Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New and Improved...

For part of our birthdays and Christmas my parents gave us a new fan and light fixture for the family room. They look so good! We had them installed a couple of weeks ago and I'm sad to say that we've already been able to use the fan. The old fan barely worked, had 4 smaller blades, and was very unstable. It always shook back and forth when you turned it on. This new fan is much more powerful, which is exactly what we need for the summers here. We had the handy man set it on the highest setting and it feels wonderful and doesn't shake at all! It doesn't provide quite as much light as the last one (which Al is happy about) but I am okay with that.

And the light fixture in the hallway looks so much better. The fan and light fixture both helped update the room so much.

Trying Out the Scooter

Yesterday the kids and I headed to the park by our house so that Avery could really try out her scooter. She loved it! James and I played on the playground while she rode around. We lasted for about 40 minutes, but then it got cold with the breeze. None of us had mittens on and James' poor hand were so red. I didn't even buy anybody mittens this year, thinking it was a poor investment, but maybe we'll get some cheap ones some where for those few days we might need them.

Christmas Morning

Christmas morning finally came. The few days leading up to Christmas were maybe the longest of Avery's life. She would ask me every day, several times a day, if it was night time yet. She wanted it to be night time so she could go to bed and have one less day until Christmas :)

The kids woke up at 6:30 am, not too bad since they usually wake up between then and 7 anyway. I remember when I was a kid my older brother woke us up at 4:30 am once. The first thing Avery saw was her bumblebee pillow pet. She had been asking for one of those for months and she was so excited about it. Santa brought James the doggy one since he loves doggies so much. And Avery got the scooter she had been eye-ing for months too. The kids got so many fun things from Santa, grandparents and from me and Al. Avery declared it was the best Christmas ever :) James was perfectly content with Christmas after opening his Thomas the Train coloring book. He oohed and aahed over it for the longest time, thumbing through the pages and immediately colored several pages. Al and I ended up opening most of his presents for him, but after he saw everything else opened he was really excited about his other gifts too.

Al built a huge train track for the kids with all of their new pieces. We have quite the collection now of tracks and accessories and it is really cool!

Al got his Droid for Christmas. Well, actually, he got it on the 14th. I didn't write about it in my birthday post because Al was going to act like he really opened it on the 25th. Verizon wasn't supposed to deactivate his old phone until the 25th. But on the 13th I went in to exchange the first phone that was selected for the one he actually got and I think the girl messed it all up. I even talked to her that day about not deactivating the old phone until the 25th...oh well. So on the morning of the 14th I came home from a run and Al told me his phone wasn't working and then he got a huge smile on his face. At that point I tried to act like I didn't know what was going on for a while, but then I figured the jig was up. So I went and got the Droid out of it's hiding place (I hid it so well too!) and gave it to Al. Then we went to Verizon and got everything set up on his new phone, etc. and he's been playing with it ever since. In a way, it was a good thing he got it early because he was on vacation that week and had a lot of time to get applications and figure things out before he went back to work. Otherwise, he went back to work the morning after Christmas and wouldn't have had time to get his numbers/pics and everything transferred to his new phone. Not to mention that he was able to focus more on the kids on Christmas day than the new phone :)

We had a great big breakfast that morning. I cooked aebelskivers for everybody. We had some plain, and some filled with strawberry cream cheese, and some filled with Nutella. All rolled in powdered sugar. The Nutella were far and away the best ones. Whatever filling you put in there gets all melted and delish. I think it would taste good to have a fruit filling too. We also had eggs, bacon and sliced oranges.

It was a great day spent in pajamas, playing new board games and wii games, watching movies, trains, scooter riding, eating, chocolate, etc. That night we had hot chocolate with a peppermint fluff that was tasty and festive.

The pictures of the kids in their new church clothes was taken Sunday morning of course. Remember how well they did on the last Sunday morning photo session? It went about that well this time too. Avery didn't want to go to church. She wanted to stay home and play with her toys in her jammies again, etc. And James just plain didn't want his picture taken. Oh well. One of these days we'll get a good one.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was an absolute blast this year. I was worried I would be homesick, but that didn't set in until Christmas afternoon. We were invited to a party at my friend Anna's house. A bunch of our friends that were staying in town were there too. The theme for the evening was "Pasta Night" and the food was fantastic. I made 2 batches of my meatballs and 3 batches of Sarah's marinara sauce, and then spaghetti noodles to go with it. Anna made her awesome tomato cream sausage and basil rigatoni, and Ashli made a creamy chicken and bowtie pasta dish, along with some parmesan and herb rolls. Then Anna also made 2 different green salads to go with. Paola brought a traditional Brazilian ham dish (not pasta...but delish!) and was in charge of drinks. She went all out and brought bottled Mexican coke, and tons of different varieties of sparkling ciders. Meretta brought a yummy spinach and parmesan dip with crackers. Anna also dedicated her entire kitchen table to desserts. Everything was red and green and white and so festive! I wish I had taken pictures. Loni brought a couple of different types of cupcakes to contribute to the dessert table.

The adults all sat around Anna's huge dining room table and the kids were just off to the side. Anna had borrowed Miss Annie's preschool table and chairs and it was perfect for the night. After a lot of eating and visiting the kids put on the nativity play. Avery was Mary. As you can tell from the pictures, she was pretty wired that evening. James was a shepherd. He looked pretty cute in his costume, but as you can imagine the headpiece didn't stay on very long. Anna's husband, Clarke, read the account of Jesus' birth from the scriptures as the kids acted everything out. Then we sang a few carols.

Then it was time for dessert. I think most of the adults were too full to eat much, but the kids loved all of the bowls of candy Anna had set out and the cellophane bags they got to fill with candy before heading home.

It was pouring rain as we left the party and rained for most of the night. We came home and the kids opened their new Christmas jammies before going to bed so Santa could come.

Holiday Baking

We did a lot of holiday baking this year between what we did at home and what we did in San Antonio.

You can see in the pictures what part Avery likes to help with. And what part James likes to help with :)

Before we left to San Antonio we made chocolate chocolate/mint chip cookies and two batches of chocolate chip gooey butter cakes to take to some parties and to Al's home teaching families.

In San Antonio we helped make homemade oreos and peppermint marshmallows.

Then when we got home we did two batches of sugar cookies, gingerbread boys and girls, gingersnaps and chocolate peanut butter balls. I am ALL baked out for a long time!! I guess I have just over a month to get the baking bug back in time for Avery's birthday.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

San Antonio

Last week we went to San Antonio for a few days while Al was on vacation. He has never been and so it was fun to show him around. We spent a lot of time hanging out at Jon's and Becky's which is always fun. James loves to play with the dog and Avery and Alison play around the clock together. We drove around the city a lot so Al could see what San Antonio is like and did a lot of holiday activities: eating cookies, making gingerbread houses, making hot chocolate, homemade marshmallows, baking more cookies, wrapped presents, spent a lot of time in the sewing room working on projects, etc. We rented several movies, but I think I fell asleep during every one so I can't say whether they were any good or not. We've all been sick with really bad colds and nobody slept that great while we were there.

We went to this amazing outdoor shopping mall they have there and walked around for a while. I found Avery a navy blue polo for next year at Gymboree for $3. This school uniform thing is gonna kill me. I guess that's my new challenge...to make it as cute as I can.

Saturday night Becky and Jon took us out for a night on the town. We left on the earlier side and took Al to see the Alamo. We made it inside for a few minutes before they closed the grounds. Then we walked the Rivercenter mall and the Riverwalk. It was super crowded because of Christmas and people wanting to see it all lit up. It was still so much fun though. They took us to a really nice restaurant and we got a table right on the river. It was a great night!

Now Al is back to work as of yesterday and the kids and I are busy getting things ready for Christmas. I think we are baking today!

Birthday Celebration

I had a great birthday this year! The kids woke up early and Al was home because he was on his official vacation. They gave me my presents in the morning and were so excited for me to open them. Very cute. Then we took Avery to her preschool Christmas party and I went on a short birthday run with my friend, Leslee.

After we picked Avery up we ran a few errands and then went to the grand opening of a Chipotle that opened just down the street from us. After that we went to HEB to pick out some birthday cake. We ended up with a few different cupcakes. Avery chose the chocolate one...as you could have probably guessed.

Then it was off to the DMV! Birthday fun all day long! Ha ha ha. Oh well, it had to be done, and Al had the day off to help with the kids. The line wasn't too bad and now I have an official Texas driver's license. Plus, the worker at the DMV wished me a happy birthday.

That night my friends planned a big night for me. We met at Annie's house where a couple of my friends had presents for me. Leslee gave me a 6-pack of bottled diet coke and a giant bag of peanut butter M&Ms...she knows me so well :) And this was hilarious...the other night my friend Kim was asking me if money was tighter during med school or during residency. I said for most people money was worse during residency, but for us it's about the same because we didn't have food stamps during med school like most students do, so there wasn't much of a transition for us. And then I was laughing about how every once in a while Al will say that it has been so long since we've had chicken. Anyway, my friend Kim gave me a ton of frozen chicken for my birthday. I think it's the oddest, but funniest gift I've ever gotten.

A lot of us piled into my van and another group met us there later. All the girls were dressed up so cute for the night out and we listened to the Glee Christmas CD that Al and the kids had given me earlier. Then we were off to the Chocolate Bar! It's this really cool place in Rice Village that has 30+ homemade ice creams, all of these elaborate desserts, dipped chocolates, etc. It was a very fun night and we were out late!

It was also so fun to get all the phone calls and texts throughout the day. What a great birthday!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Avery's dance routine

This morning was Avery's dance showcase at her teacher's house. The little girls did such a good job and they were so cute to watch! I wish I had gotten a better angle with the camera, but I had James and didn't want to sit in the middle in case we had to step out. Dance is over for the year, but next semester starts the first week in January.

Ms. Tricia is just so cute with the kids and Avery is learning so much and having a blast. I am excited to watch Avery progress as she continues classes.

There were a few dads that were able to make it today and Ms. Tricia started the showcase off by showing some of the steps the kids have learned, some of their routines, etc. Then the girls performed their special dance for the parents. Afterward we had refreshments and visited with each other. It was a very fun morning and I'm so proud of Avery!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I tried to get a couple of pictures of the kids before church on Sunday. They looked so Christmas-y in their outfits and I thought they would look great in front of the tree. It didn't go so well though...