Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Two GREAT weekends!

We have been so busy having fun, it has been hard to find a minute to sit down at the computer. We have had two really fun weekends here at the Fellows casa. It has been hard to get back into reality.

Actually the first great weekend took place in Colorado! I had the fun opportunity to head up to Fort Collins to visit my dear friend Caroline Call Owens. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera and the only photo I got was a very unattractive self-portrait of the two of us on my cell phone. I thought I would spare us both the agony by keeping it a secret!!! We hadn't spent more than an hour together in the past 15 years and considering we only talk to each other once a year at best you can imagine 48 hours was a real treat! I felt like I was back in college again. You know a true friend when you can pick up right where you left off and that is what we did.

It was so fun to get to spend time with someone who has had such positive impact on my life and who knew me in my previous life! She actually still thinks I'm funny and laughs at my jokes and stories. I still think she is funny too and she is still amazing! She has so many qualities I'm striving for. We had a great time doing our favorite things, eating, chatting, and LAUGHING!!! Her kids are darling and I loved getting to know them better. Although I missed Mark and the kids terribly, it was a real treat for me. Mark was a champ for taking care of the kids while I was gone and Caroline was a champ for hosting me and listening to me call Mark and the kids 400 times a day!

The second great weekend involved a visit from another two of my favorite people. My brother Mitch and his son Levi. They made the long trek from N. Carolina to join us for a little biking madness at the Tour of California! As you can all imagine, Mark was in Heaven. Actually, I think we were all in a little bit of Heaven. It was so great to have Mitch and Levi out here for a great visit. I was so sad to see them go on Wednesday morning because it was so enjoyable having them around. Gracie and Bayden kept looking for them days after they left. My kids loved the time they got to spend with their cousin and can't wait for more cousin time this summer.

The night before the tour officially started, Mark and Mitch were able to stalk a few of the riders at their hotel. The were so excited and kept calling me with updates of who they just saw and who they were talking with. Seriously, I wish another adult was at home with me to witness how excited they were, it was like they were teenagers. I'm surprised they actually came home.

Valentine's day was the first stage of the race and it was a time trial in Sacramento. We loaded up the whole fam and headed down to the race. We got a great spot for all of the action. Cowbells were the kids valentine treat this year and I started second guessing that decision after 2 hours of listening to them...oh well they were pleased as punch to have them at the race. Mark insisted that we get there 3 hours before the race started, so we could stalk the racers a little bit more at their team buses. We were even able to convine a few of our good friends to join us.

The kids preparing to learn "stalking" skills from their dad and uncle.

Bayden, Gracie and I staked out a good spot and were the official "spot savers". That proved a little stressful at times, but we survived. We kept ourselves entertained by writing some good luck messages on the street for the riders. I like cheering for the underdog and the unknown guys, so we tried finding out the names of some of the slower riders so I could write their name on the street. Sadly, know one knew the names of any of the slower riders. I just made sure we cheered super loud for the riders starting early on. Mark, Mitch and the kids walked around and were able to chat with a few of their favorite riders. As you can see from the pictures, it was really COLD!! I was freezing the whole time, but you can't help but have a great time in that type of atmosphere. I love the energy you feel from everyone! It was a great day! The best part was that Mitch came home and made a very delicious dinner for all of us!

The girlies have fun staying warm together.

Tyler of my favorites.
Floyd Landis (I swear Mark has more pics of him than me)
The guy everyone was waiting for...Lance

Levi soaking it all in.
Getting some snacks from the Kinetic tentBay loved his cow bell and cheered every rider on.

Grandma, check out Gracie's cute scarf.

I told you they loved those darn bells.

Lots of hype around this bike and its owner.

I should know who this is, but I don't.

Sunday we headed down to Pleasanton for a fun visit with the McLeod Fam. It was great to see all of the cousins except for Christy and Jeff of course. We had another delicious meal and lots of great chatting. We then headed down to our hotel in Milipitas. The kids were more than excited to be staying in a hotel. It was a pretty nice hotel with this cool jungle type atrium in the center of the hotel. They loved it! Seriously, I don't think I would have to travel more than 10 miles, but if I took my kids to a hotel they would think it was the best vacation ever. There is just something about staying in a hotel that they love. Of course, I loved the breakfast buffet the next morning and watching the kids swim before heading down to the stage finish in Santa Cruz. Mark and Mitch were good sports to let us tag-a-long with them all weekend and I think the kids really had a memorable weekend. Thanks to Ali for holding down the fort in N.C. and letting Mitch and Levi come out for a visit. Next time you will all have to come.
Happiness in the hotel

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pinewood Derby

Playing a little catch up here, but Parker really wanted to make sure this made it on the blog. Happy to report that we are through with and survived our first Pinewood Derby! I have to admit it was pretty intense up until the day of the big event. We were suppose to have our cars turned in the week before the Derby, but we hadn't even started ours by that night. Needless to say we were a bit late turning it in. I guess I didn't help matters, by inviting our two friends to join our church troop and signing us up to make their cars as well.

So with 5 days to go before the big the event and 3 blocks of wood to be transformed lets just say that tensions were a bit high at our house. First, I find it somewhat comical that they actually think an 8 year old is going to saw and file his own car!?! I don't know about you, but I barely trust my 8 year old with his electric toothbrush let alone a band saw. Second, if they want the cars to weigh 5 ounces, why don't they just make the wood weigh that much instead of having all of these competitive dad's try and figure out exactly how much a screw weighs and how they can attach it to the car to create the most aerodynamic vehicle. 3. I think they should just let the boys make their cars however they like them without the need for heavy machinery and then hold a separate race for all of the dad's because they are the ones who really care whether or not the car does well .

Mark and I will be the first to confess that we are not handy people. Mark went to Home Depot to purchase his $50 worth of files and what not, but it wasn't going to happen without a saw. Thanks heavens for my good friend Perry (he deserves his own post), who saved the day. We traced the design of the car we wanted and then Perry took it to his wood shop and had all three cars cut and returned to me within 2 hours. He is so efficient, I love it! Mark, Parker and Carson worked together painting the cars and attaching the wheels and then Mark started adding the screws for additional weight. This is when things got a little see big screws in little cars cause major cracking and splitting of wood. Kind of a bummer when the race is the next day and you don't have time to make a new car. Super glue to the rescue. Mark glued it up, but was still upset that you could see the cracks in the cars, while I was thrilled that they actually were completed and so we dropped them off to the scout master just in the nick of time. Mark and I were both crossing our fingers that the three cars just made it across the finish line.
We actually had a great time the night of the Derby. I was pleasantly surprised. I was amazed at how into it my kids got. They aren't very competitive by nature, but you never would have guessed it at this race. They were totally into it. There was Gracie hanging out with her good friend Raeff

and McCall checking the weather of cities she would like to visit one day.

And then the races began...

And you should have seen the look on these kids faces...totally captivated by little wooden cars.
Then tensions started to rise...
It got so bad Parker couldn't even watch
And then his car won and he couldn't help but celebrate, (Mark and I breathed a sigh of relief that it made it across the finish line)

His good friends joined him in the celebration

His buddy Aidan was especially happy for him and Clara too!
And then the time came for the results of the fastest cars of the troop. The real shocker... Parker won 2nd place (not bad for our first derby and to think we just wanted it to finish.) You would have thought he won the Academy award. He ended up with a big dog pile of siblings and friends congratulating him.

Coming up for air, he really was so happy.

I don't know if we will survive all the Pinewood Derby's for 3 was seriously stressful getting those cars done. Then I think of my sweet sister-in-law Michele, with 5 boys and I just want to tell her our cars are in the mail!

Carson's Birthday

I love this sweet little face.

Carson is always smiling. When he was a baby we called him the "Golden Child" because he was so sweet and never made a peep.

One of my favorite pics of him and my grandma.

I can't believe it is true, but Carson turned 6! I can't think about it too long because it really makes me sad that he and the rest of my kids are growing up so fast. Last Friday was his special day, but life has been a little crazy and this is the first chance I've had to get on my computer.

Not the most attractive shot, but he was sure excited about those pancakes.

I think he had a great day. We started off his day right, by making him his requested breakfast of Mickey Mouse pancakes and orange juice. Carson is my sleeper, so we ended up doing breakfast in bed and waking him up because the other kids couldn't wait for him any longer. After breakfast in bed it was straight to the kitchen for the opening of his gifts. As you can see he was still a little heavy eyed and looking pretty sleepy, but he was up to the birthday gift challenge.

Of course McCall, Parker and Gracie couldn't wait for him to open up their gifts! They were all very thoughtful and put a lot of consideration into what to get him. McCall:Webkinz, Parker: Lego Star Wars Gracie: Gobblet
Carson with his biggest fans (minus Bayden who I wasn't about to wake up at 6:30 a.m.)

Is any birthday complete without a webkinz?
He loved reading portions of his cards this year and always got a sweet little smile on his face each time he read one. The other kids just wanted him to cut to the chase and open the gift, but Carson took his time reading those cards. He loved all of his gifts and I love the Gobblet game. It is really fun to play, a total keeper.

I love the tongue in this one, so anxious to find out what it is. We had a fun morning before school playing games and legos. He has afternoon kindergarten, so we dropped him off on-time at 11:17 (my special little gift to him :-) For his birthday treat at school he wanted Jamba Juice's. I know it is a theme this year with my kids, but I like to blame it on the school because they stress this healthy snacking thing a bit too much for my taste. Oh well, it was off we went to get our smoothies. Gracie and Bayden were big helpers and did their part sampling the smoothies for me. They were both so excited to be able to go to Carson's classroom. You have to love Kindergarten, you get a crown and a fun song on your birthday. He was loving it even though he doesn't appear that way in this photo.
Of course Gracie was on hand to help pass out the smoothies. She really is so helpful when she wants to be and can you guess what she has on under that sweater ? That's right you guessed it, her swimsuit!!! I know it is February and that she is in public, but at least she wore the sweater, right? Bayden was glued to Carson out on the playground and he had a great time showing his little buddy off. I love what a great brother he is and how much interest he takes in his siblings.
After school he got to go to his good friends birthday party at Bounceopolis. He was so excited to share his special day with Elyse. Her mom is super thoughtful and surprised us with an ice cream cake for Carson at the party, so they could both have a cake and candles to blow NICE! When we were driving home, Carson told me that it made him feel so "happy and special". I love thoughtful people like that. After the party we ran to pick up his birthday dinner of Pizza (he wanted bean burritos to go with it. Go figure, but it was his birthday). We ate a quick dinner then it was time for Parker's football game. After the football game we all watched Star Wars Clone Wars and had birthday cake. Bayden was totally into the singing and candles. Here is Carson winding up for the big blowout at 10:30 p.m.

and then there is Bay right there with him trying to blow those candles out.
Because the day before his b-day was crazy now I get to share with Carson my 6 favorite things about my favorite 6 year old.
1. Carson is happy and easy to love! As I mentioned earlier, Carson came out smiling and hasn't stopped. He is happy morning, noon and night. Seriously he was the best baby and I use to love to just sit and cuddle him. Every time I would look at him, he would smile. He finds joy in living and shares that joy with others. People are naturally drawn to him and find him very charming. Everyone always tells me how he just captures their heart. This past year when we were in DC, we would totally laugh because it seemed like everywhere we went strangers would ask us if they could take a picture with him. I know it sounds a little creepy, but the majority of them were foreigners which for some reason makes it not as creepy. But my point is, he is that kind of kid, he radiates happiness.
2. Carson is optimistic. I love this trait and think it is really such an important one to have in life. Carson can usually find the bright side of things pretty quickly (unless he has gone without food for more than 3 hours and then we've lost all hope for happiness). For example, when I burn his toast and I mumble to myself words of frustration he will say,"I think burnt toast makes the best bread crumbs for the ducks. We should go feed the duck's today mom!" or like yesterday when I dropped him off late for school for the 1073 time this year. I was apologizing for being late AGAIN and telling him he would really have to run and he said, "I think it is kind of a good thing I'm late sometimes because then my bottom doesn't fall asleep from sitting so long." It's pretty hard to be negative around this guy because he is an eternal optimist.
3. I love that Carson loves to sleep. Because I have so many that don't like to sleep, I'm thrilled that Carson has learned to love sleep this year!!!!! It was a long time coming, but this year we have been golden. Carson doesn't feel the need to crawl out of bed at 4 a.m., but is content to sleep a normal 8 sometimes even 10 hours. He will even go back to bed if he comes out and I tell him it is too early to be up! Give him his blanket and a finger to suck on and he is good to go.
4. I love that Carson still sucks his thumb. I know, I'm sure every orthodontist and dentist would cringe to read those words, but I think it is sweet (I probably won't think so when I get the ortho bill in a few years). He loves, loves, loves his thumb and fingers. He has been trying so hard this year not to suck them at school, but sometimes when he is tired at school I see it creep back into his mouth. I'm proud of him for setting boundaries for it at school and for trying really hard to reach his goal, but I also love when he crawls into my lap with his blankie and sticks that little thumb in his mouth. He is my little Linus.
5. I love how Carson is a peacemaker. He tries his best to keep the peace and compromise with his siblings and friends. He finds solutions where everyone wins. His Kindergarten teacher tells me that whenever they have a disagreement that needs to be discussed as a class, Carson has a slew of ideas to resolve the problems.
6. I love that Carson has perseverance. This little guy never gives up. He works so hard at any task he approaches (unless it involves picking up toys). I love how he tries everything. Carson doesn't have to be good or perfect at something to keep working at it. Even things that he isn't good at, he still does it and tries his hardest. One of the greatest things I've learned from Carson is that you can still have fun doing things even if you aren't really good at them. I use to only do things I knew I was good at, instead of risking embarrassment or failure. Carson has taught me that we only fail, when we don't try. Carson embraces opportunities to try and try again, even when he almost always ends up last. He perseveres and is only concerned with finishing what he has started, not so much the glory of winning.
I know my 6 are up, but here are a few other things I love about Carmac (his nickname) I love that he loves Breakfast Burritos. Every single day before school Carson wants a breakfast burrito. You would think he would get sick of them, but he doesn't. He loves the tortilla, cheese, and scrambled eggs all wrapped up. Almost every day he gets one and almost every day the eggs fall out of the back of the burrito. I love his infectious laugh. When he gets giggling the rest of us aren't far behind. I love how he reads. What a magical thing it is to watch your child learn to read. I have loved watching him learn to read this year and watching his eyes light up when he figures out a new word! I love that he still likes to sit and cuddle every day and read books with me. I love how he takes his little hands and places them on my cheeks and turns my face towards his when he wants me to focus on what he is saying. I love how he lounges in his pajamas until I force him to get dressed and I love how he sneaks into my bed sometimes in the early morning to cuddle and fall back to sleep and when I ask him in the morning why he came into my room he tells me, "because I feel warm and safe here." Well I better end this post before he turns seven. We love you buddy and think you are just the best!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Carson's Special Date

Although Mark and I do one on one dates every so often with each of our kids, we found we rarely get time alone with the two of us and a child. This year we decided that was going to change. Carson was the lucky one chosen for January. The deal is the kids get to choose the activities for the evening as long as it is within reason (McCall wanted a date to France hence the need for boundaries.)

Carson chose to go to dinner at La Fiesta (actually, we forced him to go to dinner he wasn't really into the food, but Mark and I sure were!) After dinner we headed to go ride go-karts. It was his first time doing this and he had a blast. We ended up being the only ones there and so they just let us go around and around and around. I was getting dizzy and after 189 laps I was freezing too, but Carson was having the time of his life. We then went inside and played video games and tried to earn enough tickets for him to get a car (if he only understood I could get one for a lot less at Target, but something about the thrill of actually winning the car.)

After video games he wanted to go to the bookstore and read books together and then he picked out a few for himself to take home. It was then off to Big Spoon where he built himself a pretty big Sundae. We thought he would want to eat it there, but he said he wanted to go home and share it with his brothers and sisters.

I really don't know who had more fun that night, Carson or Mark and I. It was so great to be alone with him and chat with him about so many different topics. I loved hearing his thoughts and opinions without being interrupted. I also loved that every time we did something or saw something he would say, "Oh I wish Parker were here.", or "McCall would love this." or "Which car do you think Bayden would like best?" or "Can we bring Gracie back here." As much as I think he appreciated and liked the time alone with us, he really wanted them to experience the same fun that he was having. They were constantly in his thoughts and it made me so grateful for the relationship they share with each other. Now I just need to remember that the next time they are arguing over who made the mess and who has to clean it up :-) It was a great time and I look forward to doing it with the other four.