Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas (Part Five): Wrap Up

We haven't been good about it over the last year, but one of the things we like to do at Christmas and birthdays is to take a picture of the kids with their gifts - we think it will be fun for them to be able to look back and remember special gifts they received each year.  It also highlights how blessed they are to have such generous family members and friends!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas (Part Four): Stockings!

One of our Christmas traditions at Bob and Ma's house is that everyone gets to open a stocking stuffed full of goodies.  We all bring something for each other's stockings, Ma assembles them, and we open them on Christmas morning.  This year we weren't all able to be together until Christmas day, so we did stockings the day after.  It's always fun to see the excitement on the kids' faces!







After we opened our stockings, Aunt Carol and her family and Ashlee had to leave to return to their homes.  We visited Great  Grandmommy & Great Granddaddy in Fort Worth and took them to lunch at Dutch's (so yummy!).  That evening we played more with the kids' new toys.  Will had an especially good time with his jungle bath toys.  In this photo, the monkeys are falling out of the trees into the alligators' mouths.  Quite the imagination!

The next morning Claire found out what it was like to type on a typewriter...

...and the kids each got to pick out an ornament that had been made by their great-great grandmother.

We had a terrific visit!

Christmas (Part Three): Christmas Day in Arlington

We had an uneventful drive to Arlington, and we had dinner, visited with family, and opened more presents at Bob & Ma's house.

One of Will's favorite gifts - his knight costume.  He also got a pirate costume - he loves to dress up.

One of Claire's favorites - a Disney Princess Cupcake game.  We've made lots of cupcakes!



Christmas Eve (Part Two) and Christmas Morning

After the Christmas Eve service, we all went over to my parents' house for dinner and to open presents with them and Aunt Nancy, Uncle Kerbow, and Jonathan.  Claire and Will were really excited about all of their gifts!  Here are a few photos from our celebration:




The next morning we let them open the gifts they picked out for each other (Claire got Will an Imaginext Monsters Inc van, and Will got Claire a Barbie hair styling set - they were both really excited!):
Sibling gifts

One present each from Mommy and Daddy (monogrammed aprons):

And their gifts from Grandmommy and Granddaddy Martin - scooters!  They were a big hit.
The big reveal
Scooter reveal

Practicing around the house
Scooter practice

We played for a little while, and then loaded up the van and headed to Arlington for our next Christmas event.

Christmas Eve 2013

Christmas Eve Live Nativity #2.  Last year, we had "Donkey vs. Poinsettia."  This year?  We were afraid we were going to have "Donkey vs. Donkey."

To recap, our church has a family friendly Christmas Eve service.  There are costumes available for the kids to participate in a live nativity scene.  We sing Christmas hymns, and then our pastor begins reading the Christmas story from Luke, stopping at various points for the children to come on stage at the times appropriate for their costume.

Claire and Will chose the same costumes as last year - angel for Claire, and a donkey for Will.  The donkeys, sheep, and cows went on stage fairly early, so they ended up in the back.  We were sitting several rows from the stage, and shortly after Will got up there, we saw him stand up with a big frown on his face.  It looked like he was chastising some of the other kids who were using their masks to pretend sword fight. This was not surprising - he gets very concerned when other kids aren't doing what they're supposed to do and has a hard time just letting the adults take care of it!  There was no way to tell him to let it go without making a bigger scene.  Then, we saw him arguing with a bigger kid over something.  It wasn't ever clear what caused their disagreement, and fortunately, it never escalated.  We were afraid we were going to have to pull him off stage - for the second year in a row!  Ugh.

Unfortunately neither kid was interested in posing for a picture afterwards - they were ready for dinner and presents at Nana and Granddaddy's house.  Maybe next year!

The live nativity - and this was only about halfway through.  Lots of kids in our church!

In this one, you can see Will talking with the older kid on the back left.  Again, never was really clear about what was going on there!

The Disgruntled Donkey

Lesson learned in 2012:  Two year olds are too young to participate in the live nativity.
Lesson learned in 2013:  Sit closer to the front and have Will pick a costume that puts him closer to the front of the stage.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Getting Ready for Christmas

Our weeks towards the end of the year were full of activities that helped prepare us for Christmas and celebrate the season.  Advent calendars, a Jesse tree, Christmas crafts...we stayed busy, but we tried to also keep our family's focus on Christ.

Donating shoeboxes to Operation Christmas Child filled for a 2-4 year old boy and a 5-9 year old girl.  We included information sheets for the recipients, and Claire was able to fill out one herself this year!  We chose to track our boxes and found out that they went to kids in Columbia.
OCC collage

Decorating our tree while Daddy was on a mission trip to Reynosa

Enjoying yummy treats - lots of baking and hot chocolate!  We took some of the snickerdoodles, chocolate pretzel cookies, and browned butter crispies to the fire station and got to check out the fire trucks while we were there.
Baking Collage

Hot Chocolate

MOPS playdate at Clay Casa.  Most of the kids painted ornaments or cookie plates; Will chose a "spider tarantula".  :)

Painting ornaments

Having fun at Bass Pro Shop
Bass Pro Carousel

Bass Pro

Polar Express day at Claire's school - they got to wear their pajamas that day, and also for their party on the last day of the semester


Will brought home lots of Christmas art projects from school - these were two of my favorites.
Will's Art

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bye Bye Baby Swing!

One afternoon Claire, Will and I were playing outside on the swings, and Claire wanted to see if she could fit in the old baby swing.  We were having fun, swinging away...

...until we heard a loud CRACK.  And this happened...

...hysterical.  It was the hardest we had laughed in a long time!


Thursday, December 05, 2013

A nature walk

The week of Thanksgiving was wonderful, but it was also hectic.  Robert was gone from Saturday to Tuesday before the holiday on a mission trip to Reynosa with a group from our church.  The church works closely with Strategic Alliance, and they regularly coordinate trips to build houses, meet children people sponsor through Escuela Viva, and just love on people in the Colonia and tell them about Jesus.  Robert was able to meet the two kids we sponsor and work on completing a house for a family.  The kids and I missed him, but we were so glad he got to go this time!

On Thursday we hosted Thanksgiving lunch at our house for my family.  My parents made the main courses and desserts, and we did the sides.  I can't believe I didn't take any photos!  My sister (Sheila), her husband (Robert), and her son (Paul), and my brother (Curtis) and his two kids (Kristin and Chris) were able to join us.  On Friday, Dad, Curtis, Kristin, Chris, Robert, the kids and I went to the new Briscoe Western Art Museum.  It was really nice - Claire and Will especially loved all of the interactive iPads, the stagecoach, and the Alamo diorama.

Saturday was open with no plans, and Robert suggested taking the kids for a hike.  We were all due for some exercise and fresh air!  We decided to try Eisenhower Park - it has several trails that looked to be good options for young children, and we had so much fun exploring and just being together.


Classic Claire face!




Examining flowers with their magnifying glasses


Will is 3

Our sweet Will turned 3 on November 11, and we celebrated a couple of days early with friends and family at Little Gym.  Will LOVES dinosaurs - really loves them.  Whenever we go to the library, he heads for the shelf in the kids' area that holds the dinosaur-related books and picks out a couple, and then usually picks a Land Before Time DVD.  He loves all of his dinosaur figures, and he can properly identify most of them.  Almost everything I know about dinosaurs has been learned in the past few months as we read books and look up dinosaur fossil photos online.  :)  So, it was easy to pick a dinosaur theme for Will's party!




The air track is always a hit with this crowd.
Air Track

Will was so excited to have everyone singing "Happy Birthday" to him.  He stood beside his cupcakes with the biggest grin on his face the whole time.  I loved seeing him so happy!

Enjoying pizza and his cupcake of choice - chocolate with chocolate icing.

After the party was over, we went, gave the kids their baths, and Will opened some of his presents (we saved a couple for his actual birthday).  He loved everything!  And...that reminds that I still need to send out thank you notes!