Sunday, December 30, 2012

Meet the Nemos

Part of Gray's Christmas from us was a small fish tank and a new pet fish. Michael and I originally picked out a blue beta a couple of days before Christmas, but when we went to put him in the tank on Christmas Eve he was floating belly up. So much for painstakingly setting up the tank and checking the pH level before putting him in his new home. Apparently we should have just gone ahead and plopped him in instead of leaving him in the bowl from the store.

It was too late to replace him in time for Christmas morning, so we had to give Gray the tank with only the rocks and plants inside and tell him we were going to pick out a fish together.

After what seemed like FOREVER looking at each freshwater tank inside Petco, Gray finally decided that instead of one large fish he wanted several small fish, so we picked out some tetras. In the end, I think this is going to be a much better decision since it won't be so traumatic when one dies (because we all know we're setting ourselves up for the inevitable here).

We got five tetras that are iridescent with a little bit of orange on their tails. I talked Gray through a variety of name possibilities and he decided they all needed to be named Nemo. Guess I was making it too complicated.

Here are four of the five Nemos. The ones on the right are their reflections off the glass. It's surprisingly difficult to get a good photo of fish in a tank (especially when they are fast little swimmers). 

As we were walking around Petco waiting for daddy to buy the tetras (and exchange the beta that Gray knows nothing about), we visited the bird cages and the cat adoption area. Gray promptly decided that instead of fish he wanted a new kitty cat. He's recently become obsessed with cats because of a stuffed animal kitten that Michael's Maw Maw gave him for Christmas. 

Neither Michael or I have ever owned a cat nor do we know the first thing about taking care of them, so I quickly had to divert the conversation back to our wonderful low-maintenance new fish. Luckily, it worked enough to get us out of the store and home without a new kitty cat. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snow angels

Last Friday we received an unexpected second round of snow, this time without the sleet and ice, which amounted to a couple of inches of beautiful, powdery flakes. Of course, Gray and Holt wanted to be in it constantly so we went over to Amy's house where the boys could play in the backyard while we supervised from the sliding glass door in her warm kitchen.

The boys played until their limbs were frozen and their energy-filled bodies were finally worn out, then it was time for grilled cheese. What more could a little boy ask for?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

It's been a whirlwind of holiday celebrations the last few days (and we still have a few more to come), but we've enjoyed every minute of family time.

Many of you know I'm the worst about sending Christmas cards. I enjoy each and every one I receive, and often daydream about the creative family portrait and design ours would have even though I never follow through. Consider this our simple holiday greeting:

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

This year, our family Christmas celebrations started out with my stepdad's clan last Saturday. This group travels from several states and always requires a photo with the cousins (of which I'm one of 11) and the various spouses and offspring we've added over the years. 

Here are two generations of cousins with our beautiful Grandmama. You can see Grayson is quite attached to my cousin Stephen. Probably because Stephen lets him climb all over him while being the best of sports.

Unfortunately this is the best photo I could get of the fourth generation. We were missing several kiddos this year, but it was fun to see these boys playing so well together. I was amazed at how well they all shared their brand new toys with one another. 

Next up was the Christmas eve celebration with my dad's side of the family. I barely took any photos and only managed to get this one of the cousins. I'm still in disbelief that we all have boys!

Luke (5), Gray (4), Holt (3) and Jack (almost 2)

Our Christmas day festivities got put on hold when sleet and snow started falling in the morning. After weeks and weeks of letting Gray know that we've never had a white Christmas my entire life and this year would likely be no exception, I was proven to be a liar and he was giddy with excitement. 

Of course we had to suit up and check it out ourselves. Here's Nana, daddy and Gray ready to brave the elements:

There wasn't really enough snow for sledding or snowman building, but Michael did slide Gray around on the patio for a bit. Gray also enjoyed eating a few icicles and throwing some snowballs at daddy.  

Afterward we enjoyed some hot chocolate to warm up. Grayson insisted on having "warm chocolate" instead of hot chocolate so that's now what he calls it. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! We've been blessed with so many people who love us and have showered our family with generosity this holiday season. We love you and are very thankful to have you in our lives!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Self reminders and technical difficulties

Several of you have asked about my decline in December blog posts and it's not from lack of material. Our four-year-old provides an endless supply of stories, especially during the holidays (his favorite time of year), but I'm having technical difficulties with my blog.

I've reached the photo size limit which hampers a lot of the things I want to write about. Before cleaning off some photos from old posts to make room, I've been experimenting with a website that converts blog posts into bound books. The first book should arrive any day now and I'll feel more comfortable deleting content once I know it's saved somewhere more permanent. 

In the meantime, here are a few things I don't want to forget:
  • Santa called Grayson last night. We caught the conversation on video, but it's about 4 minutes long so I need to take the time to upload it. He played it pretty cool the whole time, but I noticed a remarkable difference in his behavior during our usual bedtime routine. He obeyed every request the first time without hesitation, so I'd say Santa's call sunk in a bit. 
  • Note to self: There are hairstyle rules in our family that I should accept and stop questioning. For me, it's no short hairstyles. No matter how many times I try, it doesn't turn out like I want and emphasizes my already round cheeks. While I learned my lesson years ago, we recently learned one for Gray.  No matter how much we'd love for his hair to be shaggy and cute, it's too fine (like mine) and just lays there limp and unkempt.  
  • Gray went to his first parade on Saturday. It was Norman's Christmas parade and while I was hoping the marching band would be a highlight, all he seems to remember is how much candy the floats threw out. And the fact that he was allowed to run partially into the street to retrieve said candy left an impression too. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Raisin' Trouble

This past week we had my sisters, brothers-in-law and nephew Holten over for dinner to send off Ben before he reports for active duty at an Army base in North Carolina.

Gray and Holt were playing well all evening, in and out of Grayson's room and generally content. All of a sudden it got very quiet back in Gray's room so Michael went to check things out.

He found that the boys had snuck a box of raisins out of the pantry and were sticking them up their nose. Holt had one in each nostril which easily came out. Gray on the other hand had one lodged way up in his nose.

We think he was trying to get it out on his own and ended up lodging it further up the nostril. By the time Michael found them, Gray was realizing the fun was quickly turning into an issue.

Uncle Ben went into nurse mode and Uncle Levi went into firefighter/EMT mode, grabbing a flashlight and checking out the situation. Luckily, a few hard nose blows later and the raisin was out.

Michael and I then gave Gray a talk about why we don't stick things up our nose and I could tell by the relief in his eyes that he isn't planning to do that again anytime soon. Hopefully it scared him enough to not repeat it.

I was telling this story to my co-workers a few days later and realized that all of them with girls had never dealt with this situation, while the ones with boys could totally relate. What is it with little boys and the fascination with sticking things up their nose?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

We spent Thanksgiving break down in Houston, enjoying lots of time with both sides of Michael's family. Of course, I didn't take a single picture on Thanksgiving day, but did manage to remember to a couple of days later for a family birthday party.

Grayson was so excited about celebrating his cousins' birthdays that he was ready to skip right over turkey day and head straight for the "happy cake." Everyday he would wake up and ask if it was time for the birthday party (that began on Monday and the party was on Saturday).

Michael and his dad also went to a University of Houston football game, so we had to take some photos of the boys in their Cougar gear.

A group shot of the kiddos from the birthday party

Grayson and Robbie (the father of the birthday kiddos) enjoyed racing down the moonbounce slide. I'm not sure which of them was having more fun!

Robbie and Rhyann (the birthday girl) enjoying some slide time too.

Cousins photo with a new addition -- Rhyann (2), Blayne (11), Grayson (4) and Lincoln (3 months)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend bonding

I've been very sick over the last week and I'm just now starting to feel normal again. We had a lot of fun planned for the weekend, but I had to miss out on some of it due to a horrible sinus infection.

Luckily, I was able to recover in time to spend an afternoon celebrating the birthdays of my sisters and brother-in-law Ben. Despite living in the same neighborhood, we're all running in 20 different directions so it was nice to spend a few hours hanging at my parent's place and just relaxing. Oh and did I mention cookie cake was involved?

Then on Sunday we had a wonderful visit from Michael's best friend Aaron who lives in San Francisco and his girlfriend MacKenzie. Again, we didn't have any set plans and just hung around the house catching up.

Grayson loved showing off for our company and brought out all his favorite dress-up gear to entertain them. Of course, they were really good sports and played along for hours.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Updates from School

We had our first parent teacher conference with Gray's Pre-K teacher and it was interesting to hear how he is doing. She walked us through several exercises and worksheets that he had done to show how various skills are developing. He seems to be right on track so that was a relief since he's the youngest kid in the class.

I talked to her about his behavior and interaction with the other students. She said he's a good boy, typically a peacekeeper, and keeps her laughing with his random, funny remarks. I talked through my concerns about him being so young compared to some of the other kids and she gave us some ways to help develop his attention span, but overall she said only time will tell.

Of course, at home it's easy to keep his attention span as we do puzzles or play memory games, but with 18 other kids running around at school I am sure he is more easily distracted. His teacher plans to do some of the same exercises again with him next semester before our next conference so it will be interesting to see how much he changes between now and then.

The school nurse also recently sent home results from a health check they did in his class. They checked things like height, weight, hearing and oral hygiene. Everything checked out great, but his BMI (body mass index) is in the 4th percentile which is on the border of being underweight. Despite being a good eater, he's always been a string bean so it's just something we'll have to keep an eye on.

That's the latest from his elementary school. His favorite parts of the day are going to the library (every Monday), bringing home the snack bag (which means we're in charge of taking snacks for the class the next day), attending assemblies (every Friday) and playing outside. What's not to like about all that?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Everyday Life

Lately, we haven't had anything "blog-worthy" to report, but I must admit the phase we're in with Grayson is pretty good at the moment. I know the minute I share this with the world things will change, but we're all having a lot of fun together.

With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, we've been reading and talking a lot about what it means to be thankful. I can tell he's soaking it all in and he often (out of nowhere) starts listing things he's thankful for (usually family members). He also started wanting to write people thank you notes unprompted which makes my heart happy.

Gray loves holidays and Christmas in particular, so the fact that every store we visit already has trees up and Christmas songs playing thrills him to no end. Of course, his daddy is a firm believer in not putting a single decoration up until after Thanksgiving so we haven't quite pulled our holiday cheer down from the attic.

Another fun development is Grayson's interest in learning to write. He wasn't very excited about it until he started Pre-K and now he can write his first name without assistance. Everywhere we go he's identifying letters or at least trying to. It's fun to see everything click inside his brain as he puts it all together.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Destination Wedding

Last weekend, Michael and I took our first child-free getaway to attend a wedding in Florida. Our friends John and Whitney got married in Sarasota and we decided to join them beach-side a few days early to soak up some sun and catch up before their big day.

It was such a fun trip, reuniting with so many friends that we knew from our days in St. Louis. While it would have been nice for them to see Gray so grown up, I must admit it felt decadent to socialize on our own schedule...I even got halfway through a real book, not just a magazine!

The wedding was in a gorgeous church where the bride's parents and sister were married and then we drove over to a breathtaking oak grove for the reception. It was like stepping into the pages of a movie or a magazine or something. So beautiful and perfect, just what our friends deserved.

Of course, I realized a few days in to the trip that we hadn't taken a single picture. Being beach bums kept us very busy. Here are a few shots we managed to capture:

The view from our room

The view from Michael's beach-side lounge chair

Our cute Fiat rental car...gotta love an unexpected upgrade!

This was the path you walk down to get to the wedding reception. Such a cool place.

Me with my long-lost friend Mandy. She now lives in Atlanta but once upon a time we were interns together at a PR firm in St. Louis. Hard to believe that was nine and a half years ago! About 10 seconds before we took this picture I was laughing uncontrollably and tears were streaming down my face. Mandy seems to have that effect on me. 

All dressed up and ready for dinner under the canopy

I love that they set it up with long farm tables. Here's the pre-dinner shot. 

Once the sun went down it was even more beautiful with twinkle lights draped from tree-to-tree and candles everywhere. 

Mandy and I with the beautiful bride Whitney. 

The newlyweds (aka our partners in crime during our STL days...we were inseparable! Oh how I miss these two!)

You can only imagine the laughs that John and Michael have shared over the years. They wanted their picture taken with John and Whitney's dog Lotus. She's practically as big as they are. 

And last, but not least, I should give a big shout out to my dad and Susan for keeping Gray while we were gone. He was so busy having fun with them that I don't think he realized we were even gone for four days. It was easy for Michael and I to relax and enjoy ourselves knowing our boy was having fun too. Thanks, Pappa & Susu!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I'm gonna be an auntie (again)!

I have been waiting what seems like forever to share the wonderful news that my little sister Emily and her husband Levi are going to have a baby!! 

She's finishing up her first trimester and officially posted the news on her blog here, so that gave me the green light to share it with you. Isn't the picture they took in their climbing shoes adorable? I love that their dog Molly even has some on. 

We cannot wait to meet the new little guy or girl!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Let me catch you up

Michael and I have just returned from a four-day getaway to Florida, but before I get to that I need to catch you up on last week. 

We harvested the last crop from our vegetable garden -- sweet potatoes. They didn't quite turn out as big and beautiful as I remember from my granddad's garden when I was a child. I'm guessing that's because he had an acreage instead of a small six-foot raised bed like ours. 

Anyway, it was fun to learn the process first-hand and dig up the little tuber treasures. 

Then it was time for Halloween! My dad and Susan arrived from Mississippi just in time for some potato soup and trick-or-treating. Gray and Holt got to go together this year and made it quite a long way. 

This was the first year that we lost control of picking Gray's Halloween costume. He chose all by himself and insisted on being a fireman like his Uncle Levi. 

Gray the fireman with Holten the ninja turtle

The boys got a kick out of Susu's devil horn headband

Every year we always start our trick-or-treating at our next door neighbor's house. They enjoy seeing whatever costume we've concocted and this year they got to dress up their own sweet baby girl Cooper. She was Raggedy Ann with the most adorable wig that was as big as she is. Of course, we had to take a picture and I love that the wig is so large it's covering half her face. She was not a happy camper, but we all got a kick out of it...isn't that what Halloween is all about when you have a baby?

The fireman counting all his loot at the end of the night

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Discovering the Philharmonic

Grayson has loved music since he was a baby in my belly and we recently heard about the OKC Philharmonic's Discovery Series that's designed to introduce kids to a concert orchestra. This weekend was the first concert in the series, and of course, it was Halloween-themed.

The musicians dressed up in costumes and they even played Michael Jackson's Thriller as the finale, complete with zombie dancers.

I was so excited to share this experience with Gray, Michael and my Mom. Ever since, Gray hasn't been able to talk about anything by the drums. There were tympani, a big base drum, marimbas and even symbols. He was in drummer boy heaven.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Painting 2012

My cousin Suzanne hosted her annual pumpkin painting party for the kiddos last weekend. This was Holten's first year to attend and he and Grayson played their little hearts out.

As you can see below, Holt is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle for Halloween this year and Gray is a fireman. I tried convincing Gray to be a cowboy sheriff (like Woody from Toy Story) or something more creative, but he is obsessed with firemen lately (thank you Uncle Levi). Guess I'll just be thankful it was an easy costume this year.

Here are some shots from the party:

I just love Holten's built-in ninja muscles. Too cute!

We tried something different with the painting this year. The kids put on stickers and then the moms spray painted over them. We removed the stickers once everything was dry to reveal shapes underneath. Below are the pumpkins as they were drying. I didn't get one of the finished product. 

Next it was time to decorate sugar cookies! Jack couldn't wait for icing...he just started devouring his.

Holten and Luke (aka Spiderman)

The fireman enjoying his cookie!

Here's a group shot of most of the gang. It's so fun to see how much these kids grow each year. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Farmer Grayson

Nana and Popper surprised Grayson with his very own John Deere tractor last weekend. He is beyond happy and now has a one-track mind for riding around the lawn. Our front yard is about to become a dirt track from all the loops he's driven around our big oak tree.

If only we could attach a rake and have it pick up or mulch leaves as he drives. Instead he cranks up the tunes (yes, it has a real radio), shifts into second gear (yes, it has gears and reverse) and races off to lean into another turn.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crazy hair day

Gray is in desperate need of a haircut, but that actually came in handy for "Crazy hair day" at school today. They are celebrating Red Ribbon Week and every day is some kind of special dress up day. He was so excited to use daddy's hair gel!