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It's GRRRREAT!

on
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
I mentioned it briefly, but wanted to talk a little more about what took me to Montgomery for the large part of the last week. The Educational Outreach team at HudsonAlpha travels to different parts of the state each year to host two day professional development workshops for high school life science teachers. The plan is to be in each region of the state once every two years with new content and activities to share. This workshop was all about the cell cycle and cell division.

We got ourselves and our supplies all loaded up early Tuesday morning and headed south.

It was a fantastic couple of days. We were joined by 100 educators from across the region many of whom were new faces to us. The state archives building graciously allowed us to use their space and it was just beautiful. I loved being able to look out the window and see the state capitol. The mornings were early. And coffee was our best friend.



The last item of business at a GREAT workshop is the passing out of tubs. Tubs of materials for the educators to take back to their classrooms. By this point we have it down to an art form and can get teachers through the line and on their ways in just a matter of minutes. Which was good since it was just a tad cold outside.


We made it home to HudsonAlpha about 8 last Thursday night, got the u-haul unloaded (also in record time) and I came home to sleep a while before Perry and I headed to Atlanta the next morning.

It was one very busy, but very good, week.

Now we are settling back into a normal routine at home and work. I am off today with the baby boy and we are just playing at home and staying warm. And saying prayers for everyone just a stones throw south of here that are still stranded and dealing with the ramifications of yesterdays winter weather.

Chocolate made me do it

on
Sunday, January 26, 2014
The past week has been a blur, and a flurry of activities. Since early last Tuesday morning I have spent all of one night at home. And I haven't been relaxing on a beach somewhere (oh how I wish), hence the lack of blogging. But speaking of the beach...we did book a cruise tonight...for April...to celebrate a certain someone's thirtieth birthday. I think that will make the sub-freezing temperatures this week just a little easier to tolerate.

Last week I was out of town on a work trip. I got to spend the week with my awesome co-workers and 100 Alabama biology teachers for the GREAT workshop in Montgomery. More on that later.

Perry and I just got back this afternoon from a mother/son weekend roadtrip to Atlanta. The primary purpose of the trip was the Hot Chocolate 15K race that Kristen, Kimmie, Christine, and I ran this morning. We are all running the princess half marathon at Disney next month together so it was awesome to get to do a 15k training run. If I am going to run 9.3 miles, I would rather do it with other people as part of an organized race...especially when there is chocolate waiting at the end.

Perry was so great on the 3.5 hour car rides. He played with his toys, "read" books and took some good naps. 



Kristen and Perry excited about some after dinner fro-yo Friday night.


The rest of the weekend was spent just hanging out. We went to the race expo Saturday to pick up our race packets, did some window shopping, and lots of eating. Saturday night we went to the Cheesecake Factory for a pre-race carb loading meal. Even Perry got in on the carbs.


We knew traffic would be bad getting parked at Turner Field so we got up extra early. Crack of dawn early...especially for those of us still functioning on central time. Kristen's co-worker Audrey graciously agreed to keep Perry during the race. I'm not sure that she knew we would be dropping him of at 6 am when she agreed to do it, but she still did it, and I am so grateful. She and her husband have a little boy just about 6 months older than P and the boys had a great time playing and spending the morning together. I don't know what all they did...but he was happy and tuckered out when we picked him back up after the race. So tuckered out that he fell asleep in the car...with his sippy cup still in his mouth. Bless his little heart.


While we were waiting for the race to start we wandered around and took pictures (once the sun came up and you could see) and just tried to keep moving to stay warm. It was about 30 degrees when the race started. Brrrr. I kept saying it could have been colder...or rainy. And really once we got started running we warmed right up and even wound up taking off our outer layer and tying it around our waists after about 4 miles.




The race was super hilly. A million times more hilly than the very flat neighborhood I am accustomed to running in. But we all finished and came in under the 12:30/mile pace Kristen and I wanted to keep...which is still ridiculously slow by most standards. Kimmie and Christine did awesome and finished well ahead of us. There were so many people. Somewhere I read 30,000 runners, spectators and volunteers. Our slow selves were no where near the front of the bunch.


Best part was after we crossed the long-awaited finish line we were met with hot chocolate and fondue...and water and gatorade. Yummy! I can get behind running 9.3 miles for chocolate.


It was such a fun weekend. Perry was a great little traveler but was glad to see his daddy tonight. The most traumatizing part of the trip for him I think was getting hissed and growled at by Kristen's cat. Perry wanted to be friends but the cat wanted nothing to do with him (quite the opposite) and it hurt his feelings and caused some tears once or twice.



I can't believe the next time I see those girls it will be in Walt Disney World in less than a month. Eek. Now it is time for bed and to rest my tired legs. Goodnight y'all!

Good food and good friends

on
Monday, January 20, 2014
Dine, v: to eat a good dinner in good company, and eat it slow. In dining, as distinguished from mere feeding, the palate and the stomach never ask the hand, 'what are you giving us?' ~Ambrose Bierce

This weekend centered squarely around food. It is a good weekend when all you have scheduled is eating with friends. We spent the day Saturday having a lazy day around the house and watching Ben play basketball. Saturday night our friends the Thomas' came over for dinner and games. Andrew made skirt steak on the grill which we served overtop a salad and paired with some potato soup and bread. I realized after the fact that I totally forgot to take any pictures of the food...we were way to busy eating it I guess. It was super yummy though. And incredibly easy to toss together. We played Phase 10 which is one of those blast from the past games which we had never actually played. It was so nice to get to spend the evening and catch up with Chris and Christie.

Perry looked super cute Saturday in his moose outfit.

And had a nice lazy Saturday morning with his books

Perry of course loved watching Ben play ball and getting to hang with family on the sideline

Sunday we had a great morning at church and got to go out to lunch with the lifegroup. Then we came home and Perry and Andrew took some long afternoon naps while I went outside and ran 8 miles. It felt awesome to go that far (the furthest I have ever gone) and I now feel slightly more equipped for the 15k I am running this weekend in Atlanta. I might actually cross that 9.6 mile away finish line. My legs were killing me today, but in a good way.

Sunday evening we got to go meet up with Dedra and her sweet family for dinner at Phil Sandovols. We haven't seen Dedra since she moved to South Carolina several months ago. It was so so great to see her and get caught up on life and Becca's wedding plans. We so need to plan a long weekend up to SC to see her. Dinner was yummy and Perry was in heaven...mexican is his favorite. Queso is my favorite...and given my RunKeeper app said I burned 782 calories running that afternoon...I ate that queso guilt free!


Perry loved all the attention and snuggle time with Dedra.


I told you our weekend was pretty much eating with friends...and napping...and running 8 miles. And it was awesome. 

TGIF

on
Friday, January 17, 2014
It is Friday. Which means 5 pm today starts a weekend. A weekend where Andrew is not working and we are not traveling. I can't wait to spend the weekend with my boys and visiting with some sweet friends.

Perry is home playing with his daddy today. Apparently learning to play drums on the green garden seat turned side table.

TGIF!


Rub a dub dub

on
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
It seems like during the holiday season there is an overabundance of things to blog about and about a million reasons to snap pictures and share them. Then January hits and things go back to "normal" and there seems to not be as much riveting content to blog. I literally sat in front of my computer screen earlier and racked by brain about what on earth to blog about...and all I came up with was the fact that Perry was in dire need of a bath...welcome to January.

Today was my "day off" which meant I was off most of the day sans an 8:00 am breakfast meeting. Aunt T came over and played with Perry for a couple hours so I could go into work. I am forever grateful for living close to so much family that are able and willing to help out with Perry sometimes. The meeting was great and getting to come home afterwards and play with P the rest of the day was great too.

Perry has been eating like a champ lately. No joke tonight for dinner he ate an entire container of toddler turkey and veggie ravioli, a whole pouch of yogurt and fruit, half a banana, and some cheerios to top it off. It is amazing to think that not even a month ago I was sending stressed out text messages to Emily about not being able to get him to actually swallow things.

I decided to take the camera with us to bath time tonight...no small feat when Andrew is at work and I am single-parenting the bathing process. Perry started out covered in ravoili and bananas and ended up squeaky clean. It is so fun now that he can really play in the water. His favorite thing about the bath - his duck. My favorite thing about his favorite duck - the fact that it has no hole in it where water can get trapped and mildew (Boon is a genius).

 







I just put the sweet boy to bed full, clean and happy. Now time for some house-work, real work-work, and getting things prepped for tomorrow. Goodnight y'all.

Weekend Recap

on
Monday, January 13, 2014
Our weekend was much less eventful than the previous few...which was a welcome change. Andrew worked the weekend which meant I was off on Friday and got to hang with P all day. Saturday morning we hung at home and then went to Ben's basketball game in the afternoon. Perry loved the game and watching Ben run around the court.


Perry's shirt says "Life is good when you've got a grandma and grandpa like mine." Guess where he got that?!? We might have been playing to our audience putting him in it that day given they were keeping him that evening for us.

Ben came over for a brief half-time pep talk


Saturday night Ann and Gary graciously agreed to let P come over for a sleepover so Andrew and I could have a date night. We went to Red Robin for dinner and then to see Saving Mr. Banks at the movie theatre. It was so fun. Then we got to come home and get some things done at home that are hard to do with a toddler on the move...like reorganize his toys and closet. Then we went to bed with no blinking baby monitor by our side. It was really nice. We had a talk with Perry that he needed to be a good boy and sleep good so that he would be invited back for more sleepovers...and he did. Good boy!

We met up with Adrienne and Chad for dinner and the movie. The movie was awesome. It is funny that when we left Andrew's sentiment was "wow that was a little more depressing than I thought it would be" while my sentiment was "that was not near as sad as I thought it would be." Its all about expectations and how much commentary we have each heard on social media ahead of time I think. Both of us agreed that it was a really good movie though. Made me want to come home and immediately read more of the backstory of the making of Mary Poppins.


We didn't see Perry again until church Sunday morning which meant we could sleep in. Well it meant that Andrew could sleep in and I could get a pre-church run in. The rest of Sunday was uneventful. Sorting about a million pounds of outgrown baby clothes, a 3.5 hour nap (for Perry) and planning for the disney half-marathon next month pretty much sums it up.

One year check up

on
Friday, January 10, 2014
Amidst the arctic blast or whatever they are this week of subfreezing weather, Perry had his one year check up at the pediatrician.


He now weighs 21 lb 10 oz and is 29.75 inches long. Approximately 50th percentile for height and 25th percentile for weight. He is doing great. Dr. Ellis says she regularly sees weight dip a little when kids start getting more active and learning to walk and run. I got to answer yes to all the milestone questions: walking, saying a couple words, drinking milk. He even did a little walking and did his best "touchdown" motion for the doctor and nurse. Apparently we have been a little excited about football in our house recently. Perry also can do a pretty good "boom" Coach Gus impression.

Perry got a handful of shots and took them like a champ with just some momentary crying that subsided when it was over and I could pick him up. However while he was laying there crying and totally offended that the nurse had a needle in his thigh, I did get a good look inside his mouth. His 4 teeth have now become 7 (with one more on the verge of breaking through).

We see Dr. Ellis again at 15 months and then not again until 2 years. Hopefully Perry will continue to stay well and we won't have to make any extra visits. We made it to a year with just one real sick visit which is pretty remarkable.

We are almost totally switched over to whole milk from formula. Transitions are so hard...mostly because we like to sleep and like to have a baby that sleeps. So whenever you tweak things like food intake you worry that he won't get enough to eat and wake up starving in the middle of the night...so we have gradually dropped bottle by bottle. Last night as I was making his night bottle I realized we didn't have enough formula for this morning. Andrew was about to run out and get some and we finally decided that no...it is time to drop the morning bottle (and leave just the bedtime one) and that he would get milk this morning whether he liked it or not. And you know what? He did just fine. So maybe I bought the last can of formula ever today...we will see how long before we get the courage to drop that last bottle. It will be a freeing thing though to wash all those bottles and store them away.

Since the weather outside was in the single digits, we stayed inside alot this week and played with all of Perry's new toys he got for christmas and his birthday. I still have no idea where I am going to put them all...but eventually we are going to have to get our living room floor back.

One thing that is currently inhabiting our living room floor is this awesome train set. The train runs around the track automatically and you can attach the tracks in all sorts of different ways. So fun! I think Andrew and I are having as much fun with it as Perry is.

Today was my day off for the week and I am thankful for having a day to play at home with this little guy. I am also thankful for my in-laws who came over to play for a little while so I could do a grocery store run without a toddler in tow.

For some reason, Perry decided that his little people school bus could also be used to transport livestock. That is a sheep hitching a ride in the back (displaced from Noah's farm).

Perry is doing so great walking and I think we are close to that being his primary mode of transportation. He is also learning to wave and can give really great hugs. One of his favorite things to do these days is to play peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek...I think he could do that for hours.

I can't believe how fast the year has flown by and that I am already writing a blog post about Perry's one year check-up. But here we are.

Perry,
You are such a joy. We are so thankful that God chose to make you our son. Your smile and laugh are contagious. It is so fun to play with you and watch you explore the world around you each day. We pray that your next year will be full of love and fun and sweet family time. We pray that you will continue to grow and learn new things. And we pray that you will begin to learn about Jesus and how much he loves you.
Love, Mommy and Daddy

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday: The Details

on
Thursday, January 9, 2014
The previous birthday post was more about birthday party itself. Now I am going to take a moment or two to talk more about all the little caterpillar-y details that pulled it all together.



The Dessert Table:
I think this is the part of a birthday party that is the most fun to put together. Sure you could just do a themed sheet-cake, but you could also take the theme and run with it for all kinds of fun desserts and candy. The two-tiered hungry caterpillar themed cake was the focal point. I am in love with how the cake turned out. Heather Peterson at Slice at a Time made it (no, I do not have those kind of cake skills and probably never will). We talked for weeks about the design because I could not find anything on the internet and pinterest that I liked. Most of the hungry caterpillar cakes I found were covered in white fondant and shapes of fruit...and it looked a little like angry fruit salad to me. I wanted something more pretty and a little less literal, plus I already had a plan to do fruit-shaped cookies. The bottom tier (the tree stump) is chocolate cake with a peanut butter filling while the top leaf-looking tier is white almond cake with a raspberries and cream filling. Then there is a little caterpillar crawling out of the top of the cake and up the fondant "1". One of my favorite details is Perry's name carved into the "tree stump".

The smash cake was white cake with vanilla buttercream frosting (better for smashing). Heather kept it simple and did green on green polka-dots.

Liz Morgan at Sweeter Indulgence made amazing fruit shaped cookies for the dessert table and to be used as take-away favors. Each one had a tiny hole cut out, looking like it had been nibbled by a caterpillar. "On Monday, he ate one apple..."

Our friend, Lyndsay Abel, painted the three canvases that hung over the dessert table. She is such an incredible artist. I showed her a picture in the book and the quote I wanted on it and she did an amazing job. Those will be finding a permanent home on a wall in our house somewhere.




The Food:
The "A Very Hungry Caterpillar" book makes it really easy to plan the party food menu because you can serve all the things (or a variation on the things) that the caterpillar eats...and subsequently gets a stomach ache.

We served sandwich pinwheels (not in the book...but a good and easy main lunch course), lots of cheeses and crackers, fruit, a pear and walnut salad, little smokies, pickles, and chocolate covered strawberries.



Drinks:
Water bottles were wrapped in DIY printed labels. Green and red polka dotted paper straws (re-purposed from a store's Christmas aisle) were dressed up with printed straw tags. The drinks themselves were kept simple, tea, water and lime sherbert punch.

Other little details:
A tissue paper wreath made to look like a caterpillar dorned the front door and a coordinating "Happy Birthday" banner hung from the mantle. I borrowed little containers of faux grass from my mom-in-law for the mantle and then made a caterpillar of craftpaper circles and dowels to stick in it. We used a copy of the book as a guestbook and asked everyone to write a message to our "little caterpillar" in it. I made little tags for the favors (the afore mentioned fruit shaped cookies) that read "Thank you inches and inches, Love, Perry." I don't have strong photoshop skills, so I ultimately used powerpoint (which I can manipulate well) to do most of the tags and labels.

The stairs and the food table were dressed up with colorful DIY garland of craft paper circles. I really liked the dot motif on the cover of the Hungry Caterpillar book and wanted to bring it in somehow. It was simple to put together but definitely a labor of love as it was a little time consuming. My circle punches and little adhesive squares made the process much easier though. Containers of fruit made for other easy decorations with little tags with quotes from the book.

Colored craft paper is a wonderful thing and can be used for all sorts of DIY party things: a wreath in the shape of a caterpillar to show how Perry has grown month my month over the year, little caterpillar links hanging from a chandelier, and a super cute party hat.

 Our little caterpillar, aka the Birthday Boy!

It was so fun to put this party together. I know one day Perry will start having an opinion on what he wants his birthday parties to look like and be about...until then I will savor the opportunity to have full creative control.

Happy First Birthday Perry!

Wordless Wednesday

on
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

One final Auburn gameday

on
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Our beloved tigers fought a good fight last night in the BCS national championship game (the last one since the NCAA is moving to a play-off situation next year) and ultimately came up with just a couple points too few when the clock struck 0:00. It was a good game and we led through most of it, not too shabby for a 8.5 point underdog that was ranked #42 in the pre-season polls (and didn't win an SEC game last year).

Not the outcome we had hoped for, but it really doesn't leave a bad taste in our mouths for the season. It was an incredible one full of amazing plays and wonderfully stressful games. And we still beat that other unnamed school to the west.

All I could think about last night as I fell asleep was the fact that even though we did not wind up the BCS champions, no football game can take away my diploma or love for my alma mater. No matter what I am proud to be an Auburn Tiger. War Eagle!

No trip to Pasadena to watch the game in person for us. Maybe one day we will get to a national championship game. Andrew had to work yesterday and today (but luckily found a rare bama fan pharmacist that took his evening shift from him so he could watch the game). Because kickoff was pretty much on top of Perry's bedtime, we watched the game on TV at home. But our friends Jay and Reagan came over to watch it with us and we had a great time eating Moe's bbq and hanging out with them. They are Mississippi State people, but were awesome sports and wore blue and cheered and yelled right along with us.

Gina made Perry this awesome Auburn football blanket for his birthday. It was particularly useful since the weather was oh about 5 degrees outside yesterday. Perry finally got worn out from all the football fun and just rested a while on his blanket.


Perry made it through the first quarter and we were able to snag an auburn family picture before he went to bed. I am glad he still had some Auburn attire that fit...we planned most of it for the fall. Definitely were not anticipating playing a football game in January this year. :)


And now the college football season is over. Time to start talking about next year.

A Very Hungry Caterpillar First Birthday

on
Monday, January 6, 2014
Perry turned one on Friday. I still can't believe we have a one year old. We had a fun family day since Andrew and I were both off. We did went out for breakfast, did some party prep and played a lot. Our friend Kristen came in town for the weekend and we went out for a birthday dinner to little Rosies Friday night since Perry seems to love mexican food. Seriously, he can put away some ground beef, rice and beans.

Saturday was party day. I decided to make the theme "A Very Hungry Caterpillar." It is such a cute children's book and lends itself really well to cute foods and decorations. And even better I got some of the decorations from another local mom who had made them for her son's first birthday a few months ago so that made the party planning a little easier, and wound up being invaluable with the party being right after Christmas.

I love planning and hosting parties...so I go a little unnecessarily overboard probably...but it is my happy place. The party was perfect. I am so happy with how the food, decorations and everything else came together. And we had a blast celebrating the fact that #perryisone. Lots of our family and friends came over Saturday for lunch, cake, presents and fun. I am working on another post about more of the little details and DIY, but I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures from the party.


The first thing on the party agenda was lunch. The book made planning the menu really easy...you just serve the different things that the caterpillar "ate through."

















Kate couldn't resist a pre-lunch cookie.

Eckley family found a patch of floor to eat on (because who has the capacity to seat 30 people in their house). Perry thought that looked like fun so he joined them and proceeded to steal things from the kids' plates.


Perry's friend Barrett (and his brother Coleman and mom Kim) got to come to the party. Thanks to our portable booster, Barrett had a place to sit and eat some cheese and crackers and fruit. Barrett turned one just a couple months ago and already it is getting harder to tell the couple month age difference between him and Perry.

After lunch, it was time for cake. Perry's birthday cake was absolutely stunning. I am in love with how it came out. And Perry's little smash cake was super cute too. The "1" on it is the same "1" candle that was on Andrew's first birthday cake almost 29 years ago. Amazingly (and with no prior planning) it was green and matched perfectly.

There was no keeping Perry's birthday hat on. Perry won't keep any hats on, much less a peculiar one made of paper and ribbons. But we worked fast and got a couple of pictures. I love this picture. It looks like he and Andrew are having a serious conversation about the meaning of life and why it is important for him to keep the hat on his head.


Perry did a good job with his cake. He started by picking of icing and eating that. There wasn't a lot of "smashing" going on with the smash cake. So we helped him out by cutting it open so he could get to the cake part. Then he ate a few handfuls of that before he discovered the fondant dots on the outside. Once he found those, there was no looking back. He started picking those off one by one and eating them. Silly boy.

 



I love this picture of Perry and Granddaddy. So sweet of him to share his cake.



And the cake aftermath. Not too shabby. And one of the best decisions I made was to dress P in two layers...so all I had to do was remove the sweater and he was still clean and ready to go.


Then it was present time. Perry was really into it for the first few presents. But then got all manner of distracted by the people and growing number of toys to play with and needed some help with the rest. Perry got so many awesome presents: building toys, stuffed animals, little people, an activity table, an anchor cup (which he had a particular affinity for), a riding toy, toy cars, books, puzzles, a globe and even a toy microscope (definitely the child of a biology nerd...given by a fellow biology nerd...thanks Kristen). :) And so many other things I haven't mentioned. Now mommy gets to figure out where to store all the fun things he got. #mommyproblems







Dad needed some help from Pawpaw to get the big present in - an awesome wagon with a canopy shade (so our little fair-skinned, red-headed child can ride around outside without getting sunburned.


Earlier in the day Perry got a DIY ball pit from us for his birthday. I figure it can double as a pool this summer. He loves it. He especially loves taking the balls out and then putting them back in. lol. It was a big hit with the other kids at the party too.




Perry had fun playing with Barrett and showing him all his new toys.


And Chad helped install some batteries in Perry's new activity table. And Andrew and Perry started checking out all of his new toys.


We asked everyone to sign a copy of the "A Very Hungry Caterpillar" book as a sort of guestbook and way for Perry to remember who was at his first birthday party.

Thank you to Caroline and Kristen and Adrienne who spent so much of the party behind the lens of a camera so this momma didn't have to. And we want to say a gigantic thank you to everyone who came to the party and made Perry's day so much fun. He is one loved little boy! 





Oh Kate...you are so hard to photograph...but I am glad you think that Perry's party was #1


Happy First Birthday Party, Perry! I hope you enjoyed it as much as your momma enjoyed preparing for it. "...and he wasn't a little caterpillar anymore." 

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