Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Dentist

This week Grayson had his first trip to the dentist. I happened to have a six month check-up, so I brought him along for the experience. The receptionist actually asked me to bring him because they like for kids to be comfortable in the office prior to any dental work being needed, plus I think they were excited to see him.

The dentist we go to (Dr. Pat) is the same dentist I've gone to my entire life minus the three years we lived in St. Louis. He was just taking over his father's dental practice when I was a child so to differentiate himself from his dad, Dr. Woods, we called him by his first name. Dr. Pat is so laid back, it actually suits him well. The office is like one big family and they, of course, know my whole family since most of us still go there including several cousins.

I was hoping Grayson would be comfortable there too and after charming the receptionist and following around several dental hygienists while I was getting my teeth cleaned, I'd say he was at ease. He got to ride up and down in the chair, play with the suction straw thingy and scored a new toothbrush.

When Dr. Pat came in and checked out my teeth, Grayson was proud to show off his pearly whites as well. We had been practicing saying "ahhh" and opening wide. His mouth is nearly full of teeth now, with only the bottom eye teeth left to break through and they are nearing the surface. After that, we'll have a short break before the next set of molars come around 30 months.

I can't believe we're already at this point. Seeing him in the dentist's chair was such a big boy moment. Where is my gummy, drooly mess of a baby? Tomorrow I'll be writing about the high cost of braces and headgear.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Showmen's Rest

On our way down to Beavers Bend State Park we stopped to stretch our legs in Hugo, Oklahoma at the Mount Olive Cemetery. This may seem like a strange choice, but it is not your average cemetery. Inside there is a special section named Showmen's Rest that is dedicated to famous and infamous circus performers.

You see, Hugo is a tiny little town in the southeast corner of the state where dozens of circuses have and currently do spend their winter off-season. It all started with the Miller family decades ago, and word spread about the mild weather and easy rail access so other circus companies began wintering there as well.

I've known about this place for quite some time, but had never experienced it myself. It is said that in addition to the eclectic circus performers, other celebrated personalities rest there too, including several rodeo greats such as Lane Frost, the original Marlboro Man, and Ed Ansley (aka Buster Brown).

As we got out of our car, a local woman happened to drive by and asked if we were visiting family. I told her we were not and that we had heard about Showmen's Rest and happened to be in the area. She quickly seized the opportunity to park her car and proceed to give us the nickel tour. Apparently some of her relatives are buried there and she knew the history of all the different circus companies and many of the notable characters buried there.

She stayed just long enough to give us some interesting insight and then got back into her car as quickly as she appeared, leaving us to explore the intricate and artistic headstones on our own. I've never seen such amazing headstones. It was obvious that great care and planning had gone in to each and every one. The carved stones showcased everything from animal trainers to elephant riders to trapeze artists, but with a common theme of beauty and individuality.

The performers must have loved the thrill of the show and even in death, are still drawing a crowd.

A parade of stone elephant markers set Showmen's Rest apart from the rest of the crowd.

The AG Kelly & Millers Brothers Circus headstone (one of many Miller family plots). This couple owned Miller Brothers circus, the first to begin wintering in Hugo.

A large tribute to "All Showmen Under Gods Big Top" that rests in the center of the gathering.

One of many nicknames that appeared alongside given names

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our Cabin Getaway

We've just returned from a long weekend at Beavers Bend State Park which is in southeast Oklahoma, one of the most beautiful parts of the state. The area is known for mountain views overlooking pristine Broken Bow Lake and the Mountain Fork River, both of which are prime spots for fishing and relaxing. We drove down last Thursday and returned on Monday rested and refreshed.

We had our own cabin retreat nestled in the pine forest and Grayson experienced several "firsts." He went fishing, roasted marshmallows on an open fire, met an owl, rode a train, had a caterpillar climb on his arm and, of course, was glued to his Nana and Popper (Michael's parents) every second of every day.
Here are a few of the highlights:

Meeting Park Pal (the state park mascot) with Nana. Surprisingly, he didn't freak out.

Touring the exhibits inside the Forest Heritage Center. Gotta love vintage Smokey the Bear.

Too distracted to pose. There was a live owl a few feet away.

Mr. Owl hanging out on the porch of the Forest Heritage Center.

Striking a pose with Mom at one of the cool wood carvings around the Forest Heritage Center.

Grayson's first cast. His face is priceless.

Hanging by the river with Nana.

Being pulled in a wagon is really the only way to travel.

Blowing bubbles by the cabin.

Swinging at the awesome playground with Nana.

A real, live caterpillar.

Fishing the Mountain Fork River with Daddy.

Daddy catches a blue gill.

Popper shows us how its done with this rainbow trout.

At the Beavers Bend Depot to ride the train.

Enjoying a gushy marshmallow

Grayson touching the cold water in the river

Fishing with Mom (his rod had a fake red fish on the end so he thought he was catching something)

Roasting marshmallows

The one that got away

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Booka Booka

Books (aka "bookas") and words are the two things that consume Grayson's brain these days (followed closely by sliding and swinging). He loves pointing out objects and telling you the words:

And generally telling you all about it...
Oh, and I can't forget the joys of wrestling with daddy. That's pretty fun too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What We've Been Up To

We've had a lot going on lately, but no time to blog about it. Michael has been busy doing some kind of overhaul on his car while simultaneously ripping out our countertops in the kitchen and two bathrooms. Meanwhile, my dad was in town over the weekend and helped me entertain Grayson throughout the mess. Unfortunately, it was rainy all weekend so he couldn't even go outside and run around or swing.

Our new countertops are set to be installed on Wednesday and I can hardly wait. I've been documenting the demo process (think Mike with a sledgehammer, two types of saws and crowbar) and will post before and after pics once we are at the "after" stage.

In Grayson news, he's still infatuated with books and words in general. I've started quizzing him randomly to see what he knows and was surprised yet again tonight. He recognizes a few shapes (square, heart and star), plus all his facial features and belly, foot, arm and hand. He's staring to learn animals (beyond his favorites "good girl" aka dog and duck), while also taking great joy in pointing out every truck during our commute.

Birds are another great source of entertainment these days and luckily we have a lot of them flying around our backyard. It's amazing to see how quickly his mind processes and retains new information right now.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Face Only A Mom Could Love

After a crazy day at work, this kid puts it all back into perspective. My life lesson for the day: sometimes progress can be really messy, but it's still worth it in the end.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Time Has Come

We have finally given in to Grayson watching a little television. It all began innocently (and ironically) enough with a book.

Grayson is currently obsessed with books and his favorite one is Elmo Loves You. He calls Elmo "Momo" and has read this book so much it's literally falling apart at the cardboard seams.

Knowing how much he enjoys Momo, I thought I'd show him a few Elmo sing-a-long videos on YouTube for fun. When Grayson recognized Momo as a "real" live movable thing on the screen his face immediately lit up and he began dancing. He was filled with so much excitement and surprise, it was like he discovered a long-lost friend. Up until that point, he had no idea that Elmo lived anywhere besides his books.

It would be easy to assume that his instant fascination stemmed from not really being around the television, but the truth is we've shown him some other kid-friendly morning shows and even some Baby Einstein DVDs and he quickly looses interest after a minute or two.

Not wanting to force TV on our young child, we just moved on and were thankful he enjoyed playing and reading, but now that he's discovered Elmo it's like he can't get enough of this new, wonderful friend. Last weekend we purchased an Elmo "Let's Play Music" DVD that's 56 minutes long. Grayson actually sat completely still and watched it for 27 minutes straight. After a short play break and snack he went back and finished the rest of it. We were shocked.

Luckily, Elmo is fairly educational and likes music which Gray is also very into these days, but I am amazed that something can capture Grayson so completely when other puppets, cartoons and even Mickey Mouse don't seem to interest him. I guess those Sesame Street folks really know kids.

We're still planning to limit Grayson's TV exposure but it's nice to have the DVD in our back pocket, especially for things like our upcoming roadtrip to Beavers Bend State Park or flight to Houston. Momo may quickly become best friends with our entire family.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Word of the Day

It seems like every day is a vocabulary lesson (and surprise) around our house. A few mornings ago, Grayson woke up and said "eat" while pointing to his mouth. We had hadn't heard him use that word before but he seemed to know exactly what it meant.

Then tonight at the grocery store we were perusing the produce section and he said "apple." Sure enough, we were standing next to the apples.

We've also been using pictures of our extended family as flash cards to teach him names of people he doesn't see daily. It's all starting to sink in and is fun to watch everything click. He's even putting a few words together from time to time, such as "dada, bye."

If that wasn't enough of a sign our little boy is growing up, we were looking for some new socks at Target and had to go over to the Boys section to find his size. We're so used to shopping in the baby section that on the walk over, Michael told me he couldn't believe we were already moving up to "real" boy clothes.

After all of this big boy business, I went ahead and gave Grayson extra kisses and cuddle time when I was rocking him tonight. It just seemed in order.

Stranger Than Fiction

As many of you know, my husband is a collector of hobbies. Over the 10 years I've known him, Michael's interests have ranged from cycling to cars to computer gadgets to learning instruments to video games to fly fishing to day trading stocks to learning languages to 2-cycle engine repair and many others.

This list is in addition to his artistic pursuits of pottery, photography, sculpture, painting, jewelry making, woodworking, re-upholstery, and (his profession) graphic design. The latest twist in this saga is so strange I find it comical. He's recently been obsessing about vintage turntables and bonsai trees. Yes, you read that right. I can't make this stuff up. Here are photos of two recent acquisitions to prove it:

A Pioneer receiver and speakers which will accompany a future turntable (even though we do not own a single record...yet).

Several seedlings he recruited from our backyard that are "potential" bonsai candidates.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great to have hobbies but Michael doesn't really treat these like normal hobbies. He OBSESSES to no end learning about them, researching everything and collecting all kinds of gear to go along with the latest activities. Essentially, his lifelong hobby is to collect endless amounts of stuff as he moves from one interest to another.

As his partner, I have become inspired to take up a new hobby as well. Purging.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Swinging into Spring

In addition to stopping by our house, the Easter Bunny also dropped by Grandmother and Granddaddy's house (my mom and step-dad), leaving behind a new swing for Grayson.

I wish so badly that I had video taped Michael attaching the swing to the tree. It was worthy of America's Funniest Home Videos. Our neighbor even popped his head over the fence to see what was going on after seeing Mike scale the tree and then make a dozen (plus) attempts to throw the ropes over the branch.

Once he got the ropes secure, the rest was a snap and Grayson was quickly enjoying a sunset swing. I have a feeling this will be our new evening entertainment for a long, long time.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Despite me being under the weather lately and Grayson's nose running off his face, we managed to have an enjoyable Easter. My parents, sister and brother-in-law came by for brownies and an egg hunt this afternoon.

Aunt Emily and Uncle Levi "hid" the eggs and Grayson ran around discovering them with glee (and Roxy's help, of course).

The Easter Bunny brought Grayson a bubble shooter so we had fun getting sticky. The timing was great because "bubbles" is one of Gray's new words this week, along with eat, out, boo boo, and bonk.