Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Family Pictures...

Here are a few of the many pics that we had taken by some friends, Katie and Chris Stockwell, who started their photography business Asher Gray earlier this year! We had initially planned it as a surprise to Steve and Neika as part of their Christmas gift- pictures being done of their kids and grandkids...only. Well, somehow, they got a whiff of the surprise and I am sure glad they did! Otherwise, we wouldn't have all these other great pics that they are in!

We will defintiely be scheduling them again in the near future to do some more for us! We couldn't be happier- the day was just gorgeous after many crummy days with cold, rainy, cloudy weather. Katie had the perfect spot for these pics!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Just call him Napoleon....

a few words: rolling.laughing.till.our.sides.hurt! (Pause my music down on the right).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Polar Express

If you've never heard of this or done this, my first thing I would tell you is DO IT! Months ago we got an email from Lana, Brian's cousin, asking if the fam wanted to all make plans for the Polar Express, which is part of the Texas State Railroad. I had no idea this was even out there, let alone, that it would be so much fun!

We bought our tickets back in September and made plans for yesterday. We left in the morning, spent the day in Palestine, and then headed to the railroad by late afternoon for our 5:00 ride! Just about everyone in the family made it and I think especially the kiddos had a very special night to remember. The tickets were reasonable for what you got and the ride was really fun!

We were told to sit on the far side of the train away from the station when getting on so the kids had the best view! Riley was more excited because she actually knew what was going on and knew she was going to get to meet Santa Claus. Once the ride started, they gave everyone hot chocolate and cookies and began to make this ride a LOT of fun. They played the story, sang carols, and made a lot of us laugh.

The depot station

Cole and Blayke- they are 6 weeks apart.

Reese, Keira, and Riley so proud of their Polar Express folders from Dana! They got coloring pages and activites to do inside! How fun!!

We heard the train before we saw it and then the kids got really excited! We had been waiting for about an hour in the cold and drizzly weather.
very cool, but lots of smoke upon arrival- we were first at the gate. So we got a real experience. Hee hee.

some of us...and sweet Misty ( She is Maddi's mom- see below) in the background

If you look close, you can see Chuck in the background! What a character- the Maitre 'd ( for lack of a better term) challenged him to a dance off in the aisle. This guy in the white coat was awesome- he made this ride very entertaining for all of us. Really funny!

Cole did pretty well too- once the rain got moving he settled right in and went along for the ride.

Mouth full of cookies!

Cole and Papa ( his great-grandfather).

The look on Riley's face was priceless- she was ecstatic over Santa. He took pictures with everyone and his elves behind him gave all the kiddos a silver bell. She didn't let that bell go the whole way home. She wanted it tied around her wrist.

Sweet Keira- who is part of the Twitty clan! ( and Maddi in the background who is a Willy).

Brian & Kade (Keira's oldest brother)
Jason and Cole- one of Brian's many cousins.

and last , but not least, Aunt Dana- it took Riley all day to "warm up" to her but she sure does love you!

And would you believe I didn't even get pics of everyone else- at least 20 others. But I've linked them all in this post so you can see just how many of us there really are. I know they will also have many more pics!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Much to be thankful for...

So it appears that I haven't been the best blogger lately...I apologize. Life has been busy and time has flown. And to be quite honest, I haven't been the best at taking pictures and posting them. I check others blogs, think to myself " Yeah, I really need to get to that..." and then walk away to find myself doing something else.

The real truth is I just haven't been that motivated and when I say busy, I mean occupied. Most of you know but my dad came to live with us in August and its been a blur since. Cancer is a mean disease- it affects not just the patient but those that have to care for those patients. It is heartbreaking, frustrating, and has left me feeling like I am helpless to the disease. Brian has been a real trooper. We both had short notice on this diagnosis and literally jumped right in to help my dad who didn't have the medical resources where he was living. We got the call on a Tuesday, dad was here by Friday moved in, and I went back to work on Monday. So when I say that we jumped in, we really did.

As Thanksgiving has passed, I can sit here and think back the last few months and realize that there really have been many silver linings behind these clouds of the last few months. Things have slowed down a little and I have found a moment or two to reflect on some things that I am thankful for ( in no particular order):

1. God has all the answers & even though I don't, I still have faith in knowing that He must know what He is doing and why this is happening. He has pulled Brian and I closer and made him my tower of strength.

2. For Brian, who has never questioned anything and has been reliable, dependable, and a shoulder to cry on when all the hurt and frustration builds up... because we all know that taking care of anyone that is sick is a hard thing to do, especially when it's a parent. I love him so very much.

3. The time that we have to spend with my dad and more importantly, the time that he has left to spend with us & his grandkids- however long that may be none of us know.

4. The happiness and joy that Riley and Cole fill my heart with- the laughter, the hugs, the " I love you mommy", the nuzzles that take the place of the words because they can't come out yet...

5. For my dad accepting Christ and acknowledging a relationship with God.

6. Family & friends who have been there to call, offer help, and just be "there."

7. The jaw dropping moment when my three year old asked me this weekend, "Mommy, when will God be in my heart!?"

8. The dr.'s who have had the knowledge to make a diagnosis and provide some answers to this cruel disease.

9. continually being provided for.

So I will leave you with two things: a promise to be a better blogger, and the chorus to " Long Black Train" which I am listening to right now, thinking it has great relevance to our life:

Look to the heavens
You can look to the skies
You can find redemption
Staring back into your eyes
There is protection and there's
Peace the same, burnin' your ticket for that
Long Black Train

'Cause there's vict'ry in the Lord I say,
Vict'ry in the lord,
Cling to the Father and His holy name,
And don't go ridin' on that Long Black Train

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Halloween...a day or two late

Let's make this simple: ball pit + games+ moonwalks+ slides+ candy= very excited kids!

Just to be clear, Riley was Thumbelina, who she loves, and Cole was dressed as nothing other than what he is on any normal day. We thought it suited him well. When he ran off at the festival, I just gave that tail a little tug and yanked him back. He tolerated the costume very well- he normally will not put up with hats, bibs, or anything else of that nature.

he thought the balls were meant to be thrown OUT of the ball pit, so we spent some time chasing balls and trying to keep them IN the pit.

She went down over and over and over......again.

The kids ate the candy before we even made it home- imagine that!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

a great day!!!

What a FABULOUS day to spend at one of my favorite places! We made our now annual October trip to the zoo today with some friends of ours and their little one....and I think it was the best one yet. The weather was clear and cool and the kids are now at an age where they can run around and actually enjoy the animals. And I should say for the record, that for the most part everything went well. ( insert clearing the throat noise here...) Cole is now also at the fabulous age of 15 mo. when the fits and the word "no" mean the world is coming to an end. He spent a small portion of our trip strapped into the stroller kicking and screaming because we wouldn't ;et him continue to pull the wagon and run into people and their strollers. Riley was quite observant of this not so great behavior and said, " Mommy, what's he doing?" Maranda and I laughed, and at the very same time, said, " The same thing you did at this age." After the fit throwing commenced, the rest of the day ran smoothly.

We topped it all off with a ride on the new and improved Hermann Park train which we all enjoyed.