Wednesday, October 30, 2013

HGT’s First Jack-o-lantern

Growing up, Halloween wasn’t complete until my parents and I spread out the newspaper in the garage and carved a jack-o-lantern. It was such a fun part of the holiday traditions.

Carving pumpkins with John holds a very special place in my heart as well. When we first started dating in 2002, he begrudgingly carved a pumpkin for me on one of our first dates.

I was really excited to add Helen Grace to our family jack-o-lantern memories, and Friday night was the night. She and I had hunted high and low for just the right pumpkin (HG took this VERY seriously) and then found a nifty carving set with patterns and tools (which John took very seriously).

It took some negotiating skills to convince HG that we weren’t going to carve a princess since that’s the design she ‘drew’ out for us. We somehow convinced her that we’d use the ghost pattern from the set, and she could put one of her tiaras on top to make it a ghost princess. She was happy with that compromise. (In true four year old fashion, she had completely forgotten this need/demand by the time we started carving!)

When it came down to carving time, HG was suddenly scared of the goo inside, and it took a lot of work to convince her it wasn’t ‘disgusting.’ Once she finally got her hand in there, she was addicted and dove in up to her elbows to get to those seeds! She was so proud of them that she had to take them in a Ziploc to school on Monday to show her teachers. I think we created a monster.

Not too sure about thisCF6C1700CF6C1720 Got some seedsCF6C1724 AH! This is kinda cool!CF6C1726 CF6C1727 Diving inCF6C1729 ‘Disgusting!’CF6C1737 Teasing MamaCF6C1744 CF6C1752 John’s masterpiece…he was very proud- rightfully so!CF6C1765 jack o'lantern

The Artist at Work

If Helen Grace has a free minute these days, she makes a bee line to her art drawer (notice the orange post-it note on the cabinet behind her with her name written on it), which has now overflowed into a big box, and pulls out her scissors, glue stick, colored pencils, markers, crayons, and LOTS of paper. She can sit in the middle of her pile in a glow of happiness for hours on end.

One day, John got out the camera and started snapping away, and she was so oblivious that she didn’t notice for the longest time.

CF6C1615 But then…busted!CF6C1629 CF6C1633 She can’t help but let a smile sneak out.CF6C1637

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Celebrating Baby Darby

Our sweet cousins, Ryves and Mary Chris, will welcome their sweet baby girl, Darby, into the world in world in mid-November. The ladies in the family celebrated at a shower at their neighbor’s house in early October. Helen Grace was super excited that she got to go as well! The excitement didn’t last terribly long once we got there though, and she disappeared into the hostess’ little girl’s room to play with her toys. :)

Mary Chris has been telling HG that she needed to come over and help Mary Chris “work” in Baby Darby’s nursery. After the shower was over, we were carrying gifts back over to MC and Ryves’ house since it was next door. HG was holding the door for me, and she said, “See. I told you I was going to work!”

We can’t wait to see Darby’s sweet face very soon!

Posing for a quick pic before we left. My mom has gotten these cute ghosts for our neighborhood’s big Halloween celebration. We go all out (obviously)!CF6C1654 CF6C1657 CF6C1679 CF6C1694 2013-10-13 13.12.18Loving on Bubba2013-10-13 16.01.37  And Mary Chris and Darby too!2013-10-13 16.07.05

Chicago- Part Two

On Saturday morning, the sun was shining, although the wind was a bit chilly, so we set off for a boat tour of the city. (We took a Shoreline tour because it was a bit cheaper and 60 mins vs. 90 mins, although you’ll want to make sure you get an open top boat.) Helen Grace thinks that this was her first boat ride, and although that seems crazy, we can’t think of another time…so she enjoyed her first sail! She was a little hesitant to walk around on the boat at first, but that soon wore off, and she explored every nook and cranny.

Afterward, we headed toward Millennium Park to check out the Bean, and John pulled us into the closest restaurant we could find- Sweetwater. It turned out to be a fabulous choice because it was covered in tvs playing all the big football games and also had delicious food- mini corndogs for HG, fish tacos, and this chocolate chip cookie dough dish that was sent straight from heaven! We warmed up, refueled, and got back on the trail to find the Bean.

A few more blocks, and the city opened up into Millennium Park. They had the neatest/oddest art exhibit of painted pigs which tickled HG to no end, and she ran from one to the next squealing, “This is my favorite! No, this is my favorite!” And then we stumbled upon the Bean…the most perfect gift for our vain little girl! She would have stared and smiled at herself for hours if we’d let her!

We let her run around for a while to wear herself out, and then we headed back to hotel for naptime. Afterward, we planned to go to the Skydeck at the top of the Sears Tower, but the line was THREE HOURS long!! So we turned right back around and caught another cab to dinner at Oysy for some yummy sushi. I am constantly amazed at what our child will eat- and with chopsticks! She will tear up some edamame, California rolls, and any crab or shrimp. I hope she’ll continue to be a brave eater.

After dinner, we hit up the Mile for some shopping, and I have to say that HG was quite the trooper. She really hung in there with very little complaining, and by the end of the night, she was acting like my own personal shopper. We rewarded her with some fancy s’mores from the restaurant in our hotel- she had definitely earned it!

The next morning, we headed to the airport to catch our flight home. I must give credit to the TSA at both airports. They made traveling with HG so easy. I took juice bottles and snacks through security with no problem, and they let us through the  quick TSA pre-check lines both times, all while smiling and chatting up HG.

We had a wonderful time in Chicago. Helen Grace loved it so much that she now says she is going to go to college in Chicago! As long as there is an Ole Miss campus there, that’s just fine. Ha, totally kidding! :)

Love this pic of my two lovesIMG_4868 IMG_4870 The bridges lift on Saturday mornings to let the sailboats through.IMG_4873 IMG_4876 Taking a pic of Mama taking a pic of herIMG_4881 2013-10-19 12.21.46 IMG_4883 IMG_4887 IMG_4893 IMG_4895 IMG_4899 IMG_4905 Caught ‘em snuggling!IMG_4906 IMG_4907 IMG_4909 IMG_4911 IMG_4919 IMG_4928 IMG_4929 IMG_4936 2013-10-19 13.17.31 IMG_4937 IMG_4942 IMG_4943 Dinner at Oysy2013-10-20 10.20.13 Entertaining herself in Nordstrom’s shoe department2013-10-19 19.48.38

Chicago- Part One

For Helen Grace’s fall break, we (I) wanted to get out of town, so we piggy backed on John’s work again and headed to Chicago for a long weekend since skyscrapers and taxis seem to be HG’s favorites. I picked up HG after school on Thursday (which happened to be Red Day), and then Spiffer and GD took us to the airport.

HG and I grabbed a quick bite and then hopped on the plane. The flight was short and super easy (thank you to the Delta stewardesses that gave us free M&Ms and a glass of wine), and our bags made it to baggage claim before we did. And then we walked outside to catch a cab and saw the mile long taxi line…dum dum DUM. We waited for over 30 minutes, and thankfully, the guy in front of us held our spot while we ran back in to the potty since our cab ride was half an hour too.

We FINALLY made it to the Intercontinental Hotel on the Magnificent Mile a little before 9:00 p.m. We were so impressed by the view from our room as we overlooked the river and all the skyscrapers were lit in pink for breast cancer awareness month. It was a beautiful sight! We collapsed in the bed, happy but exhausted.

Counting the gate numbers at the airport2013-10-17 17.00.36 2013-10-17 17.14.48 Studying the flight safety information- the stewardess was impressed. Hey, maybe that’s where the free treats came from?!IMG_4817 So excited!IMG_4823 IMG_4825

On Friday morning, HG and John went downstairs to the Starbucks in the lobby while I finished getting ready. HG loved watching the city go by while she sipped her hot chocolate.

We headed to meet my friend, Kristin, and her little girl, Caroline, at the Shedd Aquarium. Kristin used to live in Memphis, and we were Delta Gamma chapter advisers at the same time (I at Ole Miss, she at Memphis). Also, her hubby went to high school with me- very small world! She is now the chapter adviser at DePaul, and their president just happens to be an intern at Shedd and gets a few free tickets each day, so she hooked us up with the royal tour. See, Delta Gamma will take you around the world! This was our first time to meet Caroline too, and HG had a ball playing with her.

If you do plan a trip to Chicago, the aquarium is a must-see. The view of the skyline from the front steps is breathtaking, and then you step inside and the amazing-ness continues. It’s like you are in the Smithsonian but surrounded by larger than life fish tanks. We’ve been to a lot of nice aquariums, but this one takes the cake.

After our morning with the Crawfords, we headed back to the Magnificent Mile and had lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe, recommended by our concierge. This place was amazing for it’s location and it’s huge menu. We were seated in a huge rotunda overlooking the Mile, and HG was stuffed with mini sliders and make-your-own cupcake, while we had delicious pasta and salmon and the most amazing drink ever that made us feel like we were at the beach!

With full bellies, we all took a nap and then headed to meet my college roomie and sorority sister, Susan, for dinner. (We also went to Harding together, and she now lives in Chicago.) While John, HG, and I were walking through the lobby to leave, I ran right into another Delta Gamma, Ivy, who is from Southaven but lives in Denver. WHAT?! She was there for a girls’ weekend and was shocked to see us and find out that we were meeting Susan as well. They went their way, and we headed to meet Susan.

Susan introduced us to Chicago’s finest deep dish pizza place- Lou Malnati’s. After we got our table and pizza reservation back from the people that pretended to be ‘John T,’ we had a great dinner and loved the pizza! For dessert, she helped us get our hands on some Garrett’s Mix popcorn. We were stuffed and full of good food and old memories. She walked us back over to our hotel to say goodnight, and who do we run into in the lobby but Ivy again- hilarious!

HG and Daddy’s morning Starbucks tradition2013-10-18 08.48.24 2013-10-18 08.50.25 Excited about the aquariumIMG_4826 IMG_4828 IMG_4832 2013-10-18 09.38.08 This aquatic show area was amazing. Before the show started, the curtain with the screen on it was raised, and you had a panoramic view of the lake. Dolphins and beluga whales performed for us.IMG_4837 IMG_4839 IMG_4842 IMG_4847 IMG_4850 IMG_4851 IMG_4853 So good to see Kristin and Caroline!IMG_4861 Lunch at Grand Lux with her new penguinIMG_4863 2013-10-18 14.36.02 2013-10-18 15.34.31-1 Waiting and chatting at Lou Malnati’s2013-10-18 18.11.24 2013-10-18 18.54.47 Getting a ride from Daddy2013-10-18 19.34.52 Garrett’s Mix- yum!2013-10-18 19.42.48 Snagged a pic with Ivy and SusIMG_4864 A little artwork before bedIMG_4866