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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Must do all the Christmas things

Hold on because I have another weekend o' Christmas activities recap coming at you! I'm going to (try to) be brief, I promise.

Activity #1: SNOW DAY
Yes, you read that right, it snowed in Houston, Texas. Clara has been praying for God to make it snow for a while, so apparently we need to ask her to pray for things more often. Despite her obsession about it happening, Colby was actually way more into the snow than Clara was. Unsurprisingly, his favorite activity was throwing snowballs!


Brian was the creator of this impressive snowman, for the record!


Activity #2: Favorite Things Party
We've done this the last couple of years with the girls from our small group and it's always a hit. [Go here for a basic description of what a "favorite things" party entails.]
I actually brought 2 items as my "favorite thing" - this soap and this lotion. I went home with nail polish, bath salts, a jewelry cleaner pen, hair "spin pins", and mason jar salt and pepper shakers. Also, the requested attire was "comfortable and festive," so obviously I went with this beautiful over-sized Christmas sweatshirt that Brian purchased at a thrift store 10+ years ago.

Activity #3: Decorating a "public" Christmas tree
I posted about this on Instagram, but there's a tree near the walking trail near our house that we have spent the last couple of years saying we needed to decorate at Christmas time, so on Saturday we did just that.
Clara sported the "Rudolph" bun pictured in the top right for the occasion

Hopefully it will brighten people's days when they walk by it (... or dogs' days when they pee on it).

Activity #4: Decorating gingerbread houses/looking at Christmas lights with the Olivers 
(I'm not sure why I keep titling these with caps... sorry if it sounds like I'm yelling at you).

Admittedly gingerbread house-decorating went better than light-seeing because the kids were being... well... annoying, but we still good to see a lot of pretty lights, so I'll call it a win.

Activity #5: Father/daughter - mother/son outings 
Brian and Clara continued their annual tradition of going to see "The Nutcracker" on Sunday (joined by Wade and Avery this year). Clara was once again thrilled to (a) get snacks at the theater and (b) see "the new Clara" (as she calls her) dance!

Bottom right pic is of Clara and Avery matching at church before Clara changed into her Nutcracker-themed dress (courtesy of Mimi) for the big show!

Meanwhile, Allison, Davis, Colby, and I went out for dessert, video games, and a trip to the playground. Once we got home, I was getting things done around the house while Colby played, and when I asked if he wanted to come play in the room where I was, he said, "No thanks, sometimes I just like to be by myself." That little boy!

Activity #6: Neighborhood walk to see lights 
After dinner on Sunday, we went on a stroll to see the lights in our little subdivision. Clara was cold/tired/scared most of the time (she was convinced that moving images projected on some of the houses were actually ghosts), but as you can see from this picture, Colby was happy as a clam.


Coming up: the twins' Christmas program at school, celebrating Christmas with Brian's family, a hayride, and more... I need an intervention.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Santa Visit 2017

So we decided that instead of shelling out an inordinate amount of cash to visit Santa at the mall this year, we would pay him a visit at the Christmas Train in Alvin while we were there instead. As I mentioned, the twins were not on their best behavior during that adventure. And the few minutes we had to wait in line proved long enough for Colby to develop an intense disinterest in (a) having to sit and smile for a picture and (b) see Santa. Also, although the photographer was sweet and had a great set-up, the framing of the picture wasn't quite what we expected:

It looks to me like they were photographing Clara with Santa and then just accidentally included Colby off to the side.

So with that, the very next morning, we headed to the mall to - yep - shell out an inordinate amount of cash to visit Santa at the mall. The only way we could get the twins (primarily Colby) to agree to sit for pictures again was by allowing them to wear pajamas ("button shirts" are Colby's arch nemesis so this comfortable alternative was much more acceptable to him), but thankfully they had the perfect ones to wear for the occasion!

Refreshing to see two smiles!

Obviously neither one of them lives up to either of these attributes 100% of the time, but admittedly this assignment was the most accurate based on recent behavioral patterns :)

When it was time to actually sit with Santa, they were shy but cooperative, and Clara even gave him a picture she drew for him. The photographer only took one picture and seemed satisfied- this was the result:

Crummy cropping job (this isn't even the original cropping), and Santa looked a little lazy to me, but we got two (forced) smiles, so there's that!

Here's a recap of our Santa visits over the years (2013-2017)... 2014 (2nd from the left) is my favorite!

See ya next year, Santa!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I promised we would be hitting the ground running with holiday activities this past weekend, and indeed we did. We made plans to visit the Christmas Train in Alvin on Friday with the Olivers. When Friday afternoon rolled around and Brian picked up the twins from school, it was clear that they had not been having a good day and that they were not in a pleasant mood. But the tickets had been purchased and we thought surely they would turn their attitudes around with a fun Christmas outing, right? (Spoiler alert: WRONG)

We started the evening off with a fancy dinner at Dairy Queen, where I was so concerned about my son's reckless ketchup consumption combined with the white shirt he was wearing that I had him eat his dinner topless. Mother of the Year Award Nomination Committee - are you reading?


Once we made it to the train grounds, we paid Santa a visit (separate post scheduled for that bomb of a visit), checked out the miniature train exhibit, rode on the train through the lights, took a snack break, and wrote letters to mail to Santa.








At this point, we informed the children that we wouldn't be staying for storytime with Mrs. Claus because it would last for 30 minutes and with it already being past their bedtime, we were 100% certain it wouldn't go well. As you might imagine, this decision was completely unacceptable to them, and after a lot of really special behavior, we decided to cut our losses and head home. The icing on the cake was when we got in the car and they told us that they didn't have any fun and that we were rude. Precious blessings, 4-year-olds are. 

They both passed out shortly thereafter - note to self: don't make plans that last past bedtime on Friday nights after the twins have been at daycare all week and are tired and irritable. Also note to self: stop having expectations.

On Saturday afternoon, Clara's dance class had their performance at the Christmas festival in downtown Richmond. They danced to "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and it was pretty darn cute. She also had a sweet little cheering section, including Colby that spent the duration of her performance yelling her name and trying to get her attention!!

She for real posed like this on her own, popped out knee, hand on hip, and all!





This is when Colby spotted me taking pictures from the other side of the outdoor stage




I rounded out the weekend's fun by co-hosting a cookie exchange with my two sweet friends for the 8th year in a row! This is one of my favorite Christmas traditions each year and although it might single-handedly give me adult onset diabetes one day, it is totally worth it!


Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas Card 2017

We might have taken our Christmas card pictures during the first week of October, and it might have been 80+ degrees outside when we did it, but you better believe as the Fall picked up speed (and the calendar filled up with activities), I was thankful to have it over with early! My family would also say the same, as posed family photos aren't exactly a preferred pastime for any of them :)

My SIL, Shannon, graciously came over after one of the twins' soccer games, helped set up our little scene (Colby's tractor + the twins' miniature Christmas tree) in our backyard, and snapped these pictures for us. 

Practicing her modeling skillz

She reminds me so much of myself in this one!

I'll take bored over passionately disinterested any day.

But don't worry, he still showcased his irritation a few times.

And here's winner #1...

and winner #2!



Merry Christmas (card season) to you all!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thanksgiving Break 2017

We had a fun-filled Thanksgiving break last week- I think the best part is that we got to spend time with both sides of the family without having to travel at all!

Colby, Clara, and I kicked off the break by going to see "The Star" with Allison, Davis, and Avery the afternoon before Thankgsiving. It's a (cartoon) movie about the birth of Jesus (as told by the animals) and while it wasn't the most amazing kids' movie ever, it was a cute way of telling the story in a way the kids could appreciate.


That evening, Brian and Colby held down the fort at home (read: ate pizza and played video games) while Clara and I headed out to accomplish an important Thanksgiving Eve task: mailing our Christmas cards! 


Thanksgiving morning was spent meeting up with Allison for a walk (preemptive calorie burning) and then decorating for Christmas. We let the twins help up until it was time to put ornaments on the tree and after about 15 seconds of letting them be involved, we wisely turned on a show to distract them while we took care of business. Don't worry- I still let them hang their own (non-breakable) ornaments at the end :)

We spent the rest of the day at Brian's parents' house and despite the fact that their power was out for 6 hours (thankfully the turkey had already been cooked the day before!), we still had a great time. We did a few photo shoots, plenty of eating, and spent plenty of time outside thanks to the perfect weather. 




I kind of love Colby's crazy eyes in this pic!



(We took this while Brian was heating up all of the bigger dishes on the grill!)

The original Joiner clan (Don, Terrie, Shannon, & Brian)

The twinkies with Mimi and Granddaddy

We spent Friday visiting with my parents, who were briefly in town, and bravely doing a little bit of Black Friday shopping, where I finally purchased a crossbody purse, which, as some of you know, I've been obsessing about for several weeks now. 



Hello, pretty new bag (that was 50% off!!)!


Brian and his dad spent Saturday morning knocking out a project in the yard: basically we had this one area where the dog houses sat that had no grass in it and served primarily as a digging area for the dogs. The top "before" pic is after we moved the dog houses and leveled out the dirt. The bottom "after" pic is with the new pavers Brian and his dad put in:


We ended the day with dinner with some friends and much to the twins' delight, a slumber party with Avery.

Though Sunday was a little warmer than I prefer for November, the weather was pretty nice, so we spent most of the post-church day playing outside and trying to pretend we didn't have to go back to work/school the next day. It was the perfect low-key day to wrap up our break.

This weekend we'll be in full swing with Christmas activities, complete with visiting Santa, a Christmas dance performance for Clara, and co-hosting my annual cookie exchange with friends. 'Tis the season!