Friday, June 28, 2013

the great outdoors

We love being outside at the beach, park or just walking the 'hood. I tried to run with J on Wednesday morning and he decided he wanted to walk. In a shirt and diaper, no shoes, carrying a snack cup and drink. We headed out for a long, slow walk and he took us to Hampton Blvd, where we sat down, ate a picnic breakfast and watched the trucks and motorcycles zoom by.  I'm sure people thought we were stranded or hurt, but we had a grand old time! 

We spend many hours at the beach, soaking up the sun and enjoying the now-not-so-freezing water temperatures. A few weeks ago we ventured out for the VA beach air show and were dazzled by low-flying planes, colored smoke and lots of death-defying drops and spins! J loves playing in the water with his Byrne grandparents, who he has managed to convince to join him at the beach! If given the choice, he would still rather be clean, but if we can get him distracted enough he doesn't seem to mind having sand all over his body. He absolutely LOVES the ocean and has no fear of running right in. This might give me a heart attack soon so we got him a cute little life jacket so I don't have to worry as much. 
J loves splashing with grandad
pointing to planes with BB
Eaten by a shark At the aquarium with BB and Grandad, he is SO silly!
Much to my dismay, J loves to climb through shrubbery, mulch and beautiful landscaping all throughout Norfolk. I try to balance letting him be an innocent kid with my adult "don't play in the yardwork!" attitude.  
It's fun to just explore the neighborhood and to take a few moments in the morning to slow down and get low like he does. I have actually discovered some amazingly beautiful and intricate plants in our neighbors' yards. We thank God for His beautiful creation each day and are grateful that we get to enjoy it. 

J is starting to become quite the gardener, with his elephant watering pail and shovel. He loves to count out the tomatoes on his plant in the front yard. The back yard plants are like a jungle of green and red tomatoes, with J itching to pluck all the green ones. He really doesn't like tomatoes but every time we pick a red one he thinks he might like it so he takes a bite, ponders it and then spits it out into my hand. Maybe one day he will enjoy the sweet taste of cherry tomatoes straight off the vine. They are DELICIOUS.  My green peppers aren't doing so well but the herb garden and tomatoes are great. I think I need some tips from Master Gardner Ashley Barnett for next year's crop. 

Three generations of Byrne boys at the beach
Playing with grandad at the beach 
We finally made it to the fire station, something we have been meaning to do since J was 6 months old. Although I thought it might seem strange for me to show up with a kid who could barely sit up and ask to see the fire engines. I promise, firemen, it's really for my son, promise! So, at 20 months old the timing was much better to head out with Lael and Jordan. J was hesitant at first, as always, but then enjoyed exploring the truck bays, looking at the flashing lights and sitting in the driver's seat of a huge engine!! The boys took home their very own firemen hats (which J wears every day) and headed directly to the park to play some more! Needless to say, he took a very long nap that afternoon! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Family Photo Shoot

Once again we were able to have the talented Val take some pictures for us as a Mother's Day gift to both Grandmom McKay and BB Byrne. We knew she would be the best woman for the job since she can make any kid laugh and she works very quickly, despite being 6 months pregnant! We had about an hour with good light before J's dinner time and we somehow all managed to make it happen. I love these shots because they capture what we do much of the day....point at airplanes, blow bubbles, eat cheerios (and feed them to other people), dance and snuggle.  Thanks for the great memories, Val! 

 Three generations of Byrne men
 Silly dancing grandparents! 
 It wouldn't be the same without a good belly shot

 He blows bubbles with his nose...we are obviously trying to change that :) 

 Is it strange that JB and I now get excited about airplanes, even if Jackson is not around?

Monday, June 10, 2013

strawberry pickin'

One of the great things about living in Hampton Roads is having the chance to go strawberry picking! My boss clued me into a place that is a 25 minute drive instead of 45-60 minutes which is much more feasible with a toddler. As much fun as it is to drive an hour, pick berries until you are sweaty and sticky and drive the long return trip....I like this plan much better. 
Jackson and I invited our neighbor, Lane, and her son William to join us on a gorgeous (but hot) Monday morning. Jackson loved being outside and holding clutching the bucket as we walked up and down the rows. After 10 minutes of picking I wondered why our basket was not as full as I expected it to be.   I looked in and found many hulls with no berries on them. How could that be? For every 3 berries I plunked in the bucket, Jackson ate two! Needless to say, we had to change his diaper half way through picking and run him under the hose when we got home, but it was a GREAT day! The berries were perfectly sweet and we ate them all in 2 days. Who needs strawberry pie or jam when you can just eat fresh berries by themselves. Yum.  

With Lane and William

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

McKay family vacation

Every year (aside from last year for Matt and Chase's wedding!) my parents vacation in Virginia Beach in May.  This year we enjoyed walking the boardwalk and looking at antique cars, eating pancakes, playing at the beach playground and swimming in the pool.  They were even gracious enough to watch Jackson for an entire day while I worked.  J was a happy guy that week...time with Grandmom and Pop Pop, Aunt Janis, Sandra and Jim, Great grandpa...and most of all, eating brownies for breakfast and lunch and ice cream for dinner!  This kid sure has my sweet tooth! 

J enjoys the park at 31st street. Notice the kid behind him who first pushed him down the slide (to give him credit it was a gentle push) and is now pointing a toy gun at the back of his head :)
Cuddle time with Pop Pop after a long afternoon of playing
I am training for the Tough Mudder and J wanted to join in the fun!
Sandra, Aunt Janis, Great Grandpa, Heather, Jackson and Grandmom
We got to enjoy God's good creation with a FULL DOUBLE RAINBOW after days of rain!
Ready to hit the beach and water the sand with his watering can
Strolling the boardwalk with Grandmom
Jackson very much likes to be clean so it's been difficult to get him to touch, play in, sit on, or be near sand. However, today we had a breakthrough and he seemed to get over his aversion to being sandy! That's good because we are going to live at the beach forever. 
Lots of help from his fan club
This kid is a water baby. What a difference a year makes. We had to pry him out of the water. It's a good thing that Pop Pop was brave enough to withstand the 60 degree temps to let J frolick in the waves. They both had a great time and we got a kick out of watching them! 
So apparently my grandmom used to build Sand Cars at the beach for my cousins Amy and Elise. Aunt Janis and Uncle Michael carried on the tradition with their girls and wanted to pass it along to us. Sandra and Aunt Janis worked tirelessly hollowing out this lovely creation.  Here is Jackson sitting, not too enthusiastically, in his first ever sand car. Maybe it'll be more of a hit next year :)  
I just love this picture. Took me back to when he was just a few weeks old and we could easily carry him wrapped in a blanket, snuggled in our arms. I guess we still can...for now!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Adventures closer to home

When we get too tired to think about leaving the house, we manage to find a lot of fun closer to home.

I am starting to realize, as the Lord changes my heart, that I can't control things and need to surrender much of what I desperately try to control. Some of those things are a perfect home, a clean child, a clean self, a healthy dinner every night, a well-behaved kid....need I go on? Jackson has been put in my life to help me surrender control and there are moments where I can see the joy in it and I am grateful. 

J helped me bake Oatmeal Craisin cookies the other day for a church event. He was pretty great at pouring the oats and flour into the bowl. Baking with him is completely a way that I have to surrender a clean home, a perfect ratio of flour to sugar and quickly-made cookies. Instead, I get to watch my son learn about baking, ingredients and share in what I love to do. 
It rained for a week straight and we were bored to tears with each other and the house! So, at 7am we put a rain jacket on over PJs, and headed right outside in footed jammies. We ran up and down the street, jumped in puddles and splashed to our heart's content. It was soaking wet, dirty and SUPER FUN!!!! I am thankful for a spontaneous moment with my son, doing something that is totally outside of my nature but we really did enjoy God's creation on the wet, dreary day. 

The Mazzio girls have a new play house that J just thinks is the coolest thing ever. It has a real doorbell, flowers and a stove. Plus it's the perfect size for him to reach everything. I imagine that it's frustrating as he gains skills and independence that he can't get to anything in our home. We're trying to make that possible with step stools and a new kid's table, but we're going to have to get creative for some more independence in other rooms of the house.  
He and Ellie shared a hug, or 50, at the church picnic a few weeks ago. It was cold and overcast but great to get outside and fellowship with other people from church who we don't get to see every Sunday. 
JB often eats breakfast on the couch while watching the news either before a morning shift or after a night shift. In either case, J sees it as a chance to eat second breakfast. Maybe that is why his belly remains so large :) 
We like to call this the Great Puzzle Challenge
Finally, J is quite the avid gardener now and loves to water his tomatoes, our lettuce and the front yard in general (which is currently struggling to turn green...don't judge us!)