Monday, October 3, 2011

Howdy, folks!

And welcome to the Great Fair of Texas!

After living in the DFW area for over 8 years, I finally made it to the state fair.  Joel heard a lot about it at school, so he had been begging to go all week long.  (It just opened last week.)  I figured that the boys were old enough this year for me to take them while Steve was at work.  And it almost worked out well.

We started off with some of the famous Fletcher's corny dogs for lunch. 

Then we walked around and found Big Tex, but he wasn't talking when we got to him.  Joel really wanted to see his mouth move, but that didn't happen.  We could hear him at times, but by the time we got to him he had stopped again.

Then we walked around checking out all of the sights and sounds until it was time to meet some friends at the Birds of the World show.  That was a really cool show with birds flying right over our heads!  There were even some ravens trained to take money from your hand and put it in the collection box.

After the show we walked around some more and found ourselves near the rides.  I had told the boys they could each ride one ride.  Evan picked the log flume, but Joel wanted a faster, spinnier ride.  Unfortunately he wasn't tall enough to ride the one he picked out.  He decided to do the log flume, too, and it seemed to be the right choice.  They had a great time!
Can you see Evan?

How about now?

Is this better?  I'll give you a hint - he's in front of Joel.  
He was ducked down so he wouldn't get wet.  Silly boy!

We had spent about all of the money I cared to spend by that time so we went to the petting zoo.  There were lots of cool animals, but not many of them were interested in eating by the time we got there.  The boys still seemed to have fun and got to pet some cool animals.

I was hoping to find the entries for things like biggest produce and photography, but I was not successful.  Evan had been having a rough day with intermittent stomach cramps (and lots of bathroom trips).  I finally decided to just get him home. 

All in all they declared the day a success - and I agree!
Saturday, September 10, 2011

Football Frenzy

College football season has started.
The NFL regular season has started.
Football frenzy has taken hold of our house.  Evan and I are enjoying it, and Steve and Joel are tolerating the ride.  But, what does that have to do with what we did this morning.  
Any guesses?  
Here are a couple of visual clues:
 This is a punt

This is a kick off of a tee

So, where were we and what were we doing?
I didn't get a picture of the pass, but he did that, too.
We went to an NFL Punt, Pass, and Kick Competition.  I had been wondering how to get involved in this and our city sponsored a local competition this year.  Evan was pretty pumped when I told him about it, and he had a good time.

Joel was old enough to participate, but he didn't want to.  He just sat in the (dead/hibernating) grass and ate his snacks.

After Evan was finished we played on the playground.  It was a nice morning and nice to enjoy together!
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Vintage Pearl Giveaway

I just can't get over how much I love this store's jewelry.  And they have been churning out quite a few new products lately, too.  The one that they are spotlighting now is a fortune cookie that can be personalized with your own saying.  I love their inspirational take on the necklace, too.  You can check out the blog for more info on this piece and for the chance to enter to win a free necklace of your own!
Monday, August 15, 2011

I heart faces ... and beautiful eyes!

I love looking at the entries each week for the I Heart Faces photo challenges.  I have entered a time or two, but when I saw the theme for this week, I knew I wanted to enter.  I love taking pictures that show off my boys' eyes!  The hard part of this challenge is picking just one to share.  While I enjoyed reminiscing through lots of photos of the boys, this is the one I decided to go with.  It was the one I originally thought of, and I just love the color combo in it and the whimsy that is still a part of his personality.  It is also a reminder of our wonderful time in northern Virginia.

Check out the other entries for the week and the I heart faces blog!
Sunday, August 7, 2011

There and Back Again - A Saunders Tale

We "just" got back from a week-long trip to visit family in California.  Actually we got back on Friday.  I ended up sleeping most of the day yesterday, apparently suffering from jetlag, extreme heat, or coming off of the vacation high. It was a long trip and didn't go exactly like we initially thought, but it was a good trip.

It had been a few years since we had visited Steve's family out there, and we knew that some of them were having some health issues.  Joel was a baby the last time we went, so we wanted to go again so that he and Evan would hopefully be able to remember spending time with them.

I wasn't sure how Joel would do on this trip, but he was really good.  He was a little shy around some of the family, but having his Grandma Sherry there helped him quite a bit, I think.  He warmed up pretty quickly and had a lot of fun with everyone.  Evan had been bashful on previous trips, but he wasn't at all this time.  He even put aside his love for the Rangers to make a "Giants Rock!" sign for his great-grandma (which was all his own idea).  He even cheered for the Giants (for her) when we watched the games with her on TV.  He enjoyed getting to meet (again) the cousin who sends him baseball and football cards, and was overjoyed when he got more on this trip.  Joel decided he liked them, too, and now has quite a nice collection going.

We really enjoyed the time we spent with all of the family, and exploring a different area.  The land, the plants, the views, the weather, the architecture, the food, the cultures - we could find differences to explore in all of these areas.  It would have been nice if we had more time to do that, but the boys probably had enough of it as it was.  I did want to make a list of observations that we collected while on this trip of some of the differences between California and other areas we have visited:
1.  The summer-time brown mountains are beautiful, but different from most other mountains we have seen.
2.  There's a lot of fog/smog in this area which can sometimes make it hard to see the mountains!  We weren't sure how much was fog and how much was smog.
3. There's a lot of locally grown produce in the stores.
4. Some of the groceries are the same price, and some are twice as much.
5. Locally grown, but free, oranges are abundant and taste really good. 
6. It's hard to find plain sandwich bread - even whole wheat sandwich bread.
7. Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way in parking lots.
8. The speed limit may be 35, but the lights can be short in neighborhood streets, so you better be ready to go when the light turns green.  (And expect to get honked at if you aren't that fast.)
9. While we were enjoying wearing shorts and short sleeves without sweating, others were wearing jackets.
10. Mountain hikes are great exercise, but be careful in your choice of shoes.  Loose sneakers will hurt your toes going downhill.  Tevas will give you blisters (if you don't wear them frequently) if you try to hike quickly for an hour or so.
11. I can exercise without getting dizzy there!
12. The waves of the Pacific are bigger than others we have seen, and they are COLD!
13. People come from all over the world to see San Francisco.  I don't even know what all of the languages that we heard in Muir Woods were.
14.  If you want to enjoy the peace and quiet in Muir Woods, it's probably better to not go during the summer.
15.  If you are going to go off the main trail in Muir Woods, get a map.  We used ours frequently.  We also met a couple who had been wandering around for over 3 hours after getting lost on the aptly named "Lost Trail".
16. Don't expect to find tourist shops and seafood places all along the beach in Santa Cruz.  I know there are some there, but they aren't super easy to find.
17. Surf shops are quite easy to find in Santa Cruz, but they are for real surfers and don't sell cheap souvenirs (or beach towels for people who forgot to bring them).
18. There were not as many shells on the beach at Santa Cruz as I expected.  Most of the ones we found were in the loose, dry sand instead of the wet sand closer to the waves.
19.  Be prepared to pay for parking in the Santa Cruz.  One little town looked especially cute to walk around and had a nice beach, but all of the parking spots (along the beach, in front of stores, and in the big public lot) were metered - and took coins only.
20. Older people love little kids.  Okay, I already knew this, but it was neat to see how Aunt Helen and Great-Grandma Vine both perked up around the boys.  It was even neat to see the other residents and workers at the nursing home enjoying the boys.

Well, that's a lot more than I thought I would write, but once I got started, it just kept flowing.  As you can tell, we had a great time.  The boys didn't even ask about when we were coming home, even though we didn't take many toys with us.  I think they would say that they would have rather played at Aunt Judy's house with all of the family around than go on the day trips we took, too.  But I know that they had fun on the day trips.  They did ask frequently about going to the beach, so that might be the exception.  They were determined to get in the water at the beach, too.  We told them they could if they wanted to, but tried to warn them it was cold.  They didn't care.  They both got soaked head to toe at least once, and they kept on playing.  After about an hour and a half, they did decide that they were cold and it was time to leave.

Our other day trip was to Muir Woods and a (very hilly!) driving tour of San Francisco.  That day I got tickled every time I said "Francisco".  The way I said it one time reminded me of the movie Elf, and it was all over from there.  I can still make myself laugh just saying it in my head.  It's nice to be so easily entertained.  ;-)

I was excited to be able to get in some workouts while we were there, too.  I was able to eat pretty well, too, so my attempts to "get healthy" weren't too de-railed by our vacation.  And while I do think that I am getting healthier, I still don't like the pictures of myself.  So you won't see many of them from this trip.

Anyway, we had a great time, and I took lots of pictures.  I uploaded a bunch to facebook, but it would be too many to try to post here.  I will just post the link to those instead.  (Some of them have descriptive captions, too.)

Our summer seems to coming to a close, but hopefully we will have a few more adventures before school starts up again.  Until then!
Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Super Cool Giveaway from a Super Cool Jewelry Store!

The Vintage Pearl is having a great giveaway and coupon code right now!  I drool over so many of their designs and products.  And they seem to be coming out with new stuff pretty frequently these days.  Their products range from vintage to classic to new and modern to chunky and funky!  They have things for ears, fingers, wrists, and mostly necks.  They even have stuff for men.  If you want to check out the giveaway and the site, just click here.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Celebrating America!

What a great 4th of July weekend for us!  It started with the boys and I taking a trip with some friends to pick blueberries.  We went to Edom, TX (near Tyler, TX) to a pick-your-own farm.  Evan had picked blueberries before at my dad's house, but this was some serious picking - and hot!  They both did great, though, and seemed to have fun.  I taught them to sample as we picked to make sure that they were getting good ones.  I think they liked that part.

But the best part was getting blueberry ice cream and blueberry lemonade after we were done.

On Sunday we went to church, and then spent the afternoon at home.  That night we went to see some fireworks on Main St.  The boys got to do some fun stuff, too - like bounce houses and spinning wheels for prizes.  The fireworks show was nice, but they were tired and thirsty by that time.  So Steve and I enjoyed the fireworks more than them, but not as much as we normally would have.  ;-)  There was a good variety in the show and some different kinds than you normally see.  I still give the night a thumbs up!


On Sunday we had a little party at our house for some of our community group friends from church.  Only 2 families were able to come, but we had a good time!  The kids had a lot of fun playing together, and the adults were able to enjoy some grown-up conversation.  Of course, there was a lot of food, too. 

What's more American than baseball ...
and Apple Pie?!? (and strawberry and blueberry pie)
Some festive snacks
and an All-American family!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Memories

With the coming of Mother's Day I have been thinking about my mom a lot lately.  Sometimes it's hard to believe that she has been gone for over 9 years already.  I miss her so much some days, and wish that she was here to see my boys and take part in what they are doing.  I talk about her with them, but it makes me sad that they will not get to know her here on this earth.

But memories of Mom are not all sad.  I also think about the happy times with her.  Going through a bunch of old pictures recently has increased all of this, too.  I hope that I am building happy memories for my children.  I know that they are building happy memories for me.  They have had me laughing a lot lately.  And they filled my heart with happiness this weekend as we celebrated Mother's Day.

These are not from Mother's Day, but are pictures of me and Mom together.

Steve helped me have a great weekend, too.  For starters, we had planned to work on the new fence this weekend, but Steve got all of this weekend's work done without me!  I had joked with him that he could do that, and he tried hard to get it done.  While he was working on the fence, I was helping at a baby shower for a new mom-to-be in our church.  What a great start to Mother's Day weekend!  On Sunday, Steve was working the lights at all 3 services at church.  The boys got up in time to go with him early in the morning, so I got to sleep in and just get myself to church.  I didn't get my usual breakfast in bed, but I think it was a great trade!  What a great husband I have!!!

The boys were sweet that morning, too.  They came into the room and kissed me on the cheek and told me "Happy Mother's Day" just before they left.  They had already given me some presents, but they made some more at church and game them to me after church.  We bribed them with M&M's to get some pictures of them with me and their presents to me.   Then we just hang around the house most of the afternoon.  We played a game of Sorry together and then Steve and the boys played a video game while I took a little nap.  After that we went to Carino's for dinner.  I was stuffed by the end, but it was so good!  We have cut back on our dining out and sometimes I have trouble even picking out a place to go.  But I finally settled on this, and it was great!  After we got home and got the boys ready for bed, Steve and I watched Runaway Bride.  It was a relaxing and happy day, and I was very thankful for it.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A family first ...

The first cast belongs to ...


He fell at the playground and hurt his wrist on Saturday.  I was at home cooking dinner and not with them.  When they got home he was pretty upset and we were trying to ice it.  To help him calm down and stay still we ate dinner in the living room while watching Kung Fu Panda.  By the end of the movie he was laughing hard and not complaining about his arm any more.  We noticed that he wasn't using his hand very much, though.  That continued on Sunday and Monday.  He wasn't even playing with Legos.  So I took him to the doctor on Monday thinking that it was a bad sprain, but better safe than sorry.  Well, it was more than a sprain.  It's a buckle fracture above the wrist.  He got the cast right away and it was a very quick and easy process.  It's actually a really neat waterproof and fiberglass cast and he got to pick out the color.  He will have to keep it on for 4 weeks.  His arm was still a little swollen so if the cast gets too loose he may get a new one earlier than that. 

The cast hasn't slowed him down.  In fact, he is more active now that he has it.  We went to Target after the doctor and he got a new minifigure Lego.  As soon as we got home he put it together and started playing with his other Legos.  He had his first day at school with it today, and that seemed to go well.  I forgot to pack his lunch this morning, so I got him a Happy Meal after my workout at the gym.  That ended up being a good thing since he got some Batman toys in it that he could play "quietly" with at recess.  Of course, as soon as school was out he was running everywhere.  It's hard to keep this boy still unless he has Legos near him.
Saturday, April 9, 2011

First Spring 2011 Flag Football Game

Evan had his first game today as a Wolverine, and it was pretty exciting!  His team didn't win, but they played well and seemed to be learning.  (He is playing Upward, so they don't keep score, but we can usually tell who wins.)  Evan played really well - at least we thought so.  Some of his highlights were:
 On defense:
 - 2 interceptions
 - disrupted another pass
 - made at least one "tackle"

On offense:
 - made 2 good runs
 - was quarterback but I don't think he attempted any throws
He is number 13 this year and is glad to have a "higher" number.  (Last year he was number 6).  Today they were the visiting team, so he is wearing the white side of his jersey.  Now you can find him in the pics below!
Playing defense and the looking for the ball

He got it!  This was the first interception.

He was excited, but he kept his poise after the play.

Handing it off - right in the gut.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cool giveaway!

I love reading and I have sampled many authors through the years.  One of my favorites is Francine Rivers and I recently learned about a free e-book and a chance to win a completely library of her books!  I don't have enough room to store them all, but I would love to keep some and share some if I win.  There are some good ones that I borrowed to read and would love to read again.  Anyway, if you are interested in the giveaway you  can go here to check it out!

By the way, here is a picture of us together at a book signing in Dallas.  She is very nice in person, too!
Monday, February 7, 2011

Snowpocalypse 2011

That was one of the terms bantied about last week when everything shut down for about 4 days.  Evan went to school on Monday, and Joel and I walked to pick him up at the end of the school day.  That was about the last time we left the house until Friday.  We still weren't driving anywhere until Saturday, though.  (That is for me and the boys.  Steve went to work Wednesday and Thursday, and made it safely though he agreed the roads were a little rough.)

Monday night we got some hail, sleet, freezing rain - something that turned into ice on the ground and the roads.  Then we stayed way below freezing until Saturday.  The snow didn't arrive until Thursday night, so we didn't go out to play until Friday.  Joel didn't want to play at first, but he finally went out Friday afternoon for some sledding fun.  The guys went out again Saturday for one last day of fun, and it was probably a good idea because most of the snow was gone by Sunday.  You can see the pics from our week here.

Today we are above freezing again, and should be tomorrow, too.  But we have a chance for more snow on Tuesday night, and another winter storm warning.  I really enjoyed our 4 days off last week, but I am not sure another day off this week would be a good idea.  But, there's really no use spending any mental energy on that right now.  For today, we are going to focus on returning the library movies that kept us occupied last week and getting some supplies from Costco - just in case. 
Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Science of Science Fairs

Evan completed his first science fair project this year.  I guess he had the opportunity last year, but didn't want to participate.  This year he did, so we started brainstorming ideas with him as soon as we found out about it.  Steve suggested an experiment on the evaporation rates of different liquids.  A friend had told me about her daughter's on which type of cup keeps hot chocolate warmer and I suggested that one.  Evan decided to go with the evaporation, so I started making plans to carry it out.  We tried to perform the experiment the weekend before it was due and the results were the following:
  1. The method I selected (and discussed with Steve) was not a good one for this experiment.
  2. We needed more time to complete the project.

So, we went with Plan B (a.k.a. "Keeping Hot Chocolate Warm").  After church on Sunday I picked up a digital candy thermometer.  When I got home I made a new caramel hot chocolate recipe, and we proceeded to experiment.  It took Evan, Steve, and me to keep the experiment going.  The first time we tried to measure the temps every minute, but that was pretty hard.  I basically was measuring the entire minute.  The second time (since my husband is an engineer we had to do two trials) we measured every 2 minutes.  We only kept the every two minutes measurements from the first trial, too.

 Guess which cup kept the hot chocolate warmer

Evan had worked on the wording of the purpose, hypothesis, etc. with me the day before (because I had a feeling we would be using plan B and wanted to be ready).  After the experiment it was time to analyze the data.  Steve kind of took over that part, with me throwing in things every now and then.  Evan then came to me to write the results section.  This is where the whining started.  I was about to lose it.  I wanted to finish so that we could relax and watch the playoffs.  He apparently wanted to do that, too, but without finishing the project first.  Steve took over for a while, and we were able to finish the project.  Phew!  Then Steve took over the formatting of the document into slides for printing.  I wanted to rearrange part of it and it took me a while to figure out how to get it to do what I wanted.  We have new "stuff" on our computer (Windows 7 and different Office programs) and while I like some of them, I know how to use the old stuff better.  And I haven't used PowerPoint in a long time anyway.  But ... it got done in time to get printed and put on the board way before bedtime!

And we did enjoy some caramel hot chocolate in the "winning" cup.
Surprised?  We were (except that this was my friend's result, too.)

The first thing Evan told me when I picked him from school the next day was that he won at the science fair!  It was hard to figure out what he won, but it was an honorable mention!  I think that they judged all of the kinder-3rd graders together and had a 1st, 2nd, 3rd place winner and then some honorable mentions.  He was excited and so were we!  I think he learned some stuff, too.  I wasn't sure he would want to do one next year after all of the "torture" of working on the results section, but I think that the joy of winning may have replaced the pain in his memories. 
Sunday, January 16, 2011

Winter Wonderland

I have been negligent in posting again.  We have enjoyed some snow recently, but it makes me long for more!  We only got a couple of inches and it was only "playable" for one day.  Thinking of snow always takes me back to our early days in Virginia (when we lived there for 9 months about 3 years ago).  The boys were so much smaller then and they had never really seen snow before.  The wonder and excitement really were magical.  They still love the snow, but it's not quite the same.  I have the physical pictures, and I hope I will always have the mental pictures, too.

This post has been submitted to an I Heart Faces photo challenge.
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