Thursday, March 12, 2015

Our Wedding - Through the Lens (VIDEO)

Four years ago today I married my best friend, Patricia Brinkman at the time.  This has been without question the greatest gift of my life.  Each year I spend sometime on this day going through the videos from the day on YouTube.  I thought why not create a blog where I package all these videos up together.  WARNING It's ALOT, and it's all wonderful!

Full Ceremony:  This is awesome to go back and hear my Da's message to us, "Leave, Cleave, and Weave."

Wedding Reception Intros and First Dance 
I still love our song selections.

Patricia and Wayne's Father-Daughter Dance  
This was one of my fav videos from this day because I had some fun with the song and the video edits.  The best part of this video is when Player says this is the 2nd time he heard this song.

E & P Wedding Dance Montage 

The Dance Mashup (Luda, Marc Anthony, Furtado, Shout and Sinatra) 

Eric's "Thank You" speech at the Wedding 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sawyer's First Halloween

Sawyer's first Halloween was pretty uneventful as Mom, Dad and Sawyer all came down with a little cold.  We could not let that stop us from taking some photos to commemorate her first Halloween.  Between popping 1000mg of Vitamin C and drinking lots of water we managed to find time for a quick photo shoot.

The plan was to grab our pumpkin and create a small set with a ton of leaves in our front yard.  I should also mention the weather decided to drop from the mid 80's to the low 60's with a chilling wind.  Half-way through the first shoot we could tell we had a hungry baby that was not in a mood for modeling.

Later in the day we decided to change plans from the front yard leaves idea and head to the back yard.  Sawyer's first costume was this awesome little "Tigger" onesie from her Abuela.

As I set Sawyer in the yard Patricia asked me, "is there any Dodger poop or pee right there?" I confidently answered "never!" :)  Sawyer also had a surprise visit from the Main Player who jumped in for a quick snapshot.

I had to close out the blog with a short video of the cutest "Tigger" ever.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Few Words about Dad

My mom asked her three sons to write a little something about our father to be shared at their church.  This simple small request turned into an awesome project that we probably should have done years ago.  With that said enjoy three very different takes on describing how great Don Paul Gray is.  Thanks to Donna Gray for giving us this opportunity.  

From Eric Gray (because it's my blog and mine is the shortest)

My Dad gave me a lot, mostly good.  He gave me his his loud booming voice, a heart for people, desire to lead, his receding hairline, a slight addiction to Diet Pepsi, and the need to do things "my way".

As a kid, my Dad and I would do different projects together, and I remember at times telling my Dad another way to do something and he would always say, "Son lets use my brain".  I find myself at times saying similar things to my friends, on the basketball court or even at work.  

Through it all my Dad is one of my heros.  Over 10 years ago I was sitting in church and I heard a story that changed the way I looked at my Dad and marriage.  It's a long story about my Dad standing by my Mom during some difficult physical times.  The way I remember it me, Dad, and my two brothers left Mom temporarily at a hospital in Texas with her parents.  The hope was she could get better under their constant supervision.  About half way through the trip back to Louisiana Dad pulled what he calls a "U-lee" or u-turn and headed back to Texas to get his wife.  He walked into the hospital and took his bride back home with her family.  This was a story I never heard until my early 20s and it shook me to my core.  It showed me so much what it means to make a covenant commitment, stand the line through the tough times and tell the devil he will not win this fight.  He is a strong man of God who does not waver and a wonderful father.  I hope I can be that for my family.

From Ryan Gray (because he is the middle son)

Some of you have met me before on my last visit to Quinlan but if I missed you, hello I am Ryan Harper Gray. I am the middle son. That’s rights the middle son. The one they all worry about but don't worry folk, because I am the most fun.

Now let me tell you what my extensive research as I scoured the internet for information on this strange holiday we call Father's Day produced. According to Wikipedia Father's Day was inaugurated in the United States in the early 20th century to complement Mother's Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting. Alright, there you go… …right off the bat. This made up holiday was created after Mother's Day. Now what is up with that huh? Maybe some mothers felt a little guilty back in the day. With that said, this gives us a little insight into Father's day and why I personally love it. On Father's day there is no pressure. It's like a holiday from stress. It should be called “No nagging day” because Dads really do hate nagging. And gift… forget about it! Get him whatever, make him something, just please, please don't make him pay for it to. I know my dad must have paid for any gift he received when I was growing up because he was my only source of money. 

So here we are, on the best holiday of the year, FATHER'S DAY. It's really a day for all of us because Dads don't ask for much. So I will keep my compliments brief for mine.

Dad we disagree on almost everything, yet we have more fun talking to each other, than almost any Father and son I've met. With that said, I still wish you were a democrat and Jesus would have wanted it to. Ok, I don't know about that last part but he definitely wasn't a republican… am I right people? 

Back to Dad, You did it! You raised 3 boys and folks we weren't always easy. You showed me on a daily bases what unconditional love was. Not by telling me, you love me, all the time but by your works. You are a great Father, a great husband, and a friend. We are all lucky to know you, because every day you wake up thinking first about what can I, Donny Paul, give. You are not a taker you are a giver.

Unless we are talking about pie. You will definitely eat all the pie. And while I am on it people… stop giving this man pie! I mean does he look hungry. Ayways, sorry back to my Dad. It's Father's day and you don't ask for much so here it is dad… You did good and I love you.

From Brent Gray (because it's the longest)

Hello Quinlan First Assembly! My mom asked me to provide her a few words about my dad to read for the church for Fathers Day. So here they are:


Okay, seriously. Despite my best efforts, I found it impossible to say only a few words about my dad. I desperately hope though I do not drone on and on, drawing on some arbitrary or insignificant experience or anecdote, seemingly forgetting about the clock, especially that magical time on Sunday that we all look forward to each week like a six-year-old looking forward to Christmas morning – that time being 12:00.

But, alas – I'm sure your pastor doesn't do this, so you wouldn't know what I'm talking about…

In all seriousness. It really is impossible to summarize in a few words what my dad means to me. To summarize that would be to summarize the 41 years I've had on this earth, because not a day of the 41 years has gone by without my dad having a significant and notable impact on my life.

And, frankly, I think I'm only now, in the last few years, beginning to realize the significance of the roll my dad has played in my life. Not surprisingly, it is my own children that demonstrate this so effectively to me.

I have a seven-year-old daughter, Sadie, and a two-year-old son, Jack. The lessons I've learned in the last seven years about myself, my family, and my God, and the enormous responsibilities I owe to each cannot be overstated. Perhaps this is best demonstrated with a simple example. Sometimes in life, God uses the most simple, mundane moments in life to reveal the most profound things.

Our two-year-old Jack loves to be outside. So my wife Tammy and I spend a lot of time just hanging out with Jack in the backyard. Our backyard is heavily wooded with mature trees and shrubs. A few weeks ago Jack and I were in the backyard. I didn't even really know he was watching me. For no particular reason I picked up a stick off the ground and just hit it against a tree and walked away. Probably about five or 10 seconds later, out of the corner my eye, I see Jack holding a stick and walk up to the same tree and hit the tree and walk away the same way I did.

I literally had to fight back tears. For whatever reason, in that moment, I got it. And it struck me to the core. I have the beautiful, wonderful, and absolutely frightening responsibility to set an example for my children. Physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, for them, I am the example of what a man should be.

Now, what does all that have to do with my dad? In a word – Everything. Because I've had the incredible honor to have had my dad, Don Paul Gray, the picture of integrity, loyalty and perseverance, as the example for me of what a man should be. I can only hope and pray that I can impart these same traits to my own children.

So – on this Father's Day, June 15, 2014, I salute you dad. Thank you.

Your son

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Brent and Fam in Orlando

Last weekend my oldest brother and his family were able to come into town for a short trip to Central Florida.  It was the first time Brent and Tammi were able to meet Sawyer Beaux.  It was awesome. I got home from work on Thursday and was instantly in a highly competitive game of soccer in my backyard.  Jack and Eric vs Sadie and Brent.  While team TN "won", we are still appealing due to the amount of illegal elbows thrown down by "sweet" little Sadie.  :)

It was also great to introduce Sawyer to Sadie who kept saying over and over again, "She is so cute."

The first day Abuela Brinkman took over Sawyer duties and we were able to visit Universal Orlando Resort.  I'm not sure I have enjoyed a theme park this much, but it was great to watch Sadie get scared on Jurassic Park River Adventure and smile as big as she possibly could on Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem.  Do we look like tourists or what?

I also got to ride the Pteranodon Flyers for the 1st time because you have to have a child with you.  During the wait Sadie and I played "thumb war" like 15-20 times.  I am sure she would like everyone to know she won in the end.

To close out the day Jack stopped for a quick dance as he watched the parade go by.  Because I work at UO I rarely get to see or experience the joy this place brings. Great to see it first hand.

One of my other favorite things about the weekend was watching Jack.  He is almost 2 years old now and he is a tank.  Patricia rightly nicknamed him Jack-nado.  He picks up everything, stumbles, knocks over stuff, and gets into everything.  He is such a fun curious boy.  The above might make him sound like a terror. He is actually one of the most cuddly kids I have ever seen and we got a lot of Jack-nado - Uncle E time.

I also love to watch him eat.  It was awesome.  While at Universal I asked Jack-nado if he wanted any of these baby cheese puffs his parents brought while Brent and Tam were on a ride.  Instead of taking them from me he just put his hand behind my hand and pushed all of these cheese puffs towards his face and attacked them.  It was awesome!

The rest of the time we hung out, laughed a lot, and watched as Sadie and Sawyer became the best cousin friends ever.

What a great few days with my brother Brent and his family.  Thanks to Tammi and Patricia for putting up with all the chaos.  It was a blast.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sawyer's First month

So many memories from Sawyers's first month.  I thought this blog might be a great way to remember some of our favorite.  In no particular order..
  • Lots of diapers lots, of feedings
  • Going on a car ride to Krispy Kreme at 3am to try and get her to sleep.  
  • Watching her wake up.
  • Daddy singing many made up and ridiculous songs like, "Prettiest little girl in the world"
  • Purchasing a swing after 2 weeks.  Best decision ever!
  • Her first photo shoot in the dining room
  • Only being able to wear certain onesies because she is so tiny.
  • Her first bath was pretty awesome. (Read and see it here LINK)
  • Having so many close friends come by to meet her. I won't even try to name them all. 
  • Shh'ing her to sleep so much I find myself shh'ing at work
  • First work lunch with my ladies.  Chuys was a great choice.
  • Leaning what a sling at a restaurant was
  • Texting my "mom" friends questions.  Thanks Heather, Amber, Eliz, and Jessica
  • Seeing my wife change from a wonderful wife to a loving Mom.
  • Getting to enjoy March Madness while hanging with Sawyer. Best time to have a kid ever.
  • Trying so hard to learn the "forumla" to get her to sleep.  It was hard at times but provided so much bonding time.
  • Kim Allen was a lifesaver / baby whisperer
  • She slept in the Boppy lounger on Eric's night stand for a few nights early on
  • Eric wanting to always swaddle and put her to sleep, and PBG wanting to let her stay awake during the day
  • Sawyer was skilled at getting out of swaddles
  • All the dinners from so many sweet friend
  • Sitting on the patio
  • Learning the car seat
  • Trips to the park
  • Bath time with the Brinkman Grand Parents
  • Mommy Sawyer chats (which is Sawyer making noises, and PBG saying, mhmm in agreement)
  • Mommy learning to swaddle
  • Dad mastering the "Super Swaddle" 
  • Learning how important the iPhone noisemaker app is
  • Spending lots of time with all the grand parents. (Abuela and Grandpa Brinkman, and Pops and Granny Gray)
  • Exercises with Abuela
  • Seeing Dodger follow, and protect Sawyer all day. 
  • Late night and early morning devotions with Mom

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sawyer's First Bath

This afternoon Sawyer got her first at home bath.  I am sure it was not necessary to get the entire tub setup for her 1st bath, as PBG reminded me, but it was a great backdrop for this video.  Thanks to PBG for tolerating my passion for documenting Sawyer's "firsts".

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Call - March 18th

This morning I went to work knowing we were one week away from Sawyer's due date, but my feeling of an early arrival a few weeks ago had changed significantly over the past week.  I was starting to think Sawyer might be late.  In my 9:30am meeting I got "the call" from Patricia.  She had just left her weekly scheduled doctors appointment and her exact words when I answered was, "Do you want to have a baby today?"  I responded like any loving husband would, "SHUT UP"  She went on to tell me that the doctor said for a few reasons she thought she should go to the hospital where they will probably advise to induce.  I ran home as she called her parents.  I called a few family members and snapchatted the news to a few friends.  (You're welcome) #SocialMedia  After grabbing our bags and walking the dogs I was off to Winter Park Memorial Hospital.

When I arrived PBG was with her parents having just finished a few tests.  She was in great spirits and was in no way in "labor".  After a few hours the nurse very nonchalantly said, "we got the tests back, and were inducing today"  While we knew this was going to be along day, I think we were all thrilled to get this started.

The next few hours were pretty relaxing.  I started charging my cameras for the big moment while PBG relaxed.  Around 5pm the parents got back from walking the dogs and Eliz arrived with a loaner birthing ball. It was great having Eliz here. Around 6pm the nurse started to deliver the Pitocin which I found out would get this party started.  I learned more in 30 minutes with our nurse than I did during our 3 week prep classes. Once the medicine kicked in the contractions began.  I think it was a pretty normal experience but I hated seeing PBG in pain.

She was awesome and timed the request for the epi perfectly.  I was amazed at how awesome and focused PBG was as she was dealing with very difficult contractions and was receiving her epidural.  Needless to say she felt great after this was done.  The nurse was so helpful and even helped me coach Patricia better.  I think it was great prep for what's coming shortly.  At 11pm Wayne and I took off for a McD's run while PBG took a nap.  We are so blessed by God, everything today has been great.  That is the update for now.  Have a great night friends.  Tomorrow is Sawyer's Birthday.