Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wreaths Across America

This past weekend, Jes and I took the kids to lay wreaths at the national cemetery here in Houston with an organization called Wreaths Across America.  This group purchases, ships and organizes thousands of volunteers to lay Christmas wreaths on the graves of veterans all across the country.

Honestly, I had never heard of this organization until someone in our Scout group mentioned it on our discussion board.  We like to do things like this, something that serves others that we can all be involved in, which can be a challenge to find.  

We got up bright and early and drove to a local mall, where we parked the car and hopped on a shuttle that took us to the cemetery.

Here's Caleb sitting with Jes.  The kids were a little too excited to be riding a bus since they've never been on one.  They've just not had a reason to be.

Here are the kids during the ceremony.  It was a beautiful tribute to all those men and women who have and do give up everything for our country.  I come from a long line of veterans, some of which never made it home from war, so it was very moving for me.

Here is just a small area of the cemetery in which we were working.  It was a sobering reminder of all those who served, just from our area.

This outing gave us some great talking points with the kids and giving of ourselves to help those whose family could not.  I'm so glad that we stumbled on this organization and we will be participating year after year!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Piper's Girl Scout Christmas Party

When we moved to Houston, I managed to find Caleb a Scout pack for him to get involved in.  Here in Houston, the homeschool community is large and has many different resources available to it, with many homeschool groups near to us. One such group is the umbrella group for Caleb's Scout pack and has a Girl Scout pack for the sisters of the boys who are involved in the Scout pack.

When I went to sign Caleb up and attend our first meeting, I was stopped by one of the moms and asked if I wanted Piper to join their Daisy group.  I told her she could sit in and let me know if she liked it and of course she did, so I signed her up.

She's had such a great few months and made some sweet friends.  Her leader is so sweet and threw a little Christmas party for the girls and took photos AND emailed them to us!  

Here are some of the girls (and the one brother who is not old enough for Scouts) working on a coloring page.

With this group of girls, lots and lots of crafts are made and brought home.  So fun!

This fun game involved the girls blowing through a straw to push a marshmallow across the floor.  I can just imagine the hilarity of this!  If only I was a fly on the wall...

This picture just cracks me up!  What a sweet little group of girls!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


This year for Thanksgiving, we decided to go back to Dallas and spend the holiday at my parent's house.  They are in the process of getting it ready to sell and my mom was very concerned that it would sell at Christmas and they would have to be out, thus displacing all of the family.
This year, everyone got to come, except my youngest brother's wife, who had to work, unfortunately.  We had a great time and ate and just hung out.

Unfortunately, this was the only photo I managed to take, but it's a pretty cute one of P in her Thanksgiving dress. 

Frozen came out the day after Thanksgiving, so my mom, niece, Caleb, Piper and I met my friend Miriam and her sister and her oldest (Piper's best friend) at the movie.  I have to say, Frozen is probably my favorite Disney movie to date and the music is just to die for!

We had some family photos taken the next day, Saturday, but I wasn't happy with many of them, so I won't post any just yet.  The photos from that session that I did like, we will use on our Christmas cards, so I won't divulge those quite yet!

On Sunday, we packed everything up after church and headed back to Houston so that Jes could make it back to work on Monday.  It was a great weekend and we had a great time!

Monday, November 04, 2013


Halloween was such a fun time this year!  I was a little concerned that we wouldn't be plugged in anywhere by the time Halloween rolled around and wouldn't have an activities to do.  As it turned out, we ended up with far more to do that we have in many of the past years!

Caleb's Boy Scout pack used to meet at a local Church of Christ church just minutes from our house.  They were advertising their fall festival and it was a full week and a half prior to Halloween, so we decided to make a trip up the street and let the kids run around and play games.  Unfortunately, I did not take a single photo at that event, but rest assured, they had so much fun!  

The very next Saturday, our church had their Trunk or Treat and we had to go!  Jes decided to sit this one out, so the kids and I headed out to the fun.

Somewhere along the way, the kids decided that Mama needed a costume.  These cat ears were about as far as I could/would take it.  I wore these things all night and was afraid that I would look silly.  Turns out, there were so many adults who were dressed up.  Maybe next year I'll go all the way and get an honest to goodness costume!

If you live in the south, it seems that the Chick-fil-A cow will appear at your event.  Of course we needed a photo op with the cow!

My little cheerleader!  When we initially went shopping for Halloween costumes, Caleb convinced her to be the pink Power Ranger.  About 3 weeks before the date, Piper came to me in a panic and said that she just couldn't be the pink Power Ranger and really wanted to go back to her original idea of a cheerleader.  Amazon to the rescue and we found a cute costume! 

Caleb decided he wanted to be Robo Knight, some sort of Power Ranger.  He assured me that he was a good guy and that he wasn't going to whack anyone with the sword that he haaaaaaaad to have with his costume, so we went with it.  

On a side note, one of these days I'm going to learn to not allow them to have accessories.  By the time we were half way through this event, I realized that I not only had the 2 bags we were handed as we walked in, but also the kids' 2 pumpkins, a Robo Knight sword and 2 pom poms in my hands.  sigh.

We had a great time playing games and there were some pretty fun ones!  The kids have always loved this duck game, for whatever reason, but I think Caleb's favorite is now the Duck Dynasty duck hunt game he got to play that night!  

We were having so much fun, even if it was 80 degrees and 85% humidity.  We do live in Houston, after all!

In my photo folder, I have a series of pictures of this game, mainly because I was so fascinated by how easy it was and so I could tell my mom and dad how to reproduce it for their church's event!  Basically, this was a bunch of boards cut, arranged and nailed together to resemble Noah's Ark.  They had drilled out holes and put wooden pegs into this holes.  As a child approached, they would hand the child a rubber mallet and tell them that they needed help building the ark and to hammer in as many "nails" as they could.  There was someone on the other side of the structure hammering the pegs back out, and on and on.  This wasn't a traditional Trunk or Treat game as it wasn't out of the back of someone's car, but it was the most crowded game the whole night!  Everyone loved it!

Before we left, Caleb and Piper participated in the cake walk.  I don't have a photo of Piper because she won on her first time around.  Caleb went around for quite some time and never won, but it didn't matter because it was so fun and he got the cupcake that Piper won since she couldn't eat it.  

Before we headed out, I let the kids grab a snowcone.  There was no way that I was going to allow a purple and a green snowcone in my car, so we took a break and they ate their treats.

While we were walking to the car, I saw these hay bales that were out and thought it would make a cute photo op.  Of course, the kids complied and posed for me.  They just look so grown up here...

Every year, since Caleb was a baby, we have gone to this pumpkin patch just north of McKinney to get photos and to get the kids' pumpkins.  This year, we planned to go while we were up there for a doctor's appointment for the kids.  However, the day we were going to go, it turned off cold and rained which meant we couldn't go.  In  panic, I called Jes and asked him to stop at the grocery store and buy pumpkins for the kids to decorate with the kits we got way back in the summer.  

Caleb chose Darth Vader.  No surprise there...

Piper chose Mrs. Potato Head.  So cute!

Halloween morning, we got up and it was pouring.  I was just about resigned to the fact that we wouldn't be trick or treating, but about 2 hours before it started getting dark it stopped and the streets dried up enough that we wouldn't be dodging too many puddles.  So, the kids got into their costumes one more time and off we went!

Here is their haul from that one night of Trick or Treating.  Apparently, our neighborhood is the one to go to when you want to rake in the candy.  We only went down one horseshoe street and then our cul de sac and this was all that they got!  I went through and divided up candy that was gluten free and was not and made sure Piper knew what she could and couldn't have.  I researched heavily what was safe for her and took the guess work out for her!  

All in all, it was a fun time and we can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

September - October

I'm so behind for the past couple of months, as we are still getting settled in and the kids' activities have started.  I have joined a Bible study and a homeschool book club with some of the ladies from the church we've been attending.  Jes has joined a motorcycle group that takes rides frequently, so he tries to go at least 1-2 times per month.  Add in the frequent trips to Dallas in September, I've just been busy, so this post will be picture heavy to get us all up to date.  

We went to Dallas at the end of August/beginning of September and came back with a bug.  Side note: you'll see this is a theme as we go on. Caleb managed to avoid the bug, but I had it baaaaaaad and P got a touch of it.  This is her "I don't feel good, so why are you taking my photo" face.

We have done a lot of school in the past few months.  I think we are on week 8 or 9 now and everyone is doing well!

We were out house hunting one Sunday and stopped at this Houston based Mexican food restaurant.  Since Piper's diagnosis, we find it very difficult to eat out, so we were a little hesitant, but this place was so helpful and made her a special meal so that she could eat.  We were so thankful and will (and have) go back again and again!

P started dance at a local dance school that is just about a quarter mile from our house.  I can get from our front door to the dance school in less than 3 minutes, which, in Houston, is a huge deal!  Have I mentioned the traffic here?  Holy cow!  Example: we live 2 miles from our church and it takes me 20-30 minutes to get there on Wednesday nights for Bible study.  It's cah-razy!

We made another trip to Dallas and, as always, stopped at Buc-ees, a HUGE and CLEAN gas station/rest stop/truck stop/grocery in Madisonville.

While we were in Dallas, my parents and the kids and I took a trip to the Perot science museum, a place we spent a lot of time going to when we were local.

The kids love this place but have never been able to try out the weather girl/guy station due to crowds.  This day, it wasn't too packed, so they got to do it and it was hysterical!  Caleb sort of got it and P was just too short to reach.  My parents and I were crying, we were laughing so hard!

Here's P all stretched out, but most of the time all you could see was the top of her tiny head!

My mom always wanted to be a weather girl, so she got her chance and took a spin in the weather area.  She was great at it, as I knew she would be!

Before we left, we took in a 3-D movie about oceans.

P rode a frog.  Well, not a real one.  You get it...

Caleb patiently waited for his sister and his grandmother to get off the frogs.  Poor kid...

We got to spend some time with my sister, Michelle, and Dixie, my niece and the kids' cousin!

After we got back from Dallas, Jes and I were able to get away and go use a gift card that our fabulous realtor from Dallas sent us.  It was to a steak house nearby in Katy called Taste of Texas.  Sweet heavenly days, this place was amazing!  We LOVED it!

I lamented my coffee addiction.  Seriously people, it's bad.

Piper insisted one night that she was a color changing spy.  She was slinking along the walls and ducking behind furniture.  It was so funny and so like her!

Lest you think I forgot our other baby, Gus.  This cat has finally made himself at home and is definitely enjoying the fact that I'm home all day long.  He follows me everywhere, sits next to me, stays in the same room, and is my furry little shadow.  I don't mind.  He's my sweet baby.

I rearranged the kids' desks and this actually works better than the original arrangement.  This is how they have been for the past month and it seems to work best for all of us.  There are still times when Caleb gets distracted by his sister's shenanigans, but he's learning how to deal with that.

We made another trip to Dallas at the end of September for Sweet Repeats.

This time, we brought back a stomach/intestinal bug.  Caleb had it first and was actually spiraling down the sick spiral on the way back to Houston from Dallas.  He was so sick until about Tuesday evening and then got better.  By Wednesday, I thought that maybe Piper and I had avoided it, until Thursday morning.  Piper woke up in the very early hours of Thursday sick and I got it too.  We were so sick, people.  But, we made it through.  Jes, like normal, seemed to avoid it somehow...

Once everyone was well, I took Piper for her very first pedicure.  She spent quite a bit of the last year saying she was scared to get a pedicure (yeah, who knows!?!), but I finally convinced her it wasn't a big deal.  So, I needed one and decided to have her come with me and get her toes painted.  

Here she is getting her toes painted and shortly after this had her fingernails done too.  She's so girly and loved it so much and is asking when we can go back!

I finally found a Cub Scout pack for Caleb to join.  This pack is affiliated with a fairly large homeschool group in a neighboring town.  Unbeknownst to me, this group also has a Girl Scout troop too.  I never planning on Piper becoming a Girl Scout, but we walked in and I was talking to the Cub Scout people about Caleb's stuff.  They took one look at P and asked if she wanted to join.  She just walked in the room, introduced herself and sat down and started coloring.  I just picked up the paperwork and filled it out.  She loves it and is having the time of her life and her leaders are super sweet and the girls all have so much fun.

When we moved to Houston, we had decided to go ahead and get Piper a new bed, as she's been in a toddler bed from Ikea for the past couple of years.  It was just time for her to move up in the world and get a new bed.  I had been looking for a daybed for her so that we have a place for guests, but they are all just so expensive.  On a whim, I logged into facebook and at the top of my news feed popped up a post by a friend of mine whose friend was selling furniture to prepare for their upcoming move out of state.  One of the items they were selling was this amazing Bombay Furniture Company (goooood quality) bed for an amazing price, so I jumped on it and bought it!  My parents stored it for us for about 2 months and brought it down to us when they came to visit a couple of weeks ago.  We finally got to get her bedding out that she received for her birthday and put it on the new bed and she was and still is over the moon about it all!

A certain favorite team fiiiiiinally beat the you-know-what out of another certain team and we were all SO excited!

One of the malls near us has a carousel, and the kids LOVE to ride it every time we go.  They have so much fun!

Caleb wasn't feeling 100% last Sunday, just coughing a little bit, so we decided to just hop in the car and take a little jaunt down the road.  We ended up at a Bass Pro Shop and saw Willie and Phil (not really) from Duck Dynasty.  We, like the rest of the country, are fans of theirs, so the kids HAD to have their picture made with them.

I love watching her cut stuff.  Sometimes I just draw lines on paper and have her cut them just so I can see her face.  She concentrates so hard and it just is so cute!

P had lots and lots of tea parties.  She loves doing this and brings in her choice of animals each time.

Caleb has been obsessively reading these books lately.  I bought these 3 for him at a consignment sale about 6 months ago and they have just sat on his book shelf.  He read these 3 in three days.  So, off to Half Price Books we went and bought 3 more.  In our house, I rarely buy toys, but if my kids want a book or books, they get them.  That's one thing that I don't believe you can have enough of, so he wants them, he gets them.  P also came home with a technical book on veterinarians and The Little Mermaid.  Her tastes and interests are varied.

Caleb had his first pack meeting and P and I were trying to entertain ourselves.

He did great and even got a little compass/camp whistle thing for being new to the pack.

I don't know what this is.  She just poses now and asks me to take her picture.  I don't mind...

The kids played cards at Chick-fil-a while I finished up eating lunch one day.  Sometimes, I just love this age and that they are a bit more independent.

My birthday was this past week and this came for me from my mom and dad.  I've never had an Edible Arrangement, so this was a surprise and treat!  I love it and we are still eating on it, so everyone benefits!

Jes also went and got me one of my favorite flowers, peach roses.  This was so sweet and so appreciated!

So, all in all the past couple of months have been going well and we are getting used to being Houston residents.  I still miss my friends and job and McKinney terribly, but we feel that we are right where we are supposed to be for right now and are trying to make the best of it!