Thursday, December 15, 2011

Grace's Artwork

Today while Claire was napping and I was making potato salad for our ward Christmas party I pulled out the (washable) markers and paper for Grace to keep herself entertained.  She did a fantastic job.  She colored for about 30 minutes, relating stories as she went.  My favorite is shown below.  She told me she was going to draw me a picture of the zoo.  That she did!  I think I have a pretty talented (almost) four year old. 

(click on the picture to enlarge so you can read my labels. 
I doubt anyone besides me would be able to make out what she drew)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Prayer

I'm thankful for a lot of things.  My family and I are blessed in so many ways.  Tonight I am especially thankful for this little girl and the sweet prayers that she offers at bedtime when we kneel together as a family.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.  It was pretty relaxed and low-key, which was fine with me.  We slept in, had cold cereal for breakfast (per Grace's request!), then enjoyed a yummy Thanksgiving meal with the Dodd/Austin family.  The girls and I came home for naps and movies while Justin drove to College Station to watch the Texas A&M game.  His friend, who we went to the World Series with, was able to get tickets for the (possibly last) game against UT.

At bedtime tonight, Grace declared that it was her turn to say the prayer.  Fine with me!  She's been stubborn and refusing lately when it's been her turn.  I just had to document the words of her prayer because it was hilarious.

Grace: "Dear Heavenly Father, we thank thee for this wonderful day and the good food.  Thank thee for mommy being nice.  Please bless us to be good.  Please bless Grandma Erlenbusch because her back hurts really bad.  Please bless daddy to be safe and he's gone a long time.  Please bless Kenzie because she's my friend and she can come to my house to play.  Please bless Dolphin to be good and play nice with Cinderella.  Please bless Kenzie's daddy to be the king of the monkeys.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Oh, and please bless me and mommy and Claire to sleep good."

WHAT???  I have no idea where she got the 'king of the monkeys' idea or why she wants Kenzie's daddy to take the throne. 

Also, she has an imaginary pet dolphin named Polkadots who goes with us everywhere.  She buckles Polkadots in the car seat between she and Claire every time we get in the car.  It's pretty funny to listen to her 'play' with Polkadots.  I love her vast imagination and that she's not afraid/embarrassed to show it to us.  Also, Cinderella is her friend and usually plays at our house, but lately she's been spending a lot of time at Kenzie's house.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just An Ordinary Day

I blog a lot about what we do when we have a special outing, holiday, or visitor.  I thought it would be a good idea to blog about the ordinary, every day things that go on around here too.  Now, these pictures weren't all taken on the same day, but it's a good depiction of what happens in our home on ordinary days.
 Justin fell asleep one afternoon while I was out and about.  This is what he woke up to.  Grace did an awesome job of putting my make-up on the right parts of her face.  It took me two days and a full bottle of eye make-up remover to get the mascara off her eyelashes. 

I hope these two will grow up to be best friends.  For now, these sweet moments where they show love for one another don't come around too often.  There's a lot of screaming in our house. 
Claire laid on the floor coloring for about 30 minutes one evening.  I love that she's getting to the age where some things can keep her attention for decent amounts of time. 

This girl loves the bath tub.  I find her like this at least once a day.  She just climbs right in and yells at me, "I WANT TO TAKE A TUBBY!"

One day I turned on the TV in my room while I was getting ready so Claire could watch Micky Mouse Clubhouse (her ALL TIME favorite right now.  This girl is crazy for Mickey!)  I had a laundry basket on the floor full of clean clothes and she just climbed right in and laid down like it was a little bed just for her.  When I saw her she looked at me and said, "Hi mommy, I'm laying down."  She was quite proud of herself.

Like I said before, Claire is crazy for Mickey.  All day long I hear her saying, "I wanna watch Mickey Mouse!"  She sat on the step stool holding her Minnie Mouse doll and watched the entire 1 hour episode of Mickey's Space Adventure.

So there it is.  Ordinary days at home with the kids.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Grandma and Grandpa Came to Visit

My parents came for a visit at the first of the month.  It had been since Claire was born that my mom came to visit, and for my dad it had been over 3 years!  We were so happy to have them here.  We didn't do a whole lot (really, what is there to do in Gilmer?).  We spent a lot of time at home just hanging out and playing.  We missed them as soon as they left.  Claire really took a liking to my dad (finally) and was so happy to just sit in the chair with him and watch TV.

We drove up to Pittsburg one day to Efurds Orchards for some homemade peach ice cream

(that's Grace playing peek-a-boo behind the tree)

We ate some yummy bbq

Grace was LOVING those ribs!

Justin and I left the girls at home with my parents for a couple hours and when we returned they said the girls had been so good.  Yeah.  SO good.  This is what the back of Grace's bedroom door looked like.  The front wasn't quite so bad.

Luckily, it was Canton weekend while my parents were here.  We spent most of the day at the flea market.  Grace begged us for hours to ride the "ferris wheel." We finally gave in and she loved it.

All in all, it was a great week.  It was certainly too short, but still great.  We can't wait for their next visit.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Opportunities To Do Good

During the April 2011 General Confrence, Elder Eyring challenged each stake to have a day of service to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the church's welfare system.  You can read the talk here.  Our stake chose October 29th for our day of service.  Our ward did a lot of painting around the town square and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as trash clean up.  The striping on the steps around the courthouse needed some repainting.  Grace and Claire got in on the action too.  The kids had so much fun helping dad. 

Claire decided to take a juice break and sat down on one of the freshly painted steps.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween 2011

This year, Justin was out of town the week prior to Halloween so the girls and I headed over to carve pumpkins with several other families from church.  Claire was totally freaked out by all the people and the unfamiliar setting.  Grace was loving cleaning out the pumpkin, until she saw a bunch of kids playing on a playground/swing set.  We had a good time, but Justin is definitely the pumpkin carver in the family.  I didn't even get a picture of our carved jack-o-lantern.    

 Jaici was so sweet and tried to make Claire happy

 Grace diggin' in to her pumpkin

On the 29th we had a tri-ward trunk or treat at the church.  Grace is really into the Pinkalicious books, so when I found this dress on clearance a few months ago I knew she had to be Pinkalicious for Halloween.

 Here she is playing 'pin the nose on the jack-o-lantern'.  That guy next to her is supposed to be a deviled egg.  I thought it was pretty clever.

In the books Pinkalicious has an imaginary unicorn named Goldilicious, Goldie for short.   I made up a unicorn costume for Claire so she could be Grace's little sidekick.  Below is a picture of one of the book covers with Pinkalicious and Goldie.  We couldn't get a good picture of Claire.  She was the cutest unicorn EVER!  I even made her a golden mane and tail with pink flowers.  I might have to dress her up in it again just for a photo shoot. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

World Series 2011

Justin and I had the opportunity to go to game 3 of the world series this year in Dallas.  Justin's friend Chris was able to get us tickets with fantastic seats.  Chris was an umpire for 8 years so we had a fun time listening to baseball stories throughout the evening.  Unfortunately, our Texas Rangers lost that night to the St. Louis Cardinals, but not without a lot of really great hitting.  We were able to witness Pujols' three home runs that night, the first one opening the game.  We left after the 7th inning when the score was 14-7.  We were pretty disappointed by the loss, but we had a fantastic time anyways.

 Ronnie Dunn sang the National Anthem and during the song they rolled out the American and Texas state flags.  It was an awesome sight.

 This is the view from our seats (during batting practice)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Back on the Blog Train

I decided (a long time ago) that I need to start blogging again, but the thought of catching up on 8 months of our lives was a bit overwhelming. This blog is basically a living scrapbook of our lives and I have every intention of having it printed and bound into a book. It's my way of journaling. So, it's important that I keep it up.

I thought about just starting new with today and forgetting about playing catch-up, but I want the events of the last 8 months to be recorded so here's a recap:

March - Justin had to make a trip to Florida (20 minutes from Orlando) for work so the girls and I tagged along. We spent a day at the Magic Kingdom and had a blast. Grace was in awe of everything. When the castle came into view from the monorail her face was priceless!! I can't wait to go back someday and spend more time visiting all the parks. We also drove along the Gulf Coast for quite a ways on the way home. We stopped in Destin, FL for the night and it is now on my list of places to visit for more than just to sleep.

April - We took Grace to see a pediatric GI specialist in Shreveport for her ongoing issues with constipation. She ended up having a procedure done to test for several different causes. She did very well and we got a lot of great video footage after they gave her some medicine to "relax" her. It was pretty entertaining. She had a large mass/blockage that the doctor removed. They took some samples of her nerves and also some samples fro her esophagus and small intestine which all came back normal. FYI- 8 months later and we're still dealing with constipation and trying to potty train. Potty training has been the most difficult thing I have had to deal with thus far as a parent. Justin's parents came for a visit at the end of April and we were able to celebrate Claire's 1st birthday and Easter with them. I also had the privilege of speaking in Sacrament meeting on Easter Sunday.

May - We flew (as a whole family!) to California for the Memorial Day weekend to spend it with my family. My sister was Graduating from California State University Stanislaus with a Master's in School Administration. The kids absolutely loved being with their cousins. Grace spent every waking moment outside since the weather was so pleasant (it was in the 100's already at home).

June - Not much exciting happened in June, except that we had triple digit temperatures for the entire month. THE ENTIRE MONTH!! The youth in our stake participated in "A Texas Sized Jubilee" and we were able to make a trip to Dallas to watch the production. Our youth did an awesome job and had an amazing time.

July - The girls and I flew to Utah to spend some time with Grandparents and cousins. Justin drove up a few days later and spent a week with us before making the trek back to Texas. We played at the Discovery Gateway Museum, played in the dirt, went to the pool, attended our first Petersen Girls Night Out, went horseback riding with Aunt Bailey, got together for a quickie roomie reunion where we got to meet baby Lucas, played in the sand and water at Bear Lake, and drove the combine with daddy and Grandpa during the wheat harvest!

August - We started the month off by driving from Utah to Boise where we met my dad and drove the rest of the way to Oregon to spend a week with my parents. My nieces Sierra and Marissa were also staying for the week. All the girls had so much fun playing together. They rode scooters, went to the spray ground, swimming at the aquatic center, scavenger hunt at the library, dilly bars at DQ, and a horrible 2-day experience with Pasco, WA airport. Once we got home we had an entire month of excruciating heat and no rain! We spent a lot of time with our new friends the who moved down the street and into our ward. They have two little girls that are the same ages as Grace and Claire. At the end of the month I started going back to school two partial days a week. The girls go to an amazing babysitter and enjoy their time at Ms. Helen's.

September - Justin spent a lot of the month on the road. Grace started gymnastics again (and is loving it way more than she did earlier this year). I spent the month trying to get back in the "school" groove and balancing my responsibilities at school, home, and church. We spent a lot of time wishing fall weather would come our way. A lot of East Texas was on fire for a few weeks. The longest draught in Texas history combined with strong winds from a tropical storm in the gulf resulted in many, many wild fires around here. The fire departments worked tirelessly to put them out and protect the residents.

October - I can't believe this month is almost over! We spent two weekends painting the exterior of our house. The Yamboree has now come and gone. Justin and I were fortunate enough to get tickets to Game 3 of the World Series (stay tuned for a separate post on that one). Claire is officially 18 months old. She weighs 29lbs (96%) and is 33 inches tall (90%). She's been attending nursery for the last two months since I teach during the third hour of church and Justin is always busy with his calling. We're looking forward to wrapping up this month with Halloween and a visit from my parents (wahoo!).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Brandon and Bailey Got Hitched!

A few weeks ago we were able to go to Utah for Justin's brother's wedding. We had a great time visiting with family and celebrating with Brandon and Bailey. We're so happy for them and that they found eachother. Bailey is such a sweet girl and we're excited to have her as part of our family and get to know her better.

They were married in the Logan, Utah temple on a very cold January day. They took their sweet time to join us all outside for pictures

Chatting with my MIL trying to keep warm!

Brandon and Bailey with all the Nessen neices and nephew.

Brandon going for the garter.

The girls stayed with my parents at their hotel while Justin and I went to the temple. Here they are all ready for the reception.


I decided to make some Valentine cards/treats for Grace to pass out to her friends and teachers at church this year. I found the cutest idea from my favorite blog, I am momma hear me roar (Cheri is seriously awesome and talented. Go check her out. She posts everyday. You won't be disappointed, especially if you have little boys). I knew that I could make them easily. I followed her directions exactly and they turned out GREAT! They didn't take much time to do either and all it cost me was a couple bags of Hershey's Kisses. I had everything else (baggies and cardstock).

They're so cute and personal, yet simple and inexpensive. Get the tutorial here.
Happy Love Day!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

9 months

Claire turned 9 months old on January 21. She had her 9 month well baby check up that day. Her stats are :
23.4 lbs (97.88%)
28.25 inches (75.31%)
Head- 17.5 inches (65.33%)
She's growing like a weed. I really should go back through Grace's stats from her first year and do a comparison. I think Claire has her beat in weight and height, but has a much smaller head circumference.
We had a great appointment - no shots!

Claire is such a happy, easy-going baby. We just love her to pieces. She loves to babble and blow raspberries. She loves nap time and bedtime. Whenever I put her down she snuggles up with her blanket and has a big grin on her face. She's not crawling yet, but working on it. She's having a hard time lifting her tummy off the floor (can you blame her?!). She's trying really hard to pull herself up on all the furniture and toys. She loves to eat, especially table food. The only foods she doesn't seem to like are peas and green beans.
Claire recently went swimming for the first time. We were in Utah last weekend for Justin's brother's wedding. My parents drove down from Oregon to visit with us and they were generous enough to watch the kids while we were at the temple with Brandon and Bailey. They were staying at a hotel with an indoor pool so they took the girls swimming. Apparently, Claire had a blast and splish-splashed all around. She also cut her first tooth the day of the wedding, which explained the fussiness which isn't like her at all. I think she's working on another tooth now. She has swollen, white gums. Luckily for us, she hasn't been too cranky over it and is still sleeping well.
Claire has such a sweet demeanor about her. She's always happy with she wakes up and will give me a good squeeze when I pick her up as though she's trying to hug me. She loves to give kisses and we love to give her kisses. She totally leans in with her mouth wide open. Her favorite toys are Grace's little Disney Princess dolls. They have rubbery dresses that come off and Claire loves the feeling of them in her hands. Claire also loves to dance. She wiggles all around when she hears music, or if you just tell her to dance. It's so stinking cute!
I just can't get enough of this little girl. She has brought so much joy to our lives, and I can't imagine our family without her. I can't believe how quickly this year is flying by. They grow up way too fast and it literally hurts inside to know that they will only be my littles for such a short amount of time.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Day

Last night we got a few inches of snow here in East Texas, so Grace and I ventured out to play this morning while Claire was napping. We didn't last long since we didn't have appropriate clothes to keep our feet, hands and legs warm and dry. We tried to build a snowman, but it was too fluffy and dry. It wouldn't stick together to make big enough snowballs for the body.
Snow in these parts isn't unheard of. We've experienced it every winter since we moved here. It usually doesn't last long, just 24 hours or so. Tomorrow the high is supposed to be above 50 degrees. It's a good thing we went out and played in it today, because I'm pretty sure it won't survive tomorrow's sunny high temp.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Scripture & Prayer

Grace was assigned to give the scripture and prayer in primary last Sunday. We picked a scripture and practiced all week long. Justin would whisper the words into her ear and she would repeat it loud, pretending to speak into the microphone. She tried so hard to memorize it so she could do it all by herself. She had about half of it memorized by Sunday. When it was her turn she walked right up to the podium and started saying the prayer all by herself before Justin could get the microphone on. No one knew she was praying until she said "Amen." Justin had her do it again once the microphone was on. She insisted on saying it herself and when she stalled for a moment Justin tried to to help her. She pushed his face away and said, "I do it myself!" She did a great job reciting the scripture too. I was so proud of her. We were a little afraid that once she got up there she would be too nervous or scared, but she was such a big, brave girl.
I wanted to get a picture of her after primary wearing her special sticker she got for saying the scripture and prayer, but Grace loves stickers so much they don't last long.