Sunday, May 29, 2011 simple as overgrown weeds

It's amazing how something as simple as overgrown weeds can get me sooo excited about summer and warm weather...and simple days outdoors.

Excitement for overgrown dandelions and grass is not normal around our house. I think my husband swears under his breath when conversations among the neighbors are brought up about weed control and maintenance. It's a love/hate relationship minus the love with him. Are you getting the picture?

Over the last several months, our lives have been turned upside down with busier than usual days, very little sleep and new exciting/stressful challenges and opportunities.

So, on Saturday morning when I heard the rain was going to hold off till afternoon here, I grabbed my little family by the hands and practically leapt out the door. "Baby, it's time to pull some weeds!" I said. To say that those words were suggested with a bit of enthusiasm would be an understatement. Dear hubby, armed and ready to tackle some green stragglers, took the idea to heart and went at the task with a vengeance like no other. Though ready to make our yard easier-on-the-eye, I had more underlying reasons to work a little manicure into the side beds...let's GET OUTDOORS!!! It's BEAUTIFUL out and not below freezing...not raining, not hailing, not snowing, not cold...just perfect. And outdoors we went...

Our lives lately:
In addition to extensive traveling to see family...

Interviewing (since the first of the year), getting (April 14) and starting a new job (May 16)...

Scheduling and preparing for family pictures one Saturday morning...(which were a month later than I wanted to, but I am sooo proud of myself for getting)
...Cooper still not sleeping great due to tummy problems, his first ear infection, etc. etc. etc., and Clay flying a fair amount of days out of each week, our calendar has been full and a little overwhelming. Honestly, I've just been trying to keep up with the day-to-day. I have to say, I've done ok with all the changes and added tasks, but unfortunately daily blogging was put to a hault for fear I wouldn't get all my other responsibilities done...well, that and I desperately needed sleep...still need sleep...but we're getting there.

Though most days are fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, we're still finding time for the simple things.

Dinner at home with friends...

lovin' on my boys...

and even taking time to smell the roses...well, in our case, the beautiful purple, red, and peach flowers that I don't have a name for (clay got me this beautiful potted plant and some new adorable new gardening gloves for Mother's Day!) :)

And I'll end for today with two pictures of these precious boys...the first one taken on the go, but that's pretty much how we've been rollin' lately so it's true to the moment. The picture of Parker is a typical instance when we're all together in the car. He always asks to play his daddy's iphone and usually has a favorite toy in his seat with day cars, one day Woody...and so forth.

Sweet, precious Cooper...getting too big too fast. I'm so thankful for his little bald head; otherwise, I'd be afraid he'd look 6 months older than he truly is at 97 percentile to date.

It's almost Parker's bedtime and we're about to pop some of "Nanny's cookies" in the oven before bedtime for a quick treat before going night night. Then it's movie night with hubby. Yes. I am so thankful for this day. I'll be back soon. Lots more to share. :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

family time in Mississippi

May 2011
Parker - almost 3 1/2 years
Cooper - 6 1/2 mos

Due to our short time in MS, Rassie hosted a "Great-Grandparents Day" for our family to all be able to come in and see the boys. We loved the visiting time and are so very thankful to everyone driving in to visit with us.

Favorite memories: Parker playing football in the front yard with Shorty, blowing bubbles with Cousin Alyssa, Rassie's Happy Salad, Aunt LaLa and Cousins Collin and Ashland making and flying paper airplanes around the living room, meeting Mrs. Marilyn, visiting with Aunt Kathi, Alex and Alyssa, seeing the 3 great-granddaddy's chatting it up in the living room and getting pictures in the moment of our family together.

We made several attempts to get new pictures with the boys and their great-grandparents, but eventually took it for what it was and gave up on the "formal notion." I have to say though, that after looking at all the pictures we took, these made me actually shows a true representation of the moment and their personalities.

Parker always finds old treasures of his uncle's at Rassie's house that he likes to help himself to. Thanks for sharing, Uncle Tader. :)

Thanks to each of our family for making time for us over these last several weeks. We are so thankful for each of you and love you very much.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

our time in Houston

For the first time in over 10 years, Clay's parents are living in the good 'ole U.S.A. I do believe a "Welcome Home" is in order! :) Though they have loved the traveling adventures and quite possibly will get to enjoy international moves in the future, Nana and Poppie are excited to be closer to their kiddos and grandchildren. Who can blame them?! We are kind of cute. ;)

When I first met Clay, the Nolen's were setting up residence in Western Australia...hence our "Meet the Parents Trip" (aka the Engagement Trip) in Spring 2005. (I'll have to share a post on that trip sometime in the future.)

Shortly after we married and had Parker, they were transferred to Vietnam...that led us on this little trip in 2008. You can read the rest of our adventures in Ho Chi Minh City here, here, here, here and here.

And there was the most the recent adventure to the Middle East...I have to say, Clay and I were really looking forward to booking this trip...then two weeks before we booked the flights, we found out we were pregnant with our little Cooper and due during the weeks of Clay's vacation. I sooo wouldn't change anything with that, but am a little disappointed we didn't make it to this area of the world. Oh well, another time. :)

Then just a little over a month or so ago, we found out they were moving home. Yea! Therefore, a little trip was put together at the last minute to fly down to Houston to see the boys' grandparents and aunts.

Other than Cooper's little constipation issue that is keeping him up every night :( so that neither one of us are getting much sleep, I would say that the trip was fantastic. (I did take Cooper to the doctor again yesterday though, and hopefully we will get this thing taken care of over the next week. Poor little thing is severely backed up and has started on a more intense program that will help)

The boys' aunts love to spoil them, as do their grandparents, so there are always fun memories from our visits. We enjoyed some down time at the pool, dinners out, visiting time, shopping, Iced Chai Teas (thank you for introducing these to me KK!! now, I have a summer drink! ;)) Ooh, and one of my favorite memories...Girls Night Out with Ash and KK to see "Water for Elephants." I cried, smiled, laughed and cried some more. LOVED the movie...had a hard time with some of the more intense parts but still loved it and would watch it over and over.

Cooper got in a pool for the first time while we were in Texas. He looked so cute in his little bathing suit...poor thing turns red as a tomato though if he's out in daylight for more than a few minutes (completely and totally unlike my first child who we hardly have to coat with sunscreen for a whole day's adventure at the beach). We have also discovered that Cooper is allergic to two different kinds of sunscreen. I should've known better and just tried the Aveeno or another hypoallergenic first. That was silly on my part knowing how sensitive his skin is. Any skincare recommendations from other mommies out there? Aaahhh, seriously how cute does he look in his little sunhat and bathing suit?! I just want to grab him and smooch on his chubby little legs and cheeks!

Amazed at how big this fellow is getting...he was on a serious mission to grab his toys and move them from one area of the pool to another play area. Big decisions and big thoughts. :)

For a split second while out at the pool one day, I closed my eyes and imagined that I was tanning my feet by the sand in Riveria de Maya, responsibilities, no stress, no important thoughts to ponder. Then reality hit when my eldest yelled out, "Mom...Mama...Mom! I need to go pee pee!" as he jumps out of the pool and runs for where he thinks the nearest bathroom is. (Thanks KK for jumping up to help with the immediate situation so I could tan my toes a minute longer.) ;) Well, it was a wonderful dream while it lasted.

Cooper with Nana and Poppie
6 1/2 months old
April 2011

One of the outings Nana had planned for us was to take the boys to the Children's Museum of Houston. I think Nana and I had as much fun watching the boys as they had playing, learning and observing. One of Parker's favorite parts of the museum was the Invention Convention, where one can "step into a workshop of gadgets and gizmos where kids create, concoct and construct contraptions and use their imagination to become inventors!" Parker and Nana used their creativity to play at the Wind Towers (a place where kids can "construct devices using materials like plastic bags, water bottles and Styrofoam cups and use air blowing from fans to make the device hover in mid-air or blow out the top of large tubes.")

Meanwhile, Cooper and I went to the Totspots play area for some learning and playtime. Several of the fun activities babies and small toddler's can do in the Totspots room include looking in mirrors, playing in the ball and pillow pit, and reading a variety of books. Cooper's favorite thing to do was to take all the different shaped toys out of the basket and then put them back in...repeat, repeat, repeat. :) Note to the Children's Museum of Houston...please get a Mother's Room for that fabulous building...I could recommend several perfect spaces!

Cooper and I then joined Nana and Parker in the Invention Convention where Nana got some snuggles with Cooper while Parker and I built cars with Legos.

In the Invention Convention section, Parker also spent a lot of time at the Test Tracks, an area where one can "build, test and rebuild cars out of LEGO® bricks in an effort to create cars that can travel the furthest, fastest, and through an obstacle course of hills, valleys, jumps and winding roads." This was by far his favorite part of the play area. He was quite the busy little boy letting the cars loose and then running back down the steps to retrieve his fast car just so he could run up and do it all over again.

FloWorks was another hit with Parker. A place where kids could get their hands wet and dip into wet and wild boating excursions in the Aquaduct Maze, "feel the rush of water through a simulated Flood Plain," and experience more cool exhibits. Cooper napped most of the time while outside at this zone which gave Nana and I a lot of playtime with Parker.

I had to smile when it was time to go and Cooper and I were waiting on Nana and Parker to come pick us up outside the museum. There was a brilliant wind that felt so nice; I looked down at Cooper to find him quite content with feet up in the air. I kept observing and noticed that each time the wind would blow, Cooper would lift his little feet up in the air as high as he could get them and then lower them when the wind stopped. This happened over and over and over. So sweet. (I am aware that we have his winter car seat cover still on his little chair in 70/80/90 degree weather...the top portion was removed for most of the trip but kept on at other times for sleep purposes.)

So, to make a long story short, our trip in Texas was extended due to issues in the airline reservation system (for our family). Instead of flying back to Minne for 2 1/2 days to unpack and repack for our MS trip, we ended up just staying in Texas and flying straight to MS early the next week.

The problem with this new itinerary was that I had not packed for our stay in MS, to which I needed dressier clothes and shoes than what I brought with me to Texas...well, that and the fact that one out of the two pairs of shoes I packed with me to take to Texas fell apart on my feet Sunday after church (literally...I can't believe I'm admitting this on this blog, but truly I typically wear shoes until they FALL APART while I'm wearing them on my feet. Those of you who are concerned over reading this, will be happy to know that due to caring family members --aka my mom, Nana, and my lovely sisters-in-love-- I have committed to not doing this as much in the future. :) One of the first things I did when I arrived home from our trips on Sunday was to take 4 dated, not-looking-so-good pairs of shoes off my shelf and toss them in the Goodwill pile. It actually felt good :) Anyway, the girls took me shopping while the boys were napping on Sunday afternoon, (while we were in Texas) and I found lots of cute shoes to try on. I also got a few cute dresses at Francesca's. Yea for new clothes for MS!!!

Clay texted me Sunday night...well, actually it was Monday morning, to let me know that we were good to go on traveling. Monday afternoon, (after a week in Texas) we were headed to the airport for a visit with family and friends in MS. Both Cooper and Parker did great...we had quite a bit of extra wait time at the Houston airport since we arrived so much earlier than usual--I wasn't sure with the Osama bin Laden news what airport security would be like. Anyway, we found a nice little area where the boys could watch flights loading and unloading and this entertained them immensely.

During the extent of our travels, Parker was "in charge" of pushing baby Cooper in his travel stroller (Cooper knows the difference when I push him versus his brother and he strongly prefers his brother over me) :) Parker is quite the little helper.

News to note:
Death of Osama bin Laden Sunday, May 2, 2011
Thank you to each of our soldiers and the sacrifices you make each and every day for our country.

P.S. I don't think I've ever mentioned this cute thing that Parker has done since he was like two, but every time he sees an American flag when we're driving down the road he says, "Yea Merica!" and raises his hands in the air. He started doing this on his own...just randomly squealed it out one day which caused everyone in the car to break into laughter and smiles.

Royal Wedding: Prince William and Kate, April 29, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Documented: "Flying the Skies with Two Little Guys"

So often we forget the little things that seem routine. The conversations, the atmosphere...details of the moment. It has been awhile since I've recorded one of our flights --and actually this one is my first to record since Cooper has been with us. I didn't want to forget this time. :)

April 26, 2011
10:20 a.m. flight from Minneapolis, MN to Houston, TX
Purpose of trip: see family - Nolens
Carrie and Cooper: seats 20A and B
Parker: seats 20C and D (he thought he was so big getting to sit all by himself)

Before boarding: travel seat/stroller, purse, diaper bag, Parker's backpack, Parker's carry-on, Carrie's carry-on (remember to take out C and P's blankets, Parker's harness and Cooper's bunny before boarding...go through boarding order and organization in head)

Boarding Procedure: Place 2 carry-on bags overhead, put Parker in seat...harness and buckle him in, lift stroller and break down to put in window seat, attach seatbelt extender and buckle, give Parker blanket and airplane map and brochures, lay Cooper's blanket and bunny next to him, place backpack, diaper bag, cooler and purse under seats. Sit down, buckle up, breathe, pat yourself on the back. :)

While on the flight...
Parker: admiring the rain, airplanes and other activity outside the window...glancing through the airplane map and emergency instructions sheet.

Thoughts from a three year old as he flies the skies:
Grinning from ear to ear, Parker says...
"I so excited mama!"

10:40am (haven't taken off)
Parker holding his blanket and airplane brochures and material
Cooper has been asleep since 10 min after boarding the plane

10:50am still content and happy to be on a plane...Parker was in constant motion and quite the little chatterbox :)

"Are we moving?"
"Are we there yet mom?"
"Are we moving now?"
"I think we're taking off mom."

singing ABC's...

"Are we moving yet?"

Breaks into "Itsy Bitsy Spider" rendition...followed by a "yeah yeah yeah"

"Are we going into the sky yet mom?"

Gasp! "We're taking off now!" (as he grabs on to both armrests.)

Looks that cross his face: excitement, scared, worried, brave, determination, excitement again
The pictures below (the next 4 of Parker) were taken in less than 20 seconds. He went from excitement to all those other expressions and then back to excitement...all in 30 seconds. 

You are such a brave little boy, Parker.

Stuff at my feet: Parker's backpack (aka travel bag), purse, cooler with baby food and teething rings, diaper bag

Plane has taken off and is leveling out...
Parker: "I don't like it when the plane turns like that (as he does the hand motions for it) but I a big boy and I not cry."
After plane levels off a little more...
Parker: "Are we there yet?"
"I want my shoes off." (Picks his nose for like the 197th time this morning)
"Can I have a snack now?"

Me: "Stop picking your nose!"

Parker takes his shoes off and lets them fall to the floor.

Parker playing with the armrest and singing...something.

"Mama, do you have any fun games?"
"Are we still in the sky mom?"
"May I have a treat now?"

I move over to his seat with his backpack/travel bag and take out his new Easter chick pez dispenser...

Me: "lemon, Grape or Orange?"
P: "Orange"
I showed him how they worked...he's enthralled. Eats all the pez in 1 1/2 min.
Me: "Parker, save some for later because once they're gone, they're gone."
P: "I don't want to save any."
Me: "Ok, just remember when the chick runs out of candy, Mama doesn't have anymore.
Would you like me to read you a book?"
P: "Ooh yeah!"
Me: How about National Geographic Kids "Safari." (with a big tiger on the front cover)
P: "No. I don't want that one."
Me: pulling out another one..."Ok, we'll read the Please, Thank you Little Goldenbook."
P: "Yeah, that one!"
as I read the 3rd pg...
P: "May I have some more treats now?"
Me: "When the nice flight attendant comes around with the snacks and a drink you may have some."
P: holding the pez dispenser, "can I have some more of this?"
Me: "No Parker. No more candy. You may have snacks when the lady passes out pretzels and nuts."
P: "What else do you have in my bag?" (referring to his travel bag)
Me: "Would you like to play with your airplanes?"
Parker's face lights up.
I think, "Maybe this will keep him busy for a whole 5 min"

...hence me now getting to write all of this down. :)
A view of our seats from above:

The flight attendant adored Parker and Cooper. She came and sat down with Parker about midway through flight...and guess what she happened to have? Pez candy that the Easter bunny had brought to her...strawberry flavored. She shared. Parker was happy and enjoyed telling our family all about it.

12 pm: Cooper wakes up from nap and is happy and hungry
Fed him until 12:50
12:50 Take Parker to potty, put shoes on him, and buckle him back in seat (he has figured out how to unbuckle the seatbelts and his harness), use bathroom, give cooper teething ring, bunny lovee and paci
Put things away and get everything in order for deboarding

Parker: "Are we here yet? I think we are." (as he plays with his pez dispenser)
"Mommy, can I get out of my seat yet?"
"Are we here yet?"

Cooper sits contentedly.

Plane lands.

What Parker ate on plane: 2 pez packs, pretzels and nuts, water (wanted snacks the whole time)

After the plane reached our gate and people started deboarding, I gave Parker his bag to stroll down the aisle to the front of the plane where he was to wait for me (as he usually does).
I grabbed the rest of our bags, put the stroller down and started down the narrow aisle. I see Parker's bag just sitting there up front in the middle of the walkway. A pilot to my left said, "Is this your bag?" I replied, "Yes, and did you happen to see a 3 year old who went with it?" He nodded and pointed to the cockpit, "Yeah, he's up front having a discussion with the captain." The first officer smiled.

My son, the shy one.
I will never know exactly what he was telling that fellow, but the pilot listened politely and intently. Bless his heart, that man didn't have a chance to interject even if he had wanted to. ;)

Houston, we have arrived.