Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This kid is AWESOME!

Willy has taken his first steps!  What fun it is to watch.  It actually started last Thursday when he took one step at Caleb's baseball game.  Then he took about 3 steps on Saturday night.  But today was another big day when he took 6 steps.  I just cannot come up with words to describe how fun it is to watch him take these small, shaky steps and to watch him try to balance while smiling because he knows he is doing something BIG.  What a cool little kid!  So, I will let you watch it for yourself:

And then if that was not fun enough, Peter was in other room listening to some pretty good classical music (Figaro and The William Tell Overture- aka The Horse Song in our house) while Willy was walking.  After the fan-fare we all went in to listen and I captured this on video.  What a little stud, while Peter is doing his usual Horse Song racing (try to ignore the small attack on Peter's part, kids will be kids) Will was jamming to the music himself.  I love this kid!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy...

"The boys are in trouble!" Dacia said. "They are being punished after church!"

YES!! I get to punish the boys! Ok, so what is the punishment?

"They are going to sit on the couch at home after church, quietly and reverently, for one hour!"

That's right! That'll teach 'em!

Wait a minute, that sounds familiar. Didn't I have the same punishment several times as a young hooligan? Hmmm...I'm trying to remember if it worked. I don't think so. If I remember right, it just ended up frustrating Grandma Gray even more until she finally threw up her hands in despair and retreating from the living room muttering to herself in dismay. No wait, yeah, that's right! I was the good one! The only reason I had to receive the punishment was to show Jon and Rob-the actual perpetrators-how to sit quietly, cuz I was so good at it! Yeah, that's how it all went down...

So what was the behavior that caused Dacia's frustration?

January 7, 1997- Dacia meets a loud-mouthed RM in her Music Theory 101 class...

December 20, 1997- Dacia marries said loud-mouthed RM...

2001-2007- Dacia then decides to have 3 boys (don't forget the one on the way! just guessing as to its gender)...

Fast forward until this morning....

Dacia gets out of bed early to ready herself for church. Showers, shaves. all the rest.

8am-Dacia wakes up the boys and gets them breakfast. Eats a bowl of cereal herself. Jason is asleep.

8:30-Dacia blowdries her hair. She sets Jonah and Jonathan up with instructions to get dressed.

8:45-Dacia finishes her hair, then yells at Jonah and Jonathan to hurry up and get dressed. She hunts around for clothes for Spencer.

8:55-Jonah and Jonathan have turned on the computer to play video games. Dacia finally finds the outfit she wants to dress Spencer in.

9:10-Dacia yells at Jonah and Jonathan, who are playing computer games. In their pjs. They all begin a hunt for their church clothes.

9:20-Dacia finds the last of their clothes; ties and belts. She then starts to apply her makeup.

9:35-Dacia starts to look for Spencer's socks and shoes. She finds Spencer out on the deck. He has learned how to unlock and open the sliding glass door.

9:47-Dacia has finished combing all 3 boys' hair. Jason wakes up and gets out of bed to shower.

9:58-The whole family loads into car to go to church.

10:00-Family piles out of the car. We arrive just in time for choir rehearsal, which Dacia conducts. Jason tries to hide his yawns.

11:05-Sacrament meeting starts.

11:11-Opening Hymn and Prayer are done; Spencer is thrashing about and arching his back, screraming, trying to free himself from Dacia's arms. Books, toys, and crayons have failed to calm him. Dacia's white blouse has been colored blue in places.

11:25-Ward business is finishing and Sacrament Hymn begins.

11:26-Jason takes Spencer out of the chapel.

11:40-Sacrament is over, Dacia leaves Jonah and Jonathan in chapel to switch with Jason taking care of Spencer.

11:45-Dacia returns to chapel grumbling to herself, not having found Jason or Spencer. She sits down to find only Jonathan is remaining, and he is looking around planning his escape. "Jonah had to go to the bathroom. Can I go?"

11:55-Jonah has returned, with Jonathan, from the bathroom. Jonathan starts climbing over and under and around the bench. Jonah starts giggling, and snapping his fingers in the ears of the children of the Morgan family sitting in front of them. Dacia is trying to silence Jonah and Jonathan.

12:05-Jonathan is laying on his back under the bench. Jonah is alternating snapping his fingers in the Morgan's ears, and tickling Jonathan underneath him, giggling all the while. They are ignoring Dacia altogether. She is grumbling to herself wondering if Jason has gone back home with Spencer. Jonah asks Dacia, "How many more minutes 'til the meeting is over?"

12:15-Final speaker finishes her address: Jonah starts clapping, excited that the meeting is almost over. Dacia is mortified about the clapping, informs Jonah they are going to be punished after church. Jonah asks with wide eyes the nature of the impending punishment. Dacia tells him (see first lines of post) and Jonah starts crying, turns and repeats to Jonathan, whose lips start to quiver and says, "Oh no!" in a small voice.

12:18-One verse of closing hymn and prayer are over. Jonah and Jonathan-punishment forgotten-are off like shots to their primary classes.

12:25-Jason wanders back into the chapel after having dropped Spencer off at nursery. He flops onto the bench next to Dacia (who has her head buried in her arms, leaning on the back of the bench in front of her) and he says, "I'm exhausted! I had to chase Spencer in and out and around the chapel during the whole thing! I didn't get a thing out of that meeting."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The great game of baseball

Well, the anticipated day finally arrived today when we had Caleb's first T-ball game.  The season was originally supposed to begin April 2nd, but then they lengthened the time to sign up so the season started April 14th.  Well, our game on the 14th got rained out so we anxiously awaited tonight to see what the weather would bring.  With gray clouds looming in the sky all day and cold temperatures 5:30 came and the game was on!  I wished the game only went longer so that I could have gone to get some hand-warmers for all those tough little boys.  Brrrr!  It was a chilly one out there tonight.  We have been practicing for quite a few weeks so Caleb was eager to get out there and hit the ball.  He is on the gray team and his coach gave his team the name "The Transformers."  Kind of appropriate for a team full of 5 and 6 year old boys!  Caleb did great both times up to bat.  They get to have the ball pitched to them 3 times and if they miss then they bring out the Tee.  Caleb's first time up he smacked the ball on the third pitch and his second time up he hit it off the Tee.  But not only that, he actually focused while he was out on the field.  Yeah!  He says he had fun but I think the fact that his hands were hurting from the cold kind of dampened his mood.  But I will say, he is a great little player and I know he will have fun if nothing more than he will meet new kids and get to whack at that ball. The game is officially on!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Notable quotes

I promise this is the last post on Easter but I forgot to mention the two cute things my kids said about Easter.  Peter's quote of the year: I asked him what he got in his Golden Egg (note each of the kids received $5), Peter looked at me and said, "Paper."  That is great.  Rob asked him what color the paper was and he said, "white."  He did not even pay enough attention to know there was green, it was just some boring old paper.
Caleb's quote:  after everyone was gone and Caleb was chomping down on his candy he looked at me and said, "that was the best way to start a morning."  Kids can be great!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

We're Going to Disney World!

Okay, so maybe we should have titled this blog, "We WENT to Disney World" but who can pass up saying we're going to Disney World? Only those that have never watched a Super Bowl, that's who.

So Spring Break came a few weeks ago and we decided that we desperately needed to get out of gloomy and ever-gray Cleveland. At first we thought it would be nice to go to NYC. But after some discussion with co-workers and family, we knew that it would be in our best interest and sanity to go to a sunnier/warmer clime. With that, we booked our tickets to Orlando and got really excited to say, "We're going to Disney World!!"

We flew out on St. Patrick's Day, which is a story in and of itself... You see, we usually take public transit to the airport so we don't have to bum a 40+ minute drive out of someone. And to those of you living in Utah that have never experienced a real St. Patty's Day, let's just say that riding around on Cleveland's RTA system on March 17th means meeting some (read "lots") really inebriated bar-crawlers. You'd think that the whole point of the day is to take work off to get really wasted. Who knew St. Patrick was the patron saint of beer? Anywho, back to the point: One guy in particular was unstable enough that he had to lie on the floor of the train and had to be quickly led off when some of the day's festivities started to come back up.

We arrived in Orlando late Tuesday night and checked the forecast for the week so as to plan which days to go where. Since it was clear skies and sunshine the whole way, we decided that it would be best to hit Disney World first. We decided we wanted to go two days: first to Magic Kingdom (which is Disney Land plus a bigger castle and minus Indiana Jones) and the next day go to Epcot.

Magic Kingdom was great! Before going on our trip, Dave was asked by one of his preceptors at school what our plans for spring break were and when Dave replied Disney World, she said, "Ugh, I hated Disney World. Wait, do you have kids?"

"No." Dave replied.

"Oh, then you'll probably have a great time then."

And a great time we had, indeed! We were able to hit all the rides we wanted and take lots of pictures. We left the park before dinner because there was a great little Indian restaurant Mindy wanted to try out, and it was wonderful.

Thursday we went to Epcot. It has all these attractions about future technologies and what not, but what we were really excited about was the World Showcase. It is an area with mini versions of several countries, each decked out in that particular country's architecture and restaurants. Some have rides, others have videos. Since we both have the travel bug...bad, this was a great pseudo-trip to all these great places. Epcot has mini versions of: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, England, and Canada. We spent the day taking in each place's cool buildings and workers/performers, all from the country they represented. And best of all was all the food! We were eating all day and the ended the day with dinner at Germany's Biergarten Restaurant, an all you can eat beer hall experience complete with live German polka! It was incredible!

Friday we went to Cocoa Beach. It was great to go and relax on the sand. We brought our books and just bummed around on the beach and did a little shopping the huge Ron Jon surf shop there. Later that night, we went to Universal Studios to catch a movie and get some great dessert at Bubba Gump's.

Saturday we first went to the Orlando Temple, which was very beautiful. Took lots of pictures after doing a session. Saturday afternoon we decided to check out the outlets that we'd heard about. It was incredible what stores they had, and considering how full the parking lots were, we keep wondering, "What recession??"

We finished off Saturday by going to Downtown Disney. We did some more shopping for souvenirs, had dinner, and caught another movie.

Sunday we woke up REALLY early to catch our flight back to Cleveland. The trip was great and we especially loved being able to be outside and catch so much sunshine! And we really realized how great of a time it was the closer we got to home. We went from sunny warm happiness and slowly got gloomier and more depressing with each mile on the return flight to Ohio. Oh well. At least the trip was a hit and we had a great time!

More Utah Easter Pics and Vids...

Ok, so I uploaded the pictures on the small size, in the hopes that you could see more without taking up more real estate. Oh well...We had breakfast before the hunt, for energy and stuff. Click on the photos for larger size.

The kids staring out into the backyard with barely contained anticipation. If it were me, I would say we were scoping out routes for optimum egg gathering strategies...Since it wasn't me, I think they were just looking outside thinking about all the pretty colors. See video below...

This is the way Spencer rolls...At first I thought he was defending his egg loot...Nope. He just found himself a bigger stick to swing. Have a great video of this, but they just take too darn long to upload.

The reckoning...

Again, have lots of great video showing all the fun. Too much work. Anyway, we sure missed having Grandpa and Grandma Gray and Emily with us! And we certainly missed Dave and Mindy, but it sounds as if they had a lot more fun at DisneyWorld! Hope all you beach bums had a great time! (Ok, so Jon and Heidi Mae et al. are on a rocky coast, and not necessarily a beach, but still! We missed you too!)

Oh, and I have all my pictures for you anytime you want Diedre! We had great time!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Great Egg Hunt

As everyone knows, Granny Gray's egg hunts are fabulous!  I mean it, I still remember my first Easter with Rob and family.  I remember getting up, thinking how bad I looked but that everyone wanted me to go hunt for eggs, going to the back sliding glass door and seeing the yard covered in plastic Easter eggs.  Then I remember David, Rob and all the others stampeding out the door to grab every egg they could touch.  It was fun and cool and slight madness.  But it was great.  So, in holding to tradition Granny Gray has always been so awesome and done a hunt for the little Grays and they love it!  Caleb still remembers the year he found the Golden Egg and how exciting that was.  However, this year Granny, Grandpa, and Emily took off for California and left Dacia and I wondering what to do.  Have the egg hunt without Granny's yard and few remaining Little Chick Eggs or wait for Granny to come home?  We decided to go ahead with the hunt in my (Diedre and Rob's) back yard and we made a few adjustments.  We had four Golden Eggs, candy was inside some of the eggs, and there was a lot less money (Granny Gray is soooo generous).  Dacia brought over a bunch of eggs yesterday, filled and ready to be scattered.  I also pulled together all the eggs we had and together I think we had maybe 120 eggs and I thought that would for sure be enough for the boys.  But upon scattering the eggs in our yard early this morning I found that my yard is big and I did not have enough!  With a quick trip to the store and being lucky enough to find some cute, tiny eggs that were only $1 a package I headed home with 72 more eggs and that made the yard look a bit more hunt worthy.  My next quandary was where to hide the prized Golden Eggs???  I found some suitable spots and with that, the boys were excited and anxious to get out there.

These are the boys upon finding their Golden Egg.  I feel kind of bad, I think we should have made them search a little more before having adult intervention to find the eggs.  But I think all of us were a bit cold from the nippy air and maybe I hid them too high?  Who knows?   I also think that Jason got some good pictures of the boys while they were hunting, I need to get some copies (Please Jason??).  Oh and I think the most exciting find of all was when they were opening up their eggs in the house Jonah found a wasp crawling out of one of his eggs.  No worries, it was in super slow-mode and Jason bravely scooped it up and humanely set it free outside.  
Another side note, I mentioned before my memories of hunting with the grown-up Grays, scrambling for every last egg and the hunt was over in minutes.  That was fun.  With these boys it is kind of different.  They need a lot of prodding to get those eggs.  It is so funny, you would think they would be like little vacuums - getting every last egg in their path.  Instead they run to one egg but pass up 5 others. :)  Or they stop to shake the egg or just have fun running around without caring about the hunt itself (at least this is what Peter tends to do).  I am so embarrassed, but in the video Rob took you can hear me telling Caleb and Peter, "Go, Go, Go!  Run... get those eggs... they're getting them all!"  But hey, I guess I need to put that all aside.  They had fun and were just excited to be together.  And we were happy to share the day together.  I must say, this family is awesome!  We do some pretty fun stuff together and I am still amazed that Dacia and Jason want to bring Spencer around Peter.  Hopefully one day my boy will get it together.  We love you all!  Happy Easter!

Willy's Easter

Being Will's first Easter I think that I should let you all in on his exciting day.  It started yesterday when this happened:
In the beginning
Close to the end

We were dying Easter eggs and to keep Will peaceful I passed an egg over for him to inspect. He started out innocent enough, slightly cracking the egg and just picking at the shell.  No, I am not clueless; I knew the egg would soon be mush but I figured that a kid only lives once.  Why not let him make his first Easter memories the messy, fun way. :)  The boys thought it was hillarious and I have to admit it was funny how serious he was during the disceting of the egg. The bop had to of course stay in his mouth because as you know, kids under one should not have eggs.  He wanted to try though.
Then today we had the always fun Easter egg hunt at our house.  This is Will's only shot from Easter and he did not even want to be a part of it.  He slept straight through the hunt and it was only after everyone left that he dug into all the empty eggs to play for himself.  He also went and played tennis for the first time today.  As in play I mean crawled around the tennis court watching Caleb and Peter chase after balls and every now and then he would get a ball.  It was so cute to watch him crawl around in that big tennis court with a ball being bounced between his legs as he was crawling away to explore something new.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Flowers and Kids grow in dirt!

Yesterday we got to work and planted our seeds (in cups first) to get ready for the hopeful harvest we will produce from our garden.  We like planting in cups first so we can watch the roots growing from inside the cup, it is fun.  The boys loved starting their garden, especially Will who was experiencing it all for the first time.  It was windy outside so we pulled all the gear into the kitchen and got down and dirty.  Caleb is an old pro at planting seeds, he knew what to do.  Peter was less excited to get his hands dirty but he still enjoyed placing the seeds into the dirt.  Then there was William.  He wanted to grab everyone else's cups of dirt and was really frustrating Peter.  We gave him his own cup with a tiny bit of dirt so that he would be appeased.  Then this happened:
The boys found it very amusing and William did not see any harm in a little dirt.  As Grandpa Gray says, "Flowers and kids grow in dirt."  Now the cups are sitting the windowsill of the boy's bedroom waiting for the sun to come out and help them sprout.  And I think Caleb has maybe learned his lesson on only so much water for the seeds, we do not want to drown them. :)  And when our seeds are ready to transplant outside we have these ready for the garden:
The boys painted them up so that we can put them in the garden to help us see what is planted where.  We already have three of them outside because we did some planting outside on Monday.  It was too beautiful to not do yard work and we were anxious to get our garden going.  So we planted peas and cantaloupe and pumpkin.  We will see what happens to them, these crops take such a long time to produce that I figured we would try planting now.  Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Continuing in the hope

Whew buddy, what a day.  And it was conference, you'd think it would have been spirit packed and filled with uplifting moments.  Well, I did have my uplifting moment but it was not until the end of the day and after much strife.  These are my boys at Conference Camp-out, a Rob Gray Family tradition that my boys love and somehow it brings us together to get us excited about conference.  
Caleb's memorable quotes from today were, "Mom, I've listened to TWO talks from conference!"  He was so proud of himself, I did not have the heart to tell him that he had listened to the first two talks of conference and he had another hour and a half to go. :)  Also Caleb said from Sister Liffer's (sp??) talk, "Mom, when you discipline me I do not learn anything."  OH BUDDY!  I think that was prophecy for the rest of the day's behavior for Caleb.  But seriously, Caleb does pretty good with catching certain phrases in conference.
Peter loved watching the choir sing and he would always point out when someone said Jesus or our Savior.  And Peter is convinced that Mary Poppins is in the Tabernacle Choir. :)
This is William at conference:
He was loving the TV and made his brothers quite upset that they could not see the picture. But he was just so happy to be right there with all the sparkles on the TV and those other people. It was great!
Anyway, back to the Hope part.  So, conference was not all singing and praising.  It tends to be "no" and "shhh" a lot too.  And that made kids grumpy, which made parents testy and grumpy which is not a good combination.  By the end of the night I was glad Rob was able to get away to Priesthood and I was looking forward to bedtime.  But even bedtime did not go smoothly.  Somehow we ended up crying, disciplining (which I wonder if I am a failure because sheesh, I am not teaching anything) and, oh brother.  But even Heavenly Father is able to get through to me and led me to a great scripture as I was reading to the boys.  2 Ne 10:23, "Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves-to choose the way of everlasting death or the way to eternal life."  What a wonderful message for three unhappy people, "cheer up your hearts."  Heavenly Father helped me to pull it together and to somehow end the night well.  I was able to hold Will as he fell asleep and watch him be so peaceful.  I was able to help my boys know that they are loved and in some crazy way special to me and God.  And they were able to go to sleep with a good feeling in their heart.  Thank you, Father in Heaven for helping me end the day right.  

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Oh my heavens

For some reason trying to upload pictures to Blogger from my computer here in California has been harder than...well it's been ridiculous. I've wanted to put pictures of the boys on so their lonely daddy can see them (he's still in CT while we're having fun here in CA). At first it was just that they wouldn't upload at all. For some reason they've started uploading, but now they won't upload properly. The pictures are distorted and discolored. As you can see, I had an option with this specific picture to either have a floating baby head...

A decapitated dog head...

Or a...DANG IT...I accidentally deleted the only semi normal quality upload of this shot. Sorry, now you'll just have to use your imagination.
Well Cooper and Douglas were scared of Taffy (the dog) the first day, but are old pros with her now. Douglas loves to yell out 'Gawgy' when he sees her.

That's one lipsmacking slurpee there.

The rest of the pictures are of us at the park playing baseball. Well everyone else played baseball, I just took pictures. :)

For some reason Douglas has decided that if he's going to wear a hat, then it must be pulled over his eyes and he must try walking/running while this is done. So far he's run into the sliding glass door and couch, with minimal injury. I didn't try and stop him here though. There wasn't much to run into.

This is a slightly distorted picture of Cooper running the bases.

Hey look, Jackson's keeping his eye on the ball. I'm such a proud parent. All that yelling from the sidelines "Just keep your eye on the ball!" has officially paid off!

Douglas wanted in on the action too. It only took 3 throws to actually make it to Grandpa.

If you've got an itch...then scratch it. :)

Playing on the playground after the game

Douglas LOVES to slide

Yes the top of Jackson's head is a