Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for Prayer at Meals

Leland made this at preschool. Her teacher thought it was so cute that she said she was "Thankful for prayer at meals". What a cutie.

I'm thankful for both of our girls and how cute it is to watch them during prayer time. Folding there arms and trying to keep their eyes closed, it's adorable.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dancing Mommy

Thanks to my sister, Christine, many months ago she introduced my daughter to the fine music of Mama Mia. Leland loves to listen to the songs and is learning the words to several of the songs. The other night while we were having a little dance party, we were listening to Dancing Queen.

After a few rounds of dancing Leland sits down and says "Mommy, I'm not a Dancing Queen, I'm just a regular girl."

Leland has become quite the little mommy. She has 3 or 4 baby dolls that she has taken to as her children. She has named them all as well.

Sally, Doker, Zela, Bonnie, and her dog Lizzie

She takes such good care of them. It is so cute to watch her talk and sing to them.

On Thursday, Leland's Preschool had a Native American Celebration. They had made vests, rainmakers, and drums. They had made cornbread and popcorn for their feast. It was fun to see her interact and play with her friends. My aunt Barbara, Lucy, and I all went to help Leland celebrate with her friends.

ESPN vs Twilight

ESPN College Game Day broadcasts from a college campus for Saturday football games. Chuck loves his ESPN and especially college football. While watching Saturday afternoon, he started to yell at me from the other room. I came in to see what was wrong. As the show starts, they scan the crowd of fans that happened to be Oklahoma this weekend. Tons of people hold signs and ESPN actually has a best sign contest each week.

The sign that sent Chuck into a frenzy....."Is this the line for Twilight tickets?" Hilarious!!!
Chuck says, "Get your crazy vampire cult out of my ESPN!!!" I was dying laughing.

I searched and searched for that clip or a picture of that sign, but I'll keep looking. I guess I'm not a total Twilight die hard, the movie came out on Friday and I haven't even seen it yet. Almost everyone I know has already seen it, some even twice.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Date Nights

Leland got to go on 2 dates this weekend, one with each of her parents. On Friday night, Chuck took her to see Madagascar 2. We love the first movie and she was excited to see #2. As Chuck was approaching the front of the line to purchase tickets, he noticed others getting out of line saying all the movies were sold out for the 7pm showings (James Bond and High School Musical were the other movies playing). Chuck decided to continue in line and buy tickets for the Saturday show. He asked about Madagascar being sold out and the girl said she had 1 ticket left to sell. He said Leland could sit on his lap and bought the last ticket. She actually made him pay for both an adult and a child's ticket too, which I think was a bit absurd.

They found 2 seats at the very back of the theater, but soon changed their minds and went to the very first row. Leland loved the movie. She kept telling me how the people at the movie laughed at the same time. I guess she thought that was neat.

On Saturday night, I took Leland to The Rockbridge Community Symphony Orchestra concert that was held at a church in town. She loves music, so much I thought it would be a fun thing for her to see. We enjoyed ourselves, although Leland kept wanting to dance in the aisles. She also was confused (as was I) why we did not clap after each song. I'm not sure how you were supposed to know when to clap and when to wait.

After the intermission Leland decided she wanted to sit in the balcony, so we moved to the top. This gave us a much better view of all the instruments and it was less crowded, so I let her dance in the back aisle. She declared the cello to be her favorite instrument and instructed me that the French Horn should be my favorite. She pretended to play every instrument and conduct with two pencils she found. She can name by sight, and a few by sound, every instrument that was in the orchestra. We seriously need to get her involved in some music classes in the next few years.

Lucy got to enjoy a date at home with each of her parents, too. I think she enjoyed the undivided attention of cuddles and story reading.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Newest Niece

Welcome to my newest niece Sarah. She was born on 11-11, which in my opinion, is a very cool birthday. I can't wait to met her in a few weeks. Leland was so excited that her cousin Emily is now a big sister just like her.

My sister, Suzanne, has delivered both of her children in just 2 hours. She called me at 2:30pm to tell she was on the way to the hospital, and then at 4:45pm to tell me Sarah had arrived. Craziness!! What a lucky mommy. I hope she never has to have a baby on her kitchen floor.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

VMI Football Game

On Saturday, we went to a Virginia Military Institute (VMI) football game. It was one of those things on our list to do before we moved, so we were lucky enough to receive some tickets from our neighbor. It was a perfect football game day, chilly but sunny outside. All of the cadets parade onto the field for the National Anthem, then they all sit together in the stands.

It is so awesome to live in a somewhat military centered town. The VMI cadets have to be in uniform all the time, even if they leave campus. It gives me such a patriotic and safe feeling seeing the men and women in uniform all the time. I love their winter uniforms the best, I'll need to get a picture.

After the singing of the National Anthem a B2 Bomber flew over the field. It was so loud. Every Friday, the cadets have to line up in formation and there is a flyover then too. I can always feel it shake my house.

The half-time show was the US Army Silent Drill Team. It was neat to watch them throw and spin their guns in such synchrony. We were out of our seats walking around so we couldn't get any great pictures. Every game there is a kids area with a bounce house and other activities. The girls had a lot of fun. VMI lost 38 -26, so it wasn't an exciting game to watch, but fun none the less. Chuck was convinced his high school football team could have beaten VMI. (Chuck's editorial note: Our high school team won 3 straight state titles. VMI runs a basic option offense with a very rare pass. We would have given them a run for their money, at minimum, because our defense never surrendered a touchdown to an option offense.)

The VMI mascot is a kangaroo named Moe and the athletics teams are called Keydets. Leland kept pointing out the kangaroo during the game, but when he started coming up our aisle, she did not want to go say hi and was a little freaked out. Then a boy in front of us said, "He's passing out candy!" So then Leland was in, and went to get her piece of candy.

I wasn't sure the significance of the Kangaroo, so read about it here, Keydets and Kangaroos. I guess it's kind of like Stanford Cardinal and the Tree.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fall Colors

I love this time of year - the vibrant colors and the crisp autumn air. The colors are just beautiful, but the weather here has been unbelievably warm for the first week of November. I'm not complaining, I still get to wear my flip flops. I love not having to bundle the kids up to go outside.We enjoyed a particularly gorgeous Friday strolling around Boxerwood Gardens. My friend Karen and I went with her 2 girls. Kira and Leland play so nicely together. It's nice for her to have a little buddy. We finally convinced the girls to venture out of the play area and went for a walk on the trails in the acres of land there. We were rewarded with gorgeous scenery and found some hammocks and swings in the middle of some trees.

Leland's Prayer Song from School

Here is Leland's prayer we mentioned previously that she learned at Preschool. She loves singing it and when she does, it's with such conviction. I love it!

Our small town

Another thing that I wanted to share was that I LOVE living in a small rural town. 2 things occurred this week that made me feel that way.
1) When we went to vote we were in and out in under 10 minutes and our whole town votes at the same place.
2) This morning I went to an Emergency Preparedness fair at our church. We discussed all sorts of ways to store food and water to have available in case of an emergency. There were also demonstrations on making some of your own food. We made and ate butter and cheese with milk that came from a cow THIS MORNING! Talk about fresh. Yummy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

ChiTown - Sick Day and going home

written by Chuck
DAY 4 and coming home

Our Sunday in Chicago was recovery day. Leland was sick early in the week and the bug made it's way through Lucy, then Ashley, then me. We decided not to go to church and spread our germs and just stayed home to recuperate.

When Adam and Shanna came home, we played Acquire (our favorite game), took a walk around the neighborhood, and took naps. For dinner, we had a delicious meal of steak, mashed potatoes, and veggies. Ashley was in heaven having steak and potatoes 2 nights in a row.

On Monday, we flew back to Raleigh before driving the four hours home to Lexington. The girls were great on both flights on the trip. We lucked out that both flights were only about 1/3 full, so Lucy could have a seat and we could really spread out.

On the way out, Leland adamantly wanted to sit by the window. She thought it was so cool when we started moving. Then when we went really fast and took off, she was excited. But once we started going fairly high, she wanted the window shut. I think she was somewhat frightened. When we broke out the DVD player, she seemed relieved to have something to do other than dad showing her stuff out the window.

On the way home, Leland wanted nothing to do with the window seat and would only sit on the aisle. She made friends with the flight attendants and said hello to everybody that went by. When Ashley mentioned the DVD movies, Leland got all excited. [Note: Leland doesn't get to watch the DVD in the car because it makes her sick, so she thought it was cool to watch the movie in the plane.]

When we got back to Raleigh, we spent a few hours at Mitzi (my sister) and Mike's house for the girls to get out some energy before the drive. Ashley went to visit Suzanne for a bit and I took a short nap, still feeling sick. Our drive home through and into the Blue Ridge Mountains was gorgeous with the peak autumn leave colors.

Be sure to read about Day 3 of our trip to Chicago.

written by Ashley
Our friendship with Adam and Shana is rare. We were all friends when we were single. Chuck and Adam were roommates when Shana and I started dating them. We spent our Sundays after church playing games and hanging out at their house. Chuck and I got married, then 6 months later Adam and Shana were married. Adam and Shana soon moved into the apartment next to ours and we were back to hanging out as often as possible. Playing games together is our favorite thing to do. Settlers, Acquire, Ticket To Ride, Rook, and Dutch Blitz are our favorites. The summer that we moved to CA, they moved to Chicago. After a 10 day cross country road trip together we had to say goodbye (picture to left is of us at the Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, NC). Shana actually cried and she is NOT a crier! I am a big crier, I'm getting teary now just thinking about it.

We have been lucky enough to see each other about 2 or more times a year since then. They are truly our best friends and we love them dearly. Chuck found a way for us play Acquire online, so now we have a date to play games tonight. Not as good as being together, but close enough. We miss you guys.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Chicago - Day 3


Chuck had ABA meetings for most of the day on Saturday and Adam went to the Notre Dame football game, so it was just the girls.

We decided to visit Shedd Aquarium. Shana had free tickets, so we thought it would be worth a visit. Unfortunately when we got there we found out that the main part of the aquarium that houses the dolphins, whales, and has the shows was closed for renovation until June 2009. So sad. Luckily Leland didn't know what she was missing and still loved every minute. No pictures turned out that great since you can't use flash photography.

Leland's favorite things to see were the sharks. Especailly the "carpet" shark that just hangs out at the bottom of the tank. Another favorite was the lobster, that I think was actually a shrimp. We got to see an iguana and a turtle up close, during the Animal Encounter exhibits. There were small touch screens everywhere with quizzes and more info about the exhibits that Leland enjoyed as well. Lucy just loved anytime that I let her get out of the stroller.

We went when it opened, got to park close, and waited in no lines. We were only there from about 9am - noon, but when we left there was a line out the door to buy tickets and our close parking lot turned into handicapped only. I think we did pretty well.

After naps, Shana and I decided to do some shopping at Trader Joe's. We stocked up on some things that I love and have missed. (I later decided that I needed more, so we stopped at another TJ on the way home from NC). I was amused by the fact that Shana had to call ahead and make sure they offered free parking if we came to shop. I was thinking, "Of course parking at a store should be free." Ahh, City Life!

That night, Shana was gracious enough to watch our girls so that I could have dinner with Chuck at Wildfire with his friends from the ABA. It was a wonderful date and delicious food.

Be sure to read about Day 2 of our trip to Chicago.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Not-so Windy City - Day 2 (Halloween)

written by Chuck

Our second day in Chicago was Halloween. We started the day by heading to Lincoln Park Zoo, an awesome FREE zoo. Our family loves zoos and this one was lots of fun. All day long we commented on how many animals were active and visible in their enclosures.

When we lived in San Diego and had annual passes to the SD Zoo, we often heard the best time to go was in the morning. That is the time when the day animals are waking up and looking for food and exercising before it gets too hot. We figure the animals at Lincoln Park Zoo must have been so active because it was early, but also because it was the first warm day in Chicago in a while. It was amazing!

Among other things, we saw a pack of wolves hunting around together, three lions waking up, a black panther prowling around, a jaguar eating a white furry animal for breakfast, camels right up close to the people, over a dozen gorillas up next to the glass, a baby giraffe and mother, and the most entertaining polar bear ever. The polar bear thought he was a comedian, entertaining people by the underwater window in his enclosure. He was hilarious.

After the zoo, we went into town to eat at Ed Debevic's, a 50's diner where the wait staff act nonchalant and impatient, but funny. At one point, they all climbed on the counter and starting dancing. There used to be an Ed Debevic's in Hollywood, that my sisters and I went to a few times, but it closed down and the only ones left are in Illinois. Leland really enjoyed it. It was a fun time and good eating.

Lucy was asleep for the first half of lunch. Again, the poor girl gets deprived of her naps when we are out having fun. Our waiter was really funny. Leland doesn't get sarcasm, so it was funny hearing her respond to him. Adam was a good sport and danced in the aisles with Leland.

After lunch, I went to an ABA meeting for a few hours while the girls went home for naps. Later, Ashley brought the girls to meet my ABA friends before we got dressed to go out for Halloween. The girls went as sister witches (Leland = purple, Lucy = orange). While I was finishing up my meetings, Leland stayed with me and Lucy and Ashley took a walk by the river. Lucy is starting to "pose" for pictures with a big smile.

These are best pictures that we have that show the girls' costumes. It was so warm, Ashley didn't even have to put tights on the girls. We actually thought is might be "too hot" for them.

We went trick-or-treating in the neighborhood of Adam and Shana's bishop. It was a gated neighborhood with lots of townhouses close together full of families. It was perfect! The only drawback was that many of the front doors to the houses were on the second floor above the garages, so the kids had to climb the stairs. But the kids didn't mind and it even helped make the kids tire out more quickly.

I tried to help Lucy learn to carry her bag and hold it open, but as soon as the person would bend over, she would ditch her bag and reach out to help herself to some candy. Leland was a great trick-or-treater and did awesome.

Because it is a gated community, there were not many kids around, so people were giving out handfuls of candy, instead of just one or two. The girls only visited about 15 houses, but made out with tons of stuff. You know how you usually sort through your candy and throw out all the "cheap stuff". There was NO cheap stuff to throw out, just yummy chocolate. It was a fun night.

When it's time for breakfast and Leland and Lucy are both digging through their candy bags, you know we can't keep it in the house. We were lucky enough to leave a lot of it with Adam and Shana.

Be sure to read about Day 1 of our trip to Chicago.