Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sweet Caroline{as}!

During the second week of August, we took a little trip to the Carolinas - both North and South. We had a great time!

The purpose of the trip was 2 fold. Wade needed to go to Charleston, South Carolina on business. I've always wanted to go to Charleston with him, but have never gotten the opportunity. This was my chance. :) Also, our sweet pals, the Heges, live in North Carolina and we jumped at the chance to spend some time with them!

When we planned the trip, Owen was 3 weeks old and the thought of traveling on an airplane and then driving across 2 states to 3 different cities with a 6 year old, a potty training 2 year old, and a nursing infant was enough to give me a panic attack. We ultimately made the decision to take Clayton and Owen with us, while Drew spent the week with Wade's parents' house at Grammie Camp.

I know. I'm the worst mother on the planet.

In hindsight, I'm not sure if that was a good decision or not. I was sooooo sad that my Drew wasn't with us. It just didn't seem right. I refused to call it a "vacation," because that just made me feel awful. So, we called it a "trip." It's all about semantics, y'all. On the other hand, Drew would have been pretty miserable keeping up the pace that we did. We spent lots of time driving from place to place and played really hard for 7 days straight. Drew still needs his nap in a big way, so it would have been tough for him. I don't know what I would choose if I had to do it again. :-/

I was lamenting the fact that my precious blond-haired boy wouldn't be with us to one of my friends. I was pouring my heart out to her about how terrible of a mother I felt like I was and how miserable I was going to be without him. She said, "Whatever. He probably feels bad for y'all that you don't get to spend the week at Grammie Camp." So true. Ha!

So... I have tons of pictures, but not a single "family picture." I refused to take a picture of all of us together without our Drew. That would just be wrong on so many levels.

We started the trip with our flight to Charleston. We flew on a teeny, tiny, tin can of an airplane. My anxiety was at a level 10. I was just certain that we were on the real life version of Oceanic Flight #815. Heaven, help me!

While I was contemplating breathing into the barf bag to prevent myself from hyperventilating, Clayton was thrilled at the prospect of playing his DS for MUCH longer than he is used to. He did take a brief pause from his videogaming during the safety briefing to say, "I hope we have a water landing. That would be so cool!"

I'm pretty sure that made my heart stop for a few seconds.

It's good to be 6.
Sweet Baby did great on his first plane ride! He slept the whole way. :)
We went to dinner at a "fancy" restaurant (these days, anything that doesn't have a playland is fancy to me!) when we got to Charleston. Clayton ordered duck. What 6 year old does that??? Wade made him promise to eat most of it, and he did. We let him pick a dessert as well. He chose a chocolate cake that ended up being like 45 layers tall. He was in heaven!
I didn't get any other pictures in Charleston, but it was beautiful. I loved all of the old, historic homes. There's something about those old houses that is so appealing to me - they all have a story to tell. So cool. I decided that I was going to add "live in a house that has a plaque next to the front door" to my bucket list. :)

After spending a night in Charleston, we packed up and went to Myrtle Beach. We spent 2 nights at the Dunes Village resort. It had won several awards for being a great family resort, so we decided to try it out. It was awesome! It had 2 indoor waterparks, several outdoor pools, mini golf, and tons of activities for kids.

This was the view from our balcony. So pretty...
I asked Clayton to smile for a picture and this is what I got. He's a regular cartoon character, that kid.
We went to the Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach. It was really neat!
They had one of those tunnels with fish all around you. I always think those things are so awesome, but the pictures never come out.

O was in heaven. I have a feeling that his Fisher Price aquarium isn't going to cut it anymore. Ha!
Fun Dad picked up the horseshoe crab so that Clayton could see them up close.

In case you are wondering (because I would be), that is hand sanitizer on his shirt. ;)
Classic Clayton pose... He said the jellyfish were stinging him. Ha!
Clayton loved the shark exhibit. No surprise there.
This was the coolest part to me. Baby Sharks growing in a "mermaid's purse."
I have a ton of pictures that look just like this. Owen was such a good traveler! He just slept, smiled, and cooed in his carseat most of the time. Sweet boy.
Our next stop was Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. We got to spend 3 nights with the Heges! It was so much fun! Our relationship with the Heges is so neat. We hadn't seen each other in 2 years (we've exchanged emails, phone calls, cards, and gifts in the interim, of course), but we just picked right up where we left off last. That's the mark of a great friendship, I'd say. :)

Owen went to the beach for the first time! He was such a good beach baby! He took 2-3 hour naps just laying on the beach. He's a beach bum, for sure!
The first day was cool (in the 70's) and overcast. Wade dug a hole in the sand and we swaddled Owen in a towel. He slept so good with the sound of the ocean in the background. I teased that he was making good use of God's white noise maker. :)
Clayton attempted boogie boarding, but didn't love it as much as he thought he would. He got taken out by a pretty big wave and decided that he wasn't a fan. The highlight of the beach for him was crabbing. He was pretty fond of the little critters. :)
I learned that going to the beach with a baby is all about the gear. We were staying at Will's parents' condo that is stocked with tons of baby equipment. Leslie's mom also lent us a few things. This tent was awesome.
Owen and Jack napping on the beach. Too cute.

Our wonderful hosts, the Hege Family - Will & Leslie, Anna, and Jack
We went to a great seafood dinner on our last night. Yum-O!

We had to get some beach pictures before we left.

Our 3 month old has found his legs. How is he big enough to do that???

Sandy Baby Feet - Is there anything cuter?
I love him a lot.

Sweet Daddy/Son Pic
I took this picture...
And immediately thought of this picture of the 2 year old version of Clayton. It's true - time really does fly when you are having fun.

Alas, it was time to go home.
The only thing that got me back on that shady aircraft was my deep desire to see my Drew. We were all soooo ready to see him! We went back and forth trying to call dibbs on who got to hug him first. I won, of course. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet the Teacher & The First Day of School

I love the beginning of the school year! The anticipation of a new teacher, new friends, new things to learn, new school supplies.... (There's nothing better than a brand spankin' new box of crayons.) I love it all!

This year Clayton will be attending the same school that he went to last year. It is a hybrid model combining private school and homeschooling. The children go to school in a traditional classroom setting 2 days a week and are taught at home (using the curriculum sent home by the school) 2 days a week. It has been a GREAT fit for our family thus far, and I am really looking forward to the upcoming year. I have been reading through our textbooks in preparation for what is to come, and I am really excited about the material.

Friday was Meet the Teacher. We met Mrs. T. and she is an absolute doll! I think Clayton is going to have a great year with her. There are 11 children in his class - 6 girls and 5 boys.

Clayton in his desk. He is front and center - best seat in the house. Ha!
Clayton was excited to have a couple of his buddies from last year in his same class. He and A were good pals.

Clayton adores this little girl. They were in the same class last year, and I think she is just as cute as a button. :)
Today was the first day of school. We had to snap some pictures, of course. :)
How did he get so big??? I was holding Owen today and got a serious case of deja vu. I swear that Clayton was that little just yesterday. And now he is a first grader! That's crazy talk!
I saw this cute frame and decided to make a version for Mrs. T. I hope that she knows how appreciative we are of her and her desire to teach our child. :)
Clayton had a great day! As usual, he was a little tight lipped - he's all boy in that regard. I had to pry for the details. ;) From what I can tell, it couldn't have gone better.

I have a really good feeling about this year! I think we are all going to learn a ton. :)

Friday, August 19, 2011


August 8th, 2011 is a day that I will never forget as long as I live! It was the day that "Clayton Reid Carpenter" was written in the Book of Life! My firstborn son accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. Words could never express the joy that filled my heart at that moment!

Clayton has been asking questions about salvation and heaven for quite some time now. The questions, however, have been getting more and more intense and more and more frequent over the last few months. It got to the point where he would ask on almost a daily basis, "When can I ask Jesus to come into my heart?"

I will admit that I was the one that was dragging my feet. I was apprehensive about him being so young. What if he doubted his salvation later in life? What if he wasn't ready? Would he really remember how he felt at the moment that he gave his heart to Christ? Maybe we should wait until he was older...

I grappled with all of those worries for weeks and weeks. I am ashamed to say that I would put him off and try to redirect the conversations. At one point he point blank asked me, "why don't you think I am old enough to be a Christian, Mom?" Ouch. That was a tough pill to swallow.

I got some wise council from some Godly women that I trust. They reminded me that it has been my prayer from the time that Clayton was born that he would accept Christ at an early age. Why couldn't I accept God's gracious answer to my prayers???

Wade & I discussed the topic in depth and covered our son in prayer. On August 4th Clayton crawled up into Wade's lap and asked again, "Daddy, when can I get saved?" We both felt at peace that he was ready, but wanted further council from our pastor.

We had an appointment the following Monday morning with our pastor. On the way to the appointment I told Clayton that we were running a bit late. I told him that we would be okay as long as there wasn't a train on the tracks between our house and the church. Clayton said, "Mom, God will not let us hit a train on the most important day of my life!!!" ;)

Our pastor was so good with Clayton! He asked him lots of questions about sin and what salvation truly means. Wade and I sat silent as we listened to our boy proclaim his faith. What an awesome feeling that was to see him take ownership of his faith! I had goosebumps on my arms and tears in my eyes the entire time. At the end of the conversation, Wade led Clayton in the prayer of salvation. It was a moment that is forever ingrained in my memory!

As we were leaving the church parking lot, Wade asked Clayton if he felt any different. Clayton said, "I feel so happy that my heart could explode! I just want to scream it to everyone that I am a Christian!" :)

Recently, I complimented a woman that I had just met on her 4 children. I said, "You have really great kids!" She said, "They are great kids. They are sinners, but they are great kids." I thought that was such an interesting (and accurate) response. I know that Clayton will make lots of mistakes and that he will continue to sin. He isn't perfect - none of us are! But, I know that he has a long life ahead of him, and I pray that he is a bright light in this dark world.

Clayton Carpenter,

I have written you a letter for every birthday (and half-birthday), so it seems only fitting to write you a letter on your spiritual birthday. :)

I am so overjoyed for you! For the last 6 years I have had the privilege of calling you my son. Now it is an even greater honor to know that you are my brother in Christ! I pray that you spend the rest of your days growing closer to the Lord and telling others about him. Your confident, childlike faith has been so refreshing to my soul. You were so persistent in your desire to become a Christian, and I hope that you never lose that determination. I am proud of you for choosing to follow Christ!

The life of a Christian isn't easy. You will struggle at times, but you will always have the peace of knowing that you are being held in the arms of your Savior. Always rely on Him and ask him for strength and wisdom when you need it. He will never, ever leave you! Never forget who you belong to, Sweet Boy.

I love you, Clay-Boy!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Owen is 3 Months Old

Today Baby Owen turned 3 months old! He brings so much joy to our family. :)

At 3 months old:

* Owen weighs roughly 13.5 pounds and is 25 inches long. He is growing soooo fast! People comment on his length all of the time. I think that is safe to say that I will be the shortest one in our family when our boys are all grown. Carpenter men are tall and our boys seem to be following suite!
* Owen is still wearing mostly 0-3 month clothes, but I have a feeling we will be going up to 3-6 month clothes very soon. We just moved him up to size 2 diapers.

* He is still nursing every 3 hours during the day, but sleeps about 10 hours straight at night. He has gone 11 hours the last 2 nights (knock on wood!). I am soooo grateful to have another good sleeper! I contribute it all to the Miracle Blanket. Best $30 I have ever spent!

* O is such a content little guy. He rarely cries, and when he does fuss, it is almost always an easy fix (he's either hungry, tired, or needs to burp). He is a sweet little third baby that goes with the flow, for the most part. However, we have had a couple of rough days where we were on the go quite a bit and he didn't get good naps. I have learned not to get him too overtired. Baby Boy needs his sleep!

* He plays with his hands all of the time and is working hard at finding his little thumb. I'm sure that he will be successful in his thumb sucking attempts any day now.

* Owen went to the church nursery for the first time on 7/10. He got fussy in Sunday School, so we decided to take him on down. My friend, Melissa, was working in Babies A, so I knew that he was in good hands. :)

* Owen LOVES his swing - all of my boys have. Our babies have logged many, many hours (and many, many D batteries!) in that swing. I think that may be the piece of baby gear that I am going to be the saddest to get rid of. :( I have a lot of memories of each of my sweet babes in that swing...
* Owen took his first bottle on 7/13. I was worried that we had waited too long and that he might not take it. But... he guzzled it down like a champ. He has had a few more bottles this month and has done well with them all.

* Clayton and Drew were anxious to feed O as well. So, they got their turn on 7/19. They did great feeding their baby brother. :)

* Owen's little tongue gets to going sometimes and he just can't keep it in his mouth. It makes for some funny faces. ;)

* He is such a sweet, happy, bubble-blowing boy. Oh, seeing these pictures makes me want to go wake him up so that I can sneak a snuggle. Love him!

* Try as I may to squeeze a little bit of my DNA into our third child, I have failed once again. I have a feeling that Wade and I could have 20 kids and they would all look like Wade. We won't be having 20 children, of course, I'm just sayin'... Ha!
* Owen took his first nap in his room on 8/3. Yep, he has the same closet set up that Drew did. ;) I am sure that we will move him to his nursery soon. I'm just dragging my feet...
* Clayton and Drew are still doing great with their baby brother. Drew has been especially sweet with Owen lately. He lights up when I bring O into the room. He grins from ear to ear and says, "Hi, Owen! Hi, Owen! Hey, Pretty Baby!" It's pretty much the cutest thing ever. I was worried that he would have some jealousy issues, but he really hasn't. I hope and pray that my boys will be the closest of siblings. That is so, so important to me!

* Bye-bye, Baby Bobble Head! Our little man has his head control down pat. He has been hanging out in the Bumbo some lately, and he is a big fan. There's lots to look at with his crazy brothers and their shenanigans. ;)
* Owen has started to giggle a little! I have a cute video that I will have to upload soon. He laughs mostly when we tickle his belly. It is the sweetest sound. :)

My Darling Owen Thomas,

3 months old - how can that be?!?!? You get cuter, more precious, and more fun by the day! I can't imagine life without you... You have added a whole new dimension to our family, and life is sweeter with you in it! I'm so glad that you are ours!

I always wanted 3 kids. 2 wasn't enough, but 4 seemed like too many. 3 would be just right. That is what I always pictured in my head. You, my Love, are my dream come true! The grand finale of our family, and what a wonderful grand finale you are!

I have been thinking a lot about you and your brothers and what a privilege it is to raise you day in and day out. I pray that you will all 3 grow to be the spiritual leaders of your homes one day. The way that Daddy & I parent you will affect many generations to come. What an awesome task we have before us! I pray that I can point you to Christ, and that you will see His grace even in my failures.

You bring me so much joy, Dear One! I learn more about you each and every day. I am so grateful that I will get to spend the rest of my days learning exactly who you are and who you will become.

I love you to the moon and back!