Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Special Birthday Celebration

Evan turned 8 on Friday while our special visitors were here with us.  When I first learned of this visit, I was very excited to find out they would be with us at this time because their son, Sam, has a birthday just 3 days after Evan's so we could celebrate their special days together.  Since we just moved to a new town, Evan is really missing his old friends and knew he wouldn't be able to have a party with his old friends this year.  It really helped make his day more special by sharing it with his new friends, Sam and Rachel.  We had planned to let the boys decide on something fun they wanted to do together that day, and they had both agreed on their favorite game...mini golf/putt-putt.  We had planned to go to Adventure Landing here in Raleigh that afternoon, but the weather did not cooperate and was wet and cold.  Even our northern friends thought it was cold!  We headed to lunch at McAlister's Deli which we frequented very often in Charlotte.  Here in Raleigh we likely will not go as often because the closest one is about 20 to 30 minutes away.  In Charlotte, we had three of them all about 5 miles away.  Ha!  I should really contact this franchise and petition for more locations in this area.  Natasha is a huge fan of Panera, but I had told her she really needed to try McAlister's because they have many more options and have "legendary" sweet tea.  I hope it didn't spoil it for her that her vegetarian sandwich came out with bacon on it.  Yikes!  They did fix it for her and gave us several of their yummy big chocolate chip cookies too.  Anyway, back to the reason for this post...the boys' birthdays!  Evan turned the big 8, and Sam turned the big 6.  Despite their slight age difference, these boys had so much in common and got along great.  They both love to read, play board games (hence Monopoly), play mini golf, are very smart and love sharing information and learning new things, and are very sweet and sensitive boys.  I stopped and picked up cupcakes and balloons for the birthday boys on the way to eat lunch.  I also picked up little balloons for the younger siblings because I knew they would want some too.  Despite the inability to play a game of mini-golf together, they had a good day, but we were sad to say goodbye after lunch as our friends headed off for one more stop in D.C. on their southern road trip.

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The birthday boys, Sam and Evan

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We tried for a younger sibling picture, but Brody did not cooperate (big surprise) and just wanted his cupcake. 

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The birthday boys with their cupcakes and candles. 

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Singing the birthday song and blowing out their candles. 

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Brody enjoyed his chocolate cupcake.  I stopped by Whole Foods for these yummy cupcakes because we enjoyed them so much last time. 

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See!

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Sam showed me how well he reads as he read a special message from us in a book he picked out at the history museum with American folk tales in it. 

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Evan and Brody got a new trampoline for their joint big birthday gift.  We chose not to bring our outdoor playset to our new house because our yard isn't as big and thought the boys would get more use out of this instead.  Our new yard has been very wet lately because of the never ending rain lately so it helps that they can play on this outside without getting too wet and muddy.  Cocoa the dog is a different story.  I am ready for a dry spell! 

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Brody mostly likes to run around on it and gets mad if Evan jumps too hard. 

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Silly boys!

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Evan, I hope you had a wonderful day as we celebrated the day we were blessed with you 8 years ago!  You have been a true joy to watch grow up before our eyes, and we have loved every minute of being your parents.  I know this month has not been an easy one for any of us with a new baby, a new house, and a move across the state.  I know you miss all your old friends.  I sat and nearly cried as I read the letters your old classmates wrote to you.  The letter from your best pal, Pierce, was especially touching as he begged you not to move away.  Sigh.  I know you will quickly make a lot of new friends, but I know these old friends will always be so special.  You have handled this whole moving process with so much maturity and have treated it like an exciting adventure.  I hope you look back on these days as the first step in an exciting new journey as we continue to build more memories in our new town.  We love you to the moon and back!

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

Monday, March 30, 2015

Very Special Visitors

We have been looking forward to some very special visitors for several months even when we weren't sure where exactly we would be living at this time.  I am so thankful that our move to Raleigh did not prevent this visit and that our friends could still make a stop to see us on their southern road trip.  We were so glad to welcome Dave, Natasha, Sam and Rachel to our new home which is about 75% settled at the moment.  Although I had really hoped to be able to show them the city that we have called home for the last almost 8 years, I was equally happy to show them our new town which also has a lot of significance for Eddie and I as the place where we first met in college.  Raleigh also has a lot to offer in the southern charm and hospitality department.  And there's also the good food and sweet tea although we do miss some of our favorite restaurants in Charlotte already.  Anyway, this special visit afforded us a chance to officially meet some folks who have just become very dear to me over the past almost three years.  Who knew you could come to really love people you have never even met in person?  I feel like I know this family better than people I actually know in real life.  This is what blogging is really about.  We share so much with one another through our blogs and e-mails so it really doesn't feel like this was our first meeting at all.  Still, it was just amazing to get to hug and talk in person and see our kids finally getting to interact with one another.  And I do think our kids were pretty happy with their new friends.  Although I suspected it from our blogs, I was quite surprised with how similar our children are.  Our friends arrived on Wednesday night in time to eat dinner with us at our new local Mexican restaurant close to our house.  We were so busy talking and eating and keeping the kids from going crazy that we didn't take any pictures.  We also let the kids all come back to our house to burn off some energy in our backyard on the kids' new trampoline because Sam and Rachel had spent so much time in the car that day.  The next day, we met up after getting a good night's rest and prepared to head into Raleigh to meet Eddie for lunch and then check out our state's history and science museums which I thought was a great "free" way to let them get a little southern NC history and culture.  We ate lunch at a barbecue place in downtown Raleigh called The Pit, and we were all super impressed with the food.  Dave and I thoroughly enjoyed our eastern NC style chopped barbecue with vinegar based sauce, and Natasha was able to enjoy a little vegetarian tofu barbecue.  No, I didn't know they actually served that until we arrived so it was a nice surprise.  I had thought she would at least enjoy the vegetables offered, and she did love her fried okra.  She also continued to get her fill of southern sweet tea.  After lunch, we headed over to the museums.  Although the kids prevented us from really getting to immerse ourselves in the history, we all enjoyed our little museum tours, and the kids enjoyed getting to see the dinosaurs.  After a tiring day keeping up with so many little ones (five kids 8 years and under), we stopped for a refreshing treat at Sonic (Natasha has also been trying to get her fill of this southern treat as well).  She actually introduced me to the new cherry ice cream slush which I had not tried yet.  It was so yummy!  Then, we headed back to our house to let the kids play together.  Eddie stopped and picked up pizza for dinner so we could just enjoy a quieter evening at home.  The older kids actually enjoyed a riveting game of Monopoly together while Natasha and I escaped for a couple of hours on a shopping trip to Target, Marshall's, and Ulta which was just wonderful.  Kudos to Dave for playing Monopoly with them for about two hours!

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Me and my very dear blog buddy, Natasha. 

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Dave and Natasha really enjoyed this barbecue joint.  Dave wanted a t-shirt with the NC flag pig symbol on it, but they didn't have the color he wanted.  

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Natasha and Rachel enjoyed holding baby Mattox. 

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A very special picture.  Natasha has been such a special friend throughout our journey losing our precious baby Mattie and then welcoming our little rainbow baby Mattox.  

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Loved this picture of us with Baby Mattie's picture and Baby Mattox.  Thankfully, we actually did get a few pictures hung on the wall earlier this week.  

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Our kids loved this big globe outside the Natural Science Museum. 
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Brody and Rachel enjoyed running around in the grass. 

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Rachel was the only one who would cooperate for a picture by this big granite rock.  Sam did make it in the picture though. 

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Walking up the little mall between the museums in front of the state Capitol building. 

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Our first stop was the history museum.  
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We managed to get a shot of the kids with this Continental soldier. 

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Brody enjoyed the pirate ship and this cannon.  Mostly, he just enjoyed running off ahead of us and making me have to run after him.  Sigh.  Thankfully, Natasha was there to watch Mattox for me because Eddie left us to go back to work.  
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Shooting at the other ships. 
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Rachel enjoyed learning to milk a cow. 

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Since Natasha was the only one of us who had ever actually milked a cow, she gave the kids a lesson. 
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Evan gave it a try. 
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Brody gathering eggs. 

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Working together.  

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I just love this little farmhouse.  

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A replica of the Wright Brothers' plane they flew at Kitty Hawk, NC.  We saw the real one at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum last year. 

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I thought this special table set for POW/MIA soldiers was so sweet.  

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Evan, Rachel, and Brody loved this cannon outside the museum. 

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I thought Rachel looked so cute in this picture. 

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And this one of her swinging on the cannon. 

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Evan and the little Indian woman statue. 

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Natasha and Rachel posing like the Indian woman. 

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Trying to get a picture of Baby Mattox on his first trip to see the dinosaurs. 

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A picture of our little group with the big sauropod that the mean Acrocanthosaurus attacked.  Natasha has pictures of her family on her camera that I hope she will share soon. 

Here's hoping we can make a trip up north soon to visit our best Canadian friends.  I have been planning that trip for a while, but I really need Eddie's new work schedule to cooperate.  Ha!  We did get one more day with our friends which was very special because we got to celebrate our two big boys' birthdays together!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Brody's 1st T-Ball Practices

In addition to all the other craziness this month, both boys started baseball and have had practices twice a week.  The fun just never ends around here!  Although I have not taken pictures of Evan's practices because I am usually taking care of a little one, I did make sure to have Daddy take some pictures of Brody's first practice.  He just looked so cute all dressed up in his big brother's first t-ball uniform and cleats.  He will get his own uniform for games.  We weren't sure how interested Brody would be in playing ball this year as ball does not seem to be his first love like it was for Evan, but he definitely is giving it his all so far.  I love watching him hit the ball and run as hard as his little legs will carry him.  He is so determined, and we are all so proud of his hard work!  Big brother has been a special helper at practices and assist the coach in getting the balls and encouraging the little players.

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My handsome little ball player.

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Learning to stop some ground balls. 

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And learning to throw.  I love the way he throws the ball right now.  So cute!

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He's ready!

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Ready to hit.

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He did not like the chin strap on this borrowed helmet. 

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Running towards home plate with big brother watching and cheering him on. 

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Stay tuned for the first games next month!

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