The nice thing about having everyone napping while I packed up my car to leave Houston, was that I was able to steal Mr. Nutter off of my sister's doorstep without anyone noticing.
To say that Grace was excited to have him back would be the understatement of the century. She has some seriously special connection with Mr. Nutter (loving him so much so that she dropped him and broke his foot a year or so ago). She kept telling me, "Mommy, I love my squirrel." His first day in Dallas Grace did her best to take really good care of him.
She got him his own blanket and snuggled with him.
Then he must have been thirsty because she gave him a bottle,
and she insisted he have something to eat. The only nuts I had on hand were almonds, he seemed okay with that.
And my favorite part was when Grace spread out his blanket and laid him down for tummy time. She even got him a toy and shook it for him. We wouldn't want Mr. Nutter to be bored, right?
We love having Mr. N here and we hope he stays for a long long time.
After arriving we went straight to bed, and somehow, despite all of us sleeping in the same room, we all got an awesome nights rest.
We had a wonderfully lazy morning
Stacey's house is always stocked with the best food
Unfortunately Grace had to wait until after her nap to finally see Carly and Taylor.
I just love these two kids.
They got some face time with Christian as well
That night we headed to one of our favorite restaurants, Lupe Tortilla. We were sitting out on the patio and right next to a ginormous fan. It felt like we were in a music video, or a wind storm.
As Aaron sent me pictures from D.C. I kept him in the loop with us and making sure to send Goodnight pictures,
And good morning pictures.
The next day we headed to the grand opening of a donut place just down the road. It was super annoying to take two cars everywhere we went so... we may or may not have crammed all four of our kids into the back seat of Stacey's car. (I think it's time someone got a Suburban, eh Stace?) ;)
Since it was the grand opening, there was face painting and balloon animals.
Grace with her purple monkey.
We of course made a stop at McDonald's, or Mickey-Donalds as Grace calls it, to let the kids run around at the playplace, and most importantly to get large DDPs
Grace was in heaven having playmates and a different set of toys to play with all day long
Christian seemed to enjoy himself too.
And, yes, at one point when the kids were in bed all of the adults in the house were eating bluebell ice cream straight out of the container.
The final day of our weekend trip we got dressed in our Sunday best and headed to church
While everyone napped after church I got our things together. I woke everyone up to say a quick goodbye and then we hit the road. By some stroke of serious luck, both kids fell asleep and stayed asleep for the first 2 1/2 hours of the trip.
Once Christian was up and ready to eat, I pulled off at a Sonic and nursed him (don't worry- I used my hooter hider this time and there were no fire ants). We then ordered dinner, and took our dear sweet time hanging out before we got back on the road.
I love my girl
The second half of the trip was just as blissfully uneventful as the first half. I made it home in enough time to get our stuff upstairs and get the kids bathed before we had to be at the airport to pick Aaron up. Third successful airport pick-up this month- cue serious pat on the back.
After a super eventful weekend on all accounts we were glad to finally be reunited.
Knowing that Aaron was going to be in D.C. the weekend following the blessing, I knew that I didn't want to be at home all by myself. I coordinated with my sister, Stacey, and decided a trip down to Houston was in order.
It wasn't until the actual day of the trip that reality started settling in about what I was about to do. I was going to take my three year old and my two month old and I was going to lock them in a car for 5 plus hours with no one else to help me. My anxiety levels were pretty high that day. But the only other option was to be home alone on the weekend, I could do this, right?
The apartment was clean and our bags were packed. Aaron met us at the apartment after his classes so we could drive him to the airport. We got everything settled in, dropped Aaron off and kissed him goodbye and started heading south. All air molecules in my lungs seemed to stop as I thought to myself, "Am I really going to do this?" When I finally decided to start breathing again I thought, "Yes, yes I am."
The first hour and a half was great. Grace was entertained and Christian slept. After a while Christian started to get a little fussy so I pulled off into a gas station. I had pumped a bottle before we left so that this feeding would be a little easier and more convenient. He ate, we got ourselves re-situated, and I snapped a picture. As I pulled back onto the highway I had the audacity to think, "Wow, this is going really well. Maybe I was wrong in thinking this would be difficult."
As we drove, the gas stations and rest stops became fewer and farther between, and suddenly we were in the middle of nowhere. It was peaceful really. Vast stretches of farmland with wide-stretched green Texas prairies. About half an hour after our initial stop, Christian started to fuss again. I figured he probably wanted to eat some more since the bottle I pumped only had about 3/4 of a normal feeding in it. I reached back to see if I could put the pacifier back in his mouth but was disappointed when I realized that the car seat was about 3 inches too far. He would have to cry it out until we reached a gas station. Ten minutes went by and there were no gas stations in sight. I calmly handled Christian's cries and did my best to soothe him while I drove. Another 5 minutes went by and I started to became a little more desperate to find somewhere (anywhere) to stop. With every passing minute his cries become more and more hysterical and I became more and more desperate. No gas stations. Finally, 20 minutes after Christian's initial cry, I saw a gas station that had a Burger King attached. It was already past dinner time and I figured I'd quickly zip through the drive through line and have Grace eat dinner while I nursed Christian.
I pulled up to the speaker box and waited. I took the opportunity to reach as far back as I could and give Christian his pacifier. He wanted nothing to do with it. I tried rocking his car seat as much as I could, but that did nothing either. I finally stuck my finger in his mouth which calmed him for a second before he realized that my finger was definitely not what he wanted and he started screaming again. I was getting a little frantic and overwhelmed and we had been sitting there for a solid minute and no one had acknowledged me. I said, "Hello?" into the speaker box. As Christian sobbed hysterically I got more angry so I yelled, "HELLO?!" Nothing. I could see into the drive-thru window and no one was even standing there. I thought a bizillion times about just jumping ship, but Grace needed to eat too and I had already pulled in. Another minute passed by and finally someone said, "Welcome to Burger King, may I take your order." As quickly as humanly possible, I spewed out my order. "Okay so thats......(static)....and.....(static)....." Through the window I could see that his mouth was still moving, but his headset was shorting out. He looked at me and I stared back at him. He took his headset off and walked away. Now I was getting mad. A minute later he came back with a new headset, retook my order and I pulled up to the window. As he opened it to take my card he heard Christian screaming and gave me the strangest look. I did my best to not reach through my window and bludgeon him with his newly functioning headset.
Finally we had the food. I pulled off to the least crowded area of the parking lot, threw my car into park and flung Christian's door open. I practically broke the buckle off of his carseat trying to get him out. Grace started crying, "Mommy! I want out of my seat." I held Christian (who was still screaming) in one arm and reached through the car to unbuckle Grace. Suddenly my foot started stinging and as I stood back up after unbuckling Grace I looked down to see my foot, and the ground I was standing on, absolutely covered in fire ants. Still holding my hysterical two month old in one arm I used my other hand to swat off the fire ants that were feasting on my foot, their bites stinging so bad they were sending chills down my spine.
I ran back to the front of the car, continuously trying to slap off fire ants and I got in the front seat. I didn't even bother with my hooter hider, at this point any trucker in the nation could see what I had to offer and I wasn't even going to care. As I was trying to get Christian to latch, my milk let down with a vengeance and started spraying like a fire hose. Christian started choking and gasping for air and, ultimately, continuing to scream. My foot throbbed and stung all over from the dang fire ants and I just hung my head and started to cry. I thought, "This is so ridiculous."
After 20 minutes or so we finally got the whole situation calmed down and under control. Grace happily bobbed around in the front seat eating french fries and enjoying the adventure, no worse for the wear. Christian nursed and burped, and the stinging on my foot subsided a little bit.
I sat in that parking lot until I felt like I had recovered from the situation, until I could laugh about it. I mean honestly, fire ants? What are the chances? I took pictures documenting the exact location of this extremely ridiculous situation.
An hour after I initially arrived frantic and desperate, I left, tear stained but calm and definitely laughing at myself and thinking, "So much for thinking this might not be difficult."
Christian slept the rest of the drive and Grace stayed awake but completely self-entertained. It was almost midnight by the time that we arrived at my sister's house, but we had made it and we were all still in one piece.
The Thursday after the BBWE, we sent Aaron off on an airplane to go to his sister Sarah's wedding in D.C. He was given strict instructions from me to take a copious amount of pictures so that I could live vicariously through him. He needed a few (possibly annoying) reminders from me, and I also enlisted the help of my sister-in-law, Rachel, to compile some wedding pictures.
Friday evening was the rehearsal dinner.
And on Saturday, September 8th, Quang and Sarah officially sealed the deal in the Washington D.C. temple.
Officially introducing the Phos!
The beautiful bride
After a ring ceremony that evening the party began. Aaron's parents tearing up the dance floor.
Aaron's other siblings (L to R) Rachel, Olivia, and Joe
I loved the flowers on the cake, gorgeous.
Aaron and Sarah.
Congratulations Sarah and Quang we are so incredibly happy for you guys!
Sunday morning, bright and early, we all got up and ready for Christian's blessing day. Thankfully my parents got ready early and headed to our apartment to help get the kids ready. My Dad dressed Christian in the very same blessing outfit that Aaron wore when he was blessed. It was a beautiful light blue cotton collared onesie with matching shoes. I was so grateful that Aaron's Mom had kept it after all of those years and brought it to us when she came out to visit.
The whole day felt so special. Walking into church and seeing our family members taking up an entire row, and then some, was an incredible feeling. We were surrounded by love on all fronts. Even talking about it gets me all choked up. I was so grateful for all of the sacrifices that these people made to be there on that day.
As the blessing began there was one very obvious flaw in the situation, the microphone was broken. No one could hear anything that was being said. However, the spirit in the room was so strong and I felt such a calm peace and comfort that it didn't even matter that I couldn't hear the specific words. By the end of the seemingly silent blessing I began to fight back the tears. I was so overwhelmed with love and gratitude. After the blessing was over and we were singing the proceeding hymn I couldn't stop myself, and the tears started to come. It was such a beautiful, spiritual moment for me and I couldn't help it. But I feared that people thought I was crying due to the lack of a functioning microphone, so I did my best to dry my eyes as quickly as possible.
All of the men who helped bless Christian took turns writing down the pieces of the blessing that they could remember, and my mother-in-law compiled all of their words into one document for me. It is an incredible keepsake that I hope Christian will cherish in the years to come
Before brunch we headed outside to take some pictures.
The men who helped to give Christian a name and a blessing: (L to R)
Cade, Aaron's Dad, Aaron, My Dad, Trey, Bishop Buhman, Scott
All of us together
There was a serious amount of photobombing taking place during the Grandparent's pictures.
Papa and Grandee (Aaron's parents)
Poppy and Mema (my parents)
The Chrome Dome trio
Aaron and Trey
Trey Clark with Christian Clark
Me and my boy
We finished the day with brunch, naps, and dinner at our place which resulted, somehow, in everyone sharing their most embarrassing moments (it was quite hilarious).
On Monday, unfortunately, we had to send everyone back to their respective homes.