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, Mexico...no 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

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