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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Santa Prep

Christmas this year has been the talk of our house since early November. Gretchen could not wait for us to decorate and was constantly telling us which decorations we should get for the house. She loves all things inflatable or light up, or really anything at all Christmas related.

The issue is that we gave away the majority of our Christmas decorations before leaving Argentina, between the lack of storage space and the bulk of garland, we were happy to give our things a new home. This meant that, as with most things this year, we were starting anew. 

We made the decision to start slow, this year we would buy a tree (artificial, for the mess-averse, allergy-riddled folks that we are) and build additional Christmas items in the years to come. Luckily, this decision coincided with the opening of a new Costco in our area, which had the best price on a pre-lit tree, so we spent Costco's opening day working to beat the rush and buy a tree.

But first, we need to crawl on and off the owl chair.

Then we made it to Costco and found our perfect tree. Which didn't fit in the trunk of my car. So we left the box at the store and shoved the branches into every possible crevice of my car. Gretchen thought it was the best thing that could have happened.

Without a box, the tree went up immediately in our living room. The kids could not keep their hands off of it.

They were enthralled.

It was pretty wonderful to see the joy and amazement in our two little snowflakes. 

And this combination created a rare agreeable photo opportunity. I was in my happy place. 

Such innocence, preparing for Christmas is so much fun, even with the bottom third of the tree empty.

Last stop, Santa Claus's lap. This precious Santa was at our local HEB and was great with our kids. The store had a post-Santa make your own snowman cupcake station, so that was a huge hit with a certain little sweet-tooth. 

Santa prep complete. Bring on Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Elys Hit Houston

It only makes sense that some of our most spirited friends have a family of spirited, fun, huge-personality children. It makes for an incredible weekend when the whole crew chooses to come and visit us for their first family plane trip. Hilarity commence.

Jude has got to be the most animated child I know. He will run up to you with breaking news about a Ninja Turtle, or something he did last week or something funny that someone said yesterday. He has incredible energy and I can't remember seeing him without a smile on his face. Together with another 100% energy child, Gretchen, the two of them together were great to watch. Incredibly, one night they both fell asleep while watching a movie - a first for this Gill child - which leads me to believe that they miraculously tired each other out. Until this weekend, I didn't know it could be done.

The photo highlight for the 3-year-olds was when we found a lizard in the backyard. Such intensity. 

Then, a perfect photo depiction of these two, Jude is telling Gretchen something majorly important, Gretchen is not sure - and way more interested in the lizard.

So much life in this tiny, yet very tall for his age, body.

His sisters have plenty of spunk to offer as well. This little lady is the most focused four-year-old I have ever seen. She is silly and sweet and loves to draw. She brings to light how immense the difference of a 2 year old and a 4 year old are. Night and Day.
The eldest Ely is a hilarious mix of child and adult. She texts, makes slow motion videos and tells me all able the best cute puppy apps to add to my phone. She also makes a great soft serve Washington Monument.

Thank goodness to friends with cameras, Meghan was on point to get these great outdoor pictures of the kids. This is a split second succession of Alex - from exhausted-looking to elated in a millisecond.

We had great weather, which to me means that we played outside for awhile. To the Elys, it means we get in the unheated pool in December. I still can't believe that happened. Even Gretchen got in on the pool party.

Gretchen in her happy place.

2 guys, 4 swinging kids. 10 years ago, who knew this would be happening?? 

Ely-Monkeys giving all kinds of smiles
Alex's favorite game of "brush off the mulch" 
The only mom picture of the weekend
We ate Mexican, went to the park, had a fire, enjoyed the hot tub (heated for the thinner-skinned adults) and watched movies. It was bliss, we welcome you back anytime.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Halloween Festivities

Halloween has always been an amazing thing to explain to a child. "That's right, you go to everyone's house, even the people we don't know, knock on their door and they will give you candy." For free. No strings attached. You can imagine how excited our little sweet tooth was at this revelation.

"This has been the best Halloween of my life." That is a direct quote.

The kids were very excited to carve pumpkins, and then immediately disliked the squishy insides. They were excited to watch mom and dad take care of things, and stay far away from the stringy stuff.

Gretchen was trying her mightiest to carry the pumpkins, this one brought a bead of sweat to her brow.

As with most things these days, Halloween was a multi-day celebration. Between the pumpkin patch, carving pumpkins, school celebration, local mom-group celebration and the actual day, our kids believe that Halloween is roughly the length of Hanukkah. It was really fun to see her in the Halloween parade at school. She wanted to be Minnie Mouse for school, so the dress came out of hiding and a Minnie Mouse was born. Again.

Then Snow White came out on the real day.

Along with a precious little Sully Monster. Such a fantastic birthday gift for our little guy, thank you Santi and Diana!

Actual Halloween trick or treating was incredibly fun, even more so than I remember as a kid. It is incredible to watch your own kids light up as they collect their goods. It was a great first Halloween in a traditional setting, we had a blast and the kids were excited, exhausted and thrilled. Let's do it again next year!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pumpkin Patch Weekend

Fall has finally found Houston!

We were told it was hot in Houston. It is. And just when you think it is time to cool off, it's hot for another month. Or two.

We found a day cool enough to spend a morning outside and visited a local pumpkin patch, called the Old Time Christmas Tree Farm. We had a number of neighbors meet us there, which made the afternoon even more fun. It's exciting to spend a season doing the holiday things, especially now that our kids are old enough to enjoy it. Even if the pumpkins are shipped in from somewhere else.

Gretchen loved sitting on top of the pile of pumpkins, and happily pointed out which ones were "really, really, dirty". She was hilariously excited about the really small pumpkins, and didn't want all that much to do with taking home the big ones. We tried for a family picture, but it turns out that a big pile of roll-y pumpkins are a bit hard to sit on as a squirmy group of four.

Alex, on the other hand, just wanted to push the wagon around. Any wagon, it didn't need to be ours. He pushed anything with wheels here, there and everywhere.

When he wasn't pushing the wagon, he was playing with the flag on the end.

And when he wasn't doing that, he was taking little pumpkins in and out of wagons.

He was a busy little guy.

Fall is fun! Especially when it's not freezing cold outside!