Thursday, January 26, 2017

November Highlights (part 2)

Time with Andrew, Sarah, Abby & Ben

We were thrilled to have some time with the Phoenix Walquists and packed as much as we could into their days here -- including Nathan's birthday party (see last post), an early Thanksgiving dinner, and Christmas presents. Mainly, we just had lots of time to play and hang out.

Nathan really enjoyed time with his youngest cousin, Ben while Grammy put the finishing touches on the Thanksgiving meal.

All of the four-year-olds stayed busy playing football and tag outside.

Ian loved helping to sort out the Christmas presents.
We had a delicious brisket dinner complete with Grammy's homemade rolls which Andrew threw to anyone who was interested. :)

Without any prompting, the kids went to sit in front of "their pile" of gifts soon after the meal.

Each of the older kiddos received Legos as part of their gift.
Ryan, Nathan, and I enjoyed a morning at the park with our Phoenix family, Grammy, and Papa. The volleyball court "sand box" is  one of the park's highlights, in the opinion of our kids.

Papa pulled the older two kids to and from the park in a wagon.
Right before Andrew, Sarah, and family headed to the airport, all of us that didn't have work or school went to a park to play and then met at Chick-fil-A for a birthday meal for Nathan -- Andrew and Sarah's treat! We were pleasantly surprised to find out that Chick-fil-A lets birthday kids (and everyone else in the party) make their own ice cream cones. Yet another reason to love this restaurant!

What a busy birthday morning!
Of course, we asked if Sarah could help get some pictures of our family and the birthday boy while she was here. Doesn't she do beautiful work?

Decorating for Christmas

Matt, Ian, and Ryan had the WHOLE week of Thanksgiving off of school. We loved the extra family time!! We spent one relaxing day getting all of our Christmas decorations up (while in our pajamas)! The boys especially liked to help unwrap and hang the Christmas tree ornaments.

Ryan got the chance this year to help place the star on the top!
One of Nathan's favorite activities was riding on the decoration boxes while Daddy brought them down the stairs! He was grinning from ear to ear!

The Polar Express

Our family went with my parents to ride the Polar Express in Palestine, TX. We ate a picnic lunch there before boarding the train.

When we had gone three years ago, we rode in the daylight/dusk. It added a special touch to be riding in the dark this time!

The workers on our train car were super friendly and interactive, including this nice gentleman.
We rode on one side of the aisle,
while my parents (and sometimes Nathan) rode on the other side. :)

The boys seemed to be at just the perfect ages to enjoy the ride and all of the special touches. Their favorite parts were the cookies and hot chocolate and dancing around with our friendly waiter.

The conductor came around to punch everyone's tickets.

After we had finished our snack and listening to "The Polar Express" story, we arrived at "The North Pole." The younger two boys thought the lights were neat, but Ian was a little disappointed that this was "all" we had ridden 30 minutes to see.

Soon after stopping at the North Pole, Santa boarded our car and gave each child a bell. It was a memorable evening!

Ryan's Thanksgiving Party

Ryan's Pre-K class held a Thanksgiving party. Each of the children wore Pilgrim hats. We took some regular and silly pictures first.

Papa joined Nathan and me for the party, too.
We got such a kick out of Ryan's jumping Pilgrim hanging in the hallway.
The class practiced their songs while waving their "praise plates" (paper plates with crepe paper). Then, the class continued to sing and wave their praise plates through each classroom of the school on their parade.
When we got back to the classroom, each child made a turkey from a lunch sack and construction paper feathers. Papa helped interview Ryan about things he was thankful for, which Papa recorded on each feather.
It turned out cute!
The party also included some extra recess time on the playground. Both Ryan and Nathan enjoyed the time outdoors.
What a sweet class!


Grammy and Papa hosted our whole family for Thanksgiving dinner after church. They had some really cute "touches" to make the meal extra special, like these edible turkey name holders.

Amy helped put together a caramel apple turkey especially for the kids who didn't like cranberries.
Grammy had each of us design a page with pictures and words of things we wanted to thank God for.
What a delicious, elaborate feast!

Of course, we took some time to be silly as well!
After the meal, each person used the special finger pointer while sharing their "Thankful Pictures" with everyone else.


Soon after the Thanksgiving meal was over, Matt and I started heading to Fredericksburg. Amy and Jason had agreed to watch our kiddos so we could have some "Couple Time." What an amazing treat! We had always wanted to explore around Fredericksburg but hadn't had the chance. We stayed at the Trail's End Bed and Breakfast in Kerrville, TX. It was a charming little place -- way out in the middle of nowhere. Each "room" was sort of a cabin in itself, and there were goats and other animals on the property as well.

Each morning, the owners delivered a HUGE, hot breakfast directly to our room. What a yummy treat!

The view from our balcony was so pretty!

More than anything, we just enjoyed the time playing games and being able to start AND finish a conversation. :) But we did a fair share of exploring around Fredericksburg, too, even though we didn't take many pictures. We went shopping in downtown, tried a yummy German restaurant for lunch, and went on a tour of Grape Creek Vineyards. It was interesting to hear the process of how wine was made, taste the difference between wine stored in different types of barrels, and then have a wine tasting of their various types of wines.

We also had the chance to do some hiking at Enchanted Rock State Park. It was SUPER hard to get in, as there's a limited number of parking spaces. When the spots fill, they close the park for a few hours. We got in right after lunch and enjoyed hiking all the way to the top of Enchanted Rock. There were beautiful views from the top.

Meanwhile, Amy and Jason did a simply fabulous job of keeping the boys entertained AND keeping us in the loop on how everyone was doing. This was the boys' message to us on our first morning away. So sweet.
It sounded like they had some good time playing inside with Legos, books, and cars.

They played in their front yard and went to the neighborhood playground.
Finally, they took the boys to a special holiday event at a local park. The highlight seemed to be getting to play in the man-made snow.
Isaiah and Nathan weren't too sure of the cold, wet stuff.
The festival also included opportunities to sit in a firetruck and pet some animals from a petting zoo.

They ended with a picnic lunch in the park.

Thanks, Jason and Amy, for watching our boys for 2.5 days so we could enjoy some glorious couple time! :)


Sometimes some of these random pictures are my favorite ...
As I was observing my student teacher, Mom and Dad enjoyed spending time with Nathan. They climbed on some construction equipment at Ian and Ryan's school ...

... and then took Nathan to Toddler Time at the library. Nathan's favorite certainly is "The Grand Ol' Duke of York."
Grammy helped with the post-Toddler Time coloring sheet.
I joined some dear friends at a Mexican restaurant for dinner one night as we gave Emily (a friend whose family is moving to Singapore for a few years) a big send-off.

Nathan's sense of humor continues to develop. He loves to make people laugh by doing silly things, like putting cheese on his nose or pretending to be asleep in his car seat.
Ryan had a dentist appointment. This was the first appointment where he willingly opened his mouth (without much gagging!!) and even let them clean his teeth a little. Success!
Ryan enjoyed racing Hot Wheels cars while his BluTrack was on the stairs.
Ian enjoyed wearing his Vampire Teeth from trick-or-treating.
The boys enjoyed their snack outside on one particularly pleasant Saturday morning.
Ryan made progress on riding his bike with only two wheels. He had been wanting to try it (and did it!), but soon afterwards he asked us to put his training wheels back on since he can ride faster that way! We're certainly not going to rush him.
One morning soon after his birthday, Nathan fell asleep in the car holding two precious possessions -- the quilt Grandma made for him as a baby and the karaoke machine from Jason, Amy, and family.
Each Thursday, Ian's robotics team builds together. This is Ian's bee. The wings actually flap, thanks to the motor.
Ian and Ran spent a lot of time one day lining up lots of their cars.
I went with a group of CLHS faculty and spouses to paint a Christmas picture. I'm happy with how mine turned out and was a bit surprised at how each picture looks unique and different even though we received the same step-by-step instructions.
We went to church at Salem one Sunday morning. The boys like to visit the ducks and geese in the pond after going to church there.
Toward the end of the month, I (finally!!) finished Nathan's Christmas stocking. What a feeling of relief!
The boys never get tired of bubble baths or using bubbles to be "hair."
The boys insisted that I read this bat book upside down so that they could see the pictures accurately while pretending to be bats themselves. :)

Thank you, Lord, for a fun November!