Sunday, January 31, 2010

so much to write!

Hello from Mississippi!

If ever I am a week or more in between posts it usually means I am a. out of the country b. unable to take pics because my camera is broken or c. we are in Mississippi visiting family & friends! :)

Parker & I flew down last Thursday, after our company left, for some southern family & friend time! We have stayed continuously busy with baby showers, family time, & seeing customers & friends since arriving...and that was all crammed into just 3 days!!! We will be returning soon so watch for fun pictures & a recap of our trip!

I have so many neat things to share!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hunger Initiative & "Quacks" at home

During the month of January, our church is participating in the Hunger Initiative, an event that "heightens awareness regarding global hunger & encourages people throughout the community to take action." Wooddale partners with organizations locally & around the world to tackle issues like hunger & poverty on an ongoing, sustainable basis. There are many ways to have a hand in this cause. Besides helping to pack one million meals in the community, people can opt to donate monetarily ($1 provides 6 meals), pray for the mission, participate in the Solidarity Challenge (an effort to consume less & cut back on spending) and/or a variety of other activities.

Today at church, I was touched as I listened to a mom talk about their experience last year with the Solidarity Challenge in their own home. The part that really brought out emotions for me was when she related it to her own children. After the first meal of the challenge, she said her kids were still hungry...and went to bed crying wanting more food. I immediately put myself in that situation and pictured my son looking at me with sad eyes at the dinner table and asking, "More mama, more?" as he pleads for additional food that he can't have. A little dramatic? Maybe in our personal situation...but for places outside of our another world...nope. It happens to moms every single day. Now, our family will not be participating in the Solidarity Challenge this year (at least not to the strictest degree). However, we are finding other small ways to help out just as much.

I would like to encourage you this week to find a mission/reach-out (whether it be one at your church, an elderly neighbor who could use a visit...anything!) and strive to make a difference in another person's life. There is so much sadness going on in so many parts of this world...I know ya'll have probably been keeping up with the Haiti helping other people who can't help themselves you are making such a difference! Plus, it will make you so happy you'll feel as if you're floating on air!!! :) Remember, little actions can produce BIG results!

And on a little lighter note...this is what I returned home to last night after bathtime! My little "duckie!" He was "quacking" his family up with his laughs, quacks & adorable personality! All I could think of when I stood laughing at the sight was, "Batman, look out! Here comes the Duckman! Quack! Quack!"
Don't you just want to squeeze him & smother him with kisses! :) thankful for his vibrant personality! I just love this little man!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

quick weekend pics & update

Having fun with Nana, Aunt KK & Aunt Lacey!!! Yea for family!!!

We're headed out to the Mall of America to do a little shopping and have lunch! Hope everyone has a terrific Saturday!!! :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happenings from our week

Here's a peek into a portion of Parker's little world this last week...

Playtime at the gym...we can't go for a workout without stopping by the courts to play basketball with Parker!!! He'll jump right into any game that's going on! ha ha!

For Parker's birthday, Clay & I signed him up for Tornado Toddlers at Lifetime. It's a fun, 7 week class for parents & their 1-3 year olds...anyway, each week they have all the exciting toddler gym equipment out with neat balls & toys for the children to play with. Each Tuesday morning, Parker runs straight past the kid stuff & takes off for the closest basketball & basketball goal! At the beginning of each class, chasing him down & getting him interested in the "program" is a little bit of a challenge! He's rather be playing ball with the big boys! :)

Building his first fort...his dad threw in a little assistance here...Parker has been loving it!
Learning and enjoying new adventures at the Minnesota Children's Museum... for Christmas, one of Parker's great-grandparents gifted our family a year's pass to the Children's Museum. We are sooo excited about this gift!!! Currently, the main rotating exhibit is Dinosaurs: Fire & Ice...we spent the majority of our time in this room the other day. Parker liked digging through the "rocks & rubble" & finding fossils. One of the other tasks that was a favorite for him in this room, was moving the trees & creatures around the U.S. Map table (see pic below).

Experience the Best of Both Prehistoric Worlds
The steamy "Land of Fire" connects visitors with prehistoric home of the Triceratops and T-Rex. Children can circle the land in insect costumes and buzz through a volcano with oozing lava. Work through a swampy bog and climb into a Troodon's nest and play with dinosaur eggs.
No coats are needed for a trip across the "Land of Ice" where visitors meet two dinosaurs, a Pachycephalosaurus and Edmontosaurus, who made their homes in the cold climate of Alaska. Climb rocky steps, breeze down an icy slide, and hop across stepping stones in an icy river.
text taken from

The other neat rotating exhibit that is currently being featured is Out on a Limb. Parker also had fun exploring in this room.
Climb into a treehouse, build a fort, play with light! Have fun exploring the natural world in this original, interactive exhibition. This is your chance to go out on a limb! This imaginative environment is designed to inspire children and their caregivers to learn to explore nature by using their senses. More than simply seeing the beauty of a tree, the exhibit encourages visitors to hear the sounds of the forest, use leaves to make beautiful art, and build big and little structures from bark and limbs.
The whimsical atmosphere of Out on a Limb is created in part by children’s nature-themed artwork that makes up the faux bark and leaf canopy of the centerpiece tree. The individual exhibits, Whirlwind, Light Play, Forest Jam and Gnome Home, further enhance the magical scenery and are tools to enhance exploration. For example, individual activities encourage children to experiment with light and shadow, patterns of leaves, music of the forest, and the effects of the changing seasons. The exhibits also provide practice with the physical skills of climbing and balancing, which helps children to develop self confidence in outdoor play.
text taken from

At the start of each new year, I like to get know, go through all of your Christmas receipts, throw out & file...that is what I've been up to these past several days. I've had a compilation of "paper stuff" that got on my nerves for the last time! ha ha! In between activities...I tackled some of the piles. I have to say, it felt really good! Still a little more to go, but the bulk of it is behind me! My mind is still currently on the organizing & "action" mode so I apologize for the lack of creative posting today. I am in major "tackling projects" mode right now. :)

It is still VERY cold out, so 99% of our play is indoor. We are so excited to have Nana flying in today for a week long visit...are we so spoiled or what?! All right, we're about to head to the gym for a quick workout..I just wanted to post a few fun pictures of our little man so you would know what we've been up to! It has been a fun week so far!!! :) Hope ya'll are staying warm! (My sis in law called me this morning to tell me that is was 70 degrees down in Texas at 6am, am I jealous!) :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

letter to my daddy

Three years ago today, my daddy went to be with his Saviour in Heaven. Though he is missed greatly on earth, our family is so happy and thankful that he is in a Better Place...the best place! I have thought of him daily since his passing and seem to only miss him more each day that he is gone. I am, however, grateful for the many, many fond memories that our family was able to share together during his time on earth. Today, I sat down and created this layout in memory of him (and yes, I went through an entire box of tissues during the process!!!) The title is "Dear Daddy..."
1st page:
2nd page:

When I was gathering photos for the layout, I hadn't planned on using any particular ones. I just grabbed ones that I wanted to use as I saw them. When I stood back and viewed the final project, my mouth dropped...the picture on the left page of Daddy & me dancing was the last picture taken of the two of us together (2006). The baby picture below was taken my first Christmas(1983). And the family picture on the bottom of the right hand page was taken on our last family vacation together (2000).

I love and miss you so much Daddy! ...your baby girl

Monday, January 11, 2010

birthday cake & & special day!

What a special day we celebrated on Sunday!!! Clay & I are still having a hard time believing that it has been two years since we were blessed with this precious little boy!

Friends came to join in the celebration with us Sunday afternoon. Thank you so much to each of you who helped to make Parker's birthday even more special!! I wish you could have seen the look on Parker's face when his friends just kept showing up at the door. Forget the presents! All his friends were there to play...who needs anything else?!
Even though he was sporting a really bad cough & developing a runny nose, he was having the time of his life that afternoon. Those kids were partying like it was 1999!! (Did I really just say that?! ...well, it's true!)

Though he didn't touch his cake & ice cream, he looked super cute posing next to the birthday treats & blowing out his candles!

Friends that came to play: Tanner, Tyler, Greta, James & Bella!
I think Parker was excited to receive his first "big boy" 4x4 tonka truck from mama & daddy!

The children had a blast playing basketball, building a fort out of the bricks, watching the movie "Cars", playing with the little animals & kicking the balloons around on the floor.
We had very simple decorations this year since there wasn't a specific theme (other than Blue!). I made Pom Pom tissue flowers to hang from our can get instructions on how to make these here. Clay blew up balloons & we let them rest on the floor throughout the living room (the kids had a blast with these!! ...simple & inexpensive entertainment!).
I was planning on framing his invitation & having it on the table with the gifts, but ran out of time at the last it just sat out. His cake was scrumptious & from Byerly's. It was white cake with buttercream frosting; I was more than willing to eat what Parker didn't want of his share! ;)

After arriving, the kids played for a bit & then one by one they came up to do their craft (thanks for the idea & poem, mom!!!) Each child was making 3 notecards to take home with them. The cardstock was cut & folded into cards prior to the party. Clay helped me cut circles out of sponges for the 3 parts of the snowman. The kids sponge-painted a snowman on front using the circles. After drying, either the mom or the child drew the little eyes, buttons, mouth & nose. In the inside was a little handwritten poem:
"One circle, two circle
then there were three,
This little snowman
is to you from me!"
They all turned out so cute; I was really pleased with the results. The idea was for the children to be able to use these as thank you notes or everyday cards to send to family &/or friends. I absolutely LOVE sending out handmade cards to family & friends that little Parker's hands helped to make. I think it makes it so much more special & fun for the sender as well as the recipient! (And you know I always make an extra for his scrapbook of course!)
Our best family photo of the day! The other ones all have Parker's hands in his mouth..that little stinker! :)

Giving hugs as thank you's for his gifts from friends...

Here's to another year of fun and adventures with our little toddler! :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

he's two!!!

Happy Birthday Parker!!!

At two, you are happy, curious, playful & caring.

It doesn't take much to make you happy. As long as you are around people whether indoors or outdoors, a smile is on your face. Sometimes you like to play right in the middle of the bunch and other times you would rather sit back & observe the action...your little brain is such a sponge right now. Other things that make you happy: when daddy comes home from work, when mama, daddy & Parker are all together, anytime that family comes to visit, being outside, playing with cars, trucks, planes & trains, visiting new places & seeing new things (you are still an AMAZING traveler!), having playdates with your friends, reading books, sitting in your little red chair, eating fruits (such as grapes, blueberries, strawberries, apples & pineapple) & any spicy/well-seasoned foods (you have never been a picky eater & will typically eat anything!!!), running around naked (when mama will let you!), wrestling on the floor, playing with your animals & building fun things out of your legos, blocks & bricks, singing "Old MacDonald" & "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" & other silly songs, having busy play & learn time & then settling down in mama's arms to be rocked & cuddled to sleep for a nap. You have always loved being busy & we wouldn't have it any other way!!!
Your daddy and I love your curiousity! It's cute to watch your little facial expressions as you raise your arm to point to something & ask, "What's dis?" over & over & over. :) You like to watch mama & daddy work on things. It's usually not long before you jump in & start helping us with whatever task we are doing at the time. We can always tell when you're thinking (we just wish we knew what you are thinking!) You will sit quiet in your stroller or in your high chair if there is lots of activity going on around you just to take it all in. Until a couple of months ago, you did a lot more observing than talking. Now, you are doing a good bit of both. A couple new words come out of your mouth almost every day.

I can see more of your daddy's comical personality coming out in you each day as you are already joking around with us at such a young age! It's such fun to watch the two of you play & romp around on the floor. At any random moment you will say something with a certain amount of serious in your tone; when we turn to ask you about it, you break into this sly grin & tilt your head slightly down & to the side as if to say, "Ya'll are such fun to mess with!!!" You & your daddy are both such teasers! Clay & I both adore your playful attitude & are so thankful that you are learning at an early age, "not to take life so seriously!" Smart little boy. I hope that stays with you forever.From watching you when you were not even a year to now at the age of 2, it is obvious to all that you have a very caring & loving disposition. As an infant if you heard another baby cry you would look at us & start crying for & with them. You never like it when you see others hurting. Then seeing you on the park playgrounds & at Disneyworld waiting patiently in those long lines amazed me. One of my proudest moments of your life so far, was seeing you waiting in the kiddie line at Pooh's playground. When other children were pushing through to the front of the line, you waited patiently & made sure everyone got their turn. When it was finally your turn to go, you sat & slid down that slide with all enthusiasm at bay. Upon reaching the bottom, you jumped off that slide & went right back up the steps to wait your chance again. I never had to breathe a word to you; I just stood off to the side & watched my baby become a little boy. I know that during your lifetime there will be many more moments such as this. I pray that your daddy & I get to enjoy many, many special parenting moments "in the shadows"...just like this one. Other random facts about Parker:
He LOVED the Christmas tree lights & ornaments this year...and all the Christmas festivities! First thing he would do when we walked in the house was turn the tree lights on!
He usually runs from us when it's time to change his diaper.
...asks for "Oh Toodles!" (aka Mickey Mouse) almost every day.
Likes to watch parts of tv shows such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Mandy, Dinosaur Train, Sesame Street, Clifford, & Imagination Movers...each day it's a different one!
Has not once tried climbing out of his crib (to my knowledge), but wakes up, turns the light on every morning & starts calling for us immediately. If we're not there within about 15 seconds he starts crying & screaming.
Likes to watch daddy shave & then must have a turn (a pretend-turn!) himself
Is a great ball-handler...hand him a baseball, soccer ball, basketball, or football & he'll amaze you with it (I think this makes his daddy quite proud! ha ha!)
Follows our instructions very well & actually enjoys picking up his toys most of the time
Already has quite the opinion about quite a few things! ;)
Likes to line his toys up in straight & even rows
Enjoys building things

Sleeps with his soft, blue blanket every night
Most nights goes to sleep without a word or wimper...since about the 10 month mark (although the last two weeks or so have been weird...he's been calling out to us & about 30 min & two trips in his room later, he falls asleep)
Loves going to Kindercare & playing with his teachers & friends
There's not a food I can think of that he absolutely does not like...I'm sure this will change! ha!
Is saying mostly single words & two word phrases with a few three & four word phrases (such as "I tru da ball" for "I threw the ball"
Newest words (as of Thursday): "Yess" for "Yes" & "Ocpus" for "Octopus"
Doesn't like his hands or face to be dirty (usually)...he must get that from his mama!
Washes his own hands
Gets excited & hollers out each time we're driving down the road & pass a construction truck, a big 18-wheeler, an airplane, a motorcycle, a bike, a bus or basically any other sort of transportation vehicle...yes, there is a lot of excitement in our car most days!!!
Parker, your daddy & I are so proud of you for the little toddler that you are. We love you so much!
Love, Mama & Daddy

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Winter Memories with Rassie

"You are my Sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You'll never know dear how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away."
(My mom has referred to Parker as her sunshine ever since Daddy passed away.)

What a fun way to end 2009 and ring in the New Year...a visit from Rassie!!! My mom flew in Monday morning from MS & left yesterday morning headed back home. I can't even express in words how much fun Clay, Parker & I had with her. Is it selfish of me to always wish that our family could stay "just a few days" longer? We are always so thankful & appreciative of the time that we have with our family when they come to stay, but we do always wish for a little bit more time! :) From the moment she arrived, we stayed busy doing all the little things that we often say we would like to do "if only you were here."

Watching her play with & read to Parker, shopping, eating at fun restaurants, cooking supper for her using some of mine & Clay's favorite recipes, sledding & playing in the snow, seeing the wintry sights, watching movies, taking lots of pictures, asking her questions about a million & one things that I want to know about while I have her here, getting spoiled, sipping coffee & tea together...what else can a girl want?! I love having my mama in town!!!

Monday, after picking her up at the airport & enjoying a warm lunch at D.Brian's, Clay drove us out to the General Store of Minnetonka (which I just recently discovered) to do a little shopping & leisurely browsing. One visit to this store was all I needed to know it would be a future favorite of mine. Minnesota specialty goods, unique baby gifts, art, jewelry, seasonal & year-round decor for the home, clothing, candles, classic & timeless children's toys, gourmet candies & more, oh my!!!! Plan to stay for a few hours when you go; I promise you won't be able to leave without something in your arms!
Next, Clay drove out to a lookout point on Lake Minnetonka where we all got out in the frigid cold to stand in the middle of the frozen lake...just to say we did...and of course, to have pictures to scrapbook. ;) On our right, was an ice house. I've never been in one of those before; do they have built-in heaters? If not, I think I'll wait till summer to dust off my fishing pole. Oh wait, I left my fishing pole in MS. Well, I've got a few more months of winter before summer graces us with her presence, so there's time for that.

One of the highlights of the trip was driving through downtown Wayzata & perusing through several of the quaint shops.
If you looked across the street from the shops, this is what you saw....a gorgeous view of Wayzata Bay. The setting of the town reminded me of something I would experience only through reading books...a quaint, fashionable town that boasts simple elegance everywhere one turns.

What would a brisk afternoon outing be without something warm to drink along the way? Conveniently, a Caribou Coffee is located at the corner on that street :) ...connected to it is The Bookcase, the oldest independent bookstore in the Twin Cities that offers fun for all ages who have a love for reading. Going to bookstores like this &/or watching "You've Got Mail" always makes me want to open a Children's of my many childhood dreams. ;)

The best way to end a perfect day? Snuggled together in pjs reading bedtime stories!

On Tuesday, we took mama sledding at a nearby park. The snow was much more compact & solid than it had been a week before, but there was still plenty of it & great to slide on! She only had a little fun... ;)

Do you think my mom squealed the whole way down or just part of the way down the slope? If you guessed the latter, you are incorrect. What fun is sledding without a little bit of squealing on the way down?!

We would just be getting to the bottom when Parker would say, "I want more. I want more." In other words, "May we please go again?"

Tuesday evening, we had dinner at a friend's house. The kids played, the adults visited & played a few rounds of Rumikub. It was great.

On Wednesday, mom & I went to Edina for a few hours to have lunch at Patrick's Bakery & cafe (my favorite!!) & then to hit some of the shops around the area. I have discovered a new favorite...Oh Baby. And Oh Baby could I spend some major moohlah in that store if my budget allowed for it. I was drooling all over the place from the moment we walked in...I felt so bad about how much I "loved" everything in the store that I must have asked for God's forgiveness 4 or 5 times that day! ha! I will admit in a heartbeat...yes, I am a sinner :)

I'm going to be openly honest here. So far, I feel like I have been pretty level-headed & not gone crazy over too many baby toys/clothes, etc. the last 2 years. I'm sorry to say, however, that I am human & my emotions have failed me a few times (mostly when I visit Puddleducks in Grenada or other specialty children boutique) ...this time would be one of those. I was running around touching everything in the little girl section (which I obviously don't even have a need for!) & all the precious toys. Please tell me I am not the only mother out there that has these moments! You know...those moments where you feel as if your child will not be normal if they don't have a certain item. ;) My favorite toy find was the sweet Bla Bla dolls. I had seen them online, but not up close & personal. I could just see a little collection of these in Parker's room!!!
Sshhh, don't say anything to him, but Rassie got Parker the "Leonardo" cat as his Easter happy! I told her I was going to hide it in the storage room so that I didn't open it early for him. ;) Am I bad or what?! P.S. The dolls are just as soft as they are cute!
It really was fun for "us girls" to get out & have a relaxed afternoon together zipping in & out of whatever stores we felt inclined to go in!!! Fun times...
Thursday (New Years Eve), was mine & Clay's 4 year anniversary. This was the first time since we've been married that Clay was able to hold the night off from work. Rassie let us celebrate while she & Parker & played at home! (I actually took almost an hour to get ready...not including a shower!...which is practically unheard of for me! What a treat! Thank you, Mom!)

Clay treated me to one of the most amazing dinners I've ever had. It was at Murray's in downtown Minneapolis.

I think we enjoyed the drive into downtown almost as much as the dinner itself. Simple adult conversation can put a glorious smile on your face!

We shared a juicy Silver Butter Knife Steak for two. (I'm at a loss for words right now..I can't even tell you how good it was.) Complimenting the dim candlelit seating at each table, were chandeliers adorned with garland & lights. Mirrors lined most of the walls. It was a tastefully small and elegant dining atmosphere.
Clay surprised me with an "anniversary" ring. I couldn't believe it when he placed the box on the is gorgeous. Thank you Clay. Not fair though...we weren't supposed to do gifts. I handed him a card. ;) Thank you babe for loving me the way you do! I love you & LOVED our date night together with just the two of us!

Back at the apartment...Rassie & Parker were having fun doing silly things!

After our extravagent dining experience downtown, we drove just down the road from home to Burnsville for a casual movie at Cinemagic. We stopped by the house to change from our suits & jewels to our blue jeans & sweaters! "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" was our choice for the evening. It was good...will we ever own it? No.

Clay & I couldn't help but laugh because my sweet hubby treated us to popcorn, candy & drinks (the manager's special..which is the giant kind), even though we were both completely stuffed from our steak dinner. It was kinda hard to fathom going from what we had just eaten to movie popcorn & candy out of a box. :) When I asked him if he thought we were going to eat all of that, he just smiled & said, "No, but we might as well enjoy the whole movie experience since we can!!!" (We both laughed at that because if you know us, you know that we do not splurge on things like that to then say "we know we can't eat it, but were doing it for the whole experience thing.") He then went on to say that since he had missed 3 years of anniversaries (sort of) that he was making up for it! Needless to say, we could not (& didn't even attempt to) finish our snacks, but we had a wonderful time joking, watching the movie & chatting!!!
It was 11:51pm when we walked into our apt...4 degrees outside & only getting colder. We did ring in the New Year with Rassie then went straight to bed.

Friday, New Years Day, we took off for the Mall of America. (The temps were -15...I'm not talking wind chill here people! When Clay looked up the weather on his i-phone that evening it said... "temp: -15 feels like: -26" Aaaggghh! That is cold!)
Yes, it was packed. Yes, we had a hard time getting out of the parking lot to go home. Yes, the stores had great sales. And yes, we had a great time!

Parker celebrated an early birthday with Rassie that evening; she let him go ahead & open his gifts. I think he was most excited about his Viewfinder. Do you see in the picture below him sticking out his hand to try & touch something? That's what he was doing for the first 5 minutes while looking through this thing! ha ha! Now, he's a pro at switching the slides & enjoying the show without the hand movements!!!

We had a fabulous week together & were so glad Rassie took the time to come up & see us during the holidays!
We miss you already Rassie! Love you! Thank you for spoiling us with your love!!! And thank you for being our special sunshine this past week!!!
There's a special kind of closeness
that only families know,
that begins with childhood trust
and deepens as you grow.
There's a special kind of happiness
in sharing little things,
the laughter, smiles, and quiet talks
that daily living brings.
There's a special kind of comfort
in knowing your family's there,
to back you up, to cheer you up
to understand and care.
Of all the treasures life may bring,
your family means the most.
And whether near or far apart,
that love will hold you close.
Author Unknown