Turning 9- Part 1

Clara had a fun-filled birthday celebration this year that spanned several days. Since we weren’t doing big parties this year, I suggested a sleepover with Leah followed by lunch at the American Girl bistro. She was all for that plan. She hadn’t had Leah spend the night since the first sleepover three years ago and has been wanting another one ever since. Since Leah is homeschooled, I was able to pick her up around noon on Friday so she got to come up to school to pick Clara up. They were giddy with excitement and ready to get the party started.

Clara received a horse from Leah, and Leah brought her horse, so we decided to let Clara open her gift from us early, a Jeep for her dolls.





They did a little horseback riding for a while and then they got started on scrapbooks. I got them matching books and printed out two sets of 50 pictures of the two of them together. The earliest picture was of an 18 month old Leah holding 2 month old Clara on the couch. So cute. I decided to give them space to do it how they wanted because I tend to take over when I “help”. A couple of hours in I realized I should have given a little more direction. Ahem. They painstakingly cropped their siblings out of some pictures, and cropped out everything but their heads in Halloween pictures. Clara even cropped out the kites in a picture of them running with kites behind them. Now there’s just arms raised in the air with strings to nowhere :) Oh well. They’re not exactly as I had envisioned, but they did have fun and it was cute to listen in on them reminiscing over the years and talking about how cute they were. And they’ll get to laugh about their crafting abilities here in a few years.



They had pizza and made some little bitty, teeny-tiny Easy Bake oven treats before watching a Christmas movie in Clara’s bed on the portable dvd player.




I saw this the next day and died laughing. I was telling Chris about later and it turns out, he put it there while she was sleeping so she would wake up with it on her pillow. Ha!



We took the girls for some cinnamon rolls and hot cocoa at Panera Bread Saturday morning and then the girls and their dolls got all gussied up and we headed to American Girl for lunch. We invited Becky and Kate to join us.





Buckle up for safety, Julie and Kit.








There were a bunch of large parties and they were hosting a Nutcracker ice-skating thing that took away staff, so we didn’t have the best service, but it wasn’t too terrible. The girls were just getting really antsy waiting to look through the store. When we finally got done, each girl got to pick out one small thing. Well two for Clara, because Julie “needed” glasses so she would look just like Clara :)



Sad faces as we got back to the cars and it was time to say goodbye.



Clara had a wonderful day and it was a great start to her birthday extravaganza.


Thanksgiving at Mother Neff State Park

We had our annual Thanksgiving camping trip at Mother Neff State Park this year. Mother Neff is the oldest state park in Texas. It’s also only a few minutes away from Dan, Linda and now Margaret, so it was a perfect spot for us. Jason and his dad also joined us this year. This was Robert sitting by the campfire on the first night. We got there mid-afternoon on Wednesday and the kids got right down to business making friends with the neighbors and playing until they crashed.



When we finally got settled into the camper and turned on the heat for the night, Clara decided that teeth brushing by the heater felt pretty nice.


The next day, we headed into town for a lovely Thanksgiving meal prepared entirely by Linda. Who just got staples in her head four days earlier. And who insisted that we keep to the plan instead of cooking up something or other over the fire. Dan came and got me and Clara a little early so we could help with preparations, but we weren’t much help since Linda had it all under control. We went and picked up Nanny from her apartment and then got back to the house a little before the boys showed up. We chatted and ate and were all quite thankful for all of Linda’s hard work.








The mornings were in the 30’s, so Zef got a nice warm spot to sit and wait for the sun to warm everything up.




We hiked one of the trails on Friday. It led to this cave that was used as shelter by the Native Americans. These trails were probably some of my favorite so far. There were plenty of trees and lots of elevation changes and things to go see to make things interesting.





We kept on the trail and went to the top of the rock tower.








The hike was a bit much for Max, so Jason and I took turns carrying him most of the way back to the car. He was very appreciative.

After lunch, Dan and Linda came out to the campsite and we had a party for the birthday boys and girl. As I handed JDog a Birthday Boy hat, he tried to turn it away thinking it was just a party hat. I informed him that all the birthday boys and girls had one. He was quite surprised to learn that he was also a guest of honor at the celebration. Hehehe, we got him good. That’s the second surprise party we’ve pulled off for him. The other one was easy though; it was four months early :) The kids both knew and I can’t believe they were able to keep it a secret from him.



I made a little scavenger hunt for the three of them and JDog got into the spirit and joined in the search for clues.





Here he is getting stuck on the last clue. Get it. Ha!



Then we played a little pin the tail on the donkey and opened presents. The kids got gifts from Grandma and Grandpa and JDog got a little something too. You like my centerpiece? The wind picked up so we took care of that with a little duct tape :)


I brought cupcake mix and had JDog bake them in the dutch oven. I forgot candles though, so they had to blow out pretend candles when we sung “Happy Birthday” to them.



Saturday was another pretty big day because we took off this mangled, rapidly disintegrating training wheel (and it’s partner).



And now we have a (mostly) official bike rider. He was doing pretty well out at the campsite, but he won’t ride on our street since it’s slanted. We’re going to have to take him to practice in a parking lot so we can get back to riding with Clara to school. I don’t want him riding to school until he’s comfortable starting and stopping.



I took the kids on another hike on Saturday, this time to the Wash Pond and then they played on the playground. Chris tripped over Max’s leash the first night and fell hard on his knee, so it was hurting him most of the weekend. The scar where his stitches were broke open and started bleeding :( It’s doing better now thank goodness.



Chris and JDog got busy with their cornbread war. Chris loves sweet cornbread and likes to combine one box of Jiffy cornbread mix and one box of Jiffy white cake mix. Well, they were out of Jiffy cake mix, so he picked up a regular brand and just eyeballed it when deciding how much to use. Yeah, we basically had corn flavored cake with our dinner :)





This park had a Junior Ranger program that the kids could participate in. They gave the kids a worksheet with all kinds of questions about the park, the nature within the park and it’s history. We had to go around and read all of the plaques and signs in the park to answer them. She had to sketch an animal, so she drew this caterpillar that Jason’s dad found and then picked up trash to help keep the park clean. As we checked out, we took the paper to park headquarters and they printed out a certificate for her (and Robert since he joined us everywhere but can’t write and really I just lost his paper) and had them raise their right hands and recite a pledge stating they would take care of nature and the park and would encourage their friends and family to do the same. Then they got a little Jr. Ranger pin. It was all very official. And very cute. And I didn’t have my camera on me. I figured they were just going to hand them a pin and say, “Good job.”

We got back home around 3:00 on Sunday. The kids wanted to put up the Christmas tree, so I’m a sucker and set it up and pulled out the boxes of decorations. Camping and Christmas collided in a perfect storm in my house that evening. It’s a week and a half later and I still don’t think the house has completely recovered.


Robert turned five yesterday. We’re not having birthday parties with friends for the kids this year so Robert was supposed to have a family fun day. Well, his birthday didn’t quite go as planned. His big day seems to get derailed a lot. But no worries. We made the best of it.

The plan was to go to the donut shop, then to early service, a movie right after church, slot car racing, and then dinner at the mongolian restaurant he likes. He wanted to see his friend (the owner) and I think he was hoping to hit the gong. Robert and I have both been fighting colds the last few days and he woke coughing pretty bad yesterday. He felt fine, but we didn’t want to take him to church with as bad as his cough was.

Chris went to the donut shop and got donuts and we watched the last F1 race of the season and Robert opened his presents.





We got a call from Dan around 8:00 and we handed the phone straight to Robert because we assumed they were calling to wish him a Happy Birthday. Turns out Linda had fallen and hit her head. There was lots of blood and she was taken by ambulance to the hospital. There was some confusion on our end as to what was going on, so Chris decided to make the drive. Dan was sick and wasn’t able to go up to the hospital to be with her. Linda is fine; she got seven staples in her head and some tests run and Chris got there just in time to drive her home and get her all set up with what she needed before heading back home.

So while Chris was making his little trip, I decided to go ahead and take the kids to see Big Hero 6. I gave Robert something for his cough before we left, but unfortunately it didn’t help him much. I felt so bad for our fellow movie-goers. He coughed the entire time. He had several coughing fits and they seemed to always come during a quiet scene. At one point he even coughed until he threw up. Thankfully I had been ready for it and I had napkins to catch it. Didn’t even make a mess.


After that public cough-fest, I decided we probably should forgo slot car racing. When I suggested we go another time when Daddy could come, the birthday boy agreed. He even agreed that he needed a nap. You know he wasn’t feeling good if he agreed to that. I told him we’d go get him a little something at Toys R Us since his birthday wasn’t going according to plan and he was being so good about it. His sister, on the other hand, was very upset by the change in plans and had to have a little talking to. We didn’t get him, but look at this ninja turtle! That’s just crazy!



By the time we got into the (very long) line to checkout, I ended up holding Robert and he was still coughing. When they opened a new line, the nice older gentleman behind me made sure to jump in that line in front of the mom holding a coughing child wearing a birthday boy crown. Sigh. I really wish people could look beyond themselves sometimes.

After placing all of Robert’s new toys on his headboard shelf, I had him lay down for a nap. A few minutes in, Clara came to tell me he had another coughing fit and had thrown up on his bed. I got him all set up on the couch with a puke bowl and a waterproof mat to protect the couch and then let him watch Cars 2. My sweet boy told me all day long through coughs and sniffles, even after puking in bed, that this was the “Best Birthday Ever!” I felt so bad for him :( I guess there’s just something magical about your special day and it takes a lot to ruin it. That’s obviously the case for this sweet boy. He can be such a little stinker sometimes, but I gotta say, I was really proud of how he handled his disappointment yesterday.

When Daddy got home mid-afternoon, we sang Happy Birthday and had cupcakes. These pictures are terrible; the sun was shining in though a high window. I should have just had him switch places to a less sunny spot, but my birthday gusto was all fizzled out by now, so I didn’t make a fuss.




It wasn’t a picture perfect affair by any stretch of the imagination, but a happy day to celebrate our special guy nonetheless.

More Celebrating

Chris and I went on a belated anniversary dinner date on Sunday night while Linda stayed with the kids. We went to Taste of Texas which is a very nice restaurant nearby. We splurged and both ate way too much. Our waitress asked if we were there to celebrate something and we told her it was our anniversary. Then she asked how many years. When I said 16, her eyes about bugged out of her head. She thought we looked way to young to have been married that long and asked if we got married right out of high school :) Not quite, but almost.

We received a free dessert and chose this trio of creme brulee, key lime pie and raspberry cheesecake. Yum! And since I didn’t take any pictures, enjoy this picture of a picture that our waitress took :)

Wednesday was Chris’ birthday. I have no pictures from then either. We taped some Happy Birthday crepe paper and balloons across the front door so he would have to come through it to get inside. He rang the doorbell instead. So we came to the door while he just stood there, unable to figure out how he was going to get through the door. Chris doesn’t do “silly” very often, but he was a good sport and walked back to the grass and then ran full speed to crash through the barrier, much to the delight of his eager offspring.

For his birthday, I gave Chris a groupon to take some friends to an indoor karting place. It’s not normal go-karts. This is like go-karts on steroids apparently. They also have blacklight mini golf and lasertag and my plan was for the four of us to play mini golf on his birthday. He was really tired though and I called the place asking if they were super busy with Spring Break and they said they were. It was about an hour long wait in the evenings. I was bummed we didn’t do anything, but we did go grab something to eat. We went to a little sports bar/grill and again ate way too much and then next door to a frozen yogurt place to add more to our already full bellies.

Another Year Older

Sunday was my birthday and we were bad and slept in, missing church. We had a late breakfast at IHOP and then went to see The Lego Movie in 3d. And that was about it. Super exciting birthday :) I think this is the first year I’ve woken up on my birthday and it just felt like another day. Not an ounce of excitement. I’ve always at least gotten a little excited when I woke up on my birthday even if I knew there wouldn’t be any fanfare. Sigh. It’s no fun being an adult.

As we sat down for dinner on Saturday night, Chris asked the kids, “Do you know who’s having a birthday tomorrow?” Clara exclaimed, “Mommy!” and then her face got serious and she said slowly, “Ummmmm, can someone take me to the store?” It was so funny. The next morning she scribbled out a card real fast and handed it to me with a big smile.

When we got out of the movie, we walked to the other end of the mall to the outdoor store to look at camping stuff. They have lots of taxidermy throughout the store and a huge fish tank surrounded by faux rock. The kids waited to take a peek in the little bubble of glass that juts out into the water so you have a better view. It feels a bit like you’re entering a little tunnel.

As they both got in close to the glass to peer in, Chris grabbed a pillow that was in the shape of a big colorful fish. It was about 3 feet long. He slowly eased it between their two heads. Oh my goodness, I’m laughing as I type this. We both knew we’d get a reaction, but we were not expecting Clara to scream at the top of her lungs, for like 5 seconds straight. Robert turned and I think he would have just been startled had it not been for Clara’s reaction. He joined in just as loud and long. My ears were ringing and I was in tears laughing as I grabbed Robert to console him. Clara grabbed hold of me. Both kids were crying, tears running down their faces and Chris and I could not contain ourselves.

A lady just happened to be sitting on a boat trailer right behind us and caught the whole thing. She had tears streaming too. She couldn’t stop laughing either and felt really bad and kept saying “I’m terrible” and “I’m so sorry; I shouldn’t be laughing.” We let Robert sit in some of the boats to distract him and after about 10 minutes of that, we passed back by the lady and her husband had just shown up and we could see her gesturing to the fish pillows and the tank and knew she was relaying the story. Chris passed by and said, “Yep, that was me.” and she started laughing all over again. Man I wish I had that on video.


Clara FINALLY got her ears pierced tonight. Oh my goodness, it was like a comedy of errors trying to get a couple of holes in those things! So here’s what happened. I called a piercer a couple of weeks back, he didn’t seem just real keen on piercing minors but said that he would. So on Clara’s birthday, the 8th, I went to take her only to find out they were closed on Sunday. Not to fear though because I called another place that had really good online reviews and talked to the guy there and he seemed really nice and they were open. But wait, he was out of the right size earrings for her ears but had some ordered and they should be in on Saturday. Chris was out of town this weekend and I didn’t want to take Robert with us, so I told Clara we would do them this past Sunday night. We ended up being at Pancakes and Pajamas a little too late and it was a school night so I told her we would go the next night. Monday came around and I went to call them to make sure he would be there and wouldn’t you know it, this shop is closed on Mondays.

Now Clara’s really starting to get disappointed and I didn’t blame her. I asked her if she wanted to go to the other place, but she liked the idea of the man that I said seemed really nice and more willing to pierce kids. So yesterday I called early in the day to make sure he would be there, but nope, it was his day off. He would be there tonight at 5:00. Sweet! So we met Daddy at Smashburger for dinner at 5:30 because Clara’s school was having spirit night there. I had planned on leaving straight from the restaurant and Chris would take Robert home. Of course I forgot her birth certificate at home and would need it at the piercing studio, so we had to swing back by the house before going.

Traffic was pretty bad, so we got there around 7:00 and it turns out the shipment hadn’t come in, so he only had larger guage earrings and said he could call us if they came in in the next couple of days. Clara was just about in tears at this point. He saw how disappointed she was, so he said that I could go to Wal-Mart and buy the earrings and bring them back if I wanted. He said just to make sure and get surgical steel and not stainless. Ok, we decided to give it a shot. Drove all the way to Wal-Mart and they didn’t have surgical, only stainless. I wanted to call him to see if 14k gold or titanium was ok, but I had left my phone in the car. Went back out to the car and asked and he said either would work. Went back inside and of course they are out of all of the ones we would have wanted. I didn’t want to get anything with big ‘ol fake diamonds. Sigh. As we walked out, Clara finally started crying. She’s been anticipating this for soooo long. She’s told her friends at school, “I’m getting my ears pierced today” about five times now and some of them don’t believe her now.

So we went to the other Wal-Mart. We had to wait a while while the employee kind of ran around looking lost trying to help an angry customer, but she had some titanium ones that would work for us. Yay! So she went to check us out and she has been logged out (I’m guessing because she went over in hours), so she had to take us up to the self checkout employee and had us cut in front of everyone so he could check me out. Woohoo, we finally got a break!

So we took them back to Matt and it was 8:05 at this point. He needed to pull them out of the cartridges they came in and sterilize them and that takes about 30 minutes, so he said come back at 8:45. We got gas and then I drove a bit to find a Starbucks. I could not find a Starbucks! I finally turned around and headed the other direction and eventually found one to sit at for 10 minutes.

We got back to the shop at 8:45 on the dot. He made copies of all of our ids and then got the room ready. Clara was about to bust she was so excited. She said if she could do flips she would be doing one right then. First one went in no problem. There were no tears but she looked a little shocked and was really quiet. The second one bled quite a bit. He said that she got worked up after the first one and her adrenaline was pumping, which is why it bled. He got her all cleaned up and she was still being really quiet, so we had to ask her if she was ok and remind her to breathe. Ha! She was on cloud nine once she finally got to see herself in the mirror. I’m proud of her. I really thought there would be lots of tears and I had prepared my pep talk when it came time to do the second one. The piercer told her she did better than some adults.

So without further adieu, the long-awaited earrings. She’s all grown up now. The first one was taken in the studio and that’s the ear that bled.


I’m really hoping I don’t have to clean up nasty, crusty gunk tomorrow morning.

Christmasy Birthday Party

We had a Christmas themed birthday party for Clara today. The kids did Christmas crafts and decorated a gingerbread train and train station. Chris and I worked together this year on Clara’s Christmas tree cake. Attendees included one friend from school along with his sister, a 3rd grade girl that also rides her bike to school and the neighbor’s 1st grade grand-daughter that Clara plays with a lot. And three old friends from Spring who were so sweet to come all the way out here for Clara’s big day. So it was an eclectic group with lots of shyness at first :) I think they eventually all had fun. At least I hope so.

I might have used a gingerbread house that we had left after our party got canceled last year which would account for the no-so-great icing. It wouldn’t go on well at all. That didn’t stop them though. I think the gingerbread decorating was a hit. Ellie went to town with this red decorating gel. I need to take a picture of the finished product. It’s something alright.


Say “cheese” Alaina. The one kid who cooperated for the camera.


It was Chris’ idea to have the multi-layered cake. I was just going to free-hand it again and have it lying flat. When he started coming up with all these grand plans including the mention of a Dr. Suess-like creation, I let him take over. He thought we needed to have a contest to see who had the better cake. I told him I would help him instead. I couldn’t handle the thought of two cakes! I got little boxes of candy and wrapped them up so we would have presents under the tree. At the end of the party, the kids drew names and got to pick a present to take home. I made them wait until they got home to open them because some were better than others and I didn’t want any fighting :)

After the party and naps, I told Clara we could go get her Julie doll if she wanted. She wanted. She received a giftcard and a little money that put her right at the amount she needed to afford her and she was over the moon excited. She was so proud of herself as she stood in line with that big box and her pouch of money that she’s counted and re-counted each time she’s added another dollar to it.

We stopped next door at Panera Bread and got a little something to eat since we hadn’t had dinner and Julie couldn’t breathe in that box. This girl is in heaven. She giggled and said how much she loves her and how much she looks like her and how she wishes Julie was missing her front teeth too and “thank you for taking me to get Julie, Mommy”, and on and on the whole way home. She’s had a pretty fantastic birthday and it’s not even her big day yet! Tomorrow she (hopefully) gets her gift from us. Pierced ears! Chris and I want to use a professional piercer (for lots of reasons), but did you know that Texas law requires that minors have a government issued i.d. to be pierced? I’m not sure how the mall places get around it, but the guy I talked to at the piercing place said they’re not exempt from the law. Maybe because they only do earlobes? Anyway, he said a school i.d. would work (which her school can’t or won’t do, not sure which), or one of the pictures with their names on it that you can get to identify them if they go missing. I have one that came with her school pictures last year, so I’m hoping that along with a birth certificate and my i.d. will work. We’re crossing our fingers.

We got home just as Chris had put Robert down. This is the sight that met me when I went in to say goodnight.

Robert is 4!

I bought a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle dvd a month ago and introduced the foursome to Robert. I did it in part to see if he’d like a TMNT birthday party. I was really just going for anything besides cars. He loved them, so was gung ho when I presented him with a ninja turtle birthday party.

We got him a bike for his birthday and he was thrilled. Nah, he does like it, but I don’t think he’s quite ready for it yet. I just didn’t want to wait until next Christmas or birthday because I do think he’ll be ready for it before then. It was a yucky, rainy day today so he hasn’t gotten to try it out yet.


The birthday boy got to choose breakfast so we had donuts and kolaches and then we went to a matinee showing of Free Birds. 


We traveled up to Spring to have Robert’s birthday party since we don’t really have any friends here yet. We had it at Double Dave’s, the same pizza shop that Clara had her 4th birthday at.

Here’s the cake. I’m pretty proud of this one. They don’t make Ninja Turtle cake pans anymore, so I free-handed this bad boy. He didn’t turn out half bad. I also made a “fruit pizza”. He really wanted one since the turtles eat them. I just pressed rice crispie treats in the bottom of a round pan added marshmallow creme “sauce” and topped with cut up fruit. It worked great and allowed our wheat-free friend to enjoy a treat too.

I made masks for all the kids out of old t-shirts but they thought they were itchy, so they didn’t stay on long. I had to take a few quick pictures before they ditched them. You’ll see they all ended up as headbands eventually.

The plan was to give the kids lots of quarters and let them loose playing the games and buying cheap toys from the machines and they had favor bags to put their stuff in. Yeah, the change machine was out of quarters and we had to wait a long time to get some from the cash register, so the kids were going kinda crazy as we waited for our pizza.

Robert had a lot of fun and loved seeing his old friends. On the way home he said “that was the bestest birthday ever!” Robert got a quick bath and then got to play with his new toys for a few minutes before bed. I think he needs practice.

And one last special gift before bed. I sing Puff the Magic Dragon to Robert before bed every night, so I hope this stuffed Puff will be a very special toy for many years to come. If his reaction is any indication, I think I needn’t worry :)

I still can’t believe this sweet boy is 4! His big sister was just as excited as he was today. She could not contain herself all day and was told continually to calm down. Robert’s a lucky boy to have such a loving sister. She gave him a card that read, “You can come into my room for one week.” So giving :)


“Helping” Mommy

Robert’s big day is tomorrow! I made his cake this morning and let him lick cake batter for the first time. Since Clara is allergic to raw eggs and broke out in hives when she had her first taste, I’ve never given Robert any while she’s around. I don’t try to shield either of them from all disappointment regarding their food restrictions, but for some reason this is a biggie for me. I just don’t like the thought of her having to watch her little brother enjoy this special treat. And enjoy it he did. And yay! No hives!


After taking care of the beaters, he rolled up his sleeves and really got down to business.


Clara’s Fun Filled Family Birthday

It’s hard to believe, but Clara turned 7 yesterday. We’ve been working a lot lately on teaching her to be grateful for what she has, so I want her to get used to the idea of not having a birthday party every year. Last year was her first big birthday party, at Pump it Up. Every other year has been a small party at home (or Double Dave’s the year I had a two week old at home and couldn’t entertain the thought of having guests in my house), but I wanted her to know that even that is not something she should expect every year. I think that having a party every few years would make them that much more special to her.

So awhile back, I broached the subject of not having a party with her. It was not received well. Which made me all the more determined to get this entitlement mindset out of her. I asked her to hear me out and gave her my ideas of what we could do instead and she eventually was enthusiastically all in. I think at first she thought no party meant no special day for her. And I’m not that cold-hearted. My intent isn’t to make her feel like she is unloved or not worthy of celebration. I wanted to celebrate her; just in a different way. Our day included several things that we don’t normally do, so that made the day extra special for her.

I woke up at about 4:00 a.m. just giddy. I couldn’t wait for our day to start! I seriously couldn’t sleep and only dozed off a couple of times for a few minutes before Robert came into our room at 6:30. And because having a day of celebration run smoothly and according to plan wouldn’t be much fun, Chris woke up sick with a cold, so we brought the party to our bed. Robert got Clara a birthday Barbie. We’ve officially lifted the Barbie ban this year. She had one other Barbie that she got as a party favor several years ago and recently started asking for them. I always said that I wasn’t against Barbie per se, but that I believed she wasn’t age appropriate for very young girls and we would revisit the decision to have Barbies at our house as she got older. Chris took a little more convincing but mainly because he doesn’t want little pieces lying around. So welcome to our home Happy Birthday Barbie! May you stay modestly clothed and may your hair remain intact.

About the only other thing she said she wanted was a pink Christmas tree for her room. Grandma and Grandpa made her wish come true and got her a tree with all the trimmings.


She got a little sewing machine and lots of book sets from Bia and Pawpaw.


And as you can see, she was thrilled with her gift from us. She just looked at it at first, trying to figure out what it was. She thought it was a watch. We told her to turn it over and then she knew exactly what it was.

Her very own waterproof, shockproof, crushproof camera! And then she thought it was cool. We’re actually not a big fan of getting kids electronics. (Our kids will probably be some of the only ones in their generation that didn’t have a leap pad.) That said, of all the electronics out there that young kids are getting, a camera is one that we could get behind. She’s had the little v-tech one that takes horrible pictures since she was three and she still carries that thing around taking pictures.  This will also be a good lesson in taking care of things. She knows it’s a real camera and that it will be taken away if she isn’t careful with it. I’m hoping this gets her creative juices flowing and I can’t wait to see the world through her lens.


She took a few pictures and then wasted no time trimming her Christmas tree.


Chris wasn’t running a fever, so he took some Day-quil and put on his game face and we were out the door on our fun filled family day. First stop was Panera Bread for breakfast.

And then on to the mall. This was the idea that got Clara on board with my non-party idea. She’s wanted a Rudolph from Build a Bear since she first saw him a year or two ago. In the end, she decided to make Clarice and Robert made Rudolph. You get to put a little heart inside your stuffed animal and here Robert was instructed to hold his heart tight in both hands, close his eyes and make a wish. So cute.

After they built their reindeer we went to to see Wreck it Ralph, although you can’t tell from the glare in the picture. It was really cute and we all liked it. Robert made it through the whole movie even! It probably helped that there was a bit of racing involved. And popcorn in his lap. At first, my plan was for one of us to take Clara by herself while Robert napped, but she wouldn’t hear of it because she wanted all of us to go together.

We went to have a cupcake across the street from the theater when the movie let out. Since I was full of popcorn and Chris was sick, only the  kids got one. They wanted the candy cane ones and I should’ve known that was a mistake, but I let them both get one anyway. Robert liked his at first, but then got a mouthful of candy cane frosting and it was a bit much. We got him another, much safer vanilla cupcake. So maybe cupcakes right after a full belly of movie popcorn wasn’t such a good idea. They only ate a small bit before they were done. And Chris had had about enough fun for the day at this point. He was such a good sport all day, but it was almost 1:00 and his meds had worn off. So we headed home for naps.


Clara got to pick dinner which we knew meant Chinese at her favorite spot. All of the ladies were so sweet to her. They put 7 fortune cookies on a plate, stuck a candle in the middle and we sang Happy Birthday to her and she got her meal free.


Initially, our evening plans were to go to Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo, but I didn’t want to go all the way down there with the kids by myself. I talked Clara into going just the two of us to walk around Market Street. I knew she wouldn’t remember the big Christmas tree since she hadn’t been since Robert was a newborn and I figured she would enjoy walking around with all of the Christmas lights and decorations.


Clara got a smoothie at Jamba Juice and one more special treat from Bath and Body Works (lip gloss and a mirror) since our evening hadn’t gone as planned and she was being such a good sport about it. We walked around for about 45 minutes and then called it a night.


On our way home, I asked her what her favorite part of her birthday was. She sweetly responded, “Spending time with my family.” Either she’s good and was telling me what she thought I wanted to hear, or this girl gets it. I was so proud of the way she handled herself when Chris was sick. I know she must have been disappointed when we had to alter plans because of it. I mean, I was too, but she bucked up and made the best of the day and had a wonderful time. As it turns out, not having a party with friends isn’t the end of the world after all :)