Monday, May 30, 2011

Reflecting on how rich our lives are...

It's been awhile since posting. We've spent a lot of really really good time together as a family. In fact, I was just reflecting on how rich our lives are.... all 3 of our lives.

Since posting, we've attended our annual neighborhood putt-putt golf tournament and had a great time with our friends; luckily, they have children that Mercer adores. It's a win-win for all of us. We spent Memorial day weekend together as a family. Intentionally, we stayed at home so that we could complete a project: build a sandbox for Mercer. We love our back yard... it's a wonderful space for the three of us to play in, to entertain friends, and to relax. Mercer has learned to enjoy the things that we do back there - tinkering in the garden, interacting with the fish in the pond, watching the water move through the stream, and the stone wall (he climbs & jumps off of it). Likewise, we have learned to enjoy the thing that he does back there - playing chase, hide and seek, and kicking a ball around.

But, the sandbox is the first "fixture" that we've incorporated into our back yard specifically for him. He knows that it is HIS space.

And with that in mind, he was thrilled when we suggested that we host a play date in the back yard. For days before hand, he kept saying "friends coming over? to play in my sandbox?" He would go through a list of friends that he wanted to have over. (This list started with some neighborhood kids, then went into a list of kids from daycare, but we "cut it off" at just the neighborhood gang... which he was still really excited about.) The same group of neighborhood friends we played with at the putt-putt golf outing were back at our house in order for Mercer to host & entertain. After several of the kids played in the sandbox, they all cooled off on a water slide we set up in the back yard. Then, they moved onto playing with sidewalk chalk and sidewalk paint (mostly by jumping on the bottle of paint & seeing how far it would squirt out). It was a fun evening for all of us - adults and children alike.

This sandbox is a unique one, of course. It is made of cedar and has a lid that keeps neighborhood cats out, but the lid folds to form benches on either side of the box. We saw one online that was smaller, so decided to build here instead - and make some modifications to the design. Overall, we're very happy with it... and seeing that Mercer has played in it almost every day since we built it last week... he seems happy with it too.

Later Memorial Day weekend, we went to the Chattahoochee Nature Center for some hiking, exploring, and a picnic. I was most fascinated by our happening upon a group of geese eating flowers and leaves off of some tall grassy plants. For awhile, we lurked behind some bushes in order to watch, then Mercer's attention was turned elsewhere, so we moved on. The geese munched from the tops of the flora... and eventually we walked right past them. They did not move. Apparently, they are used to people.

After eating our picnic lunch, we played a little frisbee out in an open field. We thought this was Mercer's favorite part because he got to run and throw something... but when asking him about what the highlight of his day was, he said he liked hiding in the bushes. And eating blueberries (we had just finished some angel food cake and berries).

I think he must really love blueberries. Earlier in the week - we were praying. He goes through his normal "thank you for mommy... daddy... and Mercer" then he names a friend or a family member. One night, he said thank you for blueberries and strawberries. CUTE!

Some other cute things he's doing: he seems to be very concerned with our happiness and pleasing us. We're still working on his potty training... and when / if he goes, he immediately asks "are you happy?" Sometimes randomly he'll ask if we're happy too. When we say yes, and hug him, he smiles really big. LOVE that!

He's been able to count in order to 20 (with a little bit of help around 13, 14, 15, 16). Just like his ABC's... it's memorization of how things go in order. But - he's starting to recognize objects and groups of objects and associate a number with them. There are 4 geese. There are 2 motorcycles. I have no idea if that's normal at this age -- he's moved past rattling off numbers in order, but we're fascinated by his comprehension and development. Seems simple, but I love how he is relating things with others by a similar trait. "Mommy, the sky is blue like your car and daddy's car is the same color as the trees."

It's a cool thing to watch. Yes, indeed, our lives are rich!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

this is the first time in 20 years...

that we are without a pet in our house. Earlier this week, we had to put our cat, Pigg, down. He was suffering from kidney failure. He lived a long time -- 15 years. Todd adopted him before he was weaned from his mother... a stray cat that was living under my mother's house.

He got his funny name not from the puffy nose he ended up developing (some sort of allergy he had did this to his nose and also made the pads on the bottoms of his feet puffy too). He got his name because when he was a tiny kitten, he wallowed in his food like a pig. Todd used to feed him baby food on a plate and milk in a little bowl. He would lay down on the plate and suckle his food and milk. He used to have the stuff crusted all over his belly and face. Todd used to have to bathe him... and - for awhile - he was a cat that actually liked water. He would even jump in the shower!

We had a funny name for our first cat together too. There is history behind his name as well.

My freshman year in college, my roommates and I smuggled a cat into our dorm room. I ended up with the cat, Haley, after school let out. Sophomore year, she lived in and out of the rowhouse I was renting in Savannah... and while out, got pregnant. She gave birth to several kittens: one solid gray - one black / white - one stillborn - and one gray / white. The gray and white one was tiny and had problems breathing and walking. The rowhouse had hardwood floors and this small "runt" would drag his back legs behind him while pulling himself forward with his front legs. When he would stop and sit, his back legs would flop out to the side of him -- like a frog.

Eventually, the condition improved and he grew (and grew and grew). He was a big lump.... a big loving and easy-going cat who passed when he was 14. I took it pretty hard when he passed.

Todd and I adopted another cat while in Savannah. We were going to name her Tadpole (like a little baby frog) but we thought that was silly. We were calling her Kitty while we tried to figure out a suitable name, but we never could. Kitty - a very original name - stuck. We wrote about Kitty a couple of years ago on the blog when she passed at the ripe ol' age of 14. Mercer was too young to remember her though.

Pigg - on the other hand - Mercer knew quite well. So far (two days later) he's doing ok. He pretty easily accepted that Pigg wasn't coming back. Every now & then Mercer asks about the cat - but we tell him that he's gone / he was really sick / he died and went to kitty heaven. Mercer says "ok" and moves onto something else.
We all had a nice weekend together. Sitting together a lot. Giving hugs. Giving treats. All of our animals will be missed.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

just found an application to associate with the blog...

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

By posting this "badge," brighter planet will offset 350 pounds of carbon - which is like turning off 100 light bulbs for a day..... or going 2 weeks without a car

Pretty cool.

Monday, May 9, 2011

strawberries and a monastery

While the weather is nice, we are trying to spend as much time outdoors as we can. We are having a blast running around the back yard, kicking balls, chasing each other while Mercer yells "I'm going to get you", swinging on the hammock, and peddling the tricycle on the sidewalk.

Last weekend, we took some of Mercer's friends along as we tried out a new experience: picking strawberries. All of the kids did really well, each picking red berries instead of those that were unripe. (It kind of looks like we're really putting them to work?!) They made sure not to pick the squishy ones. Todd & I told the kids that they were not allowed to eat any berries while out there -- that we had to take them home & wash them first. They complied, so they were rewarded with strawberries and angel food cake when we got back. (followed by a little t.v. on the couch.)

I plan to put the canning skills to use that I learned last summer... making strawberry jam & maybe even one with a little kick to it too?

Yesterday (on Mother's Day), we went to a monastery that we've talked about visiting for some time - the Monastery of the Holy Spirit ( The church was open air when we went. It was cool inside and through the open windows, you could hear birds chirping outside. It is definitely a serene place, but we could not stay long... with an active 3 year old in tow. We spent the majority of our time outdoors - watching geese, ducks, and bugs that we happened across. We had a picnic lunch under a tree then played kick-ball for awhile. Here, I'm giving Mercer a kiss and getting a slobbery wet smooch in return.

Also as luck would have it, they just opened a series of new buildings last week which added a lot to our experience because we like to look at interesting architecture. The monks practice the art of bonsai. They also produce stained glass and make some edible products to sell too in order to support their order.

Afterwards - while in a different part of the state (1 hour from our house) - we sought out a letterbox that was planted in nearby historic downtown Conyers. The place where the letterbox was originally hidden was a gem... a garden with rock out-croppings, stone walls, and a flowing series of koi ponds. Unfortunately, the letterbox was not planted where the clues led us to (we looked around for quite sometime) but we're still glad we went, for we discovered a lovely little spot that - if in the area again - would be worth another visit.

We don't have anymore adventures planned anytime soon, but who knows what the weekend will bring?!