out the door. Eli has really matured in this area, getting up with his own alarm and often times waking Lehr before he hops in the shower. Then he gets dressed, makes his bed, and it downstairs, ready to eat (usually in a good mood too!!!). Maddux, on the other hand, sleeps through her alarm, stretches in bed for as long as possible, wanders to the bathroom, gets distracted on her way back, eventually pulls on clothes and makes it downstairs only after countless reminders, 'encouragements', and warnings from Daddy. One, totally up and at'em, independent and happy...the other, slow-to-wake, needing help every step of the way. The crazy thing is, she doesn't typically need as much sleep as Eli: he's the one that is a grouch when he is lacking snooze time. In fact, even though she didn't have to, Maddux was up by 6:30 last year more mornings than not, just because. Crazy.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Tree Shopping

What a busy Saturday! After the Kids' JAM yesterday, we grabbed a quick lunch and drove to our favorite local tree farm. Maddux was SO excited to cut down the tree herself. (She was under the impression that she was the one that got to cut it this year; maybe we told her that last year?) As expected, the minute we walked into the tree area, the kids started excitedly yelling, "THIS one! No, THIS one! No wait, THIS one!" We had barely moved past the parking lot before they'd each picked three or four that were perfect. We urged them to walk further in, towards the back where I like to take pictures. After a few snapshots, we returned to our shopping. Less than 10 minutes later we all agreed on a tree so Maddux got on the ground next to Daddy and started sawing away. The trees are so soft and have such small trunks that it is fairly easy for the kids to do the work. She didn't make it all of the way through, but she put a dent in it. Just like last year, the kids' favorite part was the tree shaker. (They both do their own impression of the tree being shaken too.)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Kids JAM

Eli had the MOST fun today. Our church pulled together some of the 'older' musicians to help teach and mentor some of the more up-and-coming kids today for a Kids JAM workshop. On Sundays, our kids go to C3 where all elementary kids hang out, worship, play games, watch and participate in a message just for them, and then they break into small groups. The worship band in that room varies from 9 year olds to grandparents. One of the purposes of the Kids JAM was to help some of the kids who want to be up on stage become a little more prepared.

Since Lehr plays in that room often, he led the drum portion of the day. Six wannabe drummers (some who have played before and some who have not) piled on the stage with him, all using a 3-piece set, and learned two worship songs. It was loud and it was awesome. Maddux (she is still too young) hung out and visited all of the groups (vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards, drums, tech). So so cool!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Eli's Sports Morals

It's been another growing season for Eli. Not physically (the boy is still on the small side), but in so many ways related to maturity. And it's really really cool to watch.

Since the beginning of time, or at least baseball time, we've used as many opportunities as we could to remind Eli that, in a game, the referee has the final say. In fact, they really have the only say because arguing with them will not change their minds AND it is disrespectful. Eli's seen it on the field in his games, but he never comments on it or seems to notice much. This fall he's gotten much more into watching football on the weekends with Lehr. Obviously there are many opportunities for 'bad calls' on any given Sunday. This last weekend I walked in from outside to find Eli watching the (tivoed) Florida/Florida State game. He gave me a quick update since I had a vested interest. His exact words were, "Well, I don't want to say that the ref was wrong, but it didn't look like the right call to me. Soooo, Florida has the ball again." Cool, cool, cool.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Overnight Reader

Maddux learned to read FAST. For real!

I promise this is not just a case of parental amnesia. You know, where you forget how it was the first time around a particular milestone. "Surely Junior didn't walk so well so quickly." "No way was potty training this hard the first time." Nope...not the case this time. I really do remember when and how Eli came to be a reader. It developed slowly over his Kindergarten year, but at a very steady pace and it wasn't until summer or the start of 1st grade when he was really really reading.

Just this week it became quite obvious that Maddux is a reader. As in: now - this IS happening. At the beginning of the school year, she was reading through some BOB books, needing some prompting here or there, but mostly making it through the 3-letter words. But that was it. Then she progressed through more site words, but outside of that didn't yet grasp the concept of sounding things out and all. This week, she has started to really read when she and I go through a book together. Just the other day she sounded out the work 'funny': "f-uhhh-n. fun. nnnn-ee. funny?" Amazing. And then we came to the word 'alone' and she said, "ah-llll-ah-n. Oh wait, there is a bossy e!! Ahh-l-O-n?" That girl.....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Play

Eli has been preparing for a few weeks for a class Thanksgiving play. He was chosen to play the part of Chief Massasoit, meaning he got to inform the audience that we'd be joining for a meal AND tell a few jokes. We practiced his lines at home and he was fairly comfortable with them from the get-go... It was amazing to me that he wasn't nervous. Well, I think he maybe was, because of the way he smiled wide through the delivery of his jokes and the way his leg twitched as he spoke, but he never mentioned his nerves.

The main responsibility for us regarding the play was creating a costume for Eli. We took a family trip to the craft store and got feathers, felt, a brown t-shirt, and a few random beads. Lehr was the mastermind behind much of the headdress, and Eli was very happy with how it turned out.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Eli lost two teeth last year, but nothing so much as a wiggle since then. During recess on Friday, Eli spiked the football and ended up with a mouth full of pigskin. Blood and a wiggly tooth later, he was released from the school nurse. He assured me there was no pain, but he talked very cautiously and wouldn't eat a snack that afternoon. A few times as we were doing homework and the such, he would hop up to grab a napkin due to his mouth bleeding again (totally due to him forcing the tooth front and back with his tongue or fingers). Then, just before Daddy got home, he extracted the front tooth completely from his mouth. His poor gums looked traumatized, but he once again maintained that it didn't hurt. So now we have a small little boy with a shaved head and a BIG hole in his mouth where a very little tooth used to reside.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Because we like to keep our life complicated and full and always 'in progress', we started a backyard renovation last spring. Just before school let out, we had 14 trees removed from our yard, then we had the ground leveled and retaining walls built, then we added a fence and grass. we can actually PLAY in our backyard. (A garden is soon to come...maybe spring?) A few weekends ago, we took the day to clean the yard (pine straw and leaves accumulate on grass much quicker than on ivy, or maybe it's just more noticeable....) and spread out some pine straw on un-grassed areas. Once we finished that, we made a temporary fire pit. Since it was so nice outside that weekend, we just HAD to try it out that night. Lehr got some marshmallows and the kids found roasting sticks. After dinner we sat on a blanket by the fire and roasted. Eli brought out the current Harry Potter selection and I read from it until there was no more light to read by. My conclusion? Fire pit=happy family times.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Parent Teacher Conferences

At the end of the first nine-weeks, our elementary school has parent-teacher conferences for all students. We've been through it twice with Eli, but this was the first time through for Maddux. With both teachers we have had some communication throughout the fall, so we weren't expecting any surprises.

Maddux was first and her conference went great. The teacher touched on her love of talking, at ALL times, but didn't dwell on it at all. She gave her rave reviews, academically, especially for being the youngest in the class, even commenting that she is one of the top few readers in the class. Her report card reflected the same, only dipping down in areas like 'self-control' or 'not monopolizing every conversation and/or discussion in the classroom'. Lehr and I inquired about her desire to be 'involved' with the other kids; we were curious if it ever came across like she was overstepping her bounds and starting to be bossy. The teacher assured us that Maddux's classmates LOVE having her in their group or at their table, and none of them have yet to see her interactions with them negatively. (So far, so good!!)

Eli's conference went well also. He is doing well in all of his subjects, especially reading and math. His teacher seems to really enjoy him and even when she told us about his tendency to talk too much at times, she did it with a genuine smile on her face. Our concern with Eli is his short stature and how he holds his own in a class of BIG boys that seem to want to control things on the playground. She said that so far he's doing really well with it and he's standing up for himself when he needs to.

Both kids with great report cards and teachers who seem to enjoy them: Life Is Good.

Friday, November 02, 2012


My gym rats...Eli and Maddux are still LOVING their once/week gymnastics class. Maddux is a monkey out there, she can walk the beam, forward or backwards, often not even glancing at the beam. And Eli has come a long way with handstands, cartwheels and all kinds of 'hanging' things. They both look forward to their classes, but even more so, they are both constantly 'practicing'. Even in the driveway, they will do handstands or cartwheels in between tosses of the ball, or while raking the leaves in the yard.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Halloween Week

Hurricane Sandy blew up the east coast this week, leaving us with really windy and cold weather. Luckily, it was starting to die down by Halloween and the kids still had a great time trick-or-treating and enjoying outdoor festivities that day.

Two days before the holiday was Maddux's first field trip. Her class (and all of the other Kindergartners) got to ride a school bus a little north to Cagle's Dairy Farm. Maddux got to feed a baby pig and see all kinds of farm animals. She loved it, but she did say it was very cold.

The night before Halloween, we finally carved the pumpkins. We'd held off over the weekend in hopes of some warmer weather, but when that didn't come, Lehr and Eli just carved them inside. (Maddux had an incident at school resulting in her loss of 'carving privlidges' that night.) Eli REALLY enjoyed this. We let him do the actual carving for the first time this year, and his close attention to Halloween Wars on the Food Channel paid off. He was very focused and intentional about everything he did, and he even had a story to go with the pumpkin when he was done.

Halloween night found us parading in the neighborhood with our friends and then trick-or-treating home from the pool area. Eli did complain quite a bit about his costume once we started; he was wearing the costume, carrying his candy bucket and a light saber, wearing a mask and gloves. It was too much and I think we all decided next year we would go for a 'less involved' costume. We spent most of the night with our neighbors across the street, and no one had to pay the fee for running through other people's grass this year. (Our penalty is miss two houses and give mom or dad a piece of your candy.) The kids didn't even flinch when I told them to pick their favorite seven pieces at the end of the night because we were donating the rest to the soldiers. (We did that last year too.) All in all, another great year with the Wicked Witch of the West and Darth Vader!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The End of Soccer

Maddux had her last soccer game this weekend. She and her team came really far and had a great last game, complete with one goal by Mad Dog. After the game they had pizza and cupcakes and trophies (Oh My!). Maddux is already asking to be signed up to play again...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bible Verses

So the kids and I did some extra driving last week as we went on our 'field trips'. As always, I told the kids to bring a book in the car. (Not that I have to remind Eli; he has a book with him very often these days.) I didn't realize it until we were halfway home, but Eli brought Harry Potter AND his Bible. The reason I found out he brought it was he started asking me about my favorite verses. Whaaaat? So he asked me to tell him my verse so he could look it up. Then he'd read it out loud to verify it was indeed the one I thought it was. Amazing.....

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fall Field Trips

What a fun week! The kids had early release all week to accommodate parent-teacher conferences. That means they got home just after noon, allowing for much afternoon play time. I tried to fit in some fun 'fall' activities that are usually more difficult for us to fit in after school. One day we had a massive play date in the cul-de-sac area, one day we went to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens to see the Halloween scarecrows (an annual trip for us), and one day we hopped in the car and headed east to a paved hiking trail I discovered a few months ago.

On that particular day, I threw the kids' scooters in the trunk and we drove about 45 minutes to the spot I thought I'd visited before. Unfortunately it was not the same spot. Luckily the place we landed had a playground, so the kids got out and played for a few minutes while I tried to find the 'real' location on my phone. Ten minutes later, we were in the right spot. The kids strapped on their helmets and took off. Maddux brought a little bag with her so she could collect that. This trail is part of the PATH system, so it's paved, but it meanders through the woods. The colors of the trees really make it a nice walk/ride, and the weather was picture perfect. We stopped a few times for a quick snack, and eventually turned back to return to the car. Their favorite part was where we turned around: the path got 'squiggly' and they thought it was hilarious! Even though the path was hilly, the kids had a great time AND they went about 3 1/2 miles.

Monday, October 22, 2012


So the other night we had an Eliason standard of 'summer' vegetables sauteed with potatoes and chicken sausage. As usual, at least one child initially resisted the peppers. And as usual, once said child (this time it was Maddux) finally tried them, it was instant love. She couldn't stop raving about the orange bell peppers.

This carried over later than night into her bath. She told us: "Look at my muscles!!! You know those peppers I ate at dinner? They grew them! People will see me and be like, 'whoh! where did those come from?' and I'll tell them cuz I ate my dinner and sweet peppers." We had her repeat herself for the camera, of course, cuz we're those parents.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Little 5 Points Halloween Parade

It's a tradition for us: the weekend a full week before Halloween we get dressed up and head down to L5P for some over-the-top Halloween fun. This year we started preparing an hour ahead of time, to make sure we had time to put on Maddux's face make-up and get all of our costume pieces in place. (The kids and I decided it was a great way to 'test drive' our costumes before Halloween.)

As always, there were ghosts, ghouls, vampires and lots and lots of gory random zombie-ish things. The kids had a blast and saw many costumes they may incorporate in the future. Maddux's Wicked Witch of the West was awesome, but she was a little hesitant about it as we arrived. However, we saw a few green-faced witches in the crowd and parade, and that seemed to redirect her to her character.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Last Game

Not the 'last' last game, but the last one of the regular season anyway. Eli and the Mudcats finished strong this weekend with a fought-to-the-finish win over their opponent, winning by one run, and ending with a total score less than one team usually scores on their own. Eli didn't make any outstanding plays this time around, but he continues to grow in his skill. (Is that PC enough? :) ) Here is a little video of a few games from the season looped together.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bringing NOLA to ATL

Last night the four of us drove to a little college about an hour north of us for a very special family date night. Preservation Hall Jazz Band was performing in a small performing arts center and Lehr got us front row seats. The kids were really well behaved during the show, especially considering it was a very 'dignified' event, with the audience both in the 60+ age bracket and sitting securely in their seats the whole time. Both kids loved when the trumpet player used his mute...they thought it was hilarious.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Soccer Girl

Maddux is still loving every second of soccer. We will definitely be playing this sport again. This morning, Maddux and her team progressed even further, playing actual positions a few times during their game. At one point, Maddux, who was playing goalie, took the ball all of the way down the field, scoring a goal. When she ran back to her position, very far away from where she'd traveled, she looked at another girl on her team and said, "I just scored a goal for our team. Did you believe?!?!?" (She meant, "Can you believe it?")

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Be Still My Heart

Tonight we had another late-late baseball game. (When the first pitch is thrown AFTER bedtime, I consider it to be late-late.) I suggested one of us stay home with Maddux to spare her the abbreviated sleep; Lehr ended up with the girl and I took Eli to his game. He was sleepy in the car, but perked up as he always does when we pulled into the parking lot. He had a great game, making an out and getting several hits. When we had about 15-20 minutes left, he came to the fence between innings and asked me if the game was almost over. He was smiling as he said, "Cuz I'm pretty sleepy."

The highlight for me came in the final inning. The boys were up to bat which meant Eli was in the dugout. I was flipping through pictures on my camera when I heard, "Mom. Mom!" I looked over and saw Eli smiling at me, trying to get my attention. I waved and then he blew me a kiss. Yeah. Life is good.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Eli is thick into baseball season these days. We have at least two games each week and a few practices on top of that. (Truth be told, we tend to miss many practices because we already spend so much time at the baseball field.) This is a season of 'firsts', as we are in an older league this fall, but tonight was a first beyond that. Eli was playing right field during a late game (6PM start, I believe? That is late for our 7PM-bedtime-having household :). The ball had been hit his way several times already, as it often is with these power-hitting 7 and 8-year-olds. Somewhere around the 4th inning, a line drive was hit to Eli, who happened to be playing a bit closer to the clay. He threw up his glove and WHAM!, he caught the ball. That in and of itself was not too out of the ordinary, but the fact that he was able to hold on to the ball and not drop it was a novelty. I think even Eli was shocked that it stuck! The game ball was awarded to my boy and he's officially part of the pop-fly/line-drive club now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beach Trip

We were very happy to travel to Watercolor this last weekend. School schedules have made it difficult for us to get in our usual trips there over the last few years, so we snuck away for a long weekend, pulling the kids out of school for one day. D, Renee and Bryce joined us, making it a fun, full house for three days. The kids all had their bikes, and we rode them everywhere.

The boys were primarily interested in skim boarding; both boys had boards and they threw them all day, every day. Maddux was more interested in the 'red river'. The section of beach we frequented was mostly deserted except for us. On one side was a large stream of water coming from the river/pond to the ocean and it was colored dark red from the sediment. Maddux loved it and wanted to play next to it the whole time.

The water was amazingly clear, as always, and we saw lots of ocean life. We caught a few crabs, saw several snails and hermit crabs, and had more fish-sightings than I can count.

We took a few breaks for the pool and bike rides, we ate enough seafood to feed an army, and we even had ice cream on the last night.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Over the summer, I enrolled Eli and Maddux in gymnastics once a week. They really liked it, and with Eli's feet, the barefoot activity focused on balance is something that needs to be a regular occurrence. Since they enjoyed it so much, I signed them up for another session, right after school once a week. They are in different classes due to their ages, but their classes are at the same time. (The gym is huge!!)

Maddux is her usual goofy self, but she is progressing really far on the balance beam. She can walk the whole length (or more) 'scooping' her feet down each step and/or going backwards. She still falls often enough, but most of that is Maddux being Maddux.

Eli still struggles with the backwards rolls, but his cartwheels have gotten so much better, and he loves the rings. This last week they even got on the high bar and hung for a few minutes before dropping into a foam pit. The most interesting exercises his class does are bear crawls on top of the parallel bars and 'gator chomps' hanging and moving underneath the balance beam. Talk about an all-over workout!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Maddux's First Soccer Game

Maddux has been participating in soccer for the last few weeks, practicing on Tuesday nights, and this weekend she had her first game. So far she really enjoys it, and seems to have found a sport that works well for her social, athletic, and crazy self. Her first time on the field for the game she was a little timid; Lehr and I think she was just a little confused because it was so different than the drills they'd practiced. She would kick the ball and then just stand there, allowing the game to go on in front of her. After a few promptings that first time out, she got that a kick did not end her play. And the second (and third and fourth and and and...there were a lot of 'sub changes') time she got out there, she was aggressive (in a good way) and even helped score a few goals.  Eli was happy to support her and cheer her on, even participating in the 'tunnel' at the end of the game!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

First Pinto Game

Eli had his first game in the 'big leagues' last night; his current team is the Mudcats. This league has faster pitches, the potential to strike out, less players in the outfield, and bigger, stronger, faster boys. One of the cons of this new league is later games and practices. Last night's game didn't start until 7:15PM. We are an early-to-bed family and Eli and Maddux are in bed between 7 and 7:15 each night during the school year. Yikes. But he rallied and did really really well.

Eli played mostly in left field, which he loved. The outfield positions in this league are very active and necessary as most balls get hit pretty far. He threw it in several times to help stop the play. Somewhere around the 3rd inning he was assigned the position of pitcher. This position is scary for me because of the power behind some of the line-drives hit by the boys. In addition, we are still in coach-pitch mode, so the coach is sometimes slightly blocking the actual pitcher's view of the batter. (He does wear a mask, which helps!) Eli absolutely rocked that inning. He got all three outs, getting to the ball quickly as it was hit and throwing it quickly and accurately to first base. The Mudcats shut the other team out that inning.Really well...getting three outs in a row during his first game (as pitcher).

On the batting front, he did well also, scoring each time he was up except for once when he was stranded at second base. All around a REALLY good start to the new season!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Boosterthon 2012

Eli and Maddux both had the opportunity of participating in Boosterthon this year, and boy were they excited. Eli moved into a new time slot since he's now in 2nd grade...big deal. Maddux and the rest of the Kindergartners and 1st Graders kicked it off first thing in the morning by running up to 35 laps around the Boosterthon track. She had a blast, alternating between running and walking and talking and laughing and smiling. I was able to totally focus on her during that time and then switch to 100% Eli when it was time for his glad about that! Eli ran the entire time, stopping for water once or twice, but mostly sprinting. When he finished, he was a big sweaty mess, but he completed more laps than he has in the past, so he was super excited.

Monday, August 27, 2012


A little over a month ago, Eli and I saw a sign for a kids' triathlon at the end of August. Eli asked about the event and decided he wanted to participate. For the first week he did great with his training, but, as expected, his passion for training went away quickly. But once a week he would go to the gym with me and do a solid hour training with brick workouts or transition practice. And when the triathlon happened in the Olympics, he watched every second. (1 1/2 hours!)

Yesterday was the event, and it was an early day. We had to be at the aquatic center at 6:!5AM, which meant us pulling out of the driveway at 5 (gasp) 30 in the morning. (When I woke her up, Maddux said, "But it's still dark outside!!") We got to the staging area right away and Eli set up his transition. Parents were not allowed in that area at all, so Eli had to set it up by himself. Then we waited. And waited. Finally they lined the kids up just after 8AM and marched the first group into the pool area. Lehr, Maddux and I waited near the entrance to give him a final send off. Maddux high-fived him and Eli blew a kiss at her. MELT!

The race was aged 6-17years old, so Eli was on the young side. Out of 880 racers, he was number 62. Because I wanted to be outside for the transition and to see some of his bike and run, we did not go inside for the swim. We watched him run through the transition area perfectly, very focused, and get on his bike right after the 'mount line'. He did need a little help steadying himself because he was in such a rush :)

Eli came in from the bike telling me that his shoe was untied. Thankfully one of the coaches he knew was right there and helped him tie it. Then he took off running. I ran along side his course as long as I could before the out and back intersected and I was forced to stop. I caught him again as he came back (he told me he and Drew saw each other over that line as well and high-fived), and he sprinted to the finish.

100m swim, 3mile bike, 1/2 mile run...all in a day's work for Eli. He loved every second of it and already asked if he can do another.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lucky Number Seven

As usually happens this time of year, I'm shocked at how quickly we got here. How quickly we went from diapers to baseball pants. How quickly we went from pureed vegetables to your strong preference for things like pistachios and tofu. How quickly we went from me reading board books to you, to you reading Harry Potter to me. How quickly we went from a stroller to a triathlon. How quickly we went from 24/7 to 15/7. How quickly we went from zero to seven....

This last year has been an amazing one for you, Eli. You have matured in a really cool way. When you went from five to six, we had many transitions to work out, mostly due to school. But this last year, in only your second year of school, you have matured in so many cool ways socially, emotionally, and spiritually. You've closed the door on your first league of baseball, and now you face the next step in what I hope will be a lifelong passion for you. You've started to branch out with your social circle; as much as you still hold your dearest friend near, you are no longer hesitant to join a new group. And the conversations I have with you on Sundays or during our special one-on-one times have allowed me to see a glimpse of some really cool growth in your relationship with Jesus.

And my how you and Maddux have grown. No longer is she chasing you for attention and affection without any reciprocation. You have started to include your sister in a really cool way and the two of you can often be found giggling and tickling each other.

Seven years. Seven years have passed since you arrived into our lives, our arms and our hearts. Seven years that have been filled with so much... Eli, we are so excited to celebrate seven years of you today!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Birthday With The Braves

Instead of a birthday party, this year Eli opted to invite a few baseball-minded friends to join him at a weekend Braves game. He picked three boys who also played in his league, and who he knew from school and the neighborhood. We all loaded up in our car and drove down to the game, baseball gloves and hats in tow. (Maddux chose to stay home and have one-on-one with her favorite babysitter instead of going to the game.)

As much as each of the boys love watching a 'real' game, we really only sat in the seats for a few innings. They were far more interested in the extra 'stuff' at the Braves stadium. We hit from a pitching machine, ran through the misters, got pizza, got peanuts, played ball in the kids area, got birthday milkshakes, ran through the playground at the kids area, and played ball again. We left just before the end of the game, driving four exhausted boys home. Eli had a blast and so did his friends.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Maddux's First Week

Maddux has only been in school for one week, but already it's been full of excitement!

On the first day, Maddux came home and told us she'd taken a nap at school. I was a little confused because her teacher had already told us that they would not be taking a rest-time in the afternoon, so I asked for more details. Maddux informed me that she'd found a hole in the ground on the playground and napped there during recess. Nice. AND the teacher had to come get her when it was time to return to the classroom, reminding her that 'the ground is not a place to sleep'. Perfect.

On day two, we got a note in Maddux's folder letting us know that she had 'smacked' her leg while on the playground. She'd received ice and was fine, but they wanted to let us know in the event we saw a mark/lump. That same day, I asked Maddux if Eli had walked her to her classroom from the bus (he did that the first day). She said 'no', because she didn't need help (of course), but SHE walked William to his class. Nevermind the fact that Maddux and William are equals in the same grade and William is a good deal older than Maddux.

Finally, the week ended with another note in Maddux's folder. This one was to let us know that Maddux had missed out on five minutes of recess AND had her seat moved due to excessive talking. As expected, when I asked Maddux how that made her feel, she told me, "I was sad to miss recess, but I know friends at the other table, so my chair moving wasn't too bad."

Good luck, teachers of Maddux, today and forever.

Surprise Visit!

At the last minute we were able to fly Grandma Cathie to Atlanta for a quick visit. As luck would have it, she flew in just in time for the first day of school, so the kids were very excited to have her accompany them up to the bus stop the first day.

Maddux and Eli have been very into 'scaring' people lately, often popping out from behind doors or walls and saying, "DID I SCARE YOU?!?!" Most of the time, we hear them a mile away, but fun nonetheless. I picked my mom up from the airport late Saturday night and told her about this, so she decided that's how she'd greet them in the morning (they did NOT know she was coming). So Sunday morning arrives and the kids get ready upstairs. When they go down, they get their cereal ready and sit at the table. A few seconds later, Grandma Cathie jumps out and shouts, "DID I SCARE YOU?" I think Eli jumped a foot out of his chair. They were totally surprised and excited. Much of the day was spent playing and swimming at the pool, catching Grandma up on everything they could think of.

The week went well, with Grandma waking up to see the kids off to school each morning and receiving them off the bus each day. Friday after school the three of them left right away for a special date: bowling, a trip to Target and a special dinner date later, they had thoroughly enjoyed every second of her trip.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Eli's Tri Training

We're still moving through the training. Eli has not been training throughout the week, but he's hitting it hard on Saturdays when we go to the Tri Clinics. This last week Eli got to practice transitions. He ran into the transition area, wearing a suit and goggles, and practiced drying off, putting on socks, shoes, shirt (with number) and a bike helmet. Then he biked a mile or so and came back into transition to take off his helmet and drop off his bike before heading back out to run about 1/2 mile. A few rounds of that and he was exhausted!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Parent Open House

Lehr and I went to open house at the kids' school tonight. Since we have two classes to learn about, we split up and each tackled one. Lehr went to Maddux's class and I went to Eli's. Lehr tells me that the parapro in her class told Lehr right away that Maddux has very good manners. Not what we expected to hear as the first bit of feedback regarding Mad Dog, but it was a nice surprise! Lehr also says that her teacher seems to be very no-nonsense which will be VERY good for handling our girl. Eli's class seems to be a great fit as well, and I think he's fitting in very well. His teacher told me that he commented that he loves buffalos, so (when they were discussing some rewards for the class) he mentioned that he'd like to bring in a buffalo. Awesome. Excited for what this year holds for us!

Monday, August 13, 2012

First Day of School

What a day! I would have loved to seen the first hour or so of each kids' class this morning; I know each kid had such excitement and wonderment in the first moments. Eli and Drew walked Maddux and Davis to their classrooms before then visiting their first grade teachers and THEN going to their new classrooms. (Oh, the busy life of a seasoned student.)

Maddux told us she had a great day; she sat with William on the bus to start it off, which was a treat. She loved everything else: eating lunch with friends and learning new things in the classroom. Her favorite part was music - she sang me a song they learned, complete with hand/body motions. And when the bus pulled into the neighborhood, she leaned put her head to the window and yelled out "HI, MRS. MARJORAM!" to one of our friends. That girl..... Oh, and her backpack was full of supplies, so it was weighing her down on the way to the bus. She totally 'turtled' at one point and fell backwards before we left. On the way up the hill, she could barely it.

Eli had PE, which he said was kind of boring because it was all 'first day stuff'. He did say that he read a lot already though, which he seemed to be excited about.

Both kids were tired after school, but nothing I didn't expect. I was prepared for meltdowns and that never happened. We definitely got moody around dinner time, but 7PM found lights out and at 7:08 I checked on them and they were both snoring. Life is good.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Meet N Greet

The kids and I visited the Elementary School this afternoon (I can no longer call it "Eli's school"); students were time-slotted by last name to come in and meet their new teachers. As awesome as it is for the kids, it is ca-razy for the parents, especially when you have more than one class to visit. There are many many MANY forms to fill out for each student. You know the kind: name, address, all doctors' names and information, allergies, insurance information, blood type, every doctor visit and illness from birth forward.... And when you have more than one child, you have to fill the many forms out more than one time. All while trying to manage said children who are, without a doubt, hovering over your shoulder or leaning on and shaking the desk (making it impossible to write or concentrate), whining that they're bored.

Aside from that, it was a blast. We visited Maddux's room first; she knows a handful of kids in her class already. The Kindergarten classroom was full of kids and parents, which helped Maddux get acclimated quickly. After 45-50 minutes of paperwork, we moved to Eli's classroom. We were one of only two families in there, but mine were the only kids. This made it even more difficult to work because Eli felt a bit 'on the spot'. I loved how his teacher handled him though; she talked to him and commanded a respect from him while being very non-threatening. It's going to be a good year!

On a side-note, tomorrow is the bus 'drill' which allows Kindergartners to ride the bus with their parents for the first time. I asked Maddux before bed if she wanted to do it. She responded, "Is it another 'pretending' like it was at school today?" When I confirmed it was, she told me, "Nah. I'll go next real when it is for real."

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


WOW! Just when I think the kids aren't getting any of the responsibility/values/'stuff' Lehr and I are trying to teach them, they shock us and show us they are listening and they ARE getting it.

Tonight we had our usual dinner as a family and then cleared a few dishes off of the table. At this point Lehr and I got sidetracked looking outside at the yard and stopped what we were doing to go out and walk through a few details for the project we're working on. The kids waited patiently while we did our thing, coming outside a few times, but mostly staying in. They called to us once or twice, telling us we needed to come in so they could show us something. When we finally did go in, they yelled 'Surprise'. They had cleaned up the kitchen table, emptied dishes, napkins, mess, and cleaned the floor and table. They even put the fruit bowl back in the middle of the clean table when they were done. All as a surprise for us. Amazing.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Spider Patrol

We are in the last two weeks of summer. It has been fun and awesome, but as usually happens at the end of something fun and awesome, we are getting rough around the edges. Eli and Maddux have gotten along really well this summer and they are as close as I could hope for. But in the last week or so, the fights are starting to occur more often and earlier in the day. I expected it and so it really hasn't bugged me too much. What makes me laugh though is how quick the move in and out of fights, almost like an old married couple. One thing that always moves them out of a disagreement is a spider or other household bug. We have many little spiders these days and the kids love to find them and 'take care' of them. It goes something like this:
  • Eli - MADDUX! Put my legos down!
  • Maddux - But I was just trying to build something.
  • Eli - I don't know how many times I've told you, don't come into my room and... SPIDER!
    Maddux - OK. You keep an eye on it and I'll get a Kleenex.
They are a perfect team.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

WinShape Camp

Eli just finished an amazing and exhausting week. For five days he attended WinShape camp at a nearby church from 8AM-5PM each day. Yes: nine hours. Insane, right? As insanely fatigued as he was each night, he had a blast. He and his best friend both attended and ended up in two of the same 'skill' classes each day. Eli's choices were archery, whiffle ball and music. Inbetween those 'skill classes', they had worship, small group time, lunch, snack, games, water fun...need I go on?

Yesterday Maddux and I got to go experience camp for a half day with Eli; now she is very excited for next year when she'll be old enough to attend! I was so impressed with the camp and how it ran so smoothly, even though there was SO much going on. And with everything there was prayer and such amazing teaching. Eli is not a big one to talk about what he learned each day, at school or otherwise, but through a few conversations with him this week, it was obvious that he took a lot away from this experience.

Below are two quick videos. One is of the boys doing their 'flash mob' that they surprised us with today. I was SHOCKED that Eli jumped out there and started dancing...very unlike him. The other is of his music class...they wrote lyrics to a song put to the tune of a current pop song. Love it!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Maddux, The Dogsitter

Maddux has been working quite a bit this summer. We are very fortunate to have a few neighbors with dogs that are happy to 'share'. When we go to the store or bagel shop, Maddux often asks if we can buy treats or toys for her two shared' dogs because they are never far from her mind. One of those dogs lives with a family that traveled three times over the summer, allowing Maddux to be the primary caregiver for anywhere from three days to a whole week each time. She LOVED this. While this dog didn't need to be fed or let out more than a few times each day, Maddux would climb over the fence (to play with her, pet her, talk to her, etc.) as many times as we'd let her, which usually ended up being about five times. She loves that dog and receives much love in return. My favorite part about the whole experience this summer has been how Maddux leaves the dog each time. It's not enough to get her back into her house; Maddux walks her over to her big pillow 'bed' and coaxes her there to take a nap before closing the door, all of the while promising she'll be back soon.