Tuesday, January 15, 2013

San Antonio Anniversary

I had big plans for our anniversary this year. I found out that the lights along the riverwalk in San Antonio are pretty neat, and I started thinking about us taking a day trip there. I had everything planned--we would go to the San Antonio temple and do sealings, go to lunch with a gift card I had been saving since my June birthday, ride bikes along the San Antonio mission trail and tour some missions, and end with the lights along the riverwalk before heading home. We even had a gift card to use for gas! I arranged babysitters for the boys, made and packed food for the day, and early the morning of the 27th we were off.

But almost everything went awry! We joked that it was actually a great way to celebrate our wedding, because we had so many mishaps on that day as well (not the least of which was the engine on Sam's car going out in the temple parking lot just prior to our sealing!). It gave us an opportunity to laugh about things and just kind of roll with the punches.

First, the temple was closing just as we arrived in San Antonio and would not open again until the evening, when it was too late for us to go. Apparently since it is a small temple it has unusual hours. Then Outback Steakhouse, where we stopped for lunch, was also closed--I guess they are only open for dinner? I didn't even think to check, as I just assumed they had a lunch menu. After encountering horrible traffic on the way to downtown San Antonio due to construction, we finally made it there but the weather was so cold (strange given where we were) that there was no way we wanted to ride our bikes 10 miles or so. So we drove around trying to find a place to park and finally decided to just go tour the Alamo. And wouldn't you know it, the place was packed! The line went all the way around the Alamo and down the road. We decided to brave the cold and wait in line, and we did have a good time inside and looking around the museum.

Sam didn't want to bother with changing out of our Sunday clothes when we decided to forgo the bike ride, so we just walked around dressed up.

Since we needed to go back to Outback for dinner, and there wasn't one downtown, our only opportunity to see the Riverwalk was that afternoon. So much for seeing the lights! It was pretty nonetheless.

After we were sufficiently frozen (have I really turned into such a cold-weather wimp since leaving Utah?), we hopped back in the car and battled the traffic back to Outback. After turning around a few times trying to find it, we were finally inside and enjoyed a lovely anniversary dinner before heading back to Pearland to pick up our boys.

It's true that the day didn't go according to plan, but we still had a wonderful time together. We both commented on how the 6+ hours in the car were probably the best part just because of the nice, relaxing, uniterrupted conversations we were able to enjoy. So it was definitely a worthwhile trip and a marvelous 4th anniversary. I can't wait to celebrate many, many more with this incredible man!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christmas 2012

I absolutely love Christmas! And now that I have little kids and get to start fun traditions of my own, the fun has been taken to a new level. I am so grateful for the holiday season and for the peace and general goodwill we feel.

But this year got a bit frenzied. I decided I wanted to make a play kitchen that would match our kitchen and go in the kitchen, right next to the counter. Making dinner is a huge struggle for me because both boys are continually at me and want me to stop what I'm doing--especially Wesley. I thought having a play kitchen would help entertain them.

But as is usually the case with my "projects," it took longer than I expected and more money than I expected and in the end I was going crazy trying to get it done in time. I didn't quite make it--there was a mishap with the oven door, the sink and faucet need to be reinforced, and the sink handles need to be put on. The paint also needs some touch-ups. But it's a start! I tried to imitate our kitchen with white cabinets, a gray granite countertop, a black gas stove, and a white tile backsplash.

We threw a few dishes and play items in we already had, but the boys got a huge array from my family, so they now have a well-stocked kitchen!

I was slightly hesitant about it, because I didn't want to give them something too feminine--and in all honesty, they would have preferred trucks. But hopefully it will add some variety to their play and keep dinner preparation time a little more calm.

All that insanity inspired me to make the goal for 2013 to have all presents taken care of before December starts so I can spend the entire month celebrating and having a peaceful time with my family!

Talmage was excited to find fruit snacks in his stocking.

Dollar store dinosaurs? You bet!

Our little builder was so excited about the tinkertoys he got!

I am a big fan of these toys. I happened to find this almost-new set at Goodwill for $5 (a steal--they are so expensive in the store!) and am on the hunt for more to expand our collection. They are so great for imaginative play!

Have I mentioned all the free books I get as a consultant for Usborne books? They make awesome gifts that the boys love!

Our little cowboy had fun with his new stick horse.

And so did little brother!

Sam gave me another dinner-making aid. With hopes of reducing stress while I'm in the kitchen, he ordered this fun caterpillar tunnel as a "dinnertime only" toy. It folds up flat to store so it can be easily put away and pulled out as needed. It was so thoughtful of him to give a gift to help reduce stress.

We just enjoyed the rest of Christmas day together as a family and that night went for one more drive to see the lights. Both boys have loved going for Christmas-light drives! We get such a kick out of hearing their exclamations as we drive!

The next day we built a cool airplane out of Talmage's tinkertoys and enjoyed all of the new Christmas fun! We also want to pick a service project each year we can do together as a family to help open our children's eyes to how blessed they are and how they can help others in need. This year got a bit hectic and we ended up just having them each pick an old toy they could give away after receiving so many nice new toys. Although it wasn't anything dramatic, it has already had an effect on Talmage and he frequently talks about "people who don't have very many toys" and prays for them. Any suggestions for next year? (Maybe a bit more involved?)

All in all, we had a wonderful Christmas and are once again so deeply grateful for all of the gifts we received from family and friends. We truly are so amazingly blessed! Sam and I are continually in awe of the generosity of those around us.
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