Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

As we head off for a week at home, here's a look at what our holidays consisted of leading up to today:

Christmas tree up and decorated

Andrew risking his life to put up icicle lights

Prom-Pose before a Tacky Sweater Party

The pups checking out their stockings

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Posting every 10-14 days... not a good habit to be in.  Sorry about that.  I'd blame it on the madness that is the holidays, but really the sunroom has been cold enough to act as a walk-in refrigerator and I'm not interested in computering with chills.  So instead I've spent my evenings crafting in my ugly-but-cozy chair by the Christmas tree, bending wire this way and that trying to make a different kind of gift tag.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Anyway, so what have we been up to?  Andrew is trucking it through work... lots of long days but he's getting through it.  We have our eyes on the prize: a WHOLE WEEK at home with our families after Christmas.  3 nights with my family and 3 nights with his.  This is my favorite Christmas EVER!  (Until next year when Baby Candler is here and I get to snuggle her and hog her!) 

Last Friday, we went to Andrew's work Christmas party in Savannah.  Highlight of the night: sneaking out during the middle of the party to hop on the ferry, cross the river, and do some speedy shopping at the Savannah Candy Kitchen (aka Heaven on Earth) with Mike & Kimberly (Andrew's coworker and his wife).  Andrew tried to lecture me for spending too much, but then realize he was the one that bought a $20+ bag of Jelly Bellys.  ($2.75 per QUARTER pound, not per pound, Buddy!)  We got to stay in the big Westin I've always just looked at from my perch on the deck at Tubby's.  Savannah is one of my favorite places to go (even more special since Andrew proposed there), and we always have a great time.

Little Morgan and I joined a gym together.  It's really close to home (about a 5 minute drive for each of us), and it is a small women-only gym (kind of like our college!).  So I have been busting a gut running on the treadmill and watching America's Funniest Home Videos every day after work... it's a special kind of workout: run, run, laugh, choke, run, laugh, choke.  But I think I'm doing better than Andrew: raise arm, change channel, lower arm, rest 1 hour.  Haha, kidding.  Well, not really... but its funny.

The pups are doing well.  Penny absolutely hates cold weather and breaks my heart every morning by shivering next to her food bowl.  Luckily, Copper keeps her warm and snuggly in the doghouse until the day warms up a bit.  We had to board them when we were in Savannah, and Copper lived up to his reputation of distrustful reclusive dog.  The vet tech said that she would dangle a treat through the bars of the cage and he would just turn his back on her and snuggle with Penny.  (Penny, of course, ate her share AND his share of treats... and spent her first 3 hours back at home regretting it.  Poor baby.)  I'm sure Copper was having flashbacks to his puppyhood at PetSmart: people buying all of his siblings and leaving him alone in a cage for weeks.  What kind of a pup-momma am I letting him relive this?!  Andrew wanted me to wait outside while the vet techs got the pups, but I told him it would be way worse on me to wait in the car.  Sure enough, when the door opened and Copper came into view, his low wag and tongue-lolling smile erased the worries.  He just needed us.  Those two snugglers rule my world.

Kitty Bug has been her same sassy self.  We have one of those feeder bowls for her and I can put a week's worth of food in it at a time so she can just nibble at her leisure.  Usually, she finds it empty in the middle of the night and will come sit on my chest, meow at and pat my face until I get up and scoop some food for her. Well, the other night she decided to get creative.  Since she was hungry, she ate a leaf off of a plant, sat on the bed next to my knees and barfed that leaf back up on me.  At 3:30am, I wake up to the certain gurgly yacking that can only come from a cat.  Thanks a lot, Bug.  Andrew slept through the entire ordeal and I used my booklight to clean up. 

So that's been Life with the Rays the past couple of weeks.  I have been sporadically taking some pictures, so I'll post them as I get them uploaded.  See you tomorrow or in 10-14 days.  (I kid, I kid.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Birthday to Da Budd!

My (not so) little Copper Budd is 2 years old today!  Time to take him on a PetSmart date.

Copper, Early 2009
Copper and Momma, Fall 2010

Happy Birthday, Buddrow!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Little Tart'nTiny!

Guess who I saw a picture of yesterday...

Baby Candler, 1st Ultrasound, 12-2-2010

My sweet future niece/nephew!  So IN LOVE!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


So, I mentioned before that my sister made some adorable personalized bibs to break her pregnancy news to everybody.  She got crafty and borrowed my Cricut to cut out stencils with freezer paper, and then used fabric paint.  Everybody was so excited and I know we are going to be fighting to put these bibs on the baby when s/he's born!

My favorite was the night before Thanksgiving when Ma & Pa opened their bibs.  Ma was just chattering away as she took her sweet time unwrapping the gift.  When she looked down at what she opened, she froze and said:  "This is a bib." (pause- then turns to look at Shannon)  "You're pregnant?"  (Shannon nods)  "BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!" (dives at Shannon for a hug).  Pa's reaction was much more subtle, but he made an adorable face when he realized what he was holding in his hands.  Ma's bib said, "Shmimi's Sweetums" (she calls us Sweetums sometimes), and Pa's said, "PePaw makes me giggle!"  (Because Pa is always cracking us up.)

Dan was out of town for Turkey Day, so Shannon called him and said we'd send a picture of his gift.  We sent him a series of pictures: one of the wrapped present, one of the present being opened, and one of the bib itself.  Dan (who was known to call himself the "Master of Getting What I Want" growing up) got a bib that said, "Uncle Dan lets me do what I want!"

Jake & Allie opened theirs on Thanksgiving night at dinner.  Shannon put their gifts on their plates, and they opened them as soon as they arrived.  Allie, bless her, has never gotten used to just how loud my sister is.  So Allie's bib said, "Aunt Allie loves me loud!"  Jake's bib said the ever-appropriate, "Uncle Jake makes me Google!"  Shannon even painted the "Google" in the correct colors.  So cute!

Thanksgiving Surprises!
Ma's & Pa's
Andrew's and mine
Jake & Allie opening theirs

Uncle Jake :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We're on the highway to Helen...

As I mentioned before I went on my secret-keeping hiatus, we planned a trip to Helen, GA for Ma & Pa's 30th anniversary. The weekend was amazing! We had a great time hanging out together and enjoying the little German town. We were all there on Friday night, and then Jake & Allie had to leave Saturday afternoon. We spent Friday night hanging out by the fire pit, and Saturday afternoon, we went into the town and enjoyed Oktoberfest. Us young'uns left on Sunday, and Ma & Pa enjoyed a night out on the town. It was so much fun (and it's not often we all go somewhere together!), so I think we might try to do this annually if we can swing it. Here are some photos from the weekend:

Shannon & Matt (photo by Allie)
Pa, Ma and me (photo by Allie)

The Cake!  Made by Allie (photo by Allie)

Andrew and his trout

Our cabin

The fire pit by the creek

Wilbur Curtis Candler

Trying to get everyone organized for a family photo

Our family... love them!

Ja, ja!

Bruder and das boot

Sisters <3

Matt cheesing with his big gulps

Pa & Ma, the Love Birds

Sister and Hey PA

Dancing family

Love Birds

Prepping for the walk back

I'm baaaaaack...

Well, hey.  Sorry it has been about 18 million years, but I became a secret-keeper.  And the only way to avoid spilling the beans was to avoid the blog all together.  (I'm not so good with surprises... I used to show my little brother his Christmas present from me almost as soon as it was purchased.)

So what is the big secret?  Well, I'm not ready to say.

Ok, I kid. I kid.  The big news is...
My beautiful sister is having a baby! 
We're going to be Aunt Chels and Uncle Aray!

We are over the moon happy.  This was such unexpected and exciting news!  Shannon found out on November 1st (the day after we got back from Helen).  We planned for her to watch the pups for us the next weekend while Andrew and I went to Statesboro for GSU's homecoming, so I drove the pups up to her house the night of 11/4.  She gave me a little gift, and I took my sweet time opening it, not expecting that it would contain the best news ever.  (Thinking back on it... she was shifting from foot to foot pretty anxiously and Matt did have the flip video camera going "to record the pups".)  When I saw that precious little bib, I just couldn't believe it!  She is due July 10th, and I am hoping that little Tart'nTiny can hold out just one extra day so we can share birthdays.

When I got home that night (pretty sure I squealed the whole drive home), I woke Andrew up and showed him the bib.  He said, "You are the Aunt, right?"  Duh, yes love.  And once he was sure it wasn't me who was pregnant, he was excited, too.  Shannon gave me permission to tell only Andrew and Little Morgan, since I see them all the time and there is no way I could keep this from them.  The rest of our families found out Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day.  I'll do a separate post on this, because I need to upload pictures of the adorable personalized bibs she made.

So, in short, I am now allowed to shout this news from the rooftops.  So that means, I'm baaaaaaack!   

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pre-Weekend Crafting

This weekend, we are heading to Helen to celebrate my Ma & Pa's 30th Wedding Anniversary!  It has been a long time since our family has done any kind of vacation all together (there's always one or more of us missing), so we are so excited to meet up and celebrate with our parents.  My sister has been the main planner for this event, and has dubbed it Celebration 30-Year Love Birds.  The weekend just so happens to fall during Oktoberfest AND Halloween, so we are sure to be in for some crazy times.

I wanted to do something crafty for the weekend... and if you know the Lallas, you also know a copious amount of beer is consumed during our get-togethers.  (Hey, we have to support our Pa... he's a long-time Anheuser-Busch employee!)  So, because of this fact, my brainstorming default was koozies.  Everyone will be getting a personalized Love Bird/Halloween koozie to use for the weekend.  (I couldn't find the right material, so these koozies probably won't last longer than the weekend!)

(All photos taken with cell phones, sorry for the crap quality!)

Love Bird Koozies, 10-27-10

We're also planning to take advantage of everyone being in the same place by taking some family photos.  I made some signs for a few of our goofier pictures to commemorate the weekend.  And we also plan to take a "Thank You" photo for the cabin owner, my brother-in-law's co-worker's wife (say that 3 times fast).  Vicki is allowing us to stay at the cabin for FREE and we are so incredibly thankful for it.

Love Bird Signage, 10-27-10

And of course, after I took the above photo and sent it to my sis, I decided the Love Bird poster needed some bling.  Helloooooo Martha Stewart glitter-that-I-got-on-clearance-a-year-ago-and-still-have-never-used.

Bling Birds, 10-27-10

Another way we plan to customize the weekend is by surprising Ma & Pa with a replica of their wedding cake.  Allie, my brother Jake's wife, has taken several cake decorating courses and has become our special occasion baker!  We've loved all of her cakes... she has a blog called allieCakes.  Check it out!  Particularly check out THIS post... the Mich Ultra cake she made for my Ma's birthday earlier this year.
Ma & Pa's wedding cake, 10-25-1980
Allie is planning to make a more modern version of their wedding cake, with three tiers and small pops of color.  Here is a sneak peak at one of the tiers:
Allie's Anniversary Cake in progress, 10-28-10
We are so excited to spend the weekend celebrating our sweet parents.  Can't wait to share more!

Meet Penny Baby

(Here is the second of four family introduction posts.  Read Copper's post here.)

Meet Penny Baby Ray.  Or Penny Babs Ray.  (Depends on the day.)

Copper and Penny with their adopted Momma, March 2009

 If you read Copper's introduction post, you'll know that it was love at first sight for these two pups.  Penny was just one of a large litter of pups (9 total in the crate when we got there), and we had no idea how in the world we were going to pick just one of those little things.  But she made it easy for us: when we opened that crate door, she made a beeline to Copper while the other 8 pups either ran to us, or away from the crate in general.  Her hyperactive leaps and bounds turned Copper into a new puppy, and we fell in love with her right away.

First Day Home, March 2009

It was crazy how instant Penny & Copper's connection was.  If it wasn't for the fact that they look nothing alike, I would think that they came from the same litter.  These two are inseparable.

Penny also connected with Andrew right away.  Ever since, she has been a Daddy's Girl (as you can see by the pictures below).  She just gives him this face that she doesn't show anyone else.  She loves him. 
First Day Home, March 2009
Snuggling after a swim, July 2009

Penny is very hyperactive.  I could hardly get a still picture of her as a pup.  Sometimes even now, she runs straight for the camera rather than sitting still or ignoring it.  She also still runs and leaps at our faces for smooches when she's really excited.  She smooches ALL THE TIME.  Even if you just barely pat her back, she has to smooch you.  Bedtime?  Smooch.  Breakfast?  Smooch.  Wave from across the room?  Smooch.

Playing in the sunroom, April 2009
Jumping for joy, Summer 2009

 It didn't take long for us to learn that Penny LOVES the water.  Her first trip to Shmimi & PePaw's (my parents) house, I thought she was going to jump in the pool- even though it was March!  When it was warm enough to swim and we were all in the pool, she would pace by the steps and dip her nose in, but she just wasn't sure what to do.  Finally, one afternoon when several of us were swimming and calling out her name, she just closed her eyes and leaped from the steps!  It didn't take long, by that July she was an expert swimmer.

Penny swimming, Summer 2009
Penny swimming, Summer 2010

It seems Penny has a thing for her boys.  She loves her Copper.  She loves her Daddy.  And she LOVES her PePaw!  Especially when her lets her on the couch for a snuggle.  PePaw gives the best belly rubs.
Penny and PePaw, Christmas 2009
And, oh boy, is she a snuggler!  She will snuggle up almost anywhere.  I swear, she could find a cozy spot on a bed of nails.
Penny snuggling with Momma, March 2009
Penny snuggling in the wrapping paper, Christmas 2009

Penny snuggling in Maddie & Cherokee's garden, February 2010

Penny snuggling in her corner on our deck, Spring 2010

Penny snuggling by the fence, October 2010

Penny is a good snuggler, a good sleeper and a LOUD snorer.  She will fall dead asleep with her mouth hanging wide open and snore like there's no tomorrow.  I joke that she "gets it from her Daddy".

Penny passed out, Fall 2009

Penny passed out, Early Spring 2010
Penny loves her boys, loves to sleep, loves to eat, loves to win, loves to rub her nose on trees, loves to smooch, loves to kick Copper out of the doghouse, and above all LOVES to snuggle.

But she hates snow.  She really hates snow.

Penny not letting her butt touch the cold snow, 2010

And as much as she hates the snow, she loves a good fire.  She will snuggle up so close to the fire and get so hot that Andrew and I can barely stand to put our hand on her.

Penny by the fire, Snow Day 2010

Penny always has to "give" us something.  Every morning when I get up to let them out, she has to give me a toy.  She picks up whatever is nearby and just wiggles and wags her tail and holds that toy up to me in her mouth.  She does the same thing when we go to get her out of the pen, even if all she has to pick up is a piece of hay or a leaf.  Recently, I've started taking the object and saying, "Thank you, Penny Baby!"  And she gets even more excited and wiggly.  She is just the cutest darn thing.

Penny has this look she gives us (usually she gives this look to her Daddy).  When she wants a snuggle or a treat or a spot up on the couch, this is the look we get:
Penny in the car, Summer 2010
 It took me well over a year to capture this expression, and even this photo was on accident!  Here she is in Buttons (my car), just gazing at Andrew as he was driving.  The way she completes the look is by resting her chin on a soft surface... just picture this on the edge of the couch, the armrest of the chair, the edge of the bed, etc.  It's as if she's saying, "Daddy, please.  I'm just a baby!"

And how did Penny get her middle name?  Well, for a while her name was Penny Just-a-Baby!  She's the smallest pup in our entire family, and sometimes she gets overwhelmed with all the big kids running around at our family get-togethers.  So she'll run and hide between my legs if I'm standing or curl up in my lap if I'm sitting, and I'll cradle her and say to the other pups, "She's just a baby!"  It's caught on... now whenever my Ma finds something tiny, she cups it in her hand and says, "It's just a baby!"

And when Penny is in one of her sassy moods and just has to take whatever Copper has, or steal his spot, or beat him up, she goes from Penny Baby to Penny Babs.  'Cause it's just more sassy that way.

We love this little nugget to the moon.  She has weaseled her way into ALL of our hearts.  Even Kitty Bug's.  They chat every single day.  Girl talk.