I am a big fan of celebrating "firsts" in this family and I love to document all of them with photos and stories. Gavin's first balloon. His first time in a pool. His first time feeling the grass. Brian's first hair wash in the sink. His first time holding a toy by himself. The silliest stuff - which I always felt was really the most important stuff. All of these little firsts were like gifts to me. I was watching these little people emerge before my eyes - and I was so excited that I got to be a witness to the experiences that would shape and define them. Sounds dramatic, yes? But it's truly how I feel! I cherish every little thing. Even the "lasts" - Gavin's last moments with his brother. His last bath. His last time in our arms.
Going to the Pumpkin Patch has always been one of my favorite (and emotional!) firsts. I remember vividly our first trip with Gavin.
He was born with low tone, but then a rare and serious bout with botulism (we have no idea to this day how he contracted infantile botulism) and RSV at the same time practically paralyzed him. His low tone became extremely low tone and it took a very, very long time for him to even sit up alone. I was pregnant with Brian (and emotional) when we brought Gavin for his first trip to the pumpkin patch. I had always dreamed of a "baby in the pumpkins" photo. As other parents all around me were propping up their babies and snapping their pictures, I was trying and trying and trying to position Gavin. It was early on in our unexpected journey with his complicated issues - and I was pregnant - and this silly, but really difficult experience with not being able to sit up well among the pumpkins just leveled me. (Gavin was a little over a year old)
Ed didn't know what to do or say as I sobbed the entire car ride home.
(**Read more about my final thoughts about this photo and that experience at the very bottom of this post!**)
I remember sitting with Gavin that night and rocking him in my arms. "I'm so sorry," I said. "Please don't ever think I'm not proud of you. Please don't ever feel that I'm disappointed in you. Nothing could be further from the truth." That silly "first time" in the pumpkins was a game changer for me. I snapped out of my funk real quick.
Brian's first pumpkin patch experience was so much fun. He was 9 1/2 months old.
Gavin was a little stronger a year later and it was emotional, once again, to see him sitting in the pumpkins. He was actually acting protective of his little brother - putting out his hand as if to say "I got ya, Brian - don't be scared!"
So these little pumpkin patch trips are special to me. They remind me of how far I've come as a Mom because I always revisit that first trip with Gavin in my mind.
We meant to get to the farm earlier this year for Hope's first pumpkin! But each weekend there was something - other plans, rain, more rain or someone was sick. Yesterday was the first "perfect" day so we hopped in the car and took off for Milky Way Farms. Just a word of advice - if you're looking for the whole "pumpkin patch" experience with hay rides and people and, well, pumpkins - November 8th is probably not the best day to go. We were the only ones there and there was no activities. There is a benefit to being the only ones there, for sure! There was one big pumpkin that we found to use for our photo and we didn't have to contend with crowds walking in front of our camera. The kids got to visit the ducks in the pond, too.
I wrote about our last trip to the farm with Gavin in THIS post. It was a great day. I loved our family photo (taken with a tripod!)...
...and have always adored this photo of the boys.
I wrote about our trip last year with Brian (and Hope in my belly) in THIS post. It was a very emotional day for me without Gavin. I remember wanting to take a photo of Brian in the same spot as last year's photo with his brother. He stood in front of the red door - I looked through my lens and made sure there wasn't any sun glare or other obstacles - and I took the photo. It turned out like this...
You can read what you want into the photo. I'm very aware that sun spots show up in photos, but typically I can see them through my lens and I move to avoid them. I saw nothing that day until I looked at the picture.
In the car on the way to Milky Way Farm yesterday I thought about that photo. What were the chances that it could happen again, I thought to myself. That was probably a one time thing - maybe it was a fluke.
So, once again, I asked Brian to stand in front of that door. And, once again, I checked for any glare or other obstacles to getting a clear shot. And, once again...
You can't make this stuff up.
After a few minutes of visiting the ducks, we came back for a photo with Brian and Hope.
Are you kidding me? I even moved around as I took these photos - never seeing anything in my lens.
This is one of those moments where I decide to believe whatever I want to believe. So I will tell you that, without a doubt, we believe that Gavin was there. I mean, he's always here - but it's not always this obvious. As I showed the photos to Ed, both of us nearly cried. Happy tears. Bittersweet tears.
Gavin didn't miss Hope's "first trip to the Pumpkin Patch!"
This was also Hope's "Saturday" shot - her 49th week as our little pumpkin! This week she's working on her top two teeth coming in. I swear by her Baltic Amber teething necklace that she wears all the time. She never drools or seems bothered by her teeth at all. She's also been doing a lot of independent standing! It won't be long until she's taking her first steps, I'm sure.
We had fun snapping some other pictures while we were there. It was FREEZING yesterday and the kids were so cooperative!
We ended up finding a pile of mini pumpkins and I tried to get a traditional photo of Hope sitting among them. Didn't quite work out as she was looking at everything but me... and Ed and Brian jumping around behind me trying to get her attention. Hey, win some - lose some.
I'm pretty sure - despite her not looking as she sat in the pumpkins - that Hope's "first pumpkin patch experience" was pretty darn special. It's definitely something that Ed and I will never forget.
The last thing we did before we headed inside the creamery to warm up with some homemade ice cream (and Brian's very first hot fudge sundae!) was to set up our tripod - another tradition - and attempt a family shot. I love this photo of the four of us...
...but we will always be a family of six in our hearts.
**The best lessons come from experience and time. Now that I've been to the pumpkin patch with three children I know the real truth: sitting in a pile of pumpkins is hard for ANYONE!!! And, as sad as I was (probably about things other than pictures in pumpkins) after that first trip to the pumpkin patch with Gavin... looking back, he gave us the BEST picture!! Ironic, isn't it? He's looking right at the camera, giving a sweet little smile and rocking it.**