Friday, December 14, 2012

Recent Sweets - Christmas edition

 As we gear up for Christmas we have some excited boys around here. Lucas has been drawing lots of cool pictures of Santa, Elves, Army Elves, etc. He's also written some fun notes to Santa. Here's one from school that I love:
 Last night for homework he had to write about which holiday he celebrated. He really got into it and I was really proud of him for writing about the true meaning of Christmas without being prompted.

I just love that boy so much. He's such a sweetie and I'm so impressed with him.

Last weekend was Ben's work party. We didn't dress up like elves or anything cool, BUT a quiet guy from the office totally rocked a Santa outfit! They had a photobooth, so we hopped in before we got food in our teeth.
 This year our Christmas will be a little funky (just how I like it) and we are flying to ABQ on Christmas afternoon. BUT, while we are gone, there's a good chance our house will get torn apart and have new tile put in because our original tile is messed up. Long story short, we'll have to empty furniture out before we leave. I don't want to take a big live tree down in a hurry, so instead I bought a little tiny 5' skinny tree. (I originally wanted a forest with 3' and 4' trees also, but the price was too high, so I just got the one). Lucas was pretty disappointed when I pulled it out of the box, but once we turned on the lights he was pleased. I think Evan liked it from the beginning. He is so cute when he gleefully screams, "Merry Christmas!" Tonight the boys decorated the tree and they love it. It's so... different :). Pics will come eventually.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sweetness is...

A cute boy who helped his dad make Mom's birthday breakfast:
An excited kiddo going over "the big big bridge" aka the 290 flyover:
Three lovely dolphins waiting for a snack:

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Sea World Thanksgiving

This year for Thanksgiving we stayed in town again. And, if you haven't noticed, sometimes when a holiday isn't going to be "normal," like going to be with the family, I like to just make it all crazy. Part of me doesn't want to make a big holiday meal for the four of us, and part of me knows I'll just be sad if I do and we have no one to share it with. So, this year we headed to Sea World on Thanksgiving.

It was a perfect day. Lucas was such a good boy in the morning, helping as we got ready. He even cleaned up an entire bag of trail mix that Evan spilled on the floor. And once we got to Sea World, both kids were still really well behaved. We had nary a fit to deal with, and only a mere whimper at the suggestion that Lucas try a big roller coaster (which would have been a horrible idea).

The boys loved the animal shows. My favorite was the dolphin show where there are people performing - divers, acrobats and synchronized swimmers.

The boys loved the little Sesame Street land where they could climb to new heights and crawl through tunnels that freaked out the bravest of claustrophobic moms.

For dinner we didn't break Thanksgiving tradition too much. Well, sort of. The four of us, like a little lion family, dined on one turkey leg. Yes, the same turkey leg I usually scoff at. It was my first turkey leg ever, as I am usually disgusted by the sight of people, like cavemen, gnawing on a huge hunk of meat. But, it was quite an economical decision, as it did feed all four of us for $8. And it also provided for some excellent photo ops. We also ate at a perfect little spot, by the river ride under some beautiful trees.

Evan was really sad that he couldn't go on the roller coasters. He thought they were trains. The boys did go on a little train ride, though, while I was in line at a roller coaster. Then later, I told him that the little Shamu roller coaster was a train... it wasn't really. It was a lot faster than I thought it would be. Oops.

Ben and I did get to go on a ride together. I was in line and he waited at the exit for me, so we could switch when I was done. A lady next to me in line, who wasn't going to ride with her kids, volunteered to watch our kids while we went. So, she and her family stayed with ours at the exit while we road. She told us she didn't want any more kids and wouldn't steal them. But, I knew they were good people because before I ever talked to them, her husband reminded me of my very own brother. And, yes, Evan cried a little. But Ben and I had fun riding a roller coaster together and it was terrifying, so I'm glad we could scream together. That was our anniversary date!

I loved that they had all their Christmas lights up. It was so pretty. At the end of the night we walked by the Candy Cane Forest and there was a quaint little concert going on. We sat at a table and enjoyed the show, while Ben went in search of a funnel cake. He was successful in his conquest and we enjoyed funnel cake while we listened to a really good local musician.

As we left the park we swung by the aquarium and saw some sharks. At the car we put the boys in their jammies and they were both asleep within minutes of driving away.

We tinkered with the idea of staying the night and going back on Friday, but instead we drove home and finally stopped at Buc-ee's. Yes, it was as amazing as legend tells. Both boys slept most of the way home. Evan was starting to get sick, which began our next adventure - 5 days of croup.

I sure love my boys and I'm glad we had such a fun Thanksgiving adventure. I liked it so much I think we'll go back soon. Like maybe tomorrow!

(And yes, we had a real Thanksgiving/family anniversary dinner on Friday since we were stuck home with a poor sick baby. It was great. And Saturday was my birthday. The boys made a lovely breakfast, then Ben and Lucas went to a fun run our friends organized while Evan and I stayed home sick and sad. After that Lucas was at a friend's birthday from 11-6! It was a lazy day for us at home, which was nice.)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Surprise Vacation - Day 1

OK, so back to the magical vacation that I mentioned two weeks ago...

My mom showed up on a Wednesday night. Before bed that night Ben informed me that we would be leaving for a trip on Monday. And not coming back for FIVE (5) days. That may not seem like a long time to most of you, but for a girl who has never ever left her kids before, it's a very long time. I was worried about my poor Mom who volunteered herself for (what I was sure to be) a week of pure hell. I was sure the kids would take advantage of her and drive her insane.
Over the next few days I had my mom drive and gain her bearings on town. She tried to learn the routine around here, and by Sunday night I was pretty confident. Although, I still thought the kids might torture her.

Ben told me he had to go to work Sunday afternoon for a bit, so off we went around 4:00. While he was gone my mom stayed upstairs and did laundry and stuff. I just played with Lucas. When Ben came back about an hour later and I saw someone in the garage with him.  Lo and behold, Ben had not been at work! He had been at the airport picking up Chris and Amy!! (Chris and Ben grew up together and got into all sorts of trouble together). AND, Chris and Amy's anniversary just happens to be the day after our's, so they deserved a little vacay, too. Plus, we were supposed to go to Cancun with them back in 2005, but then Hurricane Wilma came and ruined our plans. Instead Ben and I ended up going on a cruise... alone. So, now we got to make up for a lost vacation.

Anyhow, we had a fun dinner Sunday night. Bedtime was hard for me because Evan wanted me to hold him instead of getting in his bed and it made me cry and Ben had to intervene. Lucas was a stud though. Monday morning we had to leave around 8:00. Lucas was awake (of course) and Evan was asleep (thank goodness). We said our goodbyes and Lucas was a champ - and so was I! We headed down the road and I still didn't know where we were going. I was guessing either South Padre Island, a cruise, or a flight to somewhere like Florida or some cool island off the coast of Georgia or the Carolinas. A cruise out of Galveston was most likely, but I also considered a cruise out of New Orleans. Ben took a road away from the airport, but then went back by the airport and was trying to trick me the whole time. Along our way we wanted to stop at a Buc-ee's gas station because they are supposed to the the paradise of gas stations. We stopped by one that was almost done being built in Bastrop and that was where I found out where we were going! See, Ben almost (and by almost I mean within 30 feet) got backed over by a tractor. And then he said, "That'd be awesome if we missed our cruise because we got in an accident at Buc-ee's!" Then I looked back at Amy and Chris and stared. Then Ben realized what he had said. He felt bad, but I was happy to know because THEN we could start talking about our trip and what we wanted to do, etc.
Anyhow, we kept driving and eventually got to Galveston, parked our car, and waited in a bazillion long lines that finally led us to our ship, the Carnival Triumph. A few things about starting off the cruise - we were glad we kept our bags with us, the lines are lame, but good for people watching, people brought a lot of water with them. A lot. We didn't and we didn't die. Actually, we brought a lot of Gatorade and didn't drink any.

We got on the boat where they promptly offer you a $10 fancy drink in a ridiculous souvenir cup, and we found our rooms. Chris and Amy got a balcony room on the 7th floor. We had a window room on the first floor, under the restaurant area. We considered upgrading to a balcony room, but I was happy being contained in my room (you know all those stories about people getting "lost" on cruise ships... Plus, I'm weird. I'm afraid of boats, dark water, dirty water, and algae, so I prefer being behind glass). Our room did smell a little funky from time to time b/c it was by the restaurant, but it was ok. (Next time I'm bringing a plug in air freshener).
This is a pic of our room as we were packing up on the last day.

The first afternoon we just explored the ship. Tried to find where everything was, etc. We were in the 8:15 dinner group, which seemed so crazy, since that's normally when kids are going to sleep. But we got used to it and really liked that it gave us more time to do stuff before dinner like workout or take a nap!
Dinner was awesome. We had great servers and we scored a table for just the four of us on the upper level of the dining room so we had a great view of all the people. For dinner the first night I had broccoli soup, salmon and black forest cake for dessert. Ben had a yummy cinnamon/pumpkin/squash/parsnip pot pie.
After dinner we played games in a lounge. We like to play games a lot, so we spent HOURS playing games with Chris and Amy.
And I love sleeping on cruise ships and being rocked to sleep. LOVE it.
I'll blog about the rest of the trip next. And I'll try not to write so much. Sorry, but this is my journal!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Surprise Vacation, Days 2-5

And now for the rest of the story of the 5 days we ate and ate and played and played. We knew that chances were high of us packing some pounds on this trip, so we took precautions and took the stairs EVERY time we went anywhere. Which made being on the first floor a blessing in that regard - meaning it was more torture.

Tuesday morning we woke up and went to the awesome fitness center. Ben and I had a lot of fun working out together, which we never get to do. We ran and lifted weights. (BTW, the fitness center crowd is quite different than the center pool/party crowd). Loved the fitness center :).

After showers we met Chris and Amy for breakfast, then lounged on the deck and eventually ended up playing games at what would eventually be named "The Perch" until lunch. For lunch we only had salad and dessert. Quite a combo!
"The Perch"
The view from The Perch
 That afternoon we tried out the waterslide, which was really fun, despite getting nasty saltwater in our eyes. Ben and I were all stoked to go back to the gym before dinner, but instead might have fallen asleep. We were taking a nap at 5:15 and I remember thinking of my poor mom and how that was the hardest part of the day for me!
There were several pools, this is the main pool, where there is a huge movie screen and loud music all the time.

At 7:30 we went to a family friendly comedy show. The comedian was pretty annoying. Ben couldn't stand him. One other night we went to the late night show and he was disgusting and raunchy. Apparently he has to count on shock value. Anyhow, I digress...
Tuesday's dinner was the formal night. The food was, of course, delicious. I had strawberry soup (basically tastes like melted strawberry ice cream), eggplant/zucchini parmesan. Ben had stuffed mushrooms and lobster. The four of us tried alligator, too. Like little alligator fritter things, more bread than gator.
For dessert I got chocolate melting cake. And I fell in love with the warm chocolate, gooey center, and vanilla ice cream. So. Dang. Good. Recipe HERE.
Amy asked for crème brûlée as a joke, and they said they'd try to have some made just for her on another night!
After dinner we put on comfy clothes and played cards at an area outside the nightclub. It was pretty funny. We got some looks, but we had an excellent soundtrack. Went to bed at 12:30 or so.

Wednesday morning we arrived in Progresso, Mexico. The four of us hopped on a bus for two hours and headed to Chichen Itza. We went through a little town where we could shop and we picked up our sack lunches there. We had read bad reviews about the lunch, and those reviews were correct! I ordered a vegetarian lunch to spare me from the mystery meat and it was still gross.
The ruins were amazing. Chichen Itza is one of the Wonders of the World now and you can't climb up the ruins anymore. Also, the world isn't ending this December. The Mayan calendar just starts over. And they told us that the movie Apocalypto was very dramatized. They didn't sacrifice tons of people on top of the pyramid (just a few). Most were done at a well. Men, women and children. When I thought about poor little kids being sacrificed I thought about my little kids at home and started to cry a little.

The only annoying thing about Chichen Itza (aside from the humidity and heat) were the people selling stuff EVERYWHERE. It's a miracle they aren't in this picture with us! They would follow around the tour group and say, "Cheaper than Wal-mart! Almost free! I'm going out of business today!" Then have booths set up along the whole place. Oh, and it was funny because Ben didn't want to look all touristy, yet he was twice as tall as some of the locals. Silly Ben. Some of those Mayan ladies were so tiny.

Now that we got our cultural experience out of the way, Thursday was all about FUN! Cozumel fun. When we went on a cruise in 2005 it was right after Hurricane Wilma and the water was murky. This time it was an amazing color of turquoise blue. We went to Chankanaab National Park, which was heavenly and beautiful.

We went kayaking in clear kayaks and then snorkeling. Kayaking in a big group was kind of a pain because we weren't allowed to leave the group, so we had to go kind of slow and bump into people (which drives me insane, because someone else thinks its funny). But it was still fun. Snorkeling was awesome! We saw a lot of pretty fish, some rays, a couple huge grouper. One fish swam right in front of me and pooped. I managed to narrowly escape the soaring poop - now that's excitement!  

After snorkeling we had about 45 minutes to hang out. We sat under this little cabana and ordered some fajitas and chips and guac. Ben was even manly enough to order a virgin piña colada.
We hustled back to town in our taxi to get in 30 minutes of shopping. None of us had bought anything for our kids or awesome Mom's, so we were freaking out. We managed to grab our kids some maracas and got a couple cool silver/shell pendants for my mom and me, and made it back to the ship in time!
Friday was another day at sea. Which meant we got to play a lot of games. We played at what would be known as "The (Watering) Hole" that day. Which was at the back of the boat, with a great view of the water. We sat next to a table of really old people who also enjoyed playing games. They probably thought we were weirdos :).
"The Hole"
We spent time lounging on the deck, played some shuffleboard, and took pictures of the ship for the kids. We also got to see a lovely sunset.

Dinner that night was delicious as always. Our awesome servers, Lin and Erdie, totally pulled through and had crème brûlée for our dessert... as well as some other things, like maybe a chocolate melting cake and a baked Alaska.

Erdie, Lin

Saturday morning we had our last breakfast at The Perch. Then we waited to get off the boat. BUT, we kept hearing them page Seth Turner. And then we saw cops looking all over the boat for him! We think he probably picked up some illegal merchandise in Mexico and put it in his suitcase, that he set out the night before. THEN the drug dog discovered his purchase. But that's just our guess. So, good old Seth slowed our disembarkation, but we eventually got off the boat and waited in line to go through customs. 
We kept our bags with us getting on and off the ship, which we highly recommend (they'll take them and deliver them to your room if you want). Everyone on our floor got a note on their doors Friday night asking if they found a bag that wasn't theirs. Some poor person didn't have their luggage ALL WEEK! How dreadful. 
Once we got to the car we headed straight to the Austin airport to drop Chris and Amy off. (We never found a Buc-ees).
So, notes for your cruise: Carry luggage, bring a plug in Scentsy or something, bring a jacket - the ship is freezing at times, eat chocolate melting cake every day, take the stairs everywhere. Be prepared to wait in line a lot the first and last day, if you're claustrophobic don't go to the muster station on time for the safety briefing. You wait forEVER.
When we weighed ourselves back in Austin, Ben had only gained one pound and I gained no pounds. Pretty impressive, I think.
I'm so glad Ben planned such a fun trip, and I'm glad he gave me a few days notice! I would have freaked out otherwise. He's so awesome and we had such a wonderful time with our friends. It was nice to get away for a while and do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Ben was disappointed that I couldn't sleep in later. I think we were up by 7 every day, so we were exhausted at night and still stayed up late. When we saw people with strollers and whiny kids we all just smiled to ourselves. We did miss our kids, though, and I'm happy to report that my boys were very good for my mom. Evan didn't even ask about us (yes, I'm a little offended) and I'm so glad they both behaved. Thanks, Mom, for being such a trooper. We owe you big time!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


 We had a fun Halloween. We had a little Batman and a little pirate. We went to the party at church and the kids had lots of fun and ate a fair amount of sugar... They got to listen to a story, bob for apples (L) , eat a donut on a string (L) and go through Dad's haunted house, which scared both of them even though the bloody boys tried to be really nice to them :).
 There was some good action outside between Batman and Spiderman. It was pretty fun.
 As always it's nearly impossible to get a good group shot, but we tried. 
And that's Ben in his scary mask, drawn on with a highlighter for the blacklight room.
 I think I'll let them eat ALL the candy they want today and hopefully it will be gone by tomorrow. (We didn't get too much since Evan didn't really care and Lucas had his head stuck in a barrel of water looking for apples half the time).

Friday, October 5, 2012

Airplanes, Nudity, and Pink Pillows

It's high time Evan had a blog post all to himself. I've been meaning to write one just about Evan since the middle of the summer, but instead I spent a lot of time at the pool. Oops.
Evan is such a sweet boy. He's growing up so big. SO BIG. He's solid. 35 pounds of solidness, to be exact... or almost exact. 

I just went through a bunch of pics from the past year. Here is Evan a year ago exactly. We were in Hawaii visiting Lisa. Remember that? That was so fun. His hair was perfect. Strawberry blonde, perfectly parted and swept to the side. Then... it just changed. It's blonde and it just sticks up. It's so soft and fluffy. He gets A LOT of compliments on his hair, though. People love to come run their fingers through it. He's like a lucky troll doll... But I don't know if people really LOVE his hair, or if they "love" it like they "love" these shoes of mine.

Evan is such a fun boy. He's hilarious and he does really silly things, and gets himself into funny situations.  
Like getting stuck in a bucket.
Or sitting in the drawer of the train table.

Or getting in the bathtub IN HIS CLOTHES. Once before he was ready for bed, once after he had already had his bath and gotten ready for bed.
If Evan is hungry and you ignore him, he'll take matters into his own hands. If the kid wants a tortilla, he'll eat a freakin' tortilla. I've gone through two packages of tortillas with bite marks on them.
He likes to read on the potty. I wish he liked to go potty on the potty more, but it's ok.
Evan has a beautiful smile. He's so happy and I love his little sweet face.

Newsflash: Evan LOVES airplanes! Everything can be an airplane. Below, you'll see airplane hanger, airplane truck, airplane popsicle sticks, and an airplane fingernail clipper. He also really appreciates when we get mail from Southwest Airlines. Oh, and down there on the right you can see he made an airplane out of some little cracker sticks. If there's a loose paper in the house, he will ask for you to make a paper airplane out of it.

A couple weekends ago we took the kids to watch airplanes landing at the airport. Ben got online and found a cemetery close to the airport where photographers like to go watch planes. Weird to hang out in a cemetery? Yes. But the kids loved seeing the planes.

Lucas took pics with Ben's phone and then they had fun looking at them after the plane passed.

Evan still loves his pink pillow. He'll probably love it forever. 
Oh, and let me tell you... It's a miracle Evan has clothes on in all these pictures. Evan recently became a nudist. He hates wearing clothes. He knows he has to wear clothes when we go somewhere or when friends come over. But, the second we walk in the door he's asking for help to take his shirt off, and he's pulling his pants down. Can't blame him...

My Mom came to town a couple days ago. After her arrival Ben informed me that I had to plan and get ready to leave town on Monday. I thought he meant for a daytrip, but he meant for 5 days! My mom came to town so we could go on a trip for our 10th anniversary! Those tricksters. 
I don't know where we're going, but I'm really thankful that my mom came to take care of the boys. I've never been away from Lucas for more than a couple nights, and I've NEVER been away from Evan. Except for that one time Lucas got his tonsils out... Anyhow, say prayers that we all do ok :). 
Love my boys. I hope they're nice to my mommy. I guess I better make sure she can make a paper airplane.