Wednesday, December 2, 2015


What a great month November was.

As part of our efforts to make the backyard a great hangout spot, we decided we needed a picnic table. A wonderful and talented neighbor and friend custom built it for us. It's a little smaller than a standard picnic table because it's mostly for kids, but also big enough that adults can eat at it without any trouble. We love it, and unfortunately, Leah really loves to climb and stand on it. 

Nate found a great deal on a grill because it was missing a small heat shield that goes over one of the burners. I'm determined to become a grill master, but so far I still haven't used it. We've loved having it to help simplify dinners on some nights and have had grilled salmon, chicken, pizza, and of course hot dogs. 

We do not have a sandbox. But we do have piles of gravel in the middle of the road, and Leah is perfectly happy with that. Our cleanliness standards are dipping pretty low these days, but I'm ok with that. That's what bathtubs are for.

Seeing these pictures make me want my mom and Aunt Robin back with all my heart! They came to visit at the beginning of November, and they are so laid back and happy and easy to have as guests. I could not have loved their visit more. We had some rain, but we also enjoyed some beautiful Texas days. 

I had never been to Old Town Helotes, so we all went together one morning to visit some of the antique shops. 

I will have to come back sometime when I don't have this little one on my hip. 

We decided to push our luck and try a little taco truck on the side of the road near our house. I thought our food was delicious, but I eat at places like this with a lot of trepidation. 

I took them to the Riverwalk of course. We had a nice dinner together, walked around a bit, and hit up the gift shops. They are such a hilarious and fun duo to be with.

Natalie and Emmy loved trying out Grandma's makeup. 

We drove out to Bandera on Saturday afternoon and found a small Mexican restaurant that we ended up really enjoying. The drive was pretty, and it's fun to experience places that feel like "Texas."

Nate and I took advantage of having built in babysitters and attended a dinner celebrating a highly competitive congressional research grant the Air Force and University of the Incarnate Word received. 

She's a great grandma!

We visited the San Jose Mission which is beautiful.

Jansen brings a football with him almost everywhere we go.

I love this candid picture that someone snapped of us.

We visited The Frontier Times Museum in Bandera one day after school. It's such a small and quirky little place, but definitely worth a visit I think. 

I mean, who doesn't want to see a two headed goat? Strangely enough, I have seen two of these in the month of November alone.

The museum made the experience a lot more fun for the kids by providing a list of items they are supposed to find. It was like a little scavenger hunt. 

Jansen wrote a poem and shared it at his school's Veteran's Day program. Later he was holding the door for people and a US Marine "coined" him.

It's not so easy hefting this cute chug a lug.

We babysat our friends' kids one afternoon and they really beat up on Nate. ;)

Nate does a wonderful job of spending time with the kids when he is home, but after they go to bed it's often back to work for him. He spends a lot nights kneeling at our bed like this (I'm hoping and assuming that's because it's comfortable???)

There have been some gorgeous November days. Emmy loves her little friend Gabriella that lives next door. She's 3, but they get along so well.

Sometimes an idea hits Emmy and she just sets to work creating. This is a maraca she made for Leah. She took note to put the pencil erasers on the inside so Leah would not eat them.

Because Leah very well may have eaten them. Like she did this marker I gave her. That's the tip of it hanging out of her mouth.

"Mom, take a picture of me."

Natalie has had a lot of rained out soccer games, so we will still be playing into December.

Oh how we love BYU and Ohio State football in this house. We love this time of year.

A celebratory photo for making it to 9 am church not only on time, but like 5 minutes early!

I finally decided I wasn't ok with it, but for awhile our kitchen was a makeshift four square court. Jansen is really into four square right now.

One of my very favorite pictures of Leah. 

Emmy drew and colored this beautiful mermaid picture.

I've been trying to make this a fun and kid friendly neighborhood. We play outside after school almost every day, and try to recruit any and all friends we can.

We visited a store here that resells Legos and Jansen was in heaven. He kind of stopped doing Legos for awhile, but has gotten back into it lately.

He built this Lego chess board.

He also worked hard to memorize the Articles of Faith and has them down! That's motivation for me to brush up.

Natalie's Christmas list this year...

Leah and I both love this page in this book. Whenever we get to it she nuzzles me and expects me to do the same. Then she likes me to "sniff" her like the dogs in the book are doing.

Her new favorite way to read books.

Thanksgiving was awesome. Our friends the Nelsons so kindly hosted us in Houston, and we had the best time. We drove up Thanksgiving morning and drove home late the next night, but we packed in the fun. Dinner was delicious of course; Becca is a fabulous cook.

On Friday we visited a wildlife park. I am not sure what got into me, but I was being quite friendly with the animals as we pulled into the park. 

I was being TOO friendly. 

This *%#! ostrich bit my ear! I mean looking back, duh, why did I have my window down and why was I courting an ostrich? Well, for an epic selfie I guess. I got a bruised ear AND a memorable selfie.

This place was really neat. They drove us around and we got to see the animals really close up and were able to feed most of them.

Sweet, sweet llama. Literally the ugliest thing I think I have ever seen.

This is Emmy's brave/scared face.

Can you believe that thing? We had to be careful to keep our distance.

Later that day after naps we visited a state park that is known for it's plentiful gators. The Nelsons have seen 20 or so at times when visiting. We didn't have that kind of luck, but we did see this guy. 

After stopping and checking out a couple possible places for dinner (one that didn't allow kids after 8), we stopped and ate at the Jay Cafe. We were a circus, but we are a cute circus. 

As I've mentioned, we like to spend a lot of time outside. Jansen has been into football, and I love playing catch with him. He has a really good arm!

This little one literally cheers when I tell her we are going outside or to the park.

It's been almost a year since we bought the trampoline and the verdict: definitely well used and worth it. 

And now we are gearing up for Christmas. Natalie and Emmy adore this snowman Grandma Kim made years ago. I feel bad that it has become more of a toy than a decoration lately, but they seriously love to dress it up.

Nate was brave and got our Christmas lights up on the house this past (cold) Saturday. It's not for the faint of heart, and he did a great job. We all helped from inside the warm house by untangling and stretching out the icicle lights.

Jansen has been creating some origami ornaments and also folded this gift box. It's made from ONE sheet of paper (one side is foil), and there are no cuts, glue, or tape. Pretty cool!