Lots of beautiful, fresh snow and some cheese fries made for a couple of fun ski days over MLK weekend! We have loved, loved, loved doing this together as a family this year. Best Christmas present ever!
That is Carter coming down on the left and Emma on the right - with Meg in the foreground being a snow leopard. :)
This was our year to spend Thanksgiving with the Adams family at Little America! We finally got on board and joined a few of them in spending the night at the hotel before dinner the next day. Our kids think hotels are the greatest! They loved our view from the 12th floor,
Swimming in the indoor/outdoor pool, (Meg has been into pulling crazy faces for pictures lately!)
Hanging out in the hot tub with grandma,
And snuggling up and watching Despicable Me until 11pm! (Nate beat them to sleep!)
The next morning we watched the parade in our room with hot chocolate, and joined the rest of the family downstairs for the Thanksgiving feast! Somehow the moms, kids, and grandma ended up at this table:
(Meg and Brayden were so cute to watch - they were making each other laugh and talking about stuff just like little adults :)
The older boys and dads feasted at the other table:
And when we were too full to eat anymore, we headed to bowl - where Amber and I beat all 3 of the brothers! (Amber beat me, but it was my best game in years!)
We hung out at the Adams' house that afternoon while the boys played a "turkey bowl" in the freezing wind,
And the girls and younger boys colored and crafted inside.
We ended the day stopping by to wish my mom a happy birthday (no pictures of her!!) and my dad showed us how to shoot the moon on the old game from my grandma's.
It was a great day and we have so much to be grateful for - especially family, both immediate and extended. Happy Thanksgiving!
I came upon Meg "helping" to wash the mirrors with wet toilet paper.
I voted (thanks to a reminder from my Dad)
We had some of these sibling moments...
I cleaned out the unfinished room in preparation for the finishing… it sure is hard to get rid of things representative of so much work and learning! (They did make it to the recycling bin after the picture. :)
Date night at Chipotle with no line.
Still playing football!
Finally got rid of Carter's cast.
We celebrated my wonderful Grandma's life (and ended up taking a ride in the cemetery golf cart due to a bathroom emergency). Zach had to run back to school right after the funeral but the rest of us made it to the cemetery just in time after getting pretty lost (my history of finding this cemetery is not good at all!)
This was some sort of panda race at bedtime...
The first snow of the season is so magical. I loved watching them run out in jammies to enjoy it.
More playing in the snow after school
First day of tap! Meg was SO excited. There has been a lot of tapping at our house lately!!
Took a flag to Grandpa's grave for Veteran's day. I am so grateful for his (and Grandma's) sacrifices for our country. I miss them both but am happy they are together. :)
After making the playoffs, Carter's team got to have a practice on the high school field under the lights. He was so excited!!
Unfortunately, a warmish day turned into a super cold night and he forgot he had a bag with gloves and warm clothes, so the poor little guy was freezing by the time we picked him up.
These kiddos used one of their valentines day coupons for a lunch out.
It has been getting chilly and everybody loves sitting by the heaters!
Emma did a wonderful job at her piano recital! It is so fun to see her hard work and improvement and her music has been a blessing in our home!
We raced from the piano recital out to Carter's championship football game.
Where they won!! One last pic with the yard sign before it made it's way to his bedroom... number 1 is number 1!
We met Em and Jackson at the zoo for a visit to the small animal house (perfect for cold days!)
We waited and watched the crocodile until he moved... pretty exciting!
I sent Zach an awesome drawing in his lunch...
And procured some Magellan books for Zach's NHD research paper.
He had to have primary research as well, so we ended up at the U's special collections library:
Libraries are just the coolest.
Meg and baby Ella jumped in the leaves... (poor photography but a happy moment)
Nate helped Zach color one of Zach's favorite kind of projects (ha!)
We recycled papers but some had to be captured first!
Emma and Carter have been working hard and I just love how Meg is learning to write letters into words of her own - and seriously, that bat is the cutest.
Apparently we were trying on the new ski helmets while we sorted papers. :)
Emma brought home her cool Halloween art that had been hanging in the school hallway by the office!
All of the other kids had been skiing before. Meg was super excited to start... we let her try on her equipment in the living room and after 2 days she was getting her own boots on and off and clipping in and out of her skis all by herself. She wore her helmet and goggles around for days - even downtown with me to run an errand, where we ran into Santa (didn't realize he got out before Thanksgiving!) and she visited him helmet, goggles, and all.
Brighton opened and Meg took her skills to the snow!
We had a pre-thanksgiving feast at the Woodwards (where somehow the only picture I got was of Carter wielding his drumstick!) I guess if that's the only picture, it was a pretty good one. :)
I saw a great puppet show at the library:
Nate knew I needed a laugh one morning and texted me this pic:
I love that guy.
And Carter brought home his enormous trophy from football. Seriously - that thing is HUGE. I loved the look on his face all afternoon.
It was a month with so many, many things to be grateful for!
We started the day off helping with Carter's Thanksgiving Feast at school.
They have a big feast wearing their decorated vests (note the intricate patterns at the top of Carter's vest and then the shift in detail as he went on :) and using their fancy placemats (Carter's class did pictographs that were super cool.)
Then the kids split up into groups and do a series of games/activities - we were in charge of turkey bowling. Yep, it's just like it sounds - bowling with frozen turkeys. We actually use small chickens instead of a 20 lb bird, thank heavens - but sliding the frozen chickens across the floor to knock down 2 liter soda bottles still full of soda is enough to make me cringe with every frame! The first time I did this I thought for sure we'd have sodas exploding and dents in the walls of the gym from the birds, but somehow everything mostly works out (although the walls do look like turkey bowling has been a long standing tradition...)
The kids love it though:
After the kids finished up (and we cloroxed the floor from the poultry) it was time for Meg's preschool Thanksgiving program/talent show.
They were super cute dressed up like Pilgrims and sang Meg's favorite "cornbread muffin, chestnut stuffin, puddin' pie, one foot high" song.
Then they each had a chance to share a talent - Meg chose to play the guitar. She was dead set on this talent, despite encouragement from siblings to share one of her more practiced talents. :) I told her she could do whatever she wanted, so she picked guitar. She was awesome.
School holiday traditions are the best.
We decided this year to get ski passes as part of our Christmas gifts for the family, and that meant everyone going together. The big kids had done ski school last year and Carter had been a couple of times, but having everyone on the slopes was a new adventure. Thank heavens that Nate is braver than me, and a good enough skiier to teach all of us.
Maybe she's a natural, or maybe all that living room practice paid off, but Meg caught on quickly and it was the start of a wonderful season of family fun on the mountain.
(Everyone still smiling at the end of the day = success!)
Carter had a few fun things all of his own in November! First was the 2nd grade Tiny Town. The kids love this. They each choose and create a building to be part of their town and then set it up in the classroom one afternoon. In the middle of football season, of course Carter made the high school with the football stadium. There are always widely varied amounts of parent participation in projects like this. My kids want it to be entirely their creation - so all I did for this was spray paint the parking lot and write the name of the school - the rest of the masterpiece was all Carter.
Carter and his friend had a little eraser they used to play football on the field. :)
That night was Carter's football banquet. He had such wonderful coaches who did such a great job developing character and teaching the boys about hard work and being part of a team. At the end, they called each boy up and said something about them. (Carter was pretty embarrassed about being the center of attention like that.) They said that although Carter (who played on the line) wasn't the biggest guy out there, he was the bravest. His coach mentioned a time when Carter had gotten hit hard and got hurt, and had a few tears running down his face. He asked Carter if he was ok and if he needed to take a break, and Carter said "no!", wiped his face, and got right back in there. He had a wonderful attitude and the season was such a great experience for him. Way to go, Carter!
Carter's team was so excited to make it to the championship game. They played a much bigger team and it was a close game (unlike the rest of the ones we played!)
Carter was in for the game-winning touchdown - super exciting.
Lots of celebration for the victory - Carter even got in on the touchdown dance circle they'd do after the games.
It was a great season with fun teammates and wonderful coaches. We loved watching Carter's determination, hard work, and good sportsmanship. Go Titans!
Whenever we run errands, Meg invariably finds (and gets attached to) some beanie boo that she can't afford (since all she has is a few coins!) Sometimes it pacifies her to take a picture with it, sometimes we just have to leave the store in a blaze of glory. It depends a lot on what time of day it is. (I'm pretty sure this was not a pretty exit, even with the pic!!)
I got to go to Meg's school for her Mother Goose program - she performed "Little Bo Peep" and did a darling job. (She wanted to dress up as the sheep, not Bo Peep)
Look at that handsome 7th grader! He humored me by wearing a collared shirt for pictures but chose the grey underneath himself.
A sad goodbye to a puppy at Target (also, it looks like we are buying a lot of Pringles!)
My dad needed some extra hands on a job on Saturday afternoon, so Zach went to help him for a few hours. If how dirty he got was representative of how hard he worked, he must have done a great job.
Then, after we rushed him back to shower and head off to Priesthood Session with the Adams boys, the other kiddos and I went to their dinner of choice - McDonalds. Which is better now that they serve breakfast ALL DAY! (Yep, I had a sausage McMuffin for dinner.) We took this picture because there was a beautiful rainbow over the mountain - but it didn't show up!
And the next morning we got up early, loaded everyone in the car and listened to conference on our way to a week long family vacation to CA . The kids got their first taste of the ocean (only Zach and Emma have ever been and they were 3 and 15 months when we took them!) That is a bunch of posts in itself… but I will mention here that Carter hopped out to use the bathroom before we left and shut his thumb in the car door, so that was an exciting start to the adventure! (A month later he is starting to lose the nail, which has been equally dramatic.)
We headed back to real life (and all the catchup for school and laundry!)
We started "ponderizing"
Beautiful fall days call for princess picnics for lunch!
Zach ran x-country and we watched a meet (and missed a meet that moved too quickly for us to make it to …) It sure is awesome to watch him push himself and do his best.
Not sure why we took this pic but I sure love this girl!
I went on a field trip to CornBelly's with Carter's class - I thought it was a Thanksgiving Point museum field trip (inside) and we froze a little bit for the first hour, but then we warmed up.
It was really, really fun to go with Carter. Although this "corn beach" smelled so much like FEET. ick.
We picked out pumpkins in the dark (in the nick of time before they closed and right before Nate flew out for a work trip)
Meg took Ella for a walk and collected leaves to make rubbings.
We drove Carter to and from a lot of football practices (3 a week) that all ended with the "we are the Titans" chant.
Zach had his first choir performance - it was awesome! He was so fun to watch. He has made great strides in how fully he participates in things like this in the last year!! We loved it. (Also, Meg might have inherited some of Grandpa B's picture faces… :)
(I loved that Zach was so embarrassed of his sparkly bow tie that they all had to wear that he covered it with his hands the entire drive to the school so that no one would see it through the car window - but the embarrassment fades when 50 other kids have the same thing on. :)
We missed Emma at the concert with us (and Nate was out of town) but she had a great time making this awesome cookie at Activity Days. (It fell on the ground, but we were able to patch it up pretty good, don't you think?!)
Emma gives a thumbs-up after making it to get our flu shots by the skin of our teeth - after remembering about our appointment all day, I forgot about it in the hour before until my phone went off at 6:50 saying "Flu shots now". Much credit goes to the kiddos for getting shoes and in the car in record time, and we made it to the office before they closed up shop (we were the last appointment of the day.) Emma is our bravest shot getter - I winced, Meg cried, and Zach and Carter chose the mist (Zach made sure to tell the nurse it wasn't because he was a whimp. :)
Zach wrote a cool paper for science extra credit about a new antibiotic that was recently discovered, and did lots of background research so he would know what he was talking about when he presented it to his class. Those things are cool to share with Dr. Dad.
Meg and I met some neighborhood friends at the zoo one chilly morning, and we got to see lots of animals that usually aren't awake up and active! (And ride on the snow leopard, of course.)
My darling and talented friend took our family pictures - no small miracle that we were able to find a date that worked between football and Nate's work and her schedule and the weather - I am so glad we did and so excited to have family pictures to put on our wall! (The last one we took was taken with a timer and the camera propped up on Emma's toy ironing board.)
Running errands is way more fun when you bring your own shopping cart (I felt a little funny hauling it out of the back of the car for her to push around, but it made her happy and didn't hurt anyone, so…)
and when there are photo ops at the store!
Carter made this awesome Frankenstein cup at his class party!
We finally made it to an OLY football game. The boys couldn't wait. The girls did not want to go. With the fun atmosphere, the snack bar, and the hot chocolate, Emma declared "it was so much more fun than I thought it would be!" Meg was not convinced. :)
And, we had the last soccer game of the season.
This is not a great picture but it shows Emma's no-fear attitude going to get the ball. She is a fantastic goalie and it has been so fun to watch her this season.
Whew! What a month! Hard to believe it is November already!
We started out with the Halloween Parade! Carter was the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles this year (he forgot his clipboard of plays but we made it back with it in time!) and Emma was matching babies with Meg. Love that after all of these years I finally figured out to sit with all of my smart neighborhood friends on the stage! Best seats and best company. The parade seemed short and incomplete without Zach! (He didn't miss it at all.)
Meg and I came back a little later to help with Emma's class party - they were out to recess when we arrived and as we were walking in to the school Emma spotted Meg from across the playground and ran to give her a huge hug. She insisted on taking her to the playground with her for the rest of recess while I went to set up - I love that even though these girls are 6 years apart they can have so much fun together.
(Notice the pacifier in Meg's mouth? They wanted to use real ones (old ones of Meg's) and I told them they could only put them in their mouths for pictures. :)
They played some crazy games and Emma won the donut eating contest out of her group - and those matching babies continued to be inseparable for the entire party. It made my heart smile. :)
We took a trip to maple ton to try a new berry farm this year - nowhere is quite like our MN berry farm, but we had a good time and picked plenty of berries for eating and freezing.
(yeah, Meg can't take a normal picture these days. Today it's a pig nose.)
And apparently it is contagious. :)
Love our tradition of mom adventure days. It always takes me a while to adjust what I call them (last year they were Mom Wednesdays and I keep thinking Lego Movie style, "It's Mom Wednesday! But still on a THURSDAY!")
It had been forever since we'd been to the zoo (we actually let our pass expire for a year) and we didn't have a ton of time this day, so the zoo it was!
Carter showing his tongue is nearly as long as the giraffe's while we waited for the train:
The girls both wanted to bring their "Ellies" (and Zach is pretending not to be a part of something so embarrassing. :)
After the zoo we swung by Sam's club to fulfill a promise I had made of soft pretzels and Icees for lunch - look at that line!!!
Then we picked up Quinn and Jane and spent the afternoon with them before heading out to baseball… I think sleeping on the stairs means it was a good and busy day! :)
It was so fun to watch everyone join in to help Carter make his big hole and river down to the lake! They would have stayed all day if we could. :)
It was a beautiful HOT day and felt just like summer had begun!