Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our Sweet and Simple Christmas

We arrived home on Christmas Eve afternoon.  We had celebrated the holiday with Nonnie in Houston a few days earlier, then took a load of furniture to the lake house.  We were all tired on arrival but looking forward to a low-stress Christmas.  Ma-Mas, Pa-Pa, Uncle Clint, Dana, Libby, and Bill all came over for our tradition of chili and tamales and a couple of gifts.  We enjoyed the evening but it was an early night for everyone.
Cooper, the night before Christmas.
Cooper, the night before Christmas, pretending to be a...well, I am not sure exactly.
Penny, deep in thought on Christmas Eve.
Santa came!  At first we thought it looked a little sparse under the tree.  Our simple Christmas, however, was glorious!  The kids weren't overwhelmed by stuff, and we weren't overwhelmed by the mess (or stress). 
Not wasting any time on Christmas morning.  Cooper and Penny dove into their new toys and played happily all morning long.  Mom and Dad drank coffee and relaxed.  (Did I already use the word "glorious"?)
Ralph was pleased with his Christmas gift.
 After a quiet morning at home, we went to Ma-Mas and Pa-Pa's house for more holiday fun.
Tearing into the presents at Ma-Mas and Pa-Pa's house.
A little assistance from Uncle Clint.
We had a sweet and simple Christmas that was filled with family, fun, laughs, and peace. We couldn't have asked for more.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

May Your Days Be Merry and Bright


I went to upload photos from my camera for some blog material.  There weren't any, save this one that I snapped of our tree (and Cooper's alter to Thomas) while fiddling with my camera settings a couple of weeks ago.  This fact made me stop and think.  WHY don't I have more pictures?  And the answer is this:  We have had a good year, though the end of it has been a busy, chaotic challenge.  Cooper has been sick this week, which was to be my Christmas crunch week.  I was forced to drag him along on errands and shopping trips in order to scratch every item off my list.  Now both kiddos are napping peacefully and I am at peace knowing I don't have to set foot inside another store (even the grocery store!) until after the holidays.  In other words, the Christmas crunch is over and we can rest.  That is exactly what I intend to do.  Rest, and be with the ones that I love until the end of the year. I hope all of you can do the same.  I will be back, ready to post, then.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love,

David, Leslie, Cooper and Penny

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Season Kick-Off

After a lengthy November, we were glad to welcome December and the Christmas season! Our first event was the kids' Christmas program at school. This was Penny's first year to participate in such an event and she did great...no crying or bolting off the stage! She also looked really cute up on the stage and so little!

Penny, waiting patiently for ice cream after the program.
Cooper, our little Christmas veteran, did a great job too! He sang all the songs and really got into the hand motions. He and one of his buddies from his class had fun wearing their hats on stage as well. He also looked really cute.

Cooper, following his performance.
Afterward, we skipped the cookie reception, even though Coop and I had baked cookies for it. Instead we went with friends and their little performer to get ice cream. (We are some proud parents but the place was jammed with proud parents...a little too jammed.) Overall though it was a charming night.

Our second event was a Christmas party just for Mom and Dad, though I imagine Coop and Penny enjoyed running wild under the care of their babysitter. Our final event of the week consisted of watching Johnny Manziel win the Heisman Trophy. Whoop!

We can't wait to see what else the season has in store!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

November in an Instant

Throwing rocks in the lake, a great way to decompress.
I have to say I am glad November is over.  It was a whirlwind month packed with events.  Incidentally, I also discovered the seductiveness of my new iPhone   All the photos I've taken in the last month have been through Instagram, which is sort of an analogy for how we have felt the last month...Life has been just a series of Instagrams.

We attended my Cousin's Reunion at the Ranch and celebrated Thanksgiving at Ma-Mas and Pa-Pas house.  We "took the lake house back," as in, we kicked out the renters who destroyed the house and started working to clean and fix it up so that we can start using it again.  (This is no small task.) We visited the emergency room twice.  Yes, twice.  Once for me for a broken toe, and another time for Penny, who fell and cut her eyebrow.  Three stitches for a two-year-old.  Fun stuff.  In between all of these events, we did manage to get our house decorated for Christmas but after our doozy November we have decided we are keeping the holidays as simple as possible this year.  I hope to blog more this month and show how we have gotten into the holiday spirit.  Happy December!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cousins' Reunion at the Ranch

Over the past weekend, the Graham cousin's assembled at the Graham Ranch for the second ever Cousin's Reunion.  We spent Friday night with Uncle Clint and cousin Ryan in front of a fire.  On Saturday, everyone else showed up to enjoy a chili dinner and some clay shooting.  It was a great turnout and a lot of fun to see everyone.  Cooper and Penny had a blast romping all over the ranch and playing with all the kids.  It was really neat to watch the next generation have such a good time together.  (There are now SEVEN great-grandchildren.) Of course I didn't get any pictures of the adults. (I will have to bug my cousin the photographer for his group shot.)
Boys in the dirt.
Boys in the jeep.
New Army takes a juice-box break from some heavy duty playing.
Penny forges her own path.
Penny and Charley contemplate each other.
Cooper and Daddy on an early Sunday morning walk.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Penny's New 'Do

The next phase in the big girl project...Penny's first haircut!

Before...
After!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012


Halloween this year was so much fun!  Both of the kids LOVED their costumes and were thrilled that they got to wear them to school.  This was a triumph for me because I MADE their costumes!  I took on the task of learning to sew for this very reason.  I became disenchanted last year when at least three kids showed up at my door to trick or treat wearing the same costume as Penny.  Not this year!  Cooper was the only Fireman Sam I saw, and Penny the only Strawberry Shortcake...at least, the only HOMEMADE Strawberry Shortcake.  

Sewing lessons learned?  Well, you don't save any money when you make your own costumes, but the pride of doing it was mine to keep.  Cooper couldn't just be any firefighter...he specifically wanted to be Fireman Sam.  I made his blue coat from a boys' blue button-down shirt I picked up at Goodwill for $1.50 which I sewed big silver buttons to and stuck glow-in-the-dark duct tape to in order to look like Fireman Sam's coat.  His yellow hat came from the Halloween store, and was pricey, only because we had Penny with us...Especially since she was wearing the durn thing and flat out refused to take it off.  How could we say no? We were buying a hat for Cooper...And yellow pants?  IMPOSSIBLE to find...Coop's are L.L. Bean rain pants and more than I wanted to spend, but we reasoned he could wear them again...

Then there is Miss Penny's costume.  I found a tutorial online to create her Strawberry Shortcake dress and hat.  The dress is made from a white T-shirt from Walmart, pink polka-dot fabric and a strawberry applique from Joann's.   I made her hat by painting a white ball cap apple green and liquid-stitching matching gathered fabric onto it.  Her green and white striped stockings were really pajama pants and her pink shoes were $6 at Walmart.  Not too shabby!


This year our friend Libby came over to go trick or treating with us, and have "winner dinner" while we passed out candy.  (Winner Dinner is just pot roast...but it is Libby's family recipe and sooo yummy!)  The kids trick or treated about halfway down our street and came home to examine their loot.  I think Cooper could have gone longer, but Penny sort of lost interest after a few houses.  I am sure this the last year I will get away with only going to a few houses.  
Penny didn't like this house...she waited at the edge of the walkway for Cooper to get his candy.
We let the kids eat WAY too much candy...


 P.S.  Notice how ALL of my pictures are of their backs???  They were so done with pictures after the morning picture session, they wouldn't turn around!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A (Birth) Day in the Life of a Mom

The last time I did a "Day in the Life" post, things were a little different.  As in, Cooper was a wild toddler and Penny was a baby.  It really sort of amazes me still that I even found the time between nursing Penny, chasing Cooper, changing two sets of diapers, and trying not to lose my mind that I actually posted to the blog.  While our life now is a lot more free, fun, and adventurous, I don't really trust my writing skills to make a routine day with the kids seem interesting.  So I picked a special day...My birthday!  Here is what unfolded on October 24th (besides the fact that I turned 33).

5:30 a.m. Our sweet Penny, who has just of late figured out how to open her bedroom door, woke us up by coming into our room and announcing “I get up”. I gingerly and sweetly lifted her into our bed for some cuddle-time thinking, “Wow, what a sweet way to start my day!”  Our sweet Penny was furious that we didn't instead jump out of bed, bright-eyed and ready to do her bidding.  A spectacular heel-kicking, banshee screaming fit ensued.  I admit it now, I was ticked.  I was being nice!  And it was my birthday! And it was FIVE THIRTY!  The coffee maker doesn't come on until 6:15!  We got Penny back to bed but we were up. When she got up again a little later, she was being really cute and sweet, as she tends to do.  Anyway, back to MY DAY.

7 (ish) a.m. David picked up breakfast so I didn't have to cook. (Love him!) I had already made the kids lunches for school, and the kids actually ate their breakfast without any probing. (Who are these kids and where are the REAL Cooper and Penny???)  It was no wonder I had nearly an hour to kill before I needed to get the kids to school.  That never happens!  So I worked on the kids' baby books.  Completing the kids’ baby books and memory boxes is a task from “the list” so before the kids even went to school I had a sense of minor accomplishment surging through me. 

9:15 a.m. After dropping the kids off I added to that good feeling by going for a run.  A side of endorphin never hurts a mood!  Afterward, I leisurely showered and got dressed.  Since it was my birthday, I turned on the TV to listen to while I dressed.  I NEVER do that!  Generally during the week the TV is big fat off between the hours of 9 a.m. and let’s say 6 p.m.  After that we might be desperate to hear ourselves talk so we turn on Netflix for the kids, but, I digress.  Some trashy talk show came on, showcasing how ridiculous other people’s lives are, making mine look Ah-MAY-ZING!  The morning continued with a chat with my mom on the phone and some idle email/Facebook/blog reading time.  Ah!  Quiet and idleness!  LOVING my birthday so far!

11:00 a.m.I decided I need to get SOMETHING accomplished today, so after picking up around the house, off I went to the community center to get in on some early voting. (Who knows what’s happening on Election Day.  I might (EEK!) have kids with me, or I might forget or the lines will be long or, well I need to vote because I will HATE myself if I don’t vote.) Second snag of the day (snag numero uno being the early wake up)…the Caller Times was wrong (insert shocked gasp here), early voting doesn't start until TOMORROW.  I wasted 20 minutes of my birthday driving to the community center, wandering around like a dolt, only to barely catch the sign stating “Early Voting-Oct. 25.”  Grrr. Oh well, I still had “sense of accomplishment” and exercise endorphin in my system, so no biggie. 

11:25 a.m. Next on the list was lunch with my girlfriends, which of course is the key to any girl’s heart.  Since I got there 20 minutes early, I satisfied my inner nerd by reading my book in the parking lot. Coffee followed lunch, caffeine being my “sense of accomplishment” and exercise endorphin stand-in of choice, particularly on those days when I don’t accomplish anything and don’t exercise.  (I have just figured out exactly HOW I managed my caffeine addiction in the first place…).  

1:41:37 p.m. I pushed the clock to the absolute last second I needed to head towards the kids, school and not be the deadbeat-late-to-pick-up-the-kids-mom that every school, daycare, and babysitter hates.  I wasn't late.  Score! 

2:00 p.m. Then my favorite gift of the day occurred when I walked into the school.  Cooper’s teacher said, “Cooper told me it was your birthday today, so have a happy birthday!”  You assume kids are self-centered.   You accept that kids are self-centered.  You are OK with that.  MY four-year-old, however, is not!  The fact that it was his Mama’s birthday was important enough to him to not only remember it, but to spread the word!  That’s my boy!!  On the way home, Cooper shrieked in delight as we passed the water tower near our house.  You see, we play a little game.  Cooper announces he sees a water tower.  That is my cue to say, “Oh, cool, well, we are going to drive right by it!”  Then Coop tells me how it is going to drop sugar.  Then I say, “NO!  It’s not a sugar tower, it’s a water tower!”  Hilarity ensues.  (Hey, its not my fault you didn't get the joke.  You really had to be there.)

2:45 p.m. After the 93rd day in a row of having Welch's fruit snacks and goldfish for a snack, Cooper took a nap.  On this particular day, Penny had napped at school and would not nap at home like Cooper. This meant that I was NOT going to get to flop onto the couch with chocolates and Jane Austen like I had planned.  (No, that is not how I usually spend my afternoons.  It's my BIRTHDAY people.) I still had caffeine in my blood stream, so this is no biggie either.  Hardly snag number three.  Besides, I get to use the birthday card today.  In this case, a Spot DVD…Penny absolutely loves Spot right now and frankly I DID NOT feel like playing with play-doh or trains or dolls or whatever, so a win-win!  I didn't DARE flop onto the couch while she watched because EVERY MOTHER KNOWS that the surest way to get your kid to need/want/demand something is to flop onto the couch and get comfortable.  So I busy-beed (David’s term for when I get rolling doing stuff around the house) for awhile, working off that caffeine. 

4:30 p.m.David came home early (Another gift!) and tried to get Cooper and Penny interested in singing me “Happy Birthday.”  THEY were more interested in Spot, who was still on TV(oops, I might have "accidentally" started it over), so David had to sing alone.  Oh well, the thought and the iPHONE more than made up for it! (Insert another shocked gasp sans sarcasm this time...I have finally joined the rest of the modern world and get to trade in my "dumb" phone.)

6 p.m. We took the kids to a bar to meet up with friends.  Yes, a bar.  But it was a kid-friendly bar.  It was a blast, simply because we have good friends.  And the kids had a blast, which  was what I wanted. I just wanted to do something for my birthday that involved my kids...you read the 2 p.m. entry right?  Birthdays are super important to Cooper!

9 p.m (or  10?) Cooper is super bummed that we leave said bar.  He tearfully kept saying "I want to go to the beer park!  I want to see a birthday cake!"  Oops...to Cooper, birthdays mean cake. We had kind of forgotten that part.  David feels bad for not getting a cake until I assure him I did not need a cake.  (There was NO WAY I was going running tomorrow...)  Since Cooper was still crying and seemed to have forgotten that he ignored us when we did the whole song and gift gig earlier, we improvised.  David quickly threw the iPhone case back into the gift bag and stuck three candles into a rump of leftover banana bread.  I got "Happy Birthday" sung to me for the second time.  THAT was just about the cutest thing ever, and it made my day the best thing ever.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Penny In My Thoughts


School Picture, September 2012...A real sweetheart! 
Since Cooper is in school five days a week and Penny is in only three, I have had quite a bit of "alone" time to spend with our spunky little girl.  While this is really wonderful for us both, it is also a challenge!  Penny has a very sweet soul but she is also very strong willed.  I know she gets a lot of that from me, so I try to remember to pick my battles and truly enjoy this stage of her life. At any rate, here I am, in the here and now, with a Penny always in my thoughts.

Add sunglasses to the growing pile of things that have to be with her when we leave the house.  
Penny and baby at the aquarium.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Birthday Party Pics!

Happy before the party even starts!
Before...
Let the games begin!
Here we go!
Kids in the bounce house.
More kids and Daddy in the bounce house.
Charley in the bounce house!
Let us eat cake!
Even Penny ate cake.
Bounce house break.
Every kid that comes over likes to play trains!
More bounce house with an old friend.
The after picture.
Thank you everyone that came to our party and for Cooper's presents!  He had a wonderful birthday party!



Friday, October 5, 2012

Cooper is Four!


Yes, you read that headline right.  Cooper. Is. Four.  In a lot of ways it really doesn't seem that long ago that Cooper was that sweet little baby wreaking havoc on our sleep and our entire outlook on life.  I feel my growth as a person is directly parallel to this kid's age.  In other words, I am four years wiser, smarter, happier, more feeling, and less selfish.  Our real life began when we became parents, and our adventures in parenting began with Cooper.  It would be impossible to list all the ways in which this sweet boy has matured and changed in the last year, it is just that stark.  In a nutshell, we don't have a baby or a toddler or even a preschooler on our hands here.  We have a young boy.

This young boy is, simply put, smart, funny, sweet, and sensitive.  More descriptively, he is an optimistic, quick-witted, crack-up jokester (and knows it) and a heart-meltingly cautious Mama's (and Daddy's) boy.  When you ask Cooper a question, a lot of the time he gives the wrong answer...on purpose.  We have just begun conversations about the importance of telling the truth, though he doesn't really "lie" to lie...he's trying to be funny.  For example, the other night we asked him how old he would be on his birthday.  He immediately answered, with a big grin on his face, "25!"  Cooper is also one cuddly and conscientious kid.  He is known to sneak into our bed at 4 a.m. and loves to sit on our laps while playing on the iPad or reading a book.  We think it is super cute too how he looks after Penny in public and tries a lot of the time to include her in what he is playing.  He tells me all the time, "Mama!  Don't forget Penny!"  (As if I could.)

Showing Penny a thing or two on the iPad.
Cooper still loves Thomas the Train but his interests have expanded into other areas including The Little Mermaid, Angry Birds, and firemen and firetrucks, particularly Fireman Sam.  He likes to do typical little boy stuff including riding his trike and his jeep, climb stuff, and play with cars and trucks (and trains). He LOVES to go the Ranch where he can see the fish, run around, swing, and ride with Pa-Pa in the tractor.  Cooper loves to wear cowboy boots, play iPad, and he is always on the lookout for trains and bulldozers when we drive in the car.  He likes school though I think he misses his old school. (The "castle" school.)  

Deep in train play at the ranch.
We recently visited the doctor where Cooper measured in at 41.5 inches tall and 39 pounds, putting him in the 75th percentile, and as our pediatrician exclaimed, "Tall and thin!"  From the doctor's standpoint, Cooper is one active, healthy and developing-just-fine kid.  We agree.  I really don't think I would change a thing about this kid, other than getting him to overcome his stubbornness about food.  He likes what he likes, period.  Coop is doing well at school, and has FINALLY shown an interest in drawing and coloring.  He doesn't nap while the other kids nap at school and instead draws me a picture to bring home.  Cooper is a BIG sleeper, which is so funny, considering how his first year of life went.  He takes a two hour nap after school everyday, only because I WAKE HIM UP after 2 hours. 

We celebrated Cooper's birthday yesterday by sending cupcakes to school for him to share with his class and with cupcakes and presents after dinner.  Oh!  And Nonnie came into town too, which he was thrilled about!  We will be having a little party for him on Saturday, which means of course, more pictures to follow.  

New Thomas set!

Happy Birthday Cooper!  We love you!