I never thought I'd be starting a blog, but becoming parents quickly changes your views on a lot of things. Parker has thrown us for quite a ride in the first few days of his life and this seems like the most logical way to share our drama with the rest of the world. Here's to hoping that our life becomes more blah, blah, blah soon!
I'm thankful that my 30 days are over and I successfully posted 30 different gratitudes!
Now I'm ready to share some Christmas cheer with you for my December posts. I have my nutcrackers on the mantle, garland hung, stockings hung, the tree is up without ornaments, and only one side of the porch has lights outside. I WILL have all of my Christmas up and presentable by Friday since we're hosting Benton's work crew for their holiday gathering - nothing like a deadline for a perfectionist procrastinator!
I'm thankful for radio stations that start playing only Christmas music 24/7 starting in November. In DFW, 103.7, has been spreading holiday cheer for the last few weeks. I think they must really like Feliz Navidad because I hear it everytime I'm in the car. Not a problem though, since it makes me happy to think of a Christmas vacation in a Spanish-speaking country. Costa Rica perhaps? :)
I'm thankful for finding deals and not paying full price - I love bargains and sales on already marked down items!
I ordered my Christmas cards this weekend and I got such a great deal. I designed my own collage using Picasa with my top pictures of Parker. Then I used Vistaprint.com to design the cards with my own font, colors, message, etc. I got all of my cards with shipping for less than $25! I'll post the pictures after they've been delivered.
I highly recommend Vista print. They are mainly an online printing service for small businesses, but they have all of the same templates for cards that snapfish, tiny prints, etc. uses. And no, I will not receive any compensation for this endorsement!
I know I'm behind, but here goes. I'm thankful for my grandmothers - Peggy Nunn Hill (Nana) and Dorothy Perry Hunter (Gran). Both live in Wichita Falls, and it's been hard to coordinate more frequent visits with them since Parker came along. Parker has seen Nana a couple of times and we went with her to Casa Manana earlier in November.
We took Parker to meet Gran for the first time last Friday. The pictures aren't great, but P smiled, laughed, and giggled for Gran. He liked her dog, Little Ben, and he was ready to crawl and stand all over her house. Gran loved his hair, how alert his eyes were, and how his whole face lights up when he smiles. Great-grandmothers are always right aren't they?
I'll post the pictures next - I forgot to save them to my phone first!
Today I'm thankful for Thanksgiving - creative huh? In the past few years I've had the holidays come and go and I didn't feel like I was totally in the spirit to appreciate it all. Part of it was not attending church regularly, which happens when you move away from home and love your home church you grew up in and aren't ready to commit to a new church family. I can honestly say that I feel prepared for the season after giving 25 days of thanks with five more to go. I'm at such a great place in life at 30 years old and my heart is open for the holiday season.
We have found a church home, now we just need to join and start attending. We had 14 at our house today for Thanksgiving, including Parker, our parents, my brother and his girlfriend, Benton's aunt and uncle, my uncle and my cousins - twin 6 year old girls and a two year old boy. It was fast and furious, Parker tried to sleep around noon but there was too much excitement, one cousin was terrified of Jack, but there was plenty of food, wine, and conversation! I'm thankful that everyone drove here to join us and bring delicious food with them. I had the tough job of hosting and making green bean casserole, pumpkin pie (thanks again Brynn, it was a hit), and spinach dip.
For the most part, my Thanksgiving memories growing up are mingled in with Christmas. The food and family was typically the same and we ate at both of my grandmother's houses in Wichita Falls. There are two Thanksgivings that stick out however, and it will mean nothing to anyone but my parents and brother, but I thought I'd share them anyway.
1) When I was in 4th grade we drove to Memphis to spend Thanksgiving with my Uncle Mike. We got to miss a couple of days of school, drove all night, saw the leaves changing in Little Rock, and made it to Tennessee. We went to the bowling alley, drove by Graceland, and drove over the border to Mississippi just to say we had been there. Pretty fun road trip when you're ten years old. We had a great time staying in a two-story house too - we rode in cardboard boxes down the stairs and thought it was the best thing we'd ever done!
2) When I was in 6th grade my grandfather and my uncle both passed away suddenly during the same week in February. The following Thanksgiving, my grandmother did not want to be at home with all of the memories, so we loaded up and went to Irving with her sister for Thanksgiving. I think it would have been 1993, and there was a terrible ice storm in Dallas that year. Dad drove from Decatur to Irving with his window down because the windshield was iced over and he couldn't see to drive. We ate Thanksgiving at the Black Eyed Pea in Las Colinas and it was TERRIBLE. But it was really fun to see my Uncle Jeff driving donuts in the parking lot of the Courtyard afterwards.
Happy Thanksgiving to all - I hope you enjoy time with your loved ones and have safe travels! Here is a picture of Parker today on his first Thanksgiving. Yes he is standing. He loves to pull himself up now on all things possible!
On our walk this morning, I was remembering everything we've been through since last Thanksgiving when I was pregnant. It occurred to me that I had forgotten to give thanks to some very important people that helped us this year.
Today I am thankful for the amazing medical staff at Las Colinas Medical Center that helped with my emergency C-section and Parker's nine day stint in NICU. My OB-Gyn Dr. Kristen Carmichael and her partner, Dr. Theodore Krum, took great care of me and kept me calm (that and an epidural) when I was quickly taken into the OR because P's heartrate kept dropping and my labor was not progressing. Dr. Thummala was our Neonatologist that monitored Parker in NICU, ran all the tests he could and tried everything to get P better as soon as possible. He also went to bat for us with our insurance company when they tried to deny coverage for our last night in NICU. We also had great nurses - Cecelia & Bosede in NICU and Gracie was my nurse for five days. Bosede taught us how to feed Parker, change his diaper, burp him, swaddle him, heat up bottles, etc. It was a humbling learning experience for both me and Benton.
Although P was in NICU, I believed all along that he was essentially healthy and would be released any day. He was well-cared for and left the hospital weighing more than his birth weight, over 8 lbs. We have had friends with their babies in NICU who stayed longer than we did and who had more concerns and health issues to worry about. I am thankful that our stay was limited to nine days and that we have no lasting health concerns for Parker today.
We have friends from Wichita Falls who have spent months with their sweet baby born in the hospital in Fort Worth. Please pray for those babies who are in the hospital over this Thanksgiving break. Pray for their parents and families as they split their time between home and between the hospital. Also pray for the sweet nurses and doctors who spend time away from their loved ones to care for others.
Today I'm thankful for reliable companies you can trust to take care of your problem and not overcharge you or up-sell you on things you don't need.
We have had trouble with our ice dispenser since we moved into our house in July, but had just stopped using it rather than having someone look at it. About a month ago, I attempted to use our home warranty coverage to repair the issue. After paying some random repair man $60, I was told that the ice maker and freezer were covered, but the hole where the ice comes out of the door is conveniently not covered. I tried several times to call the repairman to come back out since he knew exactly what was wrong and hopefully it would save me paying another $60 service fee. He never called me back, I couldn't find the company on the internet, and the phone number on the invoice was disconnected - which all spells s.h.a.d.y.
With Thanksgiving on the way, we decided to get the issue repaired for good, so I googled for an appliance repair company in our area. I called on Monday and they said they had someone who would be in our neighborhood. Their repairman was here by 1pm, confirmed the issue, used his bluetooth headset to call & order the parts, and even fixed my gas burner that was not lighting (free of charge). He and the owner came back out today to make the repair and gave Benton tons of info on our refrigerator model. We have now updated the dispenser mechanism from plastic to steel, added yearly coolant, and replaced the water filter. They waived the $60 service fee and only charged us for the parts and labor. We should have great tasting water and crushed ice in the morning =)
We would highly recommend them if you need anything repaired in the DFW area!
Today I'm thankful for craftiness - not the sneaky kind, but rather the artsy kind that overtakes me every so often. If you've known me for very long, you know I like to make flower arrangements, paint nursery letters, and invent other projects when I'm inspired.
Luckily, my parents encouraged my creativity - even allowing me to paint clouds on the ceiling of my bedroom in highschool. I also had a booth at a craft mall in college and sold sorority items. I didn't make money that summer, but I loved making everything and at least paid for my supplies with earnings.
My most recent project was inspired by burlap stockings I found on www.etsy.com. I made the pattern, hand-stiched the stockings, spraypainted and used chalkboard paint on the signs, and added fresh rosemary sprigs from outside. To complete my French Country Christmas mantle, I made the sign using a pine board I covered in burlap. I googled the Merry Christmas translation and free-handed the lettering.
I also have our dining room ready for Thanksgiving lunch on Thursday. My neighbors probably thought I was crazy today when they saw me cutting leaves off the oak tree and picking up acorns :)
Today I'm thankful for birthdays and the fun that comes with celebrating them. Today is my husband's 32nd birthday and we've a weekend full of festivities. Benton's parents came in town Friday to celebrate and help with Parker on Saturday night so we could do some adult celebrating. Julie & Brad Gossett came over for some drinks and Sasha & Jeff Denman stopped by on the way home from Dallas and stayed for dinner.
On Saturday we went down to NorthPark and went shopping and at lunch I told Benton about his birthday surprise. I had booked us a room at the Four Seasons and his parents were babysitting! He was excited, but he also saw straight through the sweet gesture and knew that I would benefit equally from some pampering and sleeping in!
We met friends for dinner at Joe T's - which Benton picked, so I really didn't plan everything to benefit me, although it is my favorite restaurant. Brad Gossett, Jenya & Craig Felder, the Denmans, and Summer & Andrew Estes all joined us for B's birthday dinner. After visiting a couple of watering holes, we called it a night and went back to enjoy our awesome room & view. We had breakfast in bed and were back to reality by noon. Thanks to Benton's parents, MiMi and Daddy B, for watching Parker for us so we could get some R&R.
This was the ninth year I've celebrated Benton's birthday with him, and it was the first year I forgot to get him a card. Bad wife award was canceled out by the hotel room though, I think. Benton said he was glad I saved $4 and didn't waste money on a card. He may not mind, but this is no reason not to get me a card for Valentine's, our anniversary, my birthday, or just because (which never happens mind you!).
Happy Birthday Benton - and if you're nice enough this year, you just might get your very own $4 birthday card next year. Love, Kristen
I am thankful for Lauren Clark and her motherly advice. At girls' dinner last Tuesday night, Lauren shared her doctor's suggestion for helping reduce her youngest son's spit-up issues. My doctor hasn't been very helpful and just keeps telling me it bothers me more than it does Parker --- and that he'll out grow it eventually.
Easy for someone else to say when your child literally spits up every 20 minutes all day long EVERYDAY. He goes through at least four clothes changes each day, I can't find cute boy bibs that are big enough to fit his neck, and the carpet in his room is officially ruined. AND it's a good thing he's not in daycare, because they probably would have kicked him out by this point.
Soooo, back to Lauren's amazing, wonderful, fabulous advice. We tried two different medicines for acid reflux that didn't help the spitups, so I needed another solution and I was ready to try anything. Lauren said we needed to get P to drink less, take the bottle slower, and thicken his formula. So instead of 8oz bottles, I started making 6oz bottles (3 scoops of formula) and adding 3 tablespoons of rice cereal to it. And ... it works!!!!
Parker is a whole new baby! It's been four days with our new mixture and I can count on one hand how many spitups we have each day. Words cannot express our gratitude to Lauren for her wisdom and advice. YA HOO!
Today I'm thankful for laughter and smiles - especially the ones from sweet baby Parker. We went to the Galleria for lunch and shopping today and Parker was getting antsy on the way home after sitting for several hours. While we sat in 4pm traffic on 35, I climbed in the back and sat in the floor to entertain and distract P. I played "hide and boo" with him and he laughed so hard that he had tears running down his cheeks. Nothing better than watching his eyes dance with anticipation before I popped my head up and yelled "boo!". Best laugh I've had in ages...
Here's a picture of the big boy at lunch...
And another one standing in his crib when he woke up from his nap today...
Last night I was thankful for Thursday Night Date Night with Benton. In the days before baby, I would look forward to going out for dinner and drinks on Thursday if Benton was back in town from his work travels. We usually went out for Mexican food at Ana Mia's or Uncle Julio's. Now post-baby, we have to eat at home every night since Parker goes to bed by 7 and we don't mess with his bedtime.
Its actually nice to be at home in a quiet house after P is asleep and enjoy a much cheaper glass of wine and some conversation with Benton. He picked up sushi from Blue Ocean in Lewisville - its great by the way if you're ever up here and need a sushi fix. We also got caught up and watched this week's episodes of The Office and Modern Family. Loved seeing Gloria act like a Columbian mobster with her BB gun!
Today I'm thankful my iPhone - yes it sounds materialistic, but I am really quite attached to this uber-useful technology tool. While trying to go to sleep last night, I tried to remember other technology devices that I thought were really cool at the time.
1) My first alarm clock - even though it was used for me to wait in time out =)
2) My first camera - a FisherPrice kids' version
2) Hot pink jambox - I could listen to tapes in the car!
3) Sony Walkman - see #2
4) Sony Discman
5) My first cordless phone (even came with call-waiting and three-way because my parents wanted to be able to use the home phone too).
6) My first stereo - Emerson, I think
7) Home computer with internet - we used to instant message on AOL for hours my junior and senior year of high school
8) Napster - The original that was free! We also had free file sharing in the TCU dorms so everyone in Shirley had over 1000 songs to share.
9) Cell Phone - A red Nokia that I got my second year of college. I can't believe I made all those trips between Wichita Falls, Fort Worth, and Austin without a cell phone!
Its hard to imagine that a small device that fits in my back pocket can do all of the things the others above could do AND MORE. Every morning while Parker takes his first bottle, I check the weather, read my blogs, check my email, and play Words With Friends. Granted, none of these are Earth-shattering activities, but they make me happy and for that I am thankful.
P.S.- If you've read this far, I thought I'd let you know that my "thanks" will continue through November 30th. In December, I plan to steal an idea from Sasha Denman and make each day in December "My Favorite Things" about Christmas. Too bad I don't have Oprah's budget to buy each of you something, but I have lots of great Christmas memories and traditions to share nonetheless.
Today I am thankful for the joy of discovery and learning. I realize this sounds silly and optimistic coming from an educator, but it warms my heart to watch someone have an "ah ha" moment whether they are 7 months, 16 years, or 83 years old. For scientists, it's the eureka I found it moment, and for a mom, it's the oh my gosh he's doing it exclaim.
Here was my joy today watching Parker study the light shining on the tile, the wheels moving on the highchair, and the danger of pushing the high chair while trying to pull up!
We're crawling - and moving quickly as soon as you step away to try and do something else (like switching over laundry, which didn't get finished yesterday).
Parker also figured out how to pull up on his crib bumper an stand up in his crib. I nearly had a heart attack when I checked the video monitor this morning and saw him standing up. Thank goodness I remembered to pull up the side of his crib when I put him to bed last night. Poor pitiful looked like a jailbird who had been banging his head on the slats of the crib waiting for someone to come save him.
Didn't get a picture, but I'm sure there will be many more mornings to snap one!
Today I'm thankful for the person at Wendy's who messed up my order and gave me a real Coca-Cola, rather than the Diet Coke I ordered. I haven't indulged in a "real" coke since I was in the hospital after having Parker. It is soooo good & a great perk to the cold & dreary day!
Today I am thankful that my parents and grandmothers taught me how to cook (or what not to do in some cases!). I love to cook and married into a family that also appreciates cooking for a crowd, even when it's just the two of us. I love being home in on the weekends and bringing able to make a big mess (drives Benton crazy) and spend several hours cooking. I don't usually follow recipes very closely (or at all), which can also frustrate B. Most of the time it turns out fine, but I have had some disasters with brisket and chocolate chip cookies that stayed in the oven way too long!
My project today was a new pumpkin pie and crust recipe from my friend Brynn who is temporarily living in Brisbane. She has great recipes that she took with her to remind her of Texas and I'm glad she shared these. I made a pie and five minis and it's delish!
Today I am thankful for my friends - the ones I've had since I was born (Katie), the ones I've had since elementary school (Hayley), the ones added in high school (Aria, Tina, Linds, & Lynds), the ones from college (Olivia & Jaclyn), the ones from work, our couples friends, my LBCR camp friends, my soccer friends, my Facebook friends, my neighbor friends, and anyone else I call a friend that didn't fit into these other categories.
We had a great day reconnecting with many friends today at the TCU game. We took Parker to his first tailgate, and it was fun to show him off to our friends that only knew him from his blog pictures. Tonight, we went to dinner with two of my best friends and their husbands. We've all been friends since high school and are still close now.
Thank God for good friendships that last through all the good and not-so-good times in our lives.
Today I'm thankful for our beautiful neighborhood and the great parks system our city has built. I try to walk 2-3 miles four days per week and we have a great view along the way. Here is a view from our 3 mile walk this morning - fall is here even if I was wearing shorts this morning!
I didn't get yesterday's thanks posted because I was grumpy last night and not especially inspired to be grateful for anything. Good thing that its a new day and I can be grateful again for the many wonderfully things I've been blessed with.
I'm thankful for our babysitter, Elizabeth, who watches Parker three days a week while I'm at work. She does a great job taking care of him and Jack. She tells me each day how Parker was - sometimes sweet, sometimes cuddly, and sometimes a brat who doesn't want to take naps. God knew I was going to need someone we could trust to watch Parker if I was going to be able to work parttime and He provided.
I realized in planning this post, that I don't have a picture of Parker and; Elizabeth together. We'll correct that next week so you can see her!
Today I'm thankful for genetics. There is the Mendelian, fruit fly, chromosome version which was always a favorite unit when I taught biology, but today I'm grateful for the genes passed down to me from my parents and grandparents and now on to Parker.
We're a pretty healthy bunch and both of my grandmothers are still alive today. Parker's blue eyes come from both the Appling and Hunter sides of my family.
Here is a picture of my maternal grandparents, Dorothy and Don Hunter, on their wedding day. My mother was emailed the picture today by my Uncle, Randy Hunter. I love going through old photos of my grandparents and parents from before I was born. Someday when I have free time (yeah right), I'd like to get them copied and organized for my brother and our cousins.
Parker turned 7 months old today. He now has his front two bottom teeth, can sit up from being on his tummy, and can crawl across his room (or the yard) if he sees something that he wants. He has some serious babbling conversations and he currently likes ba-ba-ba and ma-ma-ma.
We spent this afternoon planting 3 more flats of pansies in the front yard. Parker no longer plays nicely on his quilt, he crawls to the grass, grabs pansies, munches on leaves, and puts mulch in his mouth.
Here are some pics of our precious after his bath tonight:
Today I'm thankful for pre-maternity clothes that fit again. In the Fall of 2008 I purchased a ton of new work clothes for my new role as an assistant principal. I wore them through the Spring of 2009, but by the Fall of 2009 I was pregnant and quickly gained 14 pounds in my first trimester.
It makes me smile each morning when I get dressed for work and have something "new" to wear from 2008. Our scale at home is broken, but I must be at or below my pre-pregnany weight since all of my old clothes fit again. Losing weight is so much more fun when you know how far you've come since the day you delivered a baby.
I'm in a wedding in July of 2010 as a bridesmaid for my best friend in college. This should be the last time I'll be a bridesmaid (unless there are divorces and second weddings for some friends), and I'm determined to be back to my weight I was when I got married. I have a ways to go, but hopefully I can make some progress since I'm planning 8 months in advance.
Today I am thankful for my husband, Benton. I don't talk about him much on the blog, but I wouldn't be who I am today without him. We met on New Year's Eve 2000 and I still remember the moment he introduced himself to me in Fort Worth on Plymouth Street. He didn't know that I was also from Wichita Falls, or that we had so many friends in common. We got engaged in August of 2002, we got married in June of 2003, and we had Parker in April of 2010. We have made so many great memories in the last ten years with our families and our friends.
He still makes me laugh until I can't breathe, still surprises me even though he can't keep a secret longer than an hour, provides for his family by traveling all over the US, is still a great golfer though he claims his handicap is over 5, supports his friends even when they're down, and is an amazing father that Parker will look up to when he's old enough to realize it.
Recent events have reminded me to be grateful for each day that we have with the ones we love. I am so thankful that I get to spend the rest of my life with Benton by my side.
I tried to post somewhere between Wichita Falls and Coppell, so I need to remember that I should just wait until I get home! Thanks Beth for letting me know this post never made it my blog!
I am thankful for our Westie, Jack, who is six and half years old. Despite his skin and food allergies, and two surgeries for swallowing peach pits (one year apart - fun summer vet bills!), Jack is the best dog we could ever ask for! He has been very patient with Parker, which we hope will continue once Parker is able to follow him around. Parker loves Jack and lights up anytime Jack comes near him. I can't wait for them to be the best of friends. I know they will spend hours together in the back yard playing ball and chase.
Today I am thankful that Parker took a 3 hour nap today. I never know when these gifts will occur, but today I cooked homemade chicken spaghetti and chicken & spinach sour cream enchiladas. Plus, I had of the mess cleaned up before Benton got home from his hunting trip. I'll go ahead and give myself the superwife award for the day - it doesn't happen very often!
I am thankful that I am from Wichita Falls and live two hours from my parents and in-laws. I had a great childhood with loving friends and family and I have wonderful memories from WF. I'm thankful Parker is only 2 hours away from his grandparents - I don't think he's gone more than 3 weeks without seeing all four of them.
Today I am thankful for my wonderfully fabulous 19 hours per week job! I work three days each week as a science content instructional coach. I float between the two high schools and middle school I worked at, plus visit two additional middle schools.
I am no longer the bad guy to teachers or students, rather I get to be the idea generator, field trip planner, guest speaker coordinator, rubric writer, and shoulder to lean on! I love helping teachers make their projects fabulous by doing the details pieces they don't have to time to deal with because they are in the classroom all day, grade papers at night, have parent meetings during their conference, and generally work until they drop!
Its also great to be back on the science side of things where I get to learn or review information everyday. Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear a workshop on valence electrons and Lewis Dot Diagrams, then I went down the hall to learn about the magnitude and direction of vectors in physics. Call me a dork, but I am one lucky girl!
Today I am thankful that we live in a country where I am able to vote as a woman and my vote counts. I am thankful for the people before me who made sacrifices so that we can live safely here in the United States.