Earlier this week we had some really cold temperatures and there was quite a bit of ice on the ground.  Nicholas found this huge iceberg in our yard!

But this morning we woke up to a beautiful drift of snow coming down all around us.  It is so much nicer than just plain ice.

Our kids are obsessed with eating snow.  Rachel tried to just catch snowflakes in her mouth.

While Nicholas found the deepest snow on the table on the deck in the backyard and just scooped it up with his tongue!

The snow was already deep but it just kept falling.  Stuart was working from home but he came out from time to time to play with us.  It has been a fun day!

Of course, we had to take many breaks to come back inside to warm up with hot chocolate topped with whipped cream!

As much as we love the beautiful snow, the kids' grandmother is flying into town tomorrow to see them in their play, Beauty and the Beast Jr. and I can't get to the grocery to buy even basic foods for her visit.  Oh well, I guess we'll just have to go out to eat!  

Now back to playing with the kids in this amazing snow!

Beauty and the Beast Jr. Opening Night

It's opening night for Beauty and the Beast Jr. at the Actors Conservatory Theatre!

I had to put Rachel's hair up into a ballet bun.  I'm pretty sure a true ballet instructor would frown on my sad attempt but Rachel thinks its cute.

This is the first night she has had to go in the makeup line at the theatre.  She was a bit nervous but she made sure she was in line where our sweet neighbor was doing makeup.


Rachel ran over to a mirror to take a look at herself.  She tried to look her eye shadow but couldn't figure out how to see her eyelids!  She's so cute!

Here's our little tea cup in her costume.  I am so impressed with how the costumes turned out.  They are just plastic planters with the bottoms cut out, straps added, a little paint, and a gold duct tape wrapped piece of foam added for a handle.  There are some amazingly creative people in the theatre!

Rachel sat down in the Beast's chair that was back stage.  She giggled and said sneakily, "I'm sitting in my master's chair. Hee hee hee!"

Nicholas is an enchanted knife.  The flatware headpieces were quite a feat to create. It was hard finding just the right way to keep the headpiece stable on their head AND comfortable for them to wear.  There were multiple things tried but eventually they turned out great!

All of the knives are boys so some of the parents were a little concerned that the boys might try to have a sword fight while wearing their headpieces....because that just seems like the natural response when two boys are wearing giant foam knives on their heads.  But so far they have maintained their composure quite well and I'm happy to say that all of the knife headpieces are still in one piece.

Each knife has a corresponding spoon and fork to make a complete utensil trio.  Nicholas has entertained us with his stories after each rehearsal about how "annoying" his spoon and fork are.  They mess with him and poke him and act silly around him.  He thinks they are annoying but they all seem to smile while they are messing with each other.  It's cute :)

Before going on stage, the cast does a few warm ups for their vocal chords as well as their bodies then they all say the Actors Prayer.  I love this part!

The Actors Prayer

There's magic in the theatre and the theatre is magic.
God bless those who create that magic.
Your talent is your gift from God.
The way you use that talent is your gift back to Him.

After opening night, we often go out to dinner.  We let the kids pick where to go and of course, they pick Joe's Crab Shack.  Yum!  Nicholas ordered an adult steampot full of crab and a whole lobster.  We were a little concerned that he wouldn't actually finish it all but then we realized that we could just enjoy munching on his leftovers after he went to bed.  Unfortunately, he finished it all except for the potatoes and corn.  He said, "After opening night, you have to feed the boy heartily!"

Rachel got a kid-sized crab steampot.  She dug out her own crab meat like a pro and finished every last bite.  Her favorite thing was the melted butter.

I caught her dunking her fingers in the melted butter just so she could lick them clean.

I told her to stop doing that.  And she did.

But then I caught her drinking the melted butter straight from the cup!

Opening night was a huge success and I'm so proud of the kids!  Tomorrow is a long day though.  On Saturdays, they have to be at the theatre for 12:00 to get ready for the 2:00 show.  The show will run until approximately 4:00 at which time they will rush to get out of their costumes so we can meet up with the cast for dinner at Cici's Pizza Buffet.  Then we head back to the theatre for 5:30 to get ready for the 7:00 show.  The last show for the weekend will be Sunday at 2:00.  That's four shows each weekend and we do this for two full weekends.  It's exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time.  

Sleeping Beauty

Nothing melts my heart more than to watch my children sleep.  They look so sweet and angelic.  

As I was heading to bed tonight I peeked in and checked on Rachel.  She was such a sleeping beauty that I just had to ask Stuart to grab the tripod to capture this sweet picture.

Of course, she still snuggles with Pink Baby...who is really no longer pink but more of a dingy grey but that bunny is still loved as much as ever.

Sweet dreams little one...

A Sneak Peek

The kids are busy with rehearsals for Beauty and the Beast Jr. which opens at our local community theatre this week.  I can't take pictures or record video during the actual performances but I did get a few clips during rehearsal that I wanted to share with grandparents who can't travel to see them perform in person.

The basic story of Beauty and the Beast is a young prince refuses to help an old woman who comes to his castle door late one night.  The old woman is actually an enchantress who turns the prince into a beast as punishment.   She also turned all of the servants in the castle into enchanted objects like clocks, candlesticks, flatware, and tea cups.  The beast and his servants will remain in this state until the beast finds true love or until the last petal of a magical rose falls and the rose dies.

I'll skip ahead a bit and say that the beautiful Belle ends up being captured by the beast.  The enchanted objects who are the servants in the castle invite her to be their guest at dinner one night.

Here's their performance of "Be Our Guest" at rehearsal.  This was not a full dress rehearsal but you will see some people with larger costume pieces practicing in partial costume to help them get used to their pieces.  Nicholas is a knife wearing a gray jacket.  Rachel is one of the adorable little tea cups.

Later in the story, some angry villagers raid the beast's castle and try to kill him.  They are not aware of the enchanted objects who hide throughout the castle and attack the villagers as they defend their home and their master.

And the most beautiful song in the story is the finale.  My kids just line up along the bottom of the stage but I can't help but get distracted by the two little tea cups that get into an argument because their isn't enough room for their handles where they are sitting!

Opening night is Friday and the kids are so excited! The costumes, props, and sets are just amazing but the kids are what make the show so magical!

The Books

We've been busy working on making props and set pieces for Beauty and the Beast. I've worked on making headpieces for the enchanted forks, knives, and spoons, pitchforks for the angry villagers, and lots of lots of cardstock book spines to create the look of a library in the beast's castle.

We had the kids submit some of their favorite book titles to be included on the book spines that we made. Nicholas was so excited to see the four books he submitted.

We also included books that incorporated the names of each of the cast members.  I didn't not work in this stage of the book cases but I did find Nicholas' book, "Nicholas' Cages" - a take on name of the actor Nicholas Cage.  So cute!

I haven't found Rachel's book yet.  There are tons of these "books" to look through but I'll find it.

Painting Doilies for Valentine's Day

Rachel loves all kinds of craft projects but especially those that involve painting.  For Valentine's Day I found some paper doilies and showed her how to paint over them to make a neat picture she could use for a Valentine's Day card.  I loved doing this with her because I used to love making these when I was little!

She chose a piece of plum colored card stock paper and then she chose some white paint.  She used some small pieces of tape underneath the paper doily to hold it in place on the paper.  

She used a sponge dabber to press the paint onto the cut-outs of the paper doily.  It is best to press straight down on the doily rather than paint side to side in order to best ensure that the paint does not seep under the paper.  You only want the paint to reach the paper where the cut-outs are.

Once she had covered the doily with paint, she decided to paint around the edge of the heart too.

Happy Valentine's Day!

King Cake!

Granddad sent us our annual authentic king cake for Mardi Gras.  We're sad that we can't be in Louisiana to experience Mardi Gras in person but this is the next best thing!

The Gambino's king cake is always delicious but it is also fun because the kids get to decorate it themselves.  It comes with all the icing and sugar crystals that you need.  First you smear the yummy icing all over the top of the cake.

Next you sprinkle the top with purple, green, and gold sugar crystals.  Sometimes it is hard to wait for it to get decorated before you dig in!  But be careful, king cakes traditionally have a little plastic baby inside.  The person who gets the baby in their slice of cake has to buy the next king cake!

Happy Mardi Gras (from Texas)!