Sunday, January 14, 2018

Two Years of Austin

Another year gone by...but he's still my baby. It has been so fun to watch him learn and grow this past year. Oh how we love our Austin boy.

He woke up in the morning to balloons, which Chet was more excited about than he was. His cousins were still in town to sing Happy Birthday to him in the morning. He was so excited about blowing out the candles that he blew them out before we even finished the song. It was pretty cute.

After breakfast we went out and played in the snow and Austin had his first sledding experience. He loved it and kept saying "mo, mo!" after every run.

By the time he opened his present that night he was pretty emotional. And it didn't help when his siblings wanted to play with his new toy. But we got a pretty good video of him sobbing and playing his drum. Being the third can be hard. 

He is getting such a strong personality. As a baby we assumed he would be the peacemaker in the family because he was such a calm, sweet baby. He is still sweet...but there's a lot of spicy mixed in there too. Maybe it has to do with him being the third child, but he isn't afraid to stand up for himself. We are working on being kind and soft and he is getting better.

 He never wants to be left out of anything that his brother and sister are doing. There are times when Mariah and Chet will go to someone else's house and it is devastating for him.

 He's starting to get into costumes and it is so adorable. He loves to dress up with Mariah and Chet and will focus on the make believe for about thirty seconds...but he's improving.
He's always getting into everything. I dread the sound of a chair being pushed across the kitchen floor. He loves to play in the kitchen sink but if his shirt gets wet it is really distressing for him and he cries and whines until I put a dry shirt on him. We go through lots of shirts. 
Austin loves his trike and will never get on it without his helmet. Once he's done on the trike he usually keeps the helmet on, safety first people. He also loves sunglasses and often has them on upside down.

He's finally starting to talk and it's been so great. Anytime he wants something that I'm handing out to the kids he starts patting his chest and urgently saying, "Me! Me! Me!" with wide eyes.

He loves to give me kisses and I have loved that. He grabs my face and pulls me in, pretty precious.

Every naptime and bedtime I sing some primary songs and each time I finish a song he looks up at me with those baby blue eyes and says, "mo". And it's really hard to say no to that.

When he needs his hands washed he says, "ickle ickle ickle" (also what he says for tickle) and wiggles his fingers.

He's really attached to Tanner and I. If we are all in the same room he goes from one of us to the other. He really doesn't know who his favorite is. After Christmas he was so devastated when Tanner had to leave for work again. He watched out the window as Tanner drove away and then crumpled to the floor in tears. Which is what I want to do when Tanner leaves so it's totally understandable.

It really is such a blessing to watch a child grow. Austin has all our hearts and is such a blessing in our family. Here's to another great year!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Christmas Season

This year I made a goal to not stress too much about the Christmas season and only focus on what I felt was the most important. It was such a wonderful month because we kept it simple and focussed on the true meaning of Christmas. 

 We got to go to the live nativity again this year. The kids loved petting the camels, horses, sheep and goats. The people who put on the nativity interact with you as if they really lived in that time period. We got to see Roman soldiers, how they made bread and cloth and got to see the gifts the wise men brought. I went a little overboard on dressing them warm, but I didn't want any complaining. 

Tanner has told me a lot about a bakery right by his Office so we went and checked it out one day. The kids loved the fun cookies that they had and I loved their sandwiches and salads. 

I thought to take pictures after they had taken a bite already. And Austin had a homemade nutter butter bar. We passed them all around so we could each try them, and to make sure we all got a nice head cold together later. 

The church has an initiative during the month of December called Light the World. Each day there was a different video about different acts of service. We didn't do huge acts of service every day, but we did try to make this holiday a focus on how we could serve others. One morning Chet woke up and while still in his bed told me, "Mom! I've been dreaming all night about how I can light the world!" I noticed Mariah and Chet doing more to serve each other, their family and their friends. That is what I love about this time of year. 

 We did a program for the ward activity where the primary children got to go on a journey with the shepherds to find the Christ Child. As they walked into the overflow area they were each handed an LED candle and sat around Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus where a special musical number was sang and then we all sang Silent Night. I think it was a special experience for the children and I hope they felt the excitement that the shepherds must have felt when they found the baby Jesus. 

We got to have family for Christmas! The Hiltons came and we had a wonderful time. Their children are all within a few months of ours so they had such a good time. Except Terron...He probably would have enjoyed himself more if Austin wasn't always on the attack. Sorry about that...
Because Christmas Eve was on Sunday we had a musical program at church that was wonderful. After dinner Tanner read the Christmas story from Luke 2 while the kids dressed up and acted it out. We had to do it a couple times so everyone could be who they wanted to be. 

 Because we have a toddler we didn't put presents under the tree until Christmas Eve. It was fun to see how excited the kids were looking at the presents. We had Mariah and Chet pick out presents for each other and one for Austin and pay for them with their own money. We spent way too much time at the dollar store but they were so excited to give gifts. 
Christmas morning was exciting with sugary cereal, top ramen, juice and gum...doesn't get much better than that. What? You don't put Top Ramen in your children's stockings? 

 We woke up Christmas morning to a light dusting of snow so after the presents were opened they all headed outside for a while.

The Hickmans joined us for Christmas dinner and we played a game after the kids were in bed. 

 Tanner made his gingerbread cookies again so we decorated cookies too.

We have a "sparkle box" where I write down different acts of service that I see members of the family doing throughout December. Those acts are our gifts to the Savior. It was neat this year to read them all together as a family and remember the wonderful feelings that come with service. 

I am so grateful for the Christmas season and the peace and joy that it brings. I'm grateful for the many examples we have been able to learn from as we create our own family traditions. It really is a magical time of the year! 

When Grandma and Grandpa Come to Town

Tanner's parents were called to serve in the Oakland CA mission over the temple's Visitor Center. We were so happy that they took the time to visit us before they head to California. 

We took a day trip down to the The New River Gorge. 
 If you couldn't tell by Chet's face, he was a little freaked out about being up on Tanner's shoulders when right behind us was a sheer drop-off. 

 Grandpa really wanted Austin to position his feet so you could see the inscription on the rock, but Austin wasn't feeling that pose. 
 We went on a hike that was so beautiful. There were just enough evergreen trees and hydrangea bushes that it didn't look too brown and dead. The trail took us right to the rim of the canyon. Tanner was the only one daring enough of the group to go to the edge. 
Chet was starting to get tired on the hike and began to complain. Trying to motivate him to be quiet, Tanner told him if he didn't stop whining a black bear might find us. That was the best thing he could have done. Instead of being scared, Chet forgot all about his tired legs scheming how he would defend us all from a black bear. He found a sizable "bear beater" and ran through different scenarios the rest of the hike. I've never felt safer. 

 We got our Christmas tree and for some reason Austin decided that the only way he could touch the tree was if he had a utensil of some sort. All throughout the day he would run into the kitchen and come back to the tree with a butter knife, spatula, wire whisk or spoon. It was the cutest thing.

Eating peanuts with Grandpa. 

Grandma Crossley went and bought a baby Jesus for each of our kids and made mangers and swaddling clothes for them. She is so good at preparing children for Christmas. 

We love Grandma and Grandpa so much and can't wait to visit them in California!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Playing Catch Up

It's been a while, we're going all the way back to before Halloween. Maybe I'll have Christmas on here by Valentine's Day, but no promises.

Every year Morgantown does an air balloon thing. The kids were super excited to see their buddies there. And they were focussed on those balloons for at least thirty minutes. Which made taking them by myself a whole lot easier. 

I really despise carving pumpkins. Getting the guts out, trying to cut through the slippery gourd while also making sure my children don't cut their fingers off, it's just not my favorite. So I always make sure Tanner is around when we do that activity. This year we got two pumpkins so I felt obligated to help out. The whole time I was working on mine Chet and Mariah kept saying, "Mom, just let dad do it when he is done with his." But I persevered until I broke a knife in the pumpkin, then I graciously let Tanner take over. I think he did a very good job. 

I decided to do homemade costumes this year for Mariah and Austin, and they definitely looked that way, but the kids were happy so we called it a win. 
 Chet was a cowboy, which he is almost every day so I wasn't really surprised when he decided on that. I had to tell him no on bringing his rope to the ward trunk or treat...didn't want any roped children. Mariah was his horse and Austin was his floppy horned steer. 
Don't be intimidated by my crafting ability. 

I took the kids through the neighborhood on Halloween and though it was a little frigid, they had a good time. We walked back home and were on the sidewalk in front of the house when dad got home. Mariah and Chet were so excited to hand out candy at our house. They didn't even mind using their candy from the ward trunk or treat. Every time the doorbell rang they bolted for the door and gave huge handfuls to everyone who came. Austin went a little crazy on the candy that night. I think he had about five things opened and halfway eaten and kept bringing me more to open for him. Needless to say we had a Halloween meltdown before bed. I think it was still worth it though. 

We were planning on going to the Wunderli's house in DC for Thanksgiving but Austin got the stomach bug on Wednesday. We were all bummed about not going to our cousins' house, Mariah cried, but we made the best of it. We had our own little dinner and it was actually really nice. I love being with family but there is something to a nice relaxing dinner followed by everyone sleeping in their own beds. Tanner got to play a few hours of flag football that morning so he was happy too. 
 We even got out our only tablecloth, that is a hand-me-down by the way. We're so fancy.

 The sick boy was feeling better in time for dinner. 
 Mariah took this picture, I think she was excited about the table cloth and wanted to showcase it.
Tanner had taken Friday off so he spent part of the day making gingerbread cookies with the kids. I lounged on the couch and giggled at how much he sounded like I do when I try to bake with our children. It can be stressful. 

The more I do holidays with children the more I realize how easy it is to please them. The littlest things mean so much and can bring so much joy. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Out in Nature

Tanner and I have always loved the great outdoors. So it is very important to us to instill that love into our children. We love exploring new places and enjoying the beautiful world we live in.

Last month we were able to go on several adventures. At the beginning of September we stopped at Swallow Falls on the way home from the temple: 

The next week Tanner had a job interview in Ohio and on the way there we stopped at Hocking Hills State Park which was so awesome. 

We went on two little hikes to see "Old Mans Cave", several waterfalls (they weren't very full because of the season but still fun for the kids) and then the "Devil's Bathtub". 

At the end of September we decided to spend part of Saturday at Coopers Rock State Park. We love to hike under the overlook there and have done it several times now so this time we decided to hike to Henry Clay's Furnace while Tanner did some mountain biking. The kids and I had a great time finding different mushrooms and caterpillars and collecting acorns. The most exciting part of the hike was when dad passed us on the trail. We all thought he was so cool on his mountain bike. 

 This month we got to go to a farm and spend our life savings on a few pumpkins...only kind of joking...

 The train filled up so fast I wasn't able to get a seat for Austin, but he took matters into his own hands and climbed right in with Mariah and Chet. I didn't have the nerve to try to take him out so they rode like that.

We live in such a beautiful area and it has been so fun to explore.