Friday, December 18, 2015

'Tis the Season

I cleaned off my phone and I'm posting lots of random pictures from the past month and I'm not organizing them because I have no time!!

But also, I wanted to make note of a few things that are awesome about this Christmas season:
1.  William singing Jingle Bells at the top of his lungs.  With his speech difficulties, it's particularly adorable.  And he just gets the itch and sings -- today in the middle of Hobby Lobby.  It was awesome.
2.  Three kids yelling at me -- did you see those lights?  Did you see the ones on my side?  Mom look at those lights! -- when we go out at night.  Yes, I have eyes and a REALLY big window at the front of the car.  And yes, I can listen to music/talk to my husband/look at lights at the SAME TIME!  I am amazing.  The kids don't get it.
3.  My shopping and creating is done and I am really excited about Christmas morning.
4.  William is really excited about EVERYTHING and has no concept of time so I have to explain to him several times a day that no, you can't open presents yet, no it's not time to go to Grandma's, yes it's a school/church/nap day, yes I SAW THE LIGHTS!!!
5.  Santa in a fire truck.  Yes it happens every year and yes, it was just as awesome as it is every year.
6.  The Little Elm Christmas parade featured the band and 10 vehicles.  This is growth people.
7.  Stuffing my own stocking.  Because I do them all.  Christmas season is very dependent on mom and I'm ok with that.  I used to get annoyed about stuffing my own stocking.  Now I get excited because I get exactly what I want!

Ok random pictures.
Abby's Thanksgiving performance

In the secret garden at the Arboretum of course

Pumpkin jail

Hmmm I'll have to fix this one because it's a good one!

Megan took this one!

Playing in leaves.  Christmas is leaf season, not snow season.

Megan didn't want to hold still OR smile

Watching movies

Dresses at the 12 Days of Christmas

Monday, December 14, 2015

Whirlwind Weekend

I've been spending all my nap time and night time sewing sewing sewing.  In addition to Christmas presents that I need to finish, we've had the business of the Christmas season AND I threw a surprise Harry Potter party for a friend because it was her 40th birthday and it HAD to be done.  With that done, I've got more sewing to do this week and then Christmas is practically here!!
We decorated right after Thanksgiving -- I love our house for Christmas!  Chopper and I (although mostly I) painted the entire house in the month of November.  It has a fresh clean look to it and is a lot lighter and brighter.  I love it!

The Harry Potter party.  Oh my.  This was sooo much fun and the decorations turned out fantastically!!  The big impact areas were the floating candles in the "Great Hall" and the entry. 
My flash lit the room so you just can't see how cool this was but the lights were very dim and we hung 2 types of candles using thread and pushpins from the ceiling.  I found single, battery-operated candles at the Dollar Tree that had gold bases that popped right off.  I'm actually going to go back this week and buy more -- even though the party is over -- because I think they would be so useful for all kinds of events!!  The rest I made using toilet paper rolls, hot glue for dripping wax, white paint, and a tea light glued in the top.  It was very cool looking!! 
Chopper went as Professor Quirrell and ran through the house at the beginning of the party yelling, "there's a troll in the dungeons!"

We had a table of owl post for birthday notes and Chopper and Megan drew owls on the balloons.

My sorting hat!!!  It's actually made of paper and I think it turned out pretty good!

One of the games was to earn house points.  We sorted everyone when the party started and then they could earn points by coming in costume, speaking in a British accent, writing owl post, and finding a golden snitch -- Lindor truffles.  I had colored stones to put in tall vases (the Dollar Tree made SOOOO much money off of me this month) and borrowed the House shields from a friend.

My brick wall at the entry way was a sheet painted with a sponge dipped in brick red paint and slit up the middle.  It turned out really well!!  And then William's train from Halloween.  It actually does say Hogwarts Express on the front but it's starting to get pretty beat up so I think this was it's final outing.


 I only took pictures of these few foods because they turned out really good.  I got the recipe for pumpkin pasties from an Unofficial Harry Potter cookbook and they literally tasted like mini pumpkin pies.  They were really good!!  A friend of mine gave me the idea for the Mandrake cupcakes by gluing greenery onto little babies.

We've all learned by now that I am NOT a cake decorator.  Thank goodness Hagrid isn't either!!!  And my friend Anna loved that it was like Harry's cake!

That's Anna getting sorted.

I dressed up as Dobby the elf, mainly because by the time the party happened, I felt like a house elf.

That was Friday night.  Saturday morning I ran the Frisco Frosty 5K and did really well!!
I've really been trying to keep up with my running since September but I am not super motivated so I decided it was time for another race.  I've been taking short runs while William is in speech therapy twice a week (which has been really nice!) and my goal was to break 30 minutes.  I came in at 27:23 which I was VERY happy about.  It's my fastest race time to date.  What was really impressive though is that there was a 75-year old woman who came in at 29 minutes.  I've decided that's the main reason I need to keep this up.  I want to be old and moving like that!!!

Saturday afternoon we went out to Aaron's grave.  We were blessed to have some friends there earlier in the day working as part of the group who place wreaths on the graves.  They just take the wreaths that people have donated for and place them pretty randomly, but they grabbed one and placed it specifically for Aaron.  We got up there later and took a family picture. 

Chopper took this picture of Megan but she moved from the position that he was trying to get.  When he asked her what she was doing, she responded that she was talking to Aaron.  I love that this is a normal thing for our children to have him a regular part of our lives.  Or as regular as it can be!  I think that someday that will make our bond as a family stronger. 

I forgot about this from November.  We were flocked!!!  There's a band fundraiser where they flock your yard with flamingoes and you have to pay to have them removed.  The kids thought it was fantastic.

And put them in their beds before we went to church.  The band member who flocked us almost didn't get their flamingoes back . . .  

Oh and a sweet picture of our boy and his dog.  No, it's not our dog.  It's our neighbors that we see very day after school when we pick up the girls.  Dakota is the sweetest dog I think I've ever met and William loves her.  It still doesn't really make me want to have one ourselves though.  But we can enjoy loving others.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Thanksgiving plus some

I think in the New Year that my goal will be to update the blog every Sunday.  That way I'm not playing catch up with these massive posts.

We were very fortunate to have Chopper's mom come and visit us for about 10 days at Thanksgiving!!  She's currently splitting her time between the families of two of Chopper's brothers but we were excited to have her!  On the day that we picked her up from the airport, we were able to get to the school in the afternoon to see Abby's kindergarten performance of Thanksgiving songs.
Look hard -- she's in the middle behind the teacher!!

We also took Grandma to the Arboretum of course but we had a lot of rainy weather over Thanksgiving so we stayed put a lot too.  It was our smallest Thanksgiving in a few years (which Chopper liked) -- us and Grandma and our good friends the Seals (who are really more like family anyway).  Chopper smoked the turkey again and we had a great meal.

I took a little time to update Grandma's family tree quilt.  Each leaf is a child, their spouse, and grandchildren.  We talked a lot about the great-grandchildren that are starting to happen in the Whittacre family and ultimately decided to leave them off -- mainly for space reasons.   

There's our boy finally added on!

We bought a new camera (yay!) and set it up in the backyard to take our family pictures for Christmas.  We had a few that are really good but we're sending funny ones in the mail! 


Chopper and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary on December 7th!!  We still look good together!  I'm blessed to share my life with this man and I love our children.  Thirteen years has gone faster and I swear things are speeding up even more.  It seems like last week was Halloween!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

More Excuses

The biggest excuse I have right now is that the camera is gone.  It's been gone since my parents came to visit on their drive through to Columbus (hmmmm maybe they took it????).

That was in the beginning of October.

So for 6 weeks I've been taking pictures on my phone, emailing them to myself, downloading them, and not posting.  When I print all this in the blog book, phone pictures aren't nearly as good either.  So we broke down and ordered a new camera, but in the meantime, I really should post everything from our adventures the past 6 weeks.  It should be a doozy.  

I've been working on our family calendar for Christmas and my mom sent me a bunch of pictures that included one with my dad at the Arboretum!!!  So I now have proof that he really was there!

The rest of October was dedicated to preparing for Halloween and we looked GOOD!!!!  Every year our ward has a chili cook off and a trunk or treat.  There were no costume awards given, but there were chili awards.  So I need to preface this by saying that Chopper does NOT like chili.  The only one he'll eat is a white chicken chili that I make.  But he doesn't like the tomato sauce base of a red chili.  But he got it into his head this year that he wanted to make some.  He ended up winning spiciest chili and I thought it was really good (since I'm the one who tasted it and ended up eating all the leftovers -- there was a lot of chili!).

In addition to dinner and trunk or treat, each organization put together some carnival games and it was so much fun.  There were donuts on a string, fishing for treats, cupcake walk, and bean bag toss.  The kids had a great time.  So did we!!  We're finally getting to the point where the kids are old enough to pretty much manage themselves with minor supervision.  I have to say, it's sooooo nice!

Because I often have to make costumes, my rule is that you can't change your mind after October 1st.  Since we start talking about Halloween as soon as school starts, they've had plenty of time to decide.   Abby changes her mind all the time so I have to put my foot down, but she was really stuck on being a ghost.  Then she saw this mermaid costume at Costco and was hooked!  She was a beautiful mermaid!

Megan wanted to be a peacock.  But when we googled peacock costumes, they were mostly tulle dresses with feathers.  Super cute, but Megan is detail oriented and very interested in animals.  She wanted something that was an accurate peacock.  This costume took a lot of thought and work and worry and frustration but we were BOTH happy with how it turned out!

William was all set to be a train (not Thomas -- he doesn't actually like Thomas) until after Chopper finished his costume.  A week before Halloween we discovered the Nickelodeon cartoon Paw Patrol and he is obsessed.  I think he is attached to this more than my girls have ever attached to something.  As our weather gets colder, it's always a fight to get him to wear jackets and shoes.  I have PURCHASED Paw Patrol shoes and jackets to get him to comply and it WORKED.  It's crazy!  In the end, we compromised with a Paw Patrol hoodie AND the train.  During trunk or treat, Chopper said he used the train to his advantage to push kids out of the way and he loved that the back opened and he could dump his candy in.  It turned out to be quite the success.  And Chopper made it from cardboard and duct tape!!!

Chopper and I dressed up as Professor Trewlaney and Mad Eye Moody from Harry Potter and looked pretty good!!  The best part is that I thrifted most of our outfits and we bought the glasses and the "mad eye" online for pretty cheap.  

After the trunk or treat.

Halloween morning we participated in a 5K fundraiser run/walk for The Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.  We only did half the walk -- but in my defense it was 2 loops and at the end of the 1st loop a whole group of families with strollers ended the walk.  Abby was crying, William was in the stroller, and Megan said her feet hurt -- so I called it.  We went into the Gaylord resort to an after race event with bounce houses, barbeque, a balloon artist, etc. and had a really good time for a great cause!
Of course we ran/walked for Team Aaron!!!  Megan and William wouldn't wear the capes though.

The theme was Everyday Superheroes

After the event, we walked around the Gaylord.  The middle of the hotel section is a replica of all the different areas of Texas and the Christmas decorations were in the process of going up.  Chopper and I had been there before but the kids hadn't and they thought it was pretty cool.

Then it was home for resting before trick or treating!!!

Our neighborhood unfortunately is terrible about trick-or-treating.  Most of the families go to a really big church up the street from us and do their trunk or treat.  But I love traditional trick or treating!!  I ended up carrying Williams train after 3 houses and we only maybe hit 20 or so on 4 streets but the kids were happy and who really needs all that candy anyway??

November started off well with awards ceremonies for the girls.  Megan and Abby both got awards -- Megan got the Principal's Achievement award which is the equivalent of all A's.  They just don't use letter grades up to 2nd grade now.  When I texted Chopper during the ceremony, it auto-corrected it to Principal's Avid Enemy which was funny.  Abby got a happy helper award.  She has improved a TREMENDOUS amount from the beginning of the year!  Both of my girls are smart cookies!!

The annual Reflections art contest happened about a week ago as well and Megan's picture won a blue ribbon!  She's been obsessed with peacocks and draws them all over her school papers.

About a week ago we were able to go to the Arboretum at night for their 12 Days of Christmas display.  We went last year as well on the COLDEST night of November and had a good time but rushed through with all the kids bundled in strollers and blankets.  This year, they added  strung lights in the trees and the weather was just chilly so jackets were all we took.  It was so much more fun to wander the garden and see everything and then we sat down and had hot chocolate and cookies!  These pictures are particularly bad because they're from my phone.  Sorry!

The pumpkin village is still up too and it was fun and a little spooky to explore it at night!

Megan took this one of me!!

And finally last weekend we were able to go to Frisco Cowboy Days!!  It's a pretty small festival in an historic area of Frisco and included a petting zoo, trains, armadillo races, tractor and stagecoach rides, and fun activities for kids.  

Yep that's the real thing -- we usually see them smashed on the side of the road.  To race them, you get in the pen and blow on their rears and they run away from you.  It's cute.
This girl won't go near most animals but she'll hold a chicken!!!

The site of the shoot-out.  We left because the gun noises were too loud but then caught another show from inside the museum.  You couldn't hear much what they were saying but it was still fun to watch.

Panning for gold

They had fun free mustaches -- tattoo ones and fuzzy ones.  William did not like his so I got to wear it.

Chopper took this picture of us riding the tractor ride and telling him where to go to get on.  He laughs a lot when he looks at it because he says I look like a political person declaring my cause.  Plus the mustache.

Again this year they had the old time photobooth.  Again this year, everyone refused to do it except me.  Well Chopper would have but we had gotten separated (the girls wanted to color, William wanted to see trains).  


And then there's life.  Cheetah girls, watching construction, running errands, doing homework, and getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas!  The thing is -- I can't believe how fast time flies lately.  I don't know if it's because I'm busy or what but it doesn't feel like it should be Thanksgiving in a WEEK.  The kids are at good ages -- even William at 3 doesn't throw a lot of tantrums.  We still do a lot for them but they are getting more and more independent and have fun personalities and interests.  It's been fun to plan Christmas for them this year because it's a lot easier for the most part to know what they will love.  We enjoy spending time together as a family and the kids play well together.  I feel like we're in a really good spot right now.