Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas in Pictures

I'm a little late in getting the Christmas post up.  Doesn't Christmas already seem like it was weeks ago?
I had to beg ,  try really hard not to get in a fight, ok, maybe we did get in a little heated discussion
for Andy to finally take down the Christmas tree today.

We decorate so early because I'm so anxious for the holiday (November 20 this year), that by the time Christmas comes and goes, I'm ready to get everything down on December 26 at 8am.
Not everyone in this family shares my urgency.

Here are Addison & Graham when we got home from church on Christmas Eve.

 The elves had come and stuffed their stockings while we were gone, but it took the kids almost an hour and a half to even realize it. 

 Then she got a little excited when she found the note our Elf, Nio, had left.
While I'm on the subject of Nio, it's taken Addison a while to get used to the fact that Nio no longer lives at our house.
At least not until next December.
She just stopped asking to go look for him every morning.

I don't think Nio understood the term, "stuffers".

 I don't have many pics from Christmas morning this year, but I do have a few to document one of Addison's gifts from Santa.
She has been asking for purple Tinkerbell skates since September when she saw them at Target.
 Ever since her first ride Christmas morning, she doesn't ask for them anymore.
I think we need more practice.
And I don't have the pictures to document, but Graham clearly understands how presents work now.
I think he got a crash course between his birthday and Christmas.

If we weren't watching he would have opened everyone's gifts under the tree.
His vocabulary has sky rocketed in the last month.
Some new words he learned last week were:

"open this please"
"Daddy, open present"

and finally, we did teach him "Baby Jesus".
I think he will be participating in advent next year to learn what this holiday is truly about a little more.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Minivan Express

I have had a love/hate relationship with Pinterest in 2011.
Today, I have lots of love for it because it helped make a favorite tradition of ours even better.

We love to go look at lights every year, but this year we hopped aboard the "Minivan Express."
Aren't all you non-minivan drivers out there a tad bit jealous?
That's a whole other post in itself.

We told the kids it was time for bed around 5:45.  Luckily, they can't tell time and it was dark so they were none the wiser.  
However, we had yet to feed them dinner, so they must have been a little confused.

When they went upstairs they found Golden "Minivan Express" tickets under their pillow.
Addison was very excited.
She became even more so when we told her we were going to Chick Fil A, and then to look at Christmas lights!
 Graham was so happy he fell over.
Or something like that.
 First stop on the trip....Chick Fil A!
Our home away from home.
Santa Cow was there, but the kids wanted nothing to do with him.
They were more interested in the nuggets and who could really blame them.
 Then it was time for chocolate milk and cookies in the car.
I don't know what she's doing here, but I think she was squinting because of the flash.
 After stopping off at Starbucks, the Minivan Express took a tour of the best lights in San Diego.
 Seriously, I don't know how these people do it.
It takes my husband 4 hours to hang one strand of lights on the garage.
Which he didn't do this year because I didn't want them left up there until July like last time.
 I loved seeing the palm trees all decked out.
California Christmas
 Some of the houses had their lights set to music.
You would turn to that station on the radio and the lights would "dance".
 I really can't imagine their electric bill.

 As we got closer to home, the kids were almost racked out, but we took in one more house.
This house is actually around the corner from us.
It's amazing because they go so far as to create an entire window shop scene in the window complete with fish swimming in the water. 

The Minivan Express pulled into our driveway and Addison yelled, "Hey, why doesn't our house have lights?!!"  "We need lights!!"
Because my dear, your mom and dad are lazy.....and we want to be able to pay our mortgage.

I leave you with our favorite house.  They have an entire YouTube channel.
Please take a second to's absolutely mind blowing.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday happenings

It's catch up time.
We've been having some December fun.  
Like pajama breakfasts with friends.

 My friend Paige and I threw a "Stuff your Stocking" party last week.
It was a much smaller scale favorite things party.
Each person was asked to bring three $8-$10 items....and a stocking.

Joy must have had high hopes.

There were so many good stuffers!

We had a surprise guest who showed up to drop off the goods!
I must have been really good this year because I got a Starbucks card, a yummy Voluspa candle,
and now have a new favorite Victoria's Secret find.

It was so much fun, and I wish I had more pics to share, but we were too busy chatting, eyeing the goods, drinking mulled wine and eggnog, and sitting on Santa's lap.

 Paige must have been REALLY good because Santa stayed the night at her house!
and the next night....
and probably is still there actually. 
 We've been trying to do "special" things this month.
I had really lofty goals, but have settled for fun things like bubble baths.
Which suits these two just fine.
 Yesterday we did finally get to see Santa.
A few weeks ago we went to see Santa at the mall, but were kindly asked to get out of line once they found out we weren't willing to pay for the $ridiculously overpriced photo package.

Thankfully, Santa also visits the gym.
For free.
Addison was excited to see him and tell him what she really really wants for Christmas.
I hope he can come through on the Tinkerbell roller skates.
 Graham was not so excited.
In fact, I look to be the most excited in this picture.
Santa didn't ask me what I wanted for Christmas.
Which is probably just as well since he just brought us a new Koi pond motor.
I miss the days when I got to ask him for roller skates.

2011 Christmas Card

For the book....

Merry Christmas from The Parsons!  We hope that you are having a wonderful 2011!  It’s hard to believe that 2012 is right around the corner.

We have officially settled into to our new normal this year, and are finding it easier to call to San Diego home…..I mean, how hard can it be?  The year round gorgeous weather, driving home from work looking at the ocean, and building amazing friendships have made it pretty easy.  However, missing friends & family draws us back to Houston at least a couple of times a year…..that, and Tex-Mex food.

Graham just celebrated his second birthday!  He’s a “bull in a china shop” as Andy lovingly refers to him, but a pretty cute one at that.  Although he’s quite the mover and charmer, talking has come a little more slowly.  We’re hearing new words every day, but he still refers to his sister as, “Ass”…not getting the rest of her name quite yet.  It makes us laugh every time.  The boy is OBSESSED with Cars, airplanes, trains; pretty much anything that moves on wheels. 

Addison is full of personality!  She is 3 ½ going on 13.  She LOVES her new school and seems to be making lots of new friends.  However, if you ask her who her best friend is, without hesitating, she’s say her brother Graham.  She also loves to tell him what to do, take whatever he’s playing with, and wants to marry him someday, so there are a few “kinks” to be worked out in the relationship.  Addison is very into crafts, puzzles, and princesses.
She asks to go to Disneyland just about every week.  While, we haven’t been able to fulfill the weekly request, we have gotten a lot of use out of our family pass, since Anaheim is just an hour away.  This bodes well for Addison.
Andy and I finally got to get away for a long weekend thanks to his parents in October.  We drove up to Santa Barbara and spent 3 glorious days segway driving, sightseeing, and wine tasting.  We ended the weekend with a day at Disneyland WITHOUT the kids.  Andy has met a great group of guys, which works out well for me since their wives are some of my closest friends out here.  He’s working on planning more golf outings, poker nights, and down time in the coming year.  Good luck on that one.  No really, he deserves it and needs it!  Especially after that Iowa State game.

I am loving the sweet friendships that God has blessed me with out here, but sometimes struggle to balance that with nurturing lifelong relationships back home.  Fortunately, my friends understand what a busy phase of life we are all in.  Thank goodness for blogs!  I still love to work on our family blog,, but it has taken a little bit of a backseat in the past few months while I spend time getting my new photography business off the ground.  It’s exciting and scary, but I’m really enjoying the experience I’m gaining by practicing on such cute families!
If you are looking for some sunshine, please come visit us!  We welcome visitors as long as they stash away Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno to bring with them.  We wish you and your family a wonderful year ahead filled with love and God’s blessings.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

With love,
Andy, Melissa, Addison & Graham

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The little lamb

Addison's pre-school had their Christmas program last Thursday.  
Her teacher checked with me a few weeks ago to make sure that we were going to be in town the day of the program because Addison was picked to be the lamb and would stay on stage as part of the Nativity.

I have to be honest and say this surprised me.
Addison is not quite a performer in front of a crowd.  
A few weeks ago when I picked her up from school, the pre-school director was trying on her costume.  
Addison gave me a look, like....."I have to wear this?"

I thought she looked pretty cute but I did have some flashbacks to Ralphie from a Christmas Story coming downstairs in the bunny outfit his aunt sent him...
I think Addison could identify with him a little bit.
I did get her to smile for right before the program started.

Andy came from work to watch and Graham occupied himself on the phone for much of the program.
We talked about buying the $20 DVD of the performance so we could show the grandparents what a cute little lamb we have.
But instead they will have to just enjoy these pics, because I think we'll save the $20 and tell you that she was just a very sweet, QUIET, lamb. 
 Who stood there looking really cute, but was not so much into the singing.
Or the gestures.
Or the costume, for that matter.

 Once her class was done singing, she remained on stage and played the part of the lamb very well.
And then we got to give Miss Amy hugs, wish her Merry Christmas
 and headed to lunch with daddy.
We justified a special lunch out by the $20 saved on the DVD.
Thank you Addison!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Back to the good stuff

I've been feeling stressed lately.
It's expected this time of year, but I've been a little convicted about what I've been stressing about.
My stresses include: present buying, gift wrapping, lack of cookie baking or gingerbread house making,
not getting around to doing all the stuff on my Pinterest board labeled "Countdown to Christmas"...

And those are just the stresses and convictions that I feel ok typing.
Ok, I'll put it out there.
I'll admit that I have lost it more than once when Graham's train set has been destroyed by him PLAYING with it.  It's been driving me crazy that the playroom is a wreck and my house is right there with it.  

I've lost it this week with my kids.
LOST it....more than once.
I'm the crazy lady who is yelling at my kids for not picking up their stuff, and to leave me alone for one stinkin' minute so I can spend time on Pinterest finding some "fun activity" we can do together.
Messed up crazy lady.
That's me lately.

So after conviction set in.....
and God had a little heart to heart with me...
I've been a little emotional realizing how QUICKly these kids are growing up.
I'm not getting this time back.
And time with me is what they need.
Not Pinterest activities....although I do love 'em.

So I'm trying to take a step back (away from the computer, for one)
and spend more quality time amongst all the craziness of this time of year.

Last Thursday I dropped Addison off at pre-school and instead of taking Graham on a gagillion errands minus one kid....I took him to the park for some one-on-one time.

We weren't there long...

Because he wanted to go ....

look at this.

 And so G and I walked on the beach by ourselves for a few minutes.
We looked at waves, and really just took in all in.

 And it was the best time I"ve had in a long time.
I know he probably won't even remember it.
But I will.
A lot longer than I will some of the other stuff I've been spending my time on.

Friday, December 9, 2011


My other little project. =)

It's official.  Here's the website.  It's a work in progress, but please go check out my latest session.
It may be my favorite yet.  

And if you really are feeling generous, add it to your blog list.  I'm so appreciative of your support!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A girlie right of passage

A few months ago we were still battling one of the last stages of potty training.
I was at my wits end since we started potty training almost a year ago.
I had tried classic bribes.....M&M's, ice cream, little luck.

So I introduced a sticker chart and dangled the reward of getting her ears pierced upon completion.
Andy was supportive, but did question....."don't you want her to be a little older?"
My answer was..."she will be."
It's going to take months to complete this chart (it had 50 stickers).

Well apparently, it only took a couple of weeks.
Bribery at it's finest worked.

And so on Monday, we picked up Andy for a lunch break and headed to the mall.
Addison was excited but as soon as we got into the store, the nerves kicked in.

 Here she is giving me a look when I asked if she wanted me to hold her hand.
She's already embarrassed by her mom and she's 3.
 Getting ready....
 making the marks.
She wanted purple earrings (her current favorite color), but had to settle for pink.
They did use purple mark her ears, so that helped.
 And then it was time!!

 And she barely flinched!  Seriously, this was it.
She's one tough cookie.
Now I will say this is the same girl who will fall on the floor and bawl when her brother takes a toy, but at least for certain things, she's tough.

Pretty ears
And apparently, she also aged 3 years in the process because she looks SO BIG to me in this picture. 

 I think she was still in a little bit of shock.
I told her to smile for me and I got this natural look.
She does LOVE her earrings and wants to show everyone right away.
So we stand one for one with potty training with one more to go.
Might have to figure out some different bribes  rewards for the next child.