Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Having Daddy Home

"I'm so glad when Daddy comes home...!"

Jared had the job in El Paso from September to February; he came to visit a handful of times and we loved it. Then he had a few out-of-town weeks here and there. We have learned to take advantage of Daddy when he's home because now (May-July), he's working in Nevada! Here are some of the memories we were able to make while he was with us:

The Toilet Seat Museum
This San Antonio treasure will not be around forever. The owner is quite spry for his age, but...he's getting up there. See it while you can; there's nothing like it!

Palmetto State Park
Never expect to sleep during a family camp-out--that's my new motto. If I have low expectations, it's more fun. Also: babies need their own sleeping bags. Some day we'll get it right! It's been quite a while since I've been camping, so I'll count this as a win.
Sleepy baby and mommy; beautiful scenery while they slept!
Starting our hike after breaking camp

Palmettos are not typically found in this part of the country, but this are's unique (for Texas) geography make all kinds of animal and plant life possible here. It was fun to learn all about it on the hike.

After our Palmetto adventures, we were hungry for some pizza and then some history, so we headed to historic Gonzales, just 20 minutes away.

This is where the "come and take it" cannon is. We had been wanted to make this trip since we heard about the cannon during our first visit to the Alamo. It was actually lost for a hundred years because the guys who buried it were killed in battle soon afterward. The whole story is fascinating, from before they even had to say "come and take it!" to the mail man who stored it in the post office for years....
The museum was fascinating for each of us to visit. So much cool old stuff! History is awesome.
Look closely for the puncture from the Mexican army to render the cannon useless
 San Antonio Rodeo
The San Antonio Rodeo is always fun to visit, and we finally got Jared to go!
There was more than enough to count this field trip as an educational day, but our favorite part may have been the petting zoo. Sorry, no pictures. But imagine a hundred adorable and varied soft and fuzzy animals of all sizes in one place with my kids--the ones who love animals but are deprived of having any of their own--loving every minute, sometimes pursuing, sometimes being pursued, brushing, petting and holding. It was so much fun to watch...and I got my animal fix in!

Road Trips: College Station, Bryan, Austin
 We took lots of road trips with Jared for track meets and house-hunting. Since we're moving to College Station for med school this year, we saw many many houses! We also looked around for good neighborhoods for running trails. And, of course, there were many restaurants to explore.

NCAA Indoor Track Championship
We were able to time one of our College Station trips to be when the NCAA Indoor Track Championship was held. We attended both days and got inspired for our own track season, which the kids were already training for. Natalie spent lots of time going up and down the bleachers, getting in trouble with the security guard for swinging on the stair rail, and she eventually learned how to get a back massage from Ellie.

George Bush Presidential Library  
Another great thing in College Station is the George Bush Presidential Library. We learned so much and really enjoyed it.

My sassy girls with the president
 The boys' favorite part had to do with the CIA phase of Bush's life.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Homeschool = More Family Time

In January, we started homeschooling all three school-aged children. Natalie was thrilled to have more time with her brothers and sister. Although it was a lot of work and frustration because we're all new at this, it has been very rewarding! Right away we started seeing benefits of being together more and having more freedom and flexibility (and less crowds!).

One day for lunch, we decided to pack a picnic and run to a park in a nearby neighborhood. You can't do that in public school on a weekday!

We went to the movies one day when everyone finished their work in time (It was to see Rogue One, not King Kong, but they were having fun with the "dirty hand" display).

I love to see them hanging out together! I wish I could say it was always easy-going between them, but that would be unrealistic. I will take what I can get!

It's crazy and chaotic sometimes. It can be dramatic and difficult, too. But it's also really fun and rewarding and...just so worth it. They're making memories together. They are bonding. And they're giving their little sister a chance to be less isolated than her age would normally require. I know it's probably temporary, but we are enjoying the benefits of homeschooling!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Nine on the Nineth!

 Noah turned 9 on the 9th! He chose to go to Laser Tag with his best friend Jayden. In order for Jared to make it, we went while he was still in town.
 These guys love this stuff! And, apparently, picking your nose in a picture is the cool thing to do. I guess Jared's not cool.

Afterward, we went to CiCi's Pizza...where only Natalie would stand still for a picture. That just tells you that had fun and kept getting up for more pizza. Actually, they spent the majority of the time in the arcade.
 Jayden's gift for Noah was the coolest--Minecraft and animals!? Pretty good combination, coming from a fan of both; going to a fan of both. Noah was pretty proud of this stack from smallest to biggest:

On the day of Noah's birthday, he woke up to a phone call from his Dad and some presents--of course the cheetah shirt was a favorite!
This guy is a sweetheart. I can't believe he's nine already!

His Uncle Danny knew he'd love this building set. Noah worked on it for hours (he had help here and there, but it was mostly just him). You can see just the beginnings on his actual birthday.
 For his birthday dinner, Noah chose wisely (steak!). And all the kids were pretty excited about their very own bottle of carbonated sugar.

Noah's cake was from Cold Stone Creamery--deliciousness!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Middles on New Year's Day

I had to show off some of the middle children's crazy silliness from January 1, 2017. Jared busted out the camera while these two were outside.

Ellie jumped for her photoshoot.

Noah threw a rock and caught it the whole time.
These two kiddos are so special! They love to play--together as well as alone. They have a pretty hard job being not quite oldest and not quite youngest. But we sure love them for who they are!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Christmas Day 2016

Also known as: New Year's Eve (day).
There's something glorious about a Christmas tree on the morning of its intended holiday. We left Natalie's angel wings on it for the entire season.
 We came down to find Ellie and Isaac happily playing the new chess game.
Even Natalie was awake. "I just woke up like this."
Noah was still in bed. What 8 year old want to sleep in on Christmas!? He tricked me; he was really awake.

Let the present-opening begin!
 Everybody loved their gifts, but our favorite part was watching Natalie.

She was pretty tuckered out by bedtime, though--we found her like this: