13 months

I was originally only going to do monthly updates for the first year but I rely on them for scrapbooking. By the time I get around to doing the pictures, I have to go back and read the posts to remember what was happening that month. So I'll be sticking with them at least until 18 months although they might be shorter- or maybe not, I don't do short well.

Dear Lucy,

This month you became a toddler, not just in age but in attitude. You are becoming quite social and independent. You still want to hang out with me if it is just the two of us at home but when we are out and about, you want to explore. Last week we got together with some other moms and tots and you played with a 18mon old and 4 year old for quite a while not even bothering to check it with me.

At times you struggle with your new desire for independence. You get overwhelmed and aren't really able to handle your emotions but we are managing to survive. But it is such a joy to watch you become a little girl, even if it means we have to deal with a bit of screaming.
You love to help out around the house. In this picture, you want me to vacuum while you sweep. 

You're quite opinionated. You love to make choices, such a diaper or trainers (always the trainers, you hate diapers) or which book you want to read.

You know 12 signs now having added eat, book, kitty, puppy, bug, flower, and bird to your repertoire. 

And as is obvious from your list of signs, you love the outdoors. You can spend 5 minutes just watching one little ant crawl around and get a kick out of showing it to us and "talking" about it. Most days we take a walk down to the mailbox. The hill is quite steep but you can do it yourself even though it may take us 30 minutes. I normally help you out a bit towards the end so we can make it all the way up to the garden where we do our daily inspections and bird watching. I normally allow you to be naked at this time, luckily we are pretty secluded.

You love to be in a state of undress although recently you have come to appreciate the joy of the accessory and will pick out bows and shoes to wear - but everything else like shirts or diapers is still unwelcomely forced upon you so you can often be found walking around the house in dress shoes and a diaper but nothing else. You'll let me put your hair in a teeny tiny pony tail on the top of your head and when I finish I say "oh, so beautiful" and you pat your head and smile.

You are starting to become a daddy's girl. When the door opens in the evening and you know Craig is home, you get excited and start heading over to see him. And if he tries to leave again right away, you fuss unless he takes you with him.
Taking a walk about the yard with daddy, you wanted to show him all the bugs. 

You love music and you love to dance. When life gets overwhelming and I can tell we are moving into dangerous territory, I'll put on some Abba and we'll start to dance and suddenly, my happy baby little girl is back.


Big Girl Room – Up next

I’m still not quite ready to call Lucy’s room complete. I’ve got other things going on so I’m not focused on it right now but here are my ideas for when I do get a bit of time and money to spare for it.

1) Replace the quilt. I made that quilt and I do like it, but it seems a little boyish for this space. I want something really colorful and a little big vintage looking. I’ve pinned a couple patterns and store bought ones but I’m not sure which way I’m leaning yet.

2) Remember that boring wall. I hope so, I only talked about it yesterday :-) Anyway, I have plans to put a rain gutter book shelf and fabric hoops there.  I’ve even bought the fabric for the hoops but I’m waiting to put it all together since I’m not sure when Lucy will start sleeping here. Right now she is on her own mattress on the floor in our room (at least at the start of the night :-) but she still gets up several times so I don’t want to move her farther away. If I knew she was staying in our room for another year or two, I’d go ahead and finish the wall but if she is ready to move out before that, the bed will be going until I’m sure she won’t leap out in the middle of the night and break open her head. I think it would look weird to have all that stuff then a big gap with a mattress on the floor but since a mattress on the floor isn’t the most design savvy thing anyway, maybe I should just do it now and not worry about it.

3) Bribe Craig somehow to replace the mini-blinds with the plastic wood like shutter type blinds and switch out the doorknob. Neither really has to be done right away and no one else would probably notice either one, but I would and isn’t that what matters?


Big Girl Room tour

I’ve been meaning to show you Lucy’s room for a while now. I even took the pictures back at the end of April but then life happened. But better late than never so here we go:
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This is the view as you walk in, except I have absolutely no idea what that stripe on the left side of the picture is. To the right is the office area.
110511 Baseball 045 I’ve already talked about the in, out, and act baskets. The “picture” to the left of them is really a grain sack Craig found at his parent’s farm. We picked up a frame for 50% at Hobby Lobby.
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Lucy’s bookshelf doesn’t have any of her books yet so there is lots of room for knick knacks like these little cowboy bookts and my marionette. My dad got it for me on one of his trips (from France?) a long time ago. I would rather display it another way, like hanging it, but I’m not sure how. If you have an idea, let me know.
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Moving around the room, next up is her window. I made the curtain. The fabric is Mary Engrelbreit and has little blue shapes on it that remind me of a bandana print but girlier. I simply hemmed it using no-sew iron hem tape and used rings with clips. Rings with clips and no-sew iron tape are my new favorite things when it comes to curtains, they make it so easy. New since the picture is her prism she got for her birthday. I found it at an antique store the day before her birthday. It was only $2 but is so much fun, she likes to watch the rainbows it casts on her walls.
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Her bed, and all her furniture actually, is my bedroom set when I was little. I  remember lying here reading Anne of Green Gables or listening to my homemade compilation tapes and makes me smile to think someday Lucy will do the same, except probably not the tapes part :-)
The other thing not shown is the paper poms-poms from her birthday party which I hung in the corner over the bed, like a big girl’s mobile.
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The next wall is boring. But I do have plans for it. 110511 Baseball 054
Of course, I had to bring back her tree. Below the tree is her pull of bar area. Craig made this for her back when she was just starting to pull up but she still uses it. She loves to stand there and watch herself dance. Sometimes it even buys me a minute or two to blog. I left the fingerprints on the mirror for the picture because I want you to know I’m keeping it real on the ol’ blog.
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And that’s about it – for now.


Advertising Opportunity

It's not there now, but I hope it was intentional that the ad at the top of the page shown below was paired with the article below it. Maybe Oscar Mayer put in an advertising buy for any Anthony Weiner stories. If so, they have a great sense of humor, although I'm not sure this particular story puts anyone in the mood for a hot dog.


Cruel Irony or just Motherhood

I’ve mentioned Lucy’s sleeping before but to summarize, it wasn’t great.  Well, she slept great at naptimes but only with me next to her. At first, I was annoyed. All the parenting advice I had heard said that if you waited a good 15-20 minutes until a baby was “limp limb” asleep, you could sneak away and they should stay asleep. Not Lucy! If I did that, she would be awake again within 10 minutes at least 90% of the time. And wouldn’t go back to sleep so if I took the chance, I risk losing that time for any resting at all. But I’m not a believer in sleep training, I think Lucy had a real need for us to be close by when she slept and she would eventually outgrow that need. So we waited.

And waited…and waited. And except for a rough patches when big developmental things were happing and teeth were appearing, things have slowly progressed.  I kept my patience by remembering that since she woke up a lot at night, I needed the naps more than an hour to clean or do projects anyway.

But last month when we were at my parent’s, I saw signs of change. Good signs. So when we got home, I gave us a few days to get back into our normal routine, then I started leaving her at naptime. I started with the afternoon nap since that is supposed to be a deeper sleep. Low and behold, she stayed asleep!

It’s been two weeks now and she has done great. Sometimes I still nap with her in the morning if I am tired but I’m writing this at 10:42 am and she has been sleeping by herself for an hour now. Its nice to now that she really just did need the time to develop that independence and that by not sleep training her, I wasn’t dooming her to a life of imsomnia, sleep apnea or even selfishness and lack of self-discipline as certain books might have implied.

I’ve heard several mothers say that they needed their babies to get their babies napping well so they could rest or have some time to themselves, it made them better mothers. I don’t know if that is true or not, I’m not them, but that was a really hard statement for me to hear. I kept questioning my own mothering…would I be a better mom (i.e. more patient, loving, organized, fun, etc) if I had time alone? I always envisioned myself being this super mom if I ever had even an hour or two by myself, to read my bible, do chores, read a novel, do a craft project – all those things it was hard to do with a tag-along.
Turns out, that’s not what has been happening. Apparently, whatever developmental milestone Lucy hit that lets her nap independently, also turned my sweet baby into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde toddler. I thought I had another year before the “terribles hit” but these past two weeks have been full of tantrums, screaming and fits – and don’t even get me started on Lucy’s behavior :-)

About 10% of the tantrums are because she can’t communicate to me what she wants. Sometimes if I tell her to stop screaming, she will sign the right thing and we will be fine. Or she will sign every sign she knows before realizing that none of them are working so she starts screaming again. Those are the times I feel the worst because I can’t help her and I do truly sympathize.

Another 10% of the time, I know exactly what she wants and she knows that I understand but I have told her no. Those aren’t fun either but at least I know where we stand.

The rest of the time we are both frustrated because it seems like she doesn’t even know what she wants. She’s be sitting next to me on the couch listening to a story, then she’ll climb down only to turn around a yell at me to pick her back up! Or she’ll sign eat but when I put her in the chair she’ll throw her food and sign all done, but if I put her down again, she’ll go pick up the peas of the floor, hand them to me and sign eat! Ahh!
Needless to say, these two weeks have been exhausting! And by the time one of her naps rolls around, I’m too brain dead to even think of what I was going to spend my “free time” doing.

So I’m not a super mom yet. I still have little to no time to craft and I read my bible in the few minutes I can get her distracted in the mornings, or if she is being cooperative and will sit with me as I read it aloud. But I am thankful she is napping. Maybe God just knew that I was going to need a break during these days and decided to give me one.


Not so bad after all

When we first moved into our new house, I was dreading not having a dishwasher. Lucy doesn't play independently very well and I could not image how I was going to find the time to wash dishes by hand. I just knew I was going to hate it.

Turns out, I like washing dishes by hand. Instead of letting them pile up all day because I'm too busy to deal with them, it forced me to do them little by little. I have three minutes, I can fill up the sink and let them soak. 30 minutes later, I spend 5 minutes washing them and later on when Lucy is being clingy, we put them away together. Yes, because we eat a lot of snacks around here, I have to do that 4-6 times a day but I would rather do that then face a mountain of dishes at 8pm when I walk out of our bedroom having just put Lucy to sleep.

There have been a few times, like after I make a big meal, when it would be nice to have a dishwasher but those time I have Craig grab a towel. I just have to think of that as quality time together :-) Now that we have started planning our kitchen remodel, I'm trying to find a space to put a dishwasher which is not easy. Honestly, if it wasn't for resell purposes, I don't think I'd actually put one in.

And that isn't the only time that I've found I like doing going without the modern conveniences I thought I where necessary. I've always liked line drying my diapers but this spring, that was about the only thing I used my nice big clotheslines for other than a set of sheets once or twice. I always thought about taking the clothes outside but was lazy and would throw them in the dryer, always saying to myself "next time."

But my dryer must have gotten lonely and depressed while I was away because while it was working fine before I left for my parents, it wasn't when I got home. So for the past 2.5 weeks, I've been line drying everything. And I like it. Lucy plays nicely outside while I hang up/take down clothes and it works well with my system of laundry. I do one load a day (alternating clothes and diapers), starting it before Lucy's first nap, taking it outside to dry when she gets up before it is too hot out. I take it down after her next nap. I've timed it and it only takes me three minutes to take a load down so even if it is really hot out that day, I know I can survive three minutes. My lines can hold up to two loads so if I'm desperate for diapers, I can always throw a second load in. The only part I hate is shaking cicadas off my clothes but that should only be temporary.

One of the reasons I think I like doing things the slow way is that I don't really run short on time, I run short of Lucy free time. And doing things in little burst is easy with Lucy. Also, I feel like I accomplished more, or at least I cut myself some slack for not accomplishing other things. If I had a dishwasher and dryer, it might be easier to put myself down for "only" having done one load of laundry or cleaning the kitchen that morning.

I'm not giving up all modern conveniences and as soon as Craig finishes some higher priority things on my honey-do list, we'll see about fixing the dryer. But it is nice to know I could probably get by with less than I have and be just fine.


Grow baby grow

I’ve been busy preparing for Lucy’s (second) 1st birthday party. Its this weekend which I only realized yesterday. I thought I had more time!

Anyway, I have a fun decoration planned with her monthly pictures but in keeping with the farm theme, I partially sepia-ed them (no, I don’t sepia is really meant to be a verb but go with me here) and tried to standardize the sizing. It helped hid some of the background differences too. I wish I had done a better job picking the initial location but we ended up being at my parents unexpectedly so I didn’t have much choice – with the next baby I will be better (but no, that is NOT an announcement).
They still do a good job showing how she grew…
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…and boy did she grow!


Books for little people

I was asked to share some of Lucy's favorite books. First off, books are pretty personal for adults and the same holds true with kids. Lucy likes a lot of books, but some of the ones I pick out, knowing that they are popular with other kiddos, are great big flops (Guess how much I love you and Goodnight Moon are two prime examples). As soon as I read the first page, she'll just crawl/walk off!

So I typically pick up 7-10 books for her every trip to the library and maybe 3-5 of those are accepted with only a couple being really loved. I'm getting better though, I've learned that she likes pictures with a lot of contrast, not just in color but defined lines, or real photos. She loves books that have rhythm or funny sounding words and she really likes books with lots of emotions - the more people crying the better :-) Your little one might be the same, but he/she might not. That where the library is great. Even if I think a book is going to be one we need to purchase, it is still nice to take it for a test drive.

So without further ado, here are Lucy's top 10!

1) Llama Llama Red Pajama
Animals, bright colors, funny rhymes and crying - its a good combination! We read this as a bed time story all the time and she doesn't seem to tire of it. I think it is a lot of fun to read because I can really find my inner actress as I explore baby llama's feelings at being left all alone in bed, waiting for his mama to bring him a glass of water. Craig thinks it is repetitive and boring, but he's wrong. It's great.

2) Knuffle Bunny
Mo Willems is to children's books what Pixar is to children's movies. They are technically for kids, but adults are not left out either. Knuffle bunny is the story of Trixie and the tragedy that strikes when she loses her beloved Knuffle Bunny at the laundromat. It is probably the best of Willems' books for Lucy's age and she really loves it (it has crying and "going boneless" so its got the emotions well covered) but we have gotten quite a few pigeon books from the library that have been hits too and I'm sure our Elephant and Piggie books will be well loved once she is a tad older.

3) Kiss the Baby
This was a Chinaberry book. When I first picked it up, I will confess, I doubted them. The pictures reminded me of a psychiatrist ink spot thing and there weren't a ton of words. But I was wrong, very wrong. Lucy loved it!

4) Farmer Will
I picked this up randomly at a book sale and once I got over the fact that in it pigs say "wink" and not "oink," 
I found a story Lucy and I could both love. The little boy Will, loves his four farm animals so much and spends the day playing, feeding, and eventually napping with them.

5) More, More, More said the Baby
Another Chinaberry book. Maybe I should have just sent you to them instead of writing this post:-) But this is three very similar stories of three babies and their caregivers (dad, grandma and mom depending on the story) interacting, with the first two ending with the baby asking for more, more, more - which leads to the next story. It was the one mentioned before that finally "taught" Lucy to say more. She really loves the first two stories but not the third, I'm not sure why but when we get to the third, she closes the book then opens in up at the beginning for me to read it over again. It is a good choice if you are looking for a book with babies of different colors/races although it seems a bit forced to me.

6) Thank you for me!
You guess it, another Chinaberry recommendation. I think this is a better book for those looking for a book with a rainbow of babies. The illustrations show babies of lots of different skin tones but in a more natural way. Some of their rhymes, well, don't, which is a pet peeve of mine but with other lines like "I love my skin, its nice and tight, see how it fits exactly right!" and "I have two feet that dart and dash, that sprint and splash," how could I not forgive it? Who exactly the book is thanking for the body and all its parts is not exactly clear but Christians parents can easily work that in if they want.

6) Hurry, Hurry Mary Dear
This one is fun for us because it shows poor Mary preparing for winter (at the request of her husband) by doing all sorts of things I love - canning, gardening, churning butter. At the end, poor Mary is a bit tired and
annoyed with her husband. Truth be told, the punch line on the last page where the husband gets his just "reward" is not my favorite but Craig picked it out so he can't blame me for whatever lessons it is teaching his daughter :-) But the paintings are great with lots of little details to talk about and there is a little black cat on almost every page. Once Craig showed Lucy have to find it and point it out, this one became a consistent favorite.

7) Amazing Baby Series
I'm not going to lie. I don't like these. But Lucy loves them. We get at least one from the series at every library visit. And I have to read it over and over and over again until I hide it and it goes back to the library. They feature pictures and simple drawings of babies doing baby things like sleeping or eating. The pictures aren't particularly great and the words are not exactly imaginiative or vocabulary building. They are boring. But since Lucy loves them, they made the list.  

*Chinaberry is a great little online/catalog bookstore with amazing recommendations. I get a lot of their recommendations from the library but I also try and support them when I need to buy books as well. 


Infrequent Visitor, Part II

The cicadas have reached the flying-around and, I assume, mating phase.They have moved from the big trees in my front yard to the small trees nearer my house, on which they gather and swarm in large numbers. This video shows you how dense they are, and how intense their noise is.


Strawberry Festival

Craig only had one day off this past weekend but we filled it up. After church, we headed to a nearby town for their Strawberry Festival. We parked nearby and took the bus in. It wasn’t until we were on the bus that I realized it was hot enough out that it might have been nice to bring the stroller instead of, or at least in addition to, the Ergo…oops! We rarely use the stroller so I didn’t even think about it as an option.

The first stop off the bus was the petting zoo. If you remember, back at Eastertime, Lucy was not really a fan of the petting zoo. But since then we have had several chances to see larger animals and of course, read about them, so we tried again. This time she did much better!

She still wasn’t so sure about the camel, but neither was I. 110607 strawberry fest 003
She loved the rabbit. That might be because it didn’t move - at all. It could have been dead for all I know but still, she enjoyed “being gentle” with it.
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We also petted some chickens and fed some goats and a cow. She didn’t exactly want to touch them, but she liked being nearby.
 110607 strawberry fest 007 110607 strawberry fest 010110607 strawberry fest 013 After we had our fill of animals, we roamed around and looked at the vendors and attractions. Lucy’s favorite was the accordion player. She was bouncing and dancing on Craig’s back.
110607 strawberry fest 014 By then, we were all hot, tired and ready for some strawberries!
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After some strawberry cobbler and sundaes (and air conditioning!), we were feeling a little more peppy.
110607 strawberry fest 022 We didn’t stay too much longer but I did end up buying some really neat old wooden spool spindle things for the living room for $2 each. They look like something Pottery Barn would sell for at least $15. I’m still not sure where they will end up but I’ll try to post a picture if I remember.

This little town has festivals all the time. I think we’ll be going to more, although we might wait until the fall (Apple Butter Festival, yum!).


Books of May (and April)

3 more books down. I think that makes 10 historical fiction books read so far this year (as part of this challenge), so only 5 more! In the past, I’ve always tried to force myself to read more non-fiction but as soon as I take part in a fiction challenge, everything I seem to pick up is non-fiction. Murphy’s law!

The House at Riverton
This was actually an April read but I guess I only wrote about it in my head (am I the only person who writes posts in their head and thinks they posted them but didn’t?)
I probably would have liked this book better had I not just finished The Forgotten Garden. Kate Morton has a definite style since this has the same multiple viewpoints, flashbacks, concurrent storylines and major plot developments hinging on seemingly insignificant details that The Forgotten Garden did. I happen to think she does it well but it was hard not to compare the books because of that (I also found myself wondering if she had an strained relationship with her mother but felt close to her grandmother since that seemed to be prominent in both books but that is neither here nor there). Although I liked The Forgotten Garden better, The House at Riverton still had engaging characters and an intriguing story. I figured out a few things early on but I couldn’t predict the end which, for me at least, is a plus.

 North and South
Once I saw the miniseries, it was pretty much a given that I would read this book. North and South is not a reference to the the civil war, but about the two contrasting cultures of England. The main character Margaret Hale is originally from the agrarian South but must now learn to live in the industrial North when her father moves the family there. Can she adjust to the difference? Or, maybe more importantly, can she do it without falling in love?
Not surprisingly, I loved it. It was a bit different from the movie but as is usually the case in movie/book comparisons, the book was just more, especially in regards to the characters. We actually get to know the “South” characters and the many of the others are not so black and white as we see in the miniseries, especially Margaret’s parents. (That’s not to say the movie is bad, I liked the ending and the first proposal scenes better in the movie…and on a not quite related note, does anyone else think Richard Armitage would make a good Captain Wentworth?) All in all, both are good.

Northhanger Abbey – I’m including this even though I’ve read it before because it has been about 10 years since my last reading. I hadn’t read it since then because I thought it was my least favorite Jane Austen book. I’m not sure what my 16 year old self was thinking (although, does anyone really understand what they were thinking when they were 16?) because it’s great. Yes, it is still my least favorite in terms of characters and plot, I don’t really care if Catherine and Henry end up together or not, but that really isn’t the point. If I wasn’t already sure of it, this book would prove to me that Jane was an incredibly witty, and dare I say, fun women and that spending an afternoon with her would have been highly amusing.


A tale of two parties

The last weekend at my parent’s house was jam packed with excitement. My brother and sister-in-law flew in for the weekend so we could celebrate some big milestones – Ben’s high school graduation and Lucy’s 1st birthday!
Sunday afternoon was Lucy’s time.   We went with pink, brown and white for the “theme.” I was surprised that she put up with the tutu for the whole party.  was expecting it to be a photo prop but she seemed to like it.
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Windsor (my SIL) helped me make the “dahlia-like pop-poms” following Martha’s instructions, the boys picked up some balloons, and I threw down a quilt my mom had. Simply but enough to set the stage for partying.
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For lunch, Craig made homemade pizza with herbs straight from my dad’s garden and fresh mozzarella. It was delicious. And I found some pink (Izzy pomegranate) and brown (rootbeer) sodas so ever our drinks matched. 110601 May at grandma and grandpas 061110601 May at grandma and grandpas 038
Lucy seemed to be enjoying herself and that was before the cake came out.
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I made this vanilla bean cake, a split layer with chopped up strawberries for us (I topped each slice with freshly whipped cream) and a small one for Lucy. I took a video but forgot to get it off my dad’s camera before we came home so the pictures will have to do for now. At first she wasn’t sure about it but soon she dug in! It seemed to be a hit with everyone else too although I didn’t tell them it was made with beans instead of flour until after they ate it :-)
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Lucy only kinda-sorta understood the presents concept at Christmas time but this time she got it – except she wanted to play with everything once she opened it and was frustrated when we would take it away and give her something else to open.
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She only got one card from my cousins. I didn’t think to give her one since she is just a baby but she really liked it as much as the presents so next time, I think I’ll be including cards. She was a happy camper with new books, clothes and fun Montessori activity supplies like gardening tools and a broom. But her very favorite present was this duster from Grandpa and Bubbie. She loves mine and it always wanting to help me dust so I knew she would love one just her size and she did. I realize most 1 year olds don’t get cleaning supplies for their birthday but she’s happy and that is what counts.
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But we weren’t done celebrating yet. Sunday evening we watched Ben get his diploma and Monday morning we ran around and switched all the brown and pink decorations for blue and black ones. 
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Our neighbors and friends had graduates too so we joined together for a little party and b.b.q. It was just our families and a lot of meat and side dish salads which is all in all a great combination.
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Ben is headed off to my alma mater, Texas A&M, this fall. He’s obviously very smart since he picked that school over u.t. 110601 May at grandma and grandpas 124
To get his Texas wardrobe started, we got him a pearl snap shirt. I don’t think he quite knew what to think about it but I’m sure he’ll be throwing that and some cowboy boots on in no time.  Congratulations Ben! We’re so proud of you!