Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Buddy

I'm off work this week and have been enjoying some quality time with Grayson. I've completed some serious closet purging (mine and Gray's), caught up on laundry (finally!) and am fitting in some fun with my boy.

Grayson received his first video game from Santa (Minecraft), so I'm trying to balance screen time with good 'ol fashioned play time. I'm sure this is a battle we'll fight from now until he moves out of the house, but so far, it's been a great motivator for getting other chores done before he can play his video game.

Iron Man ready for some Minecraft

Showing me all his tricks on the playground before the weather turns bad this week

We've also watched a few movies, had lunch with daddy, baked pumpkin cookies and played with all of Gray's new Christmas toys. I'm very thankful for this time together and our everyday moments of fun. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Party Hoppers

Merry Christmas everyone! Between school, work and family celebrations, we've had two weeks of holiday parties. We're now gearing up to ring in 2015, but before that happens, I figured I should post pictures from a few of our Christmas parties.

Here's Grayson's class after their gingerbread building holiday party. He's about five kids over from the left side. These kids were so amped up when we took this picture, I'm shocked that they are all looking toward the camera. When I walked in to the party, I caught Gray piping icing directly into his mouth...that gives you an idea of the sugar consumption happening at this event. Yikes!

We hosted my dad's side of the family on Christmas Eve. Here are Jack, Gray and Luke hanging out at the cousins' table. 


Aunt Amy sent the boys matching Star Wars Storm Trooper pjs. So cute!

Putting cookies out for Santa

This has been a Lego Christmas! Gray has enjoyed hours (and days!) of Lego building. Here he is working on a 753 piece firehouse set. It took him three days to build the entire thing, but he did it almost entirely himself and plays with it daily. 

The Saturday after Christmas we met up with the Solomon side. Here's a shot with those cousins: Ladd, Cooper, Van, Gray, Ella, Charlotte and Nora. 

Here's my generation of cousins. We were missing about half of the group, but I always enjoy catching up with the gang. 

We are blessed to have so much family! It's been a full couple of weeks, but I couldn't imagine it any other way. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy Birthday Roxy!

This is a belated note to celebrate Roxy turning 10 on Dec. 20th. She enjoyed her day with a few extra treats and, of course, several naps all around the house.

I can't believe it's been a decade since this little fur ball entered our lives. She was big enough to fit inside a shoe and when we took her outside to potty, she'd just sit on your foot and shiver. To her defense, it was February in St. Louis and awfully chilly for a dog who only weighed a couple of pounds.

Since then, she's evolved into a full-on diva, but we still love her enough to put up with her "quirks." Michael and I have also learned a few parenting tricks along the way.

Happy 10th birthday Miss Roxy!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Giving to others is a gift to yourself

This time of year, we talk to Grayson a lot about the non-material gifts of the holiday season. He's still pretty young to connect all the dots, but every year I see him understand more of our lessons and even initiate acts of kindness for others. 

We had a teachable moment today when we donated a truckload of stuff to Goodwill. Gray had helped me fill a huge box with toys from his room that he has either outgrown or no longer plays with. Most are still in great shape, so we talked a lot about how the toys can bring happiness to other kids (thank you Toy Story 3 for illustrating this point as well). 

I was prepared to see a few tears during this purging process as in years past, but he surprised me with a wonderful, understanding attitude and even went above the amount of stuff I thought he would put in the box. 

When we got to Goodwill, I thought he might get upset by the physical act of handing everything over, but instead he jumped out of the truck and wanted to help us carry in all the boxes. I showed him the items mommy and daddy were donating as well, so he would see we weren't asking him to do anything we weren't doing ourselves. 

After everything was unloaded we were back in the truck and he said how happy donating the toys made him feel. We learned about joy this morning at church for Advent and he was happy because he knew those toys would bring joy to other kids. 

Little did he know that his generous spirit and feelings of happiness brought so much joy to his parents. It's these everyday moments I need to hold on to when he's asking to open the presents with his name on them under the tree for the 1,000th time. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

New Traditions

Last Sunday we raced back from Houston to get to our church for their annual Advent workshop. We hadn't been to it before and heard it was a really fun event for all ages.

There's a committee that works all year coming up with craft activities and prepping the materials so you can build ornaments, gingerbread houses, wreaths and other decorative items all in a two-hour span of time. After seeing the event first-hand, I realized how amazing the Advent committee must be, because the event was full of clever craft ideas that were extremely well organized.

It was a really fun way to kick off Advent and also get to know more people in the church. We've been visiting the church for a while, but are now officially joining and love meeting new people through these kinds of activities.

Grayson headed over to build a gingerbread house first, then we made an ornament, painted two wooden candle holders, did a hand stamp picture of baby Jesus in a manger, and then capped off the night painting a nativity set.

I love all of the crafts we made and can't wait to look back on them over the years when we set out our decorations at home. One of the ladies told me they do new crafts each year, so it's fun to add to your holiday collection with handmade, sentimental crafts.

After taking this picture, Gray immediately wanted to eat all the candy off. We're learning a life lesson about restraint! 

Painting a star on one of the candle holders

Painting the nativity which prompted lots of discussion about how Jesus was born. It's such a blessing to see him starting to connect the dots about the true reason for the season. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

We have a lot to be thankful for, and our trip to Houston over Thanksgiving break was a perfect start to the holiday season. We got to see a lot of family, eat tons of amazing food, celebrate birthdays and even get a jumpstart on Christmas festivities.

Here are a few of the highlights:

All of Michael's cousins with their spouses and kids

So many wonderful ladies!

Burning some energy after our Thanksgiving meal

Rhyann keeping up with the boys on her scooter

Lincoln pedaling his little heart out

Three monkeys

I couldn't love these three cousins any more!

Gray's oldest cousin Blayne was with his dad's side on Thanksgiving, but got to join in the fun a few days later when we celebrated his 13th birthday and opened a few early Christmas presents. Can't believe he's a teenager! For some reason they were inspired to flash the "Go Cougs!" sign for Univ. of Houston Cougars. 

One night we decided to drive around and check out some Christmas lights. We ended up making an impromptu stop at the mall near Nana and Popper's house to check out their amazing Christmas tree. The mall was about to close, but Gray spotted Santa and surprisingly there wasn't a line to see him so he stepped right up and told the big guy what's on his list. 

Family pic in front of the massive tree!