tall tales

from the gallagher five.

a long overdue ode to T8. May 1, 2017

Filed under: Tate,Uncategorized — gallyfam @ 2:11 pm
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i must say this every year when the birthday of our youngest, Tate, rolls around, but it’s true — “I can’t believe my baby is EIGHT!” has it really been eight years since we brought a newborn home from the hospital? while far from a baby (as Tate would beg me to clarify), Tate is the youngest of our three boys and the age of EIGHT suits him quite well.

Tate is in second grade and has had a great school year. Tate is a strong student, a great listener and a compassionate friend. like his brothers, he is strong in math and reading and finds academics in general to be fairly easy. he doesn’t necessarily enjoy being the center of attention and had some small obstacles to overcome this year in that regard (think presentations, readers’ theatre and pretty much anything that required him to get up in front of the whole class). i can certainly understand where he’s coming from — neither Tate nor i share Phil’s affinity for speaking in front of a crowd. in the end, he rose to the challenges and made some great strides this year, and he enjoys all of the other aspects of elementary school.

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our Tate is a hands-on type of guy. he received his own small toolbox for Christmas and has enjoyed taking apart several old household items, like a broken clock, an old camcorder and an old blender. he’s the kind of kid that will keep his favorite parts from inside those gadgets and tuck them away somewhere safe just because they look cool. this week, Phil’s parents are visiting and Tate’s “Papa” was installing a ceiling light for us. Tate was his faithful assistant and insisted on using his tools when he had the specific tool that Papa needed. Tate is also drawn to other gadgets that you might find in a spy/ninja/action movie. case in point: he asked for a grappling hook a couple Christmases ago. he did receive it, but the problem since then has been finding an appropriate (read safe) use for it! so Tate was thrilled when we were able to incorporate his grappling hook in the escape-room style game we invented for his birthday party. amidst a series of clues, riddles, locks, combinations, and hunts, Tate and his buddies had to scale the side of our front porch from the yard (snow) below using Tate’s grappling hook & rope (which Phil had secured above the porch). the delight all over Tate’s face was pretty fun to see, and he accomplished the mission with ease. Tate received two robot-type gifts for his birthday, and his favorite part by far was constructing them and taking one apart, only to re-build it again in a different configuration.

i’ve heard from other parents that their youngest child often seems the most responsible when it comes to household chores. Tate is no different. he often is the first to remember to clear his dishes after dinner, the first to volunteer to empty the dishwasher and works diligently to earn his allowance more often than either of his older brothers. when it comes to brothers, tate seems to get along the most naturally with his oldest brother Silas, our 14 year old. Tate & Lincoln (10 years old) can also play together well, but it does take more intervention on our part. getting along as a sibling-threesome is typically ripe with difficulties, which again, i’m sure is common in families as well as many other areas of life. Tate is capable of keeping up with his brothers now in almost every way — reading, video games, swimming, biking, storytelling, conversation, etc. — a matter of pride, to be sure.

Tate has crazy cool eyes. you can’t tell in the black & white photos, but both eyes have several colors — a mixture of green, blue and a splash of brown, too. his personality is similar — Tate is a good blend of so many characteristics. while he still likes to snuggle at times, he’s also fiercely independent and rarely truly needs either parent to help him out. he enjoys time with friends but also acknowledges when he prefers a quiet day at home. Tate can be shy around adults at times, but he can also be the most outspoken at the dinner table. this week, each of the boys spent a day home from school so that they could have one-on-two time with their grandparents. Tate thoroughly enjoyed his time and didn’t even ask if Phil and I were also going to be around. Tate does have some crazy mood swings. he is quick to get upset if he’s embarrassed or when he feels that he is the victim of an injustice. his tendency to stomp up the stairs reminds me of my childhood in a family with three sisters. fortunately, he cools off pretty quickly, too… let’s just say Tate experiences intense emotions. he rarely forgets to hug and say “I love you” at school drop-off or bedtime. he can get so angry that he simply can’t hear your reasoning for several minutes. he gets embarrassed to the point of tears, and when he’s bored, he’s REALLY bored. ha ha!

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clearly, i could go on and on about the boy. there is so much to say. what a joy to watch Tate learn & grow and a privilege to be his mom (& dad). while he has two amazing big brothers’ footsteps in which to follow, my hope & prayer is that Tate will be 100% Tate. that he will be fully confident in who he is as he walks through these formative years surrounded by so many of us that love him like crazy.

happy 8th birthday, my son!

 

our teenage Silas. March 5, 2016

Filed under: Silas,Uncategorized — gallyfam @ 4:44 pm
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well, once again, i realize that it’s been ridiculously long since i’ve posted.  also, it’s taken me way too long since silas’ actual birthday to take (& therefore post) these pictures.  we celebrated tate’s 7th birthday yesterday, which was the final kick-in-the-pants.  enough is enough.  here are my black & white portraits of silas, and some of si & his brothers, too.  instead of writing a post about the teenager himself, i thought i’d share the letter that i wrote to him for his big “NOT Mitzvah” celebration.  we gathered over 20 letters to silas, from friends and family near and far.  it was a special night of celebrating the wonderful young man that silas is and giving him good advice for becoming a man in our world.  so, without further ado…

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dear Silas,

happy 13th birthday, my son, my Si-Boy!  as we celebrate YOU tonight, Silas, i am filled with emotion…  it is bittersweet to say good-bye to your childhood while we anticipate all of the exciting adventures awaiting you in adulthood.  the first 13 years of your life have truly flown by and i cherish all of the special memories we have made and moments we have had together.  in my mind, you have had an exceptional childhood — not because of anything Dad or I have done, but because YOU have always been one amazing boy.  tonight YOU get all of the credit for the smart, thoughtful, kind, loyal, funny, and compassionate young man that you have become.  when i think of you, Silas, my heart bursts with pride.  i am SO very proud of you.

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tonight marks your rite of passage as you enter manhood.  i must say, i cannot wait to watch you and walk alongside of you in this journey, this new chapter of your story.  whether it’s navigating high school, girlfriends, driving, facial hair, first jobs, college or sports, i know that you will do a spectacular job, and we will always be here to cheer you on.  we will be here to give hugs, high fives, advice, prayers and help when you need it.  my hopes for you as you enter your teenage years are these:

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**like your parents, you are a perfectionist. i hope that you will work hard, but that you’ll also let yourself off the hook every now & then and call it quits at “good enough.”

**i hope that you will continue to have the confidence to always be your true self — the unique individual that God has designed you to be.

**i hope that you will have the courage to make wise choices, regardless of what others choose to do.  where you lead, i believe others will follow.

my prayer for you tonight is the same prayer that i have prayed for you and your brothers at countless bedtimes over the years — that you would become everything that God dreams for you to be.  and also this, that you would have the eyes to see and the ears to hear God’s presence in your life and his voice speaking to you.  He will help you write a one-of-a-kind story with your life!

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i love you, my teenage son.  you will always be in my heart and I will always be here for you.

love ALWAYS.

mom

 

 

our 8-year-old Lincoln. December 10, 2014

Filed under: Lincoln,Uncategorized — gallyfam @ 10:43 pm
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so, i know i said that i would start blogging more often. i had every good intention, especially to use this space as a means of processing some of the big life changes that we are experiencing as individuals, as a couple and as a family right now.  (in a nutshell: we are transitioning out of running “SCY” — a non-profit youth organization — after directing it together as a couple for 13 years.  phil has found employment elsewhere, a couple times over, and i’m still hanging around running our elementary program, while overseeing our new middle & high school director, and picking up a couple part-time jobs on the side…)  however, the thought of trying to process our (my) thoughts and emotions and fears and excitement and sadness in this public space felt a bit daunting and probably downright unhealthy — especially while we are very much in the thick of it — so i’ve stayed away.  it seemed like the better option — to not put words out there and express emotions that can’t be taken back or are too personal to want to reveal here.

nonetheless, i’ve missed writing and i guess i’ve been waiting for a good excuse to get on here and write about anything else.  if you know me, you know that i like to take black and white photos of my boys near their birthdays, on my old school 35 mm, manual camera.  i think i say this every time, but it gets harder and harder to find the film — let alone black and white film — to purchase.  this year, i went to my usual place in downtown breckenridge, prepared to cough up the cash required to acquire the way-overpriced product, but instead was told it was out of stock.  i had to resign myself to buy it online and wait for it to be shipped, and yada yada yada, to make a long story short (too late!), it was already the end of november by the time i even started shooting the pictures of lincoln.  and his birthday was in mid-october.  oy.

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i am learning that i don’t like to have unfinished projects hanging over my head.  well, i think i already knew that, but i’m discovering the vast extents to which this personality trait of mine reaches.  (nearly every area of my life, apparently.)  needless to say, it has been killing me that these pictures have gone unfinished for so long.  one of the hard parts is that i hate to take photos with the flash, and daylight just doesn’t last long at this time of year, and when the sun actually IS out, my lincoln-boy is in school 5 days a week!  well, enough already.  the photos have been taken, and they’ve been developed, and here are some of my favorites.

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the boys and i discovered, while looking through the photos tonight, that the upside-down ones are much more fun to look at right-side-up:

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right?!  anyway…  oh lincoln.  lincoln clement continues to be my lovey-dovey, affectionate little guy.  out of all three boys, he is the most touchy-feely.  he loves to cuddle and sit on my lap and get & give hugs.  he likes to get up in your personal space, in what i personally think is a totally endearing way (phil might disagree), and he doesn’t mind when you get up in his.  he is a lover and a feeler (which can translate into lots of crying and can sometimes drive his parents crazy…), but which could be the reason why he has so many friends.  lincoln is in the 2nd grade at breckenridge elementary and is surrounded by friends and seems to get along well with practically every kid in his class.  he is relational and a people-person.  he loves to play with toddlers, he easily joins in and tags along with silas & his friends and isn’t afraid to talk to adults, too.  mr. social butterfly.

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on the other hand, out of all three boys, lincoln spends the most time by himself.  he continues to seek out time alone on a fairly consistent daily basis.  some routines just stick, and it seems that, for lincoln, it’s the dice.  his dice?  yes, a yellow plastic box that contains over 200 dice.  he pulls it out almost every day without fail, sits on the couch in the guest room and dumps them out on the cushion in front of his crossed legs.  he moves them around and forms different groups of dice and re-arranges them constantly.  even though i’ve tried asking before, no one really knows or has any idea what exactly he is imagining when he plays with his dice.  all we know is that he needs that time, and he enjoys it and it somehow helps him…  much to the chagrin of his older brother, who complains that lincoln always seems to pick the precise moment when silas wants to play, to go play with his dice instead.

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lincoln is that middle brother who has big shoes to fill, but he is doing just fine.  he is a fantastic student.  math comes so naturally to him that it is scary.  he is such an advanced reader that i forget he is only 8 years old.  better yet, he doesn’t stress over school work and homework.  he enjoys learning and has a great relationship with his teacher, in which, according to her, lincoln gets her jokes that most of the other students don’t understand.  this makes for a pretty fun camaraderie between the two of them.  he also sets a wonderful example for his little brother.  this year at school feels pretty crucial.  in several ways, the boys’ school is divided in two halves — K, 1st & 2nd graders in one half and 3rd-5th grade in the other.  this year, lincoln and tate eat lunch at the same time and have recess out on the playground together afterwards, too.  not until lincoln is in the 5th grade will this arrangement occur again.  i’m so glad that tate, as a newbie kindergartner in school, gets to see his big brother each day.  he watches lincoln behave as a good student and as a rule-follower and as a empathetic friend.  he is showing tate the way, without even knowing it.  he is a natural, and i am so very proud of him.

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happy 8th birthday to our precious lincoln-boy.  may you always be 100% you.  we couldn’t love you any more than we do today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

re-arranging, part 2. September 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — gallyfam @ 6:51 am
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here are some quick before & after shots of the “playroom/guest room” upstairs.  the first two photos are of the room when it was at the front of the house (upstairs), while the “new” guest room is at the back of the house, in the boys’ former bedroom.  we just did a flip-flop so the boys could have a bit more space in their room.  phil & i love this big turquoise-ish couch that we bought years ago — i would tell you how we had to remove the entire window & hoist the couch up through it in order to move it from downstairs to upstairs, but that’s a story for another day…   i especially love this couch with the mustard-y yellow walls — so we painted the new guest room the same color as the old one…  also, Target had a particularly genius moment this summer in their throw pillow aisle, as you’ll see evidence of scattered around the couch.  you can’t see the TV off to the right side in the final picture.  we finally broke down this spring and purchased a large flatscreen TV (after having gone several years without cable and with a super small TV), so this room is really the media room, where a lot of video games are played and TV shows (via Hulu & Netflix, still) and movies are watched.  the little table is from my favorite market down in Denver (Stapleton, actually — the Sweet William Market), and it fits perfectly — giving us a place to rest our feet or place our drinks.  it’s a cozy little space, and i love the way it turned out!

BEFORE: View #1 of the old guest room...

BEFORE: View #1 of the old guest room…

BEFORE:  View #2 of the old guest room, with Lincoln's dice on the couch (his favorite alone-time activity).

BEFORE: View #2 of the old guest room, with Lincoln’s dice on the couch (his favorite alone-time activity).

AFTER:  The "new" guest room, in the room that was formerly the boys' striped green bedroom.

AFTER: The “new” guest room, in the room that was formerly the boys’ striped green bedroom.

where did we move all those beautiful black & white portraits, you ask?  we moved them into the stairwell, on a newly painted wall.  Instead of spreading them out around the house, we formed a gallery of sorts and placed them all on the same tall wall.  i absolutely LOVE seeing these precious faces of our boys as i go up and down the stairs multiple times a day…

Photography by Jeff Scroggins Photography

Portraits by Jeff Scroggins Photography, photogenic children by Phil & Anne Gallagher

 

 

our sweet seven-year-old. December 5, 2013

Filed under: Lincoln,Uncategorized — gallyfam @ 7:03 am

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meet lincoln.  he is our middle son, and he turned SEVEN two short months ago…

lincoln is my lover.  he is a feeler.  he experiences and deeply feels emotional highs and lows daily.  he loves to laugh.  his giggle is infectious.  he is silly.  he cries frequently, from hurt feelings, physical hurts, or out of pure frustration.  he loves to snuggle and touch.  he is 100% “guy,” using surprisingly manly gestures and vocabulary for a 7 year-old.  once, one of the shyest toddlers i knew, he has grown into quite the opposite.  he connects with people naturally and instinctively.  children and adults alike are drawn to him.  he begs for playdates.  lincoln is Mr. Popular in his class at school.  he has a girlfriend and isn’t embarrassed by it.  lincoln is also an introvert.  he continues to seek out time to play alone with his dice, daily (much to the chagrin of his brothers, at times).  he cannot be guilted or tricked out of it.  he also loves to take his electric scooter out for a ride around the neighborhood on his own.

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as in any family with young children, from time to time, our boys come into our room in the middle of the night after having a bad dream.  this rarely happens with our oldest son, but the last time it did, he came in wearing a headlamp, and we woke up out of a dead sleep to a blinding light.  our youngest son comes down the most frequently, as he is only four years old.  these two boys will have nightmares of monsters, zombies, bad guys breaking into our house and so on.  not my lincoln.  he came into our room last night after a bad dream, climbed into bed with us (not unusual for any of our boys in this situation), and needed to snuggle.  he put his forehead against mine, found my hand and held it.  when i finally brought him back to his bed, we needed to cuddle some more.  i didn’t ask what his dream was about last night, but the time before that?!?  lincoln said he dreamed that i didn’t love him any more!  a pretty clear difference between lincoln and his brothers, i think.

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lincoln loves art.  he creates beautiful and colorful drawings.  he likes to take pictures on his small, hand-me-down digital camera.  following in his big brother’s footsteps (or mom & dad’s — we get to claim credit for the good stuff, right?), lincoln is amazing at math.  he’s way ahead of the game, flying through extra worksheets on adding and subtracting 3 and 4-digit numbers in first grade.  and rarely making mistakes.  he is a natural reader as well, passing all of his “sight word” tests first in his class.  he does well in school and loves to go.  probably one reason that his little brother is SO looking forward to kindergarten next fall.

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here are some random lincoln facts for you.  lincoln doesn’t like to eat breakfast.  when he does, it’s usually a piece of bread, or yogurt.  lincoln HATES bell peppers — even the smell of them.  he will sit at the opposite end of the table if we have them for dinner.  lincoln sleeps without a shirt on almost every night.  he also sleeps on top of his comforter, under his special blanket.  we suspect this is so that his bed is already made each morning…  lincoln takes the best care of his hamster, speedy.  he will feed and hold him more than his brothers do for their hamsters.  lincoln is awful at brushing his teeth.  he screams at the top of his lungs when he vomits.  he loves to ride the bus home from school.  lincoln is obsessed with sour candy.

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and that’s lincoln.  he wears his heart on his sleeve.  our 7-year-old man boy.

we LOVE you, lincoln, harder than we can squeeze you.

 

summertime is oh-so-sweet. July 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — gallyfam @ 7:02 am
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our family of five at the top of our hike up Shrine Mountain.

it is hard to believe that it is already mid-july.  the summer is flying by, and while part of me wants to bemoan the dreaded end of summer a short month away, i’d rather focus on the beauty that the summer has held for us so far…

the day after school let out, we surprised our three little men with a trip to Denver and to Elitch’s (amusement park).  we had such an enjoyable time with them, savoring the warm early-summer weather and taking our sweet time exploring the park and its many rides.  it’s not often that we have nowhere to be by any certain time – so restful!  silas is at the perfect height — short enough to accompany his little brothers on all the the “kiddie” rides, yet tall enough to brave the truly thrilling rides & roller coasters.  while i was certainly impressed at his courage to try a handful of intimidating adult rides (as a first-born, he is often timid when it comes to risk-taking), i was more proud of the way he stepped up to help out his brothers, to ride silly small rides with them that most boys his age would already consider to be beneath them, and to make sure they enjoyed their day as well.  he is considerate & thoughtful, and i could not be more proud.

we spent that weekend in a hotel in Denver, joined by phil’s parents, affectionately called “papa” and “gamma.” they were able to stay with us for a week, and it was a truly special time with them.  the boys had not seen gamma yet since she battled cancer — through several rounds of awful chemotherapy this winter — and won.  she looked amazing with her new short hairdo and her fresh perspective on life.  we are all filled with gratitude and it was definitely a week not taken for granted after her difficult journey over the past 8 months.  the boys enjoyed playing and wrestling with papa, and we all were able to visit the Denver Aquarium while phil finished his tattoo at Th’Ink Tank downtown.  we also discovered a park in Stapleton with a unique playground and fun water area that will be a favorite for years to come, i’m sure.

next, my sister, liz, came to visit and spend some time with the boys while we left on a short day-and-a-half SCY trip.  while it was too short and her husband, josh, wasn’t able to come, it was wonderful to have her out here.  the way she loves our boys and takes care of them is such a gift to us AND to them.  they love their auntie lizzie!  when we left on our trip, lincoln was a hesitant bike-rider, having trouble with the starting and stopping, especially on the uphills and downhills in our neighborhood.  when we came home, that boy was riding his bike like nobody’s business!  starting, stopping, and easily navigating the narrow sidewalk that borders our communal lawn (“the green”).  it was awesome to see such a dramatic improvement in less than 48 hours.  go, auntie liz!  : )

a week after liz headed home to minnesota, my parents joined us.  like liz, they too were coming to help out with the boys.  we had our longest SCY trip (for this summer) at the end of june — almost a week away with 20 middle school SCY students at a camp down in Gunnison.  i’m so glad that my parents were able to come out  a few days early and stay an extra day afterwards, too, so that we could spend some time with them as well.  i so appreciate the way that my mom is always looking for ways to help out and fun things to do with the boys while they are here.  my parents took the boys to their final swim lessons for us while we were gone.  (i must pause here to say how proud of tate i am.  he took his first-ever swim lessons this summer and he did a great job listening to his teacher and bravely attempting everything he was asked to do!  he was floating, putting his face in the water, kicking and splashing.  i can tell that he will catch on quickly and be swimming in no time.)  my parents took the boys to the Denver zoo while we were at camp — the highlight for all of them was apparently watching a hippo move out of the water to go poop hippo-style in the corner of his arena.  giggles all around!

most recently, our final group of family visitors came and left.  phil’s sister’s family, the martins (rachele, doug, and their kids — tanner, teagan, taggart & lyndee) were here for a week right after the 4th of july.  it was the perfect housing arrangement — thanks to our amazing neighbors — they were able to stay in a house right across “the green,” so we were able to have our own space, but they were right next door all week.  this made for some great soccer games on the green and some relaxing outdoor meals and conversations on our neighbor’s fabulous deck.  the highlight of the week for me was the challenging hike we conquered as a group.  over six miles round-trip, all 11 of us hiked up to the top of a nearby mountain, taking in breath-taking views at the top, as well as leftover snow and beautiful, delicate wildflowers along the way.  it was a beautiful day and it felt like such an accomplishment to reach the top, especially for our youngest three — tate (4), lyndee (5) and lincoln (6).  it was so sweet to watch those three youngest play together all week — they truly hit the ground running as soon as the martins arrived.  similarly, silas had an absolute blast playing with his two cousins closest-in-age to him: taggart (11) and teagan (13) all week long.  we enjoyed taking it all in, especially observing how much their oldest, tanner, has grown and how quickly he is becoming a young man.  phil & i were studying abroad in israel when he was born almost 15 years ago — it is truly amazing how time flies!  we are so grateful that they drove out all this way and spent the week with us.  for us, it was a wonderful “stay-cation” filled with new experiences in our own county, great conversations and beautiful memories…

now to enjoy the rest of the summer at our home here in the rocky mountains!  looking forward to more fun adventures with our boys and with friends…

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one of the wildflowers on our big hike. fun to catch a spider in action, too!

 

may you… May 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — gallyfam @ 5:50 am
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gain the insight to recognize what truly makes you come alive.

may you find the passion to chase after that thing full-heartedly.

may you muster the courage to stare down the risk of failure as you go.

 

“We all need to find the thing we love to do as much as Paige loves to ride her horse. And we know the passions of the people we love. Because if we can’t articulate and activate our heart’s desires, what exactly are we doing anyway, marking time?… We have to know what carries us away.”

 

“If you have a friend who has a gift, tell them, quickly. It really matters. If you have a gift you have been stuffing or hiding away, waiting for a more ‘feasible’ time, stop stalling. Dust off that dream; reclaim that passion; pull it out of the attic trunk, shake it out, try it on like a musty old garment, and see if it still fits. Because it probably does. It’s probably the most natural-feeling thing you have ever worn.”

 

“Passion comprises a few key ingredients: the ability to recognize the things that really stir you, the courage to go after them, and the steady internal fire to press on even when the dream has phases of drudgery.”

 

“It’s the catch-22 of being a grown-up, simultaneously wanting certain things but being scared to death of them at the same time. We have to own whatever is our equivalent of the guy in the orange shorts and realize until we are brave enough to acknowledge the desire (for love, for friendship, for a promotion, for a chance at adventure, for a shot at pursuing a dream) we will never, ever have the opportunity to see it blossom in our life.”

 

(quotes from mile markers, by kristin armstrong)