Sunday, October 30, 2016

Finally: Visitors!

In July, Jared's cousin, Daniel married an awesome girl from the Austin area. We were delighted to meet her at their Texas reception at her parents' house. Daniel's parents were there, too: Karl and Debber, a.k.a. some of our favorite people ever. And guess what? They came to San Antonio to play with us the next couple of days!

They wanted to see the beach, so we took them to Padre Island and had us a ball. This may be the first time the kids have seen their Dad swim in the ocean (we usually have all the fun while he's at work)!


Karl and Debbie. They're the coolest!

My new favorite picture.

I love the many happy faces of this girl; so hard to choose!

Super bright day!
 We spent the next day downtown at the Alamo, then at the riverwalk. We took the tour, then ate lunch at the oldest restaurant on the riverwalk (Mexican and delicious). We wandered around shopping a little while and then parted ways. So glad they came!
Karl and Debbie on the riverboat tour.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Pleasant Transformation

Isaac and Noah share a room; they have since Noah was a year old. This causes a lot of blame to be thrown around when it's time to assess the mess. Isaac has gone through a couple of stages where he's meticulous about having everything be neat in his room; these stages don't last very long and the rest of the time their room is pretty messy.

A the beginning of the summer (2016), I got so disgusted with how bad their room had gotten that I took a bunch of pictures from every angle, asking that they do some cleaning to make a difference in at least one of those areas. I know how overwhelming it can get when a place is this messy, so I didn't require perfection; just for them to make a dent.
But really, it was so bad. I tried to help here and there, but not enough progress was made to take new pictures. 

Then one day two months later, Isaac got busy. He got that determined look in his eye and spent hours in there. He had some help from his minion, Noah. There was more than just picking up and putting away going on, though. There was a major transformation. They rearranged the furniture; they put stuff up on the walls, they organized the books and the desk and the toys...even the closet.

I don't know what possessed me to only take two "after" pictures, but here they are:
We were pleasantly surprised when we opened that door! I found out later that Isaac had stolen nails and push pins from all over the house to put some stuff up...and since he couldn't find the hammer, he had used a shoe to drive in his nails. What a resourceful lad (he could've just asked but he wanted to be independent)!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Summer Videos

It didn't seem right to completely ignore all the videos we have taken. I love to watch Noelle's videos of Atticus and I realized I never actually  do anything with our videos; I haven't put them together onto a DVD in years (only Isaac has home videos to watch of himself ), and I never post them anywhere (not really). So, I know it'll be that much longer 'til I'm caught up, but I think a few videos are in order here.
This is all about Natalie, obviously, and how we try to get her to show her tricks.
I can't account for any imperfections in what you see here (like, how our house/ hair/ clothes look), or what you hear (like my voice or the chaotic sound of Laney Family Background), except that this is us! Sorry; we are real. :D

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fourth of July at Stinson

We spent part of our Independence Day at Stinson Municipal Airport. I had never heard of it before, but visiting that place was pretty dang cool, especially if you're into history, planes, or (like me) both.

The night before, we watched a video clip about the Doolittle Raiders; very interesting story if you don't know about it. They were some super brave heroes.

We were shocked when we arrived to meet the last living member of the Doolittle Raiders: Dick Cole was actually there! We had to take a picture. What an honor!
Three oldest Laney kids with Dick Cole of the Doolittle Raiders

We went to where the music was playing outside and found all kinds of sights! There were couples dressed to the nines (of the 40s) and swing dancing. There was an Uncle Sam guy on stilts. There were displays from back in the day of the first airmen in the sky and many other informational booths. One that caught Isaac's eye was the Civil Air Patrol. He is now obsessed with getting special permission to join early and accelerate his pilot career.

In addition to a collection of vintage planes you could tour, there was face painting and balloons and, best part-- everything was free! The fire trucks got our attention for a good amount of time. Kids love to try all the gear on, tour the truck and learn about the equipment.
Lucky ducks!

How Ellie metamorphosed from a butterfly to a baked potato

This kid is a future hero.

Two things about Noah: he's always helping with Natalie and always making us laugh

This dapper dame enjoyed the festivities, too.
Who let these clowns on the fire truck??

This ain't no circus!
Afterward, we visited 2 of the missions of San Antonio. One of them, Mission Concepcion, was new to us and we really enjoyed touring the building and area there, briefly. It's the most original and the oldest of the San Antonio Missions (over 250 years old!).

It was a great day to be grateful for the land in which we live. Happy Independence Day from all the little Laneys!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Beach Day in July

We went to the beach again on the weekend of the Fourth of July. Again, we were accompanied by wonderful friends. Just a couple of months after the last trip, this day was a very different experience!

For one thing, it was warm! Even the mamas got in the water. Natalie was also a lot less shy about getting sandy (and wet).
Sand!! Sand was everywhere! The whole time. And we brought a significant portion home with us.
The creatures Jayden caught were temporarily kept in this bucket.

Catching more critters with Jayden's net

Sand and wind and sea! Not a huge crowd for the Fourth of July, either. Perfect!!

What baby doesn't like to explore a grounded boat? Or any boat for that matter?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Splash Pad

A new splash pad opened in San Antonio (Pearsall Park) and we went there twice in 2 weeks with 3 sets of friends! Picnics, water play, ziplines and slides along with lots of friends is a recipe for fun!

 However,  sometimes fun comes at a price. One our first day at the splash pad, there were a lot of kids on the slide with Ellie and Noah. They were doing a train of sorts, and somebody slammed Noah's head into Ellie's eye. She complained of pain at the time, but it looked normal. Then the next day we saw this (left picture). The next day it was a little more colorful (see right pics). It was beautiful and sad at once. My poor girl!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Daddy Daughter Dance

In June, our stake put on a Daddy Daughter Dance and you better believe Ellie wanted to go! Jared went because he loves his daughter...not because he loves to dance. But they had a good time!

The thrift store shirts for Ellie ended up being her new favorites not long afterward. Apparently, "80s" means all kinds of clashing colors (her shoes are ruby red). Jared had been working on perfecting his Uncle Rico pose for a while.

Cub Scout Day Camp

Welp, I volunteered to go to Cub Scout Day Camp...the entire week! Really, it's only 5 days. And really, many parents do that. It was my turn! I was pretty excited, actually. And nervous: about the boys, about the Texas summer heat, and about the camp itself. The one day I volunteered (in 2014), there was so much confusion, so much wasted time and it was so hot and tiring...I felt that the 3 people from our ward that went every single day were saints. I still do, because they went every day every year that their boy was in Cub Scouts. Now, they've moved up.

Enough about my volunteering skills! We want pictures! Pictures! Oh, I'll give you pictures. We had so much fun. Just see for yourself!

Day one craft: leatherworking.

BB guns are always a favorite.
 These boys. Gaga Ball! They are so serious. They love their Gaga Ball!
The Laney Brothers were often the last one/s out.
 We have a really good group of boys! I love these kids and felt honored to be able to hang out with them each day. Here they are watching the egg drop from the top of a firetruck's ladder. Splat!

The theme was Superheroes, so we had to make masks, of course!

Our group: they were so much fun!

Playing with hoops, hanging out, and playing Poison--always happy to be there!

Noah, first day of archery.
 By the last day, these boys had really improved their archery skills! It was also a favorite activity. We would play Uno with those who were waiting their turn. So glad I brought those cards--they were a hit during any and all down time!
Isaac popped a balloon on his target!

Skilled with the bow! If they hit a playing card, they got to keep it.
Noah actually hit under a playing card somehow, so he kept that, too.
 Fishing was a good experience, but many boys were "hooked," and only turtles were biting our tortillas. The frogs at that pond are HUGE!
Such a good group of boys! Fishermen.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Can't Stop Us

Imagine us in early June, 2016. Technically, school's out. But actually, we never stop learning around here. There is little time to waste. Even when relaxing, these kids are usually reading or watching something educational. I love how they're like little sponges when it comes to topics that interest them! It was nearly all summer that I debated whether to let them go back to public school, or teach them at home. Public school won this time, mostly because Isaac's in 5th grade and that comes with lots of fun opportunities.

Here they are learning on Khan Academy.

Teaching Natalie how to comb her hair??

As far as Ellie is concerned, it's always time for art.

Isaac is the only one who didn't take the summer off for piano.

It's not always easy to keep Babycakes busy, but it's possible.

Don't forget P.E. They all participated in several track meets!

These are the two items Ellie was most proud of in June!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Enchanted Rock

Our first adventure of the summer was to finally visit Enchanted Rock! We went with our new friends, the DeWitts. They're lots of fun to hike and hang out with!
The kids spent picnic time catching crawdads!

Our dynamic group

It was so pretty there

The girls were adventurous.

They all hopped over a crevice to get there!

Noah at the top.

The view is stunning, but I love the little neon-colored flowers that grow.

Isaac and Ellie share a rare moment of comradery.

Top of Enchanted Rock

The lone, dead tree had to be conquered.

Afterward, we all went for ice cream in Fredericksburg. It was a great start to Summer!