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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Pageant 2015

We adore the Spanish immersion preschool that we have found in Texas - for many reasons, but especially during the two times a year they have their all-school performances. These shows are fantastic, for the costumes, the way each classroom is showcased, and to be able to see these little people embrace the stage. 

Gretchen has never agreed to take a dance class, never wanted to humor my desire to relive my youth at ballet practice and recitals, but she sure does look forward to these preschool performances. As do we.  

Her intensity is both heartwarming and hilarious

This child is unabashed joy. She is such a bright spot in our lives. 

We love this tradition and how it kicks off the Christmas season. This child brings us so much joy, it is fantastic to watch her shine on stage.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

This Thanksgiving we were able to bring some new faces in to the mix - which is the first time that we have ever hosted guests that my brother Robbie invited. Not only were we able to meet his new girlfriend, Courtney, but she has a tailor-made best friend for Gretchen! In addition to meeting these lovely new ladies, we had nice enough weather to get in the pool, which always makes everything better.

This sweet little nugget is loving the "winter" pool

Meet Peityn, Gretchen's favorite new person!
These two are cut from the same cloth. The same high-energy, happy-go-lucky cloth that makes them instant friends. What a wonderful way to introduce someone to the family, spend a holiday together, swim and enjoy the company of a perfect new friend.

And then there's this little goofball. His favorite shirt, Iron Giant, and he loves silly faces and sticking out his tongue.

As with each year so far, the dinner was barely the focal point of the visit. This trip was all about Grammy, Papa Mas, our new friends Courtney and Peityn, and the silly little goofballs we call Gretchen and Alex.

We are thrilled to be able to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with family visiting our home in the US of A.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Eastcoast October Visit

October brought with it the wedding of a good friend that just happened to take place in Richmond, Virginia. We gladly packed up our bags and headed to Virginia with the kids and our fancy clothes and anxiously awaited a visit with grandparents and a fun, wedding weekend with friends. 
This marks our first trip with Alex as a two year old - which is a magical age in travel. It's when they're old enough to need their own seat, have the attention span to pay attention to a screen but are still in diapers so emergency bathroom visits are a non-issue.

It was so nice to be able to attend this wedding and know that our little ones were safely in the care of their grandparents - and we were able to get out and about in Richmond with our lovely friends Cedric and Lydia who flew in All The Way From South Africa!! What a rare treat to see friends we made in Argentina, one of them getting married and another couple who came from so far away.

We spent our weekend shopping and eating in Richmond, VA, which is a fantastic town to explore, especially in October! The weather was great, the running trails were great and we had family friends to stay with in the heart of town. To add to the weekend fun, my brother and his girlfriend were able to attend the reception with us, which was incredibly generous on the part of the bride and groom and a really unexpected way to see my brother who we don't see nearly enough.

If that didn't already make the weekend, a celebrity encounter!

Our kids were having the time of their lives visiting grandparents, starting with Gran and Poppa. Gran and Poppa's house is like an amusement park for kids, complete with rides like this big gator that Poppa happily drives them around in. The kids think it's great to drive the tractor themselves, like Alex is doing in this picture.  We are very happy they have fun, and very thankful that we get a couple nights alone.

The other great thing about visiting Gran and Poppa is that they live in a town filled with interesting people who have all kinds of hobbies. A great example is their friends the Wilders, who live on an incredible piece of property but also have fun hobbies like weaving, collecting cool old cars and raising cows. Here are some of those cows at feeding time while Gretchen got to help!

October is a wonderful time on the east coast because everyone is prepping for fall! Lots of local small-production farms have activities for kids, pumpkin patches, petting zoos and more in the fall and we were excited to visit one of these farms up in Fairfax during our visit. Farmer Rick here at Cox Farms was helping Alex pet this pretty brown cow. I'm not quite sure how Alex felt about that....

But Gretchen sure seemed to be comfortable.

Then we come closer to home where Grammy and Papa Mas live and there is another full working farm where Grammy keeps her horse, Casey. We go there and feed the chickens, see the rabbits, sometimes there are other animals that have been taken in to rehab.... but the best part is.....

Riding the horses!! This is Charm, technically a pony, that the kids were able to take turns riding with a little help with Grammy and Papa Mas. Both kids adored being on top of a horse, they both look so grown up!

I love Alex's little wave!

Wedding, family and friends visit in October, what could be better?? Thanks for getting married Paul and Kelly!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hallowen 2015

Halloween takes a few forms these days, it's the actual Trick-or-Treating, the pre-school parade and outside Halloween events like my mom group, Mothers of The Woodlands, putting on their own dress-up party. 

This was Alex's first year to participate in the preschool parade, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Gretchen, as you can imagine, has never had an issue with it. She smiles and waves as though she is the only child everyone came to see:

Alex is a bit more reserved at times, and especially since this was his first year, I tried to hide myself in the crowd. I brought a big camera so he didn't recognize me on his first pass around the room:

 Look at how precious our little Sully monster (from Monster's Inc.) is! He's so darn cute!!

And this Princess Anna is the happiest girl on the block. Her unabashed joy brings a smile to my face.

Here si the moment that little Sully spotted me:

And he was not impressed. He spent the short remainder of the parade on his teacher's lap, poor little guy!

Don't worry, there's more! My moms group, Mothers of The Woodlands, has an all out Halloween party each year. We changed costumes and packed up our dish to pass to contribute to the party. Alex enjoyed playing toss-the-ring-on-the-witch-hat for awhile.

And then Gretchen showed off her best scary face:

There were crafts and stickers galore!
 The crowing jewel of this particular party was a visit from the Science Guy who brings his collection of bizarre animals (snakes, parrot, tortoise, hedgehog) and teaches kids about DIY science.

 Halloween was a hit! And we had a great time Trick-or-Treating even though it was 80+ degrees and humid.... Gotta love Texas!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Alexander Turns 2

Perspective. It's an incredible thing. Our baby boy turned 2 years old and he looks so big, so grown up. I feel like he's graduated from baby to kid in such a short time. When I think of a 2 year old, it's a milestone where we start packing away the blinking musical toys and the puffy books, the bottles and the sippy cups. 

It starts to make me sad, until I look back into the past, only about 2.5 years ago we celebrated this very event with a little girl. Now the funny thing about perspective is that when I see this picture I see a baby. She feel so much younger than I would have guessed. It gives me hope that I still have baby time left with Alex. It also reminds me that there is so much fun, spunk, development, learning and growing to be done yet. He may be two, but he's still a baby. Just don't tell him that.

Alex adores the local Children's Museum so we held his birthday party there on his actual birthday. Turns out that football season makes Sunday mornings the perfect time to visit the Children's Museum, a good tip for anyone who prefers to avoid crowds.

Little man had a great time roaming the museum with his sister and his buddies. The train table is always a highlight, as is the hollowed out truck that kids can steer and push buttons inside. There is a great sensory area with uncooked rice for the kids to play with like sand, dress up clothes and a whole market filled with fake food to pile into your shopping cart and take to the checkout counter. It's a little kid's paradise! 
The also have a great fish tank that provided this great photo opportunity for Alex and Daddy.

The most anticipated moment was the same at this birthday than at every other birthday party: the Cake. This is Alex's first theme cake, which it took not time at all for him to choose. Thomas the Train was a clear winner, and the plastic cake-topper train didn't leave Alex's hand for a solid two weeks. 

This may be the only time that day that Gretchen and Talia sat long enough for a picture

Does Alex look excited to you? We are a family of cake-lovers.
The family picture plus cake is never our best shot. Alex's thought bubble might as well be "why am I not eating cake?"
Happy Birthday little man! Two years old and ready to take on the world!