Monday, August 26, 2013

Home Away From Home

The weekend before school started we took a quick trip to Mississippi to visit Pappa and Susu, plus all of Susu's family. We love it there and always have a relaxing time.

Michael got to fish a majority of the daylight hours, Gray became Pappa's shadow and I got to hang out with Susu, my cousin John who was visiting form Nashville and the rest of the family we don't see often enough.

Despite having no set agenda, we never seem to have enough time during our visits. I always leave wishing we lived closer than nine hours away.

Gray doing his Angry Birds impression off Pappa and Susu's diving board

Checking out baby birds in a nest inside Aunt Mimi's rosemary plants

This is the pond behind my Aunt Mimi and Uncle Mike's house. It was the first place Michael decided to fish and we tromped around with my cousin John and some of his buddies who came in town.

Gray acting grossed out by the worms, but seconds later was happily playing with them

Michael in his happy place. His toughest decision was deciding which pond to fish in each day. He caught some of the largest bass ever at a different pond the day after I took this picture. 

Gray and Pappa enjoyed many rides on the Gator

During our visit last October, Gray painted pumpkins for our family and Susu's Aunt Ida Nell was one of the special recipients. After the season was over, she tossed her pumpkin out behind her house to become compost and to our surprise it sprouted blossoms a few months ago. There are several small pumpkins growing just in time for Halloween this year. So fun!

Ide, Susu and Gray (along with Sweetie, Ide's new cat) next to the spontaneous pumpkin patch

Hanging out with Mama Lou and Papa John 

Papa John has a new sporty walker and Gray enjoyed getting pushed around like a race car

I think they were both enjoying the ride

Getting nicely sugared up on the drive home with a lollipop from Susu

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Being the big cousin

Little Miss Nora is four months old now and Gray loves his baby cousin to pieces. Gray has wanted to hold her since day one, and now that Nora is more sturdy he can. He also likes to sing to her and pat her. I'm so excited to see these two bond as they grow!

Here's Gray singing "You Are My Sunshine" and Nora is talking back to him

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kindergarten: Day One

Well the big day finally arrived. Gray has been looking forward to kindergarten since the last day of pre-K. He woke up early to get dressed and eat breakfast which I figured he would since he was excited. 

We snapped a few pics before we left the house:

I saw some photos on Pinterest where kids held up a sign that shows how they write their name at the beginning of the year, plus what they want to be when they grow up. Of course, Gray couldn't decide on one career so he said, "a chef, cop, park ranger, fireman and bass player." Just to clarify, he meant upright bass like in the orchestra, not a bass guitar. 

He also dressed himself. Not exactly my choice for a first day ensemble, but he was happy and excited to wear his spiderman shoes and new t-shirt.

Most days, Daddy and Gray will bike to school, but we all walked together this morning to avoid the crazy first-day traffic. He also insisted on carrying his lunch bag instead of putting it in his nearly-empty backpack. I talked to him a lot about not throwing it away and bringing it home for tomorrow. I'm happy to report the lunch bag made it home after school, but with most of his PB&J sandwich still inside. Can't say I'm too surprised that he only ate his grapes, fruit gummies and juice box.

This is where Gray sits in the classroom. Right after we snapped this pic he was walking across the room and tripped over a chair which led to a total meltdown. Nothing like getting injured before the first bell rings. He had a small carpet burn on his elbow and knee, but we managed to calm him down before class began.

When I picked Gray up this afternoon, he told me he had a good day but the teacher said he had been all over the room and wasn't listening well. She thinks it's because he's young compared to the other kids, but I told her we'd talk to him about it tonight. 

Michael and I spoke with Gray about it and he said he was so excited he couldn't sit still, but that he would get a good report tomorrow. I'm not sure if that's really true or if he was just testing the teacher to learn his boundaries, but I'm hopeful it isn't a trend. We've threatened to take away a few favorite toys as insurance if tomorrow isn't better. Between the carpet burn meltdown and not staying put, I'm sure he made quite a first impression on his teacher. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Goodbye Summer

Today was Gray's last day of summer vacation. Tomorrow he starts kindergarten and a journey that I know will pass all too quickly. Daddy took advantage of their last "stay home" day by taking a break from work to go fly a kite. I'm so glad they got to enjoy a few fleeting moments before the frenzy of school begins. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Counting our blessings

This week, Michael celebrates his one-year anniversary of Quite Right Studio. I'm so proud of him and all that he's accomplished over the past 12 months.

As expected, it has been full of ups and downs, but we've faced them together and to our pleasant surprise, our savings account has lived to tell about it. Despite the inconsistency that working for yourself can bring, the flexibility more than makes up for it, allowing him to take an active role in Grayson's daily life while also giving us the ability to pick up and go on vacation without having to scrutinize over a limited number of vacation days like in the past.

Meanwhile, I've continued to face a long commute and daily grind leaving little energy left to enjoy making a home-cooked meal or tackling domestic duties, plus feeling mommy guilt for missing school parties, doctors visits and barely knowing Gray's teachers.

Each of our roles takes its toll on us and Gray in different ways. While I enjoy what I do for a living, it would be nice to pull back a bit to have more time to spend with Gray before he's at the age where hanging with the parents isn't cool.

I'm blessed to work for a company that was open-minded when I approached them about transitioning into a schedule that would shorten my hours (and pay, of course), allowing me to be home when Gray gets out of school from kindergarten.

My new schedule starts in a week and I'm really looking forward to picking Gray up from school and spending a few extra hours with him each day. The fact that this extra time doesn't come at the expense of a career I enjoy is such an added blessing.

I know we have a lot to figure out, both with our schedules and finances, but I'm confident we'll never regret stepping back and finding a way to show Gray that working hard is important as long as you don't forget who and what you're working for.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Everyday Moments & Milestones

Yesterday was Gray's last day of daycare. He starts kindergarten in a week and after anticipating this day for so long, I can't believe it's finally here.

Soon we'll be busy with Thursday folders, library books and all kinds of school-related to dos. I've been getting Gray back in the swing of writing and working on his letters with some printable worksheets I found on Pinterest. Can you tell I'm the daughter/granddaughter/niece of teachers?

Amy, Michael and I also took off early on a Friday and surprised the boys by taking them to see Turbo at the movie theater. It was a really cute movie and the boys enjoyed getting their own small bags of popcorn. My how I wish these summer days could last forever...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Summertime cruisin'

It's been really hot here lately which for us means it's time for snocones! We usually hit up a snocone stand that has dye-free flavors, but this time around Gray insisted on getting blueberry which, of course, is not on the dye-free menu.

We were smart enough not to let him eat it in daddy's car which proved to be a good move since he ended up ruining his t-shirt when some extra juice spilled at the end. Oh well, such is life.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Good food + good friends = great fun

We recently enjoyed a visit from our friends Matt, Gina and Julianna who now live in Fayetteville. Our circle of friends rounded up our ever-growing posse of kiddos and enjoyed a potluck picnic at the park.

Here are two of my dinner dates, Claire and Julianna 

The kids enjoyed Liam's stomp rocket while the parents enjoyed a little relax time

As you can see, Gina is expecting and Julianna will be a big sister in a few short months!

The next night we hosted a swim party and second round of potluck, but the true hit of the evening was this slackline. It drew out all our neighbors and now Michael and Gray are both obsessed with the sport. If you've never seen some of the videos on YouTube of the tricks and amazing feats of slacklining, it's worth a Google. 

This one is blurry, but it's the best one I have of Michael giving it a whirl. He already ordered a slackline of his own as an early birthday present. I wasn't joking when I say he's obsessed. 

Sweet Julianna preferred to check out Gray's bike trailer on our porch, spending lots of time climbing in and out for entertainment