Monday, December 22, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘Twas night before Christmas and all through the Little’s house
Not a creature was stirring, except for Gretchen’s computer mouse.

The stockings were hung by the fireplace and waiting to be stuffed
By Brian and Gretchen who had shopped enough!

The boys were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Christmas bliss danced in their heads.

Brian was upstairs and trying to sleep,
Wondering if the ACC title the Hokies would keep.

When from the computer arose such a clatter,
Brian came down to see what was the matter.

The moon shone through the window telling of late,
“Keep it down!” insisted Brian, “or the boys will awake!”

When what to our wondering eyes did appear?
A Christmas letter telling everything we did this past year!

With so many paragraphs about a year of activities,
Too many stories about ourselves, the busy bees.

More words than a dictionary spewed forth from the printer.
Brian whistled and whispered and read through the letter.

“With New Years came the news that we were going to have a baby,
And then Grant turned five in the middle of January.

Brian ran the 10K in April, and we enjoyed a pleasant Easter,
With egg hunts and family and warmer weather.

In May, Brian went to Asia and was eating crazy food.
While Gretchen was seven months pregnant chasing our wild brood.

Brian read on about Grant playing golf in the spring,
And a trip to the farm for strawberry picking.

To the pool and the beach with the Moores in the summer,
Where the boy’s daring stunts worried their mother.

In July our fourth son was born: Davis Parker.
Grant, Bryce and Carter love their new little brother.

Then Carter turned two and learned how to scream,
Unless he was eating crackers, brownies or ice-cream.

Grant started kindergarten in early September.
Apple picking and superhero costumes, a fall to remember.

Bryce playing soccer and saying funny things,
Special times with family and hosting Thanksgiving.

The boys in their fun and crazy ways
Have brought more joy to our lives than we know how to say.”

But really, our letter was just about our family,
We had almost forgotten to acknowledge the three.

Three kings that came from afar with their gifts,
To worship a new King whose glory our spirits would lift.

The angel who told the shepherds the news of the baby, our Savior,
Whom they could find laying on hay in a manger.

This new babe, our King and our Savior, Behold,
This is the story that on Christmas should be told.

So our best efforts worthless, we happily remembered,
To leave Jesus out of Christmas would be absurd.

He is the reason we have the things that we do
He is the Great Gift Giver and Provider for you.

He gave us His Word. He completed his quest,
That provides our Salvation with only one request.

That we believe in His name as Creator of all,
That we receive His forgiveness and answer His call.

His invitation is most miraculous now,
As we see Him, our King, laying next to a cow.

How could it be? That our King was thus treated?
He wants you to know that your best is not needed.

He’s calling to you, and I imagine He’s said,
“Merry Christmas to you, your ransom has been paid.”

Merry Christmas and All Our Love!
Brian, Gretchen,
Grant, Bryce, Carter & Davis

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Christmas song, Bryce rendition

I am not at all musically inclined, but I love Christmas music. I play it in the car Thanksgiving through New Year (at a minimum) and "Away In a Manger" or "Silent Night" are the typical bedtime lullabies in December.
While sitting at the table eating lunch yesterday, Bryce held up a slice of apple from his plate and pointed out, "Mom, it looks like a heart!" He then said, "It's like 'Heart! The Herald Angels Sing!'" and went on to sing "Heart! The Herald Angels Sing". I just smiled and said, "Yes, that's right Bryce, 'Heart! The Herald Angels Sing.'"

Sweet I love yous

My house is not as tidy as I would like for it to be at the moment, I have spit-up on my clothes, there are still Christmas gifts yet to be purchased, and I am writing this while holding a fussy baby, but I am so grateful for all the Lord has blessed me with, especially my four little boys.
Grant, our five year old, has been exceptionally sweet lately. He was upstairs playing in his room a couple of nights ago and came down with a surprise for Brian. He pulled out the Magna-doodle from behind his back to show his daddy what he had written:

Yesterday afternoon while I was sitting on the floor Grant wrapped his arms around my neck and said, "I love you, mom!" I love getting hugs from my boys, especially when they initiate the hug. I casually said that that's what I want for Christmas, lots of hugs. Then as I tucked the boys in last night, Grant opened his arms wide and said, "Mom, I have a present for you!" It took me moment to realize that he had remembered what I had said and was offering a big hug as an early Christmas present.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We've enjoyed 'decking the halls' this past week in preparation for Christmas. The boys have had fun putting up lights and decorating the tree. Yes indeed, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house...

The boys were supposed to be helping untangle the lights.

Of course both Grant and Bryce got a turn putting the star on top of the tree.

Once the tree was decorated it was on to wrestling!

Even Davis got in on the festivities.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekend funnies

We had a funny moment in the car this weekend as we drove to Five Guys (a burger joint) for dinner. Five Guys is well-liked by the guys in our family (at least the oldest four) and is a frequent destination during a "Daddy's day" (when Brian takes the boys out for the afternoon or evening). So, it was indeed a rare occurrence for all six of us to be headed there. On our way Grant inquired, "Where are we going?" To which Brian answered, "Five Guys." The response from the boys was not the "Yeah!" we had expected but instead Grant saying, "But mommy can't go. She's a girl!" Bryce chimed in, "They will call the police to get her!" Brian stuck up for me and did his part to convince the boys that girls are allowed at Five Guys. It's not just for guys. I guess this is what comes of being outnumbered five to one!
On Sunday afternoon Brian took Grant, Bryce and Carter out to get a Christmas tree. We are some of the dwindling clientelle of live Christmas trees. I guess I'm old fashioned or perhaps I just love the smell of pine. Anyway, when they returned home Grant walked in the door with a big grin on his face and said, "Mommy, the tree fell off the car!"
You see, it was a bitterly cold day and very windy (Brian wanted me to be sure to include this part). After picking out the prettiest tree available at Lowe's and doing his best to tie it on top of the van, Brian and the boys headed home (we have learned that while the kids are young we will take a break from tramping through the tree farm hunting for the perfect tree to cut down ourselves and stick with Lowe's or Home Depot--but that's another story). Apparently, after they made the second turn out of the parking lot the tree didn't make the turn. Brian pulled over to retrieve the tree and a man with a pickup truck stopped behind him and kindly offered to put the tree in his truck and follow Brian home. So, our tree made it's way to our house in the back of a pickup escorting Brian and the boys. Brian thanked the 'good samaritan' for his assistance and Grant, Bryce and Carter were very grateful that their Christmas tree made it home.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sweet sayings

Soon after their arrival, all four of our boys have received a hand knit blanket from my dear friend, Melissa. They have been special gifts; with each pregnancy I have anticipated the coming blanket and they have been much-loved by the boys. Bryce, in particular, is quite fond of his "blankie" and continues to sleep with it every night (in fact, he has to have it to go to sleep). Bryce's blanket is noticibly showing its four years of cuddling and while not nearly as pretty as it was four years ago (the once soft green color is now rather dingy and it is quite tattered around the edges), it couldn't be more loved.
The other night while Brian was tucking Bryce in he crawled up in his bed, hugged his blanket and said in all seriousness, "Daddy I love you. I love you like I love my blankie." Those were sweet words to Brian. Bryce is rarely so verbal with his affection and Brian realized that to be put in the same category as his dearly loved blanket was a huge compliment.
We both got a chuckle out of Bryce's comment when Brian relayed the story to me downstairs. It was a fun parenting moment as well as a special memory to cherish.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


This past week I was blessed to be able to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday three times. Yes, three times! And yes, I do still like turkey and I officially need to go on a diet (but the diet may have to be postponed until New Year's resolutions as I have a weakness for gingerbread men). It was a wonderful week and all three times of feasting were extraordinary. I thoroughly enjoyed the time of recollecting the Lord's blessings in my life, teaching my children the history of Thanksgiving, visiting with family, and of course eating delicious food.
The week started off with a visit to Grammy and Pappy’s house in Williamsburg for a Saturday Thanksgiving celebration. This was the first holiday spent in John and Karen’s new home and it was a special time for all. Brian’s sweet grandmother, Nana, had flown in from Houston, Texas and Brian’s sister, Tara, and her boyfriend, Archie, drove down from D.C. We were able to introduce Nannie to her fifth great-grandson and Davis enjoyed several hours of attention in her arms. Brian’s mom had the table beautifully set and treated us to a delectable meal. The turkey was absolutely perfect (I will have to find out her secrets!). The boys had fun playing with all of the new toys at Grammy and Pappy’s house and being entertained by fun Aunt Tara (or as Bryce says, “funny Aunt Tara”). We had a wonderful time.

Nannie and Davis.

Grammy and Carter.

Nana, Tara, Carter and Karen.

Pappy carving the turkey with Grant looking on.

Nana and Bryce.

On Tuesday I helped out with the kindergarten Thanksgiving feast at Alberta Smith Elementary school. The children enjoyed a feast of all the traditional Thanksgiving foods while dressed in costumes they had made to look like the Native American Indians who took part in the first Thanksgiving. I enjoyed seeing Grant with his classmates and had fun talking with the kindergartners. Grant’s teacher sent home a list of what each child in her class had said when asked the question, “How do you cook a Thanksgiving turkey?” The answers were quite amusing (and creative!). Here are a few:
Alexis: "Put on pepper, sauce, chicken and fries. Put in the oven for 3 minutes."
Gracie: "Put in milk, eggs, and pancakes. Put on feathers, pepper and salt. Cook in oven for 25 seconds."
Grant: "Cut it. Cook in oven for 13 minutes. Put on cinnamon."
Grant and Bryce helped the day before the feast to make some cornucopia favors for Grant’s classmates. I got the idea from my friend Jillian who is Bryce’s Sunday school teacher. Using sugar cones as the cornucopia, the boys filled them with sunflower seeds, raisins, candy corn, and pretzels, each item symbolizing something different. I attached a paper with the following inscription on each cornucopia:
Ice Cream Cone
represents a cornucopia, or a horn of plenty.
represent arms folded in thanks and prayer.
Dried fruit
represents the celebration of the harvest, when the pilgrims finally had enough food to eat.
Sunflower seeds
present next season’s harvest.
Candy Corn
represents maize. During the first year of settlement, many pilgrims died because food was so scarce. Native Americans shared corn with them and taught them how to plant this new crop.
Psalm 107:1 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Grant wearing his Indian headdress, sitting next to Jolie and Kameron.
On Thursday we hosted the annual Callahan Thanksgiving gathering in our home. This was the first time that Brian and I had hosted the big event. It was a cozy get-together with roughly thirty people in our house, but everyone enjoyed the close fellowship. We had family come in from northern Virginia, Portsmouth, Virginia, Charlotte, North Carolina and Delaware. It was a potluck style meal with everyone contributing a dish (or two or three). We truly had a feast. There was enough food in our kitchen to feed a small army. We also discovered that the Callahans can drink some coffee! Brian brewed the coffee while I kept busy rotating casseroles in and out of the oven. The weather was nice and after our meal we were able to walk off a few of those calories and make room for some pumpkin pie. We enjoyed seeing my mom’s side of the family and were grateful that everyone was willing to make the trip to our house. It was a memorable day.
Brian carving the ham.

The women talking in the kitchen.

Eric--"Uncle Eric" to my boys.

The young people's table.

The fine china crowd.

Four out of the eight Callahan brothers. My mom is one of eleven children.

Grandpa and Davis.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bryce's 4th birthday

This past Saturday we celebrated Bryce's fourth birthday. We had a fun evening with family over for dinner, cake, and opening presents. Bryce requested a train cake for his birthday. Doing my best to replicate a cake idea we found online, the boys and I had fun decorating our own train cake together. Bryce received some fun gifts including a couple of puzzles (Bryce loves putting puzzles together), a kids laptop computer toy, a Curious George book and stuffed animal from Grant (Grant saw them in the store and knew they would be a hit with Bryce who is enamored with Curious George), letter tracing cards, a fun sock matching game, a Hot Wheels race track, and a hand-painted letter train from Aunt Susannah. It was a fun night and Bryce is glad to be a big four-year-old now.

Bryce showing Daddy his train cake.

Blowing out the candles.

It is at this instant (according to Grant and Bryce) that he actually turned four.

Grammy, Grant and Davis.

Pappy, Carter and Grant all smiles.

Bryce with his name train from Aunt Su-Su.

A good report

Above is a picture of Grant with his new lightsaber toy. He has recently acquired an interest in Star Wars. He has never seen any of the movies but has really picked up on the Star Wars lingo from all of his buddies. The lightsaber was a reward for the good report card he received this past Friday. He is doing very well in kindergarten and I have yet to hear a single complaint about school from him. In fact, by Sunday afternoon he is usually asking when does he get to go back to school (I may have to remind him of this in the future!). When Brian took a look at Grant's report card he said, "Wow, that's amazing!" I agreed that Grant was doing great and then he said, "No, I mean at the bottom where it says Days Tardy: 0. You've managed to get all four kids out the door and on time every day." It was nice of Brian to recognize that zero tardy days was a big accomplishment on my part (not just shocked that I could be punctual on a regular basis). It has definitely been an adjustment to be on a stricter schedule and on many days no easy task to get all four kids up and ready to go by 8:00am, but I tend to like routine so it's actually been a nice change. What a thoughtful husband to appreciate my "line of work." It was also Brian's idea to reward Grant for his efforts in school. I guess we both got a good report!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Things I've learned about boys this week

While I am blessed to be the mother of four little boys, I still have quite a lot to learn about boys. You see, I have never actually been a boy and I have learned that they act, think, feel, and do things differently than I did as a little girl. These are some of the things I have learned this week:
1. Pretending to be construction equipment can be hazardous to your health. Carter has recently developed an affinity for construction equipment (which I have learned is a male trait that develops at approximately two years of age). This being said, he decided to pretend to be a bulldozer earlier in the week. He did this by crawling on his knees with his face buried in the carpet as he 'plowed' the room. Unfortunately, his cute face now has a nasty rug burn across his nose as a result of all the pretend play.

2. Underwear is hilarious. On the way home from school one day this week Grant and Bryce discovered their bag of extra clothes that I keep in the car (you never know when a little boy might need to change out of soiled clothes--see below). They pulled out their spare pair of underwear and threw them up and at each other shouting, "Underwear!" and laughing hysterically. As I hollered back at them, "Stop throwing your underwear in the car!" I couldn't help but chuckle under my breath as I saw Buzz Lightyear and Spider-man underwear getting tossed about in the rear-view mirror.

3. Yes, puddles are irresistible. I don't think I need to elaborate on this one.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My mom

It is definitely true that having your own children causes you to have a new appreciation for your parents. Since becoming a mother myself I realize even more what an amazing mom I have. She is always patient, generous with encouraging words, strong in her faith, and the most giving person I've ever known. I have a particular memory from childhood that stands out as an example of who my mom is and the kind of mother I hope to be. It is a simple, everyday sort of memory that my mother most likely does not even recall. When I was in first grade the school bus pulled up to our driveway one morning and I anxiously ran to get on the bus. Our driveway was gravel and sloped and in my haste I fell down scraping my knee, ruining my tights, and humiliating myself. I knew that I shouldn't have been running and realized I deserved a reprimand for my carelessness. But I remember my mom gently picking me up, brushing the hair out of my face, wiping away my tears, and calmly telling the bus driver that she would take me to school as if it wasn't any inconvenience at all. There was no scolding, no ‘how many times have I told you not to run down the driveway,’ just unconditional love when I needed it most. That's the kind of mother I want to be. I am not naturally as selfless as my mom and often have to bite my tongue so as not to say, "I told you so.” I fall far (very far) short of being the perfect mom and pray God’s grace will cover my inadequacies. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful role model for mothering as a mom.
The past few months have brought a new journey for my mom as she was diagnosed with lymphoma in August. Once again I am amazed at the joy that she has amidst such difficult circumstances. I am learning from her how to truly surrender to the Lord’s will. I used to think in terms of committing to doing God’s will. But it’s more than that. He desires for us to surrender everything to Him. He wants to show us that He’s all we need. Yesterday I was able to escort my mom to her weekly chemotherapy treatment. It was her sixth treatment and the second time that I have been able to go with her. We enjoyed several hours of conversation and even while she was sitting in the chair receiving chemotherapy my mom was talking about ways that she could reach out to others.
Thanks, mom, for being such an amazing mother and example of authentic Christian living.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Three 'Little' Cowboys

This past Friday night Brian and I were able to go out for a date while the three older boys spent the night at Gramma and Grandpa’s house. It was a nice break for us and Grant, Bryce and Carter had a blast. My mom (Gramma) is always coming up with creative activities for the boys to do. Friday night when they arrived at Gramma and Grandpa’s house they were given cowboy hats to wear and handed a wanted add for Black Hat Bart. Gramma and Aunt Susannah then had fun leading them on a hunt through the 'Wild West' which ended with the capture of Black Hat Bart (Grandpa good-naturedly played the part of the outlaw). It was a fun time for all and a memorable night for the boys.
Cowboy Carter

Wanted: Black Hat Bart!

Gramma Waagner with the three cowboys

Aunt Susannah and Cowboy Bryce

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Everyday life in our house can be quite amusing at times (when you can see beyond the chaos of four boys). Bryce, our almost four year old, is quite the talker and frequently says some really funny things. While cleaning up from breakfast this morning I heard the well known thump sound from upstairs followed by cries from a little boy. Upon entering Grant and Bryce's room I found Carter in tears and Bryce with a wide-eyed, uh-oh sort of look on his face. When asked, "What happened?" Bryce's response was, "Mom, I was just jumping off the bed and Carter's head got in the way."
During our discussion about his poor choice to jump on the bed, Bryce inquired as to how many spankings he would be receiving. Apparently he thought that three was one too many because he went on to advise me, "Three spankings will hurt a little bit mommy, but two spankings will really hurt."
A few minutes later while I was trying to coral the boys into their rooms to get dressed I had to tell them to stop running in the hall. Bryce looked at me straight-faced and said, "But mom when we're running there's no smoke coming out." Too many Road Runner and Coyote episodes I'm presuming? "Yes, Bryce," I said, "there's no smoke coming out."

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fall Festival

The big night finally arrived. Grant and Bryce have been anxiously awaiting the annual Fall Festival at our church. That might be understating it. Grant, in particular, has been asking for a few weeks now how many days it is until we go to the Fall Festival. He was extremely excited as we drove to church tonight (and that was pre-candy!). All four boys dressed in costumes. We had Venom, the Incredible Hulk, a knight and a bumble bee (a.k.a. Grant, Bryce, Carter and Davis). The kids enjoyed playing games, pony rides, sitting on a real fire truck and lots of candy.

Me and my little bumble bee.

Gramma and Davis.

Grandpa eating with the boys. He introduced them to funnel cake. Yum!

Our family.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Grant's First Day of School

September 2, 2008 was a big day for our family. Grant started school and Brian and I officially became parents of a kindergartner! It was exciting for all of us as Grant got on the bus and headed off to school. Brian captured some of the moments from the first day of school as well as photos of Grant over the past 5 1/2 years on the video below. Grant is thoroughly enjoying kindergarten.
(Note: You should stop the music on the icon on the bottom of this page before viewing)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This week's happenings

My baby boy is now three months old. Davis is such a sweet baby and so easygoing that the past three months have gone by very quickly. He is now cooing and giggling and giving us lots of smiles. He especially likes watching his older brothers and gets a big grin on his face whenever one of them stops to tickle his belly or say hello.

Carter is talking more than ever and my 'pantry kid', as I call him, can now frequently be found standing at the pantry door crying "chocolate bar." He really has a sweet tooth. In my defense, though, he is referring to a chocolate granola bar, not a Hershey's bar.

On our recent visit to the library Carter picked out a book on trucks. He loves cars and trucks--even more than the other boys. As he excitedly looked at the book at home, I heard a loud rip. When I began to tape the torn page I couldn't help but notice that almost every page in the book had been torn before. Apparently several other mothers had also been forced to remind their little boys, "Gentle, please." I couldn't help but wonder if the books on princesses and bunny rabbits (or whatever it is that girls check out from the library) have nearly so many tears...

The picture below is what I found when I went to wake Carter up from his nap yesterday. I opened the door to find the bed empty. I glanced around the room. No Carter. I looked in the closet. No Carter. I made sure that none of the lumps under the covers on the bed were a little boy. Still no Carter. I began to get a little worried. Then I thought, under the bed! There he was sound asleep. He must have gotten hot under there because as you can see, he tried to take his shirt off. Silly boy.

Bryce and I are beginning to do a little bit of preschool work at home. For the letter "C" we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Bryce had fun making a caterpillar out of an egg carton. We also found a video of The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the library. I was able to trick Bryce into getting a photo with his caterpillar. He is not a big fan of the camera.

On Sunday afternoon Grant and I had fun baking a spider cake together. An entomologist at heart, Grant has been a long-time fan of spiders. Using the idea from a Halloween cake I saw in the Ukrop's bakery, we made a chocolate cake with a spider on top of it. The spider was made out of an Oreo with M&M eyes and black licorice for legs. Grant requested a black widow, but I opted for a friendlier version of a spider.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Soaring on Eagle's Wings

This past weekend our family made a brief trip to Maymont Park. Maymont is a favorite Richmond attraction offering trails and animal exhibits. They have a new raptor exhibit which turned out to be the highlight of our visit. Grant in particular has always had an interest in animals and the Bald Eagle habitat apparently sparked a new interest in our national bird. He has been talking about bald eagles, wearing the shirt he already owned with an eagle on it, and making sounds like bald eagles--you can only imagine what these sound like, especially when Bryce and Carter join in. We checked out some books from the library to learn more about these majestic birds and today made a simple bald eagle craft out of a toilet paper roll. One of the things that we learned about bald eagles is that they especially like to eat fish. So the boys had goldfish crackers for a snack this afternoon with their eagle crafts sitting on the table helping to devour the "fish." Of course "feeding" the fish to the eagle through the toilet paper roll quickly progressed to Bryce pointing out, "Mommy, look my eagle is POOPING fish!" Then it became a lot of fun to watch the goldfish crackers drop out of the bottom of the eagle! Carter just enjoyed the crackers.

Grant showing us his wingspan as compared to that of a bald eagle.

Grant at the owl exhibit with his owl shirt on--dressed for the occasion!

Grant and the bald eagle craft he made.

Bryce and his eagle "pooping fish."

Carter enjoying the goldfish crackers.

Hopefully the boys have learned something about the bald eagle and perhaps have a greater appreciation of our national bird. To go along with this week's eagle infatuation our new memory verse is Isaiah 40:31 "...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;" What a tremendous promise and what a word picture the Lord gives us in the awe inspiring flight of the eagle.