Saturday, August 30, 2014

August Photo Dump

Here are some other August happenings.... 
 We had the best college roommate sleepover the night of Baby #3 shower. 
 Kris and I had so much fun spending time with Lindsay and Beau (even though we missed Knox desperately!) and we are so glad the Barry's are in College Station now! Hoping for many more roomie sleepovers soon. 
Have you ever seen cuter babies than Beau and Shea!? 
The "Big" kids played non-stop for all hours of the night. Hair, makeup, glitter tattoos and the nail salon got the majority of the attention.
I love this morning pic of Kinley and Shea Shea. 

 We went to the Grapevine Mills Aquarium with the Bartels one day. 
How cool is this kid with his sunglasses, spikey hair and shark shirt? 
IMG_3076 Ty and SR are obsessed with sting rays. 
These girls are ALWAYS posing... 
Like typical...Ty and SR can't be bothered to look up from the shark teeth for a picture and the girls can't stop posing and just smile.
 We also couldn't visit the mall without a trip to the food court and a carousel ride.

 Later that night we ate dinner in Grapevine with daddy and couldn't pass by the vintage train without a stop for admiring and pictures. 
 I just love this train phase that Ty is in. 
 It is one of my favorites. 
 So excited for a train 3rd birthday party coming soon! 
Kinley doesn't go anywhere really without her American Girl, Lila, and mine from when I was a little girl, Kirsten. 
 I guess they needed a train ride too. 

Kinley got to spend a long day with the Bartels for a play date on her own one Saturday. They went to Arabella's painting birthday party and just played. 
 One last long playdate before Kinder. 
IMG_3113 IMG_3111 IMG_3114 
 We did the ice bucket challenge over here....along with everyone else :) 
 Ben and I got to go to the Bass Hall to see the Tribute - a 1964 Beatles tribute band with Cheryl, Mendy, Alex and Francesca. 
 It was a fun night out. 
IMG_3118 IMG_3117

I have blogged before about how sad I am going to be when my kids don't want to be with me 24/7 while we are at home, including while I get ready. 
 From when Kinley was an infant I put the baby swing in my bathroom and she would swing through my shower, hair dryer and getting ready. 
Then she and Ty would sit with me in the bumbo or bouncer or their pottery barn chair inside my closet while I got ready or put on makeup. 
 The trend continues at this house and even as they have aged a bit. 
 And, I love it. 
 Here is Ty practicing his hair drying skills. 
And trying on Dad's boots 

 Also, this melted my heart one night when I got back from bible study and Ben had put the kids in bed and I found this from Kinley on the door from the garage as a note to me when I got home. 
Ty and I had some fun Kinley's first full Friday of school at Jump for Fun and met up with Jessica & Ali and their littles. Then Ben came to surprise us and took us to a fun lunch date! 
  IMG_3284 IMG_3287 
Superman on the Superman bounce house IMG_3290 
And if it resembles a train table...of course he spends lots of time there IMG_3294 
Bringing these kids back together after a long day apart is the sweetest.
 I love how they LOVE each other and constantly want to be together. 
 August has been awesome, but we are ready for September! 
 Bring on babies, birthdays and more college football :) 
photo 2-3

Thursday, August 28, 2014


We got to meet Kinley's teacher, Mrs. Richardson, Thursday night before school started.
She is brand new at Kinley's school and precious and I kind of want to be her best friend.
She looks so young at first I thought she was right out of college but, she has been teaching Kinder for 10 years and is around my age and has 3 kids.
 She is so, so sweet and Kinely took to her instantly.
  IMG_3175 IMG_3180 IMG_3181
All summer when you ask her if she is excited about going to Kindergarten she always said "I am a little excited and a little bit scared."
 She knows herself so well.
We have been reading "The Night before Kindergarten" (a sweet gift from AG) and a few other Kindergarten books for at least a week before school started and the real "night before" we read it and she was a little weepy.
 The nerves had taken full force and all the hype was starting to wear her down.
We all prayed over her for a great day and year and that the nerves would subside and only excitement would prevail in the morning.
I have learned that it is much easier for me to cope with change and transition if I just celebrate it.  So that's what we did for the first morning of Kindergarten.
 I decorated and made a teacher gift (that I totally copied from Kristen) and made her Minnie Mouse pancakes.  I think Ty was more excited than Kinley.
 He kept saying:
"Yay for Kinley!"
 "Yay for Kindergarten!"
"Good job Kinley!"
Through prayer and the celebration we turned that nervousness into excitement and she never uttered another word about being nervous that morning.
IMG_5781 IMG_3247 IMG_5787 IMG_5784
The backpack...oh the backpack.
This and school shoes were probably what I went most back and forth about regarding kindergarten prep. We looked on countless websites, in catalogs, and made multiple trips to multiple stores to find the one she wanted. We still finally decided on this one only after I agreed we could personalize it.
  It's a Herschel backpack that we ordered Amazon Prime and it came the day before school started. Her hot pink glitter patch came the first day of school so, this is what it looks like now.
Thank goodness, she loves it.
We took some first day pics at home and at school.
  IMG_5789 IMG_5791 IMG_5790
I kept getting lots of sweet encouragement texts that morning from family and friends knowing I was taking Kinley and I was trying my best to hold all the emotions back until after I dropped her off. But, Kinley asked if we could all draw hearts on our hands so if we missed each other during the day we could look at it and I lost it.
I cried the whole way to school.
 I got it together to actually walk her in.
We all went with her and hugged and kissed and said goodbye and then she never looked back.
IMG_3251 IMG_5792
She loved hanging her backpack on her own personalized hook and she started her activity at her table and was ready for us to go. She was so excited and she did not hesitate for a second.
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I don't know who was more excited to pick her or Ty.
As much as it affects me that Kinley is gone 5 days a week now, I think he is the most affected. He really misses her. They are best friends and are laughing, playing, sleeping, even just sitting together 24 hours a day. It will be good when he starts school and at least 3 days he will be busy and not missing her.
Overall, it was a big success.
When I asked her about her first day, she said she loved it and the hype of sending her off is over now.
But, I have to admit,
I got home with Ben and Ty after dropping her off and immediately went into her room to clean it up and make her bed and had another good cry.
 I can't even explain it.
 It is NOT sad at all.
I am SO, SO excited for her.
It is just a monumental moment for that one morning.
A milestone that seems so far away when they are babies but comes so, so quickly.
I am about to hold and rock and nurse a new baby and that was Kinley just a blink of an eye ago.
Everyone says it,
it is nothing new,
nothing you haven't heard before but it is just surreal when it happens.
My first baby is not a baby at all anymore.

It has been a couple days now and we did our first school project, just a banner for the teacher to hang on the wall about Kinley.
photo 1-1

And though I think each day gets easier and more fun for Kinley, I do think day 4, her first FULL day of Kinder, was the hardest on me so far.
The first three days were half days and I got to walk her to her classroom and hand her off to her teacher personally and still have lunch with her.
But, the first full day, when I wasn't allowed to walk her in the classroom anymore, and I had to drop her off and watch her get out of the car herself, grab her backpack, close the door and walk away into the building was another moment all together.

I just sat there in my car with the others behind me watching her walk as far as I could until I made sure she walked in the right door.
She looked so little with that big backpack and I could barely see her through the tears, but I couldn't move
or drive away.
It was the toughest so far.
When I picked her up, I peppered her with too many questions about
how was it walking to her class by herself?
Did she go to PE?
Was she wearing the right shoes?
Did she like eating lunch in the cafeteria?
Who did she sit by?
Did she get the note I wrote her?

I remember my mom always loving to pick us kids up so she could have us and our undivided attention in the car even for a few minutes to ask us questions about the day while it was fresh on our mind.
And I love it too.
I don't want to miss a second of it.

 I thank God for the blessing of these moments with my kids and pray we get more and more and I don't take one for granted because it so sweet.
I pray she is prepared for the challenges of school but, mostly that she is just sweet and obedient and loving and a good friend.
I pray that through the challenges and new experiences she faces, she has the security to know that God loves her and is with her, even when Ben and I are not.
I pray that she rests securely that we will always be there for her to pick her up and listen and ask question after question, because we love her and care so much about every detail of her life...the way God cares about us all.

I love you Kinley Gay.
You made me a mommy and I am so proud of you and so, so thankful God blessed me with you. 

CW 2014 and Pepa's 90th Birthday

The last weekend of August was Cousins Weekend 2014. 
 It is seriously a week we look forward to all year long. 
 There is intense scheduling and online polls involved to be sure everyone can attend and there are lots of hilarious emails that go around weeks in advance to just get everyone even more excited. 
 It is such a special weekend with our family that is just precious to us and we are fiercely protective to keep it going despite growing families and even busier schedules. 
The only person missing this year was Brooke, which was hard on all of us and her...but, we all agreed we would rather be where she was...moving in her dorm, starting sorority Rush, and getting ready for freshman year at the greatest school on earth, Texas A&M. 
 We are so proud of her and of us has been where she is and went to A&M so, it is just one more thing that bonds us together. 
 We invite them every year, but, this is the first year Alex & Mendy have been able to attend cousins weekend too. 
 They are pretty much like family to everyone else that goes as well, not just Ben and I so everyone was excited they could join too. 
 I am terrible at taking pictures at cousins weekend because I really am just soaking up every minute with everyone and totally removed from all responsibility. I can't really explain it but, all I can say is that my stomach hurts every night from laughing so hard. 
It is so, so much fun.
  IMG_3220 Ben and Scott took over shirt making responsibilities from me this year because I just didn't have the time and energy (being 9 months pregnant and Kinley starting school, etc).  
And I think I may permanently hand over the position. 
 They did an awesome job and were hands down everyone's favorite shirts yet. 
IMG_3207 copy IMG_3208 
Look at this newly engaged couple...are they not the cutest!?
We boated most of the day on Saturday...and apparently I took a lot of selfies.... IMG_3210 IMG_3212 IMG_3213 IMG_3214 

 And on Sunday, we picked up and headed home to shower and change and come back together to surprise Pepa for his 90th birthday! 
 We met at LaHacienda and had a private room and surprised him and it was so sweet. He was genuinely so, so thankful and surprised and just felt like the luckiest guy around that we met him for dinner. 
  IMG_5726 IMG_5729 IMG_5730 Ty never wants to pose in a picture, ever. 
So sometimes we just look like Kinley is our only kid. 
Oh, there he made it. 
All the Howes. 
All the Grant kids. 
It was so fun to be together again and with our kids, parents and grandparents. 
IMG_5733 IMG_5740 IMG_5762 
The horses outside were a hit with my kids... 
IMG_5763 IMG_5778 
.....not so much with Rilee and Taylor. 
 How cute are they!? 
Uncle Ben toasting Pepa
  IMG_5745 Pepa gave a talk too.... IMG_5750 
Singing Happy Birthday and blowing out candles with lots of help. 
IMG_5757 IMG_5759 
Momma Gay & Pepa with their kids 
with all their grands and great-grands (minus Brooke)
  IMG_5765 The great-grands
Happy 90th Birthday Pepa!  
I have all four grandparents turning 90 this year, so there is a lot of celebrating to be had.