October 29, 2010

Fall Festival

Hamilton and I joined Mr. Morgan for lunch at Atlas's fall festival. Hamilton was the cutest bumblebee I've ever seen. Mom's idea and design was to make a costume from this striped fabric she had on hand. She stuffed it with plastic bags, and she fashioned the little hat which Hamilton actually kept on most of the day.
He chatted up a cute cupcake during the costume contest, which ended in a four-way tie with all the kids.

Ordering Prints

For the first few months of Hamilton's life, I was diligent about posting all the pictures I took onto Snapfish. However, after about September 2009 life got busier, and my uploading hundreds of pictures every month did not happen. Hence, we don't have many prints of Hamilton, and both our families are always asking about getting our pictures.

I finally did a little research to discover that Blogger (who hosts this blog) and Picasa (who hosts the pictures from this blog in a web album) make ordering prints of the very pictures you see on the blog so simple. There's a permanent link on our blog's sidebar titled Photo Album which will take readers to our Picasa web album. That Morgan Adventures album hosts all the pictures that are part of the blog.

To order prints of pictures you see on this blog, select an image, which enlarges the image on a new page. Then click the Prints drop-down menu near the top of the page, and select Order Prints. That image is added to your cart; continue adding other images to your cart in this way. To view your cart and order prints, click view in the yellow box near the top of the page.

On the Order Prints page, you'll see all the print providers you can use to buy your prints. Click the name of your preferred print provider to see an order screen. You can even order prints through Walgreens and pick up the prints at your neighborhood store.

October 28, 2010

Stone Mountain

We did visit the actual mountain after our day spent at the Country Living Fair. Mr. Morgan had never seen it, and it'd been 15 years or more since our family had been there. There were lots of folks sitting on the lawn in preparation for the laser light show; however, we still needed supper, and we didn't think Hamilton would last way past bedtime even for lasers.

We never figured out what all the scaffolding and construction were for, and directly behind that was a big pile of machine-made snow--another mystery. Both obstructed otherwise scenic pictures of us in front of Stone Mountain.
As we sat on the lawn, Hamilton enjoyed pointing to the gondolas traveling up to the top of the mountain each time they passed by.

Hamilton at the Fair

Hamilton mostly pal'd around with Pops while Mom and I walked through the vendors at the Country Living Fair. After his afternoon nap, Hamilton had lots of energy, so we took a break to get a snack and snap some pictures of him with a huge pile of pumpkins serving as a photo spot for many folks. He was obsessed with the little, green-and-yellow-striped pumpkins.
I asked Hamilton to sit beside the pumpkins, but in doing so he dirtied his hands on the grass and straw. Here he's wiping them off as has become his habit when they get any dirt on them.
Hamilton's again excited about a striped pumpkin, though I think it's a different one from before.
 
During our photo shoot, Hamilton was distracted by a bright-yellow biplane that kept circling above the fair. I ended up with twenty pictures of his hand in the air signaling "airplane." Pops was such a trooper entertaining Hamilton most of the day.
How he continues to drum up such enthusiasm and excitement over the striped pumpkins is so cute.
I tried to get my child to sit closer to me for the photo, but his sitting while I was sitting was the best I could do.
Under the covered shelter, Hamilton found more delights like these dogs framed in wire and stuffed with moss.
 

Back in the Swing

Why does it seem to take as many days to recover from a vacation as the duration of the vacation itself? I've been recovering all week from our long weekend spent mostly in Georgia. I'm finally seeing the end of the laundry and putting away now-empty suitcases. This morning I have a little time to myself to blog, sip tea, and eat my delicious asiago cheese bagel while Hamilton is at school.

Since Saturday was Mr. Morgan's 35th birthday, I planned a great trip for us which included two different days of bike riding for him. (And, Mom and I got to visit the Country Living Fair at Stone Mountain State Park.) We did the bulk of our celebrating on Friday night at our hotel suite: Mom had made a delicious cake, and we'd all brought our presents for the birthday boy.
Mom and Dad gave Mr. Morgan a much-needed and much-asked-for music stand for his banjo practicing. Travis gave him an iTunes gift card, so Mr. Morgan could purchse the new Taylor Swift album that was released on Monday. Hamilton has already enjoyed dancing to the new tunes.
With MUCH help from Mom, I gave Mr. Morgan a t-shirt quilt we'd compiled from nearly 30 of his t-shirts. He loved it!
The quilt is made of mostly biking t-shirts and Atlas t-shirts, but a few are even from high school and college.

October 18, 2010

Last Shot

Hamilton and I went to his 15-month appointment this morning. He lit up the office talking and flirting with the receptionist, other patients, and the nurse. However, as soon as the doctor came in, he got shy. His doctor is a young woman with a soft voice and a great way of dealing with kids. There's no explanation for his shyness; maybe he knew he wouldn't love the physical exam. He was skeptical of the ear and eye check, and the belly check made him cry though I think he was just frightened because of the uncertainty of what was happening.

He had a great checkup overall, weighing in at 25 pounds. He's 31 inches tall, and he's in the 50th percentile for both height and weight. Hamilton did well with his one vaccination, but I'm so glad he doesn't have any more until he's four.

October 15, 2010

New Curtains

Since this past Monday was Columbus Day, Mr. Morgan had the day off from work. I took full advantage of his being home by requesting that we finally get our new curtains hung in the piano room. Deb made these fabulous curtains for us and delivered them to us weeks ago, so I was eager to get them up.
I love the way they turned out; it makes the whole room better.
This "piano" room has been a bit of a design struggle for me since we moved in over four years ago. I knew I didn't need or want to use the room as a formal living room; but with all the stuff we've had in there over the years, it tended to look cluttered and without purpose at times. So after several attempts to redefine and refine the space, I think I mostly like the way it looks. Housing our stuffed bookshelves, Claire's computer, the piano, and miscellaneous chairs, the space works for what we need. Now I just need to find a good rug that will tie it all together.

October 14, 2010

Rescue

I LOVE the story of the Chilean miners' rescue. I've listened to the play-by-play coverage of Fox News over the past three days, and last night we watched a 20/20 special Miracle at the Mine. I was fascinated by the resolve of the Chilean people and government officials who kept their focus on the rescue of the miners. The minister of mining was at the mine 17 days after the accident, as the rescuers were still searching for unlikely signs of life when they finally got the note--We're fine. All 33 miners.

The Chilean government welcomed help from around the world, and 20/20 reported that eight countries helped drill the half-mile, 26-inch-wide hole into the earth, design the escape pod for the miners, and construct a steel cable strong enough to lower and raise the escape pod through the earth nearly 40 times. The Chilean government spent $30 million on the rescue mission.

The cheering and chanting when each rescued miner emerged from the earth was so touching. I was amazed to learn the families had set up a "village" there in the desert near the mine with tents and RVs, a cafeteria serving donated food, a church providing Catholic Mass, and a school for the children. Seeing each reunion of the family members with their miners was heartwarming, and their emotions unfathomable. These men are "national heros," and there will be book and movie deals, fame and fortune; but I wonder how each miner's outlook on his life and family has changed in the little ways that can make a big difference.

Party Time

Mr. Morgan and I have been invited to a Halloween party in a few weeks. Some good friends whom we don't see often are hosting, so while we don't get giddy about the holiday, we want to attend the party. We have childcare arranged, but we don't have any good, easy costume ideas. I've been thinking of playing up my pregnant belly, but it's not big enough for some of the costume ideas I've seen online. Any ideas for fun, couple costumes?

October 13, 2010

About Airplanes

Hamilton is obsessed with airplanes. We’ve been spending lots of time outside, so we’ve heard and seen lots of airplanes pass overhead. He learned the sign for airplane quickly, since the sight and loud noise are unique. Hamilton associates any loud, engine noise he hears outside with airplanes, though many times I have to say, “No, that’s a truck.”

As soon as he hears a loud noise that he thinks could be an airplane, his whole body gets still. His eyes open really wide while he listens, and he cocks his head ever so slightly.
Then he lifts his hand into the air and makes a grunt that sounds nothing like airplane, but I know what he means because the sign is unmistakable. As the sound gets louder, he looks into the sky to see the airplane.
Last weekend our dear friend Jenny babysat for Hamilton; and when we returned, she lifted her hand into the air and said, “What does this mean?”

“Oh, was Hamilton doing that outside?” I asked. She nodded. “Yeah, he heard an airplane and wanted you to know.”

My Red Hair

We love Abby Koch—our cute, precocious, three-year-old friend. Abby always speaks to me and Mr. Morgan at church or small group, and we usually get hugs, too.

About six weeks ago, my encounter at church with Abby was different from normal. As I said hello and good morning to Abby, she stared at me, looking a bit bewildered. Deliberately, but a little flustered, she said, “Gray, uh, your hair is RED.” She said this like she thought I might be unaware that my hair was so offensively red.

(I had recently colored my hair, as I’ve done for years; however, this “red” was particularly screaming. I got high-fives from all the high-school girls at church, as my crazy-red hair made me instantly a lot cooler.)

“Yes, my hair is red. Do you like it?” I asked. Abby scrunched up her face and looked like she would like to avoid the question before shaking her head ever so slightly. Put Abby down as “not a fan”; she and Mom would see eye-to-eye.

The next time I saw Abby we had a similar conversation. The next week she again commented on my red hair, though she informed me that I’d put something on my hair to make it red. Tiffany told me that my hair had been the topic of conversation at the Koch house, where Tiffany explained to Abby how dyes work.

Abby’s a child who doesn’t like change, and I don’t think she ever got used to my “new” hair color. With the passing of several weeks, my flaming red hair has calmed. This past Sunday Abby greeted me and remarked excitedly, “I like your hair, Gray.”

October 12, 2010

Praise and Recognition

Hamilton loves praise. He especially loves my clapping for him and saying, “Yay Hamilton!” He usually joins in the fun and claps for himself along with me; I suppose self-praise at his age is as rewarding as Mama’s.

He claps for himself when he puts his milk back in the correct location on his highchair’s tray. I began clapping for him when he did this to encourage him not to throw his milk on the floor. Amanda gave me the idea; she said it had worked for her with Grady. And, just like Grady Hamilton places his milk several times in a row just to see me clap for him.

I taught Hamilton to crawl backwards out of the porch, since the step down is too large to accommodate his gait safely. After a few demonstrations, Hamilton began safely leaving the porch for the backyard. Since I began by clapping for him when he finished, he often still claps for himself when he crawls correctly across any threshold.

Praise and cheering have proved to be useful motivational and instructional tools for Hamilton. I have a similar affinity for praise, though I prefer recognition to blatant cheering. Many times I know already and can tell myself that I’ve done a “good job”; I just like people to notice. I don’t think recognition is my initial and most primal motivation for doing most things; however, recognition encourages me to continue even if a task is difficult. I’ve enjoyed working for bosses who recognize the accomplishments of their employees, but now that I’m at home working for myself and my family recognition looks different. I’m thankful for a husband who recognizes the work I do most all the time, even though he remarked on the same, recurring task the day before. He’s a big, necessary encouragement to me as I muddle through some days.

Great for Sharing

Last week we enjoyed this recipe that's so easy and delicious. The refrigerated mashed potatoes almost feel like cheating, but it's so much quicker than peeling, cooking, and mashing your own. I've also prepared it for a friend who needed a meal, and it warms again nicely too.

October 7, 2010

My Latest Novel

I just finished my second Philippa Gregory book in a little over a week. I’ve really enjoyed this author because she writes historical fiction about 16th-century England. The books I’ve read are told from first-person, which makes these historical books feel more up-to-date and authentic. The two books I’ve read are about the juicy, turbulent times of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth, making for hard-to-put-down stories. However, I have two problems with her writing: She does not use commas appropriately, and she doesn’t use proper English grammar many times.

When two sentences are joined by a conjunction (e.g., and, but, so) to form one sentence, the sentence warrants a comma before the conjunction. I realize this observation may be more for her editor, but it distracts from her great storytelling ability. I’ve edited too much writing (my own and others’) to be able to ignore repeated, blatant errors. There are other times she omits necessary commas, but the comma before a conjunction is my biggest beef.

From The Other Boleyn Girl on page 177, Gregory writes, “From the leads of the castle we could see the beacon bonfires burning all the way to London and the city itself was red against the night sky with fires at every street corner and men spit-roasting carcasses of beef and lamb.” It’s a lengthy sentence that longs for a comma or two. Without a doubt a comma is needed between the two independent clauses that are joined by a conjunction—“…to London, and the city itself….” I would not draw attention to her aversion of commas if it didn’t happen so often and repeatedly throughout the novel. Her sentences are sometimes long and the paragraphs long, so the reader needs commas to help delineate the text and aid in comprehension.

My second problem is a little pickier. Since people usually don’t speak with correct grammar, it’s harder to notice when an author doesn’t use a possessive pronoun before a gerund or “who” when “whom” is required. Before I lose the interest of all you grammar-phobes, here’s a simple example to explain the use of a possessive pronoun before a gerund.

Betty really wanted to go to the party, and I didn’t want my going to the game to mess up her plans.

Now, most people do not speak this way, though it’s correct grammatically. Most people say, “…I didn’t want me going to the game….” If the possessive pronoun sounds funny to your ears, try replacing the gerund “going” with an appropriate, recognizable-sounding noun, such as “trip.” I don’t think anyone would say, “…I didn’t want me trip to the game….” Keep in mind a gerund is the present-progressive form of a verb (i.e., an -ing word) being used as a noun.

Because this novel is about 16th-century England, I feel like her narrator and other characters would use correct English. So her continued misuse of grammar doesn’t feel authentic for the characters; it feels more like she as the author doesn’t know the correct grammar. Perhaps she needs a better editor.

Writers' Group

I've joined a writers' group, and I feel so excited and decidedly cool to write that. While Hamilton was playing at school, I met three fellow writers at a coffee shop. We're wives and mothers, published writers and homemakers. Some of us blog or intend to blog, and some of us write professionally. We chatted about our writing styles, our goals and aspirations in our writing, and our expectations for the group. And, we all agreed we wanted accountability and encouragement in our writing.

While blogging is great in some ways for motivating me to write--I have regular readers, I feel like I've gotten into a rut with the topics about which I feel comfortable blogging. So my desire is to blog and write about new topics and things that are a little bit out of my comfort zone. I know all my readers love "Claire-isms" and pictures of Hamilton, and those topics will continue to be featured at Morgan Adventures. However, I'm also hoping to explore other topics that I haven't made the time to write about or felt like I could sufficiently write about before.

So don't be surprised by an out-of-the-ordinary blog post; I'll be trying some new topics and styles. I hope my wonderful, reliable readers will enjoy the journey.

October 6, 2010

Fifteen Months Old

Hamilton was officially fifteen months yesterday, though I took these pictures this morning before school while we waited on the front porch for "Miss Amanda" to arrive for carpooling. Since it was 45 degrees this morning when we woke up, I dug around for some fall clothes for Hamilton and found these which he'd been given as a baby.

Hamilton loves to play outside, and we've spent most of the week in the backyard. Hamilton loves to carry around "treasures"; these plastic shovels have been favorites for a few weeks. Treasures work best if they're small and fit into his hand, making them easy to carry around. Last night his chosen treasure--the plastic tray off the top of his highchair--was way too big and cumbersome, so he got irritated and cried/fussed while dragging and playing with the plastic tray that's almost as big as he is.

He's great at giving kisses now whenever asked, though he always wants to shower whoever else is around with kisses too. There's nothing better than getting a wet kiss from that little boy, especially as a "good-bye" when I strap him in Miss Amanda's car for school.

He's using two more signs now--cheese and help. Cheese is a favorite food and probably the one he consumes the quickest. Hamilton asks for help when he wants to get onto the couch on the porch with me. He'll sit for a few seconds on the cushions like a big boy, smiling and looking impressed with himself; then he properly gets down by himself, going feet first. Immediately he'll ask for help again to get back up on the couch, and the cycle continues. I usually only help him onto the couch once; I know his wiley ways.

Hamilton's still enjoying school, though he is so glad to see me when I pick him up. His note home from school today said, "Hamilton enjoyed playing with cars today, and he makes great sound effects."

October 4, 2010

New Toys

video
Last week when Deb was visiting, she suggested that Hamilton needed some new toys, so off we went in search of quality, used toys. We found lots of great toys at reasonable prices that Hamilton has loved, but his favorite new toy by far has been the Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal Set. He loves the music it makes right now, though I'm sure eventually he'll enjoy playing with the animals and finding their matches.

October 1, 2010

Garage Redo

Back near the end of July, I decided to tackle the garage. I knew we'd have to put some money into a good storage system, and I wanted to completely change the organization of it. Our current system was not working, and I was determined that it could be better. Mr. Morgan works on so many projects out in the garage--bikes, cars, lawn equipment, and we store unused and seldom-used items out there because our attic is so small.

Organizing all the lawn equipment, tools, bikes, toys, ladders (we had 3), baby stuff, chairs, etc. was an enormous undertaking, and I didn't know how long this project would take when I started. I may have been less enthusiastic if I had known. Below is the garage just before I started clearing everything out and sorting into piles.
Earlier that morning I had been to Lowe's to pick up some necessary, heavy-duty, storage units. The two men who helped me to my car with the flatbed cart and regular buggie were so surprised that it all fit.
 
After two months of countless hours of Mr. Morgan and I working together, going through every box and tool, we finally finished. Some weeks were lost to my new pregnancy and feeling bad, so we could possibly have finished a bit sooner if we hadn't gotten pregnant in the middle of the project. I'm SO happy about the way it turned out, and Mr. Morgan has been great at keeping it organized after working on projects.