Monday, August 25, 2008

Disc Golf and Karter's Firsts

On Saturday, we went to play disc golf at a park in Cannon Falls. Karter was strapped to Daddy in his carrier as we went around the nine "hole" course.

It was a tough battle, but Kristoffer (with Karter) won by one throw/stroke on the very last hole! The weather here has been it was fantastic to get outside to play!! Hopefully, we can get out a few more times this fall. Here are pictures of our outing!!

Karter had a lot of firsts early this week - just in the past two days. He has started using his hands as sucking devices...and this week, he realized that his left thumb is a fantastic apparatus for said sucking. He LOVES finding his thumb - even though it is a little frustrating, and he grunts until he finds it - and then will suck it until he is satisfied (or asleep!).

Today, he turned over for the first time! He was laying on his belly, lifting his head, and he pushed hard with one arm...and over he went! He was a little shocked that he did something like that, judging by the look on his face, but it did completely wear him out. It was fun to cheer for him, and he did crack a little smile to see and hear how excited his parents were that he did turn over!

Here are more pictures of Karter - learning more and more every day. He loves looking at everything to see what is all around him. This is a very fun time for us as parents...but it is so hard to believe it is almost Labor Day already!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Two Months of Parenting

Last Saturday, on the 16th, Karter celebrated his two month birthday. We celebrated as a family with a hike in the morning at Miesville Ravine Park along the Cannon River and a wonderful dinner of Dana's famous homemade hamburgers!'s hard to believe that we have been parents for two months. Dana and I talked about what our role is as parents now - since it is hard to teach a two-month-old baby much. We decided that it is our role to make sure his needs are met and that he is loved. If that's the case, we are doing a good job so far! :-)

Karter is starting to really interact with us and with other things. He LOVES seeing new things - going for walks in his carrier, looking in the mirror, and watching Rascal are among his favorite daily activities. He is also learning what his arms and hands do. He has learned that his hands/arms taste very good or are at least good to suck/chew on. He struggles with getting those appendages around his mouth, but that's not for a lack of effort!!

Karter has also started sitting in his Bumbo (you can see it from the pictures - CLICK HERE FOR RECENT PICTURES) and still loves his "bouncy seat." We try to read to him at least a couple times each day, but we think he just likes to hear our voices.

Karter also had his two month check-up at the doctor - receiving four shots in the process. He now weighs 13 lbs. 1 oz. and is 24 1/2 in. long/tall. He is in the 80th percentile in weight and 95th in height. Plus, Daddy thinks (read hopes/wishes) that Karter is left-handed. A tall, strong, southpaw would make a good pitcher!! :-)
Who knows what the next two months will hold for our new family...but it sure has been a blast so far!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Today's the day...

...that we start working out again! Although we are a very active family we haven't really exercised for awhile. We have a very nice fitness room downstairs, and unfortunately for the last 9+ months the equipment has been gathering dust. It was dusted off yesterday and is ready to be used again!

While, I, Dana, have officially lost the 31 lbs I gained during pregnancy, my body isn't quite how I remember it! Even though I did work-out throughout pregnancy (thanks to Sherry!), I haven't actually broken a good sweat from working out in a long time. Although I will be taking it slow, it sure will feel good to do some real exercise again!

With a summer full of traveling and having guests at our house, we have both decided that it is time to start this week. We are finally getting into a good routine, and hope to add our fitness piece back in!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kamaron and Anique's Visit has been nine days since we posted last - but we do have an excuse (as a side note - we will be more active on posting...promise!!). Uncle Kamaron and his girlfriend Anique came up to visit during all of last week. They arrived in Hampton last Saturday afternoon and stayed until the following Saturday morning. It was great to see them since we haven't seen them since April (we haven't seen Anique since Christmas, actually). They made the customary journey to see Karter!

We spent Sunday in New Ulm - a quaint German town in southwestern Minnesota. We went out to eat at a traditional German restaurant, Kaiserhoff, and then went to The Way of the Cross. Finally, we went to Schell's Brewery - the third oldest brewery in the United States. It was a fun day!

During the week, Kamaron and Anique did lots of hiking and biking. They went to fun places around Hampton - Cannon Falls, Hastings, and Mendota. They also went to the Mall of America on Thursday. On Thursday night, they came to downtown Minneapolis with Karter and Dana. We went out to eat at the Old Spaghetti Factory, saw the famous "Cherry on a Spoon," and then did a river walk along the Mississippi. Of course, we watched the Olymipics almost every night!

We had a very fun week with them! Karter has now met all of his aunts and uncles (and, in two cases, their girlfriends, too). He will see Grandma and Grandpa Gray again in September - which will be very fun. But...thanks Kamaron and Anique for a great time in Hampton!! Karter can't wait to see you again soon...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Happy Baby!

If you are having a bad day, just look at that face! It will automatically bring a smile to your face. Karter has become very animated this week and is almost always smiling. We have been able catch him in action this week, and if you would like to see them CLICK HERE.

Karter has grown a lot over the last couple of weeks, but we aren't sure how much. We will find out next Friday when Dana takes him to his 2 month check up. He will also be getting 4 shots at this appointment, Dana's not looking forward to that part of the appointment.

More excitement coming to the Gray household this weekend. Uncle Kamaron and his girlfriend, Anique, will be staying with us next week. Karter hasn't met his Uncle Kamaron yet, and is very excited to have him stay with us!

Happy Friday!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Youth Mission Trip - What a week!!

It has been a crazy few weeks here at the Gray household. As mentioned in the previous blog, I (Kristoffer) led a group of 11 youth and 3 additional chaperones to Asheville, NC, to help with home repair. We left at 5:00am on a Saturday morning - after spending the night before waiting at an airport for the van, shopping for food, and packing! Needless to say, I was already exhausted - but there is no rest for the weary!

It was approximately a 20 hour drive to our camp - ReCreation Experiences. This is a non-denominational group that hosts about 150-200 mission participants each week for eight weeks. We were there on week seven. At our camp, there were groups from Texas, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee...and of course, the AfterShock Youth Group from Glendale UMC in Savage, MN!!

Our client for the week was Bobbie, a widow that had recently moved back to her grandmother's home. This home was well over 100 years old and was completely falling apart before ReCreation worked on it two weeks before we got there. The previous crew had painted and re-roofed the house - leaving us to do the interior work. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday we worked on tearing out the old plaster/insulation/paneling and putting up new drywall as well as painting. Hard and tedious work! It was difficult sometimes finding work for all 15 people, but we all worked hard. We ALMOST finished the house, but we did get a lot of work done. Bobbie and her family were more than grateful!

We also managed to have fun during the trip. Wednesday was spent whitewater rafting, and we went to King's Island amusement park on the way home to celebrate.

We also grew closer as a group and to God. My lessons each night were how to see God in our everyday lives - through nature, eachother, ourselves, those less fortunate, etc. The kids all participated and grew spiritually during our nightly devotion time. The camp had a morning worship each morning and a big one on Friday night. During that worship time, Bobbie and her family came and celebrated with us. What an uplifting and fun worship! We got back to Minnesota around 7:30pm ten days after our original journey began - last Monday.

Overall, it was completely exhausting for me - figuring out all the logistics behind the trip. Where to stay, what to eat, when to eat, etc...all took lots of time and stress! was WELL worth it to see each of us grow and experience Christ. There are LOTS of pictures from the trip - so check them out here! Make sure to read the captions for at least a little play-by-play. Also...there are TONS of stories I could ask if you are interested since I would love to share!!

Pictures from Saturday thru Monday

Pictures from Tuesday thru Thursday

Pictures from Friday thru Monday

Pictures taken by Taylor - Bobbie's Granddaughter

Pictures taken by a professional photographer on Friday's Work Day

God was truly gracious and loving to each of us during the trip. May He continue to bless Bobbie and her family!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

...and we're back!

Wow...what a busy two weeks it has been!! For the first week Kristoffer was on our youth group's mission trip in North Carolina. The group did home repair for a family during the day and in the evenings Kristoffer led the group in devotionals all centered around how they saw God working that day. The group worked really hard during the day, and grew in their faith and in their trust for each other. Even though the work was hard, they did take some time out to have fun....white water rafting one day and then stopping at Kings Island in Cincinnati, OH on the way back. What a trip....more to come on that in a later post.

Dana and Karter really enjoyed their time visiting friends and family in Indiana. It was so wonderful to be surrounded by people who love us...and are so willing to help out with feedings and diaper changes!! Karter's grandparents were eager to show him off, so they made different trips to visit different people. He is such a little trooper and just goes went it without a fuss (most of the time!). Also, while in Indiana, Dana got to enjoy a pedicure!! After many months of not being able to see her feet, much less take care of them, the pedicure was greatly enjoyed!!

We made it back to Minnesota late Monday night, and Kristoffer had to jump right back into work. Not just work though...he had interviews for a promotion the day he went back to work! He had one interview Tuesday, and three on Wednesday with a psych evaluation (we are still waiting the results of the psych eval!!). Not only did he have a busy work load, he also came down with a bad cold when he got back. Just now getting over that he is finally able to relax a little.

Karter has entered a fun stage this week. He has started smiling!! It is an amazing thing to see and sure makes his parents hearts melt. He will smile, laugh and "coo" at us. We have been trying to capture pictures of it all week, but wouldn't you know as soon as the camera is out he stops! Dana is determined to get a good picture soon.

Today, we are taking Karter on his first picnic! We are meeting with our friends Nick & Ali and their 5 month old baby, Henry, at Como Park for a picnic. After we eat we will watch the boys "play" and then go to the zoo. It should be a fun afternoon and a great time catching up with our friends.