Sunday, December 21, 2008

"I'm Alive"

Well, if we still have any devoted readers out there, thanks for sticking with us through the drought of blog postings. However, we do have a good excuse. We lost our internet connection about the time we were planning on posting. It was out for over a week! Because of the inconvenience, and so we wouldn't cancel our contract, Comcast gave us a free month of service. But it was still very, very annoying. (Not too long ago we didn't even have internet. It's amazing what you get used to.)
So here's what we've been up to:
At the beginning of the month we visited Santa. On the way there, Elia said she was going to ask Santa to go on a rocket to another planet.(We always knew she was unique:) She ended up asking him for the usual; a candy cane. Yep, that is what she always asks Santa for. Maybe its because she knows he will give her one right then and there. At our church Christmas party though, she asked for a telescope. We didn't even know she knew that word! (Definitely reaching for the stars!) Ethan on the other hand, didn't want anything to do with Santa. That is why you don't see any pictures of Ethan with Santa without one of his parents. He REALLY wanted the bag of candy Santa was giving out though.

On December 4th, a monumental day in history, Jen got on an airplane without the kids! She had won Celine Dion tickets back when we lived in Glendale, and decided to take a mini-vacation and go back. At first she was planning on selling the tickets, but then her most wonderful, thoughtful husband, convinced her to go. (Thanks Honey!) She got to see lots of friends. She stayed the first night with the Giauques and the other two night with the Taggarts. She went to lunch with Erika and Katie, hung out with Paola, and got a make-up lesson from Kim. Thanks everyone! Katie and Jen went to the Celine Dion concert on Saturday night and had an amazing time. Being the novice at going to concerts that she was, the Taggarts helped her prep for the experience by listening to Celine music. She was an amazing performer and has an amazing voice. Did you know that Celine is the youngest of 14 kids? Man, we are only working on our third... we still have a long way to go to catch up to that.
Jen didn't know what to do without the kids, so luckily the Taggarts had cute Lance to keep her busy. The best part, well maybe not the Best part, but Jen really liked being able to read her book and go to the bathroom in the airport without company... all those of you with kids know what I mean! Jen, being the big ice cream fan that she is, really liked this sign, but we've been on another no sweets challenge since Thanksgiving. This time it only lasts until Christmas...but it may end sooner:)
Meanwhile while Jen was out gallivanting around Phoenix, Eric had a great time with the Kids. At one time Jen called and asked if he was surviving. His response was that he was Thriving! What a great honey and father! The big "event" of his weekend was his work Christmas party. They got to have their hands painted, Elia made about 10 ornaments, Ethan made 2, they received a hard-backed copy of "The Polar Express", and eat one cookie each. (As a break from the no sweet challenge.)
The week after Thanksgiving we bought our Christmas tree and began decorating for Christmas. We sort of forgot to take a picture of the completed tree, so that will come later...but not too later:)
Jen's mom came on Friday for Christmas and we are all ready for Thursday. We just barely put up our outside Christmas lights this weekend. Better late than never. We hope all of you are enjoying the Christmas season. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Whole Lot to be Thankful For

Well, our Thanksgiving break has come and gone. We started off by going to our ward's Turkey Bowl on Thursday morning. Jen even got to jump in and play some football. The kids had a blast playing with this large wooden pole on the sidelines with Aubrey and Lauren Ward and Karina Hulet:
After the Turkey Bowl we thought we would head to downtown Houston and help serve food at the Houston Superfeast. I thought since we didn't have family around, it would be nice to be able to help others out... well, we got there and (though it might not be true) it seemed like there were more volunteers than people to serve! Many of the volunteers were just standing around and others were waiting in lines of 10 or so to be able to volunteer when the current volunteers left! I'm glad there were so many people willing to help, but we didn't want to stand around and do nothing, so we drove home and put the kids down for a nap... we tried anyway.
In the evening we went over to the Hulets for a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. Shanna cooked one of the most moist turkeys we've ever had... and it was her first time! We had a great feast complete with Eric's super mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. The Hulets provided delicious homemade roles, Jell-O, stuffing, and Jason, their twelve-year-old, made super-rich chocolate cheesecake! The meal was complete with sparkling cider, sparkling grape juice and sparkling strawberry drinks. Hulets, you guys are amazing! Thanks for being our home away from home this Thanksgiving. We also played a few games with the family after dinner. Jason beat us all at "Are you smarter than a fifth grader" but we all think our questions were harder! :) It was so fun hanging out with them. Our kids love their kids and we all had a great time!
On Friday morning, my friend Amber and I got up at 3:50 A.M. to hit the sales. It isn't something I'd want to do alone, but I had a great time going with Amber. We hit Kohls, Wal-mart and of course Michaels and JoAnn's. I went a little overboard buying frames, but I love a good sale and will need them to decorate our house. In the afternoon we celebrated Amber's birthday with a little get together at the park. Can you believe we got all the kids together for a picture? Thanks Shanna for sending me the picture!
On Friday afternoon Eric went with the scouts on an overnight camping trip. I sent him with the camera with express instructions to bring home a picture for the blog... This is what he came up with:

Yep, nothing! And he calls himself my husband!
In any case, it rained on him and he hadn't put the rain fly up, he is somewhat shocked by 12-year-old boy behavior, and in spite of it all, had a great time :) I even talked him into camping out in our backyard with Elia last night. She slept like a log and he slept terribly. Yay, camping!
Really though, we are so blessed. Nothing like Thanksgiving to make you really remember. Of course we try to be thankful all year long, but we're reminded once again what wonderful, blessed lives we live.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Still adjusting (will that ever end?)

Another week has come and gone. I can't believe we've been in Texas for almost four months already! Things are going well... the kids and I spend a lot of time outside. The weather has been beautiful, even a little cold sometimes, but we have picnics at the park probably three of the five week days. The kids do so well together... Elia is still like a little second mom, telling Ethan what he can and can't do and picking him up to help him go places (even though he is perfectly capable of walking). For some reason he doesn't always like the help...
The house is slowly but surely getting into shape. This week we passed a huge milestone... we actually fit the car in the garage! Amazing... I know! A big thanks to the Ratliff clan who provided this year's fall foliage. They sent these beautifully laminated leaves... the leaves here in Texas just get ugly brown. We made a mobile of them and they hang above our kitchen table:
Ethan has officially given up morning naps. Sad time for our family, but he was taking a short morning nap and then complaining all afternoon. For his afternoon naps now, he usually climbs out of his crib, plays for a little and then climbs back in and goes to sleep, well, when I went in one day, this is where I found him.
I thought it was funny how close he was to his crib:
Next, the joys of home ownership. Our bathtub drain has been clogged... well, since we moved in. The water drained so slowly, but we just never got around to taking it apart. Eric finally did it and found this little gem:
What a nice home-warming present for us! Yech!

Now, for some real beauties. I was trying to take pics of the kids for Christmas cards this year. Here are a few of my favorites.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bad Things: Being Wrong and Spending Money

One quick note, this is my second post today, so check the post below too!
OK, so there are two things that rank right up the list of things I don't like: I don't like being wrong and I don't like spending big chunks of money (well, usually anyway... and especially if you can get things cheaper). Yesterday, both things happened!
So, Ethan, although he is 19-months-old, was still sitting in a rear-facing infant seat (as of yesterday) (contrast that to the fact that we were so excited Elia was growing that we moved her to a forward facing seat as soon as we could (about 13 months). He really was getting fed up with the seat and the problem was compounded when, not thinking strait, I would accidentally start buckling him in Elia's seat and then have to move him. So, we decided it was time to make the switch and give Elia's seat to Ethan and buy Elia a new booster seat. We went to Target and decided on a moderate booster seat that was $49. (A lot better than the $99-$125 that a toddler seat costs). I was pretty excited about saving some money (something that ranks right up there on my list of favorite things).
Then we were walking downtown and went into this children's store to look around and see if it was a place I could display my business cards. We saw another booster seat that latches into the car. Eric loved the fact that it didn't wiggle around and was convinced it was safer. I thought either would be fine on safety and I didn't want to pay $89 for this booster seat when I could pay $49. In any case, we bought it and decided to research both seats we had purchased and try them out. I should point out that the more expensive seat was on a "20% off" sale that ended today.
So, this morning, I, still convinced that my $49 would be fine, humored Eric as he "tested" both seats (see another big factor in the decision was that Elia needed to be able to still buckle herself). He tried out one seat and then the other, each time having Elia buckle herself in, about five times per seat. Reluctantly, I finally conceded that the $89 seat WAS better. It didn't wiggle around and seemed more secure, the belt seemed to be better positioned on Elia's shoulder, and Elia could buckle herself because the buckle didn't wiggle around as she was trying to fasten it.
I guess all is not lost though, Elia got lots of practice buckling herself in and last night Eric said that if we went with the $89 seat he would give me four 15-minute massages... I guess you win some and loose some, and though we're spending more of the kids' "allowance" than I would have liked, Eric definitely turned the situation into a win-win for all of us... hey, did he learn that in his business negotiations class?

Elia's election

So, I was thinking back over the past week about what has been happening and realized I didn't have any pictures! I know! Crazy! Not that we did anything too exciting, but still I usually have something!

However, I did have this poorly shot video and shot a second one this morning. So I would have SOMETHING to show for this week. Actually, the reason this week was so busy was that I was in charge of preschool... Yep, four three and four-year-olds were at my house for three hours on Tuesday and three hours on Thursday. Although having that much energy at once is always a little overwhelming we had a great time voting on Tuesday (I had the kids vote for President, VP, Governor and Mayor... which actually was a very interesting experiment in the way children think) and learning about the five senses on Thursday. Of course it is always very interesting to see how your child is with other children. I don't think she is like this at other houses (though maybe she is and I just don't know it), but Elia is very "in-charge" when preschool is at our house... Her quote, "The girls are in charge... My Mama is in charge and me and Lauren (the other girl in our group)." Poor guys! What is funny though is that both of the boys put themselves first in the voting activity. While both girls chose someone else to put first. I wonder if you could use that kind of activity to study what kind of personality a kid has... Hmmm. Any researchers out there? I know some good subjects!

In any case, we're teaching Ethan animal sound because it is just so fun to hear little kids attempt animal sounds and, let me tell you, Ethan LOVES animals... That is normal I know, but he won't choose any books besides books with real animal pictures. Sorry about how bad this first one is. You would think I would know more about light, but that combined with the fact that I had to rotate the video and it is squished a little makes the video really poor. Luckily, you really just have to listen.

Other than that, we've just been unpacking... I think the process will never end! So for now, have a great week! Oh, the only other great news is that I bought a boogie board at a garage sale for .50! I was pretty excited. TTFN!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween... and Scissors, our new pet!

Well, another Halloween has come and gone, our Tinkerbell and baby chick had a great time cruising the neighborhood and then cruising the car trunk line at church. You can't really tell, but I'm dressed as a Hogwarts student from Harry Potter. I have a red Harry Potter cape and I made a wooden wand. I even tied my own tie! (Thank goodness for the Internet). Elia loved going door-to-door and wasn't discouraged in the least when people weren't home. She was very good about saying "trick-or-treat", "thank-you", and "happy halloween" (people really loved when she said that).
Ethan picked up quickly on the idea of gathering candy. He wanted to eat it at first, but then we told him he had to put it in the bag, so he would hold out his hand, get the candy and put it in the bag. Then he would stop about five feet away from the door and try to take it out!

Our friends the Nielsens came over to join us for our neighborhood trick-or-treating. Robbie and Natalie came as a cute cowboy/cowgirl duo. We were very impressed that Natalie left her hat on the whole time!

Wow, how lucky! Three kids looking at the same time!

We went trick-or-treating first, then came home to pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters who came by our house. I didn't want to buy a huge bag of candy, but I did buy these cool glow-in-the-dark eye tatoos (you can kind of see one on Elia's arm in the picture above). So, when we got home, we sorted through our candy and gave most of what we didn't want away to those who came to our house, along with the tatoos. I'm sure they enjoyed getting a handful of candy (they didn't know they were getting our rejects) and I just didn't want a huge bag of left over candy at our house! The effects of candy fever will linger for long enough without additional candy to fuel it. We told Elia she could eat all the candy she wanted last night, but starting today she can only have a piece or two after lunch every day.
In other news, a new pet joined our family yesterday. Meet "Scissors":
This friendly little jumping spider joined Elia in her room yesterday. I had seen it before her nap and it was right on her pillow! Though I was freaked out, I appeared calm because I didn't want her to freak out. I moved the pillow and it disappeared. I looked all through her bed and on the floor, but couldn't find it. (She kept asking me what I was looking for, and I don't know what I said, but I didn't tell her it was a spider... talk about a nap inhibitor)! In the middle of her nap, I heard her calling me... turns out, "Scissors" as she would later be named is now on her window. I capture her and Elia asks if we can keep her for a pet. See, Elia loves bugs! I don't want her to know that many times, they creep me out, but I want her to not freak out about them, so for example, when she saw the cockroach and wanted to keep him, I calmly caught it and we gave it some leaves and kept him in a jar for a couple of days. When we went to the bug lab, they had these huge Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and Elia like them so much she held one twice! So, when she woke up and came downstairs to see the spider I asked what we would name it. She saw the scissors laying next to the "cage" and pronounced that that would be her name. Actually, I thought it was a pretty great name especially since it was Halloween! This morning, I took a few pictures of her before Elia released her outside in the garden. I should mention that after I caught her I did a little research on-line to identify what type she was. I found out that she wasn't harmful. (And yes, it is a girl... the female's eyes are greenish). I actually think this research made me like her A LITTLE more which made me more able to take a picture of her (though I was still leary about having her jump on me) so you could all enjoy our visiting pet.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Black Eyes, Birthdays and Muddy Underwear?

So, where do I start! It's been a little crazy around here (but what's new). I think I've mentioned that we joined a playgroup with three other moms who all have kids around Elia's age. It has worked out so well. Now there are two boys and two girls in the group. A week and a half ago we took the kids to the Children's Museum in downtown Houston. The kids loved dressing up (a precursory experience to Halloween) and pretending they were "newscasters": Our little "students" (l to r) Elia, Mark, Robby and Lauren
Captain Ethan at the periscope:
I thought it was so appropriate that Ethan was holding a fake corn on the cob from the museum's "market" while looking at this baby chick. I think the baby chick thinks it's real!
I went to a house to look at buying some things. The lady thought the kids were so cute she gave them a balloon animal kit. We've been making balloon animals all week! We've gotten pretty good... well, Eric has gotten better than I have, but alas, all the balloons are gone and there will be no more balloon animals. Ethan loved putting this monkey over his head.
I let the kids play outside while I was making dinner one night... it's one reason why I love having a backyard, but the underwear Elia had taken off so she could get in the paddling pool earlier in the afternoon, soon became her buried treasure!
OK, so this is kind of a random picture, but people have asked about Ethan's hair length and knowing I would want a picture when I eventually cut it, I've decided to share it with you:
Happy Birthday Papa! It was Eric's... 29th birthday yesterday. I put 3 candles on his cake telling him that he was close to 30 and 29 candles were too many! He's not sensitive about it, so I knew I could get away with the joke. We had Mexican corn which is cooked corn on the cob slathered with mayonnaise, queso seco (a dry crumbly cheese) and chili powder. Even Elia loved it! It is tradition to push the birthday boy's face in the cake (we had deliciously moist tres leches cake) and since I was taking pictures Elia kindly obliged:
After... what a good sport:Eric's work held a party for all of the kids. Elia, who I thought was going to go as Ariel since she's been talking about it since her birthday, chose instead to go as Tinkerbell... thanks in large part to the huge billboards with Tinkerbell all over the sides of the freeway. So... we brought out the wings I bought for her second Halloween when she was a little over 1 and the tutu I made largely for a photography prop last year.
Ethan dressed as a chicken... and I know we're biased, but boy was he cute!
Last but not least, you may have noticed the black eye in some of Ethan's pictures. He face planted into our tile step and what started out as a small cut developed into a black eye a couple days later...
... and because I have fun with this sort of stuff, I thought I would reveal the power of Photoshop. I loved the picture so much, but didn't want the black eye, so I took it out! You know all those perfect looking models in magazines? I'll leave it to you to deduce how they got that way!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pick your pumpkin

OK, so I've been neglecting the blog... perhaps it's because our whole house is full of boxes... yes, I KNOW it's been a whole week, but No, I don't have them all unpacked yet! :) I've taken a few pictures that I haven't posted, but have gotten so far behind that I'm not going to post those.
I'll just start from where we are now. The kids and I went to a pumpkin patch yesterday. I went with two other women from church. The kids had a blast with their boys and came home thoroughly exhausted! I was disappointed to learn that carved pumpkins only last about five days here in the humidity and heat. Elia was most excited that the pumpkin she picked out was of the "Cinderella" variety.
The Griffiths boys:
Wonder Woman (Elia probably gets her muscles from carrying Ethan all the time): Our little family (minus Papa)... doesn't Ethan look thrilled?:
This is my favorite picture! I'm not sure if this is Ethan's idea of a kiss or that he already knows how to torment girls ;)
The kids slept all the way home and I parked under the tree in front of our house and read while they kept sleeping.
In the evening, was another example of how great our ward has been. It's only been a week since we moved in and my visiting teachers came with flowers and a Twix for my birthday our home teachers also came with warm chocolate cake! Yep! It was my birthday. It was nice to have such thoughtfulness, because unfortunately, Eric is out of town... we'll celebrate when he gets back. My mom said she felt bad for me having to celebrate my birthday by myself and said she would pay for my dinner tonight but that I had to go to a place that would sing me happy birthday. I'm trying to figure out how to tell the waiters it is my own birthday... maybe I'll have Elia do it... but it is worth a free dinner!