Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas in CA!

Both my mom and Ross' mom came for a visit to celebrate Christmas. They were able to join us Friday for Jackson's school assembly where he was named "Citizen of the Month."

Then on Saturday we made our way to Martin Ranch Winery for a picnic and some wine tasting. It was a little overcast and wet due to all the rain we've had recently, but it was still a lot of fun! The wine was wonderful too!

After the picnic, we exchanged gifts with my mom and enjoyed a delicious, pre-Christmas meal of gumbo! The kids were SO excited about their gifts. Jackson is blurry in the picture below because he was jumping up and down with excitement over his message bear, which he'd been wanting so everyone can leave him messages...we're still working out the bugs, but let us know if you want to send him a message. He'd love it!

We all went to church and brunch on Sunday morning. Then we split up to enjoy some different activities. Ross and Susan went to a bowling alley to watch the Cowboys game, which they won, and my mom, the kids, and I made our way to San Francisco to visit the zoo and Union Square.

My mom left early Monday morning. I took the week off with the kids and Susan while Ross worked most of the week getting ready for the Consumer Electronics show in January! We spent the early part of the week wrapping presents, finishing shopping, baking cookies, and playing around.

On Christmas Eve, we spent the morning decorating cookies for Santa. They were good!

We had a delicious meal cooked by Chef Ross before heading to the Christmas Eve service. Jackson said our prayer before supper that evening, which included thanking God for making Santa so we could celebrate Jesus' birthday in such a fun cute! The kids loved both the music and the message at church, and they went to bed faster than I've ever seen when we got home! They are at such a fun age to enjoy the Christmas season right now!

Jackson was the first one awake, and he waited patiently in our room for Audrey to wake up. Once she was up, it was a mad dash to their stockings!

We were all pretty spoiled this year. It was so fun to see the pure joy on the kids faces as they opened their gifts, screamed in excitement, and jumped up and down in celebration over things as simple as a new bath scrubber!

The picture above where it looks like Jackson is choking Audrey is actually him hugging her for the gift she chose for him...a flying Iron Man! After the chaos settled out, Jackson and Ross both got to play with their new remote controlled toys (Ross got a car that drives and flies). We were impressed with how well Jackson did with it!

Audrey was most excited about her makeup set, which she quickly started using. I love that her first application included blue blush...after all, blue is her favorite color right now!

As the day progressed, some of the more complicated toys were opened. Jackson LOVES Snap Circuits, and he got two new sets for Christmas (lights and a rover). He put the rover together and had lots of fun recording and delivering messages on it, as well as shooting discs at Audrey!

Audrey put together one of her Goldie Blox sets, which was really cool to see! It teaches engineering principles in a way that engages young girls really well. She was so proud of her work!

At the end of the day, the kids were wearing their head-lamps from Grandmother and measuring things with Jackson's new measuring tape, which broke fairly quickly and provided entertainment for the adults and kids as we took it apart and fixed it. The adults ended the day playing games and laughing at ourselves. It was a wonderful Christmas!

If you didn't get enough, there are more pictures in the album!

Citizen of the Month!

Jackson was selected to be a "Citizen of the Month" for his class in December. Each month the school focuses on a particular character trait and the teachers select students from their classes that best represent those traits each month. This month's character trait was "caring."

Jackson's teacher very quickly recognized his caring nature, and this month he really showed that side of himself by helping a new student make friends and get comfortable at their school. I imagine he could relate to that kiddo pretty well having been the new kid not that long ago! We are all so proud of how hard he is working to make good choices and to be such a caring kid! It was extra special that Grandmother and Nana could be there for the assembly where he was recognized!

Here is a part of the email from Jackson's teacher letting us know why she selected Jackson for the "caring" trait...I have seen him demonstrate this important life skill many times, especially this month. We had a new student join us this week and Jackson volunteered to be his buddy for lunch. He also has been very thoughtful. He told me that you taught him, it's important to love all of God's children. It's wonderful to see how he internalizes important lessons and goals. He has also demonstrated caring when he read his behavioral books to the class. He is really striving lately!

While Jackson struggles at times (we all do!), it's awesome to see others recognize what an amazing heart he has and how much he loves God! There are more pictures in the album!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Fredericksburg Wedding

After Thanksgiving, we made our way to Fredericksburg, TX for another wedding, my Dad and Barbara's. Jackson was the best man, and Audrey was one of the bridesmaids along with the other granddaughters. It was a wonderful celebration with such wonderful people.

All of the grandkids sang "Jesus Loves Me" as part of the ceremony, which was so sweet. Their very dear friend, Mack McCarter, performed the ceremony at a beautiful, little chapel, and the reception was held at Barbara's daughter's house, which was the perfect place to entertain this group. It was wonderful to spend time with people who love our family so much.

Jackson and Audrey had so much fun they didn't want to leave Texas again! We felt such a warm welcome from all of Barbara's family. It made for a wonderful celebration as our families joined together.

There are a few more pictures in the album.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Fall & Thanksgiving

The end of October and November were busy times for us. I wish I could tell you we did all kinds of fun stuff, but I really don't remember! What I do recall is that we wrapped up soccer season and enjoyed the beautiful fall colors around town. I worked a ton, but I also got to go to Arkansas for my cousin Ben's wedding. It was so great to see family and to get back to the south for a bit. The wedding was Halloween weekend, so Ross took the kids trick or treating with our friends from life group. Before we knew it, Thanksgiving was here!

The entire family made the trip to Louisiana to celebrate. We had a delicious homemade, southern-style Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparent's house. We got to visit with most of my mom's side of the family and some of our best friends, The Tims. It was an amazing day! The next door neighbors had a perfect pile of leaves, which made for the perfect place to play!

There was a lot of laughter and fun had by all! Four generations together under one roof is so special! We even captured three generations of black boots at my mom's request.

There are more pics from Thanksgiving in the album!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pumpkin Patch

Jackson didn't have school on Monday, so we made our way to Morgan Hill's Uesugi Farm's Pumpkin Patch.

They had fun checking out how tall they are this fall!

They also had fun learning how pumpkins are grown and sitting on their pumpkin thrones...and jumping off of them!

Jackson's favorite activities were the corn maze and the pumpkin blaster. Audrey loved the hayride and the cow train. We also got to visit Butterfly Valley, learn about bees from Bootsie Bee, ride a carousel and train, eat pumpkin pie, and of course, pick out some pumpkins!

We were all exhausted by the time we were done, but it was well worth the energy! There are more pics in the album

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Aptos Weekend

We spent the weekend with our new life group at the beach in Aptos. It was an incredible weekend with an incredible group of people. They organized all of the meals and even planned crafts for the kids. There were 13 adults and 13 kids. The place we stayed was perfect for everyone. There were bunk beds for the kids, an open area for playing, a swimming pool and hot tub, grills for cooking, and it was a block from the beach!

We went to the beach Saturday morning, and Jackson and Audrey headed straight for the water. They didn't care how cold it was; they were determined to play in it.

Jackson eventually became interested in digging a trench to transfer water into a hole. That didn't go so well since the hole was on much higher ground, but later Ross, another one of the dads, Leopold, and several of the kids dug a trench between a huge tidal pool and the ocean. They had a ton of fun. The water was still flowing when we left for lunch. We returned to the beach that evening and discovered the river that had formed from the small trench they'd started. It was so amazing! Here are a few before and after pictures. Jackson was SO proud!

Audrey was most interested in covering herself in sand. She was very successful, as you can see below! She had a ton of fun with her new friends and loved bathing in sand and then rinsing it off in the sea!

We spent the afternoon back at the hotel swimming, resting, and eating. When we went back to the beach later that evening, we roasted smores and watched some laterns being lit and floating in the sky. It was a beautiful evening!

Sunday, we went to a state park in Santa Cruz to watch the Monarch butterflies as they were migrating south. It was fascinating to see so many gathered in one place.

The butterflies were beautiful, and so is this precious girl! She's growing and changing too!

Our last stop was to check out the beach and tidal pools at the park. It was absolutely gorgeous!

There are more pictures in the album!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hiking in Sanborn County Park

Today we took the kids for their first hike in the mountains. They loved it! It was the first time Ross and I have gotten to do much of a hike since we lived in Austin. It was great to get on the trails again!

Audrey was in awe of the beauty. It was fun to see her reaction to everything. There were a lot of beautiful views!

Jackson had fun taking pictures with my camera, which means there's some proof I was there! He did a great job taking pics. He got individual shots of everyone, as well as a couple of group shots.

It was a lot of fun until we realized we were on a longer trail than planned...we powered through it and enjoyed a much tougher hike than we expected. Poor Audrey's little legs couldn't take it, so Ross carried her a good bit as we were coming down. Jackson was amazing! The hike started around 3:30, and we made it back to our car around 7. Despite being tired and hungry, Jackson never complained!

We're excited to be able to go on fun adventures in nature so close to home. I can't wait for the next one!

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Audrey - Can You Decide?

Audrey had her first homework assignment for her new school this week. It was an "All About Me!" poster. It had her fill in basic information about herself, some of her favorite things, what she wants to be when she grows up, cool facts about herself, etc. It also had a spot for a picture. Of course, the tons of pictures we already have weren't sufficient for Audrey. She wanted a new picture in her new favorite dress, which looks like Elsa!

I was more than happy to indulge her request. We went to the park behind our house and took a few quick shots before dinner tonight, and I've had fun playing with them in Lightroom. Now I can't decide which one I like best! Can you?

Monday, September 08, 2014

White Knights Soccer - Game 1

Jackson's first soccer game in California was Saturday afternoon. He was excited to jump right in after watching Audrey's game that morning. He spent most of Audrey's game "coaching" her and her team on what they should do...mostly to me and Ross. He was ready for his turn!

I LOVE that Jackson celebrates when his team scores whether he makes the goal or not. He's excited to be part of the game. He also enjoys taking a picture mid-game...

Ross was the referee for Jackson's game. He did a great job keeping the game on track! By the end of the game Jackson was getting tired. He started waiting for the ball to cross his path before he engaged...he decided that's the best way to play. :-)

Watching them both enjoy playing the game truly made for a fun day! There are more pics in the album.

Purple Ponies Soccer - Game 1

Audrey's first soccer game in California was early on Saturday morning. She had a blast! She loves to run, to get the ball and take it down the field, and to play on a team.

She loves to have her picture taken...even in the middle of a game. She's sweet, she's tough, and she's a good sport!

I love my little soccer girl! There are more pictures from game 1 in the album!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

1st Day of School in CA!

On August 18th, both kids went to their day care/after school care for the first time. It was Audrey's 1st day of Pre-K4! Jackson's school started that Wednesday, August 20th, so this gave him a chance to get familiar with the teachers and kids he would be with in the afternoons.

We didn't take the 1st day of school pics until Jackson's 1st day. It was his 1st day of 1st grade!

That morning I asked both kids what they want to be when they grow up. Jackson wants to be the Hulk, and he wants his job to be a scientist. Audrey wants to be Elsa, and she wants her job to be a doctor. I have to say...these choices describe them pretty well these days! Jackson really wants to smash things when he gets upset (his self control is GREATLY improved this year though), and he loves to understand how things work and do experiments. Audrey is a girly, girl and loves to be a princess. She has good intentions, but she's a little rough sometimes. She also loves to check things out when someone is hurt and take care of people. She's fascinated by anything medical related.

Both kids were a little nervous going into their new schools, but they were excited to make some new friends. They really miss all of their friends in Houston and were starting to get a little lonely.

When we picked them up on their first days, they were both smiling and laughing. They'd had a great day! It's going to take time to make new friends, but they are off to a great start!

As a side note...for those who don't know, Jackson loves the Hulk right now. One of the early days of school, he was asked to bring a paper bag with 5 things that tell everyone a little more about him. His Hulk toy wouldn't fit, so he asked me to take a picture instead. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take it and print it in time, so he took his Lego Marvels game case instead, which covered two of his favorite things...Hulk and video games. He also took his karate belt, a Texas puzzle piece, his favorite book from the Magic Tree House series, Night of the Nijas, and a picture of our family. These are the pics he wanted to take though. They are both doing their best to make Hulk faces. Notice Audrey can't stop smiling!


We talked up all of the outdoor activities you can do in CA to the kids before the move, so they were excited to go for a hike our first weekend here. Honestly, Audrey wanted to go on a bear hunt (for those that know the "Going on a Bear Hunt" song, both of our kids LOVE it), but we didn't have enough time...after all, we needed to unpack!

We really didn't want our first hike with the kids to be a long one, so we found a nearby trail that led to a park.

The hike was a success! It was about 1.5 miles total. The kids got to use a pedestrian bridge, explore nature, and play in a park...what's not to love?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Goodbye Houston

On August 6th we pulled out of our driveway in Houston for the last time. We'd spent the previous two days watching the movers pack and load all of our stuff into their huge truck. There were WAY too many boxes!

The night before we left, we camped out in the living room of our empty house. It was a fun way to spend our last night together there.

The week before we left, we did our best to spend as much time with our friends and family as possible before we left. We had an after-work gathering on Thursday evening for kids and adults. I wish I'd brought my camera and taken some pics, but one of our friends did get some pics of Jackson and Audrey with one of their friends. You can also see all of the signatures Audrey got on her pillow...makes her feel so loved!

Our final gathering was at the park after church on Sunday. We hung out by the splash pad at Clear Lake Park for several hours while friends came and went. We LOVED spending a little more time with some of our favorite people!

There was lots of fun had by everyone!

Some of our favorite sibling pairs were able to make it. These kids (and their families) have been friends since they were babies!

There are more pics from the park in the album!

We spent over ten years in Houston. We accumulated a lot of "stuff" while we were there, but it wasn't all stuff that could fit in a box. We bought our first house there, both of our kids were born there, we began our careers there, and we built so many wonderful relationships there. We will treasure every moment...the good and bad because they made us who we are today. We look forward to the next stage of our journey and hope to continue growing the relationships we already have, as well as the new ones to come. We already miss everyone!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Goodbye JSC Daycare

The JSC Daycare has been part of our lives since just before Jackson turned 1. Many of the teachers have become part of our family and have been truly instrumental in helping Jackson and Audrey become the amazing kids they are today. They have been there to teach them how to walk, drink from a cup, potty train, learn all kinds of info from letters and numbers to science and math and computers, and most importantly, how to interact with other kids and adults. They have loved on them through thick and thin. They were there to help with a broken leg and broken hearts. We are forever grateful to have them in all of our lives!

The other families at the daycare have also been a huge part of our lives. They have walked along side us in this journey of parenting. They have provided guidance and support along the way. We have found some amazing friends here!

Audrey's last day was filled with fun. Her teacher, Ms. Monica, let Audrey decide how she wanted to celebrate her last day with her friends. She, of course, requested donuts, but not just any donuts. She requested very specific donuts. All of her friends were excited to share them with her. After the donuts, they each shared what they will miss about her, and then they each took turns giving her a hug and taking a picture with her. It was really sweet! Most of the pictures are in the album, but here are a few of them.

In the afternoon, there was a school carnival where Audrey and Jackson both got their faces painted and spent a little more time with their friends. It was a great way to say goodbye.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

See You Later Bushi Ban

Before leaving Houston, we did our best to spend a little extra time celebrating all of our friendships. Jackson brought donuts to Bushi Ban (where he takes karate) on his last day. He had a lot of fun hanging out with everyone that day, and Bushi Ban did an incredible job of making it a special day for all of us!

When we arrived, Jackson was greeted with a huge card made by one of his best friends, Sophia. She had everyone at Bushi Ban write a note to him in it, which he absolutely loves! It's hanging in his room in CA, and he looks at it often!

We also got special pillows for Jackson and Audrey to have all of their friends sign. The pillows went with us just about everywhere we went the last week in Houston, and Bushi Ban was no exception!

During the day Jackson and his friends from Bushi Ban went to Mr. Gatti's to eat, play, and celebrate. One of his instructors and friends joined them despite being off work at the time!

When I picked Jackson up in the afternoon, they had everything ready for a special photo shoot, which you know I loved and appreciated! A few of Jackson's instructors weren't able to be there, but they will never be forgotten! Master Kazi, Master Jamie (pictured below), Master Chaw, Ms. Cheryl, and Ms. Liz have been absolutely incredible for Jackson and our family this year! If I haven't said it before, I whole-heartedly believe Bushi Ban was the best place for Jackson to spend his time after school last year and throughout this summer!

I'm pretty sure Jackson got a picture with everyone at Bushi Ban that day. They are each so special to him. Here are a few of the pics, but there are a LOT more in the album.

Also, did you notice the new belt color in the pics? Jackson got another double promotion to a purple striped belt! Since he wasn't going to be in town for the upcoming graduation, they gave it to him early!

Master Kazi reminded Jackson that this is not "goodbye," but "see you later" since he truly hopes our paths will cross again some day. We certainly hope so!