Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I stumbled across a few lost photos on Michael's phone this morning and realized I had intended to include them on past blog posts, but never downloaded them. Several of these are a few weeks old, but figured I'd still share them for fun.

A few more pics from our snow storm in early December.

Our Elf on the Shelf Charlie came to visit us and brought a hand-written poem and request from Santa. He asked Gray to help fill up a bag with toys he's outgrown to make room for new toys coming this Christmas. 

When I ask Gray to do something like this, he usually goes through his toys, gets emotional and maybe picks out one or two to give away. This time around, he filled the bag in the photo plus half of another one in about three minutes. No tears. It was a Christmas miracle. 

Here's the poem that came with Charlie. I must say my rhyming skills were challenged on this one. I should have asked my Grandmother Dodson for help. She's much better than I am at this kind of thing.

Gray began questioning Santa and Charlie this year, which I wasn't quite prepared for emotionally. By the time Christmas rolled around, he seemed to once again believe in the magic of the season, but it took some convincing. Here are a few of Charlie's hiding spots. It was a challenge keeping him out of our dusty rooms during the floor installation. When Gray saw him perched on the new light fixture above, he insisted we not turn the light on the entire day so that Charlie wouldn't get shocked. 

Gray and I have been enjoying weekly visits to our local library. He usually picks out a couple of early reader books and a few DVDs. Most of the time he wants the Bill Nye the Science Guy videos, but this time around we also brought home a couple of kid yoga DVDs. He was really into it and had pretty good balance for most of the poses. 

We also enjoyed several trips to look at Christmas lights this year. Here's a small part of the Chesapeake lights in Oklahoma City. They are always one of our favorites. 

After the snow storm came an ice storm that hung around for four days leading up to Christmas. Thankfully, we never lost power and had just had our big oak trees trimmed and only lost a small branch in the backyard. 

This is the Japanese Maple in our front courtyard with a red light shining up from the ground. It looked amazing at night with the rest of the Christmas lights on the house. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy Christmas!

We've had an amazing week celebrating Christmas with relatives from all six sides of our family.

Our floors were finished exactly two hours before my parents, Pappa and Susu, arrived from Mississippi last Friday. It was a race to get the house cleaned and put back together so we could relax and enjoy their visit. I promise to post more on the house later.

Over the next few days we rearranged our living room and den furniture, put up the tree and Christmas decorations and completely transformed our house from a construction site back into a home. What a difference 24 hours made!

Michael's parents, Nana and Popper, plus his grandmother Maw Maw also drove up from Houston on Sunday to stay with us. It was a full-on Griswold-style Christmas and we enjoyed having everyone together.

We spent Christmas Eve with my dad's side of the family. We weren't sure if my Grandma was going to feel up for making the drive to our house, but she did and we were so happy she could join in the fun.

Amy, me and Grandma

On Christmas morning, we had brunch with my mom's side of the family. Holten had received a Woody costume from Santa and Gray got some real cowboy chaps and a cap gun from Michael's aunts and uncles. Both boys insisted on wearing their new duds for Christmas Day. 

The cowboys with Nora in her sweet Christmas dress

By this point, the cousins had had a lot of together time. Holtie was so over getting his picture taken, but as you can see, Gray was happy to oblige by posing for yet another photo.

But all it took was bribing Holt with a few more presents and he immediately found his smile again.

We also celebrated with my step-dad's side a few days after Christmas. This family stretches from Texas up to Ohio and NYC, so it's great when we can all be together. 

Gray with his Great Grandmama Solomon and Nora

Gray and two of his cousins, Ladd and Van, feeding rolls to the ducks

Nora and her Uncle Mikey

Amy's family was on the road moving to Seattle by the time we had this celebration, but she gave Emily and I the sweetest sister necklaces before she left. We both wore them to Solomon Christmas...three pearls that were peas in a pod. So thoughtful and perfect!

Here's Great Grandmama with her "Great Grands" -- Grayson, Ella, Cooper, Van, Charlotte, Ladd and Nora. So many cuties!

Grandmama with her grandkids (my generation) and their spouses. I'm one of 11 grandkids, nine of which are girls and two boys. Six of us girls are in this photo plus spouses, so we at least had half of the group! 

After all the partying, it was time for Gray to enjoy a few days at home playing with his loot. Santa brought him a Lego table and lots of other goodies. He and daddy have been spending hours building Legos and having fun. 

We are very blessed to have such a big and wonderful family. I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bless this Mess

There are so many things going on this week that I'm not even sure where to start. We're smack dab in the middle of several home improvement projects and living in total chaos.

Furniture and decor from our two living rooms, dining rooms, kitchen and hall closet have been moved to the three bedrooms in the back of our house. On top of having half our home displaced, we've been dealing with Gray puking (which is thankfully over by now), finishing Christmas shopping and navigating a couple of extremely busy work weeks for Michael and myself.

Installation of our new wood floors should begin tomorrow, as the last two days have been spent ripping out layers of laminate, carpet and tile only to find more tile and fun surprises from the 1950s. On a positive note, we uncovered an electrical outlet that had been covered by carpet but runs behind where our couch usually sits.

I was thrilled to find it still working so we could use it for a light source behind our sofa. Not an hour later, the electrical cords to said outlet were severed by a jam saw cutting trim to make way for the new floors. One step forward, two steps back.

Long story short, Michael tried troubleshooting it himself but we're going to end up trying to get an electrician out here first thing in the morning so it can get fixed without delaying anything else.

Each day as Gray pulls another paper ring off his Christmas countdown chain, I run through the to do list in my head, re-prioritize and bump a few things off the list. I did manage to check off the last two Christmas presents we needed today, so that is a great accomplishment.

At this point, I'm not even stressed about Christmas or getting our tree up. I mainly just see the mountain of dust on every surface of our house and am ready for it to be clean and livable again. I have a feeling it's going to take a Christmas miracle to make that a reality.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Countdown Begins!

Gray's Christmas spirit lives on year-round, so it has been difficult not going all-out with our holiday decorations this year. We're waiting to get out our tree, stockings and bins of decorations until after the new floors go in later this week.

In the meantime, we're having to get creative about celebrating the season without our usual decorating traditions. With our advent calendar still tucked away in the attic, I introduced Grayson to the old school construction paper chain.

We made a ring for each day between now and Christmas. He loved using scissors to cut the strips and looks forward to pulling off one ring each day.

As an added bonus, he can visually see how many days are left before Christmas so he no longer asks me on a daily basis how long until it's here. I think we're both excited to see the chain get shorter and shorter!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Playdate with Nora

I don't think I've written about little Miss Nora lately. She is getting so big and has learned to roll over! She's also starting to pull her legs up under herself, so crawling is in the near future and I'll once again be reminded how much I need to go back and baby proof the house.

To say that Grayson and Holten love their little cousin is an understatement. Holt is adamant about Nora being his baby and Gray loves bringing her toys and patting her.

It's so much fun to see these three together. Gray and Holt have such a close bond that I'm excited to see the same thing grow with Nora once she gets big enough to play with them. She will soon be their shadow and will have to be one tough little cookie to keep up with these two wild boys.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Snow Day!

Like most of the Midwest, Oklahoma is experiencing a record-breaking arctic cold front which recently brought four inches of ice and snow to our backyard. 

Gray's school was closed on Friday and I worked from home since the roads were still bad. When Gray woke up that morning, he immediately thought it was Christmas. I guess he's seen one too many movies where it snows on Christmas morning. After answering about a dozen snow and Christmas-related questions, we got it all straight. 

After breakfast, Michael and Gray got suited up to play. They couldn't stay out very long because the windchill was ridiculously cold (like single digits), but I went out with him later in the day to tromp around again. 

I was very thankful that we never lost power and had a fully-stocked fridge!

The snow wasn't good for making snowmen or snowballs, but it was good for eating!

Holt was also with us Thursday afternoon/evening as the snow moved in. Amy was flying home from a work trip to Houston and luckily was able to return safely. Meanwhile, they boys enjoyed hot chocolate with marshmallows. 

The boys also enjoyed playing dress-up, hence Gray's pirate bandanna during their cocoa break. 

Holt thought he was so big drinking out of a mug. He pretended it was coffee and kept telling Gray to smell his coffee breath. So silly!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

No rest for the weary

What do you get when you combine holiday travel, cold season and home improvement projects? Two worn out parents! And that's exactly what Grayson has at the moment.

Michael and I have been trading colds for a week and a half now. We think we picked something up while flying home from Houston for the wedding. Michael got it first and now I'm joining him to make a chorus of blowing noses and coughing. 

We're trying hard to make sure Gray doesn't get it too, but it's difficult when he goes to kiss me goodbye in the morning. I have to resist even though I know the days of him proactively offering up a kiss to his mama are numbered.

We drove back to Houston for Thanksgiving, but ended up not being able to enjoy many visits with family due to our colds. Gray had fun and, of course, I forgot to take a single picture the entire visit!

Now that we're back, plans are moving full steam ahead for several home improvement projects. We're getting new wood floors installed next week and are also updating some lighting and our living room built-ins, plus fresh paint in about a third of our house. 

Most of the work is being done by contractors, but we plan to do the painting ourselves if we can just decide between all the swatches we've painted on the wall. 

It's all a little daunting and I'm ready to skip ahead to enjoying the new space. Why can't it be like it is on HGTV and only take thirty minutes to see an entire remodel come to fruition? The goal is to have our house back in order before all of our company comes for Christmas.

Gray so badly wants to put up our Christmas tree, but we're holding off since we'd just have to take it all down in a week when the new floors get installed. To tide him over, Michael put lights on the outside of the house and also hung some up in Gray's bedroom so it would feel more festive. I'm ready to decorate too, but am trying to remain patient. 

That's what's going on in our world. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Wedding Weekend

We just got back from a whirlwind weekend in Houston, celebrating the marriage of Michael's cousin Andrew and his bride Lauren. We enjoyed being part of their special day. Everything was beautiful and Gray pulled off his ring bearer duties wonderfully.

The adventure started with a plane ride. Despite a three-hour delay due to bad weather, Gray loved every minute of it.

This is Gray listening to every word at the rehearsal. He called himself the "ring burier" and took his job very seriously. 

Gray and Nana at the rehearsal 

Family pic!

Gray was glued to Andrew's (the groom's) side whenever possible. Here they are going to check out the reception venue after the rehearsal. 

Gray and his big cousin Blayne bonding over daddy's iPad at the rehearsal dinner. 

Cousin pic! Andrew (the groom), Lindy, Jennifer, Kristin and Michael

Here are the cousins with their spouses at the rehearsal dinner

The ring burier and the flower girl Rhyann

Not to be outdone in the cuteness department, Lincoln donned a bow tie and stole my heart.

Michael caught this picture of Gray as the wedding party was getting lined up moments before the ceremony. Such focus!

I love this picture of Gray and Lauren right before they came down the aisle. I can only imagine what he's telling her.

I guess I should also mention that Michael served as an usher. Check out my handsome fellas!

After a beautiful ceremony, Lincoln was ready to party down with some dinner!

Andrew and Lauren gave Gray an awesome knight Lego set as a thank you gift. He put the 200 pieces together during the reception with a little assistance from daddy.

Rhyann and Lincoln fueling up for some fun at the reception

Gray was all over the place at the reception after he was done with his legos. When he wasn't dancing with Lindy, he was pestering Andrew or the best man. I wish this shot hadn't come out so blurry. 

This one was also blurry, but I loved seeing Nana, Michael and Lindy line dancing. You can even see the bride Lauren kicking up her heels behind them. 

And after hours of partying...we all wanted to crash like Lincoln. 

As I type this, the bride and groom are probably walking on the beach in St. Lucia. Not a bad way to unwind after an epic wedding weekend!