Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nine Years

Mama took a break this week.  This is the first week in over 3 years that I did not take one single photograph of the kids.  It feels a little weird.  I was mostly trying to enjoy every moment I had with the kids without worrying about capturing everything on my camera.  Mike and I also got away for the weekend.

This month we are celebrating 13 years as a couple and 9 years married.  We headed to Red Wing yesterday afternoon and had lunch at the St. James Hotel, hiked Barn Bluff, checked into the Candlelight Inn Bed & Breakfast, did a wine tasting at Falconers Vineyard, enjoyed the views of Lake Pepin in Lake City and had dinner on the water at Nosh.  Today we had a delightful breakfast, bought some Red Wing pottery and headed back to reality.

Reality is great when you're greeted by two little smiling faces and lots of hugs.  Thanks to both sets of grandparents for being the world's best babysitters.

Top of Barn Bluff

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cousins and Best Buds

We had another fabulous, relaxing and fun weekend at the cabin with the Sievers and Nickolays - swimming, pontooning, swinging and enjoying the sunshine.
Best buds

We scream for ice cream!

  "Hey, where's my ice cream?"

Baby best buds.

Cruising together

Everyone wants to push Hadley in the swing.

The first annual summer cousin picture (oldest to youngest) on the beach.  We plan to recreate this photo every year.
Miles loves the cabin.  When he knows we're going on the weekend he starts asking on the Monday before "can we go to the cabin today?"  He loves everything about it - lots of treats, lots of attention and lots of activity.  He had his 3 year check-up this week (gulp...  My baby!)  He did so well - showing the doctor how he can jump and count and how ticklish and giggly he is during the exam.  His stats:

  • Weight:  30 lbs (50%)
  • Height:  36 1/2 inches (25%)
  • Head:  They no longer measure this - he's too old!
He had a great check-up - he's very healthy and developing normally.  He says so many funny things - the only one I remember at the moment though is this...  After spending time with his Auntie Rachel who is due in 2 1/2 weeks with a baby girl (we're all very excited) he's been putting stuff under his shirt proclaiming "I'm growing a baby in my tummy!"

Miss Hads - our wild child.  Here is her vocabulary at the moment:

  • Hi
  • baby
  • all done
  • ball
  • Ruby
  • mama
  • daddy
  • uh-oh
  • bye
  • Shhhh (with her little finger to her lips)
When asked, she can also point to her nose, teeth, belly button and head.  Speaking of teeth she now has the 4 front top ones which brings the grand total to six.  With all of these teeth she's become obsessed with brushing her teeth.  When we say "it's time to brush teeth" she opens her mouth wide, points to her teeth and says "ahhhhhhh."  She gets very upset when we take away her toothbrush.  She also gets very excited these days about: screaming (she's a loud screecher), baths, swimming and swinging.

Playing at the cabin is exhausting!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer Fun Part 2 (Miles is 3!)

Miles is 3!  Can you believe it?  I started this blog when I was pregnant with him - preparing things before he was born.  It's hard to believe that he's a preschooler now.  Our little, smart, handsome man.

This year I asked Miles want he wanted for his birthday and he said "cookies."  I tried to clarify and ask what toys he wanted but he still said "cookies."  That's our boy!  He has lots of opinions and wanted pancakes for dinner on his actual birthday so we just had a little celebration that evening with cookies and candles for dessert.

We had his birthday party on Saturday and grandma and grandpa Nickolay, the Sievers and Matt, Janelle and Bradyn all came.  Miles wanted a chocolate cake and ice cream and decided on a Thomas the Train theme.  He chose the menu too - pizza and jello jigglers.  I added watermelon and veggies for a little balance (which Miles didn't eat).  We had a great time playing with balloons, playing in the water, opening presents and celebrating Miles.

For the record (in case he wants to know someday what kind of toys he played with when he was little) he got: a race car set, finger paints, a water bottle, play food, games like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, books, money for college, pjs, a puzzle, new clothes, a play laptop and a real, mini acoustic guitar.  He's a very lucky little boy.

We're entering into a new chapter with Miles.  He still amazes us by how smart and funny he is but he seems so grown up now - definitely no longer the baby.  Tonight, after Hadley went to bed, we played Candy Land with him.  He not only has the patience to play but follows the rules (most of the time) just like a big boy.  He even likes to pretend his little figurine is eating the candy along the way (just like I did when I was little).  Happy birthday Miles.  We love you so much!

A cookie on his birthday - just like he wanted.

$1 bag of non-helium balloons=lots of squeals in delight!

Babies in the pool.

The big boys getting squirted by water.

A full pool.

Opening presents.

Playing the guitar.

Miles and the Sievers

Miles with the Nickolays

Miles with grandma and grandpa

Our family

The whole crew

Blowing out the candles on his Thomas the Train cake.

Hadley had a perfect blue mustache from the frosting.

I couldn't resist adding one more food picture of Hadley.  This girl is constantly eating and usually has a cute food 'stache on her face.
(I did a 2 part blog this week - so scroll down for more!)

Summer Fun Part 1

Mike and I took our first "adults only" vacation since the kids were born to Alaska and had the best time!  (Traveling through the airport and flying is a totally different thing without kids - it's so easy!)  Saying goodbye to the kids was hard and tearful but they were so well taken care of by my parents we didn't worry about them at all when we were away.  They had a great time spending the week with grandma and grandpa.  
Tuesday we got into Anchorage and I went for manis/pedis with Mariann and my sisters-in-law, Tina and Denise and niece Sarah.  Girl time!  Tina and and Jim were gracious enough to let us stay at their house.  It was early to bed for us Tuesday night because the 3 hour time difference really got to us.  

Wednesday, the 4th of July, we had an Alaska Gray family reunion with Mike's extended family and played a competitive game of ladder golf.  That night we headed up to Tina and Jim's cabin in Eureka with Jim, Annette, Nick, Ben, Becky and Shawn.  We had a bonfire that evening and the next day went four-wheeling in the gorgeous mountains surrounding their cabin.  Mike and I had a blast.  At the end of our four-wheel adventure, as we headed back to the cabin, we passed another pair of four-wheelers who stopped to talk to Jim.  They just happened to be Sarah Palin's dad and brother (yep, I met Alaska royalty). 
View while four-wheeling

I was happy to speed around with Jim in his side-by-side.

Mike forging through some deep water.
 We returned to Anchorage Thursday night and prepared for our weekend trip to the Kenai Peninsula for Shane and Holly's wedding.  Friday morning we headed out and stopped in Girdwood on the way.  We took a tram up to the top of Alyeska and had lunch and enjoyed the views. 
The crew enjoying summer in the snow.

The tram heading up to the peak of a double black diamond ski mountain.
On the tram ride down the mountain we saw a black bear.  We then journeyed on to Moose Pass where we stayed at Trail Lake Lodge - a beautiful, quaint place nestled in between two mountains and on a lake with lots of float planes. 
Friday we helped get ready for the rehearsal dinner.

Mike and his dad manning the grill.
 The wedding and rehearsal were held at Inn at Tern Lake - a beautiful (I know I keep using the word "beautiful" but seriously everywhere I turned in Alaska the views were just breathtaking) bed and breakfast.  This seriously was the most gorgeous location for a wedding I've ever seen.  We had a great time at dinner and continued the party at the lodge's bar that night. 
Enjoying our vacation together!

Tina, Annette, Denise and Mike - siblings!
We had some free time Saturday before the wedding so we went to Seward to hike at Exit Glacier.  You know what I'm going to say about it - beautiful!
By the glacier.
 That evening Shane and Holly had such a BEAUTIFUL wedding.  It was a little chilly during the outdoor ceremony but the bride and groom looked gorgeous and so in love.  We very much enjoyed the dinner and dancing - it was a fun wedding crowd. 
Mike and his parents before the ceremony.

Inn at Tern Lake

All of the Grays (minus the busy bride and groom) at the wedding.

This was the view from our lodge.
Sunday we headed back to Anchorage and stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  It was really cool to see lots of AK wildlife up close - black bears, grizzly, moose, caribou and more (I actually prefer to see them this way then to meet then while hiking along a trail).  That night we went out to dinner with everyone and Monday morning we headed back to Minneapolis.  Like I said - the trip was wonderful.  We're looking forward to going back again soon  - I still need to go halibut fishing sometime.

Although we had a wonderful trip we were so happy to get home and to see the kids.  Miles stayed up late and came to pick us up at the airport and I cried when I saw him I was so happy to hug him again.  We had our happy reunion with Hadley the next morning and she kept looking at Mike and I and waving to us.  Now that we're back to real life we'll have to wistfully looking at our Alaska pictures once in awhile to remember our good time.

(I'm doing 2 blog posts tonight - so if you're reading this and "Part 2" hasn't been published yet you'll have to check back a little later this evening...)

Sunday, July 1, 2012


After over a month long visit the kids sadly said goodbye-for-now to Grandma and Grandpa Gray.  They've moved on to Alaska but while they were here the kids loved every minute spent with them. 
Everyone's happy to be together except Hadley who is sad to see them go.
We spent the weekend at the cabin and enjoyed beautiful, sunny weather on the lake.   
Putting the flag out each day is a ceremony everyone looks forward to.

Cruising on our new pontoon!
Three amigos

Boating is exhausting!

Grandma Nickolay always has lots of treats for us.

This was Had's 1st cone and she liked holding it better than eating it.

Wearing grandpa's hat.

Hadley even got in on the action.

Chocolate mustache.

This water baby couldn't get enough of the lake and kept wanting to go deeper!

Very busy boys.

The project for the guys this weekend was to install 2 new swings.  Now each of the grandkids has their own swing!
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