Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Dream

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I had a dream.  Not just any dream, the most amazing dream I've ever had.  In my dream, we were at Sam's parents' house for Thanksgiving.  Sam and his brothers were in the yard goofing around probably playing football while a few of us watched.  A little girl who was about 3 or 4 came running out of the house and stood there laughing while watching the boys.  She was wearing a cute, simple purple dress and had a purple bow holding back her wavy blonde hair.  Not long after she appeared, I began waking up.  As I was starting to wake up, she looked up at me and smiled and I knew instantly that it was Aubrey.  At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to go back to my dream.  I remember trying to block out the noise that was waking me and concentrate on going back to sleep.  I wanted to hug her.  To tell her I love her.  To memorize every feature of her sweet angelic face.  But it wasn't meant to be.  So I woke up and, through tears, told Sam every detail I could remember about this amazing dream.  Someday I will see Aubrey again, but until then, I will cherish the memories I have of her including this new one.  Even if it was just a dream.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Wow, it's almost Christmas and I haven't even blogged about Thanksgiving yet.  Guess I better do that. 

Growing up, I don't remember much about Thanksgiving other than occasionally going to a movie.  When Sam and I started dating, he told me all about his family's Thanksgiving traditions and I fell in love with them.   I loved that when he was a little boy, he, his parents, and his brothers would drive up to Nash and spend the entire weekend there with his grandparents and that even though his parents now live in Nash he and his brothers still return there for the entire weekend.  I quickly dove into his Thanksgiving traditions and it was easily decided that we would spend Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine.  It's so nice to go to this small town thirty minutes from the closest decent sized city and get lost in the simplicity of it all for a few days.  In the years since I've been joining Sam and his family for Thanksgiving, we have added a couple of traditions of our own including bowling with the cousins one night (Sam's parents were nice enough to watch Joseph this year so we didn't have to take him) and shooting trap and pumpkins.  We don't go black friday shopping (although I have been known to get up in the middle of the night to order an item or two online then return to bed), we don't follow a schedule, and we don't have any expectations and to be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Since both of Sam's brothers drove up Thanksgiving morning, we ate a late lunch at the house then drove into town to meet up with the rest of the Parks family at the church.  Here are Sam and Joseph talking with Sam's grandpa, Elam. 

Even though it was nap time, Joseph enjoyed looking at all of the new people there.

I didn't get any pictures of the boys shooting trap since I was inside with Joseph, but I did capture this beautiful sunset as they were putting everything away.

It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without an impromptu game of football.

This might have been Pete's favorite couple of hours from the whole weekend.

Four generations of Parks boys.

On the way home, we hit some stop and go traffic on I-35.  I didn't mind too much, the view was pretty awesome.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Joseph is 6 Months Old!

It's hard to believe that our little guy celebrated his half birthday yesterday!  Joseph is still loving his vegetables and the few fruits he has tried so far with the exception of sweet potatoes (although he will eat them if I mix them with his favorite, peas).  He's still rolling all over and getting into anything he can get his hands on.  Sometimes he gets up on his legs like he wants to crawl, but he can't figure out how to work his arms and bulldozes a few inches before giving up and rolling.  We're pretty sure he's starting to teeth even though we can't see or feel anything yet becuse he's had a couple of  low grade fevers and goes to town on his teething rings all day long.  Although in true Joseph fashion, he still cries more when he's mad that when he doesn't feel good.  I'm working on an official six month photo shoot, but wanted to go ahead and post his six month update today. 

 Joseph - 6 Months

At the end of October, Joseph started sitting at the table with us for dinner.  I'm so glad we opted for the chair attachment that hooks on to the table instead of a traditional high chair so he is right there with us.  I also quickly learned that I needed to replace the fabric table cloth with an easier to clean plastic one. 

 The only bad thing about him eating dinner with us is that he looks like such a big boy in his chair. 

He also has a new smile where he squints his eyes and scrunches up his nose.  He often does this to get attention when we are in a group setting and no one is paying attention to him.  This picture is just a small example of his smile, when he does it full force, it's hard not to laugh at him. 

Here are my dapper looking guys after church the other day.

I couldn't resist dragging them outside, setting up the tri-pod, and snapping a family picture.

He's quite the shirt chewer and I'm often handing him something else to chew on so he will leave his shirt alone.  As a former teacher, I know what a hard habit that can be to break later on.

He's not very fond of my photography class and turns his head and won't smile 75% of the time when I try to take his picture these days (which is a few times a week).

Guess what?!?!  We've finally finished spelling Joseph's first name.  Next month he will wear a plain white onesie then I will move on to his middle name.  Look at how much he has grown in the last six months!  I cut all of the stencils out at the same time to insure that they would be the same size. 

Can you believe that in the state of Oklahoma birth mom's grace period should just now be ending.  That's right, birth mom's here normally get six months to change their mind before the adoption is final.  Thank goodness we had an great lawyer and an awesome birth mom who agreed to a 30 day grace period.  Those 30 days were hard enough on me, I couldn't imagine what it would feel like to still be living in limbo. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wannabe Photographer

For the last eight weeks, I've been taking a photography class.  I'm not taking it to become a professional photographer, I simply want to use my DSLR in manual mode as it is intended to be used instead of like a point and shoot.  Here are a few some of my favorite pictures from my class assignments.  I have other favorite pictures too, but I've already used some of them in previous posts or will be using them in the future (I'm super excited about how his 6 month and Christmas photo shoots are coming along). 

One of our first assignments was to take close ups using ambient light.

Then we learned about framing and aperture.

After that, it was a matter of piecing what we had already learned together while adding new concepts like white balance, rule of thirds, ISO and shutter speed. 

I don't just take pictures of Joseph.  When the dogs are willing, I take pictures of them too. 

And sometimes the dogs sneak into pictures of Joseph.

Look at the joy on both of their faces.

This might have been my favorite photo shoot of the whole class.  We were instructed to take pictures in the dark using a light sorce and bulb setting.  It was hard to narrow down the many, many pictures we took that night in my garage.  We started by letting the kids have fun with the glow sticks.

Heidi outlined the kids.

We drew pictures.

And wrote names.

Then we broke out the light saber (how cool is it that my neighor friend just happened to have a light saber). 

I'm kind of in love with this picture of the two of us.

Emma's album cover.

In case you were wondering what Joseph did while we were taking pictures, he enjoyed playing with the extra glow sticks. 

Over all, the class was great!  I recommend anyone with a DSLR learn to use it in modes other than auto and P.  Another perk of taking the class was that Sam had alone time with Joseph for 3 hours every Tuesday night allowing them to bond and helping Sam to appreciate what I do as a stay-at-home mom a little more. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Quickest Zoo Trip Ever

Remember how I told you about the Red Coyote Pack Pint Runs a little while back?  Well, they recently held one at the Oklahoma City Zoo to launch the newly marked trails that they helped sponsor.  Heidi was feeling under the weather, so John, Sam, and I made the short treck down for a sunset run through the zoo.  Ironically, this was a 21+ event, so Joseph hung out at the Remington Park with my mom, step-dad, and grandparents while we went to the zoo without him.  It was the first time I have ran without the stroller in a long time.  I'm not going to lie, it was kind of nice (especially on the hills).

After the run, they had yummy food and held drawings for Red Coyote gift cards, zoo memberships, and New Balance Shoes.  Sam wasn't happy that I put our names in the drawing since I won shoes at the last event we attended.  I assured him that of the hundreds of people there the chances of them drawing our name was slim.  Of course, Sam was one of the first names they drew.  I was getting my coat from the car at the time, but John said Sam was pretty embarrased.  At least he just got one of the $25 gift cards and not one of the big prizes.

I think the real reason the boys went was to try out a couple of new flavors of COOP ale.  Don't they look thrilled to be taking a picture.

Much better, boys.

Stillwater Sibshops

I'm very excited to tell you about a new opportunity for siblings of children with special needs in Stillwater.  It's called Sibshops!  Last year, while I was teaching at the OSU Child Developmen Lab, we heard about this amazing program.  Sibshops are workshops where the sibs (as the are called in the program) have the opportunity to play fun games, talk about the good, bad, and so-so of having a sibling with special needs, and meet (and hopefully become friends with) other sibs.  Fortunately for us, Don Meyer, the head Sibshops guy, held a training at the annual Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma convention.  This allowed us to have 5 people attend and become first generation facilitators.  That means that we are allowed to train other facilitators so we can make sure that Sillwater Sibshops thrives for many years to come (2nd generation facilitators can't train others). 

We held our first workshop on Saturday, November 3 and although I wish we would have had a larger group of children, it was great.  I got reports from a couple of parents that their children felt comfortable with the whole experience, loved the games, and enjoyed meeting new friends.  To me, that's a successful workshop.  One of the kids was even asking when the next Sibshop will be as he left.  For the next workshop, we plan to open it up to sibs from all of the Stillwater elementary schools and have a larger turn out.  I'll keep you updated on how things go.

If you know of a child between the ages of 5-14 in the Stillwater area that would enjoy/benefit from a Sibshop experience, please let them know about us and give me their email address so I can notify them of our next workshop. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Front Page News

Since he works out of town and often has a hard time getting back to Stillwater in time to vote, Sam prefers to vote early for any election he can.  Sunday, as I carried in the newspaper, I noticed a picture and article about early voting on the front page and started to give Sam a hard time about making the paper.  Imagine my surprise when I looked down and actually saw him in the picture. 

Do you see him?  Here, let me help you.

All day Sunday, I gave him a hard time about making the paper with all of the old people who vote early. 

Well, since Tuesday is my busy day and I didn't want to have to stand in a long line with the babe, I decided to vote on Monday.  As I was getting my ballot, I was approached by a gentleman who asked if he could take our picture.  I almost said no, but decided to go ahead and say yes assuming he was taking lots of pictures and the chances of him using ours was slim.  Guess what was on the front page of yesterday's NewsPress...

That's right, Joseph and I were front and center.  I guess that's what I get for giving Sam such a hard time.  The good news is we have a couple of fun keepsakes from Joseph's first election. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween 2012

I promise, this is the last post I will write about Halloween this year!  I just couldn't pass up showing you my sweet little boy in the shirt I made him and the dogs in their *gasp* store bought costumes.  Since I don't get too into decorating for Halloween, I invaded (with permission) the neighbor's front porch for our photo shoot. 

I get this look a lot!  It's a mix of I'm not real happy and crazy lady, what are you doing.

One of my favorites from the shoot.

Those fat little fingers are irresistible!

He's such a ham.

I had planned on putting Joseph in a Pistol Pete outfit I had on hand, but Sam and I decided to go with his lederhosen since they were so much work to make and he can wear the other outfit for game day.  I took him to three houses to show off his costume, then he slept and played with his ghost for the rest of the evening. 

The dogs were Princess Leia (she strongly disliked the buns)

and Darth Vader.  I bought their costumes on clearance last year after I didn't get around to making them any. 

There you have it, Halloween is now officially over.  Bring on Thanksgiving!