Thursday, December 27, 2012

Magical Christmas

Someone once said, "There are three stages to Christmas: you believe in Santa Claus, you don't believe in Santa Claus, you ARE Santa Claus."

This year, Graham and I entered the third stage of Christmas, and it was my favorite yet. Will loved Christmas. Granted, he has no idea what it's really about, and he doesn't understand the concept of getting and giving presents (although he did both), but he loved staring at the Christmas lights on the tree and playing with the jingle bell ornaments.

He got lots of presents (thanks to all the grandparents and aunts and uncles). Here he is opening his first present, although he was more interested in eating the wrapping paper and bows than in playing with the surprise there.

Just about every picture we have of him involves him chewing on some form of wrapping. See...

He wasn't quite sure what to do with this one...his biggest present by far. He has outgrown his infant seat, so we bought him a new car seat for Christmas. We'll see how he likes it!

This face made Christmas extra special this year. I can't believe he is seven months old, sitting up, and trying to crawl. I look forward to many more Christmases with this little guy and teaching him the true meaning of the holiday...other than eating bows, that is.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Settling In

We made it. November was an insane month between two plane trips (one to each coast) and trying to get everything ready to close on our house and move. I am happy to report, however, that we are now officially homeowners!

This is the view I see from our living room every morning:

There are no houses behind us, so we have a great view of the mountains. I'm loving our house, despite the stress it took to get us here.

We were scheduled to move on November 30, and we barely closed on the house the day before. Then, we ended up on the phone with the agent at 7:30 a.m. that morning trying to get keys to the house because it accidentally got locked by the cleaners the night before with our set of keys waiting inside for us. Oops. 

Still, we got access to the house and, thanks to our movers, by 12:00 p.m. we had all of our belongings inside and mostly even in the right room. One of them commented on the fact that I had color coded and labeled each box by room and put corresponding labels in the rooms of the house. Overly organized...maybe...but it made it really easy for them to know where to put everything. Now, I'll grant you that using a different font for each room's labels might have been going a bit too far. I couldn't help it.

The next day we had to go back to our apartment and clean the whole thing. Lesson: kitchens take a long time to clean. I cleaned the kitchen in the time Graham did the rest of the apartment. By Saturday night, we were exhausted and ready to enjoy our happy little home.

Two and half weeks later, we have most of the boxes put away, and we're trying to make a decorating plan. Anybody want to enter me in a home decor sweepstakes and guarantee that I'll win? 

While we're not ready for HGTV to tour our place yet, we've made some progress:

Day 1:

 Day 10:

Day 1:

Day 10:

 And, here's your token cute picture of the these boys!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I'm Thankful For...

I'm thankful for California and all it's sunny warm weather, which I enjoyed thoroughly over Thanksgiving weekend.

I'm thankful for memories of climbing this crazy bridge at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park as a little girl and for my little family for humoring my need for a picture of us standing on top of it.

I'm thankful for my awesome oldest sister who hosted Thanksgiving at her house this year. You know, Ann, we never did lounge on the year. :)

I'm thankful for a family whose bonding activities include things like Cupcake Wars. Robyn and I made strawberry maple breakfast cupcakes, complete with bacon! Mom and Teanca made sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallows and pecans. Both were unique, but also surprisingly good!

I'm thankful for a holiday that's all about eating really yummy food. Lots of it...and being grateful, too.

I'm grateful for cutie-patootie nieces and nephews who can be friends with Will. Don't you just love his laughing face below?

I'm grateful for an awesome niece (bigger than the ones above) who loves to hold her cousin and give his mommy a break for awhile. By the end of the 5 days we were there, however, she told her mom, "Babies are a lot of work." So I've heard. :)

Most of all, I'm thankful for my dream of a life with my little family. I couldn't ask for more.

Oh, and I'm thankful for my bearded husband, who is now clean shaven again. :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Southern Hospitality and My Gypsy Heart

My mom always says she has a little bit of a gypsy heart because she loves to travel to new places and she can't sit still for long. I inherited her sense of adventure and love of learning. I inherited this love of learning, and I spent a lot of time during my single years traveling to distant lands (and some close by) to experience the world outside of my own little universe.

Since having Will six months ago (that's right, he's six months old now...slow down, little man), we have been happily hibernating in our own little universe getting used to being a family of three, but my gypsy heart was getting antsy. Enter opportunity knocking...

Graham needed to do some continuing education to keep his CPA license, and his company decided to send him to Atlanta for a conference. Rather than leave Will and me at home for four days, he invited us to join him. So last week we packed up and crossed our fingers that Will would be a good little traveler.

I'm happy to report that the trip was a complete success. Here are some of the things my gypsy heart learned

Lesson #1: Georgia (at least Atlanta and the surrounding areas) is beautiful.

I don't know what I expected, but I had no idea how many trees there are in Atlanta. Anything that hadn't been cleared and developed was covered with dense, colorful deciduous trees. Even in downtown, trees popped out all over, like in the picture below. By the way, I have no idea what the significance of the building is; I just thought it was a pretty church.

Lesson #2: Atlanta has the largest aquarium in the world...and it's cool.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my time in Atlanta since Graham was going to be in a conference all day, and I had Will's nap times to worry about, but we managed some good activities, like the aquarium. They have whale sharks, a dolphin show, piranha feedings, and beluga whales. Will seemed intrigued by all the new things to look at, and I enjoyed wandering through the exhibits. In the pictures below, you can see the whale sharks (aptly named for their size, although they are not whales at all).

Lesson #3: Big cities are meant to be walked, not driven.

If you think it will be faster to drive than to walk to a "quick" lunch, you're probably wrong. It's only faster to drive anywhere within a couple of miles if you know there will be a place to park when you get there. The up-side if you walk: you get to take in the sights...and Will doesn't scream. :)

Lesson #4: Martin Luther King Junior was born and raised in Atlanta.

There is a nice walking tour of his childhood home, the church he preached at, and his burial site. How grateful I am for men and women like him who dream of a world better than the one we currently have and understand that peace can cause more change than violence.

Lesson #5: Southern hospitality is real, and southern food is yummy!

Below is a picture of the cheesy grits we had for breakfast on Saturday at a little coffee shop across from Grant Park. The night before, however, was the real treat where food is concerned. We went to a real southern restaurant about 25 min. from downtown where our conversation with our waitress went something like this:

Waitress: Hi, I'm Tahleea. What can I get for you, babies? (Written English can't do her accent justice.)

Graham: Well, we're from out of town and we want to experience some real Southern food. Any recommendations?

Waitress: Oh, babies, we got fried catfish, fried shrimp...pretty much any seafood as long as it's fried, that's Southern.

And so the evening went. We had fried green tomatoes and corn bites (deep fried balls of creamed corn) as appetizers, fried chicken and country fried steak for main entrees, and raspberry and peach cobblers for dessert. She even brought us one of their peach muffins just so we could try it. She took great care of us! All the ladies in the restaurant loved Will, and although he was tired and cranky he gave them big smiles. It was probably my favorite part of the trip.

Lesson #6: When you travel with a baby, you make lots of new friends.

Everywhere we went, people commented on Will and struck up conversations about him. I will admit I sometimes felt a little out of place with my baby in a Moby wrap in a hotel filled with suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying professionals, but it was fun anyway. Sitting at the cafe in the picture below, we met a nice couple who also have a six-month-old son, and we chatted for a good 10-15 minutes.

Lesson #7: If you spend most of the time on a trip with only yourself and a baby, you will have no photographic evidence that you were actually there. I only have one blurry picture of half my face from my phone. Oops. Oh well, I promise I went on the trip.

And, in other news, here's my six-month-old, 29-inches-long, 15-pounds-light boy. What a charmer! That smile has captured my heart.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What a Week!

Last week's crazy activities are worthy of being shared. Without further ado, let me share our good news:

First, our house was sheet rocked! Now, I can really see what the size of the rooms is going to be like and how much light each room will get. Let me just say, I'm so excited to come home to this house every day! Here's a peek...
That's Will's bedroom window on the far left and the guest room windows closer to the middle.

The view from the front door. 
The opening on the right will be french doors leading to what I affectionately call "the library". Straight ahead is the family room and on the left is the hallway leading to the bedrooms.

The family room (view from the kitchen/dining area). 
I am so happy to see the amount of light coming through those windows. Graham calls me a lizard because I like to bask in the sunshine streaming through windows. I don't deny it, and I'm thrilled to have a good basking spot in this house.

The kitchen/dining area.
I'm so excited (have I said that yet during this post?) to have a nice kitchen in this house. Ours right now is a "one-butt" kitchen (as Oma Reshatoff would say), but the new one will be a many-butt kitchen. I love that it's open to the family living space so I can cook and stay involved in family activities and kids playing or doing homework someday. The doorway at the far end leads to our awesome walk-in pantry, and the hallway on the right leads to the half-bath, laundry room, and garage.

Welcome to our master suite! 
It's not elaborate or ostentatious, but it will be a nice size with a big window with a view of a big tree. The master bath and closet are through the doorway on the right.

Once the house is finished (currently scheduled for Nov. 21!), I'll do a more thorough tour, but for now, I think this is sufficient. I can't believe how soon we'll be moving. I've been gathering boxes; pretty soon I've got to start filling them.

Second, Friday night we got tickets from Graham's work to go to a pre-season Jazz game. Now, I'm not the biggest sports fan, but when I found out that we had tickets to dinner before and that it meant a night out with my love, I was happy to go. Date nights are an extra-special treat these days. Thanks go to Graham's dad for watching Will for us.

Oh, and did I mention that we had 3rd row seats? Below, you can see our view. Actually, they were more like first row when you consider that the first row was filled with the Jazz players, and the second row was the injured players and other Jazz team staff. Yes, those heads in front of us in the picture below are the players. You know you're close when it's significantly easier to look at the court itself rather than the jumbo tron. I didn't know sports could be this much fun. 

Graham was only a little giddy. 

Lesson from the night: although it's cool to be close enough to hear what the players are saying to each other on the court, what's coming out of their mouths isn't that profound...mostly they repeat over and over again things like "That wasn't a foul!" or "Good D."


On Saturday, we went to the pumpkin patch. I don't really thrill at the thought of Halloween (I just don't get into ghouls, goblins, and the undead), but I do love visiting the pumpkin patch. No grocery store pumpkins for me. I want to wander the fields and find the pumpkin that speaks to me. This year, it was fun to introduce Will to the tradition and get some fun pictures in the process.

Will's favorite part of the experience was trying to eat the hay. Apparently, he has lofty goals of being a horse. I can't wait to introduce him to carving the pumpkins and the squishiness therein.

I love starting family traditions. I love my family. I love life.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Spy: Week 4

September has officially given way to October, but I'm not giving up my warm, sunny days without a fight. Yesterday, Will and I went to the park and relaxed on a blanket under a tree. He got his first ride on a park swing (he wasn't too sure he liked it) and attempted to eat the grass (I stopped him). It was perfect for picture taking, but we'll get there in a minute.

Day 25: Change

This little boy is changing SO quickly now. I was putting away his 0-3 month clothes today finally, and I had to laugh as I looked at how much he's grown. I held up to him the sleeper we brought him home from the hospital in, and it ends about mid-calf now. He's chewing on his TOES instead of his fingers these days (which makes diaper changes interesting), and he wants so badly to sit up. To help him learn, we bought him a Bumbo seat at a yard sale on Saturday. He's still a bit floppy, but he looks like a little king on his throne in it. What's next???

Day 26: Peace

I love the view of the park from my comfy blanket on the grass. A cool breeze, a warm sun, and the quiet of nature. Love.

Day 27: Paper

This picture is old, but it's something I'm proud of. My sister got married in August, and I helped plan the decorations for the barbecue we had the night before (so the two families could meet). We wanted it to reflect the personalities of the bride and groom, so we decided to combine words and nature. Kind of an odd combination, I suppose, but I think it turned out well. The paper hearts on the table are even cut from Shakespearean sonnets. I'm a nerd--I know.

Day 28: Motion

This is also an older picture, but it fits perfectly with the day's theme. My awesome brother created a rope swing for his kids in their backyard (they also have a zip line). Here is my nephew taking a ride. I love the look of pure joy on his face.

Day 29: Divine

This little boy has strengthened my belief that we are all divine...he is a child of God...right down to his adorable little toes.

Day 30: Me

It's a little tricky to get pictures of myself these days, but I played around with the self-timer function on my camera yesterday. I got about 50 pictures that were trash...and this one, which I think is actually pretty fun.

Well, that's it for September's photo challenge. I found one for October, but I haven't decided yet if I'll do it. I don't want to overdo the picture posts, but it does give me motivation to learn about this camera of mine. There's a good chance you'll see a lot more of my attempts at photography around here. Until then...happy fall! Go make some soup. Mmmm!