Saturday, September 21, 2013

Story Time Around the World - week 3

I was hesitant to go to story time this week.  It started raining Thursday night and hadn't stopped by the time we needed to leave.  After 3 days of staying home and Justin being out of town for the whole week, I was ready to get out and do something.  I grabbed my umbrella and we headed to Longview.  When we got there I was checking out some new toys in the store and Claire started tuggingon my shirt, letting me know it was starting.  I was surprised that she even wanted to participate.  The first two weeks she only wanted to play in the toy store.  Anyways, we took our seats and learned about Europe!
This was how excited Claire was to learn where Europe is locatedon the globe!
These are a couple of the books that were read.  The first was a "Madeline" book. 

They passed around some money from Denmark, and apparantly Legos are made (or orginated?) in Denmark

Another parachute activity
The last story read was about an old Italian womam who made pasta, so the crafty activity was stringing dyed rigatoni noodles onto yarn to make a necklace.  Claire was really into this.  She was concentrating pretty hard.
She was pretty darn proud of that necklace!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Jumpin' Jack's Party Shack

Last Saturday Grace was invited to a classmates birthday party at Jumpin' Jack's Party Shack in Tyler.  The place is full of inflatable slides, obstacle courses, climbing walls, and bounce houses.  This is the first time Grace has ever been invited to a birthday party for someone who is not a "church" friend.  She was so excited, she could hardly sleep the night before.  I was looking forward to spending a few hours with my first born.  We don't get to do much just the two of us these days.  We had an hour long drive and she talked my ear off the entire way.  I adore our conversations.  We arrived just in time for the party guests to get their wristbands and enter the play area.  She immediately spotted the birthday girl and a few other girls from school and she was off.  I spent the next hour or so watching my girl run and laugh with sweet friends she has only known a couple of weeks, but act as though they've been best friends their entire lives.  She  had a marvelous time and I was happy to be able to meet some of her classmates and their parents.       

Grace and the birthday girl.  Are they not absolutely adorable? (the photo bomber in the background is the birthday girl's older brother)
This had me cracking up!  As soon as it was time for presents, all the little girls smothered the birthday girl. I didn't see any of the gifts that were given.

There was even entertainment for the dads.  It's not a very good picture, but that's the A&M/Alabama game on the screen

Meanwhile... Claire spent the afternoon with daddy.  All 3 year old girls eat a half slab of ribs for lunch, don't they?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Baby and a Baby Blessing

A couple weeks ago we got to spend a Sunday with some family.  Justin's cousin Tagg lives in Allen, TX which is just north of Dallas.  They welcomed their new baby boy back in July and blessed him on September 8.  Their ward meets at 1pm, and since some of their family had to hit the road and head home after Sacrament meeting they decided to have a nice little brunch at their house before church.  The kids had a great time.  They always do when we go to Tagg and Katie's.  I was surprised by how much they enjoyed playing with Beckett's toys.  We are a house of girls so they don't get to play with cars and train sets very often.  We had such a nice time and look forward to spending more time with Justin's aunt and uncle, Ned and Gena, now that Ned has started working in Dallas.  We love having family close!

Grace LOVED the sit 'n spin

Beckett's belly is the cutest!  His dress shirt couldn't contain it.  I don't know how many times someone buttoned it, just to have it pop open within minutes. 

Maybe my girls need a train set for Christmas

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Sweet baby Griffin.  This baby is one of the chunkiest I have ever seen.  Love those cheeks!

After the baby blessing we headed to Dallas where another one of Justin's cousins is living while he's going to dental school.  Tyson and Sarah welcomed baby Dallas just 4 days earlier, and had just returned home that afternoon.  We stopped in to visit and meet the new little guy.  He is so sweet!  It's so hard to remember my babies being this small... and they were even smaller!  Oh, how I miss those newborn days.

Baby Dallas

We had such a good time with some of our extended family.  It's hard living so far away from our parents and grandparents, but it is nice to have cousins in Dallas.  We're grateful for them and their willingness to always watch our kids so we can attend the temple every now and again.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Story Time Around the World - weeks 1 & 2

Since Grace has started full-day kindergarten, I've been trying to come up with activities to get Claire and I out of the house (and to keep us from getting too bored).  I heard from a friend that the Knowledge Knook in Longview sometimes does a story time, so I checked it out.  I just so happened to get the info on this story time the day before a new 8-week session was starting.  It's called "Story Time Around the World."  We go every Friday at 10:30 in the morning.  Each week the kids learn about a new continent and some of the countries that make up that continent.  There are usually 2-3 stories read, and then a craft that relates to the week's theme.  The lady running it usually brings items that are either from one of the countries or represent one of the countries.  Week one was about North America.  The kids learned about maps and what towns, states, countries, and continents are.  She read a story about a Canadian boy and also about a Mexican artist.  Claire really wasn't that interested, but I'm hoping the more we attend the more she'll get in to it.  The Knowledge Knook is actually two stores in one.  It's a teacher supply store and a specialty toy store.  The first week Claire was much more interested in the toy store. 

She's excited for the first story!

The story lady brought a hockey puck from Canada for the kids to pass around

There was also Mexican and Canadian money. 

The craft this week was a cute little flip book.  on the front page the kids drew their house. Next page they drew their town.  Then they colored their state.  Next they colored their country in their Continent.  The final page was of the entire world. 

They also gave each child a passport.  Each week Claire gets a stamp in her passport.  At the end of the 8 weeks if she has at least 6 stamps she will get to pick a toy from the store.

The second week was about South America.  The story lady read a book about llamas, and then a couple about rain forests.
Again, Claire had a hard time sitting still for the story so I pulled out the camera to entertain her a bit
The story lady brought this necklace from Ecuador.  She didn't want to give it back.

They did a little parachute activity.  I don't recall how this related to the stories or South America.
The craft was sand art.  Claire drew a picture of her choice with pencil, then I outlined it with glue.  Claire sprinkled the colored sand on the glue.  She was pretty proud of herself for making that heart.  I have to admit that I was too!

Wendy's for lunch after story time.  I thought it was time to teach her the proper way to eat a frosty... with a french fry instead of a spoon!

Meanwhile... it was homecoming at Harmony so Grace was having fun at her first pep rally!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Nessen Dream Home 2013

We're currently building our "dream" home.  It all started about 18 months ago when a realtor friend of ours called and asked if he could show our house to some first-time home-buyers.  Our house wasn't on the market, but we did own a lot in a rural subdivision where we were planning on building a house at some point in the near future.  The home-buyers were renting a home in our neighborhood and really wanted to stay, but none of the homes for sale were in their price range.  We ended up with a contract a couple weeks later, and less than a month after that we were at the title company signing the papers.  While at our closing, the other realtor shared another listing with us.  It was 2700 sf home on 11 acres with a pipe fence and a metal barn.  It had a small pond in the pasture as well.  The home was owned by a widow in her 80's.  The house had caught on fire earlier that year and the woman's children and grandchildren moved her into an assisted living complex and convinced her to sell the place.  It was love at first sight for Justin, but I was much more hesitant because of the hefty price tag.  We ended up buying it with plans to demolish the house and rebuild on the existing foundation.  Eleven months later (and a whole lot of work) we were framing our new house!  It has been a true labor of love.  Designing the new floor plan with the architect took a few months longer than we expected.  Justin had to cut out sections of the slab in order to move plumbing and then fill it with new cement.  The original house also had a sunken living room we had to take care of.  Gravel and rebar had to be put in place so we could fill the sunken room with cement.  To save money, Justin is acting as the general contractor which has proved to be very time consuming.  It's nice that we are currently living about a mile from the construction site so Justin can swing by early in the morning and talk to the subs before he heads to work.  Most of our evenings for the last 5 months have been spent working and cleaning up at the new house.  It's coming along beautifully and we're sure excited to move in next month.  Below are the MOST recent pictures of the progress (I took them this morning).

all the windows on the front of the house will have wood shutters to match the front door

this is standing in the garage looking into my mud room

LOVE my mud room!  I designed this myself.  There will be a shelf under the bench for shoes and hooks above the bench for coats and backpacks.

1/2 bath off the mud room

my laundry room. I'll have a sewing desk under the window and the washer and dryer will be next to it.

this is the wall opposite the desk and washer/dryer.  our upright freezer will go inthe empty space.

this is the same wall as the freezer. we will have a clothes rod for hanging clothes to dry.

this is the storage closet off the laundry room


walk-in pantry

closer shot of cabinets

i took this standing in the kitchen looking at the dining room

entry way


living room

playroom/4th bedroom

Claire's room
Claire's walk-in closet

Grace's room

Grace's closet

Hall bath

Master bedroom from hallway

master bath vanity.  The cabinet in the middle of our bedroom will go on the vanity between the two sinks.

from left to right: master closet, toilet closet, linen cabinet, walk-in shower

soaking tub!

justin's side of master closet.  my side is basically the same

built-in book shelves in living room

another view of the living room.

we will be adding stacked stone to the hearth and inside the mantle as soon as it is delivered :)

garage.  the double doors on the left side open to a storage closet which houses the electrical panels and hot water heater, as well our side by side fridge.  the entire garage, including the garage door will be insulted so we can use that closet for food storage if needed.