Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our 2012 Family Christmas

Our week of Christmas fun began with, what else, attending a Houston Texans game as a family. Unfortunately the game stunk but we still had a great time.

Family at the Texans game. 

Right after the game, we loaded up and drove to White Oak for our Morgan family Christmas. We celebrate at my parents' home every year, and the kids LOVE seeing all their cousins. This year, Renee and Ryah weren't able to join us, but we had lots of fun with Makenna, Madison, and Marissa.

Morgan cousins at Grand Daddy and MeMe's house

Santa visited the kids in White Oak to fill their stockings on Christmas Eve.

One of Kaitlynn's stocking gifts - Cinderella!

Now this is what I call a classic Christmas face. Pure joy!

One of the highlights of our Morgan Christmas this year was meeting a very special gal in my brother Ben's life. Her name is Charlotte and they've been dating for a few months now. They couldn't be any cuter together!! LOVED meeting this sweet girl and seeing them together!

My brother Ben and his girlfriend Charlotte.

After we all opened stockings, we had our family gift exchange. Presents, presents, everywhere!

One of Connor's fave gifts: Houton Texans dominos (with a classic photo bomb by Jeff). 

Kaitlynn loved her Sleeping Beauty costume and movie.

Connor was SO happy to have another guy to play with this year. Caleb is the son of Michelle's boyfriend Chris.

One of Jeff's stocking stuffers. Big laughs on this one!

We were planning to stay in White Oak for several days after Christmas, and we would've LOVED to enjoy the white Christmas there. Unfortunately, MeMe and Grand Daddy came down with a stomach bug on Christmas Day so we decided to leave early and let them recover in peace. And wouldn't you know, we didn't weren't able to escape the bug entirely.

Kaitlynn was another victim of the Christmas stomach bug.

Thankfully, Kaitlynn was the only one who caught the bug at our house, and she recovered fairly quickly. We ended up having a lazy week at home gearing up for our Courtright Christmas at home.

Connor and Kaitlynn in some Christmas outfits.

At the end of the week, Collin and Kevin came over to celebrate our immediate family Christmas at our house. We explained to the little ones that Santa was going to make a special late delivery just for our family.

When it was time to set out the snack for Santa, we included the usual: cookies, carrots for the reindeer, and milk. Just like last year, Connor wanted to write a note to Santa. It said (spelling errors included), "Dear Santa, thank you for making a specil trip to our family. Who is your favirte NFL team? The Texans, Falcons, Packers, Cowboy, Redskins, Broncos, or Patriots? circle your favrite. The Courtrights :-)"

Of course, Santa felt the need to be fair and circle every team. And Santa's response was, "Courtrights, Thank you for the snack! Everyone at the North Pole knows the Courtrights LOVE the Texans!"

Note to Santa

On the morning of our Christmas, Kaitlynn was the first one up. I was impressed she slept until almost 7 am. She was so excited and went to wake up the rest of the family. Everyone was excited to see what Santa brought. For Kaitlynn: a new play kitchen, a dollhouse, and a pink big wheel. For Connor: the new Nintendo Wii U. For Kevin, Beats headphones. And for Collin, money!

Jeff and I laugh because you just never know what gift will be the HIT each year. Santa spent so much time and money tracking down the Wii U (sold out everywhere) for Connor, but it turned out that we all had the most fun with this Texans mask that Kevin got for him.

And we thought for sure that Kaitlynn would be ALL about her new dollhouse with all of the furniture and accessories. But she took one ride on her new big wheel and she was in heaven!!

After a fun morning of hanging out and playing with our Christmas gifts, we enjoyed a nice family lunch out together and returned home to hang out some more. We couldn't have asked for a better way to wrap up our year -- by being all together again.

Friday, December 21, 2012

So Much Christmas Fun!

We finally got around to visiting our local Santa this week. We visited Memorial City Mall because they have a new, beautiful Christmas display where Santa sits. They even have a new system where you can call ahead and reserve your time with Santa. It's all electronic and computerized -- I was impressed! Jeff met us at the mall right after work so it wasn't too crowded yet. I was a little nervous about how Kaitlynn would do. She's not afraid of Santa anymore, but her behavior is always hit or miss, ha! As it turned out, there was no need to worry. She did GREAT with Santa and even told him she wanted a princess bike. This was the first time Santa had heard anything about Kaitlynn wanting a bike. Do you think Santa takes last-minute requests?

2012 Photo with Santa

Side note about Santa... Now that Connor is older, he is really starting to ask questions about the whole Santa business. He told me a while back that he knows not all "Santas" are the REAL Santa, and now he is always wondering which ones are actually Santa versus his helpers. He really didn't think this Mall Santa was the REAL one, but we told him he was. Afterwards I felt guilty for saying that and trying to push it on him. Another thing I worry about is how he'll handle Santa's actual arrival. We've always told him that Santa comes twice for our family -- once at my parents' house (on Christmas Day) and again at our house (after Christmas, so we can celebrate with Collin and Kevin). I'm not sure how much longer this will work since Connor is asking so many questions!

Last week, Kaitlynn's preschool had a little Christmas program for the kids ages 3 through 5. They performed a few songs in the big sanctuary at the church, and they were so cute to watch. Unfortunately, Kaitlynn seemed to be a little overwhelmed by the whole thing and she spent the entire time crying. She cried so loudly that her teacher had to pull her from the stage for most of the program, ha!

Kaitlynn was all drama at the Christmas program. Shortly after these pics were taken, she was removed from the stage!

After the Christmas program, Kaitlynn's class had a little party for the families inside the classroom. She recovered from her "stage fright" after enjoying a Christmas cookie with icing.

Puffy eyes from so much crying. The cookie makes it all better.

Kaitlynn with her best friend Anais. These girls are too sweet for words!

All smiles AFTER the party!

One of the Christmas activities that the preschoolers did during their classes this week was to write their very first letter to Santa, with help from their teacher of course. She wrote down their requests from Santa, and then she asked them to sign their name. I've been working with Kaitlynn on writing her letters, but she refuses to write any letter for me other than an H. So I had to chuckle when I saw her name signed as "K H". I'm wondering why she has such a love for H? But hey, at least she wrote a K. Ha!

Kaitlynn's letter to Santa.

Most of the things on Kaitlynn's list were brand new to me. Santa and I have been scrambling at the last minute to fulfill some of her requests. And I cracked up when I saw the comment about the food. Just a little bit of food, OK? LOL!

Another fun event the kids attended for Christmas was a Polar Express night at a local church. The kids wore their pajamas, enjoyed pizza and popcorn, made lots of crafts, and of course, watched The Polar Express movie with hot chocolate. The church did such a great job with the kids and they were not ready to come home when I picked them up!

The kids in their PJs before Polar Express night.

Kaitlynn has been taking a weekly dance (ballet/tap) class at Cypress Academy, and they had a little mini-recital (1 song) for the parents to enjoy for Christmas. Kaitlynn had missed most of the recent classes and rehearsals, and she has never fully cooperated for the instructor even during regular classes. Needless to say, my expectations were very low, but I was excited to see how Kaitlynn would perform on the stage. I assumed she would stand still and cry like she did for her preschool program.

I tried to encourage Kaitlynn by letting her pick an extra special dance outfit on the day of the recital. I pulled out this tutu (that I bought at a garage sale for $1!) and Kaitlynn's eyes immediately lit up.

Kaitlynn loved her dance tutu.

Before the recital, she had her regular dance class and Kaitlynn was twirling that tutu all over the room! Maybe that's the trick to get her to participate in class? When it was time for the performance on stage, Kaitlynn's best friend Anais and her sister Amelia joined us in the auditorium to watch Kaitlynn. I think that was the trick -- Kaitlynn was ready to perform for her friends!

Kaitlynn gave a thumbs-up to her best friend Anais in the audience, and then she twirled all around the stage!

When it was time for the Christmas song, Kaitlynn did great! She didn't perform the routine like she was taught, but she smiled and twirled all over the stage. Keri (Anais's mom) and I just laughed and laughed at the precious girls. It gave me a little preview of their big recital in the spring.

How sweet are those little girls! After Kaitlynn's performance, I told her that she had earned a trip to the nail salon to get her nails painted because she did such a good job on stage. She was thrilled!

Kaitlynn got her nails painted as a reward for doing so well on stage.

Connor is also enrolled in a dance class this fall -- hip hop for boys -- and I learned that he, too, would be doing a "mini" routine for the parents to watch during this week's regular class time. Unfortunately Connor didn't tell me about it until RIGHT before his class, so I didn't have my regular camera or camcorder. I used my iPhone to take this video of his little performance. I didn't feel too guilty when I saw that they had only learned a few 8-counts so far (approximately 20 seconds, ha!) :-)

And finally on our list of Christmas fun this week was Connor's classroom holiday party. It was a short but sweet event in the kids' classroom, just a chance for the parents to hang out at school and the kids to enjoy some sweets and treats.

Enjoying one of his many Christmas goodies!

Connor with his teacher, Mrs. Emswiler

PHEW! We've had all this Christmas fun and the actual holiday is still 4 days away!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grandma's Gift: A Night in Foxborough

Earlier this year, Jeff's Grandma Arlene turned 90 years old! We had a nice visit with her in August when we took our annual summer trip to Florida. Grandma decided a few months ago to do something special for each of her grandchildren. She gave them each a monetary gift and told them to do something fun with it and tell her about it. What a neat way to spoil her grandkids!

When Jeff got his check, he knew immediately what he wanted to do with it. He decided to spend it on a trip to a Houston Texans away game this season. He and I booked a trip to Foxborough, Massachusetts, home of Gillette Stadium and the New England Patriots. We were so excited to see our Texans team play the Patriots and visit another stadium, especially for a Monday Night Football game. Jeff usually takes a trip each fall to visit an opposing team's stadium, but this was my first game away from home.

We sent the kids to our neighbors and friends, and we flew to Boston on the day of the game. We were expecting a cold weather football game, but as it turned out, the weather in Foxborough was in the 60s and raining during our visit. We arrived at the stadium early for the game and just hung out with other Texans fans and some friendly Patriots fans, too. We had such a great time!

And, funny story... we ended up being shown on the local Channel 11 News severals times as well as in a picture posted on the Houston Texans website! We had so many people telling us that they saw us on TV, ha! It never fails -- every time Jeff visits an away game he ALWAYS gets featured somehow on local newspapers, TV stations, and various websites. I was happy to join in on the fun this time around. :-)

In the airport before our trip. So excited!

Here we are outside Gillette Stadium. It rained a lot before the game but dried up to leave nice, mild weather for the game.

This was the view from our awesome seats before the game. 

Pre-game fun.

Gillette Stadium -- so fun!

Although the actual football game turned out to be a blowout (NOT in our favor!), we still had such a great night at the game and during our stay in Foxborough.

Thanks so much, Grandma Arlene, for allowing us to make such a fun memory that we won't soon forget!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Three and a (Big) Half

Kaitlynn turns 3 1/2 today! I feel like I haven't been nearly as good about documenting her milestones like I did for Connor, so I figured I should make an effort for this big half-birthday. And since I haven't been good at getting milestone photos for her like I did for Connor, this post is part updates and part fashion show, ha!

I feel like Kaitlynn has grown SO much in the last 6 months, and that's why I think 3 1/2 is a big milestone for her. When Connor turned 3, he was quite advanced in his learning and responsibilities, primarily from being in full-time daycare and from becoming a big brother. Kaitlynn seems to have caught on to things a little more slowly, probably because she's our "baby" and we tend not to expect as much from her. I wonder if this is normal for parents?

In the past 6 months, Kaitlynn has changed so much. She is really picking up on her letters and numbers at school, and her speech is at the stage where she really makes me laugh. Here are some of my favorite phrases from her these days:
  • She still pronounces chicken as "kitchen"
  • She often asks you to repeat something by saying, "What you said?"
  • She pronounces zip as "slip" -- It makes me laugh when she says she needs to slip her pants. Ha!
  • Often when we try asking her questions about her day, she'll respond, "I don't want to talk about it."
  • Her new favorite word is "because" but she uses it incorrectly by linking 2 completed unrelated statements together. Here is a recent example: "Daddy is at home because we have a Christmas tree up at our house." Ha!
  • Another phrase she uses often is "I said." As in, "I said, I want more water." Or "I want to watch another show, I said!" Bossy and insistent!
  • When she wants us to carry her somewhere, she says "I carry you!" instead of asking if we will carry her. I keep wondering when she'll get this right.

Kaitlynn's behavior is still a work-in-progress. It seems like the day she turned 3, her tantrums really increased in number and fervor. I'm not sure if this is a girl thing or a Kaitlynn thing, but she can be in a perfectly happy mood and then BAM! Out of the blue, she'll start crying, screaming "No!", hitting, and having a complete meltdown. This happened the other day after I picked her up from school. She had seen Santa that day and gotten her picture taken with him. I asked her if Santa said "Ho Ho Ho!" and she proceeded to throw down in the school hallway. Somebody please explain to me why that question warranted such hysterics?? Ha!

When she's not having a meltdown, Kaitlynn can be the SWEETEST thing ever. She'll come up to us out of nowhere and say, "I love you!" and give us sweet hugs and kisses. If she's been in trouble for some reason, later in the day she'll come up to me unprompted and say, "I'm sorry I was acting naughty." She uses such good manners sometimes that it really surprises me, and she can also be so helpful and thoughtful. The other day, I took Kaitlynn to the Galleria for some Christmas shopping and she was playing with Connor's iTouch. After hours of shopping, I was buckling her into the carseat and suddenly she said, "Oh Mom! We forgot Connor's yo!" (We still call the iTouch a "yo".) I said, "No, I must have it in my purse. I'll look for it when I get in my seat." Sure enough, after rummaging through my purse I realized she must have forgotten Connor's iTouch at one of the many stores we had visited that day. I was pretty frustrated but decided to try to retrace our steps to find it. Kaitlynn apologized over and over about losing the iTouch as we walked into the first store we had visited hours earlier. I thought I had remembered seeing it on a shelf in there during our visit, but when I checked the shelf and asked the saleslady, no one had seen it. All of a sudden, Kaitlynn yells out from the side of the store, "I found it!" Sure enough, she had placed it in an obscure spot by one of the store mannequins, and she headed straight there to get it because she remembered EXACTLY where she had left it. I was so surprised that she not only reminded me (in the car) that we didn't have it, but that she remembered exactly where she had left it. Phew!

Kaitlynn is still experiencing some minor symptoms of her encopresis condition. She takes a heavy dose of laxative every day to keep things moving. Sometimes I wonder if we'll be dealing with accidents forever, but when I think about how bad things were back in the spring, it makes me realize how far she's come. She is getting better and better about avoiding accidents and going #2 without being prompted.

A few months ago, we moved Kaitlynn from her crib to a big girl bed. She handled the transition wonderfully. The only problem is that she continued to fall out of her bed at night. She is a crazy sleeper! She fell out MANY times during the first week so we borrowed a bedrail from a friend and she's doing better with that (although she still finds a way to fall out sometimes). After we got her new bed, we made some changes to her room. We had 3 walls painted, hung some new pictures and canvasses, and got a new light fixture and furniture. There are still many unfinished projects but Kaitlynn LOVES her new room!

In case it wasn't obvious from all of the pictures in this post, I am still having such a fun time enjoying all the girly stuff with Kaitlynn. I get such a kick out of dressing her in fun outfits and fixing her hair. I could do with a little less of the girl drama (ha!) but some days I still marvel that God saw fit to bless me with a daughter. It's been 3 1/2 years and I'll still catch myself saying "my daughter" and feel amazed. Make no mistake about it: this daughter of mine will probably turn my hair gray and send me to the loony bin, but I thank God for her everyday and just love celebrating these milestones of her life!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Who Dat!

Connor's first season of flag football wrapped up last month. His team, the Saints, ended the season with a record of 1 wins - 8 losses - 1 tie. You would've never known the team was losing by all the fun the kids had, though. We made such good friends and Connor learned SO much about the game, so we consider the season a complete success! Connor is already begging to start playing tackle football next year. We've been talking to him about trying out other sports, but his passion is football and that's all he wants to play! Maybe in the spring when football is over, we can attempt another sport.

Official Saints team photo. 

Connor's individual pic.

To celebrate the end of the Saints' season, we had a team breakfast and homecoming party before the final game. We met in the parking area of a local mall to enjoy some food, hand out the team trophies, take group pics, and decorate our cars for the drive to the final game. The boys played their hearts out, and it was only fitting that their single win of the season came from that last game.

Team pic in the parking lot before the game. Love those fierce faces!

Connor loved our decorated vehicle.

The boys in the huddle. So cute!
Connor getting his team trophy from the head coach.

Kevin and Kaitlynn enjoying the game.

After the win, Connor was all smiles.

Connor and 2 of his biggest fans.
One of my favorite "action" shots from the season -- Connor at the Center position.

Connor snapping the ball to his quarterback.

We're sad the season is over, but we're already looking forward to next year!