Monday, July 27, 2009

Filled with Love

When Mason was born 4 1/2 years ago, we received a very special and unique gift in the mail from my friend Lara's mom, Ellin. She sent a big, beautiful, old, heavy Mason Jar, filled with scrapbook embellishments. It was so perfect and thoughtful! (It's the one on the far left in the picture below.)

Ellin is a big antique shopper, and she loves to find and purchase special items for her home and for others. Over the years, she has sent me several wonderful things. All have a "spot" in our home, and I treasure each of them.

We liked the Mason Jar idea so much, Rip and I decided to continue it. We purchased one Father's Day weekend when Mason was four months old, which expanded the collection to two jars. As something fun, we decided to fill each one with little trinkets that were memorable. . .Hot Wheels from Rip's childhood, board game pieces from mine, old Fisher-Price Little People, jacks (because they reminded me of my Gramma and Grampa). . .the list goes on, but each jar's contents were carefully selected for a reason.

We have jars now from so many. . .Aunt Bonnie and Jack gave us one after their visit last year, my dear friend Kim gave me one from her mother's collection, my mom has found several at antique shops here and there, Ellin has found and sent several more over the last few years, and Rip and I pick them up when we want to mark a special occasion. Additionally, we've received "contents" for the jars from so many people, too. Stacy (aka "Aunt Stacy" to our kids) gave us her grandmother's button collection for one jar, and Rip's parents gave us a sterling rattle and brush from Daryl's childhood, plus a ring that was Rip's when he was a baby for another jar.
Before any jar goes on the shelves in Mason's room, I put a little card inside that tells the story of where the jar came from, and why we filled it with its particular treasures.

I want Mason to know that each jar was filled not just with old, worn dime store toys or junk from the attic, but instead, filled with love.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Six Months of Cuteness

Look at this cutie-cute six month old baby boy. My Brody Ripken Ray!!

We are very fortunate to have not just one, but two different neighbors who are professional photographers. And with some degree of regularity, we are the beneficiaries of their skills! My friend Rhonda specializes in family sessions and action photos (athletic events mostly), and prefers to do outdoor photo shoots over indoor. For my baby shower last December, she gave me the wonderful gift of a photo session for the new arrival! While she normally doesn't do sessions indoors, she was gracious enough to offer to do a nursery photo shoot. Fun!

Initially, we were going to do it as soon as the baby was born. . .leaving the hospital, first car ride, welcoming the baby home, taking him into his nursery, etc. But there was so much chaos around his birth (three weeks early), and nothing seemed to go as planned with him in the NICU for a week, so it just didn't work out. That's okay. . .a newborn can't do this:

Oh, if we could just get him to stop crying and smile like this all the time!

Thank you, dear Rhonda, for the adorable photos and memories!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Brusha, Brusha, Brusha

We've been talking about taking Mason to the dentist for, oh, I dunno. . .like a year. And somehow, I just never managed to get the appointment scheduled. Something more important always came up and took precedence. You know. . .like doing the laundry or working or watching the Today Show (did I just say that??!!). Okay, so maybe I was avoiding it a little.

But eventually, I got the appointment on the books and we started talking to Mason about the dentist. With a positive spin, of course. And lemme tell you. . .he couldn't wait to go! He was literally jumping up and down like a pogo stick at the front desk when we got there. Telling everyone his name (boing!) and that he was four (boing, boing!) and that he was having a DENTIST APPOINTMENT (boingboingboing!). As usual, all were charmed. Or else they acted charmed, then rolled their eyes and felt sorry for me when we turned our backs.

We went into a little administrative office first, which is where Mason first caught wind of the fact that perhaps going to the dentist wasn't all it was cracked up to be. The office manager was asking me a slew of questions, which was totally fine, until the zinger. "Are you nervous?" she asked me. You'd think a pediatric dental office would know better. Well, Mr. Perceptive over here clearly didn't miss that. He walked out of that little room, flattened himself with his back against the fishtank, and said "I'm nervous," while refusing to move. Awesome.

It took about 10 minutes of coaxing, talking to him about all the hygienists' Crocs and Jibbitz, talking about the fish and their names, bla, bla, bla to get him to agree to go to a chair. I was actually starting to worry I'd have to pick him up to get him to move, which would have been disastrous. Thankfully, he got a burst of bravado and walked to his chair. He almost bolted when he saw ladies wearing scrubs and masks, but we diverted his attention ("Hey, do you think Nemo's daddy lives in that tank over there there, too?") and marched onward.

From that point on, the appointment was awesome. I have to say, Dede did an amazing job at talking to him about the equipment, giving everything cute little names (for example, the saliva-suction-thingy was "Mr. Thirsty"), and letting him touch and play with everything. I think the fact that "Monsters, Inc." was playing on the TVs on the ceiling probably helped, too!

He left with a grade of B+ (my fault. . .we need to floss), an x-ray of his permanent teeth (can you say "braces?"), a zebra toothbrush, a pirate mask, a picture he colored (for Daddy), and an airplane toy.

And he made a new friend in Dede the dental hygienist!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"O, Canada..."

A weekend away without the kiddos!!!!! (I could have had only that much information about our trip and been excited. But it was to an amazing and somewhat obscure destination in a different country? Did I luck out or what?)

Rip and a few others from various distributors were given the opportunity to go to Kelowna, B.C. with their wives, compliments of the Mike's Hard Lemonade guys. The same gentleman who started Mike's owns a boutique winery called Mission Hill Family Estates Winery, and we were going to be treated to a VIP tour. Like Rip told me before we left, "they're going to take very good care of us. . ."
Did.They.Ever. We stayed in a spacious & luxurious resort called The Cove, right on the shores of Lake Okanagan. The view from our balcony was of a pristine and sparkling lake, as well as of the mountains on the other side of the valley.

Who would have known that there was such a gem of a city just a few hours from Vancouver? There was a quaint and adorable downtown, the friendliest people, and spectacular vineyards all up and down the Okanagan Valley. It's a really unique climate (so I was told), as it's extremely moderate due to the mountains on either side of the valley and the lake right down the center. It's a desert, actually. Which is apparently perfect for growing grapes. "In Canada?" you ask? Oh yes!!!!

So we sampled wines from several vineyards, ate gourmet food (BTW. . .gross. I would rather have Subway than rabbit sausage, lamb, and venison carpaccio ANYDAY!!!), and actually got to sleep through the night. Wine AND sleep? Who needs more???!!!???

Sadly, poor Rip got an ear infection on the second day, so we had to take a cab to a health clinic, then the pharmacy. But I will say that the inexpensive Chinese food we ate that night while we waited for the prescriptions was the best food of the trip!!! Well, except for this delightful Mike's Hard *Pink* Lemonade sampler we had for dessert the last night.

All this, then a nice long flight home with no one climbing on me, begging for snacks, complaining, crying, or asking me to watch "Dora Saves the Mermaid Kingdom" again. "O, Canada!"

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

As a family, we all love baseball. . .I grew up a huge Cubs fan (I'm still heartbroken over the 1984 & 2003 seasons!!), and Rip grew up watching Nolan Ryan and the Astros. Here we are in Dallas, and of course, Mason is a Texas Rangers fan. Go figure. At least he's not a Mets fan! Ha!

We recently took the boys to their first Rangers' game, and it was a smashing success. Mason was so excited to wear his hat that matched Daddy's! I tried to find a cute *pink* one so I could participate too, but had no luck. I have a feeling that as the only girl in the house, I'll get left out a lot!

Through Rip's job, we get tickets to a lot of events, but even better, we get suite tickets. It's great for taking kids because there is AIR CONDITIONING! And cushy chairs. And a TV inside. And food and drinks & a private bathroom. Seriously, it's the only way to do it! That's easy to say because we don't have to pay for it! My fear, though, is that our kids will grow up thinking that's "normal," & that's just how you go to the ballpark. Sadly, they'll learn that if we had to buy the tickets, it would most definitely not be those!! I actually thought the suite would be most helpful with Brody, but it ended up being Mason who stayed inside the most. There was a NASCAR race on, so he planted himself firmly in front of the TV to watch. And what an exciting finish (the Stewart/Busch collision on the final!).

Plus, Mason was scared of the post-game fireworks. so he took shelter inside! Brody, on the other hand, loved them. Who would have thought??!!??

Any outing that begins during the heat of the day, ends around midnight, and sees no significant meltdowns or tantrums is a successful one. And the Rangers won, to boot!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

These boots were made for. . .fishing?

I've finally entered the world of blogging! I been considering it for a few months, but kept telling myself I needed to spend more time on the computer like I needed a hole in the head. However, here I am! Since we live away from both my parents and Rip's, and have many friends and family out-of-state, I figured this would be a good way for me to keep in touch. And this way, the grandparents can see more of our day-to-day shenanigans! (By the way, I can find a way to justify anything I want. Just you wait!!)

A few weeks ago, we took a trip to Rip's parents' ranch. We visit every few months. Sometimes the four of us go, often one of us will go with one of the kiddos, but this time we all went! Rip, me, both boys, plus Christina & Chance.

Any trip to the ranch is an adventure, but this was even better because it was Christina's first trip. She'd been hearing about it for years, & had a whole list of things to do. In no particular order, she wanted to drive a tractor, see the cows, ride the four-wheeler, buy boots, go fishing, shoot guns, ride in the canoe, and go to the local general store. Giddyup!!

We managed to accomplish most of what she wanted. The only thing we didn't do was shoot guns. (Okay with me, by the way. I am NOT a gun girl. I couldn't believe she knew how to shoot a gun! Seriously, Christina??)

Chance and Mason fished,

Christina drove the tractor in the pasture, while Mason pretended to drive it in the barn,

we visited Maggie Moo & Jeff Gordon (Mason's cow and bull calf),

we all took a turn on the four-wheeler,

we took a trip to the Round Top Mercantile,

Christina got her canoe outing,

And of course, we bought boots. Christina and I both wanted "Taylor Swift/sundress" boots, and boy, did we get 'em!! Hers were kind of a tan, frayed denim, and mine were soft chocolate brown leather with pink hearts and swirls. Both have cute little heels and are fun and sassy! Well, of course, no trip to the Brenham Saddle Shop would have been complete without little boy boots. As we were picking boots for Mason, I had an amusing conversation with the very sweet and well-intentioned associate in the boot department:

her: "Will he be wearing them with Wranglers? Dress pants? Or to work outside?"

me: "Ummm, we live in the suburbs. He's going to wear them to play dress up,
with his jammies, and perhaps in the sandbox."

So we ended up with authentic, expensive, and *blue* cowboy boots. And he does loooooooove them!!

As if all that wasn't enough, we sat on the porch and listened to the crickets sing, we ate like royalty (thanks to Rip and Daryl on the grill, to Susan in the kitchen, and to Grandma for her trademark dewberry pie!), and we had a hilarious game of softball in the yard with Clint, Stacy, and their girls. All of us were hot, tired, and dusty, but sad to leave the peaceful ranch behind. Until next time!!