Monday, August 14, 2017

Back to School

School started for our kids today. I can't believe how quickly the summer came and went. We spent most of our time relaxing at home, playing games, swimming, and gathering with friends. The kids had a wide variety of camps this year. They did camps for Lego robotics and Minecraft; outdoor adventures with kayaking, hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, and biking; ice skating; water parks; amusement parks; and more...I wish I could take the summers off!

Although none of us were quite ready for summer to end this year, Jackson and Audrey were excited to get back to school to see their friends. We took our traditional first day of school pictures before walking to school this morning. Jackson's ideas for what he wants to be when he grows up continue to evolve. This year he's narrowed it down to either a video game or robot designer, and if that doesn't work out, he'll be an animal tamer!

Audrey wants to be a mom that can work from home when she grows up. To help make some money she wants to be a dog breeder. She says that would mean she gets to play with puppies all the time! She also wants to be an artist for fun...specifically doing sketches like her Pop.

Both kids had a great first day. When asked about the good and bad parts of their day, both kids mentioned how nice their teachers were and listed the friends they were thankful to have in their classes. The only bad part of either of their days was simply that their teachers were strict...a good sign in my mind! I'm certainly grateful for these two smiling faces!

There are a few more pictures from the morning in the album.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Happy New Year!...just a little late

Now that we're a little more than half way through the year, let me share how we celebrated the beginning of 2017. It was a fun-filled evening with my dad and the Tims family. We did an hourly scavenger hunt, which led to cans of silly string in the backyard at one point.

In between the surprises, we played lots of games. Of course, the final clue led to confetti poppers and noise makers with some sparkling apple cider for the kids to toast.

We couldn't ask for a better way to ring in the New Year than with some of our favorite people and a lot of fun!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Christmas Memories

Do you still remember Christmas? I'm terribly behind on blog updates, so five months later I'm trying to remember what we did. I'm glad we got a few pictures to help us remember!

Christmas always begins shortly after we return home from Thanksgiving when we pick out our tree. This year was no different. Although, it was raining this time. Of course, that didn't slow us down! We still had fun hiking through the farm to find just the right tree.

Nana was the first visitor to arrive for the holidays. Needless to say, they were excited to see her and loved their gifts!

Grandmother and the Rodriguez family, minus Uncle Philip, were the next to arrive. Jackson and Audrey were so excited to spend some time with their cousins!

I love the next set of pictures from a visit to the park down the street because they show a little of everyone's personality. Audrey is our little monkey and loves to swing around whenever she gets the chance. Jackson is our little sweetheart and was picking flowers for his mom. Mitchell was determined to do things his way in his own time, and when he did, he conquered all!

The San Jose Tech Museum was on our list of adventures during their visit. They enjoyed building roller coasters, flying an astronaut jet pack, and experiencing earthquakes. They also got to enjoy the Christmas festival in the park, which included lots of fun rides! Audrey also squeezed in a little dress-up time while they were here.

Of course, we also enjoyed some down time around the house and exchanged a few gifts. There was a lot of imaginary play as well as board games. It was a lot of fun to watch Jackson and Mitchell playing chess.

Before we knew it, our first round of visitors were gone and Christmas was here! Our family had the privilege of lighting the advent candle at our church on Christmas Eve. We've been so blessed to be surrounded by such a wonderful community of believers in the middle of a very diverse area, so it was an honor to light the candle that evening.

Santa brought us all a few gifts that evening, and of course, we all got way more than we needed. The kids were fun to watch in their excitement!

Pop was our next visitor to arrive, and of course he came bearing more gifts.

The best gift we received from everyone was the time we got to spend with them. It's always a magical time, not because of the stuff, but because of the reminder of God's love...through His son and our family.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Giving Thanks

We have so much to be thankful for in our lives. Family and friends, of course, are at the top of the list. By the end of November, Ross and I were especially grateful to have a little time together as a family at home. Between the two of us we spent almost the entire month of November traveling. That didn't slow things down though. The kids had lots of play dates, wrap up of the soccer season, a few Cub Scout events, parties celebrating friends' birthdays, and a trip to Louisiana for Thanksgiving!

Back in September Jackson won the Raingutter Regatta for his Den. At the November Pack Meeting the winners from each Den were awarded "The Golden Duck." Jackson had been eagerly awaiting his award since that day. He thought it was pretty funny that the award was a rubber duck on a plaque with his name on it. He loved it! He also received his Bobcat rank the same day.

Audrey has two best friends these days, Charlotte and Chole. Charlotte's little sister, Clara, celebrated her birthday in November, and their dad captured a couple of cute pictures of them at the party that I couldn't resist sharing.

We spent the week of Thanksgiving in Louisiana catching up with family and eating lots of food! We stayed at a different house almost every night in an effort to spend a little more time with each person. We had a quick visit with Ross' mom, Susan, as well as with my Dad and his wife, Kim and Barbara, and my Aunt and Uncle, Kathy and Mike. It was an extra special treat to see my Aunt and Uncle since they live in Arkansas and made the trip to Shreveport just so we could visit! While we stayed with my Mom, Deana, the kids got to work on some art. They continued working on a canvas that was started during a previous trip. It's so much fun to watch them work and see how differently they approach things like this!

Our next stop was Ruston where our dear friends, the Tims family, and my grandparents live. We spent the night before Thanksgiving with the Tims watching the kids play while we caught up on life. Such a fun evening!

Thanksgiving day we eagerly made our way to my grandparents' house to meet the newest member of our family, Ellie, and of course, to see everyone else. My cousin, Meg, and her husband, Matt, made the trip from Connecticut with their almost 6 week old baby. She was so sweet! Can you tell where most of the attention went throughout the day?

Almost everyone from that side of the family was able to make it for Thanksgiving this year. We were just missing Meg's brother, Bud. He had a good excuse though...he has to work that day every year. It's a good thing he loves what he does! It was so wonderful to simply be with everyone. Being an only child means my cousins have always been like brothers and sisters to me. It was so fun to watch all of the 2nd cousins playing together with Great Aunts and Uncles, my cousins, and especially their Great Grandparents. Getting to eat the delicious food my Grandmother makes was the icing on the cake, and she make REALLY good cake!

There are more pictures from Thanksgiving in the album!

October Fun

October was a busy month with school in full swing, lots of after school commitments, and Halloween fun, of course. It was filled with lots of soccer practices and games. We all made new friends in the process. Audrey was all about the social aspect of the season and was always happy to sit on the sidelines to let someone else play because it meant she could talk and be silly. Jackson was an awesome defender for his team and rarely sat out. He also started playing goalie some this season. I don't have many pictures of Jackson playing because we were too busy watching the games. They were exciting to watch!

The kids and I had an extra day off in October, so I let them each invite a friend to go with us to Useugi Farm to pick out our pumpkins and have a little fun. We started our adventure in the corn mazes. There were 3 of them. It took a while, but we found our way out! After lunch we went on a hayride and tried a little pumpkin ice cream.

Then it was time for a few rides. They rode the carousel, 2 trains, and a pony! We wrapped up the fun with some pumpkin blasting. The girls decided to just watch and let the boys have their pumpkins. The boys were ecstatic about blasting a few more pumpkins at various targets. Finally, we picked out a few pumpkins and headed home. It was a long, fun-filled day!

I attended a conference just before Halloween, so I missed the class parties and parade. However, I was back in time for the candy-collecting event. This year Jackson was the Green Ninja from Ninjago, and Audrey was her favorite animal, a tiger. Some friends from our church host an annual Halloween party for the kids. We all love getting together to see the kids in their costumes and their excitement when running around the block together.

There are more pictures from Soccer and Halloween in the album.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cub Scout Family Camp

Going on our first ever Pack Family Camp means it's official. Jackson is a Cub Scout...let us know if you want some popcorn! ;-)

There were ~60 Cub Scouts and their families on this trip to nearby Chesebrough Scout Reservation. It was a fun adventure! We all got to know the Pack a little better and try some new things. The first event for Jackson's Den was archery. It was a little challenging for our left-eye dominant, but right-handed kid. With a little help, he managed to hit the target several times. Then Ross got a turn and impressed not only his son, but the adults around too.

Next up, BB guns. This event was a clear favorite for Jackson. The hand-eye coordination was a little more manageable. He was so scared of this event before we got there, but he really enjoyed learning how to safely and properly shoot a gun. He looks pretty cool in his safety glasses too.

We all took a turn at the BB gun range, and Jackson enjoyed it so much, he went twice...once with his Den and once with the family. Ross, once again, wowed the adults and kids that were with us, and I was pretty impressed with myself on this one. Let's just say we're reinforcing the stereotype about people from Texas.

The highlight of the trip was the Raingutter Regatta though. Each Cub Scout built and decorated his own sail boat and raced it against the other boys in their Den in hopes of winning a Golden Duck. The winner of each Den would race later in the day to earn the highly coveted trophy and be the best in the Pack.

Jackson was looking forward to the race and was proud of his boat. He eagerly listened to the rules and advice given by the leaders. He did a practice run and then sat back and observed the others' techniques. It was a double-elimination bracket. Jackson won the first bracket and proceeded to the final round for the Den. He won race after race with some really close calls and some clear wins. In the final race his Denmate from the losers bracket beat him, which meant they raced one final time to determine the winner...Jackson won!

He was so excited, but he was also a really good sport. It was so amazing to see how these kids treated each other with respect despite the competitive desires to win. Audrey was so proud of her big brother if you can't tell from the picture below!

The last event of the day before the final series of races was rock climbing. Jackson and Audrey geared up and waited in line to climb. Jackson went first and pretty quickly and easily scaled the wall and rang the bell at the top. A little later it was Audrey's turn. Her agile nature made it easy for her to get to the top, but she just couldn't reach the bell. The entire crowd was cheering her on and willing her to do whatever it would take to ring the bell. It didn't happen, but she was great about it and had lots of fun anyway.

There was a little extra time left when the kids were done, so they let the adults that were interested climb too. It didn't take much convincing for me to go, and I'm glad I did. It was a lot of fun and gave me some flashbacks to a fun climbing trip in high school.

The big moment finally arrived, the Raingutter Regatta Finals! Jackson was in the zone. He was punching his hand as he mentally prepared for the final was pretty cute! Jackson won quite a few races in the first round before moving to the loser's bracket where he got another shot at the trophy. He did so great! He didn't win the overall event, but he did REALLY well! If you check out the pictures in the album you'll see some examples of the great sportsmanship they practiced.

That's where my pictures end, but that's not where the camping trip ended. That evening each Den prepared and performed a skit at the big campfire gathering. They also retired 6 American Flags that evening, which was a very humbling experience for them all. Of course, there were roasted marshmallows and campfire stories/games before bed. The next day the boys went for a hike, which rounded out a really fun Cub Scout camping experience!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back to School

1st and 3rd grade are here! Jackson and Audrey are wrapping up their first week of the 2016-2017 school year, and I'm thankful to say they're off to a good start (knock on wood!). This is their second year at the same elementary school...a first for our kids. It was fun to see Jackson walk up to the school confident and comfortable, and Audrey was adorably excited and nervous.

After waking up and eagerly getting ready for school, we did our 1st day photo shoot. In preparation I asked each of them what they want to be when they grow up. Jackson still wants to be a scientist, but he's also added app maker and robot designer to the list. Audrey wants to be a photographer and a gymnast this year. They both have a wide range of capabilities, so I have no idea what they'll end up doing as adults. I do know that getting some real smiles from these two involves some silliness in the process.

The kids picked their photo spots and asked for some silly, serious, and happy shots. Here's what we got...

I love these kids! They are so much fun!