Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thursday This and That

There's not much going on with us this week, but I have a few random pictures to share.

This is the little ray of sunshine that greets us every afternoon when we arrive at the boys' school to pick them up. You would be excited to leave work too, right? =)

Our sweet kitty Gracie doesn't make the blog nearly enough, so here she is:

Andrew is absolutely obsessed with her and she's generally so sweet with him. He walks in the door saying "cat, cat!" and pretty much follows her around for the rest of the evening. I'm not sure that she is quite as enamored with him as he is of her, but she's a good girl.

And maybe we need to break down and schedule that first hair cut....

We just tackled a big cosmetic renovation of our downstairs bathroom and one of the finishing touches is to add some pictures of the boys to the wall. A bathroom needs bathtub pictures, so I've been trying to snap a few cute ones. Or a hundred. Here's a small sampling....

The boys didn't have school on Tuesday thanks to an unwarranted winter storm warning, so Justin and I split the day at home with them. I had the morning shift which we filled with a leisurely breakfast, hide and go seek and a little painting.

Here's our January handprint/footprint art. I just love those little feet penguins! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

"Snow" Day

We sent the kids to bed on Thursday night with the promise that they would wake up to some wintry weather in the morning. School and work had already been delayed two hours, so we crossed our fingers and hoped there would actually be something to see.

We are lucky our kids have absolutely no knowledge of real snow...their expectations were quite low. Jackson was delighted! He looked out the window and said "IT SNOWED!!!! MOMMY, DADDY, IT SNOWED!!!!"

In reality, we had some ice on our driveway and some sort of frosty substance in our flower beds and on our cars and that was pretty much it. Jackson and Andrew didn't care--they were intrigued nonetheless. 

It doesn't look like much, but the two hour delay was warranted. We are just not equipped to deal with icy roads, and there were a lot of accidents all over the area that morning. Winter weather in Texas is funny...yesterday we were in t-shirts and tonight and tomorrow we are under another winter storm watch. Maybe we will have more to show for it this time!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Andrew the Linebacker

Andrew had his 15 month well-check last week, and no surprise to anyone who knows him, he's quite sturdy!

Here are his official stats at 15 months:
Weight- 26 lbs, 8oz (90th percentile)
Height- 2ft, 9 in (95th percentile)
Head circumference- 47 cm (53rd percentile)

He isn't maintaining that impressive growth curve by accident. He regularly eats twice as much as Jackson, like on this evening when he ate three turkey dogs, along with zucchini fries and a huge bowl of fruit. Where does he put it all?

Not surprisingly, he has mastered the signs for "More, please!"

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Picnic at the Park

Isn't it funny how a simple picnic lunch transforms an ordinary trip to the park into something special?

We spent the Sunday of our long weekend with these cuties, enjoying the sunshine, lots of play time and our picnic. Somehow the fresh air just makes those sandwiches taste extra good!

And just like that, sweet Andrew is keeping up with the big kids! When did that happen??

Super Jackson's cape helped him fly ALL the way to the top!

Andrew loved driving the fire truck, complete with vroom vrooms and siren noises!

We left the park and both boys almost fell asleep in the car on the five minute drive home and everyone crashed for a couple of hours. Yes, it was a day filled with lots of joy in the little things!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Make new friends, but keep the old....

You know what's better than making new friends? 

Reconnecting with old friends while your kids get to make new friends!

Liz is one of my oldest friends. Our friendship dates back to 5th grade when she moved to Nac and joined my Girl Scout troop. We kind of looked alike then--kind of short with brown hair and glasses and people would think we were sisters. 10 years later we didn't really look alike anymore but had stayed good friends and were even bridesmaids in each other's weddings. Flash forward a few more years and a couple of kids each....throw in a little distance, busy lives, demanding jobs, etc....and I realized that we hadn't seen each other in 3 years! Since Jackson was a tiny baby! What?! Ridiculous. It was time to fix that.

So we exchanged a few texts and we planned a day trip down to Houston to visit the zoo and see Liz and her family! Liz's boys are basically the same age as Jackson and Andrew--just a couple of months apart each. Jackson was SO excited to meet James and Owen. I told him that James is his age, but Owen was the same age as Andrew. He paused for a moment and said in a somewhat disappointed voice  "Well, Owen can just be baby friends with Andrew then." LOL

He and James were a little shy at first but warmed up to each other throughout the day. 

Checking out the chimps with a new friend!
 Jackson said he was most excited to see the giraffes and we definitely got to see them up close...

The Houston Zoo has this awesome giraffe feeding platform where you walk right up to the giraffe and feed it lettuce! It was so cool! Definitely a highlight.

I think Andrew's favorite part was riding the carousel--his first time! He was still kind of little when we went to the State Fair in October, but he was NOT going to be left out this time.
He waited his turn rather impatiently.

He was so happy when I finally sat him on top of his animal. He held on tight like a big boy and enjoyed every minute of it. 

Jackson made a beeline towards the's apparently a hot commodity.

 Jackson was excited to tell James all about the sting rays.

After the Zoo, we all went and had a delicious lunch. Between multiple trips to the potty, cutting up other people's food, rescuing dropped sippy cups, etc, lunch with two 1 year olds and two 3 year olds is never a dull moment. While we didn't have as long to catch up as we would have liked, it was so nice just having the company of people who can completely relate. The chaos, exhaustion, frustrations and joys were just understood.
Sharing a video with a new friend!
Jackson has not stopped talking about his new friend James, and we are already talking about when we can make our next trip to Houston! Thanks for such a fun day Liz and Mark!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Malnar Family Rules

So a while back, my amazingly talented friend, Kaylan, was launching her new custom artwork business and offered a promotion on her Facebook page for a special prize for her 100th "like". I was lucky enough to be the 100th like! Kaylan does so many wonderful custom art pieces--really, anything you can imagine--so I had a hard time deciding what we wanted. Also, we were getting ready to move, so I didn't know yet what our color schemes and such would be in the new house so we kind of just put the project on hold. Later this fall, Kaylan was nice enough to remind me that I still had "store credit" just waiting for me to put towards a special project. I had seen these Family Rules signs and I thought that would be a great addition to our decor, as well as a daily visual reminder of those things that our family values. 

But then came the really hard part--what exactly would it say? I pinned an obscene number of these Family Rules signs and brainstormed a huge list of rules that seemed to resonate for our family. I think we started with over 50 potential rules. I printed out two copies, Justin and I each grabbed a highlighter and individually selected the twenty that had the most meaning for us. We compared our lists, narrowed it down to those that overlapped, discussed, and repeated the process until we came up with the 13 that you see here. 

Isn't it lovely?

Love like Jesus
If we had had to pick just one, this would have been it. Of course, we hope that our kids are successful, smart, and talented. But if we as parents can be successful at just one thing, it would be to raise children who love Jesus and treat everyone they encounter with kindness, unconditional love and respect.

Be Yourself
We hope that our boys always feel that they can follow their hearts in all things. We strive to always support them in their individual interests and uniqueness and to help them find their sense of self in their own talents and strengths rather than from the approval of others.

Say Please and Thank You
This is more than just manners (though that is very important!)  "Please" and "thank you" seem to be rare among the young adults that I work with, and instead I often witness attitudes of entitlement. We hope instead that we raise our children to display attitudes of humble gratefulness.

Always tell the Truth
Trust is built on truthfulness and truthfulness often takes courage. I think a daily reminder of this rule is especially important!

Treat others the way you want to be treated
We would be remiss to create Family Rules and omit "The Golden Rule"--the practical application of compassion, empathy, kindness and helpfulness. No small task!

Dream Big
We hope that our boys feel empowered to set big goals for themselves, accompanied by the support and courage to pursue them.

Laugh Together
We want our home to always be a positive place where they can relax and share joy with those that surround them.

Cheer for the Aggies
They can go to college anywhere they want, but they WILL cheer for the Aggies!

Read good books (lots of them)
Books offer us the opportunity to explore people, places and events outside of our own experience. We can travel to foreign lands; learn about other cultures and beliefs; explore and challenge ideas that may be different from our own. Readers develop empathy and their imagination. Yes, we are nerds and proud of it!

Keep an open mind and an open heart
Throughout life, our boys will encounter people who are not like them in a multitude of ways. I hope that they always take the time to get to know their hearts, and learn to celebrate the things that they have in common as well as the richness of the differences. We want anyone to feel comfortable and "at home" when they are in our home.

Always do your best
It's okay if we are not the smartest, fastest, or most talented. But we must always strive to be the very best versions of ourselves.

Count your blessings
We are richly and undeservedly blessed. We hope that our family always chooses a positive attitude and remembers to thank God for all he has given us.

Know you are loved
We want to be their home base, their hiding place, their refuge. We want them to know that we will always be their biggest fans. And no matter how big they get or how much they mess up, we will always love them more than anyone else on the planet. Let our words and actions always show them this kind of love.

If you want your own personal art piece that reflects your family's rules (or any other lovely custom hand painted creation), please check out Kaylan's Busy B's Designs Facebook page here or visit her Etsy shop here. You will not be disappointed! And good luck coming up with your own rules!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Jackson tells Bible Stories (Episode 1: Jonah)

Jackson enjoys telling us Bible stories. He also loves to make movies and then watch them. I thought it would be fun to combine these two interests and record him telling the Bible stories as a bit of a time capsule.

So here's Jackson telling the story of Jonah. Something about his sweet little three year old voice saying "Nineveh" just gets me every time. =)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

So Long, Farewell

Gosh, I hate writing this post.

Around Thanksgiving, we learned that our friends, the Hayes, were moving back home to Arkansas. We are delighted for them to be moving closer to family and for Jake's new career opportunity, but needless to say we are devastated to have to say goodbye.

Can I put it out there that it's hard to make friends when you are a grown up? Especially wonderful friends who become your family. For four years, these are the people with whom we have spent our weekends, celebrated birthdays and holidays, planned baby showers, held newborns and entertained toddlers, texted when we have had a rough day, and just basically shared life with. Thankfully moving to another state doesn't mean the end of a friendship, but we will definitely be missing them like crazy!

The whole gang.
 Amber, Christen and I made the most of our dwindling days together with our craft night back in December, a "Working Mom's Lunch" and getting together last night after we put our kids to bed for one last chance to just talk and hang out. As we were talking and giggling (and unsuccessfully fighting back ugly tears) until nearly midnight, we wondered aloud "why did we wait until now to do this???" It was certainly a great lesson in not taking time with your friends or loved ones for granted!
One last selfie!

Saying goodbye really stinks, but isn't it lovely having people in your life who are so hard to say goodbye to?

Best of luck, Hayes family, as you embark upon your new adventure! Know that you always have a place to call home in Aggieland and that we are only a phone call or text away! We miss you already!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fishy Friends

So...remember Dorothy? Jackson's pet goldfish? Well, a couple of days before we moved last May, Dorothy went belly up. Thankfully we found her before Jackson did and with all of the moving chaos, he hardly noticed her absence. We perhaps told him a little fib that our old neighbor was going to be keeping Dorothy until we got settled in at our new house. Even while Dorothy was still swimming, we decided that the 10 gallon aquarium we had gotten suckered into was just too much and had taken it back. But wanting to make good on our promise to "bring Dorothy home", we put a (smaller and more manageable) aquarium on Jackson's Christmas list. And Uncle Cody and Samantha, being awesome, got it for him!

Wanting to avoid any more unfortunate fish losses, we did lots of research this time and really tried to do everything right. So a couple of weeks ago, we set up the tank in Jackson's room, treated the water, etc. And then after letting the tank cycle, today we finally went and got fish! We had learned that goldfish really don't typically do well in a small tank and can be difficult for beginners, so we opted instead for some little Danios. At first Jackson was a little disappointed in not having a goldfish, but when we told him that instead he could have THREE fish, he was pumped. In his words, we were getting "a daddy, a mommy and a big brother fish". 

At the pet store, Jackson picked out the Danios he wanted--an electric red, electric green and a zebra stripe and we brought them home! Fish are an exercise in patience because when we got home we first needed to float the bag in the tank to equalize the water temperature. Jackson decided that his new friends needed some company while they got settled in....

 Finally we got to let them loose! Jackson was so excited!

Baby brother likes them too!

They have now been named "King" (zebra), "Queen" (red) and "Knight" (green) and appear to be doing great so far! Wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Andrew is 15 Months!

I can't believe our sweet Andrew is 15 months old! He's really moving into the realm of "big kid" these days as he wants to do everything that his big brother is doing and tries to keep up with him step for step. And he's mostly successful which is scary to this mommy!

At 15 months Andrew is obsessed with anything he is not allowed to have or with places he shouldn't be. Playing in the laundry room? Best place ever! Taking out the mop and broom to whack oneself with? Sign him up! Climbing up on the mantle to pull the heavy metal fireplace cover down on top of himself (again)? At least 2-3 times a day. All of those wonderful new toys he got for Christmas? Completely ignored. He is chief mischief maker in our house and doesn't sit still for a single second. And when you tell him no? Whoa buddy, watch out. He has learned how to throw quite the impressive fit.

Andrew loves to clean! Just give him a rag and he will go to town wiping up the floor, table and surfaces of all sorts of imaginary messes. Hopefully his zest for helping will continue until he's big enough to help with real messes! What's ironic about this is that he himself is generally the mess after meal times. He is a very vigorous eater and is more concerned about efficiency than style in getting the food into his mouth. Even his teacher has commented about how MESSY he is when he eats, and she deals with 12 messy toddlers all day every day! Not to say he hasn't developed some impressive skills with a spoon/fork, he is just generally not patient enough. This video is about a month late but definitely showcases his self-feeding skills when he is feeling patient.

Andrew is a man of few words, but does say a few things regularly:
  • Mama--all the time. It's his word for me, of course, but also his paci. Thanks, buddy.
  • All Duh (all done)
  • Hiya (hi!)
  • Bye Bye
  • Dat (cat)

We've heard lots of other words once or twice and he is parroting with more frequency. He has also picked up nodding this month, letting us know what he thinks by either nodding yes or no. He's pretty good at communicating what he wants in other ways too, like when he goes and sits at his little table and starts banging on it and doesn't stop until we give him a snack. =) 

He gets a big kick out of doing big boy things like going to get his own lunch box out of the fridge when we pick him up from school and carrying it out all on his own. He has also been preferring to go to sleep on his own after rocking with mom for a little while. He still falls asleep in my arms on occasion but I think those days are numbered. =(

Andrew loves to be silly and make us all laugh. He is certainly our little sunshine. We love you Andrew! Happy 15 months!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Welcome 2014!

Happy New Year everyone!

We rang in the new year with a pretty low key celebration with good friends, a board game, and an Aggie win. Good times!

Jackson wore Andrew out with his best wrestling moves, and then we put all the babies to bed. The "big kids", Jackson and Jilly, weren't going down that easy, and they got to stay up and watch movies. The plan semi worked and the adults were able to visit and actually finish a board game (albeit not without interruptions and lengthy pauses). 

Nana got to be with us for New Years and the rest of the week. She was a huge help to us when Justin and I had to go back to work on Thursday, and the boys thoroughly enjoyed wearing her out every day! Thank you Nana!

We spent Wednesday enjoying some park time. 

Look how long his hair is getting!

Weather here has been all over the place, so we take advantage of the nice days when we can and get these boys outside as much as possible. Andrew especially is so busy and it's hard to keep him entertained inside all day long. They are both looking forward to going back to school tomorrow!