Christmas Morning 2013

We were jolted awake this morning by little children bouncing around wanting to see what Santa had brought them!

The first thing they saw were their stockings.

Rachel dumped her stocking out and started going through it but Nicholas spied the tree and forgot all about his stocking.

He was so excited to find a Leatherman multi-tool under the tree for him.  He has been wanting one of these for several years.

Rachel got the Baby Alive doll she asked for in her letter to Santa.

Eventually they noticed that Santa ate the treats they left for him.  He even left a thank you note for them!

Next time Santa needs to be more careful though.  He left a messy sooty footprint on the hearth! 

 Rachel couldn't wait to change her new baby's diaper!  She gave it a drink of water in its bottle.

And sure enough, it drained right through the doll into the diaper.  Grandmother was ready with paper towels to help clean her up.

While Rachel was making a mess playing with her new doll, Nicholas was checking out his new night vision goggles!

A little bit more time to play then it is time to get ready to head over to my family's Christmas celebration.

Lunch at Walk Ons

We drove into Baton Rouge last night and went straight to Stuart's parents' house to crash.  Today we got to spend some time with my family.  I love seeing my kids have fun with their grandparents.  It just melts my heart!

We ended up going out for lunch at Walk-Ons Bistreaux and Bar.  One thing you can count on in Louisiana is good food.  I mean, where else could you get Krispy Kreme bread pudding?

Mom and Rachel spent some time together working on the coloring pages.  My mom is such a good artist.  She taught me to draw and color well.  I wish we could spend more time with our parents so our children could learn more from their grandparents.

We ordered an appetizer of fried alligator.  Everyone had some but Rachel ended up eating most of them!  Yum!

Dad was acting like a parent and kept reminding the kids (and the adults!) to move their drinks or plates away from the edge of the table.  Steve chuckled about it and put his drink and mine right on the edge of the table just to mess with him.  We love you Dad!

Nicholas had a burger but decided that he didn't like the bun it was on so he wasn't going to finish eating it.  Cool Uncle Steve showed him how to make his burger even better by replacing the boring bun with criss-cross french fries.  It's a fry burger!

Rachel brought Bitty Baby over to mom for her to hold.   I really love watching Mom play with Rachel.  

Sweet memories!

Mom is still recovering from her hip replacement but she is doing amazingly well considering she had the surgery just about 6 weeks ago.  She gets around fine with a walker and Rachel is always right there to help get her walker for her or help steady her as she walks.  She is such a natural nurturer.

Rachel Read Her First Book!

Rachel has been working through the Bob Jones K5 Beginnings program which focuses on phonics, reading, and writing.  She has learned enough to read her first book!  She couldn't wait to read her book to Daddy!

It's called Grandpa's Bible and it is one of the little readers that comes with the program.  It just contains a few of the simple words that she has learned but she is so happy to be able to read.  

It's so much fun watching our kids as they learn new things and meet new milestones!  I wouldn't want to trade these days for the world.

Letting Go of Books

During the Icepocalypse earlier this month, we were stuck in the house for many days.  We took advantage of that time and worked with the kids on cleaning out their rooms.  

One of the things that takes up the most space in Nicholas' room are his books.  He has multiple bookshelves that are overflowing with books.  He loves them all and has a hard time letting any of them go, even after he has long ago outgrown them.  But we were able to convince him to donate small stack to the library and a larger stack of a little over 100 books to Rachel.

It is much easier for him to pass them down to Rachel because he knows he can still read them anytime he wants to.  The only problem now is figuring out where to fit these on Rachel's bookshelves, which as you can imagine, already have hundreds of books.

Frosty the Snowman at Casa Manana and Smashburger

We celebrated the Christmas season with a magical performance of Frosty the Snowman at Casa Manana Theater with a group of our homeschool friends.  Casa Manana always puts on amazing performances for children and families.

The costumes, set, and acting was all great.  There was lots of singing and dancing to make the show extra fun.  

Casa Manana Theater is located in the heart of the Fort Worth Cultural District at 3101 West Lancaster Avenue.  You can reach them at 817-332-2272 or online at  Frosty runs through December 22 and you don't want to miss it!

After the show, we talked about where we should go for lunch.  We only come to this area a couple of times a year so I wanted to try something new and different.  But the kids remembered that we first discovered Smashburger on South University Drive after a Casa Manana play a couple of years ago.  It's our favorite place to go for burgers and we've been to many other locations around DFW but they wanted to go to our "original" Smashburger for lunch today.  Who am I to argue?

Their food is fresh and delicious.  Of course the kids love getting a root beer float or milkshake with their meals.

Yummy to the last drop!

Last Swim Class for the Semester

Today was the last class for the kids' swimming lessons for the semester.  They are taking lessons at Aqua Kids and they absolutely love it.  The teachers are really great and my kids have always learned quickly here.  They follow a set curriculum so there is consistency with what is taught between the instructors and between different class levels.  The classes are only 30 minutes per week but I'm always amazed at how much my kids pick up in that short class time.  Parents get to watch through giant glass windows.  The kids learn techniques and practice swimming for about 20 minutes then they get to go down the water slides twice.  Then the parents are invited out by the pool for "parent show off" where they watch their child do what they learned in class that day.  

For the last day of class, they usually do a few more fun things.  Today they played around with balancing on a big floating board.

Nicholas swims about 15-20 laps per class and his instructor is working on refining his technique for the different strokes.  Here is a video of him swimming freestyle and back stroke.  Sorry I didn't zoom in as he swam farther away.  I was too busy watching him to pay attention to what I was doing with the camera :)

Rachel has made amazing progress in just these last few months.  She started in Preschool 1 and had not been in a pool without her floaties on.  Most kids stay in the same class all semester but she had to be moved to a Preschool 2 class mid-semester because she just takes to swimming like a little fish.  She will be in Preschool 3 for her next class.

Sorry I only caught the end of Rachel's swimming in this video below:
I hope to sign them both up for the next level of classes next semester.  But if not, we may sit out a semester and just take a 2 week camp there during the summer.

Lots of Bows

To keep Rachel's hair out of her face, I usually pull it back with a barrette that has a cute bow on it or a headband.  Rachel is totally girly and she loves all of her hair accessories.  Today she decided that if one hair accessory was nice then FIVE must be FABULOUS!

Icemagedon Lingers On

Yes, everything is still iced over around here!  It's been like this for days now!  I had to get out to go to a doctor's appointment in Plano and it was a little scary at times, especially when the thick layer of ice on my van's roof decided to suddenly slide forward and cover my windshield while I was driving.  But the sun should be out today and by tomorrow we should stay above freezing for a while.  Yay!

While I was out and about I ventured to a grocery store.  We had stocked up well before the ice storm but we were out of milk and a few other things.  It was weird seeing the shelves so bare.  Delivery trucks had not been able to make it in to deliver food to the stores.  I gathered a few things and headed home to find this snow diva all dressed and ready to go play in the ice.

We headed to a neighborhood playground to help shake the cabin fever for a little while.  Stuart pulled off the last of the chunk of ice on the van's roof.  Look how thick it is!

Rachel's favorite thing to do at a playground is to swing.  She certainly knows how to pump her feet to make herself swing higher but she still prefers to have someone pushing her.

Even Daddy and Nicholas caught a little air time on the swings!

I was a little worried that climbing would be slippery but it really wasn't.  Most of the playground equipment was dry and easy to climb on.

....or spin on as you'll see in this video below:

When we got back home, the kids were still playing with ice.  Nicholas discovered that the big sheet of ice on top of Stuart's truck was starting to slide off the back of it.  He just had to climb up in the bed and play with that.  You've got to check out our crazy child in this video clip below:

Ice = Hot Chocolate

So what do you do when your whole town is iced in for days?  

Drink lots of hot chocolate, of course!

And you must get EVERY. LAST. DROP.

Mmmmm, chocolate!

Stay warm!

Icepocalypse 2013

We woke this morning to find that we are in the midst of the Icepocalypse of 2013!

It has been sleeting since last night.  It was weird hearing the little taps on the window all night.  We tried to tell the kids it wasn't like snow and not something to really play in.  But next thing you know, they were all geared up and ready to go!

The raingutter next to our front door has a leak in it so water dripped out of it all night making for some really cool icicles on the plant below.

Ice in the yard?  Must. Eat. It.

The bushes are all weighted down and drooping from the weight of the ice.

Everything glistens in the light.  It is magical to see!

Drips of water froze solid during the night.

Rachel found a giant icicle!

The bushes look pretty in their blanket of ice but it was weird to feel the leave crunch when we touched them.

Little icicles can be found everywhere!

Here's a video of Rachel hopping on the ice in our front yard. It was really neat because when you first step on it, it just feels hard then instead of sinking into it like you would with snow, the ice just kind of breaks and you fall through to the grass below.

They soon discovered that there was some water running along the edges of the street into the big drain.  That had to be investigated!

This ice was smooth on the top but melted and slushy underneath = wet feet and hands!

Here's a video of the two of them bouncing on the slushy ice trying to break it.

We ventured to the back yard and found a lot more icicles!

I love the beautiful fall colored leaves with the branches enveloped in ice!  So pretty!

Nicholas chipped away at a layer of ice on their sandbox. Wow that is thick!

More shimmering beauty...

Rachel and I studied some oak leaves.  They had a thin layer of ice on them.

We were able to peel away the leaf and had a perfect ice leaf complete with veins and all!

Beautiful iced Holly berries.  What a perfect contrast to the white all around.

I still can't get over how every single branch and leaf has a layer of ice on it.

It's just breathtaking!

Nicholas found the icicle of all icicles.  He of course called it his Icicle Sword.  What a boy!

It is still sleeting at times.  We've had lots of coffee and hot chocolate today.

After a brief break inside to warm up, Stuart bundled up the kids again and took them for a walk down to the playground and wooded area to check out some more wintery scenes.

What a beautiful day it has been.  The temperatures are supposed to drop into the teens tonight so this stuff isn't going anywhere anytime soon.  Stay warm and safe.