Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We sure did!  We decided a couple days before Christmas to take a "mini vacation" down to Austin to check out the Trail of Lights at Zilker Park, and stay overnight in a hotel.  The kids were totally excited, especially because the hotel had an indoor pool!

The light show started at 6:30 and our hotel was only a mile and a half away.  At 5:30 I called down to the hotel lobby and asked if we could get a shuttle there, and they said no problem.  So at 6:15 I went downstairs with the kids and an umbrella stroller, only to find out the driver said there was no way he could get us there with traffic, because they had roads blocked off.  The front desk lady said it was a 20 minute walk and pointed us in the right direction, so I decided to go for it.

Before I continue: Not long into this journey I realized something must have happened to the umbrella stroller in the move because it was incredibly hard to steer.  I felt like I got the reject cart at HEB (which, incidentally, I believe is every cart at HEB).  You know what I'm talking about.  Anyway....

Turns out the lady at the hotel pointed us in the wrong direction.  It didn't feel right so I asked a nice looking lady at a bus stop if we were going the right away.  She pointed us in a different direction and told us to cross the river at Lamar.  So we walked the way she told us to walk and ended up walking right into a construction fence.  I could see the lights so I took an alternate route toward them and we ended up walking down by the river.  No problem.  Except then we crossed Lamar... underneath it.  So we walked up a huge hill to get to Lamar to cross it, but Lamar is a VERY busy bridge.  I thought I saw a walkway there so we trudged along a very narrow dirt path to get to it, only to face a sign that said, "Emergency Use Only."

Chase was such a trooper.  In the beginning I thought we were doomed because he kept dragging his feet and saying, "I can't take it anymore!" (he gets his drama from his mama, it's true).  But then I turned it into a mission, and we talked about how we never give up, gave each other high fives and whipped out the GPS on my phone.  We finally did get there... after walking for an hour and a half.  And when we finally did arrive, this is what we found:


I hate crowds.

But it was beautiful.  Here's the first tunnel we walked through (very slowly):


It was a slow walk through the park and what we could see of the lights was beautiful.  For the majority of it I was pushing Chloe in her crappy umbrella stroller (which has steering issues) with Chase on my back so he could see.  I felt a little like Super Mom (and a lot like Crazy Mom).

All in all we had a good time.  And the walk back to the hotel was only 40 minutes.  Chase was awesome.  When we got back to the hotel at 10:15 we just collapsed on the bed.  Chloe slept the whole walk home, folded over herself in the stroller, so when we got back she was wide awake and decided to get up and color at 11:30pm.  Not cool.  I finally dragged her into bed with me so she would sleep.

In addition to that adventure, the kids swam a lot in the hotel pool and they were really sad to go home the next day.  It was a fun last-minute getaway!

Chase was really into Santa this year. I showed him how to track Santa's route on the internet and he was tied to my laptop all day Christmas Eve:


Then he had to show his sister:


That night we went to see the Nature in Lights show at BLORA.  Chase took a ton of pictures with his camera.  Here are some of the better ones:






On the drive home the kids started getting crazy in the backseat so I said, "What was that?!?" and told them I just saw a weird light in the sky.  That occupied them the rest of the way home.  They saw crazy lights all over the place... purple, green, red....  Amazing stuff.  When we got home I finally got them to go to bed and 5 minutes after I left Chase's room he ran out and said he saw Santa!  I told him he'd better get to sleep then!

So cute.

Santa did come and he was good to us.


He brought Chloe a bunk bed for her baby dolls, which she had to use right away:


He brought Chase the BeyBlades Destroyer Dome he had asked for:


And he brought the whole family a surprise gift....  An XBOX 360 Kinect!


Later that afternoon we made a gingerbread train:


We had a very busy Christmas day!

Merry Christmas, everyone!  May the rest of your holiday be bright!

 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Cookies


This year for Chase and Chloe's teachers we decided to make Christmas cookies and put them in holiday tins. The kids had a lot of fun with this, and Chloe was actually old enough to decorate her own (with a little help, of course). The end result: tins full of love for their teachers. Good stuff.




Chase made two really special ones for his teacher that broke and he was so sad about them.  We pieced them back together and took a picture, then we put the picture in the tin with a baggie of cookie pieces so he could still give them to her.  The star says "love."  His idea.  Is that sweet, or what?


The kids had tons of fun but left me quite the mess to clean up!  At one point Chloe spilled an entire bowl of green sugar on the floor.  I'm going to be picking green sugar granules off the bottoms of my feet forever.  It was worth it, though.


Christmas is coming!!!!

 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy 6th Birthday, Chase!


OK, seriously?  Chase is SIX?!?  This is getting ridiculous.

Well before his bowling birthday party Sunday we opened presents at home.  Chloe and I were very interested in Chase's gifts!  Look at our facial expressions.  Ha ha!



He had tons of fun at the bowling alley with his friends.  Such a pro!


Chloe was in rare form.  She was very pouty and needed to be held for easily the first hour or so.



Probably because we had to wake her up from this:


I got her to humor me one time:


She did liven up later, thank goodness.  Cupcakes help!  Chase gave her the bowling ball cupcake:


He may have complained about the way they looked but he was definitely OK with how they tasted:


Happy Birthday to my not-so-baby boy!

Birthday Preparations

This year we asked Chase where he wanted to have his birthday party and he said Chuck-E-Cheese.  His dad and I were in agreement:

Ugh.

So we compromised with him and said we would go to Chuck-E-Cheese as a family the day before his birthday with my parents, and he could have his big birthday party the next day at the bowling alley (which he also loves).  He agreed (a bit begrudgingly, but we took it).

The kids had a great time at Chuck-E-Cheese Saturday.  Chloe loves anything where she gets to ride a horse:



Chase ran around the whole place and even roped Grandma into playing games with him!


Afterwards we went home and Chase hopped on Grandma's iPad (his favorite thing to do while they were here)...


...while I made (dun dun dun...) the cupcakes.  You know... THE cupcakes.  The cupcakes I feel the need to make for all my kids'  birthdays, even though it has been proven over and over that I am not very successful at making them!

Since Chase was having his party at the bowling alley I found some bowling pin cupcakes to make.  They looked easy enough, but it turns out if you really want them to look like bowling pins you have to do more than just slap the donut on top and throw some icing on it.  You should probably take some time to shape it and smooth it out.  So as Chase was iPadding, I was quietly working in the kitchen.  I finally stepped back to look at my work and said a meek, "Ummmm... Mom?"


Mom came in and I said, "They look like crap."  In true Mom form she said something like, "Well, they're interesting...."  Then we just busted out laughing.  I mean, come on....  They seriously looked like CRAP!

So I called Chase into the kitchen to see them and before I revealed them I said, "OK, Chase.  No matter what you think of these cupcakes you have to say, 'Mom, these are the most amazing bowling pin cupcakes I have ever seen!'"  He agreed to the terms and I revealed them.  He stared at them in amazement for a few seconds and then said, "Uh, Mom...?"  I held my breath.  "Yes, Chase?"

"Is that the best you can do?"

My mom and I about died trying to stifle our hysterical laughter behind his back.  I said, "Chase!  You are supposed to say they are the best bowling pin cupcakes you have ever seen!"  His response:

"Well, they just look a little sloppy."

Then he decided he should help, because apparently he could do it better:


So he cut out the triangles.  I felt like saying, "Oh yeah, Chase?  You think that's better?"  But I'm a better mom than that, so I kept my mouth shut and made fun of his stupid little triangles behind his back for the camera instead.


Ha ha!  Who let me have children?!?

Anyway, I decided I would let him help because then I could say at the party, "Chase helped with the cupcakes.  Didn't he do an amazing job?"  Ha!  A scapegoat!

Seriously....  Who let me have children?!?

Anyway, here's the finished product.  My friend Katie says they look like ghosts with blindfolds.

(She's such a great friend.)


 

I Grajitated!


Well I finally graduated on Saturday with my Masters in Education - Curriculum and Instruction. My parents were here for the weekend to celebrate with me and took some great pics.

Waiting to walk across the stage, hood in hand:


Being hooded by Dr. Kirk, who was a huge help in writing my research and a huge supporter when I was feeling overwhelmed and didn't think I could do it:


A surprise hug from Dr. Hooten after exiting the stage.  She played a big part in my alternative teacher certification:


With my beautiful kids after the ceremony:


And with Mom.  Apparently we are now in a race to see who can get their doctorate first (OH LORD)!


It was such a joy to see my kids there with my parents.  They were so good, and every time I looked over at them they were smiling and waving at me.  Their seats were perfect, right by the doors where we entered and exited:


You know, a lot of people don't walk for their Masters and I considered that option, but ultimately decided I should walk because I wanted my kids to see it.  After it was all said and done, though, it turns out I walked for me, too.  It felt great.  I never thought I would go this far into the world of academia, yet here I am....  I did it.  And I did it well.

Pretty cool.