Friday, March 29, 2013

Parent/Teacher conference

We recently had our second parent/teacher conference at Gray's pre-K. We absolutely love his teacher and I think she may have a soft spot for our boy too.

She has each student do a series of exercises that were also completed last fall when we had our first parent/teacher conference. It's really fun to see how Grayson has progressed.

Here's one example. She read the class the Three Billy Goats Gruff book and asked them to draw a scene from the story.

This was Gray's picture last November. Quite elaborate and pretty good recall of the story, but it's really just scribbles until the teacher asked him what each thing was so she could label it. 

This spring he opted for a simpler scene, but with more detail. This is a big billy goat on a mountain. 

On this one he was asked to write his name and draw a picture of himself. Apparently in the fall he didn't have a torso, just legs coming from his head. 

This time around it actually looks like a boy. I asked him if the line between his eyes was an eyebrow and he said it was his forehead. 

She also has them do a worksheet identifying shapes, numbers and letters, plus completing a simple letter pattern and a story problem. He got everything right except when it came to identifying letters. He only recognized about half of the alphabet and they really want you to ID all of them by the time you get to kindergarten.

With Gray's late interest in wanting to learn how to write, I'm not surprised he's a little behind on letter recognition too. She gave us some ways to help him catch up, so we've been doing exercises each evening that are disguised as games. During this time, I've realized he likes to sometimes write with his left hand and can actually do so fairly well even though he mostly uses right. I don't correct him so we'll see where that goes.

We also talked with his teacher about Gray's attention span. I've noticed that there's times he knows the answer to questions, but is distracted by something or wants to go play so he just says he doesn't know in hopes we'll move on quickly. She wasn't as concerned by this yet since this tends to be a boy trait and he's young compared to the other students. I guess it's just something we'll watch and work on.

Overall, the teacher was very complimentary of Gray and talked about the funny things he says and how well-behaved he is in class. She thinks he's definitely ready to move on to kindergarten and we're both hoping he'll get her twin sister as his kindergarten teacher.

I can't believe there are only two months left of pre-K! We've already completed our kindergarten paperwork and I know the rest of the school year will continue to fly by.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

From Eggs to Bones

When we visit Houston we always try to cram as much into our short trip as possible. In addition to making the rounds to see our family, we were able to enjoy an early Easter egg hunt and also check out the natural history museum (did I mention this was all in one day?).

Michael's dad works at the Univ. of Houston and they were hosting an Easter egg hunt for the families of faculty and staff. Grayson was so worn out from staying up late with the extended family the night before, that he slept in well after 9 a.m. which I don't think has ever happened. 

We had just about written off going to the egg hunt when he woke up and we made a split decision to hurry up and get ready so we could get there in time. We made it just as they were counting down to the start "3, 2, 1, GO!" We told Gray to run on ahead and start collecting eggs. 

Michael barely had time to grab the camera and, sadly, Popper missed the whole thing because he was parking the truck. He did manage to find us after to check out the rest of the activities.

Gray is in the red shirt in the middle. 

Getting a boost from daddy for some of the last, well-hidden eggs

Could we be dressed any less "Easter-y?" At least we had on some U of H Cougar red.

Gray with Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny

After the egg hunt we walked around campus and got up-close and personal with two cougar statues.

From there we went on to the natural history museum which has an amazing butterfly exhibit. You walk into a greenhouse that feels like a rainforest inside (complete with a three-story waterfall) with butterflies flittering all around. I always hope for one to land on me, but no such luck this time around. 

Then we went on to the dinosaur exhibit. Gray is really into dinosaurs and actually knows most of their names. We played a game where he would look at their teeth and tell me if they were a meat eater or plant eater. He also asked that we read the sign next to each display so he could hear about that dinosaur's characteristics. You could see the wheels turning in his head the whole time.

Listening to Nana tell about this prehistoric crocodile

The museum also had a exhibit all about petrified wood. While that may not sound exciting, the patterns and colors were mesmerizing and remind me of abstract art. I'd love to have one of these huge tree sections hanging on my wall as artwork. 

These pictures don't do justice to the beauty of each piece. They gleamed under the exhibit lights.

One more shot of Gray dancing under the T-Rex. Like a lot of kids, the T-Rex is his favorite and thanks to Popper, he now has a stuffed animal T-Rex (named Ted) from the museum gift shop. He sleeps with Ted every night and carries him around everywhere. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cousin reunion!

We spent the last few days of spring break down in Houston catching up with Michael's family and reuniting these adorable cousins:

Rhyann, Blayne, Lincoln & Grayson
I couldn't possibly love this rotten bunch any more!

Here are a few pics of Lincoln checking out a book. He's such a good baby and barely makes a peep, and only then it's when he's usually worn out and ready for a nap. I loved getting in some snuggle time.

Here he's wondering why we're so crazy and thinking, "That's never going to get me to smile."

Check out Rhyann photo bombing this picture. And aren't Lincoln's little shoes the cutest?

Hey, you talkin' to me?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Showering Baby Nora

We recently hosted a baby shower for my sister Emily and brother-in-law Levi's soon-to-arrive little girl. I'm over the moon excited to finally have a girl in our immediate family. She is expected to arrive in late May. 

It's amazing how many neat baby products have come on the market in the short time since we were going through the shower/baby stage. Despite the innovative gadgets, nothing can top the adorable dresses, bows and booties that come with having a baby girl. 

This little one may not have a bottle to drink out of or blankets for swaddling, but she will be one well-dressed cutie pie. Priorities, right?

We held the shower at a nearby restaurant that has a great party room with local art. My older sister Amy designed the cutest vintage theme with letters and pink chevron sprinkled all around. This sign says "Ee: E is for Emily."

P is for party favor! Notice the custom labels on the pink finger nail polishes. This is so Amy. I didn't get any of this DNA and was doing good to get the stickers on straight.


Part of the party guests

My sisters and I along with our mom. 
I swear my little sister is so tiny that I look as pregnant as she does! You'd never know she is in her third trimester.

The hostesses with the mostess! 
Me, Becca (Em's sweet sister-in-law), Emily (aka mommy-to-be) and Amy

I have a couple hundred more photos, but I'll just share those with Emily and spare you the full album. All-in-all it was a fun afternoon and made us all realize how quickly baby Nora will be here. I can't wait to meet her!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fresh air and friends

I am extremely behind on blogging at the moment and currently have a handful of posts floating around in my brain. I took the time tonight to (finally) download some photos from several weeks ago, so hopefully that will help me catch you up a bit.

A couple of weekends ago, we met up with some friends for a potluck picnic at a nearby park. The kids enjoyed dining on quilts in the grass and I loved the simple pleasure of celebrating Friday night catching up with some of our closest friends.

It was a gorgeous evening that was so easy and carefree that it made me thankful for our non-big city life. If only I'd remember to bring out my camera to capture these sweet moments instead of relying on my faulty cell phone photography skills.

Liam (aka Kevin Durant) brought his rocket launcher and the kids (young and old) enjoyed jumping on the pedal to see how high each rocket would fly. 

Gray was a blur the entire evening either running or cycling through the wide open spaces.

Claire and Bea loved loading the rocket launcher

Here's Cora patiently waiting with her ammunition for her turn. Don't let the precious dress fool you...this girl can keep up with those boys without skipping a beat. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Courage, confidence and a bit of crazy

Michael and I think a lot about how our actions and our relationship set a precedent for Grayson. We try to not only tell him but also show him through our own actions how to have manners, show love and empathy, value quality time and not just things, etc.

While we aren't always perfect in leading by example, it's equally as important to also show him that sometimes mommies and daddies have to apologize too, or that you may have to make sacrifices or changes to reach our life goals.

Over the past six months, Michael and I have been navigating some career changes to try and attain that always elusive work/life balance. He escaped corporate cubicle land and started his own business last August, and has worked hard to build it while also taking on more daddy duties shuttling Gray to and from pre-K and daycare, covering sick days, coordinating home improvement projects and more.

I'm so proud of all that he has already accomplished and the new path he's blazing for himself and for our family. His company, Quite Right Studio, offers graphic design services, upholstery/furniture design, and he's also finally taking time to create some home goods that he's had in his head for the 12+ years I've known him.

Six months in, we've both learned a lot about ourselves, each other and how important it is to not only have dreams, but to take the often scary leap of faith in making them a reality. I know Gray is probably too young to understand all of the changes that have taken place in our house, but I hope one day he has the courage to try and realize his own dreams without being too afraid of failing.

As a friend recently said, it's the difference between making a living and making a life. I couldn't have put it better myself.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sometimes the similarities are frightening

When we were pregnant and found out we were having a boy, I knew there would be days when I was out numbered by testosterone. This evening I had one of those moments where the similarities between Michael and Grayson were eerie and shook me to my core.

For probably more than a year now, Gray has been putting up a fight whenever we tear up or recycle a box. It could be a large cardboard box that something was shipped in or a shoebox or even something as small as an empty granola bar box. If he catches one of us disposing of any box, he immediately freaks out and begs to keep it for his "project."

This results in us asking many follow up questions to try and learn more about the "project" and how the box fits into it, but the conversations rarely go anywhere and we usually proceed with getting rid of the box.

Tonight, we had a similar incident after bath time while Michael was trimming Gray's toenails. Michael had collected the trimmings on his knee and was getting up to throw them in the trash when they were done and Gray said, "You could keep those for a collection. They're like the boxes you never let me keep for my project."

After giving me the sideways glance, Michael asked, "What do you want to do with boxes for your project?"

"Put them in order," Gray said. (And this is the moment I freaked out inside and reaffirmed that my son has his father's OCD DNA of putting things in order, as well as the habit of collecting collections, many of which revolve around containers of some sort.)

We asked how many boxes were enough for his project and Gray told us 10. I'm not sure why that's the magic number, but from what limited info we've been able to gather about this project over the last year or so, all I can tell is that he wants to count the boxes. I don't think there's any other method to the madness.

Something tells me that if we were to fast forward twenty years to Gray living on his own, we may have a box hoarder on our hands.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Weeknight picnic

Today is dreary and rainy, but earlier this week we got out and enjoyed the sunshine one evening with an impromptu picnic in the park. We ended up having to finish our meal in the back of Michael's SUV due to the chilly wind, but it was still a fun adventure. 

It's days like this that remind me that spring is around the corner and I cannot wait to store away our coats and take advantage of more hours of sunlight.

Here are a few pictures from the evening:

Finishing up our "picnic" in daddy's truck

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Our not so terrific kid

Of course it's only appropriate that I follow a post about Gray receiving an award with a post about some trouble we're having with Roxy.

As I've discussed here before, Roxy has issues with guarding things and aggressive behavior that we've dealt with for nearly her entire life (going on 8 years now).

We've learned the signs and try to prevent episodes or diffuse them, plus we've been trying some new training techniques over the last several months after noticing she was getting worse.

The training helped briefly, but over time hasn't decreased her need to guard things around the house. She's also bitten Michael several times recently which isn't helping matters. Fast forward to last Sunday and Roxy swiped at and bit Grayson unprovoked and we were at our wits' end. Luckily, she just grazed him, but that wasn't the point.

Michael was able to get in to see the vet on Monday morning and we showed him a video of her guarding/aggression episode. He told us he thinks she has behavior issues but isn't an aggressive dog overall.

He prescribed her some anti-depressants and promised we'd see a change within a couple of weeks. The goal isn't to medicate her forever, but to do so long enough to make her more open to the training and to change her aggressive habits.

The vet is confident her issues can be reversed and I'm hoping that's true...for all our sake.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Our Terrific Kid

On Friday, Gray was recognized as a "Terrific Kid," which is a student recognition program developed by our local Kiwanis Club.

Earlier in the week we received a letter from the school counselor telling us that Gray had been nominated by his pre-K teacher and that he was going to be recognized at a special breakfast and school assembly this week.

Michael asked the teacher more about how Gray was selected and she said, "This month the award focuses on the characteristic of friendliness, and who better to receive that than Grayson?"

Of course, that made my heart melt, meanwhile Michael was relieved it wasn't some default award that every kid gets, kind of like getting a participation trophy for playing a sport. Apparently he has a point of view on these things that I was not aware of until this parental milestone arose (note to self, don't get him started on his soap box when it comes to participation awards and how he feels it sends children the wrong message).

Anyway, fast forward to Friday and we joined kids from other grades and their proud parents as they ate donuts and posed for a picture for our local newspaper.

Here's a group shot of the students from each grade level who received an award. Can you spot Gray? He's on the second row on the left.

Grandmama even woke up before sunrise to make the trip down to attend the assembly.

When they called Gray's name in the assembly to come up and receive his certificate as the pre-K honoree, I think he was more excited about running through a tunnel of 5th graders holding their arms up like an archway. I captured a quick video with my phone so I hope you can see the skinny red blur running through the human tunnel.

When it was all over we gushed to him about how proud we were and all he could ask was if he could run through the tunnel again. Guess that means he's not expecting me to frame his certificate.