Fall's the best. Right? The perfect way to ease out of summer without being too depressed that the pool is closed and that we need to start enforcing bedtime. As much as I love making dinner barefoot in my swimsuit, I am such a sucker for fall. And the Beckers had a good one.
We stayed in the pool until the final minutes of the season, closing it down the evening of Labor Day. That pool was my saving grace this summer as the older two darlings swam happily for hours and Milo napped in the stroller. And yes, Andrew looks like this pretty much the entire time we’re at the pool; I could look at that goofy smile forever.
It was a big year for school in our family.
Charlotte started kindergarten and Andrew was off to preschool for the first time. All my mama feelings were bubbling over as they both strapped on backpacks that came down to their knees. I was confident Charlotte would adore kindergarten; she even laid out her outfits for the entire. But Andrew stepped up and surprised us all, completely forgetting to give me a hug and kiss as he dashed into his classroom on the first day.
Stephen likes to take my picture on the darlings' first days, too. Look. No tears.
Last year Stephen approached me with a beautiful idea: he wanted to take his dad to Europe. His dad would be turning 75 this year and had never experienced Europe. Stephen had a conference and wanted to bring his dad along, turning that four day conference into a two week vacation. This was a lovely idea that sounded much better when I only had two children. I had a slight panic attack in the days leading up to his departure, but it turned out to be a success on all accounts. Andrew only threw up in one elevator, and I only had to pull off one birthday party by myself.
I'm pretty sure they ate their weight in gelato. I'm so jealous.
Charlotte turned 6 and with Stephen's absence, we decided to break the five year tradition of having her birthday party at the apple orchard. Instead, we took the lead from one of her favorite book characters and dressed up in our Fancy Nancy clothes. Eight of her friends joined us for an afternoon of crafting, cupcake decorating, and "tea." Thank goodness for Grammy's help.
Even Milo got fancy.
But we couldn't forgo the apple orchard altogether. After Stephen returned home, we spent a blue sky Saturday morning at our favorite little orchard. We have six years of pictures at this orchard, and I adore everything about it.
Did I mention I adore this apple orchard?
Stephen's cousin got married in October, and Charlotte was the flower girl. We joined the big Becker family in New York and spent time at Niagara Falls the day before the wedding. These pictures don’t quite capture the freezing temperatures. Milo and I mostly hung out in the car.
Charlotte has been a flower girl two other times: one was a success and one was a total flop. She was much younger, and to my great relief, being a flower girl when you are six is much easier on mom. I didn't need to entertain her in the back of the church or bribe her with candy to walk down the aisle. In fact, she very much enjoyed getting all fancied up and took her responsibilities very seriously.
Andrew in suit. I have no words.
Babies and weddings are not the best mix. But babies and bow ties. Oh yes.
Milo hit the six month mark, and I reluctantly started making him baby food. I've held off as long as possible because life is so much easier when all I need to bring with me is my boob. I also dread the mess. However, it's been about a month, and he shows no interest in food. Fine with me.
Milo also joined me on his first flight to meet Baby Liam. My dear friend Lindsay had her first baby in August. I originally planned to visit them in September, but a 12 hour stomach bug changed my plans. We finally made it to Atlanta, and I got to smooch all over this handsome little fellow. Lindsay has been spoiling my children from they moment they were each born; I've got a whole lot of catching up to do!
And because Stephen is the epitome of fun dad, he took the older two darlings to the horse races when I was out of town. They gambled away their quarters, choosing the horses with fun names, but it was a highlight of the fall they are still talking about.
We couldn't resist the "baby in a pumpkin" movement that swept social media this fall. Milo was surprisingly content for our ten minute photo shoot, and we had some ding-dong-ditch fun with our dear neighbors as we left Milo on their front porch.
I wouldn't be lying if I said my daughter was named after a spider. I have always loved the book Charlotte's Web, and as I sat with my pregnant belly reading the final chapters to my classroom of first graders in 2012, I settled on the name Charlotte. The night before Charlotte started kindergarten I gave her a copy of the book. Andrew, Charlotte, and I have been cuddling up in the big La-Z-Boy chair and reading our way through. After we finished the book, we celebrated with a themed party and watched the movie.
Andrew turned 4 the day before Halloween, and man oh man, is that kid the best. Much to Stephen's delight, he has developed a love for opera, particularly Maria Callas. Stephen surprised him first thing in the morning with a new Maria Callas record. He was delighted.
One of Andrew's favorite gifts was a Nature Explorer Kit that came with a flashlight and whistle. He slept with that kit, and I was awakened at 4 in the morning to the sound of that whistle. (Insert cuss words.) Before the sun was even up, he shuffled down the stairs with that kit. We told him he had to use it outside; a moment later I saw him, heading out the front door to wake our neighbors with that blessed whistle.
A few days later, the birthday celebration continued at Paw Patrol Live. Stephen tried to roll his eyes and play the "I can't believe I have to go see this show" card, but I'm pretty sure he loved it. I caught him looking up adult Paw Patrol t-shirts on Amazon days before the show. Afterward, we celebrated with pizza and strawberry cake - Andrew's choice, of course.
Our love for Charlotte's Web continued into Halloween with Charlotte dressing up like Charlotte and Milo playing the role of Wilbur the pig. We tried to get Andrew to dress up like Templeton, the rat, but he wasn't interested. I can't blame him; I wouldn't want to be a rat either. Despite a stormy forecast, we were able to get in a solid hour of trick-or-treating, and good news, only three people thought Milo was a girl. We ended the night with a favorite tradition - spreading all the candy out on our bed and taste testing some of the loot.
I was raised in a Disney loving home, and we took our Disney World vacations very seriously. My mom was the ultimate Disney planner, and long before the Internet bombarded vacation planners with tips and tricks, my mom was reading The Official Guidebook cover to cover. She knew the ins and outs of those parks and led our family on the greatest vacations ever. We are all pretty nostalgic about Disney World, and I have been getting the itch to begin my own family memories, especially because Charlotte and Andrew are at such fun ages to go all kinds of crazy over the magic of Disney. I've been in Disney planning mode for the past six months - books, highlighters, post it notes, a mad stream of texts to my brother, who has already led his family in Disney extravaganzas. Stephen keeps calling me Monica Geller; I'm pretty sure he's making fun of me, but I take it as a great compliment. Our children have very little knowledge of Disney World, but we still wanted to have some fun with the great reveal. We sent them on a scavenger hunt around the house, gathering clues about our December vacation destination. The hunt ended with them popping balloons in the basement to reveal a picture of Disney World. We celebrated by eating Mickey Mouse pancakes in the matching pajamas my mother sent us.
The past few months have also been filled with smaller moments I don't want to forget.
Andrew joined his sister and tried wall climbing for the first time.
We said good-bye to Andrew's long, floppy hair (inset heavy sigh), and just like that, he's all grown up.
Milo can sit up which really just accentuates his rolls. Oh yes.
Charlotte continues to impress us with her never ending love for drawing.
And finally, fall has been beautiful here at Camp Blue Ash, the affectionate name we've given our home that quite often feels more camp like than suburban like. We're surrounded by gorgeous trees which means the past month has been filled with leaves. So many leaves.