Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dad's Night Out

One of my favorite events at Kaitlynn's preschool happens every fall: Dad's Night Out. So often, schools will host events honoring Moms and but sometimes our Dads are overlooked. Foundry Faith Academy does such a great job of recognizing the important role of Dads and creating a night just for them and their little ones.

The preschoolers work for several weeks on fun projects to present to the Dads on their special night. The favorite activity by far is the "All About My Dad" worksheet. The teacher asks the kids questions about their Dads and they write down their answers verbatim on the sheet. Here are Kaitlynn's responses about her Dad:

Side note... I'll never forget Connor's first Dad's Night Out. He responded that his Dad's favorite food was salad and that he was 93 years old. Salad -- um, no. Age 93 -- well, getting there. (haha, bad joke.)

Dad's Night Out is such a neat event for all of the kids and their Dads, but I tend to think it's even more special for the Dads of little girls. As we drove up in the parking lot, I saw one Daddy fixing his daughter's hair and headband. It takes a special man to be sensitive to a daughter's needs, ha!

Before we set out for Kaitlynn and Daddy's special night, Kaitlynn picked out Jeff's shirt. She always picks a purple one for him. They were both so excited to spend the evening together.

Daddy and Kaitlynn at Dad's Night Out.

Upon entering Kaitlynn's classroom, the Dads were greeted with a handmade tie to wear for the evening. Kaitlynn was very proud of her masterpiece.

There were several activities for the Dads and kids to do together. They had their picture made, decorated a picture frame, made a clown mask with a balloon nose, and even decorated cookies to eat together.

Icing their cookies. Pink was the color of choice, of course.

Love this one! Making the nose for the clown mask.

Adding the finishing touches to the clown mask.

Man, they were hard at work.

Kaitlynn and her Daddy capped off the evening with a trip to the book fair, where Kaitlynn chose some books to take home.

What a special night for these two! I'm so thankful they allowed me to intrude on all the Dad's Night Out fun so that I could have these pictures to look back on one day.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Our Week with Masen the Monkey

Kaitlynn's preschool class has a super fun project that they will be working on throughout the school year. The class has a mascot, Masen the Monkey, and Masen is taking turns every week spending time with each of the students in the class. During the visits, each student is supposed to document their week with Masen using pictures in Masen's scrapbook. At the end of the year, Masen will have a full and complete record of all his fun times with each of the students in Kaitlynn's class. How cool is that?

There is no set schedule for Masen's weekly visits, so imagine my surprise when Kaitlynn was sent home with him last week! When I picked her up from school, she was holding the bag with Masen and Masen's scrapbook. And she had the HUGEST smile on her face! Honestly, I don't know if I've ever seen her smile so big!!

We had to call Daddy right away to tell him that Masen was spending the week with us. He was just as excited and we all began talking about all the fun things we could do with Masen during his visit! Kaitlynn LOVED reading Masen's scrapbook and seeing all of the adventures that Masen has been on with her classmates. Here she was showing Kevin all about it.

On our first day with Masen, we had to go up to Connor's school for an appointment. Kaitlynn happily brought Masen and showed him off to everyone.

We also attended a playdate with some of Kaitlynn's classmates. They were excited to see Masen, too, because they knew that Masen would be visiting them, too. Some of the Moms were talking about the pressure of not knowing when we'll have Masen at our house and making sure we have enough cool things planned for the week. Masen has already been to so many cool places, including Seaworld!

Kaitlynn took Masen with her to gymnastics that afternoon.

The next day, we took Masen with us to the Holiday Market at Kaitlynn's school. There were so many fun gifts and crafts to look at.

During our weekend, Kaitlynn took Masen to Connor's flag football game. Masen helped cheer on the team from the sidelines. Connor was very insistent that he be in at least one picture with Masen. He wanted to be in the book, too!

The highlight of our week with Masen was attending the Houston Texans game. Masen and Kaitlynn helped cheer on our team to a great victory over the Ravens, 43-13. Masen was our good luck charm!

Masen sure is one lucky monkey! Kaitlynn was sad to return Masen to her classroom, but we sure had an awesome week of adventures with him.

And here is how our page (front and back) in Masen's scrapbook turned out:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

For One Afternoon

Last Saturday afternoon, Jeff was coaching Connor's flag football game. Kaitlynn and I were cheering from the sidelines and Kevin was with the coaches because he had gotten roped into being the game statistician that day. I was taking some videos of the plays when all of a sudden I looked up and saw... Collin!!

It had been almost six months since we had seen Collin. We have been exchanging infrequent texts and messages, but he is still staying with his Mom and has been keeping his distance. We've been hoping that he would come and see us and the kids, but we weren't sure if and when we would see him again.

When I saw him, I was shocked but so excited. I gave him a hug and told him how great it was to see him. He was with his friend, Rainer, and they had come out to see Connor play. Jeff was coaching the team but saw Collin on the sidelines. When they were in the huddle, Jeff told Connor that Collin was here to see him and Connor was surprised, too.

When Collin arrived, he asked about Kaitlynn and I called her over. I said, "Look who's here!" She looked at Collin with a blank face for several seconds because she was having trouble recognizing him. Finally, it sunk in, and she was so excited to see him. It took her a little while to warm up, but after a few minutes, she was right back where she always used to be: in Collin's lap.

During halftime, Kevin joined us and we all watched the halftime performance. I looked over and saw a once-familiar sight.

I loved how Kaitlynn and Collin fell right back into step with one another, as if no time had passed at all.

After the game, Collin agreed to join us for an early dinner. It was so great to spend time with him again and we even managed a quick picture.

We had a LONG wait at the restaurant, but I didn't mind much. For one afternoon, all six of us were back together and everything just felt normal again.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Our Visit with Uncle Ben

My brother Ben lives in Atlanta and travels frequently, so when his travels take him through Houston we get to spend some quality time together. I'm not sure who enjoys his visits more: me, Jeff, or the kids! Connor and Kaitlynn love their Uncle Ben. He is a funny guy and keeps us laughing the entire time. He has also made some big changes in his life recently and is in the best shape of his life!

My handsome little brother, Ben.

Ben was in town for a work-related training. He spent the weekend with us and was able to attend Connor's flag football game. I think Ben was a little surprised at how animated the parents can be when rooting for their kids' football team, ha!

Uncle Ben and Kaitlynn hanging out on the sidelines.

One of our must-haves when Ben visits is Lupe Tortilla beef fajitas. Best fajitas EVER! Jeff snapped this pic of us at dinner.

Me and my little bro.

Before Ben left town, we snuck in one more visit over dinner after school and his training class. Kaitlynn and Connor were super excited to see him one last time before he returned to Atlanta. Kaitlynn reached for his hand and didn't want him to go!

Kaitlynn and Uncle Ben.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saints Mid-Season Update

We're past the midpoint of our Saints flag football season so I thought I'd provide an update. If you asked Connor how his season was going, he'd tell you it's awesome! He is having so much fun playing football that he hasn't even noticed that his team is losing (badly). Ha! But the boys are just so darn cute. They are really learning a lot about the sport, and they have formed great friendships throughout the season.

I have become the unofficial team videographer and created a YouTube channel for our team plays. I wanted to share a couple of my favorite videos from the season so far, mostly so the grandparents can see their grandson in action. All of them are very short, I promise! This first video is from one of our rainy day games. It was raining SO hard that day -- I couldn't believe they were playing! This wasn't a big play but it has a great view of Connor at center hiking the ball (and it's short, only a few seconds).

Here's another video with a great view of Connor at center, and his quarterback Gabriel runs for a touchdown.

One of my favorite things to watch during the games is how the players encourage each other and congratulate each other after big plays. Here is a video showing a big defensive stop by one of our favorite teammates, Colton, and you can see his teammates congratulating him afterwards. Love!

Another storyline of this flag football season has been Coach Jeff. He is the offensive coordinator for the team, a role which he kind of just fell into. He's never coached football before, much less flag football, much less on the offensive side. It has been very interesting! He has really enjoyed designing plays and coaching the kids, although it tends to be far more stressful than he bargained for. The kids play their hearts out but just can't manage to get a win, and by the end of each game, Jeff's blood pressure seems to be at a high, ha! I took this video of Jeff "calming down" after another tough loss.

Kaitlynn is enjoying the games just as much as Connor. Several of Connor's teammates have little sisters and they all LOVE playing together on the sidelines during the games. Our must-have toys at the game include Kaitlynn's tea set, and the girls also love cheering for the team alongside the Saints cheerleader squad. Here's a video from another one of our night games showing Kaitlynn and her sweet friends cheering on the team.

Finally, here are some photos from our Saints flag football season so far.

Kaitlynn and her friend Kaylee enjoying a game snack.

This is what an 0-5 team looks like. :-(

Running through the post-game tunnel! 

Love Kaitlynn's game shirt!

Backside view, so cute.

Coach Jeff

The Saints team and their cheerleaders wearing pink for breast cancer awareness.

Connor loves his pink accessories, just like the real NFL players.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tiny Dancer

Ever since Kaitlynn turned 3 this past summer, I had been thinking about enrolling her in dance and gymnastics classes. Some of her friends take classes, and they are really learning a lot more than just dance skills. The classes help the young girls learn discipline, following directions, group participation, and independence.

After Kaitlynn watched the Olympics this past summer and noticed the gymnasts, she began asking more questions and showing more interest. Then she happened to watch the show "Dora's Fantastic Gymnastics" on Nickelodeon and that sealed the deal. She begged to take gymnastics like Dora! I went ahead and signed her up for both a beginner gymnastics class along with a tap/ballet combination class at a local studio.

Kaitlynn was SO excited on the first day of dance class. She loved her dance outfit and seemed ready to go. Surprisingly, she was very shy with the teacher and didn't participate well for the first few classes. I was beginning to think I would have to pull her out, but she finally began to follow directions and participate well in the class after a few weeks.

 Her gymnastics class is a completely different story. She was sold from the first day. She LOVES it! I mean, what's not to love -- running, jumping, trampolines, sommersaults, ribbons... it's a kid's dream!

The dance leotards are so precious!

Practicing her stretches for ballet. 

She's got the pose down already.

Sometimes we have to run errands in our leotards. Love this smile!

Bad pic through the window, but how cute are these girls in their tap shoes? Love!