Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ryan and Daddy's 1st Camping Adventure

It's finally here...Kevin's guest post! 
Although I was tempted to edit a few parts I went ahead and posted it as is. For those of you that know Kevin, you will get his humor...to anyone else reading and possibly thinking "oh my word, is he serious?!?" chances are he isn't... Enjoy!


Okay, better late than never...it's guest post time on this amazing blog that my even amazinger wife maintains. I've never been so nervous nor excited to put words to electronic paper. As an FYI - I will be embedding this email with special tags to ensure only PC and blackberry mobile users will be able to view it :)

So the subject matter of this guest post is the first father-son camping trip that occurred a couple weeks back. Before I get into any details let me first give you the 4-1-1:

Who: Me and Rhyno
Supporting Cast: Michael Hale and his three kids (Ethan, Lyla and Audrey), and other Stonewall Jackson dads and their kids. Basically, I glommed on to Michael's trip with a crew that has gone camping several times together over the past few years. 
What: 1 day + night + morning after of tents, campfires, no showers or toothbrushes and most importantly....NO WOMEN!
Where: Purtis Creek State Park (about an hour and a half southeast of Dallas - just east of Cedar Creek Reservoir

So for those that don't know, Michele doesn't really like staying home alone so she decided to go down to visit her good friends in Houston.  So Ryan and I dropped off 'ol Mom and Grayson at Love Field around 9AM and headed back to the house to finish packing. I can be rather absent-minded sometimes so I double-triple-quadrouple checked that I didn't forget anything crucial. By crucial I mean alcohol, caffeinated beverages and junk food, of course - not tents, sleeping bags or water...

Anyways, we got everything packed up and I headed over to the Hale's house to pick up the second youngest camper, 4-year old Audrey.  Audrey was ready to roll when we pull-up although I questioned her mother's preparation as all she has is a little backpack. Obviously, she had not attended the Michele McDonough school of packing, haha. Actually Michael was already at the campground and had everything that was needed. I turned to say good-bye to Sarah and reassure her that I wouldn't let anything happen to their youngest however much to my surprise I was greeted with a SLAM of the door and the faint sound of a cork being popped....hmmm, Sarah was not wasting any time. 24-hours of child-free freedom was going to start IMMEDIATELY :)

Pretty uneventful drive down. The kids watched Toy Story which oddly enough was exactly as long as the car trip down.  I pulled into Purtis Creek State PArk and locate our campers. I arrived with high spirits, two giddy kids and ready for long-lasting memories to be made. Everything was going to be just perfect. My idealistic notion of this trip (camp fires, s'mores, fishing, widdling sticks, throwing rocks into lake, ect...) was immediately shattered as Michael and another father come out to meet me double-fisting Boones Farm and jars of homemade moonshine. They immediately shouted obscenities at me and let me know that as a first-timer I would be subject to a grueling hazing ritual....(okay, so all that was just made up...or was it, hmm you'll never know). 

Okay, so first things first - we need to pick a proper place to pitch our tent. Now back in the day, I recall putting up tents -- especially with limited help from a 2.5 year old -- was a little bit of a pain in the a. Not anymore, I must give a shout-out to Coleman's Insta-Tent series (Michele told me to pitch products throughout this post in hope that we gain sponsorships...so again, COLEMAN'S INTA-TENT!!! What Tiger Woods is to Nike Golf, I will be to Coleman's camping gear!) Back to the story - I got this tent at the recommendation of Michael. It's pretty sweet, you basically unpack it and throw it up in the air and it comes down fully assemblend. Okay, not exactly that easy but it literally takes about two minutes to set up. 

We set up shop free and clear of any brittle-looking overhead branches and I got a recap of the prior night's festivities from the other dads. The highlights were as follows (all names will be withheld)...Dad #1 bragged about how much money he made, Dad #2 let everyone in on fail-safe pick-up lines he used on his wife and Dad #3 indulged in too much moonshine (yes, there really was moonshine) and had to hop over his sleeping kids in the middle of the night, stick his head out of the tent zipper and well... you can probably guess the rest. After hearing this my immediate feeling was relief...as I figured these guys surely couldn't go hard two nights in a row right??? Well, that though turned out to be half-true.

Okay, so after having a little lunch we commenced the afternoon's activities. Nothing was planned, of course, it was just really a free for all. I was pretty jealous of all the other dad as most of their kids were old enough to babysit themselves. So what's the magic age when kids can babysit themselves in a campground setting???...looks to be somewhere in the 7 - 10 range.  So that means I'll be home free in about 4 years with Ryan and 6 years with Grayson...hmm, seems like a ways off. 

So basically the kids split up into two groups - the boys (mostly older) and the girls. The free agents in this mix were Audrey and Ryan since they were younger that all the other kids. Audrey either hung out with her sister and the girls or hung out with Ryan. Ryan either hung out with Audrey, played with some of the older boys or walked around with me. All the kids were great with Ryan, especially Audrey, Ethan and Mia Yonker (she's a little older than Audrey but still younger than th other girls, so probably like 5 or so...although my ability to guess the age of children is terrible...Mia might be anywhere between 2 and 20 years old). The highlights for Ryan include playing with Audrey, Mia and occasionally other kids in the Hale's tent-of mattresses (they had about 3 blowup mattresses in that thing). It was very cute, they would pretend Ryan was a monster and try to avoid being caught. Ryan absolutely loved it. The older boys also took turns (with Ethan drawing the short end of the stick more often than not :)) throwing or kicking Ryan's mini soccer ball with him. Ryan also really liked going down by the lake and throwing pebbles in the water....really what kid doesn't like that, or adult male for that matter. It was during one such trip down to the lake that I witnessed perhaps the funniest part of the whole trip...

I was down by the lake with Michael, Audrey and Ryan and Michael took Audrey to change into her swimsuit in case she wanted to wade around in the water. When Audrey and Michael came back I couldn't quite pinpoint it but something about Audrey's attire looked a little odd...couldn't quite put my finger on it though. We threw some rocks and my thoughts veered back to Audrey's strange looking swimsuit. The opening in the chest part was too big (really just too revealing for a 4 year old), the crotch too baggy and the butt too snug...I had a sneaking suspicion I knew what the deal was. I said to Michael..."hey man, is Audrey's suit on backwards". Michael immediately says, "Man, I don't know...I thought it was at first too when I first put it on but I checked and the tags are there in the back"... I said "are you sure..." He checks again "Oh SH&I, you're right...it's on completely backwards". Haha, good times had by all. The other dads really enjoyed that one. 

As day grew into night, we did a little fishing, little capture the flag, cracked a few beers and got ready for dinner. Dinner was hot dogs for the kids and frito pies for the dads courtesy of Robert Garett. Very tasty. About the only regret I have that evening is we never busted out the s'mores....perhaps my all-time favorite dessert.  That's okay, gives me a good reason to try this father-son camping thing again. 

So I was a little nervous about bedtime. Ryan's a good sleeper but this is a completely different atmosphere. Audrey and Ryan went down first, probably around 8:30 or 9:00. Ryan was super tired (no nap that day) but still didn't go right down. I laid down with him for a little while but got up before he was out completely. He snuck his head out of the tent a couple times before he went down for good but all-in-all not too bad. 

All the bigger kids went to bed at varying times between 9:45 and 11'ish - depending on how first a particular dad was...because none of the kids really wanted to go to sleep. Nevertheless, finally got all the kids down.  

So this should be where I saw that the fun rally began, but overall it was a fairly tame evening around the campfire for the dads. Sure we put down a few frosty beverages and moonshine-soaked cherries, but fortunately nothing too crazy to report. We did, however, have some unwanted guests. Apparently Purtis Creek is known for its raccoons and we certainly had our fair share of encounters.

Starting about 11:30, were would hear rustling in the nearby woods and if we didn't shine our lights over to scare them off, we would hear one of those little bastards getting into some of our leftovers. The most brazen of these critters actually got onto a table about 10 feet behind us (it was pitch dark so we didn't know until we heard them) and grabbed a large bag of fritos and tok off into the bushes. It was at this time that one of the dad's busted out his pellet gun. Instead of protecting our food and campsite, though, we ended up just taking pot-shots at beer cans lined up on a picnic table (don't worry sweetie, it was away from the kids). 

We called it quits about 12:30 and headed to bed. I didn't sleep a lick but Ryan slept pretty well. Only fell of his air mattress once or twice. My inability to sleep stems from my choice in mattress pad. Instead of going for a cushy air mattress like everyone else, I opted for a backpackers mattress pad. Basically, about a half-inch of foam that ensures you feel every undulation of the ground underneath :). Anyways, lessons learned. When it comes to sleeping comfortably and you don't have to carry the air mattress more than about 20 yards....go with the mantra bigger is better. 

Morning comes and I'm not sure I actually slept at all. Oh well, the little guy slept for well so that was good. Since Ryan never sleeps with us this marks the first time that I woke up next to the little guy. He's very sweet in the morning and we laid there a little and chatted (not really a chat...we didn't get into a very deep conversation given Ryan's limited language skillz as a 2.5 year old.) 

Anyways, we got up and I started heating up the sausage balls that Michele had been sweet enough to make for us (all 80 of them). Michael warned me not to worry about the breakfast much...he said to bring some powdered donuts and pop tarts and I would be a hero. Apparently this isn't his first rodeo...the kids largely shunned the sausage balls and tore into the donuts and pop tarts that were brought. Ungrateful little rascals :) Well the dads enjoyed the sausage balls anyways and I had about 60 sausage balls left over. I brought the leftovers to the office on Monday so they got eaten anyways. 

We packed up about 9:30 or 10AM and headed out. 

Awesome time and I not have a newfound respect for Michele's blog posts. These are oddly time consuming but nevertheless I enjoyed my first guest blog post. 

COLEMAN"S INSTA-TENT!!! C'mon sponsors...

XOXO...Gossip Girl


And since I bombarded him with text messages reminding him to take pictures, here are a few that he snapped with his BB. 

Ethan and Ryan

Audrey and Ryan by the lake

Kevin and Ryan's tent. Does it surprise anyone else that Kevin opted for the mattress pad? I warned him...

Playing with the big kids

Ryan the monster

Dinner time!

Not really sure what's going on here but looks like fun!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Grayson's First Haircut

After naps today we packed up the boys and headed to Snip-Its. Ryan really needed a haircut and I wanted to see if they could trim little g's hair up a bit...it's just a little wild. He isn't even eight months old yet but he definitely needs a haircut!

So long!

snip snip

So happy & handsome!

Love this little man!

Monday, April 22, 2013


Last weekend we met up with the Botterman's at Company Cafe to celebrate Bryan's 32nd birthday with a little family brunch
Kevin & Bryan with Grayson and Blake. 

Afterwards we headed to Patton's 1st birthday party! It was adorable!

Ryan loved the magician!

Grayson had fun too!

Balloons were made

Chowing down on some sweets

Just hanging around with a mustache

Headed home after having so much fun!

We headed to Grimaldi's for dinner and Grayson decided he would eat some as well. 

Of course this little guy loves Grimladis

Morning run...in matching outfits. 

Facetime with Gigi and Papa while they were in Portugal

Hanging out at Klyde Warren park eating a grilled cheese

Ryan playing in the water! 

Ryan and the Bobcat tractor we found in our courtyard yesterday...he loved it!

Giggle Monster

We all know little G loves to smile but his giggles are what get us! He is a ticklish little man and it's so adorable!

Building Vandy

So my last update was in February after they installed the wood floors. It's been a while. And thankfully there has been a lot going on. First of all, we have a move in date! Wohoo! May 17th is the BIG day! It is possible that it could be ready earlier but that is the day we decided to get movers. We are beyond excited!

So what's been happening? Well....
After the wood floors were installed the trim guys started working...I never realized how much work they would be involved in but they sure do have a lot including:
- door & window frames
- baseboards & crown molding
- staircase & railing
- fireplace mantle
- beams in grand room
- coffered ceilings
- wainscoting in dining room & boys bathroom room
- frames for mirrors in bathrooms
- shelving in all closets
- exterior trellis
- exterior backyard porch screen
- exterior balcony railing

Unpainted staircase

backyard wooden porch screen

Basically every time I think they are done they are back over there with another project. I didn't realize everything their job encompasses. So crafty. They do such great work - everything looks amazing!

Next up all of our built-ins were installed. Pretty impressive that it took about two days to get those in - they look awesome!
Built-ins in the living room

After the built-ins were installed the painters started and we are loving all the colors so far! Well, with the exception of the game room which was accidentally painted the wrong color - lol! We chose Behr Harvest Brown and they painted it Benjamin Moore Harvest Brown...which are incredibly difference colors. I was quite shocked when I saw it but it's not a big deal. I am anxious to see out dining room and Ryan's room - those were the two rooms where we took the biggest risks! The dining room is a navy blue and Ryan's is a bright green!

Master bathroom vanity

Our white kitchen!

And recently our countertops were all installed. Love love love. In order to get the kitchen ones in they also installed our sink and cook top - so fun!

While all this was going on inside there were also crews outside finishing up the stucco (which took longer than expected, but it was ok since it wasn't causing any delays). Our standing seam (metal) roofing. We also got our landscaping plans back and are so excited about the ideas for the courtyard. Anyhow, this week they are suppose to lay all the flatwork! Yay for a driveway and sidewalk...so tired of getting so muddy every time we go over there.

They also stained the cedar beams, front door and additional exterior wood out front.  It's been really exciting and I am honestly over there every day checking out their progress - they probably think I am crazy! I just love seeing everything they are doing. It's very exciting to be in the final countdown...lots of work these next few weeks!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

7 months

Happy seven months little man!

I think we have finally gotten into a really good routine - meaning you are happy and mommy is happy. Yay! You are taking two naps a day and (knock on wood) sleeping though the night! Wohoo!

Although you are sleeping through the night you have been waking up quite early. You like to wake up at 5:30am. Yeah. Not a huge fan of that wake up time.  Dr N said to let you cry because if I allow you to get up then, then that is what you will always want to do. So I am trying to get you to sleep longer...you are consistent. You will cry for 45 minutes straight...some days you go back to sleep and some days you don't. The earliest I will feed you is 6:30 which I think might be confusing you. Basically because you cry for 45 minutes and then it's time to eat so I think you think if you cry long enough I will come and feed you. Goodness. I am not sure what to do here but I am hoping you start to sleep a little later....5:30 is too early for this momma! Other than this wake up time the rest of the day is pretty wonderful!

About two hours after you wake up you are ready to go down for your morning nap...which means you are ready for your first nap at about 8:30am. This is a wee bit challenging because on Monday's and Wednesday we have to take Ryan to school at 9:15. Gigi is always super helpful and on days when I can't keep you up she will stop by so that I can run Ryan to school without waking you. You really love your morning naps..sometimes you will sleep for three hours!

When you wake, you nurse and then we have about two hours of playtime/free time. We started going to music class on Wednesday and you LOVE it! I really would like to start you in Little Gym or something else but I honestly don't know when we could fit that in. Your afternoon nap is shorter - typically like 45 minutes and also interrupted on Monday's and Wednesdays but that's life as a second child. You love going to pick Ryan up so you are generally ok with a short nap.

Evenings have calmed down quite a bit but are still a little hectic. I nurse you one last time at 5:30, you eat dinner at 6:30 (real food), bath time at 7pm, take a bottle of 8oz breast milk at 7:30, and in bed at 8pm.  Basically you fill up mommy and daddy's evening...there is no downtime with you!

You can sit up by yourself and I have even seen you get on to your tummy from the sitting position (without falling) a few times.

You started pushing up to your knees and you will rock back and forth. You will be so thrilled when you figure out crawling but I think we probably have another month or so...I think.

You got TWO teeth over the past month! Wowzers! And I think it is possible that you are working on some more...the joy of teething! This teething has come with a runny nose and you HATE it when I try to clean it up.

You can pick food up and shovel it in your mouth.

- You LOVE playing in your jumper...bounce bounce bounce with the biggest grin on your face. I feel like you have really started to develop a little personality. Basically one happy dude. You smile for everyone and can be such a flirt.
- Bath time with daddy (lots of kicking and splashing)
- Being held - you are such a cuddle-er - we call you our little koala bear
- Cleaning your nose
- Getting your PJs on
- Laying on your back

What's been going on:
-Mommy's first trip away - I went to Napa for a Bachelorette party and you stayed home with daddy! He did such a wonderful job playing 'single' dad but also had lots of help from his mother and sister. Yay! You did not miss out on any breast milk - I had more than enough stashed away to get you through the long weekend!
- Easter
- Play dates at the Arboretum
- Eating all sorts of new things. You love cheerios and puffs...anything that you can feed yourself.
- You started your own music class (without Ryan) and absolutely love it. Everyone always comments on how happy you are. You are pretty darn cute!

What else?
You want to play with Ryan so badly but it just hasn't quite happened yet. One day. When you get close to him you grab him with all your might which results in him screaming because it hurts...and it really does. I know because you claw and grab me all day long. You have quite a grip.

xoxo - Mommy

Friday, April 12, 2013

24 hours in Houston

Last weekend Kevin took Ryan camping! Yup - Ryan's first time. They had a blast and Kevin agreed to guest blog about it. Hope to have his post soon!
Anyhow, since G was too little to go camping we decided to take a quick little trip down to Houston. We boarded a SW flight Saturday morning and were there in no time! G did great on the flight...lots of flirting, some puff eating, some drinking and then some sleeping. 

Mk and Brian picked us up from the airport and we headed back to their house to see the kiddos (my first time to meet Brooks!) and have some lunch. Once we got the kids down for nap time, the girls headed out for a little shopping. 

Around 6pm the Birds came over. 
Grayson was so happy with Jennifer! 

And Marc did a science experiment for the older kids. 

Mk arranged for a babysitter so we had a fun evening out with adults! I headed to Cru wine bar with the Birds and Meghan, while the Aston's went to her sisters baby shower. Afterwards we all met up at Americas for a yummy dinner!

  It was such a fun night...maybe a wee bit too much wine for me! Wasn't feeling wonderful the next morning...especially not excited about flying with a seven month old but it was probably better than driving back!

 Grayson LOVED playing with Caroline and Thompson. He can't wait for Ryan to start playing with him more!

And I swear G is usually super happy but he was not thrilled about this photo opt with his buddy Brooks. He was very upset. Maybe he was mad because we dressed them alike? lol

But he did find his hair interesting...

So much fun! Hugs and kisses to my wonderful friends! Such a fun 24 hours!

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