Thanksgiving week

So after we came back from Austin, my parents came back to Tyler, too. So we spent Monday, Tuesday, and part of Wednesday pretty much hanging out at their house 3/4 of each day. Came home just to eat dinner and clean up the mess from that and do some laundry. The kids watched a lot of TV, playing on the in-the-garage gym, and generally tried to avoid the outdoors as it was both chilly and overcast. I spent my time recording home videos from vhs to dvd.   Tuesday I had to take Ben in to the dentist to have his tooth checked, as it had started to hurt over the weekend and was still painful.  Found out he needed to have it drilled on and filled up sometime next week.  Wednesday afternoon my parents drove back to BCS, Nick came home from work early, and we worked on our portion of the Thanksgiving food for Nick’s sister’s house.  That is not a pumpkin pie, it is squash.  It was very yummy.  🙂


Thanksgiving we got up and watched the Parade. Just watched it. Didn’t have to run around doing anything else. It was lovely.

p_00212 - Copy

Then around 11am we left and went to Mandy and Mark’s house. The kids got to play with their cousins.  Seen here tyring to decide what to do; they eventually played Chutes and Ladders.

All the cousins try to figure out what to play while waiting for "dinner" to be ready.

I hung around the kitchen and helped Mandy.

Mandy prepares the turkey for dinner.

The menfolk had snacks and watched some sort of sport for a while (I thought I had a picture of that, too, but apparently not).  Then finally we ate. The kids table:

The kids table

No, I don’t know why David looks miserable. Sometimes he just does. He was perfectly happy at the time, I assure you.  They all were.  There were rolls.  How can you be sad when there’s bread products on the table?!

The adults table:

The adults table

Me and my fabulous spouse, together in the same spot!

Me and my fabulous spouse.  :)

After dinner the kids watched a movie (I can’t remember which one)

After "dinner" the kids watched Toy Story 3

and the adults sat around the table talking about good sermons we’d heard lately at our various church experiences (which is helpful because then we know which ones to order online to listen to on days we’re traveling or something).

The adults sat down and discussed good sermons we'd heard recently.

There was, of course, basketball before we left. No trip to Aunt Mandy & Uncle Mark’s would be complete without it.

And before we left, there was basketball.

After we went home, someone made this sign and other people embellished it:

The kids (mostly Ben) made this board for you all to enjoy.  :)

And later, much later, we had our own little reheated-from-leftovers-from-various-feasts Thanksgiving dinner (we had invited the new neighbors over, but they ended up driving back to San Antonio for the day after all, so we were off the hook).

Our Thanksgiving leftover meal.  (Leftovers from my sisters house from the weekend + carrots, bananas, & bread)

The next day we got up, Nick went to work, and the kids and I did a big, giant clean up of the garage. BIG, GIANT. We took an entire van-full of stuff to Goodwill, set aside a couple big things for people that wanted them, and then made a huge pile for the recycle center as well.  We took all the big stuff out and all the boxes on all the shelves.  I am still appalled at the number of plastic sacks sitting around on the floor.  Anyway, I completed my goals: a much more organized and thought-out shelf layout, a “workbench” type area for Nick right next to the kids smaller workbench, and the coup de grace: space for my van!  🙂

Yesterday was church and basically uneventful. Today Nick worked again and we cleaned up inside the house (laundry, lots of it). Now he’s off at Barnes and Noble meeting with his mom in preparation for speaking at her business communication class tomorrow night.  The kids are watching TV and I, well, I’m finishing up a bunch of half-written posts and hitting the Publish button on them.  Yay, me.  🙂

Thanksgiving #1

…or maybe #2 or #3…who really knows.  How bout this: first one with all our little family!  We drove down to Manor on Saturday morning and headed directly to my sister’s house.  There I dropped off the spouse and the younger kids with my parents and headed off back into Austin for the Christopher Paolini book signing.  David is a big fan of his and some friends of ours got him a ticket into the signing.  DSCN4893We got to hear Christopher Paolini tell some stories about his life and writing the Eragon series.  He was very personable.  DSCN4897We had an extra good ticket and were able to get our book signed quite quickly.  While CP was nice to adults, he was charming to younger folk.  I mentioned it to David on the way back and he replied “That’s because kids expect more of him.”  Very true.




We were only in the bookstore for an hour and a half, but our Thanksgiving dinner was nearly ready by the time we got back.  Smile DSCN4918April made turkey, homemade mashed potatoes, gravy, and brought rolls & pie from her bakery.  DSCN4919DSCN4920My mom made our traditional sweet potato casserole and Nick made the green bean casserole (just the way I like it).DSCN4926DSCN4925DSCN4921DSCN4924

After dinner there was the by-now-traditional Wrestling of the Daddy!DSCN4931DSCN4928DSCN4927

The children were, of course, up at the crack of dawn, which pleased the kitties, as they were STARVING..


Stealth Kitty wants to know why Sleeping Boy is asleep.

Stalking Kitty is stalking Sleeping Boy.

First breakfast involved lots of fruit and happy small boys.


Second breakfast involved eggs, potatoes, and beef bacon.  Mmm, beef bacon.

DSCN4948Silly boys make silly faces.DSCN4949DSCN4953

Me and my sister.  Smile


We had to go back home earlier than we’d like to have on Sunday because Nick needed to work, but we had a great weekend with my family!  Smile

Fall is almost over…

…and I can’t believe that I never got around to sharing my fall decor this year.  I put it up early, like the 2nd to last week in August.  I had a house full of kids that day (literally; at least 2 kids for every one of mine) and for some reason I decided that was the time to do the decorating.  *shakes head* Have I mentioned that I had two concussions this year?  Yeah.  I blame that.


Here’s the entry way:

those plants used to be pretty & alive.

Here’s the foyer.  That little guy on the trike falls over every three seconds.  He’s a gift from my mom, though, so I must keep him.  The leaves and acorns were an art project I did with Greg.  They were originally glued to paper and destined for wall art, but they refused to stay on the paper, so they became scatter art instead.

Here’s the fireplace.  The little pictures taped to the mantle were not part of the original plan, but I found them taped up there by some sweet boy one morning and decided to leave them there.  They’re little animal fact cards.  The glass holders I made way back in January and I’ve been stuffing them with seasonal stuff as the year goes on.  The big frame was something I got for $3 on sale years ago and made the scrapbooking thing inside it last fall.  It never got photos in it, but the big multi-frame thing mysteriously made its way out one day and since the photos in i where fall photos, it stayed out.  At the bottom is some art that used to be on the wall before the giant TV took over the room as well as the little items that used to be on the buffet the TV is now on.


Last but not least, the laundry room.  I love this little shelf above my washer.  It was from the old kitchen and I just love how it’s got four colors of paint on it from all it’s years of service.  I know it would drive some people crazy, but it makes me happy.  This is the first year I’ve used it for seasonal decor.  It used to house the random junk that came out of pockets (that now lives in a basket in the cupboard above this.


That’s it!  I mean, I have a few random little pumpkins and turkey drawings here or there, but that’s about all for this year.  I left about half our decor in the box because honestly, I’m a bit worn out this year.  (Plus since we moved David into the spare room and we decorated the bathroom in the theme of Aggieland, we’re down quite a bit of space to decorate).

Leading up to Thanksgiving

(It’s really hard to come up with titles these days. Apparently I’ve been blogging too long.)

Tuesday I went and got my eyes checked. It’d been a while and my left eye has been behaving oddly. They set me up with the new doctor, as my old doctor is easing his way into retirement. The new doctor was young, perky, and talked a lot. I told her about my eye weirdness (pulling feeling, twitching, verynearlypain) and she took a look. Apparently nothing’s going on there. She adjusted the prescription a bit, that’s all. Then she looked at my good eye (I’ve always thought of it that way, don’t know why) and saw something vaguely interesting there. She started looking through my old test results and noticed that the weirdness had always been there, but it was definitely growing, little by little each year. I asked about it and she said it was a “hemihypertrophy” of the cells. I was intrigued, as “hemihypertrophy” is what my son David has, but he has it all over his body (leg, arm, hand, tongue, stomach, etc.), not just in his eyes. She hadn’t heard of that disorder and said it was probably not the same use of the word. *shrugs* So we’re going to keep an eye (I couldn’t think of something not punny here) on it and see what it looks like next year.

I also went in and worked my volunteer hours at the library. The librarian had a new toy this week, something she’d won at convention: a vhs to dvd converter. So I got to set up the equipment and try it out. It worked well and the librarian would like that to be my special project in the future (they have a lot of teachers that want to use vhs tapes that the library owns, but there are no more vcr’s in the building besides the one in the library after the new building was built.). In any case, I get to take the thing home and learn all its ins-and-outs over the break, and incidentally get to record some of our old home videos to DVD. I’m looking forward to that!

Wednesday we had A. over. We took him on an already-scheduled playdate with us over at the local community center. p_00193 - CopyThe kids had fun, the other mom brought lots of interesting snacks (basically she cleared her cupboard of all the stuff her kids wouldn’t eat. genius!), and a good time was had by all. After A. went home, Greg and I headed over to the new Panera Bread and joined my friend E. for lunch. Panera was overcrowded and there was quite a wait for food, but it was the first week they were open and the food was yummy. E’s daughter did not join us, which may have been the first time in our 7 years of lunch dates that she didn’t. I really missed her.

Thursday Greg’s MDO had a little program in the morning. He’s been singing the songs for the last couple weeks at home. It was so cute seeing him sing them with his friends on stage.DSCN4819


There is, of course, a video

Greg’s MDO Thanksgiving Program

, if you’re so inclined. They also had a little party at lunchtime.


Someone made the fruit & veggie turkey again this year.  The kids always LOVE that!

Then it was off to piano for me again. The lessons are going pretty well. Learning lots of chords now. That night was the Box Car Derby with our cub scout pack. We had a lot of kids make their own cars this year, which made me so very happy (in years past we’ve had a lot of parent made cars, which is against the rules).




I have no idea when Ben came home with this hat, but have a cute picture of Ben:


Today we had another playdate at Southside Park and we even got to walk the trails. Oh the excitement!


Greg used to be scared of the bridges, but he wasn’t at all frightened with his sweetheart nearby.


Afterwards we hit Chik-fil-a for lunch and more playtime:


And now I must dash because it is time to get the bags all packed up for our Thanksgiving trip tomorrow.

SuperMom, SuperFriend, SuperTired


A couple weeks ago I realized that a friend I rarely see these days was posting a lot about not having time to finish her work projects and that her son was really lonely.  I made a few small overatures of “Hey, send that kid my way” by text message, but heard nothing back.  Then a couple days ago we ran into her son at the bagel place and he attacked hugged my son and dragged him all over the place clinging to him.  His mom wasn’t with him, but his grandmother relayed the story and later I got a FB message asking if I was at all interested in babysitting.  So yesterday I took my big kids to school & headed over to her house to see about making arrangements.

It boiled down to me taking her son about four hours a day, twice a week, on our non-MDO days.  He and my son get along famously, so it’s not much more than a couple overly-long playdates a week.  In exchange I get nifty art for my wall and art lessons for my boys once the holidays are over.  I think it’s an awesome trade, so I said yes.

As we were talking, I realized that she wasn’t looking at me.  I thought she was just doodling, but she was, in fact, trying to work and visit all at once.  So I scooped up the boys and went home.  We played for a couple hours and had lunch and the spare boy (A.) was about to be picked up when I got a call from another friend.  She was having a terrible day and needed somewhere to park her eldest while the younger two slept and she got something done.  Since the morning had gone so well (I got my kitchen 100% clean while the kids had argument-free playtime), I said “sure.”

So the two moms show up in my driveway at the same time (which wasn’t part of the plan).  The spare boy was devastated to have to go home now that there was a new kid to play with.  He didn’t tantrum, he just quietly balled up and cried, so I caved and kept both kids for the afternoon.  Play with three kids was different than with two.  Greg and K.  would have played house and grocery store and restaurant.  With A. there, they had weird competitions and poured water all over the construction kit.  It was…not optimal.  K. came inside for “alone time” for a while and I built her a curtain for the reading nook (an adult can see straight in from above, but kid sized people cannot – perfect).  The boys were sad that they’d made her need alone time and made rules for further play, such as “no competitions, no slamming doors, K. gets alone time because she’s a girl, and no water in the bedroom because we’ll put it places it doesn’t belong.”  Greg picked flowers from the backyard and gave them to her.  Things went well after that.  🙂  I got a couple loads of laundry done before snacktime and then we got everyone off to their own houses.

Of course the day didn’t end there.  After that I had to take all of my kids to the store to buy supplies for the box car derby.  Then come home and make dinner (it was my night).  Then drive kids to/from scouts.  And then after all that, time to work on PTA stuff.

What a day.  It was exhausting.  The sad thing is, other than having two extra (and super nice) kids, it wasn’t that different from a regular day.

B’s 8th Birthday Party

This day has been crazy.  I got up, had breakfast with Nick, then picked up my mom and went out to Hawkins to get the kids.  We got the full tour of the house remodel as it stands (bedrooms & bathrooms done, walls up but not sheetrocked for the rest of the house) and got to see G driving the tractor.  Sadly we had to leave quickly to get back home in time for B’s birthday party.  But wait, there’s more.  My mom told the kids “let’s stop by the bagel place” which I took to mean “let’s pick up bagels.”  Nope, we ended up stopping, eating bagels, visiting with G’s friend that we saw there, and then finally going back to my mom’s house.  I left the kids there and went home to clean.  I got it all done, got the cake decorated, got the party supplies out, and then the kids came back home.

I bought a cake from the store and added the giant Pokeball by hand, which actually saved me money as I didn’t have to buy all those different colors of frosting and little ball shaped confetti, nor did I have to pay for a custom cake:


Our kids came back to our house not too long before the party.  While waiting for other kids to arrive, we decorated goodie bags with Pokemon stickers (that we already had and never used!). After all the kids arrived, we had Pokemon Training in the Battle Arena:

Then we had Pin the Tail on Pikachu, a game thought of by my B. (And another money saver, as I had all the supplies on hand)

After that we went fishing for Water Pokemon cards (for their goodie bags; the cards were purchased new for the event, the “fishing poles” were made of kid yard tools, string, and magnets we already had on hand):
Fishing for Water Pokemon

Then we took the kids back inside for a Pokemon Trivia game while other adults hid stuff in the backyard for the scavenger hunt. The kids made up all the trivia questions and I made the screen saver for the blu-ray player. If they paid attention to the screen saver, they got hints about the answers.
Pokemon Trivia Challenge

After trivia we went back outside for another game: Rocket Relay Challenge. The challenge was to get the balloons to hit the target after launching them in the air. We used the “pond” from the water game and put a target in the middle.
Rocket Balloon Relay

Then we played the Pokemon Evolution Game, which involved coccooning your Pokemon completely before they erupted out a newly evolved creature. (I bought toilet paper at the dollar store for this purpose and we didn’t even use it all)
"Your Pokemon needs to evolve.  Help him get into his coccoon!"

"Your Pokemon needs to evolve.  Help him get into his coccoon!"

Then we started the Scavenger Hunt. We hid Pokemon related things around the backyard and had clues to get them to the next place.
Scavenger Hunt for goodie bag items.
At each place they got a piece for their goodie bags, like a “pokeball,” a “pokemon,” some “berries,” and then “training tools.” (Balls, animals, candy, and bubbles all came from the dollar store.)


After all that we had cake

and presents

and played Pokepark (B’s present from his grandma) on the Wii until parents came to gather up kids. It was a great party! 🙂

Sunday catch-up

Friday was, as I mentioned, a busy day. First I took David to school, then took the younger two kids to their well-child check-ups. (I am nearly always a month late on Greg’s.) Both kids are doing well. Neither is above the 25th percentile for their height. Ben is spot on for his weight. Greg is between the 50th & 75th percentile for his weight. The doctor said nothing about it, but I’m going to make sure we have healthier morning snacks from now on.

Friday morning we also had another playdate with our playgroup. This time we went to Southside Park. The kids had fun playing on the playground, but we didn’t get to do the trails.

Our day was packed too full. Once we got back from the park, my parents came by with our new-to-us TV.
old TV vs. new TV.  WE still have to figure out where to put the DVR & stuff, but it's oh-so-nice already!  :)  Once the old TV is gone, a comfy reading chair will go in the corner with a lamp so I can sit there & watch kids play. They’re getting a big 3D TV for their house, so we got their old TV. 🙂 It didn’t look this huge in their house, but in our smaller living room it is ginormous! I spent the afternoon shopping for party supplies, then that night we went over to my parents house for dinner.

Yesterday we spent the morning hanging out with my parents, went home in time for the people to come pick up our old TV (we’re blessing another family with it), then headed out for church. The kids spent the night at Nana & Pa’s while Nick and I went out to dinner. We tried the new Corner Bakery Cafe and really liked it. I had the Pesto Cavatappi with a Spinach Sweet Crisp Salad (oh so yummy!) and Nick had the Poblano Fresco on Poblano Cheese Bread and (I think) Big Al’s Chili. All was tasty. Afterwards we had a rewatch of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the big screen TV and blu-ray player. It was so nice. 🙂

So that catches us up to today, which is Ben’s birthday party day. Nick’s already left for work and I must go get the kids now.

Prepping for the weekend….

I’ve been working overtime this week preparing for B’s 8th birthday party. We sent out invitations last week shaped & photoshopped to look like Pokemon cards. I’m thinking they’ve mostly gone astray, as I’ve only heard back from the two parents that I personally talked to about the party. That being said, we invited 16, are prepared for about 12, and will probably have just 6 kids. You know how it goes. I’ve spent hours online researching Pokemon (which my kid loves & I know oddly little about outside of the fact that they are playing cards). I’ve made signs for the various “centers” in the yard/house. I’ve come up with games that can be played both inside or out (there’s rain in the forecast, but we rarely get it when they say we will) .

Where were we?

Wednesday we blogged about here, as it was B’s birthday. We took cupcakes up to school, but got a bit in trouble for them, as we were apparently misinformed by the teacher about bringing homemade cupcakes. Oh well. They were yummy and no children had food allergies in that class anyway.
IMG_2632 The aforementioned friend did, in fact, come over. DSCN4656

Yesterday MDO was open, but David stayed home sick, so I didn’t get a break all week. He wasn’t too bad off, mostly just coughing and fevery. It only lasted that day. I left him watching TV and went off to my piano lesson, which he minded not at all.

We’ve also got well child check-ups this morning, playgroup after at the park, and a new TV coming in this afternoon, so it’s shaping up to be a super busy day. Hope I have enough spoons. 🙂

Happy Birthday B!

It’s my middle son’s 8th birthday today.  I love him so much!  We had special cranberry orange muffins (from a package, not homemade, that was part of the request) for breakfast and played Quirkle (his new favorite game – from his Aunt Kay).  I will be bringing his class homemade white cupcakes with colored frosting & mini m&m’s on top after lunch.  After school I’d planned on having one of his friends over for a while (but haven’t heard back from the mom yet).  Then we’ll have pizza for dinner and his present from grandma after.

Tea & cameras & boys, oh my!

Over the weekend we had gotten gifts from various people. One of my best friends gave me an awesome lightweight tea cup and the other one gave me tea from Teavana with a special tea filter thingiebobber as well. Greg got a camera as a belated birthday gift. Yesterday we made a whole bunch of different batches of tea and Greg took blurry pictures of all the precedings. It was a rainy, coolish day, so we took a nature walk as well. That night was scouts. Nick made tin can phones with the Bear cubs


and the webelos met afterwards.

Today was sort of an eventful day: MDO was closed due to flooding! Aie! I took Greg around with me on my errands and skipped my library duty at school (I couldn’t keep him there 2 hours bored out of his skull then and then take him for another hour of boredom during piano lessons later today).