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Valentine’s Day 2013 . . . a photo dump

Raine was up early, so she gave Daddy the valentine she made for him before he went to work.

I took a photography class on Tuesday and have been anxious to try out what I learned. So I set up the tripod and got out my remote. Here are a couple of my favorites. (Thursdays are “Carter day” since Raine is in school but Carter is not. We have so much fun together reading books, playing ball, and running around outside.)

Carter can’t pass a dandelion without picking it for me. I get so many “ye-yow fowahs” every time we go outside . . . and I love every one of them! (Not that I keep them, but it is the gesture that melts my heart.)

All tuckered out!

Valentine hug!

After a yummy red dinner, we exchanged valentines. Here is Carter giving Daddy the valentine he made.

My birthday

Here are some photos from my birthday the other day.

Daddy made doughnuts for breakfast . . . yummy!

Here is my birthday portrait, drawn by an up-and-coming artist named Raine.

The kids made birthday cards and were so excited to show me their work. I treasure these little symbols of love. They are such perfect expressions of their personalities.

Opening presents.

After dinner at Carrabbas, we enjoyed these cupcakes that my sweet neighbor made for me.

The rest of the evening was spent being silly.

Another year older, another year more satisfied with my life!

I wanna be a cowboy

This time of year is cowboy time around these parts. The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo gives us all a reason to dust off our cowboy boots and practice our drawls. This year it started with the Stock Show parade on January 19.

This parade is 100% non-motorized.

We always love the longhorns — or “Daddy cows” as Carter calls them.

It’s a fairly long parade!

Then there was western week at school, January 29.

“Hi, cowboy!”

February 8 we made our way down to the Stock Show and Rodeo for the main event.

We had great seats and . . . we . . . were . . . excited!

The bronc riders started us off with style.

Whiplash the cowboy monkey was a hit.

And the bull riding was a real nail-biter! (Except that not a single one of those cowboys managed to make it to 8 seconds. Those bulls were really fired up.)

After the rodeo we were off to the petting zoo, funnel cake, and other stock show must-do’s.

These two kids couldn’t get enough of the animals. We went through all the barns twice and they still wanted to see more animals. I don’t know how they kept going after almost 7 hours and no stroller. Needless to say, we had to carry them in from the car and they didn’t wake up until morning!

Random bits of this and that

September 28, 2012
Raine, from the back seat of the car: “Why do some animals only eat dead animals.”
Me: “Well, don’t you only eat dead animals?”
Raine: “No, I don’t eat dead animals!”
Me: “What do you think was in those chicken nuggets you ate tonight?”
Raine: “Ummm, iguana?”
Me: “What!?!! No, silly. CHICKEN nuggets.”
Raine, with her best are-you-kidding-me face: “Chickens make chicken nuggets? Like eggs?”
Me, not wanting to traumatize her back into her vegetarian ways: “Um, yeah, something like that.”

November 30, 2012 – Super-cowboy and his trusty side-kick who thinks any day (or night) is the perfect time for shorts.

November 10, 2012
Raine: “Daddy, why does hair grow in your ears?”

About two months later
Raine, climbing on the back of Daddy’s chair: “BALD!!! Daddy, you don’t need any more birthdays!”
Daddy: “Thanks Raine. I love you too.”

December 13, 2012 – I sent the kids in to brush their teeth and soon heard hysterical laughing and something about Carter sitting on Raine’s head. I went in and found this. Apparently they couldn’t find the stool.

November 21, 2012
Raine, as we were stuck in traffic: “Daddy are you driving forward or backward?”
A big truck was in the lane next to us. Sometimes our lane was faster and we would pass it, then the truck’s lane would be faster and it would pass us — hence the confusion.

December 21, 2012 – Carter LOVES band-aids! Anytime he gets an owie, he has to have a band-aid on it — whether it is a scratch, bruise, bug bite, or really nothing at all. The problem is that he found the band-aids I keep in my purse, which are much easier to access than the ones in the bathroom, so he can help himself anytime. Apparently, he hurt his nose sometime between getting out of bed and coming in to wake me up!

December 15, 2012
Raine: “Mom, Mom! Something terrible happened!”
Me: “What? What terrible happened?”
Raine: “I touched a spider on the door with a piece of paper and it ran away!”
Me, relieved that it really wasn’t anything serious: “Oh, gross.”
Raine: “Yea, I need you to vacuum it up.”

December 26, 2012 – Dinner stop on our road-trip to San Antonio.

December 20, 2012
Raine: Mommy, the rooster is the chicks’ daddy.
Me: Yep, he is.
Raine: He protects the eggs while the momma is at the grocery store or at court or anything like that. So they don’t crack while the mom is away. That’s what daddys do.
(Hmmm, I think at some point this stopped being about the chickens!)

December 28, 2012 – SeaWorld didn’t open until noon so the kids watched PBS kids in the hotel room while we waited. They never watch TV and got so annoyed when commercials came on. Considering PBS only has commercials between shows, I’d hate to have seen their frustration during regular TV!

December 2012
Carter, coming up to me as I prepared to enjoy some yummy chocolate: “Is dat poop?”
Me, loosing my appetite: “No, that’s not poop! Gross!”
Carter: “Is dat dog poop?”

January 10, 2013 – Raine trying out her new roller skates. The protective gear arrived so she could finally skate outside . . . while holding my hand the entire time. At some point I caught an outside glimpse of myself in this situation and realized just how much life has changed from when I was a kid. I never owned a pair of knee pads, or even a bike helmet, when I was a kid. But now I won’t even let me kids off the carpet with a pair of roller skates on unless they are all “geared up.” Seriously! Am I raising my kids to be a couple of pansies!?!!

January 18, 2013
Raine and Carter were outside eating a picnic lunch in the warm January sun this afternoon. I went out to check on them.
Raine, very excited: “Mom, mom! I had orange stuck in my teeth and Carter stuck his finger in my mouth and pulled it out!”
Me: “Oh. That was very . . . nice of him.”
Carter just sat there looking proud of himself.

As I read back through some of these exchanges, I realize how much funnier it is with their little voices.

SeaWorld vacation

The day after Christmas we packed up and drove down to San Antonio to spend a couple days at SeaWorld. Raine and Carter are the perfect age to L*O*V*E SeaWorld so we had a great time.

The first day at Dolphin’s Cove, Daddy was the only one brave enough to feed the dolphins.

But the second day, everybody wanted in on the action. Although, they still didn’t want to pet them, just throw from a distance. I guess there was something about that mouth full of teeth that made them think sticking their hand too close wasn’t the best idea!

The shows were SPECTACULAR! We attended the Dolphin show and the Shamu show both days we were there.

The Dolphin show featured the dolphins, of course, but it also showcased beluga whales . . .

. . . and some HIGH-flying acrobatic divers.

Here are a couple clips of the animal tricks. (Be warned, the video is shaky and the main action frequently happens just off screen. I was holding Raine on my lap and trying to direct her attention to what was happening, so sometimes I didn’t get around to checking the view-finder until after it was too late. Oh-well, it is good enough to remind us what it was like to be there!)

The Shamu show is the main attraction and it did not disappoint.

The first day we saw the show it was Unna’s 16th birthday. We sang Happy Birthday while they fed her two huge salmon covered with whipped cream — tasty!

The Shamu show, unfortunately, is not as impressive as it was when I was a kid — or even the last time we went, four years ago. The trainers are no longer allowed in the water with the killer whales so you miss the interaction and thrilling jumps with the trainers on their noses. (The entertainment value, of course, is not worth the life of a trainer so it is an understandable change.) With all that said, it was still an exciting show.
I should also point out that the jumps are a little less thrilling when it is super cold outside. The second day it was substantially warmer and the whales jumped a lot higher and splashed the audience a lot more than during the frigid first-day show.

We also watched both of the Sesame Street shows — which the kids loved!

The entire kids’ play area was Sesame Street themed and these kids played for hours, both days.

Raine was addicted to the Shamu Express roller coaster and went on it at least twenty times the second day.

Carter rode it a couple times, but preferred the carousel.

The Sesame Street characters roamed the park while they weren’t doing a show. Rosita was outside the window where we ate dinner the first day and Carter sat watching her the entire time. But then, she came inside. How did I know? Because all of a sudden, Carter was burrowing into my leg trying to hide! Raine worked up the courage to take a photo with her though.

The Shamu statue was more Carter’s speed.

Saturday we stopped at the Miller family reunion for an hour on our way out of town. It was fun to see all my cousins and their kids — it has been a LONG time since I have seen most of them. Since we were off the standard route, we “had to” take the new toll road home . . . according to Daddy.

No, that is not photo-shopped. Now I see why he was so concerned about getting my car tuned up before our trip!

A very magical Christmas

This Christmas was magic! Raine was finally old enough to remember what Christmas was all about and get really excited for it. Carter was a mirror of Raine so he was excited that she was excited.

Raine is a fully-vested Santa Claus believer and was excited for the presents he would bring. She also knows the nativity story inside and out, and for months, she had been dressing up as Mary and dressing Carter as baby Jesus. The spirit of the season was definitely in the air around our house.

The excitement only escalated Christmas morning when the kids woke up to find a letter to each of them from Santa. They were sitting next to the empty cookie plate. Santa wrote them in response to the letters the kids sent him after the breakfast with Santa — apparently Sister Beal really did have connections to get letters to Santa! The big stack of presents under the tree didn’t hurt their excitement either. They couldn’t get Mom and Dad out of bed fast enough!

We took a break half-way through our present opening to have breakfast — fruit-topped Belgian waffles, yummy! Then it was back to the tree to finish unwrapping the gifts.

Just skating through the wreckage.

Then even more magic happened! For days, Raine has been talking about how it was going to snow on Christmas . . . after all, that is what every Christmas book ever written says happens on the big day. I kept explaining that here in Texas it doesn’t snow on Christmas, but she was convinced. So when the rain turned into big fluffy snowballs floating down from the sky, I excitedly called to Raine and Carter and sent them to the window to see it.

I didn’t expect the snow to stick on the ground, and certainly not to accumulate, so we took pictures to remember it.

But then it kept coming and kept accumulating until we had enough to make a snowman . . . sort of. Can you see it down there between them? It wasn’t good packing snow so it is only two snowballs high, but it was the greatest snowman these kids have ever built and they were thrilled.

I didn’t expect them to stay outside very long in that frigid weather, but they threw snowballs out there until their noses were pink and their toes were like little popsicles.

It certainly made for a magical day!

Christmas Eve 2012

Christmas-eve day was a gorgeous, albeit cool, day. The kids rode their bikes down to the playground and Momma tried out “our” new camera. (Since I’m the only one who ever uses it, it seems more appropriate to say “my,” but it was technically a family present so I will say “our.” I look forward to the day when I really know how to use it.)

The playground is always more fun when Daddy comes . . . so you can play frisbee . . .

. . . and get a big UNDERDOG!!!!

That evening we crossed the street to the Eastman’s house for a Christmas sing-along with a number of our friends.
After the kids were in bed, Daddy ran up to the hospital to make a bishopric visit to a member who had just suffered another heart attack — what better way to celebrate the birth of our Savior than by doing what He would have done.

Breakfast with Santa

Saturday morning our primary had its first Breakfast with Santa.

It started with breakfast . . . of course. A lady in our ward made some delicious cinnamon rolls with gooey frosting and red and green sprinkles — just like Mrs. Claus would make!

Next, Santa’s elf came and took them out to wait for Santa.

The big moment arrived and Carter handled it MUCH better than last year! (Whoever thought to bring that bell for the kids to ring while they sat on Santa’s lap was a GENIUS!!)

Before heading home, the kids colored ornaments and wrote letters to the missionaries serving from our ward. It was a very successful event.

The photos with Santa were taken by the talented Alysha Bond, from Bonded Memories Photography. — Thank you!

Speech therapy . . . DONE!

Carter had his last speech therapy session on Tuesday. Less than three months from when he started, he is now speaking at age level. He has come a long way in this short amount of time and it has made such a difference in everyday life. I love being able to understand his needs, wants, and especially the random ideas that cross his little two-year-old mind!

Here he is with his speech pathologist, Sandra Heaslet.

Carter worked extremely hard to learn his sounds. (His problem was terminal consonant deletion, he didn’t put consonants on the ends of his words.) I was so proud of him when he worked hard to get it right. He didn’t get frustrated and give up — which he is prone to do sometimes when he can’t get something to work right. Seeing him work so hard has made me confident that he will be very successful in life — not because he is exceptionally smart, but because he will put in the effort to work through problems and accomplish his goal. I hope he continues to develop this trait — a trait he definitely got from his dad!!

Colleyville tree lighting

Last Friday night we drove up to Colleyville for the tree-lighting celebration and had so much fun! They had bounce houses, games, Christmas characters, performances, a tent full of crafts, . . .

. . . and pony rides!

Look at his face, he was so excited to ride a pony!

And the best part of the event? It was all FREE!