Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Traditions

We celebrated Christmas 2013 with some established traditions:  Christmas Eve with Nana and D, presents, making calzones as a family.  Some of the traditions we love are newer, like a family worship time and listening to the Christmas story read by one of our family members (this year, Avery read it).  Amelia started a tradition of singing Happy Birthday to Jesus and sharing His birthday cupcakes, and this year, since Trey was in Europe, facetiming with him during the festivities rounded out our activities.  Our favorite "newer" tradition is having Mimi, Gran, and Nanny join us for the laughter, excitement, and love.  

Christmas Day gave us time with Nonnie, Great Nonnie and the whole family.  Having everyone over to our house was so exciting for the kids and they loved bonding with uncles and aunts over gifts.  Having everyone in our home is certainly something we hope becomes a tradition as well.

Watching Christmas unfold in the eyes of our girls brings its own sort of magic, and we are blessed beyond measure by their delight in the season.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Busy BUMP!

Written by Avery

Every year Nana takes me to buy presents for the whole family. But this year I got to go home with her even though she had a party to get ready for.  She said I could help bake, wrap and fill candy baskets.  When I was wrapping presents, I had come to the bump!  The busy bump was a problem that made my work stop... like a bump.  The problem was that Daddy's tools were hard to wrap.

Avery's ways of how to work over the bump...

*not do the wrapping... No!
*ignore the bump... Okay...
*wrap the tools in newspaper first and then wrapping paper... Perfect!

I finished the "bump" and I got to bake and that was really better than wrapping.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Buddy the Elf

Written by Kate with commentary by Mama in parentheses.

Nana and DD took me to see the movie Elf.  (Amanda, Amelia, Mama, and Avery all went as well.)  

It had lots of songs and Buddy was fatter than he was supposed to be.  (It was a musical at Sarofim Hall.  She was right about the elf, though.)

 First we go-ed to gymnastics and I got to move up to a green, and then I go-ed to get my haircut, then I swimmed in Macy's hot tub.  Then I go-ed to see the movie Elf.  (These activities happened many days before the musical but were obviously an important part of the experience of watching Elf).

We go-ed to The Aquarium.  It's a place with fish and it's cool.  Then we went to see the movie Elf.

My favorite part of the whole day was the very end of the movie.  (At the end of the show, Buddy the Elf said, "The problem is that people don't have Christmas spirit anymore."  Loudly, Kate agreed, "That is the problem!  People just don't believe!"  Then Buddy said, "Christmas is not just about Santa.  It's about ..."  We didn't hear the end of what he said because Kate piped up and said, "Christmas isn't just about Santa!  It's about Jesus!"  Luckily, the women in front of us had a sense of humor and enjoyed her comments.  After the comment about Jesus, the woman in front of us turned around and smiled and told Kate, "That's right!"  Every audience member should have the privilege of watching a musical with a 5-year-old).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Holiday Season

By Avery:

I love Christmas because I get to see my family and give them presents.
Some things I like to do are making presents, going to the Kid`s Crazy Christmas Show , and decorating the Christmas tree .

I made a very special ornament for Mommy.


At Thanksgiving, these things were important (a list generated by Kate):

-eating turkey
-playing house at Mimi and Gran's house
-taking pictures at the librarian's old school
-making gingerbread cookies!
-eating them
-jumping inside the leaves piles
-taking a picture with Nanny
-playing family at Nanny's house

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fall School Activities

Reese's big school "activity" has been happily going into class in the mornings.  It only took until mid-November.  At first, she'd cry for about 10 minutes.  Then she moved on to throwing things out of her cubby (and at her mommy) to show her sadness.  Then, she cried for a few seconds just because it seemed necessary.  ...Then, one glorious day, she ran into her classroom, put her baby doll in her cubby, and ran across the room to hug her teacher.  Success!

Kate has been learning Spanish in her class and loves to speak fluent Spanish-Gibberish.  This is a language unique to Kate where she says a few actual Spanish words and then fills in the rest of her sentence with sounds that seem to match.
She also got to help prepare and partake in a Thanksgiving Feast at her school and was excited to make the fruit salad and to try apples with cinnamon and a little sugar.  It's appropriate that her class made lunch together, because Kate is an extraordinary chef at home as well - involved in most of the cooking and baking and really quite helpful!

Avery has kept busy with school activities.  She hosted her entire family, including Nana and D, at her Open House night and was incredibly proud to read every poem
in her poem folder to us.
She celebrated her Thankful Party at school and made a thankful tree to take to Lockhart.  On it, she made a plaque that read, "I'm thankful for Nana, DD, Nanny, Mimi and Gran."  Sadly, the tree got squished and then rained on, but pictures of it remain.
Then, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving break, Avery rocked her school's Field Day.  She earned 65 points balancing on beams, throwing rings and bouncing balls.  But what was most impressive was Avery's sportsmanship.  When she'd fall off of the balance beam or drop a ball, she'd stop and let the score-keeper know rather than waiting for them to stop her.  When she was finished with activities, she'd tell the score-keepers thank you before moving on.  Most impressive to the score-keepers, she was one of the only kids in her entire grade level that would help set the activity up for the next player.  She'd reset bowling pins, collect frisbees from the places they'd been slung, and chase down her own balls to hand to the next player.  Over and over again, the score-keepers would act surprised and thank her.  It was a little thing, and no surprise to those of us who know Avery's sweet heart, but it was encouraging to watch nonetheless.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

The Beard

In May, Jordan started growing a beard to support Trey (Trey didn't shave until he was healthy enough to go back to work, and Jordan kept his beard as a show of support.)

In June, we got wind of a fundraiser some of our friends were starting (  We love beards, we love the Hoffmans and we love babies, so we signed up!  The gig went like this: Jordan wouldn't shave for 6 months.  People would sponsor his beard growth and the money from those sponsorships would go to our friends' adoption.

In late July, Jordan needed to trim his beard for a work function, but aside from that, the beard grew and grew.

Sometimes the handlebars would come out.

Sometimes we all got in on the fun.

But mostly, this altruistic beard just grew.  And caught crumbs and yogurt and queso.


And created a beard company with another bearded friend. (

Originally, we were scheduled to have a Shave Party on December 1st, but another work function came up and so the shave date was moved forward a few weeks.

So, how does one say goodbye to a beard of 7 months?

I'm glad you asked:

And interestingly, the girls were not shocked or sad to see the beard go.  Reese even cheered Jordan on: "Beard off! Take beard off!"

We love our beardless man!

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Thursday, November 14, 2013


(transcribed from a retelling by Avery)

(Boosterthon is a fund run that the school participates in.  The track length is roughly 1/20th of a mile and the kids get pledges for each lap they can run.)

When I did Boosterthon in Kindergarten, I didn't run that many laps.  And then last year, I had a broken arm so I only ran like 20 laps.  But this year I really wanted to reach my goal of 35 laps.  (During the race) I ran a lot, but then they said "only 2 minutes left"!  I still had a lot of laps to go until my goal, so I started running faster.  I felt a little nervous that I wouldn't reach my goal when they said "only 1 minute left" because I still had two laps to go!  But I just really focused and ran as fast as I could and I made it!  I actually ran 37 laps.  Two m
ore than my goal! I felt happy that I beat my goal.  And hot.  My face was really sweating.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Halloween 2013

Avery's Halloween:
Having recently discovered The Rainbow Magic Fairies, Avery was dead set on using Polly the Party Fun Fairy for her decorated pumpkin for school as well as for her costume.  And NO, the blue fancy fairy costume is NOT the same as what Polly looks like.  Blue Yoga pants, a tank, purple shoes, belt and necklace were the ONLY way to be Polly.  But no worries.  Four stores later, all of the necessary costume pieces were found.  And Polly the Party Fun Fairy was full of Rainbow Magic this Halloween.

Kate's Halloween: 
Kate had trouble deciding between dressing up as a cowgirl or Queen Esther for Halloween.  In the end, a Jasmine costume caught her eye and it was her newest heart's desire.  Sadly, the costume was way too big and waaaaaaay too itchy (according to Kate, which we found out the morning of her parade).  So then the decision became a little easier: which of the costumes in my closet might I want to wear?  For her school parade, she picked Aurora, but the end winner was Pocohontas (which, yes, she had to explain to most people when they saw her).

Reese's Halloween:
Reese decided months ago that she was going to be Handy Manny for Halloween, so much so that when we watched Handy Manny on tv, she'd identify with his struggles and whimper when he was in trouble.  We did find a high quality $6 Handy Manny costume at a resale shop, but Reese also has very wily parents.  While shopping for Handy Manny's costume, we came across "what Handy Manny wears on Halloween".  Sure enough, Reese was sure that Handy Manny would dress in a Captain America costume.  So, to the outside observer, Reese might've looked like Captain America.  But if you were in the know, you'd see Handy Manny.

Click here for pictures!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Birthday Drums

For a very long time, I've wanted to be a drummer.

Since I didn't have any drums, I would improvise.  A pair of chopsticks and several different stools, containers, a chair... voila!  I was a drummer.

But then, for my birthday, mom took me out of the house for a while.  When we walked back up to the house, we heard a bunch of banging drums.  What could that be?!?

Daddy was playing a brand new set of drums... my drums!  Mimi and Gran sent me drums for my birthday.  Real ones, so I can really learn how to play.

I decided that Avery will play piano, Dad will play guitar, Reese can be on the kazoo, and Mom should have a tambourine.  I'll drum and w

e'll be a family quintet!

Improvised Drums worked for a while, but my Birthday Dreams came true with my brand new drum set.  I love my new drums.  And I am certain that everyone up and down our street loves my new drums as well!

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Monday, October 21, 2013

State Fair of Texas Must-Do List

Every year, the same items go on our State Fair Must-Do list:

-Petting Zoo
-Eat fried food (this year: the classic funnel cake)
-Take a picture in front of Big Tex
-Watch the cultural dancers
-Look for rigamortis kitty (to no avail)
-Helping Hands Farm ... twice!
-Buy Fletcher's Salt Water Taffy
-Spend lots of time with family!

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunlight in Struggles

Sometimes I struggle, even when nothing is really wrong.  Sometimes it's just a struggle to keep everyone healthy and on time to their activities with all of their homework.  Sometimes it's just a struggle to think about what to feed my picky kid one more time or how to help a child memorize facts for class.  Sometimes I notice how many dirty clothes there are and how messy the house is, and I just feel discouraged at the job I'm doing.

When things get frustrating or exhausting or disheartening, little rays of sunshine come in the form of drawings done late at night in a series.  God sends me this reminder in red marker and sketch books: being Mom is significant.

Being Mom might feel like a losing battle sometimes, but my girl's take-away is not Mom's grumpiness last week or the mess in the kitchen.  Her take-away is that Mom and Dad are together, that she is safe, and that she is proud of her family.  God made kids to be little encouragers.  Readily accepting the best in me and putting aside the mistakes.  And I'm so grateful, because sometimes I need it.

Motherhood is messy and I'm way too familiar with the sorrow of mistakes, but God made kids to be eager in love and forgiveness.

I'm so grateful that with all of my imperfections, these babies love me and claim me as theirs.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Locks of Love

(Dictated by Kate, typed by the Mama)

Well, at first I thought I would get my hair cut like when Avery had her hair short a long time ago.  But when they tolded me that I could send my hair to people who don't have hair and help the sick people, I decided to get it cut even shorter.  And when I looked at it, I knew that I loved it so much!

Side note from Mama: Kate's new haircut has given her a major confidence booster.  Her teacher even told us today that she played all over the playground for the first time today rather than sticking to her "safety spot"!

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Not Every Home...

Not every home has a child that stays awake until 11 pm making her own worksheets to complete.

Not every home has a child who asks if we can decorate for Halloween and then proceeds to hang a scrap of purple tulle and a homemade paper lollipop on the fireplace.

And not every home sends their 2 year old to the grocery store to handle the shopping.

But this home does!

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

First Days of Pre-School

This week, Kate started her first day of pre-school... her last first day of pre-school ever!  Next year she'll be off to Kindergarten, but for one more year we'll hold on to the beauty of shorter days, more playtime, and no homework.

On the same day, Reese started her very first day of pre-school ever.  She goes two days a week and had been really excited to go to "cass" or sometimes "cwass" like her big sisters.  Her Nana sent her a "new" backpack and she carried it all over the house, ready for her first day of school.  Even though she sometimes cries in the church nursery, Reese was all smiles at drop off on the first day.  She's a big girl, you know, like her big sisters, so this is just what big girls do...  Or so it seems she was thinking...

After the first day, I asked Kate, "How was your day?"

Her response: "Good.  Sally didn't like Susie's shoes, so she treated her mean.  But it's okay because she liked my water bottle so she was nice to me."  (Names changed, of course)

I asked Reese the same question.  It went like this:

"Reese, did you have a good day?"
"Uh huh!  Cwass!"
"What did you play?"
"Playground.  Cry."
"You cried on the playground?"
"Uh huh.  Daddy."
"So you missed Daddy on the playground?  But did you have a fun day besides that?"
"Uh huh.  Friends."
"Oh baby, I'm glad you made new friends.  What are their names?"
"Stinky?  Really?  You made a friend named Stinky?"
"Uh huh.  And Josh."

First day of school - check.  Kid's unique perspective on the day - check.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Don't Leave the Toddler Unattended...

...or she might find a permanent marker... and her sister's 2nd grade homework.

...or you might be strapping her into her carseat, ready to head home... and realize that she's not wearing her underwear.  Then you might go back into the church's restroom and find the underwear on the floor, where she left them.

...or she might give the washcloth a "bath" in the sink, nearly overflowing it with bubbles.

...or you might find her hiding in the back corner of her closet, Avery's brand new jewel stickers covering her body.

...or your four-year-old might screech and run downstairs, yelling, "Ree Ree used up all of my body glitter!"  And sure enough, Ree Ree will then follow down the stairs, sparkling with glitter from head to toe.

...or you might find her toys decapitated.  She'll say, "Josh did it," but you'll know from the teeth marks that Josh was not to blame.

...or she might decide it's time for candy... NOW... while you're paying for clothes at the mall... and then she might open a bottle of powdery candy that might dust the floor of the store.

...or she might use your actual silverware to pick up an actual dead gecko and put in the toilet.  And then she might actually put those spoons back into the clean silverware drawer.

...or she might decide she doesn't want dinner, and throw her noodles on the floor.

...or she might decide she no longer sleeps alone and find her way down to your bed.  And she might be too cute to remove her.

...or you might notice some white globs on your dog's head.  And then you might notice that the toddler has her sister's craft glue.

...or you might find a random piece of cheese in her hair.  You know, in case she's hungry later.

...or she might try to run away when Nana and D leave, finding her way out the doggie door and to the furthest corner of the fence.

...or you might find her playing the piano.  Nude.

...or she might help herself to a snack of frozen celery.  Eaten with scissors.

You know, it's probably safest to follow this one simple rule: Don't leave the toddler unattended.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Full Circle

Full Circle (adverb): through a series of developments that lead back to the original source, position, or situation or to a complete reversal of the original position —usually used in the phrase come full circle

It's been a full circle experience around here.  

I taught second grade at a brand new school in Katy ISD for three years.  The school was like family to me; the environment was overwhelmingly loving and welcoming.

When I had a precious baby girl 7 years ago, I stopped working at the school.  I lived nowhere near the attendance boundary lines of said school, so I expected that would be it for me.

Until we moved this summer.  Into a home that attends the same school that I used to teach in.

And then, I walked my baby girl into her second grade classroom.  The same classroom I used to teach in.  

The school is still overwhelmingly friendly.  The teachers and staff still treat each other like family.  Parents are still welcomed, respected... loved, even.  It's still the absolute perfect fit for our family.

Except this time, I'm the one leaving a student.  I'm walking out the door as the bell rings rather than setting up to teach.

Life comes full circle.  

And we are blessed.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

My Birthday

First, my birthday party was fun.  We made rock pets, pipe cleaner pets, canvas painting, tie dye bags.  We went outside on a huge bedsheet and splatter painted.  We gave everyone aprons to wear.  My cake was pretty.

Then it was my real birthday.  I went to U
-Swirl with Nonnie and ate frozen yogurt.  And got a sketch pad.  Then we went to paint pottery.  It was fun.  I painted a mermaid.  And Kate painted Jasmine.  Then we went to Nana's house and opened presents.  It was cool.  The best present I got was tie dye soap kit and my American Girl doll.  My other favorite was my guitar.  We went to The Aquarium and ate at the shark reef.  They were adding a zebra shark.  It was cool.  I had a cupcake with chocolate writing on the plate that said, "Happy Birthday Avery!"

I went to the American Girl Doll Store and bought a Sweet Savannah dress that matches mine.  And we ate at the cafe and had high tea.  I went there with Nana and DD and Kate.

(Told by Avery, Typed by Mom)

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Disneyland is...

Day 1:
Disneyland is... SCARY!
Why are all of the characters trying to touch me?  And why does Bugs Land have so much noise?  And why in the world would I climb into a swirling frenzy voluntarily?

Day 2:
Disneyland is... really great!  Some rides are safe.  It's a Small World, Ariel's ride (as long as you don't look on Ursula's part), the carousel and the tea cups - as long as DD holds the spinning wheel so it goes realllllly slow.

Day 3:
Disneyland is... MAGICAL!
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique transformed me into Aurora and then real life Aurora stopped what she was doing just to come get me for some pictures when she saw how beautiful I was!  We had breakfast at Ariel's place and five princesses arrived in a flourish of fanfare!  It was almost too much to believe.  The shows and rides weren't so scary today, either.  In fact, Jasmine's show was amazing and she's my new favorite princess!

Day 4:
Disneyland is... fleeting.  And exhausting.  And still magical.
So much fun, and we only hit our highlights.  Some people say that the best part about Disney is that you can always find more to do.  I think they're right!  For sure, I was so tired by day 4 that I skipped some of the rides just to go back to the hotel and rest.  The best kind of tired is Disneyland tired!

But the things we got to do in our four packed days were just right for this little princess and her adoring extended clan. Another adventure, another blessed trip.  And I am thankful.

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