Friday, July 28, 2017

Chase is a Blue Stripe!

Chase is now a Blue Stripe!  I'm particularly proud of him for this one because it was rough getting here.  In the beginning, Tae Kwon Do came very easily to Chase.  He didn't have to work very hard to achieve results.  But as soon as he got his green belt things got more challenging and he became more and more frustrated.  He started fighting us about going, and faked stomach aches when we got there.  I had a heart to heart with him when I tucked him in one night and we talked a lot about having a growth mindset, and about the things I missed out on when I was young because I quit every time things got too hard.  Since that point he has really worked to change his attitude and not give up, even when he wants to.  As I parent I was like, "whoah... he actually heard me?"  Pretty cool.

Anyway, this was a big deal and you could tell he was extra excited because he nailed it!!!!

He had to break a board with a special kick this time, and he was really nervous about it.  He broke it on the first try and was slightly excited:

I thought he was going to lose his composure when he actually got the new belt in his hands!

He was so proud of himself....

My little man didn't give up... and now he's reaping the rewards!

Go, Chase!!!!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Lion King Birthday Experience

Every year I give my kids a birthday "experience" instead of birthday presents.  Because let's face it... they gets lot of presents from everyone else and the best gift you can give someone is your time, anyway... right?  Well this year I got Chloe and myself tickets to see The Lion King (the musical) in Houston.  Chase stayed at his dad's while I stole her away for a night!

The experience started with a shopping trip to get a dress (and shoes and jewelry, of course)!

Then we drove to Houston and got ready at my BFF Katie's house:

We went out to dinner and ate on a rooftop with a view of the city:

And then we headed to the show!  Right when we got there a nice lady came up to Chloe and offered her a free Lion King bag with a color program inside.  Those color programs are $30 alone!  Score!

Do you see Chloe's fabulous shoes?  She picked those out all on her own, without knowing we were going to match!

The show was incredible.  Chloe absolutely loved it, and she gave me the sweetest hug and thank you afterwards.  I told her she could choose a souvenir from the merchandise stand, so....  Introducing the newest member of the family... SIMBA!


(Or something like that.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Family Vacation

We planned a family vacation this year with my parents, my brother and his family.  After much deliberation it was decided we would go camping in Moab, Utah.  It was a good spot where we could come from three different directions (Idaho, Michigan, Texas) and kind of meet in "the middle."  My parents had to drive the furthest but they like road trips!

It was bound to be an adventure, as the kids outnumbered the adults!

Man....  The last time we all got together the family looked like this!

After conquering our road trip to Michigan last summer, we were ready to go!  (Starbucks helps.)

We made stops along the way....  Lunch at the park, where we almost got attacked by geese:

(Good thing my son knows Tae Kwon Do!)

Of course we had to stop for ice cream:

One of my favorite memories from the drive: I started playing the Wicked soundtrack in the car and explaining the story to Chloe as it played (Chase was asleep). When we stopped at DQ for a pit stop (photo above), Chase asked, "Mom, were you telling a story when I woke up?" I explained what we were doing and he said he wanted to hear it, too. I brought him up to speed while we ate ice cream and we all picked up where we left off when we hit the road again. They LOVED IT and are now begging to see the show! They requested we listen to it about 5 times on our drive, round trip.  Proud theatre mom moment, for sure!!

I had forgotten about the really long stretches of desert I would be driving through, until I heard Chloe's voice in the back seat, saying, "Mom?  I have to use the restroom."  Ummmmmm....

I have no idea how this girl held it.  I thought I was going to have to teach her how to pee in the dirt on the side of the road!

(Ahhhhhhh....  Sweet relief!)

My parents were first to arrive, and then us.  While waiting for my brother and his crew, we decided to play on the playground:

Yes, WE:

When the rest of the crew arrived it was time to set up camp!  My parents and my brother had campers, so we "glamped" in a little cabin!

It was perfect for us!  So easy.

And then of course that night we had to have s'mores!

The next day we headed to Arches National Park.  It was spectacular!  Of course we had to take our standard family selfie!

And my awesome mother caught the moment on her camera, too!

We took lots of pictures and had fun exploring:

My favorite over the course of the weekend was Balanced Rock:

The kids had a great time hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa on this trip!

We went back to the park one night to do some stargazing, but as the sun went down...

...the full moon came up.  It was a pretty bright night sky.  The kids were a little disappointed, but it was still cool.  Oh, and both kids got a chance to pee in the desert.  Haha!  I had to teach Chloe some technique, but she was a pro!

We ate out for one meal, and again for frozen yogurt.  It felt like we took over the joint everywhere we went!

The rest of the time we cooked (OK, they cooked... I ate) at the campsites.

We shopped for souvenirs...

and swam...

(It was soooo hot!!!!)

The kiddos just had fun hanging out and being silly:

My brother and I took all the kids to the dinosaur park one day:

My kids were all excited because no one from Austin had apparently been there yet, so they got to put a pin in the visitors map!

After a weekend of adventure, it was time to go.  Reflecting on the trip as we drove home, there was something incredibly special about watching my kids bond with their cousins. They instantly clicked and on day one they were calling them their "friends." The kids (and I) are so thankful that Aunt Julia  taught them how to make a good s'more (because mom just sets the marshmallows on fire, you know!) and that Uncle Jeff tossed them all over the pool (to quote Chase: "He's so strong, Mom! How is he so much stronger than you?!?"). And Grandma and Grandpa are their (our) heroes for taking us to the Arches National Park over and over again for free!

On the drive home we had a cool surprise experience, just the three of us.  As we left, my kids were disappointed they never got to hike up to an arch and stand under it (due to time... and heat... and exhaustion!), but on our way out of town I just happened to see one off in the distance, and lo and behold there was a place to pull over and explore it!

We were not prepared for a hike at all but we went for it anyway. We hiked all the way to the top of this bad boy in flip flops (until we got to the top and just went barefoot because the rock was so smooth we were sliding right down)!

The few people up at the top thought we were nuts!  But it was SPECTACULAR.

The trek down was interesting...

...but we made it!  My my kids were PUMPED!!  What a cool way to end our time in Moab.

We made a little detour on the drive home to visit "4 Corners," where Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico come together.  We stood in a long line to stand on that spot, but it was cool.

(Chloe is standing in Utah, Chase is in Colorado and I have one foot in each of those two states!)

What an awesome trip.  Now that I know my kids have some adventure in them, we will take these kinds of excursions more often!

**Disclaimer: I stole some of these photos from my mom!

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