I love my parents. I love to visit the home where I grew up. I love being a mother. I love combining all of these marvelous gifts from God into one afternoon! Saturday afternoon we celebrated my father's much anticipated retirement. More anticipated by whom, my Dad, my Mom, my brother and I, or his Grandsons, is yet to be seen... On Sunday, we wasted no time in getting Dad up to the camp for a huge, juicy, grilled steak, fresh sweetcorn, and The Boy's first fishing lesson. The shocking truth: we filled the entire van with gear, clothes, pack-and-plays, bed-rails, toys, food, lovies, binkies, fishing poles, and an excersaucer for good measure, to travel 30 minutes for one afternoon of fun. Had it not started to downpour the moment the steak hit the grill we would still be at the camp for a slumber party...

Perhaps the most special part of the day for me was to watch my Dad teach my son how to fish. Now, I'm no sissy, I can hook a worm with the best of them. And as the fish continued to evade capture and steal worms from my Dad's eager line I surprised even myself and fought back the urge to show the boys how a fish is really caught. Instead, I hid behind my camera and let my son have his "dude time" with his GrandBob. I grew up in a very outdoorsman kind of family and to see our family traditions of fishing, hiking, cookouts, campfires, camping, all being passed onto my children with the loving and attentive help of my parents is truly a gift to my heart.

The Boy will no doubt be wanting to adorn every dish at every meal from now on with candles, since tonight we celebrated my Dad's birthday as well, and he will probably be asking if Santa uses a GPS system too since we hid Dad's birthday presents out in the woods and made him use his retirement gift, a GPS system, to go find them... I definitely see "geo-cache'ing" in the future with the boys. This is just a glimpse of the very special memories made this weekend as our family embarks on another chapter of our lives - "Dad's retired... Now we can go tent camping in the rain ANY day of the week!"

Our weekends don't get much sweeter than this! Yes, these children have the same parents. Yes, they came from the same gene pool. I am in awe of how God gave me two boys, two beautifully different individuals, and two times the trouble! I am also amazed that on this particular morning they were laying next to each other without needing a referee. New York was down in the 60's last night resulting in the appearance of brand new, matching, long sleeved Cowboy pj's, THANK YOU MEMOM for up-ing the cute factor! The pajama party in Mommy's bed started around 6am when the wee-one decided that his hobbit tummy was ready for First Breakfast. No, I have no plans to cut The Boy's hair, regardless of what Major Dad has to say. I have a new opinion on rearing boys these days. Having the second baby this year has significantly lowered my standards. But I'm growing quite fond of shaggy hair and retro shorts (The Boy's cargo shorts are usually long enough to cover his knees- but his Uncle's shorts from the 70's are mid-thigh perfection!) I also love being in New York, away from Texas fire ants, where The Boy can spend the month running barefoot in the grass. I also believe, and this is an important one, that there is a time and a place for every man to own a Speedo swimsuit - that time is now, from about age 2-4 only. It not only makes potty training a little easier, but it makes for many adorable "little bun" moments, which will serve as incredible blackmail material when he is about 16 or 17 years old...

On this cloudy day, a welcome change from high temperatures and humidity, I found myself with one child down for a nap and one child just up from a nap. I guess Mommy isn't napping today... The Baby, still a willing model for the camera, obliged me and played nude in the grass while I putzed with unfamiliar camera settings. The result? Images of my sweet angel that epitomize his sunny, infectious personality. Unlike my moody two year old, The Boy, whose adventurous and inquisitive brain often finds trouble where trouble never existed, The Baby is sweeter than a candy shop, mellower than Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb", and smiles more than the average beauty queen. If first borns were this lovely, EVERYONE would be trying for more! The Baby makes getting out of bed in the morning easy. For those of you who love my babies as much as I do, we've had many a milestone this week; 7 month old Baby is now sitting up on his own, he scooches forwards and backwards and is miliseconds away from crawling, tooth number two will probably push through the gumline by bedtime tonight. The Baby is definitly going to have hazel eyes and the hair is leaning toward strawberry blond. The Boy might be a carbon copy of his father but fair Baby is all mine! The Baby is my sunshine on this cloudy day!

One final milestone, I've always wondered when The Boy, the mockingbird, would mimic breastfeeding, afterall, he mimics everything else that I do, the good and the bad... I'm simultaneously embarrased and proud that he knows how to assemble a breastpump. Well, it happened. Monday night after dinner he climbed up into one of the porch chairs with my boppy pillow around his waist and says to his Grandmother: "Memom, help baby!" My mother obliged him and put The Baby in The Boy's lap. The Boy lifted his shirt for The Baby and says "Boy feed baby nipples, baby bite it off!" Who needs a show like Last Comic Standing when you could just move in with a talking toddler!

Here is a sneak peek at today's shoot with tiny little Cyrus John. He's a shy fellow, not one for the camera, not one for posing nude, and at just one week old he already prefers to be outside, in the middle of a construction project... That's no surprise when your Grandfather owns a lumber company and your father is in the middle of a major home renovation. Cyrus was literally having no part of our photo shoot until we wrapped him up and layed him out on the newly stripped wrap around porch. He is clearly at peace on a good firm hard wood floor!

This little man has a special place in my heart. Cyrus's Mommy, Caitlin, and I used to live just doors apart. We used to spend the summers in my family pool, or riding bikes up to the corner store to buy popsicles and loads of candy. She taught me how to do manicures. We caught lightning bugs and watched Kevin Costner's Robin Hood until the VHS tape broke apart from over use. Caitlin married another dear friend of mine and Cyrus is their first born. I am rarely in the upstate area until autumn. I flew into town the day before Cyrus was born. What a surprise and a blessing to share this special new addition in Caitlin's life; such a treasure to lend her my own experiences as a mother as she embarks on this marvelous journey of raising a son. Thank you for sharing your precious bundle! Enjoy!

They say that the third time is a charm, call now to induce your labor! Two pregnant mothers in one month, both hoping for one last set of maternity belly photos, schedule a session two weeks before their due date. I always call the night before to check on how everyone is feeling and to remind the expectant mother not to wear anything that will leave strap marks or waistband indentations, and wouldn't you know, I get the mother-in-law answering the phone: "Oh Karyn, you haven't heard? They are delivering right now!"
The second session happened to be a dear friend of mine with whom I attended grades K-12, one of the very few classmates I keep in touch with throughout my many moves across the world. I was blessed to have the oportunity to visit with this very proud new mother in the hospital the day after her first son was born. We may not have gotten maternity photos, but here is a sneak peek at Cyrus John's first moments in this fantastic world!