Sunday, July 19, 2009


His rolls and creases betray the fact that Benjamin is an eater. He's not been afraid of solids from his first exposure to cereal at 6 months. The funny thing is that with the way his mouth and tongue move, if we gave him anything too thin he would spit it out. Not out of rejection, just because his tongue would squirt it out. So we learned pretty quickly that we had to make the food thick. Thin cereal was short lived. Maybe a week. In addition, we've added cereal to all the pureed food from the get-go.

He was not an early adopter of all solids, and I recall bananas were not a favorite. But anything with sweet potatoes goes down "like butta," and in general he loves to eat. He loves it so much he'll sit in his hook-on chair with his arms out to the side and his feet kicking while we feed him. Drew calls it his Superman move. Here he is at nearly 8 months showing off his tricks.

Jasper is much more mature at eating. He still loves meatballs, chicken, ham, turkey, quesadillas, waffles, oatmeal, cheerios, Saturday morning pancakes, cheesy rice and peas, pasta, grapes, strawberries, pineapple and yogurt (among other things). Recently we've added raw carrots, bell peppers and cantaloupe, and we're slowing trying to acclimate him to tomatoes. It's a process.

Despite being a picky 2.5yr-old, he eats healthy food. We have no complaint if we can get him to eat protein for strong muscles so he can run fast, climb high and jump; vegetables (that say "yippee vegetables!" inside) to keep him healthy; and carrots to make his eyes strong so he can see far fire trucks and ambulances. Dairy, fruit and grain are no problem, so we don't have to explain why those are helpful.
Here he's showing off how he too likes to eat sweet potatoes.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

May 30-31: Tobacco Road, Take Me Home

Go ahead, let John Denver play in your head. He was legendary in my childhood, so I certainly wouldn't look down on you.

I went to college at Duke University in Durham, NC, and until this summer Durham had been the home of three of my dear college girlfriends: Sarah, Rachel and Monica. This spring Sarah's husband Jon accepted a professor position at the University of Wyoming. So, before they hitched their wagons and headed west, we bought plane tickets and took an impromptu trip to NC to see everyone the last weekend in May. Another dear college friend, Allison, and her family were able to come in from DC as well. It was a mini reunion. I had not seen these women for three years, and none of them had met our boys. In addition, I had met only one of the eight children we have between the 5 of us. Considering we want to maintain our friendships over the years to come, we thought the kids should start getting to know each other, too.

Here are some shots of the boys and me with the Duke chapel in the background.

This is the youngest beauty to our vast brood: Marjorie Horton.
Benjamin loved chatting with Marjorie's dad, Bret. He smiled every time he saw him!

After dinner on Saturday at Monica and Kevin Gainey's house, we ventured outside for some play time. Charles Cleveland (Allison's little guy) started the lawn statue activity, and soon Jesse (Sarah's eldest) and Jasper joined in the fun.

Then is was time to play catch with a miriad of balls.

The dads relaxed on the steps for a little while before joining in on the fun. From L-R: Jon Prather, Bret Horton, Kevin Gainey, Charlie Cleveland and Benjamin being held by Monica Gainey.
Monica loved Benjamin's fuzzy blonde hair.
Sean and Charles are sharing the soccer ball.
Getting a posed smile from Charles was tough! But I think this half-grin is adorable!

On Sunday afternoon we all met at the Duke Gardens for some R&R time. We started in the shade of the nice big trees, but as the afternoon wore on we were left chasing the shade and being exposed painfully to the hot sun. However, the gardens are beautiful and so fun to explore or just enjoy from the hillside.

Our shade trees.

Here are the views from our hillside locale.

Jasper liked exploring over and across the bridge.

Jasper is bringing up the rear of this group making their way up the hill - Charles, Allison, Drew and Jasper.

While we were there, Charles took in some practice swings with his dad, Charlie, helping out.

Levi, Monica's youngest, enjoys his lunch in the shade.

Jasper enjoys the lionshare of his lunch: red grapes, in the sun.

This looks like a peaceful tree, doesn't it? It's just the right size for the kids to explore without getting hurt ...

... except it wasn't as peaceful as it looks. Charles bumped the sign with his leg, which ended up being much sharper than expected and actually drew blood. And Jasper decided to stomp in the massive ant hill. Thankfully, we got lucky. No bites.

One of our main objectives for meeting at the gardens was to get a group shot of the kids. Monica had bought Duke t-shirts for everyone, so we got them lined up. Except getting kids who are needing naps to sit still, when some of them can't even sit up, was pretty gosh darn hard. Here are shots from our tries. If you piece them together, there are some adorable shots of each kid.
This has Levi, Charles, Jasper and Jesse.

This shows off Phoebe and her beautiful curls!

As the eldest, Jesse got the job of holding the youngest, Marjorie. He did a fabulous job! Sean makes and appearance for a while, but he really didn't want to be part of the picture. The kids were sitting on a hill, so getting Benjamin positioned on Jasper was tough. If Benjamin were to sit up straight, it would have been too hard for Jasper to hold him and keep him from rolling down the hill. So he has to be reclined. It looks kind of funny, but Jasper did a wonderful job.

So here the moms jump in to try and save the photo op.
L-R: Levi & Monica Gainey, Charles and Allison Cleveland, Phoebe Gainey, Rachel Horton, Jesse Prather, Marjorie Horton, Sarah & Sean Prather, Benjamin, Erica & Jasper Gant.

seconds later ...

ahhh... we're done. Jasper is a cutie, isn't he?

Drew and I are so glad we got a chance to get together with these friends. These women are so important to me. I've known them for > 15 years. They've been there through all my ups and downs. They've laughed and cried with me. I was pregnant with Jasper at the same time as Monica (with Phoebe) and Allison. God has blessed me with their loving influence, and it was great to spend even a short weekend with them in person. We certainly pray God will bless our boys with similar Christ-loving friends as they grow into manhood.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Memorial Day Festivities

It's hot in Austin ... again. As of Memorial day, we've already been pushing 100 degrees, and there is no end in sight. Sounds like a painful repeat of last summer! This means we need to spend time near water to maintain sanity.

With two boys, going to a big pool without Drew is completely out of the question. I wouldn't have a clue how to keep them both safe in the water. A 2:1 ratio just isn't good enough in that circumstance. So, we're keeping it low-key instead. We have the water table, two inflatable kiddie pools and ... the Slip and Slide. How could I NOT get it after Annabella's party? :) Jasper loves it! He especially loves jumping in the collected water at the end. Splashing seems to be a moral imperative for 2.5-year-olds. :)

And since we're near water, the Lightning McQueen boots seem completely appropriate - even essential.

Daddy didn't put a kibosh to this the first time Jasper climbed into the water table, so it's now a frequent activity. We'll see how long it can hold his 33lb weight and the water filled to overflowing.

Benjamin hasn't become a fan of the slip and slide, but he likes being in the kiddie pools and standing at the water table. He also still just loves being outside.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

There's a lotta love out there, man!

Benjamin adores his older brother and really loves being anywhere and seeing anything Jasper is doing.

And Jasper loves his little brother.