Monday, May 30, 2016

Evan's Last Bear Adventures

Sadly, Evan's Cub Scout year as a bear has come to an end.  If he chooses to continue on in this journey, he will have two more years as a Cub Scout Webelo before graduating to a full Boy Scout.  He got to enjoy several more fun events the past few months although he missed a couple of big events too.  He missed their Spring camping trip because the weather that weekend was a wash out and would have made camping a miserable experience.  Some of the other scouts and parents were brave enough to try it though.  We had something planned for Sunday at church that weekend so Evan would have only been able to stay Friday night anyway.  He missed a couple of regular meetings because of baseball games that conflicted too, and he will miss the summer trip to Grandfather Mountain in June because of our traveling with Daddy for work.  However, we may be including a stop at Grandfather Mountain in our travels to make up for it.  Besides these few disappointments, Evan really had a lot of fun.

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This was Evan's first time competing in the Pinewood Derby race.  He did win a third place trophy for his F-15 Thunderbird car's performance.  We actually did feel a little bad about receiving this trophy because Evan's new Cub Scout pal's car actually did perform a little better in the race.  However, before the races, the cars are all weighed and have to fall between certain weight criteria.  Evan's car was underweight, but he obliged and added some weights to his.  His friend had bolted some metal weights to the bottom of his car to make it weigh more before he got to the competition, and those weights didn't give the car the required clearance on the track.  He didn't want to remove the weights to make it official because it would mess up his design so he chose to not have his car count in the official scoring.  The rules are very confusing, especially for kids who work hard on building their cars to compete.  

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The kids got to "judge" their fellow scouts' cars for the creative design award.  I probably would have picked the hot dog car as most creative, but the boys picked a car that had been built using a kit you can purchase.  I think that is the downside to allowing the kids to judge.  

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Of course, some of the parent and sibling cars were really creative although they didn't compete against the scouts.  I love the doughnut car which did look good enough to eat with real sprinkles on it.  

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At the last Cub Scout meeting Evan could attend, they made bottle rockets to launch.  It was raining so I tried to photograph his rocket from inside looking out.  

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The annual Blue & Gold Banquet was fun.  This troop uses the Banquet as the special ceremony honoring the oldest Webelos' graduation to Boy Scouts.  We get to eat yummy food and these fun desserts.  This troop didn't have a cake baking competition like our old troop in Charlotte, but I think this campfire cake could have been a contender there.  I just loved the homemade cinnamon candy used for the fire. 

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Evan and his buddies Jake and Charlie pose with their pack leader, Charlie's mom.  This lady is so amazing and has done such a great job leading the boys this year.  She is a single mom of four young children (not by choice), a middle school teacher, and she has taken these boys on numerous adventures this year.  

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The boys got to be young scientists at the Natural History Museum one day.  Brody loved using the microscope.  

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We got to check out some animal and rock specimens like this huge piece of gorgeous quartz that I believe was found here in NC.   

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The boys were watching a video, and Brody loved checking out these bones.  Yikes!

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They have a special light table where the boys can place animal specimens on the table and it tells them lots of information about it.  

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Someone capture a shot of me (and not my husband) with the boys.  I loved these Redtail Hawk and Bald Eagle specimens, and I love the shot of the boys in the big tree.  It reminds me of the big redwoods and sequoias we saw in Yosemite that we could stand inside.  It also makes me think of the book "My Side of the Mountain" where the boy living in the mountains made his home inside the hollow of a tree. 

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One of our last trips was to see Guilford Courthouse National Military Park which is one of our states National Park Monuments.  The Revolutionary War battle fought hit was a huge turning point in the war that led to our ultimate victory against the British.

Here's the blurb from the website:

On March 15, 1781. the largest, most hotly-contested battle of the Revolutionary War's Southern Campaign was fought at the small North Carolina back county hamlet of Guilford Courthouse.
Major General Nathanael Greene, defending the ground at Guilford Courthouse with an army of almost 4,500 American militia and Continentals, was tactically defeated by a smaller British army of about 1,900 veteran regulars and German allies commanded by Lord Charles Cornwallis. After 2 1/2 hours of intense and often brutal fighting, Cornwallis forced his opponent to withdraw from the field. Greene's retreat preserved the strength of his army, but Cornwallis's frail victory was won at the cost of over 25% of his army.
Guilford Courthouse proved to be the highwater mark of British military operations in the Revolutionary War. Weakened in his campaign against Greene, Cornwallis abandoned the Carolinas hoping for success in Virginia. At Yorktown, seven months after his victory at Guilford Courthouse, Lord Cornwallis would surrender to the combined American and French forces under General George Washington.

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Evan and the boys had a scavenger hunt to find in the museum.  

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They all loved this cannon. 

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My little hiker just had to have his walking stick as we took a hike around the grounds. 

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These boys all looked like little militia soldiers with their sticks gathered around the statue of Major General Nathanael Greene. 

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The boys mostly enjoyed running around the beautiful wooded grounds and playing together. 

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One of the most important parts of the trip was that we finally got our National Park Passport book to start getting stamped.  We have visited so many National Parks and Monuments already that I was sad we didn't have stamps for those visits.  I went back and searched for pictures of the stamps online so that I could draw them as close to the original as possible in our books with the dates of our trips.  It may be a while before we can revisit places like Yosemite National Park in California and Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii.  If we do, we will add those trip stamps then.  It will be a fun adventure collecting our stamps in the future.  If you want to get your passport book, you can order them here.  

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Very Special Mother's Day and Dedication {2016}

What could be more memorable for a Mother's Day than a baby dedication?  We don't do baby baptisms in our church.  In our interpretation of biblical theology, baptism started when John the Baptist began offering the service as a way for Christians to profess their faith and as a symbol of their beginning a new life.  Jesus's baptism was one of the first recorded accounts in the Bible.  We honor that legacy by choosing to be baptized like him just as we partake of sacraments like communion because we "do this in remembrance" of Jesus.  Young infants and children have not reached the age when they can make the choice on their own to accept God, and of course, we believe babies who pass away young are always welcomed into their heavenly home.  Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."  There is no need to feel you have to baptize a young child with water to get them to heaven.  There is no saving power in that water.  Salvation comes from God and from Jesus who gave His life for us.  So instead, we do "dedications."  This is a special time when we affirm our commitment to raise our children to know God and to follow Jesus' example in their lives.  I liked that our current church actually called the service a "parent dedication" instead of a "baby dedication" since it is us as the parents choosing to dedicate our lives to the very important tasks of raising our children to know God.  Our previous church called it "Covenant Promises" which was also a special way of recognizing the important promises we are making as parents.  We also ask our church community to assist us with their prayers and support through the parenting journey.  Mattox got to wear his big brothers' pretty white sailor outfit.  Evan wore the same outfit when he was dedicated at the same age, and Brody wore the outfit for some special Father's Day pictures since he had been dedicated at an earlier age.  It was a special day!

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Celebrating Mother's Day with all of my beautiful babies.  
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Sweet boy did let us get a few good pictures of him before church.   It isn't always easy these days with this busy boy. 

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Love those happy smiles.  

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All of my beautiful boys in their special outfit. 

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Our church offered a free photographer to take some special pictures before the service.  Although our local campus still meets at the local high school, there was a pretty dogwood tree that made a perfect background.

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Our family ~ Mother's Day 2016

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There was also a photo backdrop for Mother's Day pictures inside.  In the room where we waited before the service, there was a table laid out with little gifts for each family.  It had these cute little "butterflies" made with snacks for the kids.  The gift was a special prayer book to help us begin a life of praying for our children. 

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Grandma got to come and spend Mother's Day with all of her children and grandchildren. 

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After church, we enjoyed lunch together and gave Grandma a pretty flower for her porch. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Field Trip to the Farmers' Market

I haven't been able to do a lot of events or help out in Evan's class like I would like to do because I always have the little ones with me.  Eddie's work schedule really hasn't allowed me to plan to assist or chaperone any of his field trips or class events, and it really disappoints me.  I do try to go to as many events as I can, but I have missed a lot too.  So when we discovered that Evan's last field trip to the Farmer's Market would occur on Brody's birthday and that Eddie would not be available to attend, I knew we needed to go.  So after an early breakfast at IHOP before school, we headed up to Raleigh to meet Evan's class at the Farmer's Market.  I didn't get nearly as many pictures as I had hoped because it was really busy with lots of classes from different schools there.  The lighting under the outdoor shelter also didn't make for good picture quality anyway.  Still, we had a fun day with Evan and his friends and got some treats.  I had hoped to be able to head back to his school to help his class make some yummy treats with some of the purchases they made, but the younger boys and I couldn't make it back for other reasons.  Evan enjoyed eating some strawberry shortcake and some fresh vegetables too.

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We arrived before Evan's bus so we waited patiently at the entrance. 

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And my little Ferdinand the bull checked out the flowers.  He picked out the flower he wanted for his birthday present.  I also found what the little flowers growing in our front shrub bed are...pink primroses.  

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The students had a scavenger hunt to finish while touring the market.  I got to meet Evan's best friend Nael.  Sadly, he told me Nael will be changing schools next year.  They both went to Universal Studios for Spring Break and came back with matching Harry Potter Quidditch shirts. 

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There were some lovely cut flowers for sale, but I wasn't interested in paying those prices for flowers that wouldn't last.  I encouraged Brody to pick out a plant he could watch grow.  Evan and Nael sit and talk while waiting for lunch.  Brody also picked out some strawberries that were so big and so juicy.  

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Evan and his class sat in the shade to eat their lunches.  Eddie packed him a light lunch of a sandwich which he didn't really want.  He just wanted to eat some strawberries.  Ha!

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I was going to get something from here for me and the boys, but the line was way too long.  We thought we could stop and grab a bite somewhere and get back to Evan's school.  Sadly, while walking out to the car, my sandal broke, and I was walking barefoot through the parking lot.  We needed to go home to change shoes so we ended up stopping at a drive-thru for lunch.  Sigh.  By the time we made it home, the younger boys were tired and just needed to rest for a while. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Awesome April {2016}

We had some pretty awesome days in April with beautiful weather and gorgeous flowers blooming.  However, towards the end of the month it did start to rain more, and we have had some rough storms in the last couple of weeks.  Still, we made some more great memories together which is why we do what we do.

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After Brody's t-ball practice, these boys enjoyed playing on the playground while big brother Evan had practice.   Mattox adores Brody and is so happy when he is near.  When Brody would run off to play elsewhere, Mattox would look sad and would reach out for him with his little hands.  

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Mattox is getting better at going down the slide by himself but still wants to climb more than slide.  He is a little mountain climber.  He may not be walking on his own yet, but he can climb up any structure.  

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Brody looks enormous on those little animal spring riders.  (I didn't know what to call those things until I just googled it.  Thanks, Google and Wikipedia!) 

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I took this funny group of pictures one morning out of frustration for having to refold or pick up these blankets for the billionth time that morning.  Brody loves a blanket and has to have one wherever he is.  I have one on each couch, one on the chair in my room, and one on his big chair upstairs.  I didn't even take a picture of the one upstairs.  I just can't stand for them to be on the floor because I don't care how much I vacuum, there will always be Cocoa hair on them.  Sigh. 
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Some of Brody's artistic selfie portraiture. 

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This little dude learned to drive.  He loves a car!

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We met Daddy for lunch at a Chick-fil-a, and I had to let Brody play a little after lunch.  Mattox can't climb in their play area yet, but he loves standing at the slide waiting for big brother to come down.  He also wanted to crawl around, but that floor just makes me cringe.  Haha!

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They do play together a lot more these days.  Sometimes, I just let them hang out in my room on the floor while I sleep a little later or get some reading down. 

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We also enjoyed playing outside quite a bit.  Brody has started riding Evan's old bike with training wheels more.  Evan loves shooting basketball.  Mattox loves his little car.  Sometimes, I just let him sit in it when we are outside with the boys.  

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Brody and I worked on reading some -ed words with this funny book.  Then, he practiced writing the words.  We also made some of our words with play dough.  

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I had to get a little weekly calendar on the refrigerator to organize our much busier weekly schedule this Spring.  Baseball practice and games is really taking up a lot of our free time.  We were lucky to get a break one week when it rained every day.  Baseball, Cub Scouts, and school will all be wrapping up in a few weeks so we will get a little break for the summer.  I just liked those pictures of Evan and Mattox hanging out in my room. 

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We finally bought new sand for the sandbox and introduced Mattox.  He seems to like it. 

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He also discovered the kitchen cabinets and likes to pull stuff out.  He also has developed a love for sweet tea and ice cream and learned to drink from a straw. 

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Brody has been enjoying his second year of t-ball and is really hitting the ball well and running a lot faster this year.  

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We visited Mommy's old church where she and Daddy got married and where Papa used to pastor.  Mommy's old friend, Derrick, and his family were there so we were happy our kids finally got to meet.  I have enjoyed watching Madalyn and Jason grow up on Facebook along with my kids.  It was a fun visit for our old church's annual barbecue chicken sale.  Yummy!

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I enjoyed this little gem of a book by Jodi Picoult although it had an unexpectedly sad ending similar to The Sixth Sense.  I did enjoy the interesting information about elephants and the interesting comparison of how elephants grieve when they lose children.  

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On another visit to the park and playground, I lost sight of Brody for a moment.  When I found him, he was over by the edge of this pond with another kid yelling at the geese and ducks and throwing grass and things into the water.   This kid and his love of water is going to give me a heart attack one day.  

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On a big grocery shopping trip, these boys were in rare form.  Mattox was being fussy so we let him have a free little cupcake from the bakery.  It didn't really help, and he was a mess afterwards.  Sigh.  Evan was doing his Cam Newton dabbing and superhero pose. 

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Evan worked hard before Christmas and since to put his Lego sets back together after our move.  I wanted to photograph them all before they got messed up again.  I am running out of shelf space to put them on and want to create a better system for them.  He got the battleship and space shuttle with 18 wheeler transporter for Christmas.  Daddy put the hot air balloon together from Brody's k'nex set.  The other set is a Jurassic Park dinosaur research station where you capture the pterodactyl with a net.     
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He has a very detailed castle with an evil wizard who has captured a princess and locked her in his tower.  There is also a fire breathing dragon and a catapult cart to attack the castle.  The golden dragon is Ninjago.  We built the little gas station from our more basic Lego set. 

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A gas tanker, go-cart, airplane and airport vehicles, police and fire helicopters, and some Star Wars sets. 

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And they both got pirate sets for Christmas. 

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This little cutie was working on his choo choo train. 

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This crazy kid wanted a snake balloon and a snake "tattoo" one night at kids' night.  Yikes.  The red balloon was supposed to be a heart, but it lost its shape. 

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We drove up to the town of Wake Forest for a special rabies vaccination clinic our county was hosting so that Cocoa could get her shots.  The boys and I played at the playground while Daddy waited in the long line.  It was worth the $5 fee as opposed to a $100 vet bill. 

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These boys have so much fun together. 

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The local campus of our church is currently meeting at our high school until the new campus is completed.  The boys loved posing with the big expression rock painted for Earth Day that Sunday.  We also started Brody's birthday celebration early by going to lunch at his favorite pizza place, Brixx.  The boys love these chalkboards at the tables. 

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Evan drew a cool piranha and did his best piranha impression.  The boys fought a little for space at the chalkboard.  Mattox just patiently waited for his food. 

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We had some pretty flowers in our yard this Spring.  I don't recall that big snowball bush producing like this last year, but I think we had some earlier heavy rains and windstorms that wrecked the delicate blossoms before they could produce.  We did enjoy a couple of weeks of pretty blooms before a big hail storm destroyed them this year.  My pots of flowers from last year actually had a couple of plants come back so I just bought a few more to add to them.  We also have some flowering rose bushes around the house adding pretty color.  I like that there are lots of flowers that don't really require any maintenance from me.  We also have a ton of pretty pink primroses that popped up all over our shrub beds in front of the house, and they have been very pretty.  Brody just loves the flowers and always wants to pick some.  We have started calling him Ferdinand the bull because he may be our biggest boy in size, but he is the gentle "giant" who just wants to sit and smell the flowers.  

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I did get some snowball blossoms for my table that lasted a while.  I also read this Elin Hilderbrand book, and I must say it was crazy.  The truths were definitely crazier than the rumors about the characters.  It was a fun read though, and I could see enjoying these books while sitting on the beach. 

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Evan brought home this much anticipated art project of a hand sculpted and painted mask.  We celebrated Brody's actual birthday with breakfast at IHOP and a field trip to the State Farmer's Market. 

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And Mattox did even more driving.  Haha!

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