Christmas in Pictures (Again)

I’ve come to realize there are just certain times you are not going to be able to come up with a creative title.  But you might – just might – be able to come up with some good photos.

One of my very favorite things about Christmas is the Christmas Eve candlelight service that comes right before it. It was always my favorite thing as a little girl and I love seeing it through the eyes of my little girls.

Why do children just look more angelic with candlelight shining on their faces? ❤️

My mom started our Christmas tradition of opening stockings first thing in the morning and then doing presents and everything else later on.

This year, Santa brought light up notebooks with each girls’ initials on them.  (I really should never have walked into Justice 😂).

Now it’s time for the annual quick-photo-in-front-of-the-tree before our outfits/hair get messed up.

Heart officially melted.

Time to open presents at Grandmommy and Buddy’s!

IMG_8328IMG_8330IMG_8334IMG_8336IMG_8340IMG_8341IMG_8343IMG_8345IMG_8349 Selah’s Christmas/birthday list pretty much was made up of fake animals that act like real animals – the cat in the picture above, Hatchimals, Chubby Puppies – you get the idea. I’m the meanest for not buying her an actual animal. 😔

Pause for another photo op of family in front of the tree –

And the grandchildren –

IMG_8371.JPG And now you’ll notice a little break in my picture taking because it was time to come back home and host Christmas lunch for the whole family. This year was a little different because we had the Avid Coffee truck parked in our driveway.  Super fun for everyone.

Photo cred: @plantpoweredmommy 😊

Once everyone left, it was time for clean-up, gumbo dinner, baths and our last round of present opening.

IMG_8385IMG_8389 Yep. Animal theme still going on.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

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A Very Six Year Old Selah

Selah’s birth story is always one of my favorites.  Being super pregnant at Christmastime, my parents just making it in time to see her birth, going in labor while my doctor was on vacation, Jeff asking me if I wanted to go to the roof of the hospital to see fireworks after she was born – she is certainly my most exciting birth story.

Because of the hurricane this year, we ended up with a set of six plane tickets to anywhere.  It was my dad’s idea to use them to go to LA over the holidays and Selah’s birthday, see our friends and do Disney. Why not? I thought.  It’s always amazing to be in California for the new year.

So off we went, with two new umbrella strollers and an Ergo in tow, ready to Disney it up.

We arrived in LA pretty early, but got to spend most of the day with my bestie and her family.

The first thing we always do is hug the dogs.

Then, we decorate our cookies. This year, Auntie Kasie bought ugly Christmas sweater cookies. 😂

And then more playtime outside.

Plus sweeping, of course.

One of the cutest moments was when Ryker and Kate shared Goldfish. Heart melted.

 

When we do Disneyland, we are the people who stay on property to get the extra “magic morning” hour and then get to the gate by 6:40 AM. You’d think we would be the only ones, but alas we are not.

On day one of Disney, my main objective was to try and recreate this shot from 2013 – before all the crowds showed up.

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I mean, c’mon.  That’s a pretty magical picture.

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This one wasn’t too shabby either.

Anyway, I ran all the girls over to the same spot, hunted down a Disney photographer, and set them up.

 

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And a couple more shots…

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Alright, folks.  We’re done with our Disney pictures for the week.

The first day was the early morning into the Disneyland side, so we went ahead and rode as many of the smaller rides as we could before the lines got too long.

Also during this time, I familiarized myself with the relatively new Disney MaxPass. Life. Changing.

With the MaxPass, you can get your Fastpasses on your phone – without running around the park getting paper tickets. I could get the big girls and myself Fastpasses to say – Guardians of the Galaxy, Space Mountain, or California Screamin’ – while getting my dad, Jeff and Kate Fastpasses to Buzz Lightyear or Toy Story. So amazing.

After riding the rides in both parks a few times, we figured out when the camera was going to go off –

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Selah posing as a kitty cat.

 

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Whee!!

We did manage to squeeze in a few princess visits…

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On the morning of Selah’s actual birthday, the first ride we rode was Radiator Springs – always a hit.  But before I could ride it with her, the ride broke down. So we headed over to one of my personal favorites – California Screamin’. I wasn’t sure if she would like it or not, but she did. For the rest of the trip, she kept asking to ride the big white rollercoaster. (If you were wondering, we did all eventually get to ride Radiator Springs the next day.  That poor ride was really having some technical difficulties.)

 

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Happy SIXTH birthday, my Selah girl!!

 

Kasie and I did manage to get one picture together during one of our dinners. We took way more of our children.

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Two fun observations about this photo – 1. why does she look taller than me? and 2. this may be the very first time in our entire friendship that my hair is shorter than hers.

For our final night, we got to go back over to Kasie and JB’s house to eat some dinner, love on the dogs and Ryker and watch a movie.

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And then, promptly fell asleep. Night, night.

It’s almost time to go back to Texas now and have Selah’s “official” birthday party. Happy New Year!

 

School Pictures

My experience with school pictures has been – well, ok. Some of them have turned out pretty well, but some of them – not so much. I usually buy one sheet.

That is, until Kate’s school pictures this year.

I may have overbought this year. Just a little. 😂

Although that top one is my favorite, I liked these pretty well too.

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I mean, you gotta buy some for posterity, right? 😉

The Pumpkin Patch Tradition

Even though I feel like we are a home without a ton of tradition, fall does seem to bring out everything I’ve got. First up on the list is, of course, the infamous pumpkin patch.  This year, I had to do it solo, but I was so proud of the girls and how well they now pose themselves and encourage each other to smile for the camera. (what??!!)

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After some successful picture-taking, we rewarded ourselves with pumpkin bread and more time to play.

I sure do love my little pumpkins.

Time for School!

It was hard for me to believe that this year I would have TWO elementary school kiddos. But I had to believe it when it was time for the first day of school.

I’m not going to lie – it wasn’t easy dropping off my Selah girl for her first day of kinder. She was completely fine and ready for me to go, but I lingered a minute extra to get in another hug and kiss. I sure will miss having her around the house all week.

And for some reason, leaving Macy in third grade felt strange as well. It’s in a different (much older) hallway and I felt like I was losing a piece of her babyness. Third grade is so, well, old. She, of course, wasn’t interested in me leaving and I had to distract her with her before-school-started project in order to take her mind off of me leaving. While she showed the teacher her handiwork, I snuck out.

So there they go, off to kinder and third. I left the building feeling a little off with only one kid. Time to figure out what life looks like with two girls in real school.

The good news is I’ve still got one girly who spends most of her time with me.

Except for Tuesday and Thursday mornings, that is. 😉

Here’s Kate-Kate on her first day.

So here’s to learning. And a little time where I can hopefully get something done. 😂

Summer, Sun, and All Things Hot

This was not my hardest summer in Houston, but it was by far the LONGEST one I think I’ve ever had. The good news was it was my first summer without official naptime, official diapers or an official “baby”.

This means we had lots of times for all things water.  And some zoo. Parks. Playgrounds. TWO trips to the beach. Basically it was every kid’s dream summer.

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I even was crazy enough to squeeze in some impromptu ballet lessons once a week for most of the summer. (Actually, only for Macy and Selah, but doesn’t Kate look cute all dressed up?!)

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Even with all this fun, Selah was waiting and waiting to go to kindergarten. When the date kept getting moved back, she was the only kiddo who was sad. Mommy, she’d ask, WHEN can I go to KINDERGARTEN?! Soon, baby girl, soon. 😉

The Finale

It's our last full day in Yellowstone. Tomorrow we may get to do some sight seeing, but we will begin the trek back to Denver – this time split a little more in half with a hotel stay in Idaho.

I've learned a lot on the trip.

1. No matter how careful you try to be when packing – you will probably still forget one major thing. This time, it was Kate's leggings. The good news is she really only needed them for the first few days of the trip and Selah's leggings fit ok when you roll up the top a little bit. 😉
2. Technology may fail you when you need it most. While I've been pretty happy with the Kindles, the Netflix app has failed me a time or two. 😔
3. When you've got three girls, always bring a brush in the car. And some extra rubber bands for ponytails.
4. Patience, patience, patience. We are probably averaging five-six hours in the car. Every day. To see some amazing things, sometimes you've just gotta sit in a car.
5. There are huge sections of the country that still have limited or no cell service. This was an adjustment at first, but I've ended up enjoying not having a phone all the time.
6. Just when you think you've seen every geyser you possibly can see, there's still one more.

Today has been about finishing up the last parts of Yellowstone we haven't done yet. First up the list was the North Rim Upper Falls.

We stopped at Lookout Point and I took this shot. This section is also called the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It does look pretty similar.

Lookout Point is pretty intense. I didn't used to be nervous in places like this – where there's not much separating you from sudden death – but since having the girls, I find myself very nervous leaning over large cliffs to take a photo. The above picture is actually one that a stranger took because I was holding Kate and didn't want to lean over and get the shot. Thank you, kind stranger.

After this, we headed toward the Norris Geysers. This is an impressive collection of more geysers and hot springs.

But the smell of sulphur isn't for the faint of heart. 😂

Here's Kate posing in front of the Steamboat Geyser.

And Selah in front of the Echinus Geyser.

Our next to last stop was the Artist Paint Pots.

Macy especially liked these because of all the colors.

Finally, we stopped by the Firehole River Falls. I didn't get out to take a picture because Kate fell asleep on me. Remind me to ask Jeff if he got one. 😉

We celebrated our last night in town by eating at a hotel restaurant – strategically chosen because of its fast Wifi service and the need to download different shows on the girls' Kindles – and by finding a candy store. Honestly, this was probably the girls favorite part. They each got their own bag and I ran around trying to make sure no one put too much in it.

And now, it's time to go home, do a final load of laundry (I know, I know. I just can't help myself) and maybe watch a movie so I can pack everything up.

Goodbye Yellowstone. We sure will miss you and will tell your stories often.