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Monday, August 25, 2014

11 Month Countdown

11 months was quite the roller coaster for this little munchkin!

He got 2 more teeth, he's on a two-a-month schedule now. You can barely see the top ones in this picture, but he has the front four set.

He started walking. First on furniture, then from item to item a step or two between. Then he walked by me in the playroom as if he'd done it all his life.

With walking came the discovery of everything above eye level in the house. With Gretchen, this meant that she went terrorizing through our apartment grabbing the highest things within reach. With Alex, this means that he spends his days opening and closing the tupperware cabinets, taking out all of the plastic kids plates, then putting them back. He cannot get enough of the plastic ware.

He also decided that he cannot live without mom. By his side. All. Day. Long. When I leave the room, even for a moment, he is very unhappy. Like in this photo where I was right below him in the house ironing. He is up in the toy room with Dad, Gretchen and a zillion toys but yet cannot pull it together. It makes daily life difficult, but is also incredibly nice to be wanted.

He got salmonella. It was horrible. So much worse than all of the "it was such a bummer when I got food poisoning, it totally ruined my vacation" stories that everyone told me. We got through it, with very little sleep and lots of anxiety, though it took the better part of 3 weeks.... I don't have a picture of that.

But I do have this little gem when we spent the morning pushing the cooler around the house! Such a precious boy!

This age of curiosity and ability seems to be easier than when it came around with Gretchen. Maybe we were more prepared? Maybe we're more relaxed now? Who knows, I just can't believe we have an 11 month old.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Somebody's hair was getting long! Not ponytail long, but there was some serious shag around the ears and it was driving a certain Daddy crazy.

 So we headed to Cartoon Cuts. Alex was a bit uncertain about the haircut at first, lots of trepidation on his face, but he held still, didn't fuss and ended up really enjoying it.

Not to be outdone, big sister requested a "really little trim, I still want hair like Rapunzel." This was Gretchen's first non-mommy haircut. She was really excited about the spray that smelled like grapes and getting to watch Lightening McQueen while getting the trim.

And this is our 10.5 month old's SECOND salon cut. He has this amazing mop of hair that makes him look like a mini-grown up.

I can't stand the cuteness!

You know who didn't  need two haircuts at 10.5 months? This girl!! Although look at how similar these two rugrats look with similar haircuts. Clearly siblings.

Haircuts done, we are trimmed and ready for the new school year that just started on Wednesday. Gretchen anticipated her first day for a week or so beforehand, and was prepped and ready to go Wednesday morning. When did she become such a big kid?

These little chicos are becoming big chicos before my very eyes. Between Alex's haircut and two (!) new front teeth, and Gretchen's tallness and enthusiasm for school, before I know it they will be sleeping in on the weekends and having sleepovers. Phew, I'm having trouble keeping up!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Visiting Virginia

With the summer in full swing, we packed up and headed to Virginia with a smile for our first visit since moving back to the US. It is amazing how much easier the trip is when; 1) the flights are short, 2) we are not traveling across the border and 3) the seasons are the same in both the origin and destination locations. This trip was extra special because the last time I was in Virginia with the kids back in February, my mom was just starting treatment for stage 3 non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She has since completed her treatment, and we found out during our visit that she has beaten the disease! She plowed through treatment and is in full recovery mode - take THAT cancer! Needless to say, it was good to be with family.

We spent most of our time at my parent's river house, a complete oasis of a place out in the Northern Neck. If I'm being totally accurate, it is actually their Rivah house (at least that's how everyone refers to it locally) but I'm not sure anyone is really wrapping their minds around that one.

We spent time grilling out, feeding the fish and swimming in the pool. We even had a few days together with Gran and Poppa, though I was (again) terrible about taking photos. Jon wasn't able to stay more than a couple of days, but he got a lot accomplished in that short timespan.

Long enough to become a master crabber with me. We caught, steamed and picked the crabs - who knew we are outdoorsy?!?

We caught the crabs right off of my parent's dock, it was super cool! Look at how brave Brook is holding these live crabs - she was right in the thick of things!

And we had a chance to finally recognize a huge milestone in my Dad's life, retirement! After 38 years, he completed his professional career back in March - and it's taken this long for the family to be together to celebrate. Congratulations, Dad, you deserve lots of rest and relaxation.

We also received the best news of the year during this trip - this picture was taken the night that we found out my mom is cancer free! Greatest. News. Ever.

Great enough to take a hilarious silly-face photo. My favorite part of this picture is Alex looking at his Papa Mas.

The captains in our family have come a long way from their boating abilities of last year. It was great to be out on the water, we got to see porpoises, eagles, ospreys, nature all around.

Gretchen loved going down to the little beach, watching the small crabs crawl around the shore and throwing snails into the water. It was great to share these little moments with our cousins from Austin - they joined us for the last few days of our trip. Gretchen is completely infatuated with Jenna and Brook and the girls are patient, kind and wonderful with the kids.

We had so much fun enjoying family and the outdoors. Gretchen keeps talking about wanting to go back to the beach - especially now that we are in the thick of a Houston summer. We are so glad to have such a fun summer oasis to visit for years to come!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Aunts and Uncles and Friends, Oh My!

We have had a busy month! Between hosting family at our home and visiting family in Virginia, it has been a month of new friends for Alex and lots of spoiling for Gretchen.  It has been a great month.

It started with a visit from the Gura family, our cousins in Austin that came for a quick weekend in early June. We lit up the fire pit for the first time - sparking Gretchen's obsession for collecting twigs for the fire - and swam until way after bedtime only to get up and swim the next morning too. It's hard to believe that all of these years our Texas cousins seemed to live so far away - now it's just a short drive to see each other.
Rob and Alex watching the action in the pool
Gretchen swimming with "my cousins"
A week later we were thrilled to host Kyra and Ted, who are fantastic with their niece and nephew. We spent time in the pool, played with stickers and enjoyed an extended spring in Texas.

There were lots of selfies involved:

Gretchen was even treated to unicorn shaped pancakes. It was, perhaps, the best breakfast of her life. While they were here we booked a future trip to San Francisco. We are going to take full advantage of living closer to the Aunts and Uncles in our lives.
It was great, we had fun, I'll bring the camera out more next time. We did take some time that weekend to celebrate Father's Day, which resulted in this adorableness:
Celebrating Daddy Day
We are so happy to have our friends the Newhooks in Houston so that we can spend fun times with them once again! It is great to see our newest little ones getting along as well as our rambunctious 3-year-olds do.
Giana and Alex getting to know each other
Daddy love all around
A few weeks later, we were thrilled to meet our FIRST niece, Eve, and introduce Uncle Dan and Aunt Lian to their new nephew Alex. It was an introduction of cousins, and it was incredible to meet this little person we have thought of, read about, exchanged pictures of and loved way before we ever met her. Look at this little princess on a most patriotic day:

And a throwback to our little butterball on her first Fourth. I love that her clothes are getting a second life:

I also love spending the Fourth in warm weather:

How fun that we have had so many visitors in the first few months after our move! It helps us keep motivated to be settled into our house, and reminds us of how good it is to live near family and friends. The pool is getting lots and lots of use - I am so thankful that our house has a pool and was available the weekend we were searching!

The friends and family visits are going strong, but first we made a trip to Virginia to see our grandparents in July - a trip that deserves a post all its own!