Monday, February 27, 2017

You Win!

The kids came home with their end-of-year report cards on the last day of school. They were excited to see their grades because they had been working hard all year to make straight A's. The school does a great job of rewarding the kids with various incentives like certificates and gift cards to local restaurants or activities, so opening the report card usually has a surprise or two in store.

Jeff and I had been talking for a while about how we could reward the kids for their hard work and wonderful grades. We decided to splurge on a big gift for them, but we wanted a fun way to present the gift. After some brainstorming, we came up with a brand new game called "You Win!" and we explained to the kids that we had the game as their surprise for such great report cards.

Here's how the game works: I printed several pages of card stock with various logos/pictures representing different choices for the kids to make. We started with Round 1 which was a dinner choice between CiCi's Pizza (Connor's favorite) and Rainforest Café (Kaitlynn's favorite) -- presented as two sheets of paper, each with the restaurant's logo. We told the kids that for Round 1, they had to agree on the same choice. They went back and forth, but they ultimately agreed on Rainforest Café for dinner.

So, to Rainforest Café we went! (not sure why but I didn't manage a picture of this round!)

After we finished our dinner, the kids were begging for their next round of the game. Round 2 of "You Win!" was another fun choice, this time for dessert! They were presented with two cards, one labeled "Ice Cream Buffet" and another with "Candy Buffet." Man, their eyes got so big! I thought it would be a toss-up, but they both immediately chose the candy buffet, which so happened to be a short walk away. We went to the Katy Mills candy store and loaded up on mix-and-match candy, to the tune of $30, ha! The kids were so excited, but it didn't take long for them to start asking for Round 3 of the game.

Round 2 of "You Win!" was a success!

Ready for Round 3, we headed home with the kids in great suspense. They were making guesses all the way home of what they thought would be their choices in the next round. By the time we got home, they were out of patience. It was the perfect time for a little trick, wouldn't you agree?

Here's what their "You Win!" Round 3 choices were:

Shower (with a picture of a showerhead) or Bath (with an image of a bathtub)! Hahaha.

OK, so maybe it was a little corny. I'm not sure how much they appreciated our joke, but we had a good laugh.

Back to the official game, it was time for the 4th and Final Round of "You Win!" We told the kids that for this round, they could make an individual choice. They were on the edge of their seats. Their final choice, and the true reward for their great academic performances in 4th and 1st grades, was...

Gift (with a photo of a present) or Cash (with a photo of a stack of bills).
We were nice and told them that they could unwrap the gifts before making the choice. So they quickly tore into the gifts to uncover... brand new iPads!

The kids were blown away! Their reactions were priceless, and I wish I would have recorded them. I have lots of blurry photos with expressive faces instead! Kaitlynn took a few moments to make her decision, but in the end, they both chose the iPads instead of the money (as we had hoped and expected).

Kaitlynn opens her gift and is so surprised.

Connor is so excited that this was the least blurry photo I could find.

iPad or Cash? Tough choice for Kaitlynn, who was saving for a new American Girl doll.

The final choice for Round 4, iPads for both kiddos. BIG smiles!

We were happy to present these gifts to Connor and Kaitlynn after such great school years for them both, but we made sure to explain that we wouldn't be able to reward them like this every year.

But needless to say, our invention of "You Win!" was the ultimate hit game and sure to become a family staple for many years to come.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Last Days of School

It couldn't come quick enough for Connor and Kaitlynn, but it caught me off guard when the end of the school year was upon us once again. The last couple days of school are always so much fun for the kids, filled with snacks and games to commemorate another great year. I end up thinking to myself, why do the kids need to attend those last few days anyway because they certainly aren't learning anything?!

Kaitlynn ready for school -- she was going through a hat phase, ha!

The day before school ended, one of Kaitlynn's friends and neighbors, Lauren, was celebrating her birthday. What a cute group of kids!

Birthday cake for the neighbor kids.

Enjoying some cake. When did Kaitlynn turn into a little hippie? haha

And finally, the VERY last day of school was upon us. I asked the kids if I could take a picture before school. I also requested that Connor wear a nicer shirt (one with an actual collar) for the picture. Apparently I missed the memo where that was an unreasonable request. His displeasure was all too evident in the photo.

Last day of school photo.

I can count on only one hand how many times I ask Connor to wear a collared shirt each year. But every.single.time he acts like this is pure, unadulterated, nonstop torture. TORTURE, I tell you. Since when has it become such a reviled endeavor for young boys to wear a shirt with an extra two inches of material at the neckline? So abhorrent, in fact, that this boy is willing to lose an entire week's worth of wi-fi privileges instead of simply correcting his poor, disrespectful attitude?

But, I digress.

Back to the last day of school, it was only a half-day for the kids and they were beyond excited when that last bell rang. Kaitlynn was accompanied by one of her friends, Sophia. Thankfully, we ended up with much bigger smiles than we had earlier in the day.

These girls were so excited that school was over and they could celebrate together!

The last walk home from school for 1st and 4th grades!

School's out for summer!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Girls Day!

While Connor recovered from his nose surgery during the Memorial Day weekend, the girls decided to get out of the house for some fun. We arranged a fun Girls' Day with Kaitlynn and one of her besties, Lily. We were in the mood for some fun shopping, food, and girl time!

Funny note: as we were getting ready for our day, Kaitlynn came downstairs all decked out in a maxi dress with wedges and a coordinating backpack for her doll. She looked at me in my jeans and t-shirt and said, "What, no dress?" Lol! Needless to say, I quickly changed. Apparently you have to up your wardrobe game when you hang with this princess, ha!

My little fashionista was ready for her special girls' day!

Quick mother daughter pic before our friends arrived.

The girls were so excited to spend the day together!

On the way to the mall for some shopping. Kaitlynn's doll, Anna, was along for the ride.

Too cool.

Can't miss Justice when you're with these two!

Kaitlynn was excited to accompany Lily for a special haircut.

Sweet girls!

Her cut was perfect! So cute!

One of Kaitlynn's goals for the day was to introduce Lily to the joys of American Girl. It's Kaitlynn's absolute favorite place to be; she could spend hours in that store! She couldn't wait to show Lily all of the AG dolls and accessories on display.

Welcome to American Girl!

Kaitlynn had to take a moment to snuggle with the 2016 girl of the year, Lea. Look at that smile!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

1st Grade Celebration of Learning

Continuing the tradition of the WoodCreek end-of-school-year festivities, I was excited to join Kaitlynn for her 1st grade Celebration of Learning in early June. The kids invited us into the classroom to view some special projects they had made, and then they put on a performance with some songs for us. I was greeted with huge smiles and hugs from my sweet girl!

Blurry photo, but we were so happy to be spending the afternoon together.

One of the projects that Kaitlynn was happy to share with me was her self-portrait. She drew herself and listed some of her best characteristics, including fun, helpful, and happy. I tend to agree! :-)

Kaitlynn's silly side came out when she shared her self-portrait.

When it was time for the class performance, Kaitlynn stood front and center. The class performed a song or two about their wonderful times together, and then each student read their favorite 1st grade memory for the class.

The class is ready for their presentation for the parents.

Chanting about how they are too cool for school.

Kaitlynn ready to present her favorite 1st grade memory.

Take a look at Kaitlynn's favorite memory from 1st grade:

In case you couldn't understand her... Kaitlynn's favorite memory of 1st grade was Twin Day during Red Ribbon Week when she wore matching outfits with her American Girl doll. Her doll's name is Anna -- not "Let it Go" Anna -- just Anna! :-)

Kaitlynn with one of her besties, Sophia.

Before we left for the afternoon, I had to make sure to get a picture of Kaitlynn with her beloved teacher, Mrs. Hebert. Kaitlynn had the BEST year of 1st grade thanks in part to this amazing teacher! Not only were we incredibly blessed to be in Mrs. Hebert's class this year, but Kaitlynn is also lucky enough to continue in Mrs. Hebert's classroom next year for 2nd grade due to the "looping" system at the school. We are so thankful to benefit from her love and talents!

Kaitlynn and her beloved 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Hebert.

Thank goodness, we didn't have to say "Goodbye" to Kaitlynn's wonderful teachers and classmates, because most would be returning in a few months to start their 2nd grade year together. What an amazing group and awesome 1st grade year!

Kaitlynn's 1st grade class. LOVE!!

Friday, February 10, 2017

4th Grade Celebration of Learning

On the next-to-last day of school, the 4th grade classrooms conducted their annual Celebration of Learning. It's an opportunity for the kids to showcase some of their projects and activities from the school year. For 4th grade students, they were asked to choose a famous historical Texan and conduct research on that person's life and impact on Texas history. During the Celebration of Learning, the students dressed up like their Texas character and presented stories and facts from that person's life. It was a fun project for the kids and a great way to wrap up their 4th grade year.

The day of the Celebration of Learning was Connor's first day back to school after the surgery on his nose. He was a little nervous about being back in class with his nose splint and tube, but his classmates and teachers were supportive and happy to have Connor back at school.

Back at school after surgery on his nose.

Connor's chosen character from Texas history was Sam Houston. He did extensive research on Sam Houston in class and we worked at home to find him a proper costume. Of course, we were a little distracted during the nose incident, so we had to settle for a costume that was more George Washington than Sam Houston! Add that to the nose splint and we really had a unique Texan character for the presentation!

Connor dressed as Sam Houston (with some slight modifications).

Me with my favorite little Texan.

Connor presenting the life of Sam Houston.

The parents had the opportunity to walk around the classroom and see each of the students presenting their Texas characters. The kids did such a great job with their projects. It was a great way to wrap up the kids' 4th grade school year!

At the end of the presentations, Connor's teacher stood up to give a few words about the kids and the amazing year they had together. This was Ms. Vivier's first year teaching in Katy and at the WoodCreek campus, so none of us knew what to expect when we started the school year together. Without hesitation, I can say that Connor's 4th grade year was his favorite of all time. He and Ms. Vivier bonded like he's never bonded with a teacher before, primarily due to their shared sense of humor (sarcastic) and maybe their love of donuts and Chick-fil-A. :-) Ms. Vivier was a huge supporter of Connor throughout the entire year, and she just "got" him from the very beginning. As excited as Connor was to be leaving 4th grade, he was bummed to think about no longer having Ms. Vivier as his teacher. I can honestly say this was the best year ever, so we were both quite sentimental as Connor wrapped up his 4th grade year.

Connor with Ms. Vivier, favorite teacher of all time!

Connor with his best classroom buddies, Felipe, Jayden, and Parker.

Connor's 4th grade class with Ms. Vivier.

Silly photo time!

Official 2015-2016 class photo -- I LOVE THIS CLASS!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Easter Visit With Family

We had a super special Easter 2016 weekend when my parents visited along with my sister Michelle and her two girls, Renee and Ryah. There's just nothing like family time to make the holiday weekend feel extra special!

Anytime we have Morgan family gatherings, you can bet there are multiple games happening. Each cousin has their favorite pick, but Grandaddy loves them all. He loves that his grandkids are now old enough to challenge him!

Q-bitz was more funny to watch than to play. Renee conquered every round in less than 30 seconds while MeMe couldn't place more than a few cubes in the same amount of time!

Kaitlynn's all-time favorite game -- Memory. She usually wins!

Grandaddy discovered our latest project, a 1000-piece Texans puzzle, and he got right to work trying to complete the border.

Woo-hoo! Border completed!

Snuggles with Grandaddy. She put him right to sleep! :-)

The Easter weekend weather was beautiful and perfect for our neighborhood Easter egg hunt. It had been a while since the kids hunted eggs, and they were all ready for some candy.

Kaitlynn ran into one of her great friends from school, Haasini.

Not pictured was our entire group enjoying the all-time best beef fajita dinner at our favorite restaurant, Lupe Tortilla. It's a must-have stop every time they visit. Yum!

And this weekend will forever be remembered as the exact moment in time when 13-year-old Renee began to surpass her Mom in height! When I hugged Renee, I couldn't believe how tall she was. I told Michelle that Renee was taller than her, but she didn't believe me. We did the official height comparison and, wow!

Who's taller?? Grandaddy does the official measurement.

Grandaddy scratches his head while Michelle and Renee realize they had officially reached the same height! Love it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Oh Nose! (Part 2)

Continued from Oh Nose! Part 1

As relieved as we were to be told that Connor's nose wasn't broken, it became obvious a few days later that the ER diagnosis was wrong. It WAS broken, which was clear to anyone who saw him. We reached out to our friend, Brian, who is a doctor in the Houston Medical Center. He showed the ER picture of Connor to one of the pediatric plastic surgeons who responded, "Yep, no doubt it's broken."

Connor's nose a few days after the accident.

The pediatric plastic surgeon saw us in a couple weeks and gave us options. He was worried that Connor would develop breathing issues as his nose continued to grow with the deviated septum and caved-in cartilage. He gave us options, but in the end we all agreed that Connor should have surgery to repair his nose. The summer was quickly approaching, and it seemed like a good time for the surgery so that he would have all summer to heal before football started in late July.

We scheduled surgery for the last week in May, and I'll admit that we weren't sure what to expect. Connor and I were both nervous but we felt like we were in good hands.

Checking in at the hospital for surgery.

Getting prepped for surgery in the COLD hospital. They put Connor under this heated air blanket, which he thought was awesome!

The surgery took about 2 hours. When finished, the surgeon came to speak with me and assured me everything went well. He explained that one side of Connor's nose had caved in, and they had put a plastic tube in that side to hold the shape for a week or so. I was ready to see my boy and was so relieved when they finally called me back.

Connor after surgery, all doped up.

A close-up of the plastic tube in Connor's nose.

Poor Connor, he had trouble waking from the anesthesia and was in some pain. The hospital staff was in a hurry to get Connor up and moving, and I basically had to dress him myself! We finally got him loaded in the wheelchair and then into the car for the ride home. Connor has no recollection of this at all, ha!

In the wheelchair waiting on the car.

Long drive home.

I got Connor settled in a "sick bed" in the game room. He tends to get sick from anesthesia so we were prepared! It didn't take long for him to fall asleep and he ended up sleeping the rest of the day.

Connor getting settled at home after surgery.

Poor Connor, so sleepy.

Once he woke up, he was feeling much better. He even received a sweet "Get Well" message from his entire 4th grade class, which really put a smile on his face!

Thumbs up after surgery.

The next few days after surgery, Connor had a tough time eating because it hurt him to move his mouth to chew. We also had trouble keeping the tube in his nose clean because it kept getting clogged with drainage and blood. He was pretty miserable for about 2 days.

Finally, Connor seemed to turn a corner and started eating more normally. He was able to recover over the long Memorial Day weekend and return to school the following Tuesday. He felt almost normal by then, but he still had the nose splint and tube. His friends were sweet and thought he looked cool with his bandages.

Back to school with a nose split from the surgery.

About a week after his surgery, Connor was SO ready to go back for his check-up to get his nose splint and tube removed. He couldn't wait to breathe normally again, but he was understandably nervous about how much it might hurt to have the stitches and tube removed. I had tried to prepare him for the procedure but I'm afraid I might have made him more scared than prepared! He brought a lump of clay as a stress-ball to help him through it.

Dr. T first removed the stitches.

Then he asked Connor to lay down so he could get the tube. Connor was working the stress ball big time!

I had been told by others that the hardest part of nasal surgery is when the doctor removes the hard, packed-in "stuffing" that is jammed up in the nasal cavity. Connor was so nervous about this, but handled it pretty well. I took a video and it was funny that he didn't realize when the doctor was finished, but oh, he was SO thankful when it was over!

Finally, Dr. T removed the outer nose splint.

All done! Still swollen, but big smile to be rid of the hard part!

Connor was such a great patient! I have heard horror stories about how painful nasal surgery and recovery can be, but Connor handled it well and without much trouble at all. I was so proud of him after the appointment that I let him pick his favorite restaurant for dinner -- Lupe Tortilla!

His favorite beef fajitas for a post-appointment treat.

And now for the post-surgery update. I have to admit, I was disappointed by the results of Connor's surgery. I guess I assumed that his nose would go back to the way it looked before, but that has not been the case. He still has quite a knot on the bridge of his nose and it stills looks crooked on the left side. When I asked the doctor in July (1.5 months post-surgery) about that, he stated that noses were hard to predict. He performed surgery to repair the function (breathing, septum) of Connor's nose, not the aesthetic. And while we mostly care about the function, it's possible that as Connor grows, his nose will continue to grow incorrectly and require a future surgical repair.

Connor's new nose, 7 months post-surgery.

Here we are now 8 months post-surgery, and it's clear that Connor's crooked nose is here to stay. I promised myself I would no longer comment on it in Connor's presence, but in certain lighting and at certain angles, it's hard not to notice the bend in his nose. I was upset about this outcome for a while (and still probably am a little bit), wondering why we did the surgery at all. But I'm resolved with it now and we'll just monitor Connor's breathing and nose function over time. Connor could care less about the way his nose looks and everyone else just describes the whole episode as "character-building"!