Monday, December 3, 2012

Northpark Santa

The real Santa is at Northpark Mall in Dallas, Texas.  Seriously, he is wonderful.  Here is our yearly photo.  The kids are getting tall!
2012 - Everett at 5 and Madeleine at 8 1/2
You can see how much they have grown, check on the photo from 2011 here and previous years here.  Madeleine asked for a password journal (it is a journal that records your voice and only that person can open it) and Everett asked for a beyblade (though he had been saying he would ask for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle set). 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Olympic Gymnastic Champions!

I won tickets from Dallas Child to see the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions.  It was such fun to see these amazing folks in person (though far away).  Madeleine was so excited, she knew the names of all of the female gymnasts and had watched the London Summer Olympics every night.  Here are some pictures that I took.  
Top L to R: Jordyn Wieber,  Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman; Bottom L to R: ? and Nastia Liukin
Men's gymnastics team, they were strong!

A good picture of Nastia Liukin

Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber,  Gabby Douglas

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Everett turns 5!

Everett is such a joy, he loves to laugh, tickle, fight, battle with swords, battle with lightsabers, battle with guns...  For his birthday party Everett wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese.  I told him that we could go with his cousin Austin, but not with his 18 preschool classmates.  Everett was set on Chuck E Cheese, so the night before his birthday we had a great time playing games and running around.

On his birthday Everett had donuts and a kolache (his favorite food of all time) for breakfast and brought Star Wars cupcakes for his classmates. That night Lee made his homemade pizza, we ate more cupcakes and opened presents!

Everett at one day old, October 2007
1st Birthday - October 5, 2008
2nd Birthday - October 5, 2009

3rd Birthday - October 5, 2010

4th Birthday - October 5, 2011
5th Birthday - October 5, 2012

Madeleine and Everett on a ride at Chuck E Cheese

Shooting things with daddy at Chuck E Cheese

#44 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Go to the State Fair of Texas Opening Day Parade!  In this list of 52 Things to Do in Dallas with Kids (in 2010 and 2011 blog posts) I have tried to highlight things that are free (or close). One free thing that is associated with the State Fair is the Opening Day Parade.  It goes through downtown on the first day of the fair (Friday) at noon.  This year I took Everett with me since next year he will be in kindergarten.

It was hot, and he was not too sure about this parade...

Where else can you find a lady dressed like a flower?

The 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts!

The coolest Elvis (there were many) all on motorcycles

A dragon celebrating the Chinese Lantern Festival

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Disneyworld September 2012

Family photo at Epcot (it's hard to see the white globe in the white sky)
 12 days before the Conference began, Lee found out that one of his coworkers was unable to attend, and Lee would have to go to Disneyworld!  We had so much fun when we went with Lee in March 2011, that I wanted to see if we could go with Lee again.  We flew Spirit Airlines which was very reasonably priced.  No complaints about the flight, though you have to pay if you want to bring anything on the airplane bigger than a backpack.

The scariest thing happened in the airport as we were in line to board.  Everett was there and then he was gone.  We could not see him anywhere and part of me thought that he was playing hide and seek.  I started to walk one way and Lee walked another.  Lee found Everett two gates from where we were.  As soon as Lee saw Everett he noticed that two security people were heading towards Everett as well.  Everett was on the wall with tears running down his cheeks.  It was traumatic, but I was so thankful for the security folk who had noticed that a child was lost and a child who stayed put when he realized he was lost.

As soon as we got to Orlando we took a taxi to our hotel.  We stayed at the Dolphin, but the entire hotel was booked for the last night of our stay so we had to go to the Yacht Club for the last night.  The Yacht Club pool is so much fun with its sand area and slide from a pirate ship.

We arrived Saturday afternoon and walked to Epcot from our hotel.  We went to Soaring since last year Everett was not tall enough.  We saw Figment (my favorite ride) and favorites from last year like Turtle Talk with Crush.  Madeleine and Lee rode Raytheon's ride and Madeleine was so proud to be riding her daddy's ride since Lee works for Raytheon.  We tested Coca Cola products from other countries for free (my favorite!) and then went to our dinner at the Garden Grill with Chip, Dale, Mickey Mouse, and Pluto.  After dinner we watched the Illuminations show with great fireworks. 

Everett kept manhandling the characters, he now knows that there is a person under that costume!
  Sunday we went to Hollywood Studios by boat.  It was raining, so the Jedi Training where we stopped first (Everett was finally old enough to fight Darth Vader!) was instead a photo op.  We rode Star Tours twice since there was no one in line.  Star Tours was not open when we were at Disney in 2011, and we really enjoyed the ride.  We watched Jake and the Neverland Pirates puppets from the Disney Channel and Everett loved it just as much as he did last year.  Lee and Everett went to ride the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror with a 13 story drop while Madeleine and I watched Beauty and the Beast on stage.  Everett loved the ride, but did not like when it was in the dark.  We did the always fun Toy Story Mania and then had lunch at the Sci-Fi diner. 

After lunch we went to Animal Kingdom and loved the safari where we saw rhinoceros, giraffes, elephants, and lots of other animals.  We did the It's Tough to be a Bug show but since it is in the dark and there are things spraying on you and crawling behind your back, Everett was terrified.  The guidebook says may be frightening for children and they were right!  We watched the best parade at Disneyworld, the Jammin' Jungle parade that reminds me of the Broadway show of the Lion King with the amazing people that are animals.  We all rode Expedition Everest, the roller coaster went backwards!  We went back to our hotel and swam and then stayed at our hotel for dinner.  We walked along the Boardwalk and were all very entertained and impressed by the magicians performing.

If it rains and you can't go to Jedi training, you get to meet Darth Vader!
Everett finally old enough to do Jedi Training!
The favorite kid show of the moment.  Phineas & Ferb!
Monday Lee went off bright and early to his Conference and the kids and I went back to Hollywood Studios to try once again to battle Darth Vader at Jedi Training.  Everett and Madeleine had a blast!  Everett was so excited to finally be old enough (you have to be 4).  There is a training and then Darth Vader appears and they all get to fight him.  A highlight of the trip, for sure!  We rode Star Tours 3 more times and then we had pictures taken with lots of characters, Phineas & Ferb, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, Jake from the Neverland Pirates & Sulley the monster from Monsters Inc.  We had lunch at Pizza Planet and the kids loved all of the video games.  We met Lee at his break for lunch and we did Toy Story Mania again.  We went back to the hotel to swim and then walked around France and Morocco in Epcot.  They have a cool Phineas and Ferb game on a cell phone and the kids loved it.  As we walked around Morocco Madeleine did not know what a belly dancer was and since the restaurant in Morocco had a belly dancer, we had a delicious dinner there and enjoyed the belly dancing!  We went to Japan and I loved going through the shops there, it felt like I was back in Japan!  We went to America and enjoyed the movie about America's history.  We made our way via bus to Magic Kingdom and watched the Electrical Parade and the fireworks, but Everett fell asleep and the fireworks did not wake him up!

My two pirates!
Tuesday was the first night of Mickey's Not so Scary Halloween Party and I had heard good things so I bought tickets.   We started the day at Animal Kingdom with the kids digging for fossils and learning about animals as they got their Kids Discovery Club stamps in each area.  We then made our way to Magic Kingdom for the Pirate League.  Costumes were necessary for the Halloween party and the kids LOVED becoming pirates!  The Halloween party was really well done.  There was trick-or-treating, dancing with Woody and Jessi from Toy Story, a special parade with the headless horseman on a real horse, a villains show, and the most amazing fireworks that I have ever seen.  The fireworks went 360 degrees around Cinderella's castle.  They were everywhere.  Everett fell asleep before the fireworks again.  I highly recommend the extra expense for the Halloween party. 
Family photo with Captain Hook at the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
On Wednesday at Magic Kingdom we got the Sorcerers Trading Card game and had great fun with the interactive magic portals.  They have so many free activities to keep kids busy besides the rides and characters.  We then saw the Move It Parade and Everett got to dance with Mr. Incredible. It started to rain but we were riding the Barnstormer roller coaster 3 times in a row and having a great time.  We did it's a small world and Peter Pan's flight before taking the monorail to Epcot.  We did the Phineas & Ferb cellphone game in Mexico and then walked to the Yacht Club from Epcot and Lee greeted us with balloons, we were chosen as the family of the day with an upgraded room!  We were now on the club level with free food!  We went swimming for 3 hours and the kids had a blast.  The slide from the pirate ship is super fun (I did it too!).  We went to Epcot (China) for dinner then took the monorail and boat to Magic Kingdom.  We had already seen the fireworks so we rode rides, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, and Astro Orbiter.  Space Mountain was so scary and so fun.  I was in the first car and could see when there were no tracks ahead and we were going straight down.  Everett survived, but did not like being in the dark.  We were fortunate enough to be the last ones to ride Astro Orbiter and were at the highest point in Magic Kingdom for the fireworks.  It truly was magical. 
3 people in the cars at Tomorrowland Speedway.  Lots of laughs.
 Thursday was our last day, but our flight did not leave until 7 pm.  We went to Magic Kingdom early (love magic hours if you stay at a disney hotel), got more sorcerer cards, and rode the tea cups many times.  Madeleine got a picture with Merida from Brave and both kids had a chance to drive the cars at Tomorrowland's Speedway. Lee arrived from his Conference and joined us for Splash Mountain (scary and I got drenched!), Big Thunder Railroad (twice in a row!), Pirates of the Caribbean, and Swiss Family Treehouse.  We then took our last monorail trip to Epcot, and did the Phineas & Ferb cellphone game in the United Kingdom while we ate fish and chips for lunch.  We walked to Japan to watch an amazing performer make animals out of candy and then headed to the club level at the Yacht Club to relax before our flight home.  We took the Magic Express to the airport and I fell asleep on the ride there!  We had very friendly folks next to us on our return flight and Madeleine and Everett had a great time playing with the nice people the entire trip home.  I can't wait for Lee to have another Conference at Disneyworld! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Third Grade!

Everett (preK) and Madeleine (in 3rd grade) in front of the school sign!
Madeleine started third grade today!  She has grown up a lot this summer, not only did she go to her first sleep away camp (2 nights at girl scout camp Bette Perot) but she is also making regular visits to the orthodontist.  She now has a butterfly expander on the roof of her mouth with a key that her lucky parents get to turn every morning and every night as we break her palate to make it bigger.  She also has an appliance on her bottom teeth.  

This fall Madeleine will be involved in girl scouts, ballet, volleyball, and piano. 

Everett is in his last year of preschool at Oak Lawn UMC.

Family photo waiting for the doors to open.

Family photo in Madeleine's classroom.
My precious girl.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Port Aransas

Madeleine asked for a trip to the beach for her 8th birthday and Nana and Papa made it happen!  We are so thankful to them for a wonderful trip and so thankful to God for the beauty of the beach!   There were 6 adults and 4 children, and we all had a blast.  Port Aransas was beautiful and we had so much fun jumping the waves, playing in the condo's pool and hot tub, and building sandcastles. 

The group photo after a great beach trip!
Madeleine and Everett contemplating the beauty of the beach.

Celebrating Madeleine's 8th birthday

A family photo

Madeleine and I getting attacked by a wave

Everett and Lee building sandcastles

A brown pelican at the Port Aransas bird refuge

Driving to get BBQ

On our recent trip to Wimberley (where my mom lives) and Port Aransas (where the beach is) we knew that we were going to be relatively close to a BBQ place that we had been wanting to visit.  I had heard about this BBQ place on NPR recently that you can read about if you click here.  A father and daughter traveled 4,258 miles, visiting 31 BBQ joints and 16 states on a BBQ adventure that you can read about in detail here.  They shared that BBQ in Texas, "blew their minds."  Of Louie Mueller BBQ in Taylor they said, "This place had everything right from the clean dark brown burnished interior which revealed years of pit smoking to the perfect ratio of salt to pepper seasoning on the bark of the brisket. The sausage, all beef this time, was so juicy there was fat dripping down my arm."

 There was so much meat on these ribs!  And it was so good...

It was seriously good brisket, and those spicy pinto beans were yummy! 

 I loved the bbq charred menu!

Here is The Adventures in BBQ ( Best of List. 
Louie Mueller Barbecue — Taylor, Texas
Smitty's Market — Lockhart, Texas
Pork Ribs
Smitty's Market
Chopped Pork (tied)
Lexington Barbecue — Lexington, N.C.
Allen and Son BBQ — Chapel Hill, N.C.
Sauce, Tomato Based
Green Mesquite BBQ and More — Austin, Texas
Fried Chicken
Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken — Memphis
Pork Skin Sandwich
Lexington Barbecue
Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen — Chapel Hill, N.C.
Sausage Gravy
The Loveless Cafe — Nashville, Tenn.
Potato Chips
Central BBQ — Memphis, Tenn.
Maurice's BBQ Piggie Park
Sweet Tea

Felix's Fish Camp — Spanish Fort, Ala.
Chess Pie
Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken
Banana Pudding
Maurice's BBQ Piggie Park — West Columbia, S.C.
Gourdough's — Austin, Texas

Monday, June 11, 2012

#43 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Go to Edom and pick blueberries!  This activity was not free and given the price of gas it was definitely not cheap, but it was such fun!  We left Dallas on a Wednesday morning at 9 am and arrived at the Blueberry Hill Farms in Edom at 10:30 am.  We applied our sunscreen and put on our hats and after an hour we were all ready to retire to the air conditioning! 

 The kids loved picking blueberries and had a great time.

Combined we picked 5 lbs of blueberries for $16.
On our way back to Dallas we stopped at Ham Orchard in Terrell and bought some delicious peaches, had peach ice cream, and decided that we were too pooped to pick blackberries.  This definitely needs to become a yearly tradition!

Memorial Day and the Nasher

A family photo right before the Memorial Day parade at Launa's Little Library, Everett (4 1/2) on his scooter and Madeleine (almost 8) on her new rollerblades. 

 The newest exhibit at the Nasher Sculpture Center by Ernesto Neto.  We went on the free family first Saturday in June and all took off our shoes and put on our blue booties to walk on the tightrope.  It was such fun!  Above is Madeleine and the picture below is Everett. 

 Then, we went to Crow Asian Art Museum right across the street from the Nasher and the kids drew themselves in a yoga pose.  I love me some free fun!

A cookie diva

 Thanks to so many friends, family, church family, neighbors, coworkers, Emler's swim class families, basketball team families, book clubs attenders, and gymnastics families, Madeleine was able to sell more than 1000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies!  As her reward, she was given lots of prizes (tshirt, towel, stuffed animal, deck of cards, patches for her Girl Scout sash), but she was also given a free night for herself and three other people at the Gaylord Texan Hotel!  May 19 was deemed cookie diva night and was only for those girls who had sold 1000 boxes of cookies.  Madeleine was so excited and my sister and I took our two girl scouts.  We loved the waterpark at the Gaylord, Paradise Springs, and had a blast on the zipline. 

This is Madeleine in her cookie diva shirt.  We got a free gift card for meals, but there was only $20 on it!  

 Madeleine wanted to explore everything at the hotel, even the exercise room!

 My sister and I with our two brownie girl scouts! 

Sunday afternoon all of the girl scout cookie divas were given tickets to Sea Life in Grapevine.  This picture cracks me up, Everett and Madeleine did not even realize that the shark was right behind them! 

This Saturday we have the 500+ club swim party at Hawaiian Falls!  We are looking forward to it!