A Birthday Card for Camden

It's true what they say: the days are long but the years are short.  ONE year just flew by, Cam.  The infant years are gone and we're venturing into the toddlers, armed with sippy cups and and Skidders.

On November 15th I wished you a "Happy Day-you-were-supposed-to-be-born," in remembrance of how uncomfortable and balloon-like I was when your due date came and went.  I wanted you out and in my arms like you wouldn't believe.  But you were worth the wait, my little bear.

You can sign "milk" and "more" {which you do constantly, wishing you could spend every waking moment chowing down in your high chair} and you can say, "Mama" and "ba" for ball.  I also just realized that when I say "uh-oh" you respond with "ow!"  Every time.

You're favorite book is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, and you smile real big when we do the funny voices for the different animals.  Walking is completely uninteresting, but you can crawl faster than any baby I've ever seen, especially when we are playing your favorite game, chase.  Sometimes we chase you, and you scream in delight.  Sometimes you chase your favorite toy, the golf ball.

You have a signature cheeser grin that you almost always bust out when a camera or phone is aimed at you.   Perfect little poser.  But you also love growling, which is why we call you our little bear.  Oh, and did I mention you love eating?  Good thing you have eight teeth, you can pretty much handle any food.  Your favorites are blueberries and carrots.  {And after yesterday, probably cake too.}

At 25 pounds, you are bigger than the average baby your age.  And probably cuter, too, in my not-so-unbiased opinion.

We call you Camma-Jamma, or just Jammer.  You love your grandparents and uncles and aunts.  And you... well you are loved by a lot of people.  But none so much as me.  Okay, and maybe you daddy.

Love you, my baby boy.  Happy Birthday.

{Party post coming soon}

Batten Down the Hatches!

It's like I'm preparing for a tornado.  A good kind of tornado--one made of wrapping paper, candy canes, and frosting--but a tornado nonetheless.  I could sit here and give you a forecast of the madness in the two months ahead, but it will unfold on this blog eventually.

Before I run off to batten down the hatches {AKA, clean the house 'til it shines} I thought I'd stop by to say hello, and share a few more pictures from the Tietjen's visit.  There are a lot.

Finding and exploring pecans in the orchards.

 Running to see the train pass by.
 EVERYONE running to see the train pass by.

Some fun things we did:
-Went to the free kid's craft at Home Depot and cheered on Story as she created a wooden sailboat.
-Stayed up crazy late playing "Would You Rather" and laughing 'til we cried.  Well, I cried, at least.
-Explored the pecan orchards with the kids.
-Drew on Roy and Carson's faces with bright red lipstick when they fell asleep in the living room.  I gave Roy some rosy cheeks before he woke up and tackled me.
-Made plans for the next time we get together, which I'm sure will be here before we know it!

This is Halloween, This is Halloween

Are you drooling yet?

As much as I'd love to take credit for this magazine-worthy display, Shellena is responsible for every edible part of this Halloween feast.  Everything from the Jell-O brain to the homemade, foggy root beer.  Kitchen ninja.  I was just the apprentice.

Before digging in, we "took the kids" trick-or-treating.  If the Tietjens hadn't been visiting I'm not sure we would have gone this year, since Camden is just a baby.  Luckily we had little Story, who was the perfect smokescreen to Roy and I swindling people out of their candy.  :-)

A couple of vampires with a bat, Peter Pan, Hook, and Tinker Bell.

It turned out we didn't need a smokescreen.  The few times I didn't hold out Camden's candy bag to collect, the candy-giver inevitably commented, "What about the baby?"

Yes, yes, my baby with four teeth really needed a Tootsie Roll, thank you.  MUAHAHA!

{Insert picture of me digging through Camden's pail with chocolate smeared all over my face.}

Joking aside... it wasn't about the treats.  In reality, his candy bag was tiny, and we had plenty of sweets at the house.  I just wanted Camden to experience going door-to-door and seeing all the orange lights, glowing jack-o-lanters, and costumed kids running up and down driveways.  Story caught on real quick with the "Trick-or-Treat" part, and was the cutest Tinker Bell you ever saw, running around in her crocheted fairy slippers.

After making a toddler-appropriate candy killing, we went back to the house to party.  Other than the Buckmasters and the Tietjens, we had my parents, my 17-year-old brother, and our new friends... the BLOODS!  Appropriate Halloween guests, don't you think?

Aaron and Ashley Blood are new friends in our neighborhood, who brought some yummy seven layer bean dip with them.  Shortly after they arrived we discovered they had never seen the Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus.  Deciding to immediately rectify this tragedy, we watched the movie while we chowed down on mummy hotdogs and pumpkin-shaped pizza.

Whenever trick-or-treaters rang the doorbell, Story jumped up from her plate and ran to divvy out some candy.  One time, mid-candy-dispersal, Story stopped and flipped her hair for this ten-year-old boy dressed as a skeleton.  "You like my hair?"

HA!  I'm pretty sure she made his night.  I'm also pretty sure that Carson and Shellena better look out for that cute little flirt!

That girl loved giving out candy, one little piece at a time, telling each kid, "Happy Halloween!"  But once a group of teenagers came to the door in masks.  I was holding the bucket of candy for Story to pick from, but she looked up at the gangly teens and cried, "No!  No no no!" dropped the candy and ran back into the living room.  Luckily some cute fairies showed up and Story was back to candy-giving.

In all of the activity, Camden got ahold of a small cardboard container of candy.  Apparently even the youngest kids have an innate ability to locate and devour sweets.  {Please notice the candy strewn across the tile.}

 "Best.  Night.  Ever!"

The kids were put to bed before it got too ridiculously late.  And, understandably, once the kids were in bed the grandparents were ready to head out.  After they left we paused Hocus Pocus for an intermission game: Murder in the Dark.

Murder in the Dark can be a terrifying game.  Everyone draws a card without revealing that card to anyone else.  The person who draws the card with an X is the murderer, and everyone else is a citizen {aka, run and hide}.  The lights go out, and I mean out.  We even put tape over the digital clocks on the DVD player and over the stove.  Pitch dark.  Everyone separates, trying to move quietly.  After a few minutes the murderer starts getting people.  When he gets his hands around a citizen's throat they have to sit on the ground {or fall to the ground, depending on how dramatic you want to be} and not talk.  If another citizen locates a "dead body" they can yell "Murder in the Dark!"  The lights go on, and everyone guesses who they think the murderer is.  If they are right, citizen's win and everyone draws again.  If they are wrong... lights go out again.

It is so scary to be creeping around in the dark, hearing footsteps shuffling down the hall and bodies dropping to the floor.  We had several hilarious moments, including when Carson {running away from the murderer} sprinted straight into the back of the couch.  And when Zac ran into a wall.  And when Ashley screamed like someone was really being murdered.  And when Carson thought I was Shellena  O_O.  And when I tripped over Zac's head and bellyflopped onto Roy.

Written out like that I realize we sound like a bunch of twelve-year-old boys, but believe me when I tell you it was the most fun Halloween night of my adult years.  I hope we never grow out of this kind of stuff.

By some miracle, the kids slept through it all.  There was screaming, banging into doors, slamming against walls, lots of out-of-control laugher... but there wasn't a peep from the bedrooms.

We played one game of Mafia, and then finished Hocus Pocus before calling it a night.  Zac and the Bloods went to their homes.  Shellena and I had a slumber party in our bedroom while the guys slept in the living room.

In the morning I woke up to find Roy watching The Nightmare Before Christmas with the kids.  Hence my title.  That song has been stuck in my head for over a week now.

Fall Friends

It's cloudy outside, our heat has kicked on, and our pumpkins are still sitting outside, uncarved, under our front window.  Fall takes some ushering in when you live in the desert, but after a lot of coaxing with scented candles it does make itself comfortable and stick around for almost half of the year.  Recently I've been seeing pictures on Instagram of early snowfall, slides and swing sets being moved into basements, people dreading the "indoor" months.  That's when I am grateful to live here, where the sun never stops shining.

Snowbirds have been arriving, thus traffic is getting more congested with white-haired drivers.  Traffic plus a horrible accident on the I-10 made for a long trip for our friends, who arrived on our doorstep at dusk on Tuesday.  A prompt arrival for bath time.

Story Rae {whose first timid words to me were, "I paint my nails"} was stripped and thrown into the tub with Camden.  My little guy has been grumpy with baths lately, so it was nice to have Story there to capture his interest.  His first bath with a friend.

The Tietjens are some of our friends who are like family.  In fact, we see them more often than a lot of our real family!  Last April we visited them in California.  Having kids hasn't cramped our style, the little ones just add to the adventure.

Story was very concerned about the Halloween decorations on our street.  She was infatuated with skeletons, especially if they were hanging from a tree.  Our next-door-neighbor set out a shish-kabobed head on a grill, complete with fake blood.  Story kept saying, "He's hurt!"

Unfortunately the week was academically loaded for Roy, with a major exam on Saturday.  We made the most of it and sent Carson to campus with him every day, so that he would also be able to get a lot of his own work done.  Roy took him to a couple of his classes, but they spent the majority of their time in the library.  Back home, we had more fun plans.

Story wanted to hold "baby Camden."

This beastly boy is totally bigger than she is!

Always watching Story.

 I was impressed with Story's photography skills.  Also, check out our honeydew melons in the back.  That plant is ready to bite the dust-but the crunchy leaves support our illusion of a classic fall season.

Shellena is a master of the kitchen, so when she talked about putting on a Halloween feast, I knew it was going to be epic.  In between games and park time with the kids, we spent a lot of time prepping--planning out the appetizers, main dishes, desserts--and shopping for what we needed.  When Halloween day arrived, Camden woke up with a runny nose and some new teeth angrily pushing their way out of his gums.  Ouch.

Understandably, this made him extremely fussy and clingy.  As in, I could not be more than three inches away from him without there being a complete meltdown.  There was only so much I could do in the kitchen with one arm occupied by a heavy baby.  Thus, the only time I was really much help was during Camden's naps.  Bummer, but what do you do?  You turn on the "Halloween Party" Pandora station and dance with the babies.  {Story has some remarkable choreography that involves lots of summersaults and donkey kicks.}

Despite it all, Shellena busted it out, and we had the most amazing Halloween ever.  I'll show you just how amazing in the next post.  To be continued...