Thursday, January 29, 2009

A big pain in the ear

A has been super high-maintenance this week, and I have been exhausted trying to "maintain" him, hence the lack of recent blog posts. I was blaming his extreme moodiness, lack of appetite, and bad napping on his teeth, despite the fact that his last four are mostly in, with the exception of his 2-year molars. I considered checking if said molars were the issue, but to stick my finger into that bear trap would surely leave me a digit short (more on that later), so I just assumed that was the case. But after a mostly sleepless night for both of us, followed by a fever and the discovery of crusty yellow gunk around his left ear canal in the morning, I knew I needed to get him to the doc asap to get antibiotics for yet another ear infection.

And sure enough, the doc found an infection in his right and couldn't see through the gunk in the left to make a visual confirmation, but all the signs pointed to infection and possible perforation of that eardrum, as well. Poor baby!

So I started him on his antibiotics and have kept him drugged up on Motrin and Tylenol, and he has been in good spirits, excepting when he woke up from his nap after thirty minutes and was a total mess. Luckily, he was willing to lie next to me in my bed and went back to sleep for over an hour before waking up in a decidedly better mood.

So, I guess we'll just wait and see what tonight holds. Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

as promised

I snagged a few more pics from Leah's Picasa site, which can be viewed in the slideshow below.

Instead of doing a typical guest book that people sign, Leah had the neat idea to take pictures of each guest as they entered the church, so she now has a visual record of all of the guests that attended her wedding. I have only posted a portion of those pictures, so if you want to see more, check them out

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Leah's Wedding: The Big Day

At long last, the wedding day had arrived. A hung at the hizzy with Granny and Grampa B while us girls went to get beautified at a local salon. Leah's bridesmaid gift to us was a cute pair of pj bottoms with "Bridesmaid" on the leg and "Team Riley" on the rear, which we all wore with matching white shirts to the salon. The photographer took some pictures while we were there, which I am anxious to see, but for now I only have a couple that I took and a few from Leah's camera.

I did my own hair and makeup at the salon, mostly because I am a total control freak and didn't trust someone else to do it. When I was done I ran back to the house to get A dressed and ready for pre-wedding pictures at the church. The bridal party got dressed at the church, helped the bride slip into her beautiful gown, and stood for pictures. The wedding started at 6, so after pictures, we spent the next two hours playing in the nursery and trying to keep Alex from smearing Cheeto dust on his dress pants. Luckily Granny and Grampa B were there to help run interference and kept him entertained and out of trouble.

After what felt like eons, we were finally called to the sanctuary where we were crammed like sardines into the vestibule of the church, waiting for our cues to hit the runway. Alex was waiting less patiently than others, although his squeals were more of the excited variety than unhappy ones. Granny B kept him at bay as I made my way down the aisle, and as I saw Rachel and Rebekah at the doorway with Tinsley and Alex, I held my breath and prayed for success.

As soon as Alex's feet hit the floor, he got to walkin'. Rebekah was leading Tinsley by the hand, and as the girls slowly made their way up the aisle, A continued to march, exactly as planned, leading the pack in his usual Alex way. Oh, what a proud moment! I was totally cracking up as I watched him, that nervous and excited kind of laughter that verges on hysterics. He got more than halfway down when he realized that his crew was falling too far behind. So he stopped midstride, turned around, and started making "hurry up" gestures and sounds to the girls as they walked toward him. Once they had mostly caught up, he turned around and completed his task by walking all the way to the front of the church, where he immediately bent down and tried to roll the aisle runner back down the aisle. The wranglers in charge of removing the kids from the sanctuary before Leah's big entrance swept Alex and Tinsley up and out before they could do any real damage.

I was standing next to Tinsley's mama Shay on the stage, and the two of us were so proud of our babies. We could not believe that they had both done so well. We of little faith!

With that part over, the rest of the ceremony was cake. Although I did panic about my non-waterproof mascara when Leah came down the aisle and I bawled my eyes out. You never really know how you will react to those sorts of things until they happen. Turns out I am a big sap. Who knew?

It was a lovely ceremony, and when I wasn't thinking about how bad my feet hurt from hours of standing in five inch heels, I was thinking about how fun weddings are and how I was so excited for Chris and Leah. The bride was a vision in ivory, and the groom looked very dashing in his tux. They had been waiting impatiently for this day to come, so once the groom had kissed his bride and they were announced as "Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Adam Riley", the happy couple booked it down the aisle to the tune, "This will be an everlasting love" with the rest of the bridal party trailing behind.

After a few more pictures, we walked over to the reception, and while I'm kind of bummed that I missed people's initial reaction to our grand transformation, dozens of people came up to me to say how awesome they thought everything looked. And I must say, it did look pretty awesome. It's like, you have this vision in your head of how things should turn out, and you kind of have an idea of how to realize that vision, but there's always a chance that what you have in your head isn't possible to achieve in reality. And when you are working with hundreds of yards of nine foot wide fabric at heights well above ten feet, that chance multiplies by, like, a thousand. But fortunately, it all worked out, no ropes broke, no panels fell, the heater didn't light our tent on fire. Nope, it was all good.

And boy, can that Vicki Evans throw a party or what? I think we estimated that over four hundred folks showed up (not that I am surprised in the least) and gnoshed on the mashed potato bar, chicken and beef, chips and salsa, goodies from the chocolate fountain, and the delicious "cupcake cake". I actually didn't get to eat much myself since I spent most of the evening answering questions about our tent project, but what I did eat was really great. It felt a lot like my own wedding, in fact, since I got to see so many people I hadn't seen a while and ended up chatting most of the evening. There were a few times when I completely panicked not knowing where Alex was, only to find that he was eating cupcakes with Granny B or making the rounds with Grampa B or burnin' up the dance floor with Macy.

That said, I was too busy to take pictures during the ceremony or reception, which bums me out big time, but I have "borrowed" a bunch that people have posted on Facebook until I can get some more.

The couple exited in a shower of rose petals and headed to Little Rock, en route to the Smoky Mountains for their honeymoon. I was more than a little jealous. But I was still basking in the glow of a successful reception, so I was somewhat distracted from my envy. Oh, and if you are wondering, no, I am not planning on entering the custom wedding tent business any time soon. But ask me again in a few months and see if I've changed my mind...

Leah's Wedding: lingerie shower & rehearsal

Leah had, I don't know, about sixteen bridal showers before her wedding, none of which I was able to attend. Leah's cousin Ashley and friend Shay (flower girl Tinsley's mama) were hosting a lingerie shower the Monday before the wedding, so I finally got to go to one. We had Alex with us and thought that he might enjoy hanging out with the girls. But it only took about five minutes before he discovered the dish of Hershey's kisses and started taste-testing each of the pigs-in-a-blanket that Ashley had made, so we called Poppa to come get him and take him home. Once he had left, the party started, and I got roped into a fun game of "Who can get pantyhose on the quickest while blindfolded?" Leah and I lost to Michele, who claimed that we were too young to remember the days when pantyhose was a requirement, whereas she spent every Sunday morning as a girl manipulating hosiery up and down her legs.

Leah opened gifts and got some really beautiful things, along with some really funny things that I won't describe here on my "PG-rated" blog. But I think you can judge by the reactions of the crowd that the gag items were a hit. It was a fun evening altogether, and it totally set the tone for Wedding Week to follow.

As I mentioned in previous posts, we spent the week draping the gym, running errands, decorating, etc., and by the time the rehearsal rolled around on Friday evening, we were almost kind of close to being almost done. Kind of. Timothy got in from Dallas the night before, and my mom and dad got to town around noon that day, although I was completely unaware that they had arrived because I was ears-high in fabric at the gym and didn't hear my phone ring when they called to say they had made it. It was great to have them there for various reasons, including the fact that they could watch Alex while we tied about a million loose ends in those last two days.

The rehearsal started at 6, and since we wanted Alex to do a trial run as the ringbearer, he and mom and dad tagged along to the church. Neither Alex nor Tinsley were in the mood to walk the aisle like they were supposed to, so Rachel and Rebekah ended up carrying them. We considered keeping the kids on the stage while Leah came down the aisle, but, being curious toddlers with better things to do, they squealed and squirmed until we let them go about their business. We promptly decided that the kids would be ushered to the back of the church just as soon as they had made it to the front.

We had several theories about what A might do when his big moment arrived. The first theory was that he would be completely confused about what he was supposed to do and would take off to the back or the side of the church instead of towards the front. Then again, he is kind of a show-off. With an entire church full of people staring at him, he might make it halfway down the aisle and start dancing, or perhaps he would spy someone he recognized in the audience and stop to have a conversation. The third and most dreaded theory was that he would refuse to participate altogether, that he wouldn't go down the aisle himself, and when carried, he would kick and writhe and squeal his way to the front. I tried to comfort myself with the thought that Leah was unconcerned about the outcome, and besides, the kids are fifteen and eighteen months old. One can only expect so much. But I was still a little anxious about what he would do, and tried to put it out of my mind since I couldn't do anything about it anyway.

We finished rehearsing and headed downstairs to the Fellowship Hall to eat dinner. I sent Alex home with Granny and Grampa B so he could get a good night's sleep before the Big Day. Dinner was catered by Abe's, who delivered a delicious feast of deep-fried fattiness that all but guaranteed that my bridesmaid dress wouldn't zip. It's bad enough that Leah planned her wedding immediately after the food-filled holidays, and now she was tempting me with boatloads of tasty salt and grease the night before the wedding. Throw a girl a bone, wouldya? Preferably one that's not embedded inside a piece of fried chicken.

The food was delicious, and it was exciting to meet and/or greet the rest of the wedding party, many of whom I hadn't met before that night. We soaked in the last few minutes of relaxation, then went right back to work putting the finishing touches on the gym and church. We were pretty much on time according to our self-imposed schedule, but we were starting to feel the pressure. One day to go!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Leah's Wedding: home & helpers

You might be wondering what Alex was doing all week while Grammy and I were otherwise occupied with wedding-related tasks. Sure, Grammy got her hands on him as much as possible, but sometimes it's just easier to get things done when you don't have a toddler clinging to the rear of your pants. Go figure. So at naptime and at those times when being productive was not an option, Grammy found reliable volunteers to watch him in the church nursery or at home. Luckily there is an abundance of trustworthy kidsitters in Eldo, including the Mamaws, church friends, and nursery workers, who were willing to help out.

When he wasn't being "sat", he was playing in the gym, helping us clean, moving tables and chairs, providing the entertainment, and playing with Tinsley the flower girl, with whom he had undeniable chemistry.
In the few minutes of free time we had between decorating, errand-running, ribbon-tying, gift-wrapping, and gym-draping, we spent time goofing off around the house. Or at least Alex did.

We did allow ourselves a meal now and then, and on this particular day, we went to Good Times Grill for lunch, where I ordered Alex a corn dog off the kids' menu.

The kids' menu. Call me crazy, but isn't the kids' menu supposed to have smaller portions, you know, for kids? What kind of kid eats an entire foot of corn dog at one sitting, not to mention the mound of fries and cold beverage that accompany it? According to Leah, the answer is, "Kids from Arkansas". My question is, if this is what they're feeding the kids, what on earth does the "adult-sized" corn dog look like?

Anyway, I am posting another slideshow because, for some reason, it has become a nightmare to post pics to Blogger. They don't move where I want them to go, they don't blow up when you click on them, etc., etc. This set includes a little of this and that, Alex stuff mixed in with pics of us and our helpers completing some of the aforementioned wedding tasks, with a few other random things thrown in. I'll try to label them in Flickr when/if time permits, so please check back later if you want more details about our fun week.

Sidenote: Sometime before or after the pictures of Alex playing baseball were taken, A smacked the ball hard and hit a line drive directly into Auntie Leah's eyeball. He didn't really feel as bad about it as he should have, considering it would have been his fault if Auntie Leah had to wear an eyepatch to her wedding. Luckily she made a full recovery and the eyepatch wasn't necessary. Although I would have been more than willing to glue white beads and lace to it if it had been. That could have totally saved her money on accessories, anyway. I mean, who needs earrings when you have a bedazzled eyepatch?

Leah's Wedding: Tent-building

Man, between computer issues and recovering from an exhausting week of Wedding Boot Camp, I am just now getting back to blogging. As you may have noticed, it has been ages since I've posted anything, and while I usually like to wait until I have all of my pics and post everything in chronological order, I'm going to have to pretend that I'm not totally neurotic and post pics as I get them. At the current rate, life is just passing by and I'm not blogging about it, and that's proving to be slightly more stressful than the thought of posting things out of order. Just slightly.

That said, it was an amazing week with the folks in Eldo. Timothy, Alex, Murphy, and I met up with Bill and Vicki somewhere in Mount Pleasant last Saturday, where B & V joined Alex, Murph, and I in the van and headed to Arkansas while Tim took Vicki's Murano back home to finish a week of work. Of course, I was heading to Eldo to work, as well, only instead of drafting motions for summary judgment, I was going to be draping a gymnasium with obscene amounts of fabric.

And I guess that's about as good a place as any to start picture-posting. Here's the skinny. Leah's wedding ceremony was to take place at the church, with a reception to follow at the gymnasium across the street. The gym wasn't appropriate for a wedding reception "as-is", at least not by Vicki Evans standards (nor mine), so we devised a plan to buy white fabric to drape the entire space and create a tent of sorts. After measuring and remeasuring and estimating and re-estimating, I said a little prayer, gave the thumbs-up to order 500 yards of 108" wide white broadcloth, and crossed my fingers that it would be enough.

And it was, thank tha Lord. I think we used about 450 yards out of five hundred, and guess what folks, that's a lot of fabric. The draping process was grueling, although we had a great team of helpers that were willing to let me boss them around. Bill was my right-hand man and spent most of the time tottering precariously atop a hydraulic lift. But volunteers came out of the woodwork to lend their helping hands, which certainly made things easier. Nonetheless, we worked into the night for three days to get it all done. The transformation was pretty amazing and totally worth the hard work, even if I do say so myself. The pictures hardly do it justice, so for those of you that weren't able to make it to the wedding, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

must-see Sunday

Hey folks, we made it to El Dorado and are already in the throes of wedding-planning-crunch-time, but I wanted to take a sec to mention something that I have been meaning to post about for some time.

Back in October, my mom was invited to participate in a little television program called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Some of you may have heard of it, and for the rest of who have been living under a rock, it is a home renovation show hosted by Ty Pennington of Trading Spaces fame, where a deserving family is chosen to have their home completely leveled, only to be rebuilt at nothing less than four times its original scale, fitted with the latest and greatest in home electronics, appliances, and related gadgets, and designed and decorated with all the bells and whistles.

A family from Peoria had been chosen for a show being taped in October, and my mom was discovered by a producer who asked her to select a team of artists to provide some of the aformentioned bells and whistles in the form of artwork for a little girl's bedroom. Without giving too much away, I will just say that her team painted murals and furniture for the girl (named Rebekah, I think), which should be featured on the show when it airs.

And the reason I am compelled to mention it now is that it airs tomorrow night, at 8/7c on ABC, and I would love for everyone to watch it. I don't watch it regularly myself, but obviously I will watch it this week considering that it's featuring my home town, and yeah, the fact that my mom might appear on national television. It's a pretty cool concept, and it's even cooler that my mom got to contribute. Even is she doesn't make the cut, her artwork should, and that's just plain awesome if ya ask me.

So that's it, tomorrow night, watch it if you can't, and if you can't, just set your Tivo and watch it later. Thanks!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

almost eighteen

Wow, so we've finally reached the elusive "18 month" mark. Almost. Technically the big day is Saturday, but by then we will be en route to Eldo, and I tend to get a little laz----er, ahem, busy when I am out of town and blogging slows down. And this is such a big one that I can't let it go unposted. I feel like I've been anticipating (dreading...?) this milestone because for some reason, in my mind, this age marks the beginning of "kidhood", the point where babies are no longer babies, where toddler-like behavior takes over completely and babiness is left behind, a distant memory only to be relived through pictures and blogposts. Nevermind that Alex pretty much left babyhood behind months ago. But now it's official.

As you may or may not have read in my last post, we finally had another well child visit to confirm what we suspected about Alex - that he is a happy, healthy, growing boy. He is constantly outgrowing his clothes and shoes, and while I hate to have to pack my faves away in the "little brother* hand-me-down" box, that just means that I get to...have to go out and buy him new ones. And that means that my toddler gets to stay on top of the trends, while I'm spending hours picking pills off of my three-seasons-ago Old Navy sweaters. Is this what they mean by "sacrificing" for your children?

Recently - the last couple of weeks in particular - we have seen a marked difference in Alex's vocabulary. We ran by the church to drop off his tuition, and while we were in the office writing the check, Alex was holding a conversation with the secretary, her daughter, and the head of Mother's Day Out who said, "My, Alex, is it just me or are you talking up a storm compared to last week?"

Thing is, it's not necessarily a huge increase in the number of words he can say, but how he says them. I'm not sure how to describe the difference, really, but I guess it's like he's starting to "get it", like a little light has gone on in the grammar-building part of his brain. Now don't get me wrong, by no means is the kid composing sonnets or reciting portions of Paradise Lost in German while rubbing cheese into his hair. But it is clear by the way he talks that he understands the concept of sentences, that you say a few words and then wait for someone to reply. And if no one replies, it is perfectly acceptable to answer your own questions. Now, his jabbering includes inflections and pauses, as if he's imitating our patterns of speech. In fact, his ability and/or willingness to imitate improved greatly this month, whether it be gestures or words or sounds. Sometimes he will start doing something new, and I'll wonder where the heck did he learn that? just as I look down to find that I'm doing that very thing myself.

This month, he debuted several new words including "moon", "box", "shoes", and his new favorite, "book". He occasionally shouts, "I did it!" when he accomplishes something, or at least something that sounds exactly like it. He can tell you that a sheep says "baaa", and if you ask him where something is, like on the page of a book, he will point and say "right d'ere!" He says "hi d'ere" and "bye d'ere" to everyone he sees, and has recently perfected his "big boy wrist wave", as opposed to the "one hand clapping" method he was using before. After a little encouragement, he has finally learned to say "no" when he means no and "yes"...well, "yeth", when he means yes, which is the most effective set of words he's learned since "this" and "that". We've attempted to curb his habit of whining for what he wants by training him to say "help" when he needs it, and when combined with "yes", "no", "more" and "all done", that pretty much covers the basics.

He is obsessed with books and would prefer to have someone read to him every minute of every day. He is starting to point at letters and tries to make letter sounds, and he loves to sit on our laps while we draw words and pictures on paper so he can talk about them. When he's not "reading", he is climbing, pulling things off of shelves, sticking things in holes (got his fingers stuck in the VCR twice), raiding the pantry for snacks, throwing toys around his playroom, smacking things with other things, and maybe, just maybe, he sits still long enough to watch the occasional educational film or television program. Like Ratatouille. Which is educational if you want your kid to become a chef or a foodie, which I am so all about. We run errands or play at the park whenever possible, which helps us from going stir-crazy/fat, although the shopping cart has become the bain of his existence, and thus, grocery shopping with Alex has become the bain of mine.

He has boundless energy, and while I appreciate his eagerness and curious nature and love to spend time with him, I am more than ready for his nap time each day, and even more so for his bedtime at night. I am realizing that I just can't meet his energy level at this age such that I can keep him entertained all day, every day. Which is why the Mother's Day Out program has been such a blessing, where other kids run him ragged and some other lady changes his poopy diapers while I get a few hours to rest and recoup. And while those hours were not very restful after the first couple of times I left him in hysterics, he quickly adjusted to his new routine. After three days, he decided school was okay and walked right into his class without so much as a tear in his eye, nevermind a kiss goodbye or an "I'll miss you dearly, Mom". When I pick him up each afternoon, his teacher tells me how sweet and happy he is, and how he has made so many friends.

Btw, have I ever mentioned how funny this kid is? I know that most kids are funny, but I just like to point out that mine is no exception. Of course, what he thinks is funny these days usually involves punching or kicking or violence of any kind. For example, his father loves to say, "knockout punch!" and pretend to punch him in the face, making the appropriate corresponding boy noise, of course, so now Alex will walk around the house, punching himself in the face and saying "ptttcchhh-pttccchhh!" I'm pretty sure we're gonna get a call from DHFS one of these days, or more likely from one of his teachers who has "concerns" about our child's "behavior". And when they do, what I will tell them is, "Talk to his father".

The older he gets, the more I seem to love him, and while that would not have seemed possible a month ago, it has proven to be true. I am often overwhelmed with frustration that I just can't squeeze him hard enough or smooch him often enough or let him know how loved he really is. But somehow, I kind of think he knows. At least, I hope so.

*Please do not mistake this reference to mean that there is a "little brother" in the works. Maybe, someday, if a little bro comes along, he will be wearing Alex's old clothes. And if not, we will have some very stylish little nephews...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

a well child

Since A and I will be in Eldo all of next week to help prepare things for Auntie L's wedding, I scheduled his 18 month well-child visit for this morning at Baylor Pediatric Center, basically to get a tune-up before I take him on the road. This was our first experience at the center, and it was a good one. I was relieved to see a separate "well kid" waiting room with nice, clean furniture and toys, new TV's playing classic cartoons, and a gorgeous fish tank with very entertaining fish, all the more appreciated when I had to fill out a phonebook's worth of new patient paperwork and couldn't amuse Alex myself.

Once I finished the paperwork, we got called in (right on time, I might add), answered the customary health and development questions, and got his vitals. The nurse was a doll and A didn't fail to notice. And here are the much-anticipated measurements:

head circumference - 19 in (65%)
height - 34 in (91%)
weight - 26.1 lbs. (55%)
bmi - 15.9

Yeah, you read that right! They do a body mass index for 18 month olds. Crazy, huh? I guess it is Texas, home of the "big-boneded". A score of 15.9 puts him in the 28th percentile, which is pretty arbitrary considering "healthy" is anywhere between 5 and 85%. The important thing is that he is a very well child according to the doc, who used the word "perfect" about five or six times whe referring to his health and development. Of course, it helped that he was a complete goofball with the doc, who said that he certainly acted like a healthy, happy boy. That's a good thing for a mom to hear from a doc, I'd say. Yay for being blessed with such a wonderful little boy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I haven't talked much about the specific things Alex got for Christmas, aside from his Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve presents from the Eldo gang, which is a shame because he got loads of sweet stuff. Everyone decided that this year we would all be a little more frugal when it came to buying Christmas presents, and this year, everyone lied their pants off and spent way too much on toys and clothes and books and flashy noisy things. Not to mention all the stuff they bought for Alex. Happy Feet and a Jack-in-the-Box from Uncle Nick, tons of art supplies from Aunt Rach, a punching bag and gloves, a Socker Bopper, a Big Wheels trike, a custom art desk, puzzles, games, movies, books, etc., etc., from Granny and Grampa B, and tons more great stuff from Grammy and Poppa, including Ratatouille and another sock 'n' bop inflato-toy. The extended family went all out as well and gave him books and puppets and clothes and shopping sprees to Toys 'R' Us. I'd call him spoiled if he weren't so deserving.

Besides, even if no one else was going to spoil him, I still would. I tend to go a little bit...a lot bit overboard when it comes to gift-giving, so we decided that, this year, we would get Alex one big gift to open when Tim's folks were here, then a couple of smaller ones to open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, otherwise our mortgage would likely end up under the Christmas tree. The "big" gift, of course, was his motorized Star Wars vehicle, and I use the word "big" loosely because one of his "small" gifts cost a dollar less than that did. Hey, I followed the rules. Barely.

The smaller gift of which I speak is called KidiJamz Studio, this crazy fun DJ station with a million buttons and kids' songs that can be played in a variety of styles, including rock, hip hop, jazz, and reggae...a keyboard...a working microphone with two voice effects! and a mini-turnable to scratch records!! and a detachable "MP3 player" that he can use to record his own music!!! and headphones so he can listen to his own music on the fly!!!!! AND...and I'm totally geeking out about this toy because what noise-making, button-loving kid wouldn't love a totally wicked awesome toy like this!!??

And Alex is such a good boy for either loving it, or at least feigning love so that I wouldn't be disappointed. It is dawning on me as I write this post that a video would be the most appropriate method for showing DJ Dirrrty Drawz in action, but all I have for now are these pics. I'll see what I can do about a video, but hopefully these pics will be enough to get you in the groove.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas at the Arboretum

After the great experience we had at the Arboretum in November, we knew we wanted to go back again during winter, when they have a holiday festival with lots of Christmas-related activities, including pics with St. Nick. Since we missed our chance to see "the real Santa" at Northpark Center, we planned on visiting his stand-in at the Arboretum so that A could get his second annual Santa picture. Last year, at five-and-a-half months, Alex was just oblivious enough that Santa didn't freak him out, but this year, he is much more aware of his surroundings and we were preparing ourselves interesting experience.

And as expected, he pretty much panicked when we sat him on Santa's lap, cried his eyes out and reached for his daddy. And not that I can blame him. He was all, Who is this strange fat guy in ridiculous red pajamas with a mass of curly white nylon hanging from his face, and why in the world am I sitting on his lap while everyone stares at me and laughs? Am I the only one not enjoying this? After his initial unpleasant reaction, the photographer tried to make him smile by tickling him with a feather and attempted to bribe him with a candy cane, which he promptly hurled in her general direction. Just as she was saying that she didn't think she'd be able to "turn this one around", he cracked a smile and then got to laughing. The photog got to snapping and ended up with several great pics, including this one:

Truth be told, I would have been just as happy with a crybaby picture because that's kind of the whole point of these pictures, isn't it? To document the experience over the years and look back to see how things changed over time? So technically this was his crybaby year, and while I wasn't about to pay another $15 for the picture to prove it, we will probably remember it that way.

We did a lot more while we were there than see Santa, which can be seen in the slideshow that I have conveniently embedded below for your viewing pleasure. You can also access the pics directly at my Flickr site.

Fall at the Arboretum

Back in November, we decided to take a family outing to the Dallas Arboretum, basically a big park with no swings or slides or see-saws, just a bunch of trees and flowers and grass to admire and fresh air to breathe. And as dull as that sounds, it was honestly one of the best days that we have had as a family. It was freezing cold and windy that day, so we bundled up and headed out. We had heard from various people that the Arboretum was a great place to take a wild child who just needs space to run, and since we had just such a wild child of our own, we were excited to see what he would do.

We went during "Fall at the Arboretum", when they had a million pumpkins scattered around, all sizes and shapes and varieties, gigantic horses made of straw, and a "Pumpkin House" constructed entirely out of watermelons. Just kidding. They were eggplants. About the time we got to the giant pumpkin patch, a prime location for picture-taking, I discovered that the battery in my camera was near death. I managed to snap a couple of pictures before it completely died, and after several minutes of self-flagellation, I realized that it was easier to enjoy the time with my family without a camera attached to my face anyway.

Alex loved climbing on the bales of straw and lugging pumpkins around, but the highlight of the day was when he decided to "hunt" some birds that were poking around near some picnic tables. He chased half a dozen blackbirds towards a giant bush where the birds attempted to take cover, and instead of giving up and letting them be, Alex immediately dropped to his hands and knees and army-crawled his way through the brush, towards his prey. The birds were confused, Tim and I were busting a gut, and Alex was completely oblivious to both as he honed in on his targets. He didn't catch any birds, of course, but he did manage to get himself stuck in a giant bush.

After we finally coaxed him out and plucked a handful of twigs from his shirt and hat, we loaded him into the stroller and went to the outdoor concert stage by the lake, aka a big slab of concrete where someone could perform surrounded by other big slabs of concrete where people could sit and listen. We had the best time climbing up and down the slabs in the breezy, thirty-degree weather, despite our watery eyes and runny noses.

Eventually we loaded back up and moved away from the lake, towards warmer temperatures. It wasn't long before Alex was sound asleep, cozied up in his stroller, so Tim and I found a nice bench in the rose garden and chatted about the weather while Alex got himself a power nap.

I guess it's one of those things where "you had to be there", but man, we had a great time. I wanted to make sure to blog about it, mostly because some dummy forgot to charge the camera battery and now the only memory we have of that day is...well, our memories.

Plus, it seemed like an appropriate way to segue into the next post - Christmas at the Arboretum. Coming soon...


The Friday after Christmas, I dragged Rachel, Mom, and Alex to the mall in Peoria, where we did some window shopping and stopped for some Auntie Anne's before meeting the other boys for lunch. Alex was exhausted from all the Christmassing and fell asleep in his stroller, although not before getting his mitts on a big hunk of sugary pretzel. I'd go on, but I think the video speaks for itself.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Merry Belated Christmas

I came down with a nasty cold this week, so blogging wasn't exactly at the top of my priority list, and it didn't help that Blogger was being a complete booger about uploading pictures. So in the interest of saving myself a lot of headaches, literal and metaphorical, I decided that I will just embed a Flickr slideshow of our Christmas pics this year. I took over 300, but managed to narrow down my favorites to about 50, which will be featured below.

Here's the basic gist of how our holiday went down. On Christmas Eve, we headed over to my Aunt Suza's house where all of my mom's family gets together. Most of the cousins are just a few years apart in age, so it is always fun to catch up with everyone. We stayed there until 1am, I think, with Alex asleep upstairs while we played games and ate until the wee hours of the morning. Alex woke up early Christmas morning, so I stalled him a bit before we finally woke up the rest of the family. We opened gifts, ate breakfast, napped, played games, and pretty much enjoyed a relaxing Christmas day at home.

The pictures do a pretty good job of illustrating our holiday, but a few words couldn't hurt, either. Instead of blogging about each picture, I've added a description about each one, which you can either read by linking directly to the set on Flickr and selecting each picture individually, or by clicking that little icon at the bottom right of the slideshow (the one with four arrows), the slideshow will fill your screen, and you can select the "options" button at the top right of the screen to check the box that mentions "title and description". I know that sounds a little complicated, but you will get the hang of it. If you want to see the entire collection, it can be accessed by clicking here.

If this works out okay, and I don't get too many complaints from the peanut gallery for taking the easy way out, I might consider this method every time I want to post more than just a handful of pictures. And knowing me, that will happen more often than not.

I guess I should conclude by saying that it was an awesome Christmas, made especially fun by the fact that Alex was old enough to (kind of sort of) understand what was happening, to get excited by his toys and the music and the people and the general hubbub that surrounds the holiday season. I am especially glad that my family was able to get together, and that Alex was able to see some folks that he hasn't seen in months and to meet some that he has never seen at all. We are so thankful for family and friends and health and safe travels, and we can't wait to see what next Christmas brings.