Wednesday, March 29, 2017

December Musicalities

Our stake has a much-loved tradition of performing Handel's Messiah the first weekend each December. I have been privileged to perform in the choir nearly every year. With Jared being gone all the time, it wasn't possible for me to do it this last year, but both the boys wanted to be in the children's choir that sings during the Prelude. I couldn't be more thrilled to have them sing (unless someone else had been giving them rides)! It was sad for me to not be in the big choir with the orchestra playing beautifully and the amazing soloists singing between choir songs, especially because we won't be here for the next 4 or so years. But I treasure the experiences I have had in the past with these wonderful people and this inspired music...and I'm sure someday I'll sing it again. And I thoroughly enjoyed having the boys sing. Ellie wanted to join, and she even attended some practices, but she was too young to officially be in the children's choir.

Isaac is always trying something new, pushing the limits of his coordination a little farther. One endeavor he impressed us with was being able to play two recorders at one time. I tried and tried to upload a video, but it didn't work, no matter how much I trimmed it. Just know that his ambidextrous digits could play Jingle Bells and Hot Cross Buns with both hands, even sticking in some harmony there! Did I tell you about the time he figured out he could play with his nostrils?? Yeah, I'm not borrowing his recorder ever again. Still, a talent is a talent.

Another thing he started this school year was the violin. It's not the best instruction, but you can't beat free lessons. We are proud of him, though. I don't know if it's a blessing or not--but he never practices at home.

Present were several elementary schools' orchestras as well as the hosting middle school's orchestra. Believe it or not, his school's performances were by far the most pleasant-sounding!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dickens on Main-- Boerne, TX

Dickens on Main is something fun they do every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving in nearby Boerne, Texas. It sounded like fun, so we finally attended this year. We didn't do even a third of what there was offered there, but we felt adventurous for even making the trek and we had a good time.

 The biggest reason to go is the snow...or, upon closer inspection, soap floating down in a manner similar to snow. These guys loved dancing in the music and snow at the various spots.

The next reason to go is the atmosphere--Dickens-era costumes, music and dramatizations! We, of course, got no pictures with any of that; we just stared in awe and then moved on. We did pay for a picture with Santa Claus, who--it turns out--has very few teeth and it sounds like he has marbles in his mouth when he talks. The kids weren't sure what he was trying to say when he asked them what they wanted for Christmas. I apparently understand "too much eggnog" accent, so I interpreted for them.
 After much deliberation, we decided on a food truck to give all our money to. We found the only empty seats at the town square and sat on them, eating the expensive food and wishing we could afford some more (know we wouldn't stand in that line again in our lifetime even if we had some more cash), and also listening to the live country band on the stand. It was grand.

 Everyone's favorite thing was the frozen mint hot chocolate at the end--because I had to find an ATM to get pictures with Drunk Santa anyway, so we had a little cash again. The guy serving us was super nice: normal people would get each person their own cup; since he knew we were sharing, he gave us a bunch of extra Oreos and spoons/straws. And we loved every drop!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Thankful for Thanksgiving

We had many reasons to be thankful on Thanksgiving. It would have been wonderful to have Jared home with us, but we were grateful for his good job in El Paso that was in need of him more than we were (our plan was simply to stuff our faces with him, while their plan was to have him see countless patients who needed a medical provider willing and we let him go).

Our wonderful friends, the MacBeths, invited us for Thanksgiving again. They provided the entire meal, which was super delish--Joe's a gourmet cook. They let us bring a little pie, so I made cherry and apple.
We were joined by the Haslams, another awesome family who we just love. Plus, they're half-Canadian like me, so what's not to like? The kids all had a blast.
 Of course, when I tried to document how much fun they were having, I became a target....

Natalie was pretty much ready for a nap by the time "dinner" started, but we did our best. These pictures don't do justice to the beauty of that meal (nor the taste)....
Between eating and eating some more, we played Exploding Kittens, among other things, and it was great fun--especially because Valarie Haslam is hilarious and kept cracking me up. Then the pie was served and it was beautiful!

You want to know something else that was beautiful? This:
Jared had to be away for our anniversary (Nov 22), but before he left, he made what might be my most favorite cheesecake to date in honor of that special date. The sad part is, he had to leave before it got a chance to cool, so he never got a bite. All he got was this picture, which proved how much we loved it--it didn't last long after that! Jared is my favorite cheesecake baker.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Field trip and Regionals--3rd Weekend of November

Natalie and I got to chaperone the 3rd graders' field trip to the Witte Museum. It was fun to hang out with Noah and his best friend, Jayden.

The next day was the event the boys had been looking forward to for weeks: regionals in Lockhart, Texas. They wanted to see if they would qualify to go to nationals in Alabama in December. Only the top 8 could go, and guess what? They both made it! They were pretty excited. The entire team did well!
Afterward, we celebrated with the team at a barbecue restaurant in a surprise party for a team member (the coaches' daughter, Mikala). Good times and good food! I wish we'd gotten a picture of her cake--it was a Swift team cake, full of running pictures. Great weekend--and Jared got to be there for it!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Country Run Fun--Nov 12, 2016

We enjoyed a fun little 5K in November with waaaaaay too many walkers...but we found out why at the end-- they were there for the myriad freebies at the carnival in the expo center!

The race itself was filled with country performers throughout the course. There were also interesting attractions, like this giant pig, to distract Ellie. However, I only took one picture during the race because I'm all-business like that. We found Noah and Isaac later at the carnival--impressive, because there were a bazillion people there.

Isaac was encouraging Ellie during one game. So cute!
Tons of free games, free food, and even face painting!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Isaac's 11th Birthday

Isaac has actually reached the Harry Potter I Age. His birthday was on a Thursday, so we got him up early so he could open his presents before school.

Here's our very sleepy Birthday Boy--

That night we had a mini celebration with just the family (except Jared, who was in El Paso), knowing his party was the next night.
 Friday night came and Isaac had two friends--Cody and Avery--join us for laser tag. His original idea was to do a big nerf gun battle at the park, but this was so easy, and there would be no lost bullets! The perfect activity.

 They all piled on the motorcycle at the arcade. Then we went and had pizza at our house and all was merry.
 Happy Birthday, Little I!!

Since he's 11 now, we have finally convinced him to wash his face regularly. As you can see, he's very maturely complying, starting with this facial mask he found in his mother's bathroom.

We "Meet" Again in Houston

Heheh, you know you loved the wordplay in that title!

So, this trip to Houston was better than the first. 1) We knew a little better what to expect. 2) We got to stay in a much better hotel. 3) We got to take the Daddy with us! I was able to concentrate on my fellow cheerleader a bit while Jared took pictures.
 Natalie spent some quality time with the dog of a teammate. Noah spent some quality time with...pine cones!

 Isaac jumped in to run a little bit with Ellie. Not sure that's entirely legal, but we didn't get in trouble.
 Some seriously tired kiddos accompanied us home! That's just the way we like it, especially if they're quiet. That's Noah's foot in front of Ellie...??

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Trunk or Treat 2016

We had some inspiration from Studio C for our Halloween costumes this year. Most people didn't get it, even when we were all together. But that's okay; it was still fun.

Awkward Avoidance Viking and Nuclear Ninja (along with a threatening piece of fruit).

Add in there some Lady Shadow, a Mobster and a Vampire...

And afterward, with the loot...!
Then, a week later, it was actually Halloween. Isaac deserted us for going with his mafia partner in crime, a.k.a Cody Redd. They had a ball and got more candy than should be legal--these guys are professionals.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Princess E

My little 6 and a half year old is SO much: so much fun, so much creativity, so much help, so much personality, so much drama, so much girl, so much toughness. She's incredible.

Here she is in October 2016.

One day her friend was over and I didn't hear them playing anymore. Wondering what they were up to, I went looking for them. I found them outside, dressed up and eating a very well-planned Princess Picnic. Cuties.

This girl loves to have her picture taken. She's almost always ready.
(However, if she's not ready and you take her picture, she'll find a way to exact her revenge...). 

Her art projects are so prolific and important to her! It's hard to keep everything, but I feel better if we take a picture first. I used to try to take pictures of all art projects, but I'm behind now (huge understatement).
Sometimes she shows us what an emotional roller coaster she lives on and she'll say that this day (every day) is the worst day of her life. But, for what it's worth, usually it's only been a few hours (or minutes) since she said it was the best day of her life. Poor girl! But I like to document the good times for her to at least have some good memories. Love that girl!

Primary Program

On October 23, the three older kids were in the Primary presentation. It's always something to look forward to. This year's theme was "I Know the Scriptures Are True." For the first time, I put all their parts on a picture so we could remember it all. I wish I had done this for the last several years!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Round Rock Meet-- Oct 22

The very next weekend we headed up to Round Rock for another Cross Country meet. I've got to say, I do love this sport! It's much more enjoyable than track, and it's not just because the weather is better...but that helps. Anyway, Swift did great to represent San Antonio and we had a great time.
Ellie's race was first.

This is one of several awards the team won for age groups. We even got the best overall team award!

Afterward we went to eat lunch at a Round Rock barbecue spot, Smokey Mo's. It was pretty good and the people were super nice.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

First Houston Meet-- Oct 15

We ventured without the Daddy up to Houston for the weekend in mid-October for our first Cross Country meet. The drive was long, but the kids did pretty good and of course we stopped at Buccee's for dinner/fuel. Oh, and we saw a creepy Halloween car on the freeway.

The 3 musketeers and their patient cheerleader.
 They hate it when I cheer for them, but I obviously forget. I just can't not cheer!
Isaac is the one in lime green, coming around the bend.

Noah's race, coming around the bend.

Ellie always looks like she's enjoying her run.
Recovering afterward

Such sweet kids on this team!
And, you got it: Buccee's again on the way home! They really need picnic tables.