S: August - December 2011
1: Another school year beings I know I say this every year but I can't believe how big they are getting. Their summer vacation was shortened this year because of all of the snow days from the winter, and they started them back earlier this fall anticipating more snow days, so it seemed even faster. Reed is starting 4th grade, Ben is starting 1st grade (with Mrs Roberts!), and Luke is 2 1/2. Baby #4 will be arriving in about 10 short weeks from when school started. Luke and I will enjoy our time with just the two of us during the day until baby comes!
2: enjoying the last of the summer - we all went out to mom and dad's to enjoy the last warm days at the pool - we got the playpen out for Macy but Bright and Luke thought it would be more fun for them to play in it
3: we really don't go very long without injuries in our house.... | Ben's worst fear came true -- he got hit in the face with a baseball - right in the lip - we thought it just was a little split but after he complained about it for a day or two I looked closer and it was split from the outside tip of his lip all the way up to where his lip joins his gums - OUCH - poor guy! | Luke insisted on wearing his spider rain boots to go visit papa at the car lot - of course he was running through the office, tripped on the rug and smashed right into a table with his mouth - yep, his teeth went right through his bottom lip | then not even a week later he fell face first onto the nightstand and busted his upper lip
4: Luke really likes me to take his picture with my phone at night while we are "snuggling" before bed | Reed and Ben posing for the DAV Auxillary History book - they handed out brochures and flags for the Battle of Kirksville anniversary
5: Lukes favorite game! toy story "go fish" - and he's really good at it | squishy baby cheeks!! | no wonder I never get a good night's sleep - the boys are all over the bed when I wake up!
6: we pack up the kids and head down to St Louis with the Lunsfords for the weekend to go to the Cardinals vs Cubs game! unfortunately, mom called when we got down there and Grandpa Newman passed away - he loved the Cards so we figured he wouldn't want us to miss the game, especially since they were playing the Cubs (and they won!) we will miss him dearly, we found his brick in the sidewalk and made sure we got a picture with the boys
7: since it was a special fundraising game for Down's Syndrome Association of St Louis, we got to go to the field early and walk the warm up track!
8: we got to our seats and guess who we were seated next to! out of 37,000 people, we got seats right next to grandpa doug!!! I'm sure he was thrilled to be a jungle gym for Ben and Morgan | Luke got tired of walking, decided to take a little nap | Rachael was there too!
9: having fun in the hotel room! they took turns putting each other in drawers and getting in the shelves at least they know how to entertain themselves anywhere
10: Ben lost his first tooth! Technically, Luke punched him in the face and knocked it out (and he swallowed it), but he still lost it! | not even a couple of weeks later, he lost his 2nd tooth - this time mommy got it and we made sure that we got it in our tooth fairy pillow!
11: the daily adventures of Luke --- | as we were conquering potty training this summer, luke would say " I went pee (or poop) in the potty! tell me yea!"
12: towards the end of my pregnancy with baby 4, i was pretty tired and swollen so at night, especially the nights mike traveled, the boys and i would hang out in our bed usually one of them would get ahold of the iphone camera and snap away | boy? girl?
14: baby belly shoot 35 weeks i still can't believe it was a little girl hiding out in there!
16: this is how most of our photos look, Lissy manages to get one or two good ones at least!
18: it's pumpkin carving time Reed and Ben got to carve their own this year Luke specifically asked for a - Jack O Lantern - | Luke wasnt thrilled about the pumpkin slime, note pouty face Ben showed it how much fun the slime can be, and he decided he liked it!
19: reed | ben | luke
20: we enjoyed an afternoon at the corn maze, brighton even got to go with us | we rode on the tractor, shot corn at cows, and played in the hay
21: brighton wasn't so much into walking through the maze, he wanted to stop and pick up corn, there was a lot of loose corn around!
22: GO TEAM | ben did a lot of this | GO BEN GO!
23: Flag Football | .....and Luke did a lot of this | GOOD JOB!
24: we attended the Early's annual Halloween Party on October 29th, the night before I was scheduled to go to the hospital to be induced - the boys dressed in their costumes and ran around with all of those crazy Early grandkids -- Allison and I had to compare bellies, the Farwell twins are due at the beginning of January
26: It's a GIRL! Maggie Frances Athon Birthday: October 30, 2011 1:51 PM 7 lb 13 oz 21"
27: we headed to the hospital bright and early on Sunday, October 30th Dr Boling was there waiting for us, ready to induce my labor After 6 IV starts, 2 epidurals and a baby's head that was stuck, I was sure that our baby BOY (I was absolutely sure it was another boy) was not coming out Finally, thanks to wonderful Dr Boling, at 1:51 pm, a little GIRL joined our family Maggie Frances, you are a blessing!!
29: She will fill our lives with sunshine.... And our hearts with love. | as you can see by the look on my face, Maggie was a complete shock - not only to me but to everyone in the room (Tabby and Grandma Shelley were there as well) - since we already had been blessed by 3 wonderful boys, we were sure we were having a 4th boy - and when that little girl came into the world, gasps and cheers came from everyone in the room!!
30: Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
32: i was cleaning reed's room one day and noticed his calendar - how sweet! | i do believe this is love at first sight! | the nurses put Halloween bows in her hair before we left the hospital!
33: proud brothers! conversations between me and Luke Me to Luke: "Luke when Maggie gets bigger she is going to LOVE you, you are going to be her hero." Luke's response: "I think she is going to get eaten by dragons." hmmm Luke-"Does Maggie have teeth" Me "No, not yet" Luke - "Did you pull them out?" Luke - "Mommy don't leave Maggie (i think I was going into the kitchen to get something to eat) She doesn't know how to burvive (that would be survive) without you"
36: Let's go home!
37: made it home just in time for trick or treating!
40: Trick or Treat!
41: Trick or Treat! | look who made it home from the hospital in time for trick or treating (well, sleeping anyway) miss maggie frances | captain jack sparrow, a pirate, Frankenstein, cookie monster, a chocolate chip cookie, and even a itty bitty pumpkin invaded our house
42: no rest at our house! reed had his fall singing program and art show at school - since neither of us wanted to miss it we loaded up the whole family (maggie included, a whole 5 days old) and headed to the school - all the songs were a celebration of america - the kids did a great job reed did a great job on his mask project too!
43: luke keeps falling asleep in random places , guess the new baby is wearing him out too! | good thing he swipes my coffee to get some energy while jumping in the baby's exersaucer | handsome guy
44: Maggie Frances Athon 10/30/2011
45: Cute as a button
47: May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. ~ Numbers 6:24-26
51: Our little sweetie pie
52: we are SO blessed!
56: i may be partial, but what a beautiful family!
58: my favorite pumpkin
59: "There is always something for which to be thankful." -Charles Dickens
64: the boys and i decided that there was a slight resemblance! "cabbage" was my very first baby - i hope maggie will love her as much as i did! | maggie had the worst baby acne of any of the kids - it was all over her face, back, chest, shoulders, and even down her arms it eventually cleared up by the time she was around 6 weeks but wow, was it bad
65: A few weeks after Maggie was born, the boys and I are in the car discussing what to get Maggie for Christmas. I suggested that we get her a Cardinals outfit, since she wouldn't have any girl Cardinals clothes. Ben, out of the blue says, "I wonder if Maggie will like nachos". I say, "I don't know Ben, why would she like nachos"? He says "Because everyone in our family loves nachos. I think that we should get her a shirt that says I LOVE NACHOS instead of the cardinals outfit". BEN, YOU ARE A RIOT! I love the things he comes up with. So, in honor of the nacho loving family that we are (in Ben's eyes anyway) .........
66: Our Little One
68: baby of | mine
69: Peek | a | Boo
71: i definitely see a resemblance to ben in these pictures!
72: Oh So Cute! | Ben was doing great with the feeding time until she started to poop! Then it was "hands up, grab 'er, I'm done!"
73: luke was going thru a little stage where he would seek attention by getting stuck between the foot board and mattress of the bed -- good thing his big brother came to the rescue!
74: May The Bounty Of The Season Fill Your Heart And Your Home
76: We Give Thanks
77: Ridge Family Thanksgiving
78: we spent early thanksgiving day at the Lancaster church, then on to the Cleaver's house
79: "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." Psalm 107:1
80: Thanksgiving weekend, Nick and Britney made their little family official! | the decorations at the church and the Moose were beautiful, the boys had a great time
81: ben is nuts!
84: Look who is having their first Christmas too - Macy Alyce Cleaver, you are too adorable in that tu tu and you resemble a glow worm when you shove the lights in your mouth (can maggie borrow this for next year?)
86: the elf came back! and he brought us breakfast - our elf (which the boys fondly named "Ricky Bobby" this year) made his appearance with a north pole breakfast of snow covered doughnuts, hot cocoa, snowflake kisses, and presents for everyone - he reminded the boys that they have to be on their best behavior so santa will get good reports from him and they won't be on the naughty list
87: Luke's expression in this pic cracks me up: Each one of the kids got Christmas pajamas from Elf. But each time someone would open a present (still all pajamas) Luke would say "I wonder what's in this present" and look at us with those crazy eyes!
89: z | besides the fun of the breakfast and the presents, the elf left us all a little note reminding us what the true meaning of Christmas is - that God sent us our Savior
91: it looks like Maggie got some chubby cheeks for Christmas!
92: Reed and his poor scraggly tooth - the dentist decided that it was definitely time for braces - he wasn't too thrilled about the whole thing but we convinced him that he wouldn't want to be a teenager with a overbite and an underbite - once he got them on he decided it wasn't too bad after all | aunt tab, bright, and macy went along for moral support!
93: ATSU Christmas party the boys each got a present, and got to see Santa - i'm pretty sure they all froze up like Ralphie and muttered "football, football"
94: our elf on Christmas Eve - i think he had finally had enough of the bad reports to Santa! | elf sightings | reed is such a good big brother -- Luke wanted him to sleep with him one night and he did, both of them in the fire truck bed -- reed doesn't fit quite as well as he used to in it -- the elf must have thought that was a really nice thing to do because he decided to come back and sleep in there with them
95: the youth minister got sick 2 weeks before Christmas, so Tab and I took over the pageant - although it was short notice, the kids did a great job!
96: helping mimi decorate her Christmas tree
97: i put in these pics just because i love luke's expressions on his face sometimes, they are hilarious
98: celebrating Christmas with Grandpa Doug, Grandma Debbie, Grandma B, Nick, Britney and Ellie | luke's just helping us out by cutting his celery into little bitty pieces
100: what a pretty princess with her new makeup kit! | footie pajamas - i'm not so sure about this!
101: the athon family christmas | as we suspected, gretchen was "practicing!"
102: Gretchen doesn't seem to be enjoying her kiss | luke has a good time with Ellie!
103: the reed family christmas | i love this picture - brighton is bawling because macy just head - butted him in the face, reed looks like he is trying to karate chop tyler, macy is trying to leap off of tab's lap - and we just keep growing every year - we are a blessed family! | "3" baby's first christmas's!!!
104: best buddies!
105: if your looking for luke, you can usually find him where the food is
108: macy attacking maggie, as usual
109: we call this "organized chaos!"
110: hey - you gotta go, you gotta go!
111: there is 3 things about this picture that i LOVE: 1) the look on BEN's face and the fact he has on no shirt for some reason 2) the look on Tyler's face looking at Ben 3) the pillow that is randomly placed but explains it all SO well "It's a WONDERFUL life" | and then....this pic brooke and james, trying to get a nice family picture my kids jumping into the picture james, trying to smother luke with his hand priceless.......
112: merry christmas!
114: maggie is not enjoying the present opening as much as the boys!
115: grandma debbie and grandpa doug came over Christmas morning to have breakfast with us before we left for vacation - I'm not sure what ben is crying about but grandpa doesn't look very concerned
116: Tennessee Vacation - December 2011 we jumped in the van after breakfast Christmas morning and headed south to meet the Longgood's Clarksville, TN for the evening before heading to Gatlinburg | all of the kids were great in the car even maggie - it was her first long car trip she woke up and ate once the whole 7 hour trip once we got there, she got some much needed stretching time and some kisses from Aunt Tara! (side note: ben is pretending to cry in the picture above - he thought it made for a better picture if he was dramatic)
117: the older boys got to burn off some energy in the pool after the long car ride
118: we had a great view from the decks (all three) in our cabin - i think we all enjoyed the hot tub throughout the week
119: the cabin was nice and cozy - we spent a lot of time playing cards and games
120: we went to the Ripley's Believe it or not aquarium it had some really neat viewing tunnels that the kids could crawl around in, and some interactive touching tables that Reed loved (Ben was scared!) | do you think that there is a resemblance between ben and the fish?!
122: baby staredown! | viewing tube in the penguin exhibit | is that scuba steve waving at us?!? | yes, there is something wrong with this kid!
123: When Tara and I purchased the tickets for the Polar Express, sitting in our living room googling the route on the computer, 75 miles didn't seem like it would take that long. It said it was a highway, so we thought, no problem, hour and a half tops! No. No. No. It was a mountain highway, curve after curve, up, up, up then down, down, down. In the snow. In the dark. Through the scary indian reservation. Through deliverance country. What a trip. It took almost 3 hours to get there. We thought we would save some time by taking an alternate route back. Nope. It took almost 4 hours. Tara and Mike missed a turn, got lost. I think it took them almost 5 hours. Maggie cried for almost the whole trip home, but we couldn't pull over because we were in the middle of NOWHERE - we finally made it back to the cabin and I had never been so glad to be out of the car
124: the kids enjoyed their hot chocolate with TONS of whipped cream and then ben got up to DANCE!
126: After the trip to deliverance country, we decided a nice, calm day was in store. So we spent the day at the "Wilderness Lodge" water park. We ALL had a blast. The water was warm, the kids were great, they had margaritas! What more can you ask for. The reason we all look like little green aliens is because the roof had a SPF built in and made everything green.
127: luke played and played and played until he passed out cold we were there from open to close
128: should we help mike carry the drinks? no! lets laugh and take pictures instead!!
129: somebody had way too much fun -- time for a little rest!
130: we found a track where ben was tall enough to ride on the really big track, and DRIVE - finally, he was barely tall enough but he got to drive!
131: Luke wanted to drive go karts SO bad. We thought that we had found a track that would let him but they decided that he wasn't mature enough and wouldn't let him even though he was tall enough - but he was a good sport about it and found a plane and a train that was just as much fun!
132: "let's climb up the side of a mountain and see the waterfall - let's not bring anything to drink, let's carry Maggie, it wont take that long! It's only 5 miles total." | well, it took a little longer than we thought - Maggie's snuggled into my jacket <------------------ we were pretty sure we were going to lose one of the boys over the side but it was very pretty when we reached the top - and we can all now say we went hiking in the smoky mountains! | this would be Luke, not Maggie, in the stroller - he refused to walk until right around the time we got to the part with the straight vertical drop with the signs stating the danger of death if you fall. awesome.
133: reed and ben diverted off of the trail whenever possible, just to see how much they could climb | if mike is carrying Maggie, and Luke is walking - then where is the stroller, you might ask? why carrying ben and reed, of course - i couldn't get a picture but i pushed them halfway down the mountain, they were worn out!
134: look at all of that hair! | ha ha - just kidding! this baby is as bald as a cue ball from the front | then you turn her around and she has a head full of pretty dark hair - nicely formed into a baby "mullet" at this time
135: no, its not something on the picture -- the boys were covering her with stickers - there is one left on her head
136: 425 | What is 425, you ask? Why that would be the record for the highest score in a single hand of aggravation rummy, held by Mike Athon! Congratulations, Mike! At least your being a good sport about it, and not giving inappropriate hand gestures to the camera. | we got to spend a lot of time at the cabin, snuggling with Maggie! | we taught tara and mike how to play aggravation rummy
137: Christmas at the Dixie Stampede | we had such a good time this summer at the Dixie Stampede show in Branson, we decided to go again - this time the show was still in the Christmas theme - the story was based on "The Christmas Story" complete with manger animals - after the story, they played elf games with the North Pole elves vs South Pole elves
138: we got out of the car for 2 minutes to look at the water rapids and this is how ben responded to the cold
139: we asked reed what he wanted to do on vacation - he said "go karts and mini golf and an indoor waterpark" - check! we asked ben what he wanted to do on vacation and he said "i want to find out where that smoke is coming from" (since we were in the smoky mountains!)
140: New Years Eve! hot tub, cards and foudue with our dearest friends!
141: Luke didn't quite make it to midnight - Ella did!
143: ben has no shirt on. in the cold. big shocker.
145: Happy New Year! What a year it has been for us. Our family has been so incredibly blessed with the birth of our daughter, Miss Maggie, as well as the addition of a new niece and new cousin. Macy, Liam, and Maggie are going to have so much fun together! It has been a joy to watch Luke, Ben, and Reed grow up over the year. I love every second with them. I feel like the Lord has blessed us with more than we deserve, I pray for us that we will be able to give back more and more in 2012.