Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Coolest Play Area

Back when I became a new stay-at-home Mom, I relished any opportunity to get out of the house and find inexpensive options to keep my kids entertained during the day. Kaitlynn was an infant at the time, so my top priority was to keep Connor happy, busy, and active. My favorite discovery at the time was a local play area about 20 minutes from our house. It's a whimsical play area at Memorial City Mall in Houston, and it is just about the coolest play area I've ever seen. It has a castle, lots of steps, tunnels, bridges, slides, pits, you-name-it! It is the perfect play area for kids that are about 18 months - 5 years old. And, it's indoor, close to lots of food options (food court), and best of all, it's FREE!

Now that Connor is in school full-time, I don't feel the same pressure to keep Kaitlynn occupied like I did when Connor was younger. But sometimes I remind myself that she would probably like to have the same opportunities for playtime like he once did. The other day, we made a special trip to Memorial City Mall so that Kaitlynn could play to her heart's content. And boy, did she!!

Lounging in the toddler pit.

Hanging out at the entrance to the drawbridge of the castle.

Climbing the steps to the castle entrance.

Riding the dragon.

I had so much fun with my baby girl that day, just letting her run and play and be a kid! She was SO happy to have my undivided attention and to play to her heart's content. She even let me take lots of pictures without putting up too much of a fight.

Pure joy, mixed with a little mischief!

As we headed outside to the car, it was evident that it had been a successful day of play. This NEVER happens:

She was officially pooped out. Mission accomplished!

I have a feeling that we'll be making more trips to our favorite mall play area very soon!

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Belated Valentine's Day Post

Our Valentine's Day this year was very low-key. Jeff has been super busy at work but we managed to sneak in a lunch during the week so he could spend time with his 2 Valentines.

Connor and Kaitlynn receive Valentine's Day packages from their MeMe and Grand Daddy each year with Valentine-themed shirts and other goodies. Connor wasn't willing to model his shirt for me, but Kaitlynn and I had a little photo shoot to show off her sweet shirt. And she might have been promised a little treat if she cooperated. ;-)

Here are some of my favorite pics from our Valentine's Day photo shoot.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Shortcomings as a Stay-at-Home Mom

I knew from the beginning that I'm not quite cut out for this stay-at-home Mom stuff. There have been many clues along the way. Here is a recent example: potty-training. It is just not a skill on my Mommy resume.

Connor was successfully potty-trained right when he turned 3. But I cannot take credit for that. He was a daycare kid. The daycare handled much of that affair.

So now that I'm home with Kaitlynn, we just aren't having much success. I've tried several tactics but she's having none of it. The other day I bribed her with cartoons and suckers, and she happily obliged to sit on the potty in the middle of the living room.

I thought, "Hmmm, maybe we're on to something!"

Within minutes, we had a BIG success! Woohoo! Kaitlynn was rewarded with a sucker and stickers for her potty chart.

Ah yes, the potty chart. This brings me back to my shortcomings as a stay-at-home Mom. See, stay-at-home Moms tend to do crafty things like that. If you browse Pinterest, you'll find all kinds of cool stay-at-home Mom tricks like potty charts. Here are a few cool examples:

If I were a 2-year-old, I would definitely want to be potty-trained so I could put cool stickers and stamps on those nifty charts.

And now we come to the heart of my stay-at-home Mom dilemma. Here is proof that I'm no good at this job:

Kaitlynn's sad excuse of a potty chart.

No wonder Kaitlynn isn't potty-trained yet. I should probably update my resume. ;-)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Dad

My parents took a much-deserved cruise vacation in early January. I think it was somewhat of a celebratory trip in honor of their 40th wedding anniversary last summer. They set out on a road trip to Tampa, FL to catch the boat and then drove back when they returned. It was a long drive to/from Tampa but they broke it into a couple of days, stopping at a few fun places along the way. Here's a picture of them on the Formal Night of the cruise. I just LOVE this one of them!

Married 40+ years and counting!

Shortly after they returned from their cruise, my Dad battled a cold and couldn't seem to get better. Then he began experiencing extremely painful stabbing pains in his back and chest, in addition to terrible shortness of breath among other symptoms. He went to the doctor and was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs. He was trying to recover from that, but the stabbing pains were almost too much to bear.

Then one night, Dad developed a terrible pain in his left calf muscle. That lower leg began swelling up until it was twice the size of the other leg. My parents called my sister who is a nurse, and my sister suspected that he might have what's called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). It's a condition where a blood clot develops in your extremeties due to limited motion, such as a long car ride or airplane trip.

The next morning, my Dad visited the doctor and was sent to the ER. Sure enough, he was diagnosed with DVT. But the shocking thing was that the DVT had caused numerous blood clots to form in both of his lungs. That condition is extremely life-threatening -- over one third of patients with blood clots in their lungs die before they ever reach the hospital.

On top of the DVT and blood clots, Dad's pneumonia was even worse. Needless to say, he was immediately admitted to the hospital. He was in bad shape but steadily improved thanks to the great care he received. After 6 days in the hospital, he was released and now faces a long road to full recovery at home. Thank goodness he has such a great nurse wife!

While in the hospital, Dad was spoiled rotten by the sweet meal-cart ladies. They went to great trouble fixing his morning grapefruit just the way he likes it!

Leaving the hospital in his trademark Longhorn attire.

Finally, back at home in his favorite recliner!

We came SO close to losing him, and we're so thankful to God for His healing and to our family, friends, and neighbors for all the prayers and support!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


We are still coming down from the high of last week's awesome Houston Texans party in Connor's kindergarten class. It was such an incredible day!

Connor models some of his goodies he received at the party.

As promised, below is the link to the video about the party that is posted on the website. (I can't believe I'm actually sharing this link because I look/sound like such a dork! This is bound to make all my East Texas friends laugh!)

Also on the website are pictures from the event. They borrowed my photos because none of theirs turned out.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Most Spirited Lil' Texans Fan!

Anyone who has ever met Connor knows he is a Houston Texans fanatic. He demonstrates his passion in so many unique ways that I've decided I need a separate post to list them all. Last month, the Houston Texans held a contest on Facebook for the most spirited little Texans fan. Of course, I immediately thought of Connor. We have been working on Connor's Texans bedroom for quite some time, and I had just taken some pictures of him showing off his updated room. So I submitted Connor's picture to the contest along with a description of how passionate he is in his love for the Texans.

This is the photo I submitted to the Texans contest for most spirited little Texans fan.

A week later, I was ECSTATIC to get a phone call telling me that Connor had been chosen as the winner of the contest!! His picture was posted on the Houston Texans' Facebook page and he received thousands of Likes and Comments about what a cool little fan he is!

The prize for winning the contest was none other than a party with TORO (Texans mascot) and the Houston Texans cheerleaders in Connor's classroom at school! WOW!! The Texans organization contacted Connor's elementary school and arranged the party with the school administrators. The principal of the school was just as excited as we were about the party, and they rolled out the red carpet in support of Connor and his party. They declared yesterday, Feb. 9, as Texans Spirit Day to let the staff and 1000+ kids in the school wear their Texans gear in support of the team. They had the Cy-Fair school district's photographer on hand to document the fun event for the school. Excitement was in the air!

A group of Texans folks arrived after lunch to decorate Connor's classroom for the party. They brought balloons, huge stand-up player posters, gifts for all the kids, yummy snacks, and even crafts. The room looked awesome and we couldn't wait for the kids to arrive.

Here's the decorated classroom before the kids arrived.

When the kids arrived in the classroom, they walked in VERY quietly. They were all so overwhelmed at all the attention that the party was generating throughout the school. None of the kids made a peep and they all sat quietly at their desks taking in all the decorations. Connor was especially overwhelmed and anxious. The Texans representative that organized the party welcomed the kids and explained how Connor won a contest for being such a big fan. They presented all the kids with their gifts and then gave Connor a huge gift bag full of Houston Texans goodies. The class was still completely silent and not sure how to act, so everyone watched as Connor opened his gift bag. He was completely nervous and acting very silly, not sure how to handle all the attention!

Connor opens his gift bag full of awesome Texans goodies!

One of the Texans representatives found out that Connor is a big fan of Brian Cushing, the Texans' awesome defensive linebacker and 2011 MVP. She received a personalized text message from Brian Cushing to Connor and she read it to Connor in front of the class. Brian said, "Tell Connor that we appreciate him being such a big fan and can’t wait for him to come to a game next year!" Man, how cool is that?!

Connor poses with Ashley the cheerleader.

Then, the kids were in for the biggest treat of all. TORO arrived in Mrs. Hunter's classroom! The mood in the room immediately changed as all the kids couldn't contain their excitement any longer. TORO greeted Connor and toured the room, ending up at Mrs. Hunter's desk.

Look at that smile! Connor loves TORO!

The kids laughed so hard as TORO decided he was going to be the teacher. Then TORO invited all the kids to come up and get an autographed picture of TORO himself. He signed and personalized a picture for each child while Connor looked on.

Connor helped TORO autograph his pictures for the kids.

Here are some more photos from the party:

Kaitlynn attended the party, too. Her face is due to NO nap!

My favorite pic of the day: TORO lifting Connor. Biggest smile ever!

TORO and the cheerleaders posed with the entire class.

And here's one with Mom and Dad.

Towards the end of the party, a videographer from asked if he could interview us. He interviewed me, the principal of the school, and of course, Connor. It was SO nerve-wracking to have that huge camera in my face and I'm sure I came across as a crazy person. I don't look forward to seeing that! I watched as Connor was interviewed and he was completely awestruck and didn't have much to say at all. It'll be interesting if they get anything worth using, but supposedly they are going to post the edited interviews on Texans TV next week! I'll be sure and post the link when I get it.

Connor was interviewed for Texans TV.

Connor's Texans party was AMAZING!! It was better than we could've hoped for and we feel so lucky to have been given such an incredible opportunity. Connor came home with a TON of Texans goodies, including a hat, t-shirt, sweatsuit, and an action picture and mini-helmet autographed by #90 Mario Williams!

I think Jeff said it best earlier in the day: Connor's life just peaked at age 5. It's all downhill from here, ha!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Afternoon at the Park

Last week we took advantage of a sunny, cool afternoon and drove to our favorite park. Oh, how I love to see so many smiles!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sleepovers and Date Nights

I had a complete lapse in memory last fall when I forgot to post about one of our November highlights. Connor and Kaitlynn were SO excited to have a sleepover away from home with their friends Benjamin, Timothy, and Lily. I even took a video when I announced the surprise. No shortage of excitement here! (Please forgive my annoying high-pitched voice!)

This was Kaitlynn's first sleepover and we weren't quite sure what to expect from her. But Julie and Harry (Benjamin, Timothy, and Lily's parents) were SO sweet and accommodating for both the kids so of course they had a blast and probably never even once thought about missing us. They played outside, went out to eat, watched movies, had donuts for's surprising that Connor and Kaitlynn ever wanted to come back home! And while they were having the time of their lives, Jeff and I were having an overnight anniversary date! Here are some of Julie's pics from the sleepover.

Precious cargo!

3 sweet boys!

Kaitlynn loves to torture their sweet cat.

Dressed and ready for game day!

Fast forward to January of this year. Julie came up with the brilliant idea to have a babysitting co-op with us and our other friends Michelle and Tim (their kids are Brady and Tanner). The idea is that each of us would host a sleepover for all 7 of our kids, giving the other couples the chance for 2 overnight dates. A few weeks ago, Julie and Harry hosted the first sleepover for all 7 kiddos. Now THAT was a fun, crazy, house FULL of kids!! All the kids did so great together and of course had a blast.

5 boys ready for backyard fun!

Enjoying the extra attention.

Movie time!

Enjoying donuts for breakfast.

These 5 boys couldn't be sweeter together!

And while the kids were having a blast not missing the parents one bit, we had another wonderful overnight date and really soaked in the alone time.