Friday, November 13, 2015

Two Can Toucan If You Can

We continue to be so impressed with Levin's school.  Early this fall, the kiddos created bug collections, took pictures with disposable cameras at the zoo, grew vegetables, and helped care for some chickens and rabbits.  They submitted all of their work to the county fair, and were excited to spend a morning playing there.  

When we pick up Lev from school at the end of the day, he doesn't want to come with us and he is usually covered in dirt.  Proof he is exactly where he needs to be.

The older Lev gets, the more his personality develops.  He is a passionate little guy who feels deeply and responds with gusto.   We are working to channel some of that fervor into appropriate actions, but also appreciate who he is.  The more his words tumble out in hysterical strings of thought, the more we learn about what makes Lev tick.  Like Ava, he enjoys routine.  On the way home he always requests to, " just one Curious George, have water with no ice, and eat some snack fruit."  He offers to "hold you" when he's nervous or scared or just needs some love.  We definitely have our frustrating moments (holy restaurants with a 2-year-old, Batman) but work really hard to remind each other of the everything wonderful we see in our Levy Bear.

Ava is growing, too —just look at those legs if you need proof.  This school year she is trying out musical theater and dance.  I'm so thankful we live in a town that is big enough to offer lots of opportunities for our kids to explore different interests.  She is also taking an art class on Thursday afternoons.  Ava loves school, reading late into the night, and finding moments alone with Josh and me.  I know this is something we'll have to continue to be intentional about as we add another little dumpling to the crew.  We talk a lot about how family time is together time too, while working to carve out quality time alone with Ava.

See?  We love each other.

Josh and I switch out nights putting the kiddos to bed.  (If he's reading with Lev, I'm tucking in Ava.  The next night we switch.)  But some nights, only sister will do for bedtime stories.  How are we going to manage this when we're outnumbered?  I have no idea.  Maybe Hugo will go to sleep early?  Maybe he'll be our little bedtime apprentice?  Either way, I'm determined to keep myself in the bedtime rotation.  It's so important to me to begin and end their days with love, and to stay plugged into the daily routines we've established.

The Crawfords came to visit us at the beginning of October, and we had a blast.  From simple bedtime snuggles to exploring the Orr Family Farm, the kiddos loved being together (and so did the grownups).

Fun on the hay bales with Uncle Brandon!

I never dreamed that Sarah and I would be responsible for four boys in a row.  Four!  Ready or not, Baba and Pops.  It sure helps that they're cute as pie.

Speaking of four in a row, here's a recent bump picture of little Hugo.  We are about eight weeks from his arrival!  He is looking great and healthy.  I'm crossing my fingers the early January weather cooperates.  I am not the Raines sister who has her babies at home, and I hope God and the crazy Oklahoma weather remember that!

Pumpkin carving.  You always think it's going to be chock full of fall magic.  Then pumpkin guts happen.  I love this shot because it so perfectly depicts each one of them.
Josh: deeply focused with his headband and pumpkin game face
Ava: carefully watching his every move
Lev:  still traumatized because a tiny piece of pumpkin goo touched him

My favorite dogpile ever

Fall checkups for these two healthy pumpkins.  They're perfect!

This girl.
Over the summer, while vacationing with grandparents, she tried to convince them to let her zip line across Royal Gorge in Colorado.  They couldn't reach Josh or me on the phone for permission, so she couldn't do it.  (Phew, dodged that bullet.)  But when she saw the zip line at the local pumpkin patch, you know, one that didn't go 1,200 feet above a rocky canyon and river, we were happy to oblige her dare devil side.  I really want to be Ava when I grow up.

Just a boy and his pumpkin and his beloved Tag Tag.  Melt.

This Halloween we broke away from the sibling matchy costumes.  Here's a look back at the last two years.

2013 Charlotte the Spider and Wilbur the Pig

2014 Cruella Deville and a Dalmation

 This year they each had their own costume ideas.
Levin was Curious George and Ava was Mal from the Disney Channel Original Movie, Descendants.
I love their little personalities shining through these costumes!

Even though I miss having a bitty girl to dress up in fluffy church clothes, dapper little boy church ensembles are growing on me.  No matter what fresh hell a Sunday hurry-up-get-ready-all-four-out-the-door-oops-I-forgot-the-guitar-drive-faster-no-time-for-breakfast morning brings, Lev pulls it together for all of us.

This year my Chicago work trip fell on the weekend that splits our birthdays, so we decided to make a little babymoon birthday celebration out of it.  It was chilly, and we ate great food, and explored the city together without having to cut anyone's food or push a stroller.  It was divine.  Of course, we were more than eager to get home to the kiddos, and spent a good chunk of our time in the city trying to pick out the perfect souvenir for each of them.  (A super cool race car and shirt from the Descendants and some Garrett's popcorn won out.)


Ava tried out for the Toucan part in the 3rd grade musical,  flexing some of her developing theater skills.  She got it!  We were so proud of her for putting herself out there and then absolutely killing it during the performance.

Lev was pretty star-struck by his sister and her friends.  He was excited to get a picture with our star after the show.

It's our favorite time of year!  Josh's birthday kicks off a series of Lockett family celebrations.  From November 2 to March 22, we all have birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  We look forward to soaking up every minute of the holiday season together, and welcoming another reason to cheer in early January.  Stay tuned!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Saying Goodbye to the Summer

When we added Lev to our family, I really didn't anticipate the two of them having many conflicts.  "She's six years older," I said, "And he's a little boy...what could they possibly fight about."  

Because clearly I'm an idiot.  They are two kids living in the same house, sharing space, toys, and their parents' attention - how could they do anything BUT drive each other crazy?  No one can send Ava into her door-slamming state quite like Levin, and no one can send Lev's voice to the nasally shrill "NO SISTA" level quite like Ava James.  It's healthy.  They are learning how to cooperate and be better citizens of the what I tell myself on repeat as they throw toys and holler over one another while I make dinner.  I always dreamed of a house full of kiddos and their racket - look at my dreams coming true!

AND all of that conflict makes moments like this so precious.  We were at a friend's birthday party, and Ava beckoned Levin across the crowd.  She pulled him up into her lap and he sat there, sweetly rubbing her arm, while we sang and cut cake.  They really do love each other.


A few weeks ago, while dropping Ava at a playdate with a friend, Levin fell in love with a little toy drum.  When I found a similar one at a consignment sale for $2.50 I had to buy it for him.  I had every intention of saving it for a Christmas present, but have you seen his dimples?  The end.

When I presented it to him he exclaimed, "Oh!  My love my new tuba!"  Yep, tuba.  We have a bedtime book called Big Dog Little Dog, and he loves it.  One of the pages shows the dogs playing a flute and a tuba.  The tuba is very clearly a tuba, but there is no changing his mind.  He likes to take his tuba lots of places with him because, "it have all my songs."

He's a quirky little guy, and when he decides something is a certain way that is the way it will stay.  He insists that the bowl of mush in Goodnight Moon is "nobody," even though the blank page with nobody on it is actually on the next page. Each time we read the book he cuts his eyes, points to the bowl of mush and says, "That nobody."  We explain it to him, show him nobody, it's like he enjoys it.  Whether this is a creative side that will continue to blossom, or just a strong case of the twos, I'm fascinated by it.  I love that he has the confidence in his opinions to stand his ground.

Ava continues to grow up, no matter how many bricks we stack on her noggin.  She's equal parts sass and sarcasm, no idea where that combo came from.  She still loves to sit as close to us on the couch as possible, but has also taken some big independent steps in the past month.  She is trustworthy, responsible, and bravely trying new things this school year.  

We're taking a break from soccer.  (Well, Ava's not playing soccer.  There's still plenty of soccer happening in our house, trust me.)  Ava begins theater and dance technique classes on Monday!  She enjoyed her time at theater day camp this summer, and was so excited when Mimi and Coach offered to sponsor some school year classes for her to continue to learn more.  

I love the way Ava lights up at church.  I think it's one of her very happiest of places.  She's been at NorthHaven since she was Lev's age, so it's the only one she remembers.  She hops out of the car the second it comes to a stop and runs in the doors to see her friends.  From Sunday school with teachers who are dynamic and approachable, to the intentional gathering time before "big church" where she socializes with folks of all ages, to "big church" where she quietly finger knits her soft yarn and participates in worship alongside us, Sunday morning Ava is always a happy happy girl.  Here she is, beaming after picking up brother from the nursery.

Sno cones are the best way to celebrate some of the last evenings of summer break.

First day of 3rd grade
Ava picked out her entire ensemble and smoothly transitioned into a new class.

The same day Ava started third grade, we welcomed the new law students.  Why not do everything at once?  It's always an exhilarating day, the culmination of a year of recruiting.  I love the cyclical nature of my job, and that there is a logical time to close one cycle and begin another.  We always celebrate the new students with an ice cream truck - Hugo approved!

Life in a college town is all very cyclical, after a sleepy summer, students come pouring back into town in mid-August.  Our kiddos are always most excited to see one particular group of students return - the OU band!  When we first moved to Oklahoma, we lived in student housing right next to the field where the band practices.  Ava and I would venture over to watch them while Josh studied.  Since then, it's become a tradition.  Here's a look back at one of our first OU band practices:

And now Ava is sharing her love of band practice with Levy.

 We bring iced tea, a big picnic blanket, our own tubas, and lots of energy.

At NorthHaven's big back to school bash, Ava was thrilled to spend some time in the dunk tank.  Levin was equally thrilled with this arrangement.

Cooler temperatures and lots of new students to socialize with mean we've been spending most of our Saturday mornings on campus.  We take bikes, strollers, soccer balls, and enjoy Norman's own little Central Park.  And if you think Levin, at two, doesn't know when a cute co-ed is watching him jump from a high step check out this next picture.  #Trouble


Josh is buried in important cases, so sometimes I have to sneak off to Oklahoma City and take him to lunch.  Hugo's burger pick was right across the street from our favorite cupcakes so of course we had to stop.  Our weekends and evenings are so full, and only getting more packed as we add more Lockett babies to the crew.  I look forward to each lunch date, when I actually get to sit and have a full conversation with the love of my life with no kid interruptions.  They're easy and so so necessary.

 A routine trim for both kids turned into a last-minute "chop it all off" decision for Lev's locks.  Ava chose to take a few inches and add a long layer to her beautiful hair.  It's beautiful and so healthy.  As much as we loved Levin's dandelion fluff hairdo, it made me sad to pick him up from school and see his sweaty hair hanging in his beautiful blue eyes.  We found a spunky, soccerish haircut that we thought would fit Lev's personality.  We think they both look perfect!


On Sunday, it was Ava's turn to bring the Mystery Bag to children's church.  She decided to share some pictures of her new baby brother with the congregation.  Maybe this means she's forgiven me for not giving her a sister?  (I'm not counting on it.)


 Over the summer, Levin's school took a field trip to see a movie at the theater.  His teachers reported back that he did very well.  We had not been brave enough to take him to a theater yet, but decided to take a chance to celebrate a long Labor Day weekend.

We had snacks and powered through a few squirmy times, but for the most part we successfully saw our first movie as a family of four.  Well, four and a half.

We spent most of Labor Day in the pool, eating popsicles and soaking up the last rays of summer sunshine.  There's always a temptation to travel or do something big on a long weekend, but I'm so glad we didn't.  We're enjoying this chapter of life, staying put and loving on our kids. 

Josh and I definitely go through phases of wanderlust, but there's adventure enough between these two (almost three) for now.  We'll always be open to new ideas, but we're thankful for the comfort of now.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

It's a boy!

We are so exited to announce that our third baby Lockett is a boy!  He looks healthy and beautiful, and we are so thankful for him.

He was a little shy at first, but eventually we saw Obi Juan's lightsaber.

Ava took the news like a champ, even though she was hoping for a sister.  Lev is not really sure what is going on, but he loved the cupcake to celebrate and likes to pretend "my have baby in my tummy too!"

We've had our boy name in mind for a long time.  Josh picked the first name and I picked the middle.  Like Levin, our first name has a literary tie (Levin is from Anna Karenina), and our new baby will be named after the author of one of our favorite books-turned-musical.  The baby's middle name comes from the founder of our new hometown, and an old name that I've loved for years.  

(Not everyone will like our name, we've already had some odd looks and comments.  That's okay.  No one else has to deliver him or stay up with him at night.  I'm sure his dimples will win over any name haters once he arrives.  And hopefully those hateful folks will just hush and not say anything.)

Now that you have the background and ground rules, I'm happy to announce that his name will be Hugo Abner Lockett. 

Hugo means "bright in mind and spirit" and Abner means "the Father is Light."  

We look forward to sharing more about our new baby Hugo and his big brother and sister.  Many shenanigans to come!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Obi Juan

Josh, Ava, Levin, and I are so excited to announce that we are adding a sweet new baby to our family in early January!

 I saw two pink lines on the morning of May the 4th (Star Wars Day), so I started calling the baby Obi Wan.  Later that evening, I talked Josh into taking me out for drinks, a "just because" Monday night date.  He ordered two Russian Donkeys (Josh's version of the Moscow Mule) at the bar, and returned, handing me one.  I gave him a card when he sat down, and he jokingly said, "If you weren't drinking that, I'd think you were about to tell me you're pregnant."  I kept the straw in my mouth, of course not drinking a thing.  He opened the envelope, saw the card announcing the baby, and was so surprised!  Then he grabbed the drink away from me, and took one for the team - finishing both drinks by himself.  In the past, he has given me a hard time because I always announce a new pregnancy by holding a pee-soaked stick over him at 6:00 in the morning, crying and shaking and totally questioning my ability to handle it.  I felt like a total rock star keeping this baby a secret all day and telling him in a fun way!

In the weeks that followed our baby discovery, my cravings for queso got a little out of control so I started calling the baby Obi Juan.  It stuck.  So far this pregnancy has been pretty easy.  I've been nauseous and tired, but haven't gotten sick at all or had any troublesome miscarriage scares.  We've seen Obi Juan on ultrasound twice now, both times baby was kicking and waving.  At 11 weeks, when the little stinker wouldn't cooperate with the Doppler for a heartbeat check, Dr. Anderson checked in with an ultrasound.  Obi Juan was kicking off one side of its little home and backstroking across!  I'm always so relieved to see a healthy baby on the screen.

Ava and Levin are excited about having another sibling.  Ava insists it is a girl.  Levin insists it is a "brudder."  Josh would like a boy, mostly because he likes our boy name best.  I am torn.  I'd love to have another little girl, and since Ava is a January birthday too, I would be able to use all of her darling little clothes again.  I'd also love to give Levin a brother so close in age.  I know the two of them would have such a fun brother relationship.  Either way, we will be thrilled.  My sweet, former "law school widow" sonographer friend is going to sneak a peek for us on August 3.  Ava won't be in town, so we'll wait until she returns home to announce the baby's flavor.  

My official due date is January 12.  Ava and Levin both arrived exactly seven days before their due dates, so I'm guessing we'll have a baby very soon after the New Year!  The due date does throw a bit of a wrench in our traditional "to Texas for Christmas" plans.  Six hours in the car at 8 and 3/4 months pregnant is a no go.  So Josh and I are going to celebrate our first Christmas morning with our kiddos at home.  It will be different, but we're looking forward to starting new holiday traditions with our family.

 I'm sure some of you local folks have been wondering about my expanding waistline.  I've seen the side-eye from a few of you.  No, I haven't been binging Swirls at The Mont.  I have a legitimate excuse for this belly-that-is-determined-to-be-seen.  Fourth pregnancies are tough to hide, y'all. 
We are all so thankful for this sweet little gift, and so happy to finally share the news with everyone!

Presenting Obi Juan Lockett
image captured at 10 weeks

Monday, June 29, 2015

Spring into Summer

Our sweet Levy Bear turned two on March 22!  We had a small Curious George themed party, and he enjoyed a banana split to celebrate.  Watching his little personality develop has been so much fun.  He is way less serious than his big sister, and is the king of making goofy faces when he feels like he's accomplished something.  He loves any activity involving a ball:  soccer, t-ball, balloon ball, jingle ball, or "back and forth" more commonly known as catch.  He is thorough.  He can make a mess like no other, but will work diligently to clean up every last little piece.  We love our Lev!

Easter bunnies


Even though she decided not to continue with soccer, Ava finished out the season and continued to improve and learn new skills.  She went to her second tournament in Tulsa, where tornadoes and mud-soaked fields made for an interesting weekend.  Ava enjoyed playing a team sport and developing sweet friendships with her teammates.  We are proud of her commitment and positive attitude!


Sometimes parents have to take a timeout.  Our 10th wedding anniversary passed in January, without much fanfare.  It's just a wacky time of year with so many birthdays and Christmas and new semesters starting.  We decided to delay our celebration until the summer.  A work trip for me happened to fall at the perfect time in Josh's trial schedule, so we spent an amazing workcation in sunny San Diego.  We loved the Hotel del Coronado and enjoyed some quiet days together, but were eager to return home to our babies at the end of the trip.


After almost six years of Oklahoma living, we finally have a bonafide tornado shelter!  I can't even tell you the relief this little piece of happy underground has brought our family.  We should have done it years ago.  Shout out to Smart Shelters for a wonderful purchasing and installation experience.

This summer brought some challenges in chess strategy style childcare.  The amazing Uncle Nate went back to school (Boomer!) and started working, so it was time for us to find happy places for our littles outside the house.  We were so thrilled to keep Lev at home for the first two years of his life.  It took sacrifice, gymnastic flexibility, and a fair amount of bargaining but we made it work.  I know I'm weird, but it was important to me.  When we tried group care for Ava James around 2-years, she wasn't ready.  Levin is a different story.  He loves the nursery and Gymboree.  He was ready for experiences with kids his age.  The solution for him came in the form of a small in-home care option.  The children garden, care for farm animals, go on many field trips, and have two loving grownups who share just as many kisses as early literacy skills.  We are so pleased with Lev's little school.

Ava is at a tricky age for childcare.  She's an independent homebody who isn't old enough to stay home alone yet.  No one solution seemed to be the right fit.  I don't want her summer to feel like the school year.  In the end, we decided to patchwork a variety of options to make a fun summer extravaganza for her.  Her summer will be spent with wonderful friends, fun baby-sitters, at acting camp, with grandparents, at work with mom and dad, and anyone else who wants an adorable 8-year-old (seriously, text me). 

Here's a little peek into her summer so far:


Here's a little peek into Levin's summer so far:

We are thankful every day for these two little gifts.  Some days are hard, and some nights are long and filled with two-year molar pain.  Sometimes we roll our eyes at each other, and argue about who exactly made us late to church (spoiler alert: it's always me.  Always.)  But the good times together always shine brighter than the sputtering storm clouds.  Here's to the rest of the summer being filled with sunshine!