Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Midsummer Nights Art Festival

Last weekend, Michael went on an epic 48-hour trip to climb a 14,000 mountain in Colorado with my brother-in-law Levi. Since we had traveled the last three weekends before that, I was happy to stick closer to home with Grayson.

One evening we made impromptu plans to meet up with some friends for dinner and then walk over to check out the the Midsummer Nights Art Festival at a nearby park.

The boys enjoyed a little painting, some live music and the shaved ice food truck. I didn't really have time to leisurely stroll through the vendor tents, but it was a lovely evening just catching up with friends that we hadn't seen in a while since we've been so busy.

I'm looking forward to more weekends like these now that the weather is cooling off a bit.

Gray next to his painting of "mountains" (to his right) and Liam with his abstract spirals. Braham is just barely shown still working on his masterpiece to the right. It was basically a muddy yellow mess by the end, but he was really into it. 

Liam and Gray on one of the sculpture ducks like they have in the park where the festival was held. Grayson seems to have legs for days in this picture. 

Abraham is just the cutest little thing and he has so many more words compared to the last time I saw him. He's really changing from a toddler into a kid, and loves keeping up with the big boys.

Love this little guy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Our First Grader

Grayson was SO excited to go back to school and start 1st grade. His teacher seems very nice and he has several boys from his T-ball team in his class, which also made him happy.

This is the first year they get a real desk (instead of a table) to keep some of their supplies inside. He loves having his own pencil box (complete with pictures of the solar system), folders and spiral-bound notebook.

We also signed up for Tiger Cubs (Boy Scouts) which meet weekly at the school and will be another good way to get to know more boys and their parents. I think Michael is just as excited as Grayson to camp and build a Pinewood Derby car.

I asked Gray a few questions to remember the things he likes at this moment in time:

Favorite color: Green
Favorite food: Pizza
When I grow up I want to be a: Policeman (sorry Uncle Levi)

He was also very adamant about wearing this yellow shirt and his new shoes from Pappa & SuSu. I tried taking a few pictures before we walked down for the first day of school, and he posed in every one of them.

Pose 1: the side angle with only one backpack strap on

The leaning pose -- check out that cool hair! :)

The outdoor leaning pose -- daddy had to get in on the fun

Monday, August 24, 2015

Southern Comfort

Right before school started, Gray spent a week in Mississippi with Pappa and SuSu, then Michael and I drove out to stay for a long weekend and bring him back.

We always have a wonderful time there relaxing and visiting with family. This time was no different. Michael and Gray fished daily, SuSu and Gray baked and decorated a delicious birthday cake and we enjoyed catching up with all our family.

I tend to unplug when we go there, but did manage to bring my phone and snap a few pictures along the way.

A lake/fish themed cake to celebrate the birthdays of Pappa, Michael and Grayson. I love the scale of the fish to the lego boat.

Grayson and his SuSu

My grandmother Mary Lou with her little gentleman headed into church

Opening an early bday present (a remote-controlled speedboat)

Apparently Gray spied this at the pool store earlier in the week with Pappa and was so excited to receive it and give it a test drive

I think all the boys were excited about taking a turn driving it

They live close to Tupelo, MS, birthplace of Elvis Presley. We decided to stop and take some pictures for Grayson's kindergarten teacher who is a huge Elvis fan. This was the tiny house where Elvis was born and raised. It's about the size of Grayson's room in all. 

Afterward, we needed a sweet treat at a local walk-up diner that's probably been there forever

My parents have also been working hard to fix up a cabin that Susan's grandfather built. It overlooks the same small lake that Mary Lou's house sits on and one of the places the boys like to fish. It's also a great place to relax and have a drink!

Here's the lake looking from Mary Lou's deck. It's always so peaceful and beautiful at dusk. Uncle Mike mowed the day I took this and everything looked golden as the sun set for the evening. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Making the most of Summer

Gray started school last week, but not before cramming as much as possible into the last few weeks of summer break. We enjoyed two trips to Lake Tenkiller with family, he spent a week in Edmond attending a cowboy/ranch camp with Holten and then a week Mississippi, and also managed to attend a mini-college camp at OU for a week.

The flurry of activity made the month go by incredibly quickly and I think we're all ready to settle back into the routine of the school year.

I didn't get any pictures from his cowboy camp or mini-college camp at OU, but he came home very excited about both. He loved tromping around in his cowboy boots and got to ride a horse several times, plus experience a lot of other fun farm activities. Of all the barnyard animals he met, I think he loved holding the bunny the most.

At mini-college, he had three classes a day that were STEM-related and taught by OU professors, then they'd break for the day around 3 p.m. and head over to the OU swimming pool.

Gray discovered the diving pool and after building up his courage to jump from the highest diving board, he didn't want to stop. He also seemed to like the classes since they were heavily science-based and also centered around space (one of his favorite topics!).

I think his favorite thing by far was taking a couple of dollars and buying something from the snack bar at the pool each day. He even shared his money with a new little buddy he met and figured out a way to make the dollars stretch to get two snacks or pick big ones (like nachos) that they could split. It was pretty cute.

We've also been lucky to spend time with some cousins who were in town. Luke and Jack came in from Denver and Holten was in from Seattle so we all went to one of our favorite places, Lake Tenkiller.

Cousin time at the lake. Those faces!

Luke, Gray, Holten and Jack -- I couldn't love these silly boys any more! 

Floating picnic on the tube

Celebrating Pappa's 65th birthday on the water! 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Chinese Camp

Grayson spent three weeks in June attending Chinese Camp held through a program at OU. It built on the language lessons he's had the past few years at his elementary school. He learned songs, more complex language, how to write characters and use chopsticks, plus other art and cultural activities.

Everyday he came home telling me all the awesome things he'd done at camp. They did Tai Chi every morning and even learned a little Kung Fu. He also loved the lunches, which included traditional meals from each region of China that they studied.

The camp was split into four classes by age and the camp director led Gray's class. She would brag on him every day as she loaded him into my car, and at the performance at the end of camp, he had the most speaking parts and solos in the songs his class performed.

It was amazing to see how he soaked it all up. Even if he doesn't become fluent in Mandarin someday, I hope his love of learning other cultures continues.

Gray receiving a certificate and Chinese knot at the end of camp

His class from camp

All of the classes showing off their certificates after their performance

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Life's a Party

We've had a lot to celebrate here lately. Amy and Holten are in town for a few weeks from Seattle and they arrived just in time to celebrate my birthday and my mom's (which was a milestone we won't specify in detail), plus Amy helped me throw Emily a baby shower for baby Wyatt.

I think we've all had our fill of cookie cake for a while, but it's been fun to see so many relatives and friends throughout all of the celebrations.

We even managed to remember to take a picture of the girls at my mom's birthday dinner. 

On the day of Emily's baby shower, Michael took Gray and Holt to the Museum of Osteology (or bone museum). It's fairly new and Gray had been there before with my parents, but Michael and Holt hadn't experienced it before.

Not entirely sure what's happening in this picture, but I found it on Michael's phone and had a laugh

They had a little time to kill after the museum, so Michael took them out to the lake to throw rocks. That's always a hit!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

California Adventure: Part II

The last part of our California vacation was spent with Michael's best friend Aaron who lives in San Francisco. He met up with us in LA and we rented an Air B&B in the West Hollywood area which was close to several things we wanted to see.

The house was amazing and had the best outdoor patio and firepit. I could have been content just staying there the entire weekend and not going anywhere. The owners lived next door and had a six year-old son Max who loved Minecraft, soccer and jumping on his trampoline (which he shared w/Gray and they became instant best buds). It was perfect.

Enjoying happy hour on the patio

We toured all kinds of things with Aaron. The first stop was a studio tour of Warner Brothers. I got sick right before the tour and had to stay behind, but the boys had fun. Luckily, I rallied the next day so I didn't have to miss out on all the fun. 

Here's Gray taking a turn in the sorting hat from Harry Potter. He got Gryffindor, of course.

Gray also saw all the Batman costumes and bat mobiles during the WB tour. Pretty sweet!

The new Minion movie opened the weekend we were there and Aaron hooked us up with a private screening on the Universal Studios lot. We got to watch it with about 40 other people and it was so great! Afterward, we headed across the lot to check out the Universal Studios theme park. Aaron's business partners hooked us up there too and we got front-of-the-line passes which allowed us to ride things in a fraction of the time. It was awesome! 

Showing the transformers who's boss

Checking out the Jurassic World playground

Gray LOVES SpongeBob SquarePants. I didn't think he was ever going to stop hugging him.

We stumbled across a storefront in Universal Studios called Grayson's Finery. If you look closely, he's holding a fart gun that Uncle Aaron purchased when Michael and I left to check out the transformers ride. Can't leave those two alone for a second! Of course there's no volume or off switch on the fart gun. Thanks, Uncle Aaron. 

A real live Minion!

Waiting our turn for the Despicable Me ride which was 3-D if you couldn't tell

On our last day together, we explored the Griffith Observatory and La Brea Tar Pits. Both were really neat and I was glad for a break from the theme parks. I'm more of a science/park kinda girl. Plus, the Griffith Observatory is housed in a beautiful art deco building and I soaked up every wonderful detail.

If you look just between Gray and me you can see the Hollywood sign. We were on the rooftop of the Observatory. 

The La Brea Tar Pits were surprisingly wonderful as well. Here's a depiction of mammoths, with the poor mama getting stuck in the tar. It's pretty interesting all the fossils they've discovered in the tar over the decades and still are uncovering even today. 

 This was one of my favorite exhibits. It was a simulation so you could see how difficult it is to pull something up out of the tar. 

Buddies for life

Also buddies for life