THANKSGIVING 2017

Thanksgiving. Mmmm, boy.

This past month, the girls and I tediously studied the who, whys, and hows behind our Thanksgiving celebrations here in America. I feel like we earned our platter-sized plate of food. Probably my favorite Thanksgiving meal of all time. Had there been ham and feijoada in the mix, it would’ve been perfection!

The girls adored spending time with their cousins. They ran all over that house giggling at very unnatural octaves and even did some caroling (at normal octaves)- until they noticed we were watching them.

Our second visit involved my side of the family. Boy cousins play very differently, hah!

Our annual-when-we’re-in-the-area post-meal walk was so so great. Perfect fall weather, gorgeous sunset, sweet dog tagging along, and not a single child got tired halfway through forcing us to lug them back to the house on our hip.

 

RAE’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

We celebrated Rae’s birthday in quite a few ways, all simple and quiet, over a few days time. She couldn’t think of a single activity she wanted to do for her birthday. I’m sure she would’ve enjoyed a movie at the theater, but there wasn’t anything good out. She was hoping for Paddington 2, but no such luck.

SO! My mother-in-law came for a visit with gifts in tow and we had a quiet day together at the house. We got her gifts as well since she didn’t pick an activity.

She received Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig toys, as well as a C-3PO (“Sweepio”) figurine.

The girls jumped right in and began playing and coloring in her Paw Patrol books and playing with the Peppa Pig toys. Mae graciously dealt with the pesky packaging.

It was a perfect fall day out. Rae opted for snuggles with Grandma on the deck instead of taking a nap. I’m sure Grandma appreciated this moment.

My mom sent this card (along with $$!) She slept with it and carried it around for a few days.

Her school gave her a crown and sang to her. – and she didn’t cry at the attention!

On her actual birthday, the girls watched Troll Hunters by the fire – per her request.

We still did a bit of school work, but she doesn’t do much at home on pre-school days. Since it was her birthday, she really just had to listen to Mae’s lesson and skipped the work accompanying it, but she still chimed in with plenty of questions.

She received a package from Grandma Dee, “DeeDee,” on her actual birthday as well. Couldn’t have timed it better!

 

DEAR RAE : : HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY EDITION

Agh, that face! Happy birthday, Gorgeous!

That pose and perfectly orchestrated smile was done solely by you with no instruction, yet somehow it’s not the you that comes to my mind typically. You can be sweet, sure, but you are still very much a “party waiting happen,” as Grandma DeeDee puts it. A John Hughes party.

As you get older, you’ll notice your personality is different than the quiet calm nature the rest of your immediate family posses. Embrace it. You were gifted it for a reason, Rae.

You’re still loud, stubborn, and appalled by all things sticky. BUT! You adore all things sparkly. Too many accessories is not a thing. You’d choose a dress with poof! (and nail polish to match, of course) over jeans any day.

However, when you do get around to wearing pants, you make sure the brim never falls below your belly button. Heaven forbid.

You still wear a watch every day. Your favorites (you have SO many!) are Grandpa Fred’s watch, my cousin Michael’s watch he took overseas, and the one in these photos. I don’t know what show the characters are from, but it lights up so it’s definitely in the running.

Star Wars is still the greatest. thing. everrrrr. Dark side still reigns supreme, and Luke Skywalker is still the ultimate dreamboat.

Paw Patrol is your newest obsession. “Chase is on the case!” Or so I hear…

You’re a self-proclaimed “good ripper.”

You are brilliant. You can read new words and complete second-grade math at a glance.

Your drawing skills are tops, and you color better than seasoned ‘big kids.’ You have grown out of that breaking-every-crayon thing you used to do, but still tear off the wrapping.

You sing ‘church songs’ all day long. You’ve always been able to hold a tune. Even as a baby you hummed on key. Something you did not get from me. I love to hear you sing.  (Or hum the Imperial March)

You have ZERO interest in organized extracurricular activities, but hand you a shovel, and you’ll dig holes for hours – pausing for snacks every fifteen minutes. Naturally.

This twirl photo was, again, not posed. You twirl after each time you get dressed for the day, and then again once your shoes are on. Each time a favorite song comes on and when the wind picks up bringing a fresh breeze your way.

At this point in your life, you are very much a best friend tease. You have ten or so right now, but you hold to your word and make them all feel loved when you see them and talk about them all often.

You still prefer short hair since it’s low maintenance (at your age anyway). It suits you.

These past five years wouldn’t have been nearly as grand without you, Rae.

We love you ‘so dang much!’

 

LATELY : : OCTOBER

October, oh how we love thee. This was a fun month!

I’ve posted fifty-eight photos and two videos to sum up a thirty-one day month (and that was skimming the surface, ha!). If you decide to stick around for such a commitment, go ahead and gather whatever supplies you deem necessary and get comfy.

We ended September and began October with Seth and Jenny.

The girls have received frequent computer time over the past month. They only use these during their free time, and never instead of school work, but they certainly learn a lot through these. ABC Mouse is their favorite.

Soon, Mae will start typing practice, but I’m certainly in no rush for her to get comfortable around a computer.

Mae would eat every meal by candlelight if I’d agree to it. On rainy days, I agree to it.

Mae turned seven!

When Zack and I were dating (and newly married), he would set up scavenger hunts for me on my birthdays. I believe his mom also did one for me back in high school.

Our girls don’t usually get any gifts from us. This year, however, all of Mae’s desired activities didn’t pan out, so she received gifts by way of a scavenger hunt through the house.

She also had macaroons instead of cake and sparkling grape juice in fancy glasses.

Mae also received calls that involved songs and long conversations, from Grandma Shari, Grandpa Kevin, and Uncle Joe. I took these photos as they were talking to Uncle Joe. Their faces were just too good. Rae even joined in on this call. They miss their Uncle Joe!!

Rae has spent more hours than not “doing art.” Above are some badges she made with paper bag clippings, glue, and markers. All her idea and her doing.

Art has become her favorite (only) way she spends her free time.

Not bad for a girl who “Doesn’t even like crafts.”

We started the fireplace back up. Not the furnace yet, but we’re ready for it! Well, my heart is ready, my husband is not. Zack wants to reroute ducts to be more efficient with how the heat is used throughout the house. That man. Always schemin’.

Speaking of schemin’, Zack started more projects. This is going to be a fun one!!

The girls collected leaves on our frequent walks.

The camera on my phone was broken for most of the month (and last month!) so we took a lot more photos with me in them. Zack is very happy about this.

This also means I used the Nikon more. The Nikon is happy about this as well, I’m sure.

– and I guess I also wore Zack’s Cornerstone shirt a lot?

Mae purchased a bow and arrow with some of her birthday money (from Grandma). She has practiced every day. On rainy days she practices in the living room. She’ll be a master archer in no time.

Rae became less crabby about copy work. (Soley for practicing her writing skills, not for knowledge of what she’s writing)

My aunt & uncle came from Georgia for a visit!

While visiting my dad and Uncle Kenan (Aunt Kim’s brothers), she (and of course Rae’s BFF, Uncle Larry!) took the time to drive 2 hours to see us!!

Friends from Alabama also came for a visit!

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Buckey boy got neutered and had his dewclaws removed.

So far, he still loves us.

The girls carved a pumpkin. Seasonal obligations.

Mae has big plans for her own pumpkin patch next year. We’re planting ALL the seeds! “Go big.”

Mae has developed an interest in hymns.

Daddy is more than happy to sing them all to her at a moments notice. He sings them on his own at random, so I guess its no surprise she likes them. I’m just happy about this.

^ That look!! What a babe. Can you spot Buckey?

We took Zack to one of our favorite spots for breakfast one day. We’ve been missing him this year. He has been much busier than he used to be. All good things and all time away from us is spent helping others. It sure is nice when we get uninterrupted time with our man, even if it is just for half an hour (and on the way to more of his responsibilities – ha!).

I turned 30, for whatever that’s worth.

Amelia proudly ate raw broccoli on my birthday…just thought that floret should be acknowledged.

My favorite part had to be this child saying, “I love you, Birthday Girl,” followed by a kiss on my arm (because she’s short), every chance she got.

Coming in at second place, is the time spent helping Mae bake me a pineapple upside down cake. I don’t like pineapple upside down cake. I actually don’t like any cake. I DO like her smile and the joy she feels when she puts time and hard work into caring for others.

My mother-in-law sent me a list of 30 things she adores about her Jadey-girl. You may know about the lists and letters I write occasionally. Man, was it nice to be on the receiving end.

While we were planning on officially celebrating my birthday the following weekend, Zack had an entire afternoon to just spend with us, so we took advantage of the situation, and took the girls out on the town.

It was cold and rainy, so we stuck with indoor biz. We started our night by checking out the new Starbucks in a neighboring town. (everything we do is in a neighboring town.) I hate coffee, but Zack loves coffee, especially if there is something new and weird he can try. Wouldn’t you know, there was something new and weird for him to try!

We also walked around Khols. We never go to Khols and often forget it even exists.

They had superhero sheets and so many toys at eye level throughout the store. My girls were very pleased with this place.

We then went to Walmart (yay?) and let the girls finally play Zelda on the big screen.

We ended our lazy evening with Taco Bell at 9 p.m. NINE P.M!

Mae wore this coat all evening and rarely takes it off – even at home – because she fancy.

We set up a new schoolroom situation. (Did you just laugh out loud, Shari? I can’t help myself.)

Mae decided to grow three years overnight at some point.

Also ^ she’s super into writing stories about horses. We have notebooks full of them.

She’s also still very much into being a dweeb. God bless her.

Speaking of dweebs…

Rae manages to function perfectly with my harsh prescription strapped to her face. Should I be worried?

(She’s holding an acorn ^)

It’s wood haulin’ / choppin’ / burnin’ season! Our favorite!!

Zack was able to get some work done for his grandpa during his fall break, so we spent the final weekend at Zack’s mom’s house.

The girls and I brought along some workbooks to do while everyone was at work and enjoyed some school outside (before it became freezing cold.)

The girls and I also took several walks while everyone was at work. We brought Buckey along, but he’s getting too big!!

Buckey boy was able to enjoy some time with Zack’s grandparents while Zack put up a backsplash. So glad it didn’t take him long to get calm and lounge about. He seemed to appreciate time away from his kennel.

Vovo (my grandma) and Grandpa moved up from Alabama this weekend as well! They brought their piano and couch for us, so we brought B along for a ride in the truck. He also rode home in the truck later that night, leaving me to drive home in the van alone. Not my favorite thing to do…

We’ve been making constant use of that piano and sofa. Thanks, Vovo.

This is also the reasoning for the new schoolroom area up above.

^ Mae now has the largest earmuffs to accompany that coat of hers.

Halloween. Mae adores it. I think the excitement involved in getting out of the house with the entire town at night + dressing up has a lot to do with it. She’s not that into candy. BUT! So much candy was collected.

Daddy painted faces all night. Guess which girls got to go first…

We came home after making the rounds, enjoyed some hot chocolate and watched Vamperina on Youtube. Solid night and I am oh so glad it’s over!

Our days are filling up quickly but we’re hoping November will leave us feeling less like this ^.

Happy November, errbody.

 

STEVENS WEEK : : PART FIVE

Zack took off work on their last day with us. We decided to take them canoeing since it’s one of our favorite hobbies. We were all pretty excited, but the girls’ anticipation rivaled the adults’ and kept us all in good spirits as we froze our buns off.

Those of us in kayaks became drenched with ice water with each paddle of our oars. Thankfully the kids were in the canoe with Zack, safe and dry with an endless supply of snacks.

By the end of our trip (our shortest time on the river, ever!), our hands and feet were pretty well thawed out.  – This was all my fault. I assumed it would warm up as it does in the summer. It did not. I should’ve dressed for autumn, not mid-July…

Afterwards, we headed home to card games by the fire. Another one of our favorite ways to pass the time.

They taught us Kings in the Corner, and we taught them Speed and Settlers of Catan. Cendi beat Jonathan in Speed, and he whooped us all in Settlers.

Best four days we could’ve hoped for! Thanks for traveling a billion miles to see us!!!

STEVENS WEEK : : PART FOUR

The science center (part of Forest Park) was closed on Saturday when we attempted to tour it, so on Monday, we ditched our plans to visit our local park and have an overall lazy day and drove back to St. Louis to see what the Science Center had to offer.

It did not disappoint, and in fact was probably my favorite part of the week. Had Zack been there it would’ve definitely been my favorite part!

There was a station where you controlled ^ this Rover and its camera. So fun!

All of our girls adore Star Wars! Rae was so giddy when she discovered this case full of memorabilia.

It would take 275,000 US dollars to send her tiny hiney to outer space. She would love to travel into space.

Watching the cars driving under the walkway.

Ah, nerd wit.

This construction scoop “game” was out of order, but there were plenty of other cool things for the kids to try. One of which was an earthquake simulation station. Pretty neat.

We all learned a bit about dinosaurs. They even had fossils we were able to examine, which the workers dug up on a trip to Montana.

Elevators with windows. Enough said?

They had such cool little – for lack of a better word – stations where we could see how things work. The energy in our homes, how much energy our bodies conduct (the kids’ energy was off the chart. The adults, not so much – no surprise there…), petal power, wind power, electric car versus gas powered, etc.

They had added on a farm area since the last time we visited. The even had live chickens there. My girls love all things farm – livestock or produce, so I’m sure they’ll be eager to get back there.

Last but certainly not least, a photo of Eisliegh and Mae “twinning” from head to toe. Could they be any cooler??

STEVENS WEEK : : PART THREE

Sunday, after church, we visited a local pumpkin patch.

Rae was sad about the possibility of us making her ride the zip line. Silly.

She climbed the little rock wall up to the window. Such joy in her accomplishment. That smile is everything.

These children are fearless. They just hopped up on the giant hay bales and jumped around without a care.

The corn. Oh, boy. So much corn went home in their britches.

It wasn’t cold or rainy the entire time they were here. Missouri was putting on quite the show for this sweet family! Thanks for bringing some Alabama warmth with you, and for helping us create such happy memories!

STEVENS WEEK : : PART TWO

Since we neglected to pack a picnic to eat after our time at the zoo, we drove over to Raising Cane’s chicken joint for some very hot, very filling chicken, before visiting the Arch. (We’d never been, so bold move on Zack’s part!)

The kids’ table. The place to be. I don’t believe the girls stopped talking long enough to eat a single bite of food. Curious, since they were d y i n g of hunger twenty minutes before.

As a result, however, we were able to eat our food without a single interruption! My last bite of food was still hot as it was consumed!!!

The twins.

These two are both seven now, the old hags.

I just noticed Mae has ketchup. Mae doesn’t even like ketchup. I guess if Eisleigh has ketchup Mae has ketchup. A subtle token of solidarity. Best. Friends. Foreverrrrr.

Nailed it.

We tried explaining the Arch best we could. We came up with “large metal sculpture you can go into…?”

Mae, so full of joy at the sight of the Arch. Completely unaware she smacked Vada in the face. Haha, poor sweet tolerant Vada.

Mae has seen the Arch a billion times before and has even traveled to the tippy top. She’s just obsessed with all things St. Louis. Loud ‘n proud.

Typically, our favorite thing about the “Arch experience,” is the great walking paths which are surrounded by gorgeous tree lines, and the shade they provide. The cobblestone walkway and large steps between the Arch and the Mississippi River are a close second.

On this trip, sadly, we weren’t able to see any of that. It was closed for construction, so we hung out at the bottom by the construction fencing.

Game after game of tag by the old courthouse was the highlight!

I’m not sure we could’ve asked for a better day to spend outside in the city!

As for the construction? Well, they didn’t even know what the Arch was upon arrival, so we didn’t have to compete with expectations. – AND!  Both men and all four children slept on the way home, while Cendi and I talked about everything under the sun without interruption.

Thanks for being so easy going and comfortably agreeing to go where the wind took us that day, Jonathan and Cendi!

STEVENS WEEK : : PART ONE

Our beloved Stevens’ traveled many many miles upon hours to see us this past weekend. We stocked our days with a balance of our favorite sights and time at our home. Simply being together was all any of us really wanted.

The girls get along so incredibly well! There wasn’t a single disagreement and no segregation among friends. Four girls and four days! Can you imagine???

Since Forest Park is our favorite, we started our first day with a trip to the St. Louis Zoo!

The girls threw pennies into the fountain and made a wish, except Vada. She specifically didn’t attach a wish to her penny. That girl beats to her own drum.

The butterfly house was full of charm and housed some of the largest butterflies we’ve ever seen. Honestly, I didn’t know butterflies could be so large.

There are some gems up there of Rae. Poor sensitive-eyed baby.

Is she eating that fence post? I dunno.

The elephants gave us a pretty great show. Lining up Papa, Momma, Baby, followed by the father giving a loud snort.

In the end, we saw five or six elephants. That’s the most we’ve ever seen at one time. Mostly rumps, but you know, beggars and choosers and whatnot.

The Ginger in his desired habitat – a dark, damp, cool cave. (and lookin’ mighty fine, I might add.)

Eisleigh and Vada don’t remember their first trip to a zoo, so they were so fun to show around! Everything was “the best!” and their smiles are full of genuine cheer.

They truly were fun every minute of every day, guys!

Rae found the Zebras! Heaven. Hah!

The hippos weren’t in full force like they usually are, but we did see one!

Stopping for a drink.

( Plenty of Rae going on in this post! It was naptime, and she was especially clingy. She’s also the youngest of the bunch and not near as independent. )

The Ginger in his less desired habitat: Smackdab in the direct path of the suns rays, smothered by humidity’s unrelenting grasp. He still manages to impress a lady in all of his discomfort! Look at that face!

The girls (and adults!) hung in there through a l l the walking! We continued our day with lunch and the apparently only-regionally-famous Arch, which I’ll post about tomorrow.

DEAR MAE : : HAPPY 7TH BIRTHDAY EDITION

Welp. Here we are, and here it is. The starting line of your eighth trot around the sun.

You’re officially SEVEN. Honestly, that feels about right.

I won’t say I wish you were still wittle bitty. While that was a hoot, I am beyond grateful that you’re here with us now.

As I sat writing this, you’ve given me not one, not two, but three!! goodnight kisses. Right there on my mouth. Seven and still kissin’ yer ma on the lips. I’m going to milk your generosity for all its worth.

I’ve noticed, in the past two weeks or so, a shift in your relationship with your sister. You’re outgrowing her a bit. She’ll catch up, and you’ll never be apart for too long, but for the first time you don’t have the patience you once had.

That being said, you have more patience than any human I know. I’ll do my best to help you hold on to that.

You are intuitive and compassionate.

Your most prominent interests are what they have always been, exploring the outdoors, art, science, dancing, and learning about the history of different cultures.

OH! Fashion. how could I forget fashion? Definitely, the interest that has been brought to the forefront this past year. I could wear the same plain gray t-shirt every day, but you adore all things sparkly and new. The fancier the better.

You are wise beyond your years.

You have a flair for drama. The good kind. Your quick wit and charm fill my heart with such delight. Right up there with them th’r kisses you dull out so freely.

Your heart is fair. You know good, and don’t see why someone would choose another path.

You light up a room simply by being in it (your smile and genuine interest in people helps too!) and leave each person feeling like the most loved person on earth with those bear hugs you’ve mastered in your seven short years.

You have become interested in writing stories, poems, and notes. (Now that you can write) The words and phrases you use on the daily stop us where we stand. You’re brilliant.

Above all, you know you are a child of God. You make the most beautiful observations about life and Heaven and your Savior and ask the deepest and most thoughtful questions.

You see the world and those in it, as the Lord does. Faith of a child I suppose, but I’ll do my part in following your lead, and not stray you from the pure heart you now possess.

Happiest of Birthdays, Twerp. We love you so much it literally hurts.