We’re back.

We went through our longest posting drought in quiet some time but I am hoping to get back into a nice rhythm again as I’ve been rich on thoughts but poor on time it seems.

The spring has been a whirlwind for our family.  Lei started a full time job and my job has been demanding on a whole new level.  I’ve written a lot in the past about time management and how putting family and career each in their respective places in life are so important, well, as most things go, I am re-learning how to do this all over again.  Everyday is a challenge to be present, thoughtful and patient with Em and Lei while quickly moving into “work mode” and focusing on the fast paced timelines during my 8-5.

None of this is bad, its actually very good, it teaches Leilani and I to communicate well and always put each other and Emerson first in our lives.  Life never gets boring, and while in the moment it feels like its all flying by, I love it all and need to get back into the habit of just sitting down and letting it all sink in.

The spring has finally brought a wave of warm weather to Raleigh, and I’ve been back to my ways of toting the camera around to record Em’s antics.


Her “Winpeel” follows us everywhere and was chosen to take to school on Friday for “share day.”


Em is officially a big girl now.  We are well into potty training and down to diapers at night and during nap.  Speech has exploded and its a constant conversation about anything and everything on her mind.  Today she asked me for a “blanco sheet of paper” when was exciting that she’s retaining a few words from her Thursday Spanish class!

The neighborhood is alive again as all the kids are breaking out their various forms of transportation.


Em is still small, she struggles to ride any sort of bike as she can barely reach the pedals or ground on most bikes or scooters. Chalk, bubbles and throwing Levi the ball are at the top of her activity list these days.



After Levi chewed up a bottle of sunscreen and diaper cream over the course of 1 week, we felt like we may need to make a concerted effort to spend more time with him at the park.  Levi has always been a worrisome dog and is happiest when we are all sitting still and relaxing at home.




After a few hours working in the yard Lei and I relaxed last night before the rain moved in.  We woke up today to a sick little girl and will probably spend the rest of the day on the couch watching Little Einsteins.  However, today I don’t feel my usual level of worry when heading in the week with a sick Emmy, we will figure it out, we always do, and there’s really nothing I’d rather be doing than facing each day with the people I love around me.

Cheers everyone.


Is winter over?

We thought the 70 degree days were a fluke, but apparently they are here to stay.  After a fun long weekend in the mountains we returned to spring.


We had a great time hanging with my parents in the mountains, the weather was perfect on day 1.


Em got lots of great Papa time (and Grandma time).


We took the new car for a spin on the parkway, not much of an overlook as the fog was very thick, but we really enjoyed having a bigger car for the first time on a longer drive. (I made Lei pose in front of the car, she’s not prone to staged photos but I had to).


The sunsets were incredible.  The weather got progressively colder through the week but no snow!  Given the weather patterns this year, I am wondering if true snow days are a thing of the past.  Either way, we had a great time in the highcountry and near the end even had Em pointing at the skyline asking to “go to mountains again.”


There was a really cool lunar eclipse the week after we returned to Raleigh, I was surprised that I was able to capture some of the brilliance with a few photos.



Back to our normal routine, I wonder how many morning buns I’ve consumed since Boulted opened? I actually don’t want to know…


Since I’ve not been able to post as much, Em’s growth progress seems to be happening in leaps and bounds.  She’s loving school and chatters away constantly about the various heavy equipment machines in the neighborhood now (new development going in around the corner).   Anything big and loud is fun, almost as much fun as trying to unlock the deadbolt on the door which is the only thing keep her from escaping!



Lei and I learn something new everyday as parents.  2017 has been full of decisions so far and some of them really hard.  We are so fortunate to have a healthy child and one that makes every day exciting and challenging (in the best of ways).  It feels like its going to be a fast paced year, 2016 was fairly restful for us as we had no major life changes take place.  I’m not sure what it is about this year, but it just feels like its going to be a wild ride.

Speaking of which, I am going to start my day and hesitantly open my work e-mail…

Happy Monday!

First snow, first 70 degree day.

There’s the old saying “don’t like the weather today? Well wait until tomorrow.”  That rings true during a North Carolina January.  We had our first “snow” of the year that was really more of a transformation of Raleigh into an old freezer that has a healthy amount of re-frozen water lining the edges.  However, if there’s one thing North Carolinians are good at, its making the best of a small amount of ice and snow.


We had a great time towing Em around in the sled, its always fun to see Raleigh shut down and everyone out and about.

Em liked the snow, but like many new things, was hesitant to really go nuts.  She spent most of her time asking me to make tiny snowmen for her to laugh at, then knock over. Keeping her hands warm was a constant concern, but we definitely enjoyed ourselves.



On Sunday the street froze over like a real life hockey rink.  I naturally had to make a large fire and stand by it, like any self respecting man would.


The ice persisted for a few days and made driving out of the neighborhood with 2 wheel drive sketchy to say the least.  Thankfully, the cars are intact and I only sustained one pride damaging slip in in front of my neighbors.


After the week of winter weather, things naturally settled down, so much so that it was warm enough to leave the coats and snow boots at home this past weekend and head to the park.


Em is enamored by the “hop hop” at the carousel, I think she would ride it all day.  We met a few friends at the park and I took the below photo that still cracks me up, all these kids are already too cool to smile in photos!


That’s all I’ve got today, I hope everyone is enjoying 2017 so far.


Goodbye 2016

I’m sitting here on a chilly December day and considering, maybe for the first time all year, just how much has changed in the Ray household over the last 365 days.  I can only think that at some point life changes less each year, maybe when Lei and I are old move to the mountains (beach if you ask her) things will slow down some.  I am not complaining, really I’m not, 2016 has brought an abundance of blessing to our household.  From Emerson growing, learning and continuing to stay healthy, to my job flourishing and opening up a true “career path” for my foreseeable future, I feel very fortunate to say it was a great year for us despite the tumultuous and strife-ridden current state of our country.

When I try to pinpoint the primary “highpoint” of 2016, I think I keep landing on our friends and family.  Our family’s support of Lei and I as parents, and Emerson as a developing little girl is astounding, I really can’t describe it appropriately but I do know I want to give Emerson that same amount of love and support, it really changes everything in life.

Well, I guess I should post some pictures, I tried not to disrupt Christmas celebrations by sticking a camera in everyone’s face, but I did get a few shots during the excitement.


Em’s great grandaddy Bill is always delighted to see her, its always so fun to see how he lights up when she gets there.


The Christmas Eve spread was very strong as usual.


We used lots of Em’s artwork from school to wrap gifts this year, I actually thought it looked pretty cool.


Christmas morning was all about seeing how many boxes Em could fit in.



Em can finally imitate me now that she has her own camera!



It took me all morning to get the fire nice and stoked. To be fair, the stockings were in fact hung by the chimney with care…


My parents made Em an audio book of the Christmas story that is read by them.  I won’t lie, I got teary eyed when I heard it the first time, I remember so well my parents reading to me as a child, it was pretty great to see it continue with Em.


Bad picture, but fun moment at the big capital tree with Em. This Christmas she officially became obsessed with “Tismas Lights” that are of course everywhere in the neighborhood and on our walks.  Its hard to explain to a two year old why you take the tree and lights down after the 25th, to be honest, I am already excited about next Christmas and how excited she will get when the lights come back out.

In lieu of rambling on forever about 2016, I wanted to share what I beleive to be my favorite moments captured with a photo this year.

Happy New Year to all, I sincerely wish you all the best.


















Holiday beginnings

We’ve been staying busy to say the least.  Work for both Lei and I is full speed ahead and even though we had some time off for Thanksgiving, it feels like the days fly by at record speed.

We spent a few days in Burlington for Thanksgiving eating meals with both sides of the family.




Emerson’s memory is getting impressive, she remembers both grandparent’s houses now and when we aren’t there, requests to be there or “call Bibi Babu” “call Papa Grandma” on a regular basis.



I took Em for a ride on the tractor I grew up mowing my parents property on.  She loved it, even at 5 mph…



Em enjoys an apple after thanksgiving dinner at Bibi and Babu’s.  We were surprised she wanted to keep her necklace on all day (a gift from her friend Helen).


The three of us spent a day together after Thanksgiving with no plans, which seems to rarely happen anymore. As I mentioned before, the lack of daylight really changes things when suddenly the ability to spend evenings together outside is gone.

We had breakfast at the Times and spent the morning walking the deserted city on a holiday weekend.


I think I’ve said this about every age so far, but parenting a 2 year old truly is fun. Em is interested in everything, the smallest activities, new or not, captivate her and make her smile with absolute delight.  It feels like I am personally entering a season of life that requires intense focus with regard to my career.  So, with that in mind, the idea of simple pleasures and true “joy” have come to mean so much more to me.  Without these moments, I find myself delving too far into “serious adult life stuff” and never come up for air.  Having a child forces you to laugh, and without laughter I find myself enjoying life a lot less.

Okay, parental musing over…on to important news…..

We got a Christmas Tree!



Em “smelling” the tree.


Its a true Charlie Brown tree.  Small but mighty, well, maybe mighty is an overstatement but it fits nicely in a house and Em loves it, I’d call that a success.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, it appears that this week we will finally have a full week of winter weather and maybe even some of that little white stuff that falls from the sky.

Until then, happy Sunday night.




Less light and more sniffles

Oops…I went through another long drought of posting, its amazing how quickly the weeks have been ticking by this fall.  As expected, Em started struggling with various bugs after being at school for about a month.  We knew it was coming, but it has not made things any easier as Lei and I both spent a few days at home dealing with the classic sore throat/runny nose/fever bug.

I’ve said it before, but there’s nothing like a sick day (or worse, a sick night) to put in to perspective just how great a regular old normal healthy day is.  Em is a different person when she’s sick, it magnifies just how great “happy Em” is, she’s a joy to be around and has hit an age where she finds wonderment in anything new, exciting or “special.”

I picked up some great film prints a few weeks back from one of our trips out to the  NC State Equine Farm near Umstead. Em could spend all day there and be happy I think.



One thing that has really improved during the time Em has been attending school is her sleeping habits.  She can sleep just about anywhere now which has been really nice during the sick days and most recently when she spent a day at Grandma and Papa’s after a great birthday dinner for Bibi, Lei’s grandmother and myself (all November birthdays).


Em has become a very big fan of birthdays in general.  I am pretty sure she thinks everyone is always singing to her, she will grin ear to ear and await the command to “blow out the candles!”


Licking off the candles has also become an obsession, luckily Bibi was prepared.

On Sunday, we left Em with Grandma and Papa for the day and hopped on the train to Charlotte to catch the Panthers game.  We had a blast despite the heartbreaking last second loss…


Our Uber ride from the train station was a little tighter than we expected, but we made it work.


Our seats were way up in the 500 level but I thought the view was great.  Being at a NFL game is such a cool experience, I don’t think I’d ever want to go to more than a few games a season (because watching on the couch is pretty great too) but being in the stadium (especially on Veteran’s Day) is a pretty jaw dropping experience.


The train ride home was a little long, probably didn’t help that we’d been eating junk food all day, watched the Panthers lose and been rained on for the first 2 quarters.

I really have great friends, they made the trip fun and most importantly they kept us all laughing pretty much the entire ride back.


One thing that has made it harder to keep the blog updated is the time change!  There’s just not much light when I get home from work and pictures are getting harder to work into my schedule since I have exactly zero daylight once I get off work.

I did get a new lens for my birthday!  I’ve only been able to test it a few times but its designed to capture close shots when there’s not an abundance of natural light.  Here’s my favorite shot with it so far, this was Em all ready for school last Friday in her new dress from uncle Ash.


We are going to the Christmas Parade on Saturday, so I hope to get some shots then.  I can’t beleive the holidays are around the corner but I can say I am really looking forward to them this year.  Emerson has reignited my love for this time of year with her excitement around anything special.

Okay, that’s a quick update on what’s happening.  Time to close my eyes and swan dive into the sea of work that awaits me the rest of this week.





fall feels.

There’s always that first day of real fall in NC that forces you to go rummaging through your attic for a jacket.  Lei and I tend to put on too many clothes on that first day it drops below 50 and then quickly realize that a toboggan and scarf are a little extreme (well, I do, Lei leaves her down jacket on from Sept-May).

Em enjoys putting her coat on, it means we are headed outside!


Em is now the perfect weight to counterbalance the see-saw, she will get that thing rocking so high I think she’s going to launch off it like a catapult.


Em’s hair is so long!  At least a little of the red hair she was born with 2 years ago is still left up there.

My memories of fall are always some of my best.  If I ever left NC, this would easily be one of the things I’d miss the most, and as cheesy at it is, I’ll take all of it, pumpkins, leaves, hot coffee, flannel…I could go on.  I remember working with my Dad in high school and eagerly awaiting fall days after spending all summer outside in the heat.  I think the seasons change jolts many of us into a new routine reminds us the holidays are right around the corner.

On Saturday, Sam and Nora hosted a Pig Pickin’ and Oyster Roast in their back yard.  I snapped a few photos before and as the sun went down and fire pit was lit.







It was cool to see Emerson running around with all the other kids.  I remember so well having huge cookouts around this time of year as a kid.  Bonfires, barrels full of ice and grape soda (I don’t know why I specifically remember choosing grape soda out of the barrel of soda choices), hot dogs, chili and s’mores as far as the eye can see.  When you are a kid, these are the nights you dream of, or at least I did, I look forward to more nights like this with Emerson and Lei.

Well, its time to get to work, I can only hope I am as productive today as Em was this weekend.