Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fun in Ohio

Once the Christmas festivities were over, we had some fun time to spend together. As you probably know from previous entries in this blog, Jasper LOVES strawberry milkshakes. Here is a fun photo of Jasper sharing a strawberry milkshake with Grandpa.

He also made gingerbread cookies with Grandma.

Finally, we went as a family to a park near my parent's home on a cold sunny day. Jasper had a great time running, jumping, and one of his new favorite activities...hanging.

Bailey Family Christmas in Ohio

After celebrating Christmas at the Gant home, we went to Lou and Kathleen's home to celebrate the Bailey family Christmas. When we arrived, Lou pointed out an electric train set that she had setup around a small Christmas tree on a table. Jasper was enthralled with watching, touching, and experiencing the train. While I helped Jasper fix the derailed train, Erica snapped some photos that I cherish.

Lou and Kathleen's home has a huge basement, and we thought it would be a hit with Jasper to have such a large place to run around. Little did we know that a red tractor would be found.

They even created a bowling game.

Another highlight of the evening was having Benjamin and Jasper be held by their Great Grandparents.

It was a nice time with family.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Christmas at Grandpa and Grandma's House

After the fun events of Christmas day, we prepared for flying to Ohio. We chose the day after Chistmas in the attempt to avoid some of the holiday travel rush, and I'm pleased to report that it worked. The airport wasn't very busy in Austin or in Houston. The Austin to Houston flight is a short one, and our lay-over allowed us to collectively have some lunch before the long flight to Cleveland. While waiting in Houston, I was standing next to a Continental pilot, and I asked him if he was riding with or flying us to Cleveland today. After stating he was our co-pilot for the flight, we chatted about Christmas while Jasper watched the carts roll through the airport and Benjamin slept in my arms. Before he went to board the plane, he asked, "Do you have a camera with you?" Later he ushered Jasper into his seat, and these pictures were captured.

We arrived in Cleveland in the early evening, and we were met by Jon at the airport to take us to Akron. It was cold, but there was little snow on the ground.

When we arrived and Grandpa and Grandma's house, Jasper quickly settled into playing on the floor with Uncle Jon while Grandma spent some time bonding with Benjamin.

One of the highlights of the evening was Jon teaching Jasper how to catch from his "ready stance". Before Jon would toss the ball, he would call out "ready stance", and Jasper would repeat it while jumping and spreading his legs out for a solid base. As Jasper learned, he was repeat "ready stance" more and more emphatically.

<>The next morning we celebrated Christmas and Grandpa and Grandma's house. After some great pancakes made by Grandpa, we settled in for opening gifts. Here are some of the highlights.

It was a great experience to be gathered in my childhood home to celebrate Christmas with my wife, two sons, parents, and brother.

Dukes of Haz...I mean Austin

Check out Jasper "Bo Duke" Gant!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Christmas in Austin - UPDATED

For the first time, we celebrated Christmas in Austin. We started things off by having Christmas eve brunch with our dear friends Joel, Stacy and Gideon Hock.

They are about a year apart in age, but Jasper and Gideon are chums.

We attended Christmas Eve service as a family which was special. We're now a family of four, and it feels to us like we're so much more of a family than we were with one child. (Maybe it's just because we're so tired all the time. There are fewer breaks as parents of two.) It felt nice to sit in church each holding a child and singing Christmas hymns. And since Jasper is growing up, learning and understanding more about things, it feels right to create memories of our own that have impact. After church, we returned to enjoy a wonderful meal. It's very similar to the Christmas eve meal Erica's family has enjoyed for years. We made Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes & seafoam salad. For whatever reason, not having vegetables as adults was totally ok ... but we made some carrots for Jasper. The meal was great, and Jasper enjoyed "Nana's special meatballs".

After dinner, we gathered around the nativity scene as a family to discuss the Christmas story. We considered this year a practice since we anticipated Jasper wouldn't be that interested. We've read & talked about the Christmas story a lot throughout the month of December. Jasper loved reading about the baby Jesus, the angels coming to talk to the shepherds & glorifying God, the shepherds running to find the baby Jesus and the wise men coming a long way on camels to worship the baby Jesus in his Bible. He can even gladly tell you that the angels sang "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to men." However, on Christmas eve, he was more interested in playing with the characters as if they were truck drivers than he was talking about the significance of Jesus' birth, but that was ok.

After Jasper was asleep, Erica and I got wrapping! Jasper tried to unwrap a gift that arrived in the mail a week before Christmas. He didn't understand that you had to wait and impatiently did not want to wait. Since we don't have tons of storage space in our house, it was easier to keep things hidden when they were not boxed and wrapped. But that meant last minute wrapping. Oh joy!

In addition, I needed to put together the "Jeep" that Nana and Papa got for Jasper. I had a funny thought realizing this was the first of many years where I, the father, had something to put together during the evening hours between Christmas Eve and Christmas. It was a long night of assembling and wrapping.

here is the "Jeep" in pre-assembled form.

After we finished preparations, we tried to get some sleep. Unfortunately, Benjamin needed to feed during the wee hours and then Jasper woke up very early. We don't think it was from anticipation for Christmas, but regardless it was way too early and a bad combination with Benjamin. (I think they're in cahoots sometimes!) Since pancakes are fast becoming a special Saturday morning tradition around here, we thought there was no less reason to celebrate with them on Christmas morning. Here are some fun photos from breakfast. The pancakes are green & red from sprinkles. Jasper really liked that.

We started things off with Jasper opening his stocking.

His favorite gift out of there was his new spiderman toothbrush that plays music.

Jasper, having just had a birthday, was very excited about having gifts to open. He opened them with glee, and he didn't waste any time nor try to preserve any paper. The kid's got flare.

This is a four-foot puzzle Jasper got for Christmas. He and daddy took a break to put it together. Jasper loves puzzles, and I don't think it will be long before he can do this one himself.

In preparation for our trip to Utah, Jasper got new long underwear and a neat hat. We love Smartwool!

Jasper got this cool front end loader spoon from his Minnesota cousins, Auntie Brittany and Uncle Adam. He thought it was sooooo cool!

Benjamin was sleepy on Christmas morning, but he still got into the spirit.

While he was awake, we tried to take advantage of Benjamin's alertness for some Christmas morning photos of the boys.

We're checking out Benjamin's new book "Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes." Jasper helped me count out his fingers and toes to verify that he did indeed have ten of each. He can count to ten, no sweat now! We counted Benjamin's, too. It was nice of Benjamin to be sock-less. It really facilitated the counting.

Here is the Jeep. This was our last gift to open on Christmas morning. We actually didn't wrap it, we just ceremoniously led Jasper out to the garage to see and play with it. He knew exactly what it was and was happy to get started playing with it right away.

He's thinking about going around the block with his Jeep

It's just the right size!

Looks like it might have failed a crash test along the way. I guess there are different criteria for human-powered vehicles.

Jasper only got one day to play with his Jeep before we left for Ohio. Here he is playing with it once we got back.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Phot Op

In mid December Jasper asked once again to have photos taken of him and Benjamin. At first I thought it would be an okay time, but quickly after I got them into the chair Benjamin decided to try to sleep. It was amazing how tired he got so quickly.

how precious is this?

One Sunday in mid December while at church we commented that Jasper was having a really good hair day and thought it was the perfect chance to get a photo of the boys for our Christmas card. These are some shots from that photo op. Obviously some didn't make the cut, but they're all cute.

We wanted Benjamin in the outfit he wore at Thanksgiving, but it's already too small for him. (One wearing of a 6mo outfit ... nice!) He isn't wearing it anymore, so we needed to change him into it when we got home from church. He was quite compliant. He loves the carpet area in front of our large front window that gets lots of sunlight.

Jasper loves being close to his brother any chance he can get.

Jasper liked holding the baby Jesus from his nativity set while we were taking photos.

Benjamin is really cute when he laughs, but catching him mid-laugh isn't as cute as the full experience.