I LOVE my nieces and nephew. All three of them are so special to me. We always take a trip into town for each of their birthdays, and this past Sunday, Mason turned SEVEN. How can I help but throw in one of these?
(Mason two weeks before his second birthday)
On Saturday night we had a camp-out at Little Gram's, per Mason's request. (Ben and I secretly ended up sleeping inside the house with Bobby... since we were the last ones to bed and the first ones up, the kids didn't notice.)
Mason is my little photographer in training. He always asks to take a picture with my camera. These are my two favorite night shots he captured:
(Gram's house lit only by the back light)
We roasted marshmallows, we took pictures of spinning glowsticks, we talked and enjoyed each other's company. My brother David (Chloe and Mason's dad) just got out of jail and hadn't even met Bobby yet, so it was really nice to spend time with him for the first time in a while.
(BOB by Chloe, Mason, Artie)
(Chloe and Mason with their cousin Artie in the middle)
(David and Crystal, Chloe and Mason's parents, by firelight)
(Gram's house in front of a Lanesboro night sky backdrop -- 8 second exposure)
(Ben and me by ember light -- 8 second exposure)
The next morning Ben and I went for a short hike with Chloe and Mason while Bobby napped. Mason's a little mountain man, walking through the woods with no socks or shoes, and no clothes except a pair of shorts. In the summer, that's about all you can get him to wear.
For the rest of Sunday afternoon we had the traditional low-key family birthday party.
(Bobby banished to the far end of the yard for a rest)
For his birthday this year, Mason got his best gift ever: a minibike from my father ("Pepe"). This is one slice of the range of sweet faces he made when he saw it:
We were all amazed at how quickly Mason got the hang of riding his new bike. Within seconds of climbing on he was zipping all over the yard, weaving between trees and gardens and a fire pit and babies and old folks sitting in chairs. He didn't stick to flat terrain either -- David chased him down the front hill toward the road and over the brook, and before long he was on the trails in the woods. We all watched holding our breath half the time, but although he took a few spills he didn't get hurt.
These next two photos are two of my favorites because of the looks on my brother's face (maybe you have to click on the images to get the full effect). In the first one he's watching, hoping, ready to aid if Mason biffs on the rough terrain. And in the second one, after Mason makes it through the narrow path over the creek, his face is so proud of and happy for his son. I know Mason was very thankful to have his dad there for his birthday.
Meanwhile, there was a pouting party going on by the driveway. I was actually a little surprised that my little brother James wasn't there, mourning his seventh birthday when he did not get a dirt bike.
I hope James realizes that at a certain point, Bailey won't be able to go around shirtless all the time like he does:
Grandmother's accessories make the best toys:
Out of jail for less than a week and Dave is already darker than my dad or James. My father doesn't actually hang out topless all day like my two brothers, but it didn't take much to convince him to strip down for a photo. Mostly it made me wish he had kept his shirt on, but the pics are pretty hilarious.
Chloe trained Bailey to point to her "heart":
It's really hard (so far, impossible) to get a normal/smiling picture out of these four because they're all such goofballs, except for Bob who usually takes these opportunities to be uncharacteristically serious.
My cousin Nate, one of my favorite members of the family:
David and Crystal after a little water fight:
And that's it. Did I hit a record with the number of photos in one post? Is that just way too many? Be honest.