Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pine Cove

With our busy summer schedule, we really didn't have many full weeks available for the kids to attend summer camps this year. But there was no way we were going to miss Connor's favorite camp -- Pine Cove! He had such an amazing time there last year and begged to go again. Pine Cove's Camp in the City is a 1-week summer camp with amazing games and activities backed by a strong Christian message. The camp counselors are awesome college students that spend their summer traveling from city to city spreading their love of Christ to all of these kids. It continues to be Connor's absolute favorite week of the entire summer.

Connor's group at Pine Cove with his awesome counselor, M.I.B.

Silly pic!

This year, Connor was able to attend camp with his great friends Brady and Tanner Watkins (of WAC fame, ha). Brady and Connor loved being in the same group and really enjoyed their camp counselor, M.I.B. a.k.a. Most International Businessman in the World. Gotta love those camp names!

In addition to camp songs, skits, games, and worship, the kids have a blast with amazing outdoor activities like bungee jumping and waterslides. They come home sweaty and exhausted every single day!

Connor with Brady and Tanner in one of the outdoor inflatables.

Love those smiles!

At the end of the week, the entire camp participates in a ceremony for the parents with songs and a message from what they learned during the week's activities. Then, the camp counselors present each camper with what they refer to as CQs: their character quality certificate. After observing the campers all week, M.I.B. took the time to write out character qualities for his campers as a way to encourage them and reflect on their positive character qualities. Such an encouraging message for these kids and one of the neatest things about Pine Cove.

Connor and Brady at the closing ceremony.

Connor's group circles up for the CQs.
M.I.B. presents Connor with his CQs.

These boys had an awesome week of Pine Cove camp. So thankful for M.I.B.!
Connor's character qualities -- love!

After 2 summers of awesome fun at Pine Cove's day camp, Connor is now begging to go to the Pine Cove overnight camp next year. Oh my, am I ready for that??

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


After years of fighting recurring strep throat infections, Jeff and I finally decided it was time for Connor to get his tonsils out. With the extended recovery time, it's always best to wait until summer or winter break to have it done. What a bummer of a way to spend his summer, though!
With our busy summer schedule, it was hard to carve out 1-2 weeks of downtime for the surgery. But we finally booked the date and then began preparing Connor for the surgery and the tough recovery. I warned him that his throat would HURT! I also told him that he could have whatever soft foods (ice cream!) or drinks he would like because it was important for him to drink/eat even though he probably wouldn't want to. He didn't seem worried at all about the surgery; all he cared about was that he'd be able to drink as much Sprite and orange soda as he wanted!
When we arrived at the Children's Hospital for the surgery, the nurses gave Connor these super soft green pajamas. He loved them and wanted to make sure we could take them home!
Connor's cool pajamas.

And I wonder where Connor gets the bunny-ear thing from??

When it was time for Connor to go to the operating room, he was all smiles and didn't seem nervous at all. We had been joking about the anesthesia and how he might be asked to count backwards from 100 but that he'd barely make it past 99. One of the cool things at the Children's Hospital was that Connor was able to pick a flavor of anesthesia, and he chose banana. I also warned Connor that he might not remember much before or after the surgery because the anesthesia might make him forget. He asked a lot of questions, but he walked back to the OR with the nurses and never looked back.

After the quick operation, Connor was wheeled into the recovery room and we were brought back in there to see him. Of course I had to take his picture -- it's kind of sad seeing these little kids out of it like that!

Still out from the anesthesia.

Waking up, he offered a sweet smile.

When Connor began to wake up, he immediately started chatting up a storm. It cracked me up! His poor little voice was strained from his sore throat, but he didn't seem to mind at all. The first thing he told us was that he remembered everything from before the surgery. He wanted to make sure I knew that the anesthesia didn't make him forget like I had said it would. Ha!

The nurses offered Connor whatever he wanted, even a popsicle. He slowly began to wake up and downed his entire can of Sprite in minutes. I was really surprised because I had been warned that he wouldn't want to drink at all and that it would be a big battle. Jeff and I were so impressed; he was being such a tough kid.

Soon after, Jeff took off to relieve the babysitter at home with Kaitlynn. When it was time to take Connor home, the nurses wheeled him out and handed him a sweet get-well card.

It took a while to be discharged and to get our car, and during that time Connor seemed to start going downhill. I just assumed he was tired and would sleep off his anesthesia on the drive home.

When we finally started the drive home, we were in the thick of rush-hour traffic and it was taking forever to get through the gridlock. I was backed up in stoplight after stoplight, when suddenly I heard a terrible noise in the backseat. It was Connor, throwing up profusely all over himself and the car!

I pulled over as quickly as I could and tried to stay calm. He had thrown up all of the Sprite and popsicle from the hospital, but there was a lot of blood from his raw throat as well. Connor started to cry and apologize over and over. I felt so bad for him and assured him it was not a big deal! Luckily I had a big package of baby wipes with me (not sure I'll ever stop carrying those things!) and I was able to get him cleaned up and moved over to another dry car seat. I also gave him a bag in case he got sick again. Which he did -- he ended up vomitting all the way home!

I was so stressed driving in that traffic and not being able to help Connor when he was sick over and over, but we were on the freeway for most of the drive and there was just nothing I could do. I ended up talking to the doctor on the phone who assured me that Connor was probably fine and that it was just his tummy reacting to the anesthesia and other medicine they gave him. I was so worried and wondering if this was the start of a bad recovery for him.

But two days later...

Yep, two days after his surgery, Connor was begging to go outside and swim and play. We had to force him to rest and make sure he wasn't overdoing it on the activities. Jeff and I couldn't believe how easy the recovery was for him. Of course, we stayed on top of his medications which certainly helped. But there was only 1 day or so (around day 4 post-op) where Connor seemed even remotely in pain. Amazing! We were so proud of him and SO thankful to get the surgery behind us. Now here's hoping for no more strep!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Annual Florida Trip

We were so excited to resume our annual trip to The Villages in Florida this summer to visit Jeff's side of the family. We always have so much fun there and look forward to catching up every summer.

This summer our trip was even more special, because we were able to meet our brand new nephew/cousin, Cash Courtright, a.k.a. Lil' Money. Ha! He is the most precious and laid back baby, and we were all instantly enamored with the little guy!

I'm in love! Look at that smile in his sleep!

Getting my baby fix!

Uncle Jeff meets Cash-man.

More baby snuggles.

Look at that sweet face!

The only bad part about our trip this time around was that Grandma Cheryl ended up having some pain and being hospitalized on the very first day of our visit. We were so worried about her! After a couple of days of hospitalization, we got a late-night call that the doctors thought she had a highly contagious bacterial infection. And we had just returned from visiting her in the hospital, yikes. I spent a few days of our trip doing load after load of laundry, just to make sure the infectious disease didn't spread.

But thankfully, Cheryl was released from the hospital on Day 5 of our visit. The Courtright guys decided to have a little fun with her to welcome her back home.

Makeshift masks to protect the Courtrights from infectious diseases.

Now that's a scary-looking crew!

Welcome Home, but beware of infectious diseases!!

They made Cheryl walk through the masked entry, ha!

We were so thankful to have Grandma back home with us for the rest of our stay. Some of the highlights of our trip included a girls spa day with my beautiful sister-in-law, Christina, the guys' annual fishing trip, a fun day at Wet 'n Wild, and a golf outing for the guys.

Christina and I loved our girls day!

The annual offshore fishing trip.

Courtright men's golf trip. Love this picture!

Another fun part of our trip was meeting Grandpa Jerry and Grandma Cheryl's new dog, Moose. Kaitlynn loved playing with him of course!

Grandpa and Kaitlynn enjoy Moose's company.

Grandpa Jerry holds Moose while he gives Cash a kiss, ewww!

As it usually goes, our fun week in The Villages was over before we knew it. We were sad to leave, but we were so glad to have had such a great week. And we all know what the sign of a great vacation is, right?

Zonked out after a fun vacation.

Connor argued with me for an hour that he did NOT fall asleep on the plane. Yeah right!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Connor's Recital

Last year, Connor took hip-hop at a local dance/gymnastics place and loved it, but he ended up not getting to participate in the spring recital because we moved to Katy and it was too long of a drive. Earlier this year when I signed Kaitlynn up for gymnastics, Connor asked to sign up for the all-boys hip-hop dance class at the same time.

As much as he enjoyed the class, it turned out that it was just a generic dance class and not an actual hip-hop format. But Connor didn't seem to care; he enjoyed attending every week and decided that he wanted to participate in the spring dance recital. The boys group was performing to the song Cool from West Side Story. I've never seen the movie but I guess that's a popular number.

Let's just say that Connor isn't much of a dancer, at least in the choreographed format. But he really enjoyed his class and the group of boys that participated. And he LOVED getting the opportunity to perform on stage in front of hundreds of audience members! But most of all, Connor was so excited about his recital costume -- leather jacket, white t-shirt, and converse sneakers. He definitely thought he was COOL!!

Our little West Side cutie :-)

A pic with Mommy! (I know, I haven't been a "Mommy" in YEARS!)
The spring recital was a BIG deal. It was held in a big auditorium and it ended up lasting over 3 hours long. Connor was all smiles, though. He wasn't phased at all by the bright lights and big crowd.

Pic before the performance.

I told him to look "cool" ha!

When it was time for the recital, we had to wait through about 2 hours of the show before Connor performed. And then we had to wait another hour afterwards. There were some super cute performances, especially by the little ones, and of course Kaitlynn loved watching all of the beautiful dancers.

Dad, Mom, and Kaitlynn in the crowd.
Here's my very amateur video of Connor's West Side Story number. The boys were cute and got some laughs.

Jeff asked me before the recital if we were supposed to get Connor flowers -- because, you know, getting flowers for the daughters at their recitals is a BIG deal. I told him no, I mean, boys wouldn't want that. Right? Luckily they were selling these super cool candy wands at the recital, and of course that was the perfect "congratulations" gift for our little performer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2nd Grade Wrap-up

(Disclaimer: most of this post was written back in May!)

I have said for years that May is a Mom's busiest time in the Spring. Lately I have been spending my days back and forth between Connor's and Kaitlynn's schools as they wrap up the school year hosting lots of activities for the kids and parents. We are counting down the days of school, and I can honestly say I probably look forward to it more than my kids! I used to be terrified of summertime and trying to keep 2 kids happy and entertained. Now I just need a break from the overwhelming daily schedule and activities that we are committed to.

Connor's 2nd grade year is quickly coming to an end, so that means lots of fun activities to wrap up the school year. One of the events Connor recently participated in was the 2nd Grade Authorama. Each 2nd grader was asked to choose an author, conduct research about that author and their background, and then decorate an author "doll" in the likeness of the chosen author. Anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT crafty and therefore cringe at the thought of most crafty projects. When this assignment was brought home, I had to fight off the panic, ha! I am of the mindset that kids need to do their own projects, so I don't usually offer much help to Connor with these types of things. But I also didn't want Connor to just draw and color the thing and turn it in; I wanted him to spend a little more time and make his author look nice.

That's where Dear Old Dad stepped in. He's the creative one in the family, just so you know. Jeff and Connor got to work one Sunday afternoon while I was at the gym and when I came home, Connor's author was completed. Jeff had taken one of his old shirts, cut it up, and fashioned it on the paper doll. Then Connor colored in the rest of the author's face and clothes. It turned out great! Hmmm, I may have to leave Jeff in charge of the school projects from now on!

Connor and his author doll, Jeff Kinney.

Connor's chosen author was Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series for kids. I thought it was a good selection for Connor, because that book series is what Connor started reading in Kindergarten and really sparked his love for reading and especially for book series. (He is like his Mom, I LOVE a good book series!). If you look closely at Connor's author doll, you'll see that Connor drew in some chest hair under the shirt. Mrs. Sartor got a big kick out of that, ha!

On the day that the author dolls were due, the 2nd graders hosted an Authorama for the parents. All of the kids stood in a circle in the room and the parents were able to go from kid to kid, learning all about their selected authors. It was a cute event and taught the kids a lot about research as well as some of their favorite authors.

Mrs. Sartor gave instructions at the Authorama while the kids stood with their author dolls. They did a great job!

Earlier this month, Connor's school also hosted their end of year Book Fair. We always love attending and supporting the school, but it's such a hard choice when trying to narrow down our book lists! This time, Connor chose the first books in the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series to see if he would enjoy them. About a week later, he was done with both of those books AND the 2nd book in the series. This kid is a READER, ha!

At the book fair. So much to choose from!

Also in May, I was honored to be the recipient of the WoodCreek Elementary volunteer of the month award along with a few other deserving Moms. I have definitely been spending a lot of time up at the school and was recently named the PTA's vice president of programs for the upcoming school year. It is always nice to be recognized for your contributions, and I shared some nice moments with the kids as they held a breakfast in our honor, and we even got to participate in the morning announcements at school. :-)

Enjoying donuts at the volunteer breakfast.

Volunteer of the Month photo that was hung in the hallway at school.

Photo from the morning announcements.

Jeff and the kids made me feel so special with these surprise flowers and sweet notes congratulating me on my volunteer achievements. He must've known that I needed some encouragement!

At the end of the school year, Connor's classroom held the annual Celebration of Learning. These celebrations at WoodCreek are held in lieu of classroom parties, and they allow the kids to make a presentation in front of the class.

Connor's class all sat at the front of the room and then gave their individual presentations at their Celebration of Learning.

For their presentations, the kids all talked about what they wanted to be/do when they grow up and how they were going to achieve that goal. For years now, Connor has said he wants to be a football player in the NFL. We keep trying to encourage him to come up with a good backup plan, ha!

After the classroom presentations, all of the kids were able to show off some of their projects around the classroom. And then we said our formal goodbyes to Mrs. Sartor and to 2nd grade!

One of Connor's end of school projects, his Connor doll with a timeline of his life (that he had to put bunny ears on).

Kaitlynn always has to be a part of Connor's classroom activities, too.

Connor with his 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Sartor. He had such a great year with her!

Finally, the last day of school arrived. (Is it just me or is school getting later each year?) Connor was SO excited to be done with 2nd grade and get started on his summer fun.

Thumbs up for his very last day of school as a 2nd grader!

Before we could kick off summer, Jeff and I really wanted to reward the kids for their accomplishments this past school year. Connor ended up with a 98 average for the entire school year! He has done an incredible job with his schoolwork and we wanted to make sure that he continues to feel excited and incented to work hard in school. He received his very own tablet -- a Kindle reader -- as a reward for such a great year. And of course, Kaitlynn couldn't be left out. She got a new Disney Frozen nightgown as a reward for graduating pre-K and moving up to Kindergarten.

Gifts for the end of school.

This girl can never have too many nightgowns.

He was very surprised to get a new Kindle. So proud of you, buddy!