Monday, December 31, 2007

The Long Way Down Holiday Road

Twas the week before Christmas and van filled with a load,
Our family took off for a LONG trip on the road

The kiddos were nestled all snug in their seats
And mommy and daddy had a cooler full of treats

We drove and we drove and then drove some more
To see lots of family, what the season is for!

On NC, on SC, on GA and Bama
On Mississippi and Louisiana to Texas to see Gramma

Miss Grace was just fine with Toy Story on the screen
and Noah, sweet Noah was the opposite of serene :)

After 22 hours, we finally arrived
Aunt Becky and Uncle Stephen welcomed us from the drive

We all shared some hugs and said "good to see you!"
then were off to Grandma and Grandpa's to see the rest of the crew

There was Shayla and Seth, little Katie and Ian
Janae and Nathan with Kaya and Pepper (their two furry bein's)

Amy was there too and later came Ben
at Grandma and Grandpa's house, the fun just NEVER ends!

We talked and we ate and we can't forget the singing--
Seth's version of "In the Jungle" -- oh my ears are still ringing!

We all opened gifts and the goodies were great
Santa visited the kiddos -- they just couldn't wait.

We had such good times, we were sorry to go
But our mortgages were calling us back to the road

So now we are home, we've had time to unwind
When Wednesday rolls around, it's back to the grind

It was so worth the drive, our memories make us grin
Maybe in a year or two, we'll do it all again!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Noah Balboa

Very early in his life, Noah got the nickname Noah Balboa. When we call him that, I always think of Spanish explorer, Vasco Núñez De Balboa. We even have a little song we sing:

Noah Balboa
was an explorer

Noah Balboa
he sailed the sea
Noah Balboa
was an explorer
and then one day he sailed to me

Even Grace can sing parts of the song (because she's heard it hundreds of times).

But this week, little Noah Balboa looks more like ROCKY Balboa. He's gotten brave and a few days ago as we were playing on the bed, he pulled up on me and launched himself over me (and right into the nightstand). By the next morning, he had his first shiner. Like most black eyes, it gets a little worse each day (the pictures below were made the day af
ter he did it). He looks so pitiful, but he's still a happy little camper.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Too cute not to share!

'nuff said...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Say Cheese?!?!

With the holiday season upon us, we decided it was time to update our family picture (which we haven't done since Noah joined us) and get Grace's 2-year pictures made. The whole process reminded me why we don't do it very often!

First, there's the outfit planning for the family portrait. Fortunately, my mom had purchased something for all three kids to wear, but finding something appropriate for Aaron and I to wear that blended and looked somewhat festive proved challenging.

Then, there's the actual studio experience. I decided that if we ever do it again, we'll dress in our holiday outfits in July to avoid the crowds. I know that portrait studios are out to make a buck, but when you specialize in a business that thrives on people looking happy, making them wait in a 90 degree studio for any longer than 10 minutes or so just doesn't make good business sense. Kids get hot, they get tired, moms and dads get flustered and in a hurry and you just don't sell as many pictures as you would have if you scheduled fewer appointments for the day! The thing is, these pictures are around for like...ever...and nobody wants their great great grandchildren looking back and laughing about how stressed everyone looked. Yeah, my great great grandparents look VERY stressed in their pictures, but with much better reason than a photography studio that overscheduled appointments! They were raising 13 kids and working in fields with no deodorant, so I cut them a whole lot of slack! But I digress...

We finally got our pictures made. And when we got home that night, I fell asleep a couple of hours earlier than normal. It was work, but we got it done and managed to get a few good shots. Lots of you will be seeing some of these on forthcoming Christmas cards. Act surprised! :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Starting Traditions...

I've always been a little sentimental and either Aaron is being a good husband and humoring me or he's grown a little sappy in his old age too. :) Through Tyler I've seen just how fast children grow up and I've decided that I want to establish some "family traditions" that our children will look back on and remember fondly.

When I was growing up we ALWAYS had colored lights on our Christmas tree and we always had a real tree. Once the lights were strung, mom and dad ALWAYS put the ornament they bought on their honeymoon on the tree first and they always kissed as they hung it. Over the years, my brother and I picked out "our ornament" and when we hung it, we hugged each other. It was the one moment of the year that we called a temporary "truce" from typical sibling arguments and acknowledged ever so briefly that down deep we liked each other. :) Our Christmas eve and Christmas routine evolved over the years to accommodate different situations with my grandparents, but there was always some kind of gift exchange on Christmas eve, a very, very early morning up to see what Santa brought and a Christmas day gift exchange with my dad's family. To this day, I STILL get excited on Christmas eve and wish everyone would eat dinner a little faster so we could get on with the fun stuff. Not because I'm greedy or really in a rush to open gifts but because it takes me back to my childhood and reminds me of a time when December was without a doubt, the most exciting month of the year. I want my children to have these kinds of memories too!

In October, we had our first annual family pumpkin hunt. We gathered the troops and went to the local pumpkin patch (see blog below) and all the kiddos picked out their pumpkins. It was such a hit that we've decided to go every year. Today, we had our first annual family tree cutting day. We loaded up the van this morning and traveled an hour and a half to a tree farm in the beautiful North Carolina mountains! It was a long ride and as we were traveling, I wondered if it was really worth the trip. As we got there and set out to find our tree, I knew it was definitely worth it. It was a cold, cold day and we all got bundled up and started down the path. At one point, Aaron pointed out into the field and said "Tyler, you see that tall tree that stands above all of the others...why don't you go see how tall it is." We were looking for a 7' to 8' tree and when we took the measuring pole out there we saw that it was just over 7' tall. Tyler and I looked it over and deemed it perfect in every way. Grace came to check it out and agreed so we called the tree farmer over to cut it down and tag it "ours!" As we waited for the tree to be brought back to us, we drank hot chocolate and ate cookies and just enjoyed each other's company.

I'm sure as the children get older there will be much more "discussion" about which tree is the perfect one, but very young and very agreeable makes for a very pleasant start to a tradition. :)

Next month, we will start another new Christmas tradition. Starting this year, it is our plan to travel to Texas every other year to celebrate with Aaron's family. We are really looking forward seeing everyone and are especially eager for our children to meet some of their cousins! Stay tuned for pictures and stories from our trip!

Monday, November 19, 2007

We got elfed!

OK...this was so funny, I had to post it....

You could only do 4 people at a time so I created another to give Aaron a chance too:


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Grace's Big Day

To celebrate Grace's 2nd birthday today, we had a small get-together with family. We had originally planned on doing a Barney theme because Barney is loved dearly by Grace, but the party supply store had no Barney decorations. :( So...we let Grace pick her theme. Oh, there were Disney Princesses, and Hello Kitty and even Elmo, but my sweet princess picked....CARS! LOL

We recently added the movie Cars to the minivan DVD player and it has quickly become a favorite. Perhaps it's his color or maybe his big eyes, but from the minute she saw him, Grace has called the main "character," (whose "real" name is Lightning McQueen), "Elmo Car." We get in the car and she asks for Elmo Car every time. In desperate need of a break from Barney, we oblige often. So, when she asked for an Elmo Car birthday party, we figured it was appropriate.

Continuing a tradition started last year, Aaron made the cake. He did an awesome job! Given the cost of cake pans, we've decided that Noah will probably have an Elmo Car party in March. :)

Grace had a great time and got some cool new toys. She loved visiting with Nana, Papa, Uncle Andy and Aunt Melly. We greatly missed Tyler, who was unable to attend because he was playing in a soccer tournament championship game (which they won!!)

The day gave me cause to reflect on the last two years and the sweet spirit Grace has brought to our family. Time is flying and I'm reminded that I need to stop and savor it as often as possible. When I look at this sweet little walking, talking girl, I can't believe that just 2 years ago she was being born a month early under emergency circumstances. She has grown to be a loving daughter and great big sister who loves to shower everyone (especially "NoNo") with hugs and kisses. She is as sharp as a tack and can carry on a completely understandable conversation. She ADORES music and loves to dance. She has a truly infectious giggle and curls that put Shirley Temple to shame.

Happy Birthday sweet Gracie girl! You are a precious little sunbeam. I love you!

"Elmo Car" Cake (Made by DADDY!!)

The "spread"

I think this pic is a classic!! Gotta love the diaper!

The party may not have been girly, but Nana and I made sure her outfit was!! :)
Noah and Daddy

Andy, Noah, and Daddy

Checkin' out the Cake!

Happy Birthday dear Graaaaaace....!


Pretty big bite there, Gracie girl!

Princess Papa :)
Mommy and Noah

The fun part!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mommy's Photo Shoot

Right after Noah was born, Aaron bought a new camera. He didn't ask me about it beforehand and I can't say I was completely thrilled. I had a little "easy" camera that was working just fine for me and the new one has too many buttons for some who is "technically challenged." I resisted and have been using my old camera all along. But alas, something is wrong with the old camera...something with the card thingy and I don't have a clue what that means.

Yesterday morning, the kiddos (and Aaron) were in particularly good moods and my camera was broken! So, I put the new fangled camera on the only setting that made any sense to me...the one that said "auto." Actually that's the only setting that has words on it...the rest are pictures that just aren't intuitive to me. I reasoned that "auto" meant if I found the subject and pushed the button, the camera would do the rest. I was almost right. Apparently it also means that the camera will give everything a bluish tinge. Oh well, the subjects are still pretty cute!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Let's hear it for the boy!!

Today was report card day...

Tyler is in 6th grade this year and we have been impressed at how he has really buckled down and taken a strong interest in his schoolwork. In his math class, his teacher has a 100 club. She lists the names of people who make a 100 on a math test on her website and posts their picture with their test. Tyler is a TWO-TIME member of the 100 club -- one of only three students out of 120 in his program to achieve such a feat!

Today he brought home all As and excellent marks on conduct in all classes (behavior is at least as important as academic achievement to us, so we were glad to see that!) He gets to go to a special "lunch out" at the food court on Friday to celebrate being on the "A" honor roll! Way to go, Ty Ty. We are proud of you. Keep up the great work!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yowzers!! That HURT!!

One week ago today, I woke up to excruciating pain in my back and bladder area. I woke Aaron up and told him I needed to go to the emergency room. I had a suspicion I had kidney stones -- I'd never had them before, but had heard them described as the worst pain ever. Now, I HATE hospitals and have NEVER been to the emergency room, so that's an indication of how much pain I was in. We called my parents to come watch the kids and by the time they got there, the pain had subsided somewhat so we went to the Urgent Care facility instead of the emergency room. When we got there, I was tested for every single thing under the sun except kidney stones and was diagnosed with a bladder infection and sent home with some antibiotics.

I felt much better in a couple of days so figured I just had a particularly bad bladder infection. Until Saturday. While eating dinner on Saturday, the familiar pain started to come back into my back and within hours I was writhing on the floor in pain, throwing up and generally feeling like death was imminent. So, once again, we called my parents to watch the kids and this time went straight to the emergency room. Given the obvious pain I was in they called me in quickly once we got there. They got me into a room, gave me wonderful painkillers and anti-nausea medication and did a kidney scan. In the words of the doctor on call in the E.R. "Yeah, you have a stone, a large one, 5 mm, and it's lodged. And you have lots of infection so we are admitting you because an infected kidney stone can cause serious consequences." Before I knew it, I was getting blood cultures done and being moved to a room. The doctor did surgery on Sunday morning to remove the stone and I got to come home yesterday afternoon (Monday). I am still in a good bit of pain (irritation from the removal surgery), but am thankful that the stone is gone and hopeful that I don't ever have to go through that again. Having been through labor once and two c-sections, I will say without a doubt, that a kidney stone is the most painful thing EVER!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Punkins at the Pumpkin Patch

Crisp weather and Halloween decorations in abundance signal that fall is here! To celebrate the season (which happens to be my FAVORITE), we loaded up the minivan and took the punkins to a local Pumpkin Patch. This was the first year of what we have decided will be a family tradition of visiting and letting the children each pick out a pumpkin. I must say we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Grace got to go on her first Pony Ride, Tyler enjoyed the rubber duck races, and Noah was the typical happy camper. Here are a few pics of the day...