Happy Fourth Birthday, Derek William

The way you walked around, straight-faced saying, “bee-boop, bee-boop” while playing Star Wars with Tate {you decided to be R2D2}.

How your birthday wish as you blew out your candles was, “I wish that Yeone could be a real lion.”

Every single morning you came into bed and cuddled between your dad and I.

How whenever Tate gets hurt or is crying you run over and carefully put your arms around him to comfort him.

How much you love the baby blankets that Grandma Pat made for your lions.

How you named your lion, “Stiff Lion,” or “Stiffie” for short.

How whenever your stomach hurts you used to tell us you had a bug in your stomach.

When we asked who your favorite

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person was, you said, “Daddy.”

How when I hold you in my arms, you often wrap my hair around your hands and carefully stroke it.

Your tiny cute smiles.

How satisfied you are with the simplest things. One toy, one candy. You never want everything. Just one is enough for you.

Your very tight hugs.

How much you love to cook things.

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Living With My Parents

I suppose that title might sound like I’m trying to write some sort of survival guide, but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Despite having our own personal house to move into today it’s been so comfortable here, that we’ve thinking of just hunkering down and not leaving for the remainder of the summer.

Well, at least I am. Not sure how my parents would react if I sprung one more month on them.

Isn’t it funny how you just revert back to being a child when you go home? Wait, is that just me? If so, I’m sorry to my mom and Sandy, but it’s been so nice to be home and among those who love us. And take care of us. And our kids. And our pets. Wow, that’s a lot. I bet you are totally wishing I was your kid right now and I had descended on your home 10 years after moving out, but this time with  a whole lot of dependents.

My parents live out in the woods on property in a house with plenty of bedrooms for all. Every day the boys get up and eat cheerios and watch cartoons, go run around outside like maniacs, climb the fence to eat blueberries straight off the bush, scooter up and down their long driveway, play with water in the kid pool in the backyard, practice basketball, throw balls over the roof and then come inside to play with toys or read books.

This is all punctuated with plenty of breaks for hugs, popsicles, watermelon and teasing Nana and Poppa. We are so blessed to have parents in our lives who love our boys so much.

Also, my mom is an amazing cook and makes us a lovely meal every night. I feel like I’ve stepped back in time. Well, except now I can drink beer with my parents and I have to wrestle my very dirty and scratched offspring into the shower every night.

It’s been pretty idyllic.

The other boon is I feel like I’m just watching my mom and picking up all these tips on how to organize my own home and make it nice. Maybe this is why people live in villages and communes with their elders, because I had to come live with my mother before it would occur to me to pour my rice and beans into cute containers instead of throwing half full bags of them on top of each other in the cupboard for the past seven years.

Coming here has been a restful and refreshing break after months of stress. It’s been such a blessing to have family dinners with Nana and Poppa every night, lots of good conversations, and spending time together like we haven’t done in years. I love watching my boys just get filled up with all the affection and laughter from Nana and Poppa. They’re just glowing with happiness.

I can’t tell you how grateful we feel for their hospitality and this time together. I know it’s a time we won’t forget.

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Leaving The House

I wrote the post below quite awhile ago, before we were faced with the actual physical task of moving the rest of our lives out the door. The Saturday of moving weekend, the POD was supposed to be delivered, but I messed it up with some lack of planning, and they were unable to redeliver until July. So we said goodbye to the POD and movers, and hello to U-Haul and our own muscles.

Last night in their shared bedroom and in bunk beds.

Ryan was quite chipper about the whole thing. He said it made him feel more “invested” to move ourselves. I said it made me feel more “tired” and like I was going “keel over into a death sleep,” but it all worked out. My mom came and got the boys and we managed to get our final load out of the house by 4:30 p.m., with a deadline of 5 p.m.

The original three that moved in, were the last three out.

We left some champagne and the keys for the new owner, walked out the door, loaded the dog and yowling cat into the back of the car and drove away from our sweet house for the last time.

* * *

I still can’t quite believe we are leaving our little house. I still love it and I there is still a part of me that wishes we could have made it work to stay here. Which of course we could have, even if it wasn’t ideal, but hopefully the opportunities in the new house will outweigh the sadness of leaving.

I feel like this house holds all of my best memories. All the grown up parts of my life. The most beautiful things I remember.

Ryan and I got engaged in this house.

We brought both our sons home to this house.

We’ve hosted many gatherings here in this tiny space, reminding us that you give what you can when you can, instead of always waiting for things to be perfectly aligned.

I will never forget family dinners, almost every night around the table, with the messiness and the conversation and sometimes the exhaustion, and also the hilarious or profound.

There are precious evenings burned into my memory of the boys dancing around the dining room with Ryan and I, music blaring, everyone laughing and thinking to myself, “Hold onto this moment, you will never be happier than right now.”

We’ve done so much work to improve this little house. New windows, paint, electrical, insulation, carpet, air conditioning. Now it barely even looks like our house, though it is much better decorated now!

Every memory the boys have is from here. All the photos I’ve taken under the bay window or on the porch. All the afternoons spent on our tiny patch of front yard grass.

The park, oh man, we will miss the park so much.

This house is where Ryan and I learned to be married and parents and real grown ups.

I’ve always loved this home and I will forever be grateful that we had the opportunity to live within these four walls. I still vividly remember walking through it for the first time and just knowing that this was the place that would be our home.

***

Every time we drove up to that house, I felt grateful that it was ours. That this was our home and all I can hope, is that we’ll feel just the same every time we come home to the new house.

 

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Inspired

Derek’s camp finished up on a Friday. By the end of the week he was asking me to stay late and come back early to watch him, which sort of defeats the purpose of having him at camp so I could pack, but oh well. As soon as he saw me drive up, he really picked up his game.

Here are some photos of our little soccer player:

Derek had told us that morning that he was felt disappointed that he wasn’t getting the Inspire award. We encouraged him and told him that he still had this last day, but I know he didn’t have a lot of hope about it. When it was time to go sit down in line, he sat a little ways away from his team, by himself.

Sad Derek.

They started with the older kids this time, so Derek’s group was last. They came down to the final coach and he called out, Derek! D was so busy staring at this sticker that everyone had gotten, he didn’t even hear his name at first. But then he jumped up and got to do the big run down “Wembley Way” and get high-fives.

Here he is sitting down reading his certificate:

At first he did not seem at all happy about getting it, which was strange since this is all we’d talked about all week. I went over to congratulate him and he told me, “They only gave it to me because I was the only one who hadn’t gotten it yet.” I reminded him that there were nine people on his team and only five days, so only five people received the award.

His whole demeanor changed immediately. He lit up and was thrilled. Apparently we do not want your pity certificates, only the ones we actually earn.

Then, another set of certificates, the “World Cup winners,” were presented. Derek and one other boy were team Brazil and I guess Brazil won? So off he went to run Wembley way again. He was much peppier this time:

It seems that the 16 goals he scored in the last half hour of practice while I was watching, really pushed Team Brazil over the edge to victory.

Derek ended up getting three certificates total, two of which were actually achievement related and not just participation. We are proud of this guy:

***

After we picked up Derek we had lunch and then headed over to get Tate for the last day of Camp Invention. We were supposed to be there early for the “Inventor’s Showcase” where they show/demonstrate to you everything they did over the course of the week.

Unfortunately, we missed almost all of it because we were already late and then someone rear-ended us at a stoplight. So that was fun. We did catch the tail end of it and Tate wasn’t upset that we were late.

The pinball machine that he built with his group.

There were several rooms with different inventions and one of the teachers stopped us and said, “Tate! Wow, he’s so smart. He had so many creative ideas, that there wasn’t even enough time to build them. He was a pleasure to have in the class.”

It was nice to hear {since we still got no feedback from the counselor} that Tate had done a good job and was engaged in the activities.

Overall, the boys had a good first week of camp and it was a fun way to finish things up before the big move.

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Throw Back Thursday

Tate Douglas, taken in October 2009. I took this on my phone on our drive back home from daycare. I remember thinking how sweet and happy he always was, even after a long day at school.

Two months later we had Derek. I forget how little Tate was then.

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