Tiny Tales Thursday...

"Emmy, where is the sock that you took off your feet three minutes ago?"

Emmy: I don't remember...

Also Emmy: Mom! Remember last year when Alfie (the dang elf) came to our house? He was on the kitchen table and brought us sugary cereal and made us breakfast! That was December 1st so I bet he does the same thing for tomorrow.



Trim trim the tree...

The past couple of years I just couldn't help myself and had the entire house decorated for Christmas by Thanksgiving. My past self would be appalled. For some reason this year I decided to wait and we started decorating the night of Thanksgiving. By that Sunday, everything was up and we just had to trim the tree!

Emmy was pretty excited!

Radley was completely compliant. 

And Landry did whatever she wanted and stuck 86 ornaments in the same place.  

Next up: Santa letters! 

Since we had already had all the fun we could possibly experience at Disney World, Ryan and I encouraged the kids to keep their lists simple so Santa could focus on boys and girls that had bigger needs than we do. 

The kids were really agreeable and didn't try to charm their way into more list making than necessary. Something tells me that Santa is going to fill up their stockings and leave them lots of goodies!


Surf and Turf-ey Day...

We made the executive decision to have a low-key Thanksgiving this year... and it may have been the smartest thing I've ever done in the history of ever. 

On Wednesday the kids and I made all of the desserts which consisted of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, cool whip pie and this delicious pumpkin dump cake

Instead of making a ton of food that we wouldn't be able to eat, we decided on steaks and salmon and our favorite sides which left us lots of time for eating those cookies... 

practicing music... 

and enjoying the perfect fall day.

The day was simple and filled with a whole lot of nothing special...

which usually makes the event that much more spectacular. 

A day to spent with this crew is worthy of all my thanks each and every day!


Santa Paws...

We have a long standing tradition of heading to Downtown Bryan for their annual Lights On! event. People from BCS gather around the square and wait for a very special guest to arrive to turn on the lights. Kids and parents are treated to musical performances by local choirs and bands and our crew got a front row seat to enjoy the festivities. 

Not pictured: Emersyn DIRECTING the kids sitting down in an attempt to get them to singalong. 

The big guy finally arrived to do the honors! In this situation one would assume that Elvis had just entered the room. Kids are screaming, crying, jumping up and down to get his attention, begging for a high five and a piece of candy. Chaos ensues as Santa walks away... 

We obviously couldn't leave without a picture in our shorts, skirts and Santa shirts because, well.. it's Texas and still hot outside. We actually almost missed the celebration, Emersyn had stayed home sick all day but rallied in the afternoon and begged to still go. 

Turns out she was just feeling the power of children's Motrin and crashed halfway through dinner. Luckily Ryan got off work in time to come pick her up and put her to bed early. The rest of us enjoyed some not-so-good-for-you but delicious Mexican food before heading home. 

The next morning these two headed to their school with me for the annual Paws to the Pavement! I love that our school hosts a free event for the community. Any and everyone can register for free and shirts are free for all the kids - it's such an incredible way to encourage getting out as a family!

As I watched Landry I was immediately taken back to being the littlest of three. All the "big kids" knew who she was and she just thought that was the most awesome thing ever. I did, too... I mean...

Of course I made them pose for too many pictures and they clearly loved every second of it... 

and then they all lined up for the big 1K event... 

taking the race VERY seriously... 

and speeding by me lightening fast. I mean, look at the hair. 

Rad told me he kept his pace slow since he was also going to run the 5K. 

 I don't actually know if Landry ran or giggled more. 

But she was pretty precious to watch. 

And only a little out of breath at the end. 

We had a great Saturday morning with friends and came home with a new shiny medal and lots of fun memories!


Texas Forever...

Emmy was super excited about the week off from school for our trip to Disney, but she was also a little sad that she would miss her big field trip experience. And to be honest, I was, too! Luckily the field trip experience was the following week and I got to travel along as a chaperone. (Honestly, I'd volunteer to go on this one every year because it is so much fun!) 

We loaded up and headed to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville. Maybe you're thinking that doesn't sound exciting, but how could you not love an entire day learning about the life of someone that is the original "Texas forever" guy? 

Once again, I was enlightened by the amazing life and accomplishments of this Texas legend. (And maybe also that I should have paid closer attention in the YEARS of Texas history that we take.)

Notable facts about ol' Sam...

 At 16, he ran away from home and lived with the Cherokee, he is even adopted by them 
He opened a school to pay off a $300 debt (y'all he wasn't a teacher - but he started a school)
 He is the only person to be Governor of two states
He was adamantly against Texas secession/joining the confederacy and because of this is deposed as Governor
His last words are said to have been, "Texas, Texas, Margaret"... 

(I mean, maybe he could have said his wife's name first, but he realllllly loved Texas). 

The kids aren't as into all these cool facts about a Texas legend but they love getting to walk around this property and learn about pioneer life. 

After touring their family home, the tour separates between the boys and girls so each get a taste of what life was like during this time period. When I went with Radley, I got a taste of all the work the men did on the homestead, so I was looking forward to all the work the women would do, too! The women head straight for the kitchen, which was a separate structure from the home to get started on meal prep for the day.

Each person gets to do their part in making fresh cornbread (and Emmy was extra excited because she got to crack the eggs). 

Meanwhile, these men were responsible for chopping the wood to be used in the kitchen... each person had to do their part!

After all the cooking it was time for everyone's favorite chore - laundry!

(Honestly, I love doing laundry. I'm weird.)

They got to soak..


and dry with a "mangler" which was given the name because if your fingers get too close they run the risk of getting "mangled". Ouch!

The cutest group of pioneer women I've ever seen.

 We were done with laundry just in time for the cornbread to finish baking... literally fresh out of the fire complete with fresh butter. (If you want to make some butter at home, we just put whipping cream and salt in a mason jar and shook until it became butter!)

The cornbread was just the appetizer to the very pioneer lunch break of doritos, subs, gatorade, and potentially a few fruit roll-ups. 

Whenever I get to be with any of the kids' classes, my mind can't help but wonder who this dynamic group of kiddos will become. They are full of enthusiasm, creativity, imagination, kindness and grit and the possibilities are endless as to what they can do. I love getting to sit in on their day and watch them learn, listen to them giggle and witness them discover something new. 

Who knows... in 100 years another group of second graders could be touring a museum about one (or more) of them!


We5Kings of Disney: Magic Kingdom Christmas

Well, we ended where we began and headed back to Magic Kingdom for our last day at Disney. 

I'm not sure I was prepared for just how happy and sad I could be at the same time. On one hand, we were at Disney, at Christmas time, in Mickey Rudolf shirts (thanks, Taylor!) with Christmas music playing...HAPPY! On the other hand, it was our last day and we didn't want it to end... sad. 

Once again, we were actually inside the park before it opened so we got the lovely surprise of Mickey and Friends welcoming us to Magic Kingdom! Seriously the best start to any day ever. 

We had our sights on Space Mountain in Tomorrowland so we didn't want to move any closer - but we still had great seats for this morning treat!

While Radley and Ryan took on Space Mountain, the girls and I found a "roller coaster" made for Landry. And of course by roller coaster, I mean the People Mover in Tomorrowland that's just a train ride through that section of the park - ha! They loved it so much they convinced Ryan and Radley to join us for round two... 

I couldn't believe how empty the park was this day. We didn't wait in line for more than 10 minutes for any ride - we did the tea cups four times in a row. Correction - THEY did the tea cups four times in a row. I did it twice then volunteered to take pictures. 

We stormed the barn with Goofy (Landry did not love that ride), flew the skies with Dumbo... 

and then headed to a special surprise visit with one of our favorites. Enchanted Tales with Belle was a delight - every single person in the room could participate if they wanted and Radley was pumped to be chosen as "Belle's dad". :) 

And then I saw Landry smile bigger than I'd ever seen her smile before!

I was just so amazed by how open the park felt - we really got to see and do so much that morning which was an amazing gift because we knew we were going to head back to our hotel for lunch and naps!

We had fast passes to the 7 Dwarf Mine Train and tried as hard as we could to convince Landry to go. She refused, so away Emmy and I went while Ryan and Radley waited for their turn with Landry. This may have actually been one of my favorite rides - so fun!! And the ending with the Dwarves was just adorable. Emersyn was all smiles and tried to convince Landry to go with Ryan and Radley... 

but all her smooth talking didn't work and the boys braved the first row all alone!

We finally sat and watched a parade - well at least part of one - the kids weren't that interested in stopping during the day so we never pressed them. 

We made our way back toward the front of the park...

and stopped for just "one more" picture... 

before heading back to the hotel for lunch, swimming and mandatory naps! I took the most amazing two-hour nap of my life... better than the day I got back from Fish Camp. Better than the first post-baby nap at home. Better than the random nap on the couch after church on Sunday. Seriously, this nap was glorious and so needed because we had big plans that night... 

that included dinner with a princess...

Emmy's fingers were crossed for who the other guests to the party would be!

And she wasn't disappointed at all!

After dinner, we had tickets to the biggest Christmas party of the season and the kids were thrilled! We got an additional wristband to wear to show that we got to be in the park for extended hours. Radley made it his job to be on wristband patrol, because he doesn't love a rule breaker. I tried to gently remind him that the Disney employees were perfectly capable of patrolling the park and that nobody likes a snitch!

We made our way through the park sampling cookies and hot chocolate and getting on our favorite rides just one more time. Then we heard a special guest was making an appearance to light the castle using her magic ice powers. I was honestly too caught up in watching them be filled with excitement to try and take pictures. I did manage to capture Landry's attempt to get Anna's attention "ANNA! ANNA! ANNA!!!" 

(Can we also pause and appreciate that their hair withstood the Florida humidity all night long with zero product.) 

Since were right next to Tomorrowland and Radley wanted to ride Space Mountain "one more time" and there were hardly ANY lines because everyone was waiting to meet their favorite characters tucked away in some part of the park, we took that as an opportunity to get some rides in. Landry was especially thrilled to be back on the "roller coaster" - haha!

The Christmas Party was awesome - at times a bit overwhelming because you really had to choose what you wanted to do and see. There was a party or parade or show or character meeting nearly every minute of the entire event... we really just tried to focus on each other and enjoying the magic of it all. There is nothing like Cinderella's castle all lit for Christmas and we enjoyed every minute of being there. 

Radley and I went on a mission to find THE spot for the big firework show ... 

and I think we nailed it. 

Here's a little peek into the live show...

We still had three hours left in the park but we noticed that lots of families with young children were leaving which freed up the lines to meet some of the "secret characters" that were making a special appearance for the Christmas party only. When the girls noticed Moana they absolutely FLIPPED OUT. She is one of their favorites simply because she looks like them. Dark hair, dark skin, brown eyes... they were absolutely meeting one of their heroes. 

And then we turned around an Jasmine was just across the way with her friend, Genie. A character spot for all to enjoy. I managed to whisper to the cast member that helps with the meet and greets that we had just met Jasmine at dinner... as soon as the girls walked up, she said, "Oh, Genie, look... these are the friends I was telling you about. We just met at dinner with Cinderella." 

Y'all. They were in heaven. 

We rode Aladdin's magic carpet (three times), braved a jungle boat tour, and Ryan and Rad hit Big Thunder Mountain one more time before we really had to say our goodbyes. We were walking out of the park at 12:30am with happy/sad tears in our eyes. 

I've dreamed about taking my kids to Disney World since before I met them. And while this was a Christmas present to them, the gift was really given to Ryan and me.

Merry Christmas!