Monday, March 28, 2011

The Day I Lost Chandler

Bubbles lover

So, a few days before we left for our Kentucky trip in December, Chandler was being his usual self, bouncing in and out of the house like a mouse on caffeine. As I was making dinner, though, he didn't come inside. About 10 minutes since the last sighting, I started thinking I should check on him. But I wanted to finish dinner. So I waited. The alarms in my head went off every now and then for probably about 25 minutes. Finally, I realized it had been way too long, so it was time to check on him.

First, you have to understand something about my neighborhood. It's a quiet place, and we live near a dead end. Most people here have at least an acre, and many of those aren't fenced in. Ours isn't. A few properties over is a small preserve of land as well. Wildlife runs rampant here. Deer, ducks, even guineas and foxes, migrate through our area.

So I head into the backyard, and cannot find him. Check the front yard: nope. Went back in the house, checked every hiding place he normally uses. Tried to not freak out (or get really irritated). Also, I knew he had our little dog Foxy with him, so I'd call for her, but nothing. Which meant they were out of earshot.

After about 10 minutes of looking, finally, Foxy ran up to the house. She came from the direction of the Preserve. She and Chandler must've adventured up the back of our property and headed East through our neighbor's land. So, I ventured over there, and sure enough, there was Chandler. When he left, he had on jeans, a long sleeved shirt, and no shoes. The lack of shoes is why I had figured he wouldn't have gone far. WRONG. And evidently, Mr Potty Trainer decided that he had to poop, so he took his pants and diaper off. So when I found him he had on only a shirt. Lovely. I asked where his pants were and he pointed into the preserve and said "Far far over dere." After a few minutes of looking, I gave up on the pants. I needed to get him cleaned up and warmed up.

But that's not where the story ends. Oh no, it gets better.

A few days after we returned from Kentucky, January 6th to be exact, I took the boys grocery shopping. On the way home, Chandler asked if he could watch Diego. Seeing as how I'd be making dinner, I told him "Sure." Then he said "Nevermind. I no want to watch Diego." That, like, never happens. Should've been clue #1.

We get home and I start unloading groceries. Chandler heads straight for the backyard. Since I no longer trust him to stay in boundaries, I warn him not to "go into the trees." We'd had a long talk about it when I found him in the preserve. He says he won't, and heads up to the backyard.

I finished unloading groceries and immediately went to get a visual on him. I no longer would allow more than a few minutes to pass without checking on him since the earlier incident.

But amazingly, literally after 5 minutes since the warning, he has vanished again!

This time, I ran up our property and headed East. I looked all through the preserve, but he was nowhere. I knew he couldn't be too far.

Oh, and two properties over to the West, there was a new water tower being built, complete with loud machines. So, when I called for Chandler, I was sure he couldn't hear over the machinery. Did I mention that this was in the height of cedar season when I hardly had a voice due to allergies? So I'm running through cedar forests, yelling the best I can, trying not to panic. This time our dog didn't go with him, and he had shoes on...not good.

I checked out things to the West, in case he'd wanted to see the big machines in action. Finally, I went through the property behind us, came to another road, and just stood and listened. I'd call, then listen. At this point I thought I'd heard him, far off, crying like he was scared. But it was so faint I told myself it must've been an animal. And it was hard to hear over the machines anyway.

So, after repeatedly checking the front yard, the road, etc, I started to really panic. It had been 35-40 minutes at this point, since he left! I knew he probably wasn't kidnapped because he didn't go to the road, and he was more likely exploring again. But I was running out of options. I saw a sweet neighbor, and told him I'd lost Chandler, so he got in his truck and drove around calling for him. Another neighbor said "You need to call the police immediately." I figured there was one more thing I could do first: drive up to that neighborhood behind our property. Maybe if I had heard him crying...

So I loaded up Charlie and Chance and we drove over to that neighborhood. This was about 5 pm, and people were getting home from work, so I was able to tell many people I was looking for my lost 2 year old. Thankfully, someone drove up and said "We found him!"

We live on the lower part of a kinda steep hill. Never would I have thought it possible, but he hiked to the top and knocked on that home's front door! It's a long hard hike, and I would not have thought he could have done it so fast! The neighbor walked him down from her house to the road, and while I wanted to be mad, all I could do was hold him and cry. I never would've thought he would have gone so far. He was crying really hard too. She said he'd been crying the entire time. My guess was he had gotten lost, and panicked. It scares me that he crossed that road! It's not a busy road, but still!!

So my theory is, as he thought about Diego in the car, he decided he wanted to go on his own adventure. The boys call the forests around our house "the jungle." I guess Foxy is his baby jaguar. Anyways, he must've been intent on heading up that hill from the moment he stepped out of the car, because I didn't allow him much of a head start and still couldn't find him.

While I've fantasized on various ways of keeping him from doing that again (invisible fence and shock collar...what?!), I honestly think he's learned his lesson. For several weeks since, he cries if he gets too far from me. And he's yet to go into "the trees." I still dream of fencing in our property, but as Chuck says, that probably wouldn't stop him from finding a way out.

Until then I'll just thank God that He knows everything...even the whereabouts of my child!

Chandler's 3rd Birthday

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Charlie's 7th birthday

I know I've mentioned Charlie's birthday before, but I wanted to record what we did for his birthday as well.

This year we played it low key. In fact, we played all of their birthdays low key.

We had a couple of Charlie's friends, Alex and Zac, join us for dinner at Charlie's pick: HuHot.

Charlie's Birthday

And we discussed all the different uses for chopsticks. And every time the fire in the pit shot up to the ceiling, the boys shot up in their chairs to watch the action.

Charlie's Birthday

Singing happy birthday over s'mores at HuHot.

Then we went to play laser tag. Not gonna lie, I really enjoyed it! But I have no pictures since it was, ya know, pitch dark.

The next day, Grandpa and Grandma Thier, Nana and Big Daddy, and cousin William came to celebrate. Once again, not many photos, but here's a (technically terrible) shot of us toasting to Charlie, with his favorite root beer.

Charlie's Birthday

It seems a new tradition has started - the birthday boy will get to choose how to decorate his cake.

Charlie's Birthday

I continue to marvel at the bond between Charlie and my dad.
Charlie's Birthday

Serenading a second time, with the family.

After our guests left, Charlie crashed out (which I already mentioned, I know...)
Charlie's Birthday

Last year I made a slideshow of Charlie's first 6 years. Here's his 7th.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Years' with Mom and fam

So, we set off from Kentucky, in between snow storms, and made it to my mom's on New Years' Eve. Although it was quite the detour, considering that we hadn't seen her since before her heart surgery, it was worth it. My two sisters (on my mom's side, if you're keeping up), and brother were there, too.

So Mom had all of her kids and grandkids in one place.
Gaspard Christmas

My sister Maribelle was ready to show off her bling...they'd gotten engaged a month before.
Maribelle's Engagement ring

The happy couple. Welcome to the (crazy) family, Jimmy!
Gaspard Christmas

The other happy couple, Randi and Dan. Marriage looks good on them. ;)
Gaspard Christmas

They brought their English bulldog puppy, Baxter. Just for kicks, here's Chandler and Baxter 6 months prior:
Trip to SE Tx

And now:
Gaspard Christmas
Baxter's catching up fast!

Chandler loved all the dogs. He was dubbed "Lord of the puppies (as he calls them)".
Lord of the Dogs ;)

Bubba was out doing what he does best - modifying Mom's car. She's very hip, and has the best bass system around!
Gaspard Christmas

This is how we bond - Chance playing his DS while Aunt Meme plays Wordfeud on her phone.
The family that plays together...

We had so much fun, just playing with the animals, staying up late and toasting the new year, and even watching Toy Story 3 together (so sad!!). Then we made the trek home...ahhh. I love our family! It was so good to see everyone (Thiers and Gaspards).

And if you have a minute for entertainment... here's mom's dog and cat playing (and Chance, too).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chance's 5th Birthday


Just after Christmas, we wanted to have a little birthday celebration for Chance. Mitsi had the great idea to have it at a gym. It was perfect! But first, we had to sugar'em up!

(Sorry for the bad focus - I'm still learning!)

Chance was disappointed because he'd asked for a half-transformers, half-train cake (what?!)... Oh well, his daddy baked this one and it was delish!
Chance's Birthday

Opening presents.
Chance's Birthday

Then on to the gym!
Jumping for Chance's Birthday

Jumping for Chance's Birthday

Mitsi giving Ruby a lift.
Jumping for Chance's Birthday

A blur of Beau.
Jumping for Chance's Birthday

Chance swinging into the foam pit.
Jumping for Chance's Birthday

Jumping for Chance's Birthday

Afterwards, they were all tuckered out. (Ruby)
After Jumping for Chance's birthday

Happy Birthday, Chancey boy.
Charlie's Birthday
I love this pic because it shows your personality. You are so laid back, and funny!!

Yet you have your moments, specifically about what you wear and eat... Sometimes I feel like you're more 15 than 5, with the sass you give me about how I choose "not cool" clothes and food!

Yet you still have your sweet side. When I tuck you in at bedtime, you usually hug me and say "Hold on forever!" Nearly everything you do makes me giggle.

You are Charlie's best friend, which I love. Yet recently, when he tried to talk you into doing something bad with him, you refused, which really impressed me!

You still struggle with getting scared still don't like to go to a room by yourself (even to go potty!). You're also still a light sleeper and often wake up before everyone else. Lately you've gotten to where you get up and go play downstairs without waking anyone.

Even though you're not quite as close to Chandler, he looks up to you a lot! You get mad when he calls you "Chancey" which also makes me giggle.

You are our spunky child, and we LOVE you!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Christmas Part 4 (final)

We did actually get out sometimes, too. We went to a candy factory, which had all the kids mesmerized! Chandler.
Kentucky for Christmas

Kentucky for Christmas

Love this shot of Beau.
Candy Factory

Charlie, checking out the old-timey candy vending machine.
Kentucky for Christmas

It's not in focus, but I loved Ethan's expression here.
Kentucky for Christmas

All of the kids were pretty excited. Luke.
Kentucky for Christmas

Kentucky for Christmas

This girl can nail a portrait.
Kentucky for Christmas

This store was like taking a trip back in time. (Us)
Candy Factory

And before we left Louisville, Chuck and I took the boys to the Slugger Museum.
Slugger Museum

I think they enjoyed climbing this statute as much as the museum itself.
Slugger Museum

After many attempts, this was the best shot of the 3 of them.
Slugger Museum

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Christmas Trip, Part 3

While we spent a short amount of time outside in the snow, we spent most of our time hibernating in the house. And really, I rarely take photos inside, so I'm low on those sorts of photos. But sometime the kids would sit near a window, and the light on their faces would be calling my name.

As Ruby will so beautifully demonstrate:
My Sweet Neice

And Beau:
Christmas Eve

And Chan Man, with a messy face as usual, and red cheeks from being out in the cold:
Christmas Eve

Speaking of Beau and Chan, these two hit it off as soon as we got there. I think it helped that they both have a love for horses right now. We'd just gotten Chan some small farm animal toys, which he was happy to share with Beau. Then for Christmas, Beau got a bunch of horses, and he returned the favor. These two were pretty much joined at the hip all week.

Yeehaw, Cowboy!

Kentucky for Christmas
Having a cousin your age is

The kids had a blast playing indoors, and I need heard a word of complaint about being cooped up inside. They often ran around in the basement, and played all sorts of games all day. At one point I found them all in costume:

Kentucky for Christmas
Ethan, Chandler, Beau, Luke, Ruby, Charlie - Chance is missing because he does NOT like costumes, silly boy! Charlie looks like he's about to hit someone, but that was just his "ninja pose" he says.

I really cherished watching them all eat their meals together, and the funny conversations they would have.
Kentucky for Christmas

Mitsi it so creative, which meant there was plenty of craft supplies for their imaginations to run wild with.
Kentucky for Christmas

At one point Chandler brought me his drawing and said, "Wook, Mom, I made a puppy dog!" I honestly didn't believe he'd drawn it. I think the boy has a little bit of talent...(Neither Charlie nor Chance could draw this well at 2 yrs old). Do you see it?

Kentucky for Christmas

Sometimes they gathered around the laptop for a movie (or we watched one of tv, but this is the one I have a pic of...).
Watching a Christmas movie

The older boys got some DS time in. It amazes me how it is actually a bonding thing. Anytime Charlie pulls it out, he ends up having lots of boys around him to watch.
Kentucky for Christmas

And after the kids went to bed, we would play too! Tammy and Brandon... and look closely, Mitsi's hiding behind the blanket.
after hours

Christmas morning, everyone gathered in the living room (with a fire going, which was one aspect I loved about the colder weather!), and the kids took turns opening their presents. Since we're accustomed to boys, I was so excited to see that the jewelry box we got for Ruby was a hit! Way to go in picking it out, Uncle Chuck!

Christmas Morning

That morning was spent with a lot of lego building. Uncle Brandon jumped in to help with construction.
Christmas Morning

Christmas afternoon, Mitsi and Chuck took on the task of making Beef Wellington for the first time. It was quite labor intensive, but man! was it good!!
Beef Wellington

A little video of the flambe!

Dinner that night was incredible! Here's the whole fam: BIL Paul, Sister Mitsi, Paul's Bro and SIL, Paul's parents, Chuck's parents, Chuck, Sister Tammy and BIL Brandon.
The Christmas Dinner Group

And then this shot is at the same table, so really it was from our last dinner together. All the cousins: Luke, Charlie, Chance, Chandler, Beau, Ruby, Ethan.
Our last dinner

Ok, this is getting long again...gonna pause here. :)