Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Time Is Here

 Here's one of the few photos (posed by Anna Belle, taken by Brady) of the kid's tent on Christmas day.

Santa brought matching jammies for baby and Anna Belle.  Grammy and Pappaw gave them really fun riding toys, which we've enjoyed playing with too.

I'm dealing with some guilt issues over not taking an even number of pictures of each child.  Brady's not quite as eager to participate in the photo process is Anna Belle... just blame the kids, right?

We brought some of our Nerf guns to Papa's house.  The kids LOVED playing with Nathan, Sam and Anthony.

Last night, some of the boys came over to play with the kids.  Sam was really cute with Anna Belle.

Yesterday, we mailed our Audiovox DVD player back to the manufacturer for the FOURTH time.  On the third return, they gave us a brand new unit, and then the screen looked like this:
 Hopefully, the fourth time's the charm.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

T'was the days before Christmas

Last week, we had dinner with Brett and Allison.  They made and decorated gingerbread cookies with the kids.  Brady was pretty excited about playing one of Brett's Wii games, so he wasn't quite as focused on the process.

This girl is my little shopper.  On Thursday of last week, I had 2 doctor appointments and some shopping to do before we picked up Pappaw from the airport at 2:30 PM.  Anna Belle loves all the toys at Anthropologie, and I made her try on an apron.  We also sat on one of the couches and read Madeline.  Shopping's never been so fun.

Thursday night, we met up with the Dennis family and went to Santa's Wonderland.  I know some people are irritated with Santa's Wonderland, but we did it right.  We bought tickets at a 30% discount online.  We arrived about 5 minutes before opening, so parking was a breeze.  We passed the ticket line without wait, because we already had tickets.  We had ZERO wait for the hayride.  At the end, we made s'mores, watched Frosty do a dance and let the dads take the kids into the petting zoo.  It was really a fun night.

Our four kiddos.

I almost get giddy every time I see a company choose to openly profess their faith.

On Friday, we went to Brady's Christmas party at school.  It began with a puppet show and some songs.  Anna Belle just joined in with the boys, who are all really sweet with her.

They had cupcakes and a craft, which went over well.  Afterwards, Parker (in the green stripes) came over to play with Brady.  They were hopping from one thing to another, until they jumped on the trampoline.  After that, they went to Brady's room and watched Star Wars contently (Parker on the top bunk and Brady on the bottom).

On Sunday, after volunteering with the preschool group at Second Baptist, we met my parents at Brennan's for brunch.  Apparently the waiter who arrives to work the latest "gets" to play Frosty.

An elderly couple sat next to us.  We became friends because we took trips to the restroom with the gentleman at least 3 times and the lady, Ms. Betty, kept talking to Anna Belle.  Anna Belle mostly wanted to show her a few ballerina spins.

I failed to get a picture of the trio with their instruments singing Christmas carols.  They played "Johnny Be Good" at the request of a neighboring table.  Brady was pretty excited about it; he loves Doc and Marty.  

I asked the waiter if I could get a "To Go" cup for my tea.  He said they didn't have any, but he crafted a cup from a large soup container and brought me a bottle of tea.  I was one happy girl.

On Monday, I panicked when I realized all of our Christmas clothes were dirty and/or wrinkled.  I spent most of the day doing laundry, but we visited our neighbor's house (who has a son in Brady's bridge class) to a Happy Birthday Jesus party.  Jenn also has a daughter, Karis, who is Anna Belle's age.  After I took Anna Belle potty, she screamed, "I'm gonna go play with Karis!" and ran back upstairs to the playroom.  In the photo below, Jenn's telling the Christmas story as the kids place each character of the Advent calendar in the nativity scene.

On Christmas Eve, I became acutely aware that our play room needed to be reorganized, the couches and carpets should be vacuumed again and we needed to wash our kitchen and living room windows inside and out.  Sometimes I think I may have OCD.  Taylor was a trooper and aided in my crazy efforts.  At 10, he took the kids to Grammy and Pappaw's so we could set up the Santa gift.  Here are a few pictures.

At 3:00 PM, we went to church to hold our seat for 4:30 PM mass.  I thought the kids would go crazy, but they were really quite good.  I found a puzzle app for Anna Belle with images of the first Christmas (shepherds in the field, the wise men, nativity, etc.).  I had this beautiful view of the mass and managed to steal the phone from Anna Belle to snap a picture.  The smell of the lilies and incense were intoxicating, in a good way.

After mass, we went to Grandma and Grandpa's to open gifts.

As a child, I remember thinking I was really tricky and didn't actually have to look at the camera in order to smile for the camera.  This is why my mom has a lot of pictures of me with my eyes cut to the side like this:

Brady got a hydraulic truck crane from Grandma and Grandpa.  Grandpa had logos printed up at work, so it can be an official TNT crane.  TNT actually purchases Liebherr cranes in this model.  We need to get a picture with the real deal.

Afterwards, we went to Brett and Allison's for dinner.  Anna Belle ate 2 slices of ham and Brady ate 2 slices of lemon cake.

I feel so blessed that these two play together so sweetly.

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Oh, I gotta Ketchup again

My parents were in France, my sister went to Colorado and the Bowers went to Breckenridge, so we had a small Thanksgiving.  This meant we got to host David, Sam and Pops.  When I set the table, I sometimes imagine myself putting stuffed animals in the chairs like a little girl's tea party.  Setting a table for a party or the holidays definitely brings out the giddy school girl in me.

I've coveted these tiny turkeys for a few years when we were at Post Oak, and ever since (maybe 4 - 5 years?).  We bought them at the last minute and got 2 for $7 from ZGallerie.  I was pumped and excited, to say the least.

Even though the Bowers weren't here to join in, we continued the tradition of decorating a ginger bread house.  The kids really enjoyed it, as did I.  This picture makes Anna Belle look a lot like Brianna.
 Getting these 2 to smile is always interesting.

 Each child did one side of the roof, and I did the front of the house.  Anna Belle picked all the candies off the front the next day, which made Brady The Enforcer upset.  I put the house on the shelf by the front door, but it creeps me out when I hear random candy pieces clunking on to the plate.  
 Brady's chicken nugget and cheese squares, Thanksgiving feast at school, just like the pilgrims.

Anna Belle and I spend a lot of time in the car together.  We had about 15 minutes to kill after errands and before picking up Brady, so we sat in our driveway awhile.  She's tickled to sit in the front seat, and I like having the company.

Can I just say we have been the rain boot girls this year?  We've both worn our rain boots more than any other shoe we own this season.

This is Daddy's busiest time of the year for insurance renewals.  We're fortunate that he's able to come home early (by about 4:00 most days and sometimes 2:00), but when he's late, I feel like I need to amp up the fun to make it through the evening.  On this particular day, I took the kids to Menchies for frozen yogurt.  Oh, the sugar high smiles...

Brady LOVES school so much!  I always think it's a treat to get picked up early and take him to lunch or on some sort of outing, but he's always mad at me (even when we talk about it in advance and he seems cool with it).  Well, I picked him up 10 minutes early one day so we could catch the 2:00 PM showing of Frozen.  He was mad because he didn't get to finish reading his book (grrr), but we were one of 3 families in the theater which was awesome!  The kids had one whole staircase to themselves, and I didn't have to worry about anyone tripping over them.  This weekend, we saw Frozen at the drive in movie theater, and almost Froze our...selves. 

P.S.  I love that Disney now has a Princess Anna and a Princess Belle : )

The Sequoia passed 100,000 miles.  I want to make it to 200,000 - 250,000 miles.  If Brady ends up driving the Accord for his first car, it should have about 140,000 miles on it and I enjoy the idea of convincing him that "his" car's still young compared to Mommy's car.  I'm a big believer that the cheapest car is the one you drive the longest.

As the youngest in the family and the junior high teacher, Aunt Megan lets us know when we're not dressing cool enough.  I'm always grateful for this direction, because I'm a creature of habit and forget that times are changing.  Brady is now the proud owner of 2 pairs of straight leg pants, instead of boot cut.  I've been afraid to put him in skinnies, because I don't think they're sufficiently masculine.  With that said, I love that the straight leg pants (though still too long) don't slide under his shoes.  We're between toddler and boys sizes, which has been a challenge.  This has made the transition easier.  I should really take a picture of his underwear sizes.  The difference in one size is ENORMOUS at this age.
 This is the first "era" where I've had to make Brady try things on at the store, to make sure they fit correctly.  I like that he's more excited about and grateful for receiving new clothes, because he got to be part of the purchase process.

For our Second Baptist Christmas playdate, we had a birthday party for Jesus at Chuck-E-Cheese.  We brought a giant cookie cake and a craft, and for the first hour we were the only ones there.  Fortunately, one of the pastor's wives came with 3 of her youngest, so we had someone to share the cake with.
 Anna Belle didn't mind being by herself.  Honestly, Chuck-E-Cheese is a lot of fun at a good price, if you can go when they're not crowded.

Thanks to Pinterest Told Me To, I've become addicted to Nordstrom, their great customer service, easy returns and free shipping.  I keep an online shopping cart full of things I'm interested in, and I wait for those specific items to go on sale.  About half my cart went on sale one day, so I went to Nordstrom to try things on.  The items I liked were not on sale, so I continue to wait.  I kind of love shopping with this little dancing cutie.

I felt like her hair was starting to get a little stringy, so I cut it the next morning.  I have a lot of anxiety about haircuts, but she always seems to enjoy them.  Here she is, as soon as I finished.

Grammy and Pappaw got us this Wii 3 years ago, and we still love playing with it regularly.  I like that Anna Belle's eager to learn.

Many moons ago, Mommy worked with a man named Richard Dahl.  I went to high school with his boys and Richard was one of our vendors at the building.  He plays Santa for his neighborhood each year, and it's the only Santa experience that the kids seem to do well with.  Maybe it's because it's the cold, the small crowd, the fire truck or being first thing in the morning.  Whatever it is, we're happy to have no tears at this Santa gig.  Santa handed out Sheriff badges from the Harris County Sheriff's Department, which Brady has proudly worn every day since.

Buddy came to visit for the first time this year.  It's been fun, but the kids aren't overly excited about him yet.  The nice thing is, they don't mind if Buddy doesn't move for a few days.

One day, I made the mistake of setting Buddy on Daddy's placemat.  The kids were really worried when Daddy touched Buddy (because allegedly touching Buddy makes his magic go away).  This particular set up, by Taylor, worried Anna Belle because she desperately wanted to clean up the Sorry game, so she could put her puzzles back on the table.  

My friend Sarah came over one day while she was waiting to pick her oldest up from preschool.  Grammy let me have one of her old strands of garland, which matches mine.  This made it so I finally had enough to decorate the stairs.  The dark section on the top right lit up later.  Soon thereafter, and section of lights on the bottom side went dark.

On Saturday, we went to Emma's birthday party.  We were blessed to teach Emma's Sunday School class last year.  They had 3 ponies, and the kids LOVED riding again and again.

Here's the birthday girl.

Brady kept picking up his hat and waving it at everyone.  He's ready to be a rodeo star.

James and Ada are in Brady's Sunday School class too.

We went to Celebration at Houston's First Baptist on Friday night.  We were invited by the Hamm family, who had a few extra tickets.  Daniel Hamm is in Brady's class at St. John's, and it turns out we know a lot of the same people from First Baptist, and we live down the street from one another (we ran into each other while trick-or-treating).

Brady had a field trip to HEB.  I was probably more excited about it than he was.  He was okay to go into the milk fridge, but he refused to step into the giant freezer.

I generally feel like Brady is quite fearless around animals, but he had no interest in touching the lobster.  Maybe it's because he used to call them monsters.

It's not easy to get good smiles from 10 boys at the same time, but here are a few attempts.

I spent quite a bit of time this weekend cleaning the photos and videos off my phone, updating software, and syncing up my iTunes account (I've been synced to my sisters for awhile).  I already have more I want to share, but I think 36 pics is enough for now.