February 27, 2011

Short Weekend

This weekend seemed so short now that we're back at home. Maybe it was the hours of wretching I did before, during, and after our extra-long, blur-of-a-trip to Mountville. Thank you, stomach bug. I am thankful, though, that no one else in the family has yet to get sick, and I was only feeling bad for Friday afternoon and evening. Though the trip was rough, having Mom and Dad to help us with the kids while I was lying in the bed made me thankful we'd made the trip. (And, after being packed up, excited, and ready for a weekend at the farm with Mimi and Pops, how could I say to the kids and Mr. Morgan, "We can't go now; I'm sick." That just would not do.)
By Saturday I was feeling much better, and I ventured out to the garden that Dad has expanded this year to include more grapevines and blueberries. We all spent much of the morning there. Claire enjoyed helping Pops stake the small grapevines in the new part of the garden.
Hamilton expended most of his energy on walking around and falling down on the uneven, ploughed earth. His little feet were no match for the tilled land.
He got frustrated often when walking, but he enjoyed playing inside and around the garden house, which had firmer ground surrounding it.
My usually-grinning son will not smile for my camera nowadays. He does, however, say "cheese" when we prompt him for a picture. Hence, the puckered lips below.

February 24, 2011

Disappointed

Many of you have been asking about Claire's status at the School of the Arts. Well, I called the school today to see if Claire was accepted, but she was not. We'll pick up Claire tomorrow, so we'll be able to tell her then. Mr. Morgan and I are disappointed but not surprised really. There were hundreds of kids who auditioned for only 15 open spots in sixth-grade visual arts. I hope Claire won't be too devastated, and she can always audition again next year. Thank you to everyone who prayed for Claire's audition day! We're super proud of the effort Claire made, but we know the Lord is preparing a spot for her in another great middle school.

February 22, 2011

Monkey Joe's

Hamilton and I went with our neighbor Kristin and her son Logan to Monkey Joe's this morning. Monkey Joe's just opened in January, and it's an inflatable, indoor playground for kids. We had the place to ourselves, which was great for safety and calmness, but the little boys weren't quite sure what to do with no bigger kids showing them how to play. They preferred running around on the floor mats and squishy carpet in their socks to jumping and bouncing in the inflatable houses.
The boys weren't adventurous in the inflatable houses, but they did seem to have a good time.
Hamilton enjoyed the arcade games and rides, and I eagerly showed them to him knowing he wouldn't realize they required money to "work."
The lights, buttons, and demo screens of the games were enough entertainment for Hamilton. How I will miss these days when he's bumming quarters from me.

Billboard

 
A few days ago I saw a billboard in Charleston advertising Southwest's nonstop service to Nashville starting in March. This news is exciting for us because Papa Joe and Grandma Judy live just two hours from Nashville! With a nonstop flight, we'd cut our travel time to visit them by more than half. We haven't traveled to Tennessee in nearly a year because traveling with a cranky-in-the-car-after-two-hours toddler made no sense. But a ten-minute ride to Charleston's small airport, a two-hour flight to Nashville, and a two-hour car ride to Paris seems much less daunting.

February 21, 2011

Sidewalk Chalk

Hamilton played outside most of this beautiful day, and he thoroughly enjoyed covering himself in sidewalk-chalk dust.

Holiday Mornings

Since Mr. Morgan was off today, he got up with Hamilton when he started talking just after 7 am, letting me sleep a few more minutes. I came downstairs later to find my boys wrapped in the t-shirt quilt watching Thomas and Friends. They both looked so cozy and content.

February 20, 2011

Helping Daddy

Saturday morning Hamilton helped Mr. Morgan feed the dogs their breakfast. Fortunately, Phoebe is not opposed to eating her food off the floor.
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February 19, 2011

Wisconsin Protests

Maybe you've been following the news coverage of the protests in Wisconsin this past week. For a local perspective, check out Althouse, a blog written by a law professor in Madison, Wis. She offers great coverage of signs and protesters from both sides. She presents striking details and interesting coverage of the protests in a much different way from the national news.

Our Babysitter

Though our plans for tonight changed at the last minute, Mr. Morgan and I took advantage of our already-booked babysitter by going out for dinner and a movie. We enjoyed sushi at our favorite sushi bar in North Charleston before catching an early movie. I'm so thankful for our delightful babysitter Jenny. It's so reassuring to have an adult watch over little Hamilton while we're out. And, she's totally fun, so Hamilton loves her.

February 18, 2011

Friday

We're enjoying beautiful, 70-degree weather here today! Mr. Morgan came home early from work this afternoon, and we've sat outside on the porch with the doors open most of the afternoon. Hamilton loves the openness of the house, and he's taken full advantage by going inside then outside then back inside, dragging his toys behind him. I'm thankful for the pleasant outlook for this long weekend's weather. Maybe we'll even get some yard work started.

A special, Mr. Morgan-requested lasagna is in the oven, and we're putting Hamilton to bed soon. We'll be able to spend time together and have a special dinner with adult conversation, which is overdue since we didn't really do much for Valentine's Day. Here's to the start of a great weekend!

February 16, 2011

Strings

Claire's Strings group performed last night at her school's Family Reading Night. We enjoyed a catered meal while we listened to the fifth-graders play their stringed instruments. My ears were definitely nervous about listening to such a big group of still-learning voilin, viola, and cello players. Thankfully, the Strings teacher's piano accompaniment made the sound tolerable. Claire said she was nervous while playing, but we couldn't tell. Claire's face is one of the only ones you can see in this shot because she's not totally covered up by her music stand. Providentially, we blindly chose seats right in front of where Claire was sitting during her performance.
I recorded part of their performance, so we could remember what Claire's viola playing sounded like as a fifth-grader just starting out.
video
Hamilton was so proud of Claire. He kept saying, "Sissy," pointing to the stage throughout her performance. He especially loved clapping at the end of each song.
video

February 15, 2011

Children's Museum

Hamilton and I spent the morning at the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry with Amanda and Grady, who have a family pass. Hamilton loves this place, and I love it because he's able to run around and explore everything without my having to follow so closely after him. He thoroughly enjoys the WaterWise room because of all the boats and water to splash in.
Notice how the water-soaked "paintbrush" for the chalkboard went straight to Hamilton's mouth.
I love the little, plastic smocks the museum provides, so his clothes stay as dry as possible despite Hamilton's best efforts.
We usually finish our time at the museum in the toddler play-area that has comfy chairs for me and lots of toys and other children for Hamilton to enjoy.
Hamilton found a comfy spot of his own to enjoy his pretzels.

February 14, 2011

Writing Assignment

This afternoon while Hamilton slept I began my fictional-character writing assignment. I think I'd been putting off even starting the assignment because fiction writing is not what I feel comfortable doing. I probably haven't written "creatively" since middle school. Our writers' group decided we'd stretch ourselves, since none of us are fiction writers. We are each creating a fictional character, and we're bringing our descriptions back to the group to incorporate our characters into a scene.

Once I opened up a blank Word document, my first thought was to describe someone I know because that would be easier for me. Since the purpose was to stretch my writing skills, I forced myself to get creative and actually imagine a new character. I started by visualizing what my character would look like. Then I answered some character-building questions about how my character would act in certain situations. Once I started, I found that the process got easier. I'm not sure what my fellow writers will think of my character, but I'm beginning to like her.

Happy Talentods Day

I received a sweet text message from Mr. Morgan this morning wishing me a "happy talentods day." Back when we were dating (before we had BlackBerrys), my 2G cell phone's dictionary wouldn't allow me to text easily the word "valentine." Instead the dictionary would change the word to "talentods," which apparently was a more acceptable word. It's been five years since that Valentine's Day: I'm so happy that I married Mr. Morgan, and I'm thankful to have my BlackBerry.

February 11, 2011

Claire, the Author

As we walked in the house this afternoon after picking up Claire from school, she asked immediately, "Gray, can I type up the story I wrote in my journal?"

"Sure," I said, pleased but wondering what prompted her not only to write a story but to want to type it on the computer.

Claire was glued to the computer for the rest of the afternoon typing away until dinner. After dinner and bath, she brought me her printed story to read. It's fantastic and really cute. There's a clear voice in her writing that's entertaining and easy to read. As I praised her for the work she'd done so far, she said, "Do you think I could get it published?"

"Maybe," I said encouragingly.

"I mean, like, a kids' book publisher," she clarified.

Then Claire asked if we had enough time to watch a movie tonight, since Mr. Morgan had mentioned a family-movie-night earlier. As Mr. Morgan and I debated whether we had enough time, Claire said, "I thought I could finish my story if we didn't have time for a movie."

We gladly encouraged her to go finish her story, since she was so excited about it. As she sat down at the computer, Claire said, "Now, I'm going to be my author self."

The writer in me is feeling so proud but a bit "upstaged." I haven't written much of consequence this week, and I haven't even started on my fictional-character writing assignment from writers' group last week. Now 11-year-old Claire writes a whole children's book in one day.

Nineteen Months Old

Hamilton has officially been 19 months old for almost a week now, so I'm tardy in my progress update. I have seen big changes in my little boy in just the last month.
He uses so many of his words now most all the time, and he sometimes seems just to practice saying the words he knows with no real reason to say them. He'll say, "Mama, Dada, Mimi, Pahh, Sissy;" or he'll shout, "A car, a truh, a choo, a car, a truh, a truh." He can also say most of his friends' names now. "ARther" is the most distinct-sounding, but Arthur moved away last month. "Grady" is a harder name to conquer, though Hamilton does say both syllables. The "G" doesn't get pronounced, so "Ay-yee" is usually what we hear. We try to get Hamilton to say "West," but I'm not sure Hamilton realizes that's his friend's actual name.

Hamilton continues to use a spoon and fork when eating. I like to think he's so mindful of manners that even if he can't use the spoon to pick up food, he uses his fingers to put the food on his spoon before putting the spoon in his mouth. He's now mastered the sign for "all done" when he's through eating, and he says, "Da-aa, da-aa" to accompany the hand waving. Now that his teeth are coming in, he's eating better and seems less picky about foods. We had a rough week or so, using Anbesol twice a day on his swollen gums because the poor thing wouldn't take his fingers out of his mouth due to the pain.
I've noticed Hamilton has more control over his movements, as he walks, runs, and plays. In just a few short months his balance has improved, and he's able to do just about anything he wants to do. He practices walking on his tip-toes, and he often get to things that I thought were out of his reach.

Nearly every afternoon Hamilton sits with Mr. Morgan in the recliner while they watch the news and eat chips. Unfortunately, Hamilton knows where in the cabinet the chips are kept, so after naptime he begins pointing to the cabinet saying "Chi, chi."

Hamilton can point out most of the parts of his face and my face, which is really cute. He often starts this game by saying, "Eye," and putting his finger on his closed eye. We follow eye by identifying nose, hair, ear, mouth, and cheek. He's back to enjoying books, and he lets me read to him again. He also uses the sign for book to accompany his sound, "Buhh."
We're now consistently saying prayers with him at night before bedtime, and he quickly picked up on the bowed head, folded hands, and quiet words. Sometimes while one of us is praying, Hamilton interrupts with "prayers" of his own.

Hamilton is obsessed with throwing things in the trash can. He loves to find trash or be given trash to throw in the can. If he finds something he thinks is trash, he says, "tra, tra" until I reassure him that he's indeed found some trash and may throw it in the trash can.

Since he's obsessed with buttons and lights, Hamilton loves to help me with laundry. He puts dirty clothes in the washer, wet clothes in the dryer, and dry clothes in the laundry basket. Then he insists on pushing the buttons to turn on the washer and dryer. It's fun to have a cute, enthusiastic helper for mundane, household tasks.
We're enjoying all the new things Hamilton can do and say, but this boy keeps us running from the time he wakes to the time he goes to sleep. I'm so thankful he sleeps 12 hours each night and usually 2-3 hours for his afternoon nap. He spent four days this week with Mimi who summed it up this way: "He sure is busy!"

February 10, 2011

Fun Puzzle

Hamilton enjoyed putting his new puzzle together with Daddy this afternoon. Hamilton was excited to see the brightly colored pieces, and as he gets older he'll notice the shape of each puzzle corresponds to the shape of each item pictured on the puzzle.

February 9, 2011

Missing Hamilton

Hamilton has been hanging out at the farm with Mimi and Pops since Saturday. While it's been so nice and relaxing not to have him with me the last few days, I surprisingly miss him SO much more during this time away than any other before.

Mr. Morgan and I have enjoyed late, after-six-pm dinners and parties where we don't have a toddler to chase around. I've taken advantage of my alone time during the day to run errands during nap time, go outlet shopping, and sleep in late.

But I miss my little boy. He's such a part of my normal day at the house, and the house has seemed lonely and so empty at times without him. I'm picking him up today over lunch in Columbia where Mom's meeting me. I woke up this morning so excited to see him again!

Comments Restored

If you've tried to leave comments on the blog in the last week or so, you've been unsuccessful and most likely frustrated. I asked technology-savvy Mr. Morgan to look into the problem, and ten minutes later the comments were working again. Thanks to Papa Joe for bringing the problem to my attention via email.

February 7, 2011

Weekend Projects

We enjoyed a full and busy weekend with houseguests, birthday dinners, and parties. Mom, Dad, and Travis came Friday evening, and we ate dinner out at Evo--my choice since it was my birthday celebration. Back at the house, we devoured Boston creme pie and ice cream.

Saturday morning Mr. Morgan and Travis installed a rear-view camera in the Freestyle, while Mom and Dad helped me re-cover the cushions on our dining-room chairs. The fabric on the chairs was from my last house back in 2004, and some of the cushions showed considerable stains.
Mom and I found this fabulous fabric on one of our recent shopping trips.
With Mom's and Dad's expert help, we quickly had the old fabric covered with the fun, squiggly stripes.

February 3, 2011

A List

1. My favorite time of night is when both kids are in bed, and I can sit with my computer watching TV, blogging, or both. And, ice cream is usually not too far away either.

2. Thursday night we love to watch NBC, especially Parks and Recreation.

3. Sometimes it's hard to tell who's more excited--Hamilton or Mr. Morgan--about Mimi and Pops's coming this weekend. I'm excited too, by the way.

4. I opened my first birthday present tonight. Claire wrapped it and decorated the outside. Hamilton enjoyed helping me unwrap my gift, though he wasn't nearly as excited about the camera tripod as I was.

February 2, 2011

Toddler Cove

On Monday morning Hamilton and I ventured to the aquarium with our neighbors Kristin and Logan, her 17-month-old son. The sky was overcast, and it was sprinkling. But we were not deterred, since most of the aquarium exhibits are indoors. We arrived just after 9:30, and the ticket collector told us we could explore the newest exhibit--Toddler Cove. We didn't think it was opening until Tuesday, so we were pleasantly surprised to see it early. It was media day, so Hamilton and Logan had many pictures taken of them by the photographer from The Post and Courier. We'll see if they made the paper next Thursday when the story comes out.
Our toddlers loved Toddler Cove, especially the brightly colored fish tanks.
Hamilton and Logan enjoyed the open-topped fish tanks, as they both kept sneaking their fingers into the water despite our warnings.
We visited the touch tank which is usually so crowded with older kids, but today we had the place to ourselves. Hamilton loved shaking all the water out of the shells, and the aquarium staffer enjoyed watching him continue to ask for more shells.
We watched the dive show in the huge tank at the end of our visit, and Hamilton was mesmerized by the divers' feeding the fish and the fishes' swarming around the divers. We finished our morning with lunch at a local deli, and both boys were asleep within minutes of strapping them in the car for the ride home.