Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 in Gilmer

Chris and I have been together for nine years (!!) and began spending holidays together pretty early on in the relationship. Not sure how we established this, but we began alternating Christmas and Thanksgiving with his family and mine as soon as we began sharing these holidays with each other.  It's been beyond helpful.

The years we go to Gilmer for Thanksgiving have such fond places in my heart. I love the way east Texas looks this time of year (tall pine trees with lots of reds, oranges and golds). I love how the chaos of Christmas hasn't quite started and everything just seems quieter in Gilmer.

Gilmer is fast becoming one of Walt's favorite places.  He loves his Nana and Papa, but probably what he loves the most is golf.  Check out this tee shot from #1.

We also had the pleasure of Chris's aunt and uncle, Bernadette and Frank, making the trip from Austin. It's always great to catch up with the Bruns' side of the family.  With our bellies full of bacon-wrapped green beans and oyster casserole, we were happily content with another lovely Thanksgiving.
This guy devoured his Thanksgiving dinner three different times. He was in love with the sweet potatoes.

Walt's caddy crew. Cousin Maddie, Oscar, and Daddy (and mom the photog)

Happiest boy in his happiest place

Monday, November 24, 2014

Family Trip to Broken Bow

After Jess, Stori and I took a girls' weekend to Broken Bow, OK in February, we knew we needed to come back with our families.  It's a quick 3-hour drive from Dallas (unless it's nighttime or snowing) and the scenery is gorgeous.

What's "camping" without s'mores?
Between the three families, there are six kids that are 6 years old or younger.  So, we knew sleeping would be a challenge. Luckily, Broken Bow cabin rentals have lots to choose from and we landed on a house that had plenty of rooms and tons of space.  Let's also be clear this is far from a real camping experience. The cabins are just nice houses with lots of wood details. We had stainless steel appliances in the kitchen....

We divvied up the food and meals and ended up with enough food for about 20 people for four weeks. Roughly.  Not to mention, enough alcohol to sedate a dozen horses. If we would have gotten snowed in, we would have been fine. Lucky for us, the weather was actually awesome. It was cloudy, overcast and drizzly, but mid-60s. Perfect weather for exploring in the woods, and enjoying some movies and puzzles inside.

Oscar was prepared with his camping boots
The kids were amazing. They all got along and the three big kids slept in the same room. This may or may not have been detrimental to independent sleeping once we all got home. The kids enjoyed lots of junk food, lots of mac n cheese, and the adults enjoyed some scrumptious comfort food like chicken spaghetti, breakfast casserole and loaded baked potato soup.

This weekend was such a success we're already thinking of the next time and how much longer we can stay.

Working the perfect roasted marshmallow

Walt actually liked the smores!

Oscar had fun no matter what we were doing.

Look, mom. A giant rocking chair

Sleeping arrangement #1 of 45.  All three big kids in one bed... with many electronics.

Sleeping arrangement #36 of 45. Walt and Reese in the bed. This is how they stayed all night :)

Ruby girl enjoying the outdoors and her daddy!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

How to plan an engagement surprise

This is not something I ever thought I'd need experience in, but now when Walt or Oscar decide to pop the question, I'll have all sorts of pointers.

I've been friends with Jessica since college. We met our junior year through Fish Camp (Camp Bush 2001).  We became fast friends through a mutual infatuation for 'N Sync. We would sit in my college apartment and choreograph N Sync dances while simultaneous watching VHS tapes of the Mickey Mouse Club (MMC). And the startings of a true friendship began. (You wonder why I love JT so much!)

In January 2002, we got this crazy idea to find out how people became seatfillers for awards shows. Three weeks later, we were at the Staples Center in LA sitting next to No Doubt and Nelly wondering how the heck these girls in prom dresses were let through the door. #originalgrammygirls

From the time we met until the time we graduated was not even a year and half. But, somehow we cultivated a friendship that survived her moving to Denver for seven years, and me trying to find my footing in Dallas.  We shared the turmoils of the 20s. Jobs, relationships, everything. When I got engaged to Chris was when she decided to come back to Texas.... and land in Dallas.  A friendship that started in 2001 was about to be live and in person in 2009.  Jess has been a champion by my side through major life decisions like getting my MBA, fighting my way up a corporate ladder, and more importantly finding the love of my life, getting married, and having two babies. My favorite title for her is "Aunt Jess" and what a favorite aunt she is.

You can imagine my glee when her now fiance, Shawn, told me he was planning on proposing to her. Better yet, he wanted a helping hand in the proposal. I immediately looped in Stori and off we went. Shawn gave us the big idea and Stori and I added some special details.  It started with a casual girls' brunch complete with Jess asking, "When is he going to propose already????" With that, we asked for our check and attached was a pretty envelope.  The card sent us on a fun scavenger hunt through Frisco and Allen with clues that were meaningful points of Shawn and Jess's relationship.  At each stop, were two of Jess's life-long friends ready to send her off to the next stop.

The hunt ended at her and Shawn's house, where the backyard was lit with tiki torches and Shawn was standing patiently.  You know the rest, and she definitely said yes.  Jess gets an instant family, as Shawn has two kids. It's a role she has embrace from day one. I think Aunt Jess played a big role in this!

As our lives continue to grow and change, my heart is full to know we get to spend it together.  Jess, you're a gem of a lifetime. I love you!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween 2014

This year's Halloween was fun all around. Walt finally grasped the concept and even picked his own costume. I've been in awe of friends who's kids knew what they wanted to be at 2 years old.  Walt just never really got it. He's not into dress up so maybe that's part of it. Plus, I'm terrible about talking about this stuff in advance. I have a hard time with "coaching" weeks before an event because it garners lots of questions and Walt wonders why we can't do said activity tomorrow.

Justice League meets Marvel
Back to this year. Walt chose early on to be Spider-Man (thanks in part to a super hero b-day party we went to in late Sept).  Luckily, Oscar is too young to have an opinion, so he got to be Batman. Then the whole family played along. Even Bentley.

Walt had the BEST time trick or treating and could have gone all night long. It's really a shame that we have to take away more than half his candy because of peanuts. Truthfully, he probably wouldn't eat it anyways. We threw away most of the candy a week later.

Since Oscar was only three months old last year, it was fun to see him toddle around to a few houses.  He started to grasp the concept a little bit and loved following big brother.
What a trooper
Also, Walt and I braved the crowds a week before Halloween to trick or treat in Frisco Safety Town. I think all the pre-Halloween activities really solidified the concept for Walt.

Jake show  us how smart he is (get it??)
Oscar's all, "I got this!"

Spider-Man was so excited at Frisco Safety Town 
Walt with his buddy, Austin (and his little bro, Jackson) ready to take on the crowd at Frisco Safety Town.