Monday, December 24, 2007

On the Third Day of Christmas....

Sunday night we spent Christmas at Nana & Papa James' house (Michael's mom & stepdad). Nana made mexican chicken which was really good. The kids preferred their chicken fingers though! Nana gave Jake a really neat art keyboard that hooks to the computer. Ella Kate got some cute Dora mega blocks that make flowers. I was very excited to get one of Oprah's favorite things - the mixing bowls and spoons from Williams Sonoma!!! Oprah is the best!!! Michael was extremely happy with his Dick's gift card.
We all had a great time and the kids got to spend some time playing outside together. I did have to run home and get Jake's allergy medicine. He could not stop coughing. He seems to be allergic to something at Nana's - either the tree or the dog. I believe it may be the dog because he tested positive for dog at his last allergy screening. Poor Jake - he's allergic to everything little boys love!

We Love our Sunday School

Flynn, Michael, Brad, the Laneys, and the Harrisons

The Martins, Cothrans, and Paul Suddeth

The Trammells, Riders, and Fords

"The ladies table" - Tina, Bonnie, Susan, Shelley

It's true! We absolutely love our sunday school class and the awesome people in it! We have formed some really great friendships with the people there and they are such a HUGE part of our lives. I just wanted to share some pictures of Sunday morning with you. Everyone in them is special to us!

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...

Saturday night we had Christmas at my parent's house, Mimi and Pop. My dad's parents also came, Granny & Papa. Jake and Ella are the only children there so they love all the attention they get. Jake got an awesome treehouse with lots of animals to play with (I call it the boy version of the dollhouse but Michael isn't too fond of that). He also got a pair of cowboy boots that he was thrilled with. Ella got a Baby Alive and of course we had to mix up some food and try her out! And I'll include a picture of the result because it is GROSS!!! She is a very funny baby though. Ella just cuddles her and feeds her for hours! She also got a six pack of princess shoes - Michael is seeing his future with her!!
Michael got a Florida State coaches shirt that he has been eyeing for years and I got a watch. We all got some other things but those are the biggies. Of course we all got our Christmas pajamas - those are a must!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

On the Fifth Day of Christmas....

Upside Down Ella

Me & Michael

Dave swings Jake

TonTon swings Ella

Do you think she's surprised??

Lee, Ella, Caleb, Jake, & Erica

Friday night we started Christmas off at Papa and Nana Jane's house (Michael's dad and step-mother). Papa made his famous chicken soup/stew - whichever you'd like to call it. It's my absolute favorite!! All the boys received fishing rods which they were thrilled about except for Jake who received 2 remote control cars - one for daddy and one for him! Ella got a doll which of course thrilled her. After presents, Ella found a great new game of having someone pick her up by the feet and swing her. She LOVED it! I got some funny pictures of her doing it. We had a great time hanging out with them!

The Five Days of Christmas

We always have LOTS of family to visit at Christmas and the last few years, it has turned out that we start Christmas WAY in advance and continue each night until Christmas Day. This year we have 5 days of Christmas!! And we're going to have to enforce naptime all week to keep our sanity!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Parties!!

Moody Jake doesn't want his picture made

Jake and his teacher, Mrs. Sophie - he LOVES her!!

Ella Kate and her puzzle

Ella Kate and friend, Emma Claire

Today was Christmas Party day at school - the last day before the holidays! I have to split my time between the 2 parties since they are at the same time. Ella's does start 15 minutes earlier so that gives me a little extra time with her. Ella's class had a breakfast party and had lots of good juice, doughnuts, fruits, and muffins. They also had a puzzle exchange and she got a really cute fishing puzzle complete with little magnets and a fishing pole.
Jake's class had a cookies, cake, and cheetos party with lots of gifts from everyone!!

Jake's School Christmas Program

Jake had his first official school Christmas program Tuesday night. It was lots of fun - Mimi, Bobby, KK, Granny, & Papa came to watch him. It was very hard to see him, though, because a large shepherd stood right in front of short little Jake the whole time!! He did sing the whole time, although with little enthusiasm, and even yawned through one song. They had a tiny Mary and Joseph and they were precious!! I got a few pictures of him before dress rehearsal on Monday but he is NOT happy in the few I snapped last night after the program!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Quiet Weekend

This was a pretty uneventful weekend compared to most. But that's a really good thing! Friday Michael was able to take half the day off and spent the afternoon fishing at his dad's which he really enjoyed. After he came home, we took Jake to his friend Ty's 3rd birthday party which was a "camping" party with four-wheeler riding and roasting marshmallows. They all looked so cute wearing their party favors - little head lights. Jake told us when we got there that they cooked reindeer in the fire!! He really meant that Ty's daddy, DJ, cooked some deer meat in the fire! During the party Michael and I took Ella Kate out to dinner for some rare time alone with her.

Saturday Michael went to his work Christmas party while the kids and I stayed at home (it was an adult only party).

Sunday morning 2 good friends of ours were baptized at church - Summer Laney and Karson Martin. How special for them to share that day!
One funny thing about the service. It was the youth choir Christmas program and the director is my good friend, Sarah Beth. Well, when she got up to direct at the beginning of the service, she had scissors, yes scissors, stuck to her hiney!!! A girl in the front row had to go up and unhook them from her pants. It was hilarious!! She is a good sport and handled it very well! :)

Sunday night we had our church Christmas program and afterwards we went out to eat at the "rice man" (Japanese) with some friends of ours. What a zoo!!! I honestly think there were more children there than there were adults! Seriously, 9 children and 9 adults!
Anyway, nice relaxing weekend in anticipation of this crazy few weeks we're about to have! I'm sure there will be lots to post very soon!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spartanburg Christmas Parade

Ella follows Jake up the tree while we wait for the keys

Jake climbs a tree while we wait to get the keys out

Brycen is glad to finally see Santa

I believe the Byrnes High Band is passing as they hold their ears. Don't let them fool you though, they loved the bands!!!

Jake hugs a furry pirate

Waiting for the parade to start!

Okay, so Braeden's eyes are closed and his mouth his full...

Yes, we have been to more parades this year than most people go to in 5 years!! But we love them! Each one of them has something unique about them....Macy's was just undescribable with the whole New York thing plus the big balloons, Woodruff has the candy, and Spartanburg was at night. Plus we've been to each one with different people that are very special to us!
We met up with our friends the Harrisons at the Spartanburg Parade. Brad and Tracy have twin 3 year old boys, Brycen and Braeden, that our kids just love! They get to play together a lot at church, school, and the Westside Club.
The whole parade at night thing was kind of cool and the weather was perfect!! We did not even need jackets it was so warm. I'd have to say that all of the kids really loved the bands in this parade - there were at least 5! And Brycen would ask every few minutes if Santa was there yet.
I hear from Tracy that Braeden and Jake had their 5 minutes of fame on the Channel 21 news last night. The camera lady stood right next to us and got a shot of the two of them sitting in their chairs.
Oh, and did I forget to mention that halfway through the parade, we realized we had locked our keys in our car!!! We called my dad from his cozy recliner and he came up and helped Michael pry them out. We were thankful that it was warm enough for the kids to play while they worked and that we didn't have to pay a locksmith to do it!

Woodruff Christmas Parade

Getting ready for the candy!

Lauren and Jake scoping out the candy

Papa on the Lanford's float

Ella has the best seat in the house!

On Sunday we made our annual trip to Woodruff for the Christmas parade. Never disappointed, we came home with LOADS of candy! :) The Woodruff Parade is one of very few that still throw candy. It's half the fun just to see how much we can gather.
We met the Harrells, the Wests, and the Morrisons in Woodruff and had a great time!
Our Papa was on the Lanford's float as usual and Jake and Ella were thrilled to see him there!

Jake has his first horse ride

Jake and Charles

Jake rides alone!

Jake and Mrs. Bonnie

Jake went to his friend Charles' birthday party on Saturday and got to ride a horse for the first time ever! He absolutely loved it!! He wasn't too sure about it at first, but after watching for about 10 minutes, he was ready to try. He didn't want to go alone at first, so his friend Tyler's mom, Bonnie, rode with him. Yes, his mom was a chicken and didn't want to ride. I've only been on a horse one other time and it didn't like me very much. But Charles' mom assured me this horse was "kid-friendly".
After a couple of laps with Mrs. Bonnie, Jake was ready to go solo!!

And, by the way, I am beginning to hate this blogspot place. If anyone knows of a different site to blog on....please fill me in!! Posting pictures on here is like an act of congress! That is why all of my pictures are in these slide shows.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

New York City

Our trip to New York was GREAT! I absolutely LOVED the city, while Michael enjoyed his one trip and probably won't have the burning desire to go back immediately. The kids had a hard time with so much going on and missing naps every day. But they did love it and Jake still asks every day to go back. We visited the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Wall Street, Times Square, Rockefeller Center and Plaza, Fifth Avenue, the Early Show, Good Morning America, Chinatown, and the most popular with the kids, Toys R Us and the M&M store! We also rode the Subway during the morning rush hour with two babies and a double stroller. Very interesting ride...they did good but were turning kind of green by the time we made it there in the morning. On the way back, Jake's belly was full and since we were sitting down at waist level of the people standing, he thought it would be a fun game to poke as many of them as he could. He also tried to make a call on one lady's cell phone. Luckily, they either didn't notice or they pretended not to. Michael had the joy of holding the huge stroller on each ride. That was possibly worse than holding the kids!
They loved the parade but both had to be held on shoulders the entire time due to the huge mass of people around. That was the only place that it was possible to see anything! Dora and Shrek were the favorites.
We stayed at the Hilton in Times Square and it was packed every day around the clock. It's true...the city never sleeps. All we had to do was walk out our door though, and we found things to do.
It was actually pretty warm the majority of the time we were there - we were very lucky! But on the last night and morning before we left temperatures dropped drastically and it got very windy and very cold!! Other days we did not even have to wear coats.
Thanksgiving dinner was hotdogs from a street vendor but they were very good! Grandma would have been proud!

Catching Up

To catch up on other business....Ella Kate's nickel finally made an appearance in New York at La Guardia airport. And it was as black as soot!! It had lived insider her for exactly 3 weeks!

Santa Claus has come to town!

Last night was our Sunday School Christmas Party and it was soooo much fun! We had around 50 adults there and probably 30-40 kids. We had to use our church gym due to lack of space anywhere else. We even had a visit from Santa himself! Jake was very, very excited!! He is into the whole Santa thing this year. Santa brought his bag with a gift for every child. On Ella's turn she walked up to him but needed to hold daddy's hand and wouldn't have her picture made with him. Santa brought her a "My Little Pony" just like her friend Brynn's so she was thrilled. Jake was very excited and hopped right into his lap. Santa gave him a monster truck that races when you pull the "rip cord???". I don't know all that much about boy toys!
It was precious to see all the kids squealing with delight when Santa came across the gym and then sitting so quietly and patiently when Santa read them the Christmas story. We had one baby there that was probably about 6 weeks old and made the sweetest pictures with Santa holding him.

Yes, we're still alive!

I know, I know, it's been one month and 1 day since my last post! Well, the blogsite has been "broken" and would not let me upload pictures, so I got really frustrated and then the New York trip got me really behind. So....I will attempt to put some pictures up and update everyone on this last eventful month.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It's Official....

Ella Kate is the proud new home to a shiny nickel!! On the way home from the mountains on Sunday, I let her and Jake do "magic" with 2 nickels. Jake likes to entertain people by hiding it and making it "reappear"! After a few minutes, Ella Kate told me that she needed more money. When I asked her where her money was, she said, "In my's gone." Hmmm......She was very serious about it and does not usually make things up, so I thought she was probably telling the truth. I assumed that since she had not choked on it, the advice would be to wait for it to pass. And that was exactly what they said! We did have this lovely picture done to prove that she was indeed telling the truth though. Jake has also been telling everyone that Ella Kate swallowed a pickle. Anyway, as my Granny Neal said, "Happy Hunting!" :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

We had a good night trick-or-treating. We visited several houses including Jake & Ella Kate's great-grandparents, Granny & Papa Neal; their grandparents, Nana & Papa James; their great aunt and uncle, Uncle William & Aunt Susan; their Papa & Nana Jane's church trunk-or-treat; our cousin Leslie's house (and Chase's but he was out of town!); and finally a visit from Mimi and Bobby at home! Wow!! We usually do trunk-or-treat at our church, but decided to skip it this year to spend more time at each house. We still came home with PLENTY of candy!! Jake was Spiderman and Ella Kate was a ladybug. We have had the ladybug costume for about a month now, but today at school, she told everyone she was going to be Cinderella (she likes her because it sounds like her name!). So......I went out at 3:30 to find her a princess costume. I did find a friend that was kind enough to let us borrow several princess dresses, but.....when I surprised her with them, she informed me that she was going to be a ladybug!!! She has refused to wear that ladybug costume for 2 weeks now!! What a moody little chick!!

Anyway, we had a great time out visiting. Granny even made us adults some chocolate chocolate-chip muffins and popcorn. Granny always had the best house to visit on Halloween because she dressed up and hid in the bushes and played her scary music! She even had spook trails! She has her devil horns on in this picture - but Jake says she is dressed up like Horny, their cow.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jake goes to the Dentist

Jake had his first teeth cleaning today. He actually has been to the dentist once before - about 6 months ago - but he didn't let them clean his teeth. This time he climbed right into the chair and did not move a muscle until they were done. He even got his fluoride treatment and flossing! 6 months makes a huge difference in what they will allow!
Thank goodness we had a very nice hygienist named Amy that patiently put up with 3 trips to the bathroom (during the exam) along with Jake and Ella Kate fighting in the corner, bouncing on the exam chair, and just being themselves!
Overall, he was very excited about being a big boy! And Jake and I both got a good report on our teeth, thank goodness!

Jake before his cleaning

Jake in the spotlight

Cleaning and still smiling!

Ella Kate gets sick

Ella Kate is rarely sick so when she started running a high fever on Monday, I knew something was up. Her fever continued to go up, so on Tuesday we went to the doctor (didn't find anything), and went back again Wednesday afternoon to find out that she had strep throat. Easily fixable, but she sure didn't like the penicillin shot that did the job!! She is so sweet when she's sick - it's about the only time she lets me cuddle with her and hold her. She usually wants no part of it but will sometimes let her daddy cuddle her. Michael didn't like that she was preferring her mommy this week - he's not used to that! She is finally starting to feel better today and is almost back to her normal self. Thank goodness this sickness didn't affect her pottying - she has kept right on using the potty like she's been doing it for months! Now I'm worried Jake is going to get it right in time for our trip next weekend. Hopefully he'll stay well or at least we'll catch it early next week.

Lunch with the Waddells

Saturday we had lunch with the Waddell family (Michael's dad's side) at Selma Baptist Church in Woodruff. Food was great! Here are pictures of the kids together (ours, Tonya's and David's) except for Ella Kate - she wouldn't have her picture made with the others, so she's by herself!

(L-R) Caleb, Erica, Lee, & Jake Waddell

Ella Kate slides-thank goodness for playgrounds!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Carving Pumpkins

Saturday night Michael decided it was time to carve the pumpkins that the kids picked out at school on Friday. The kids had a great time and were thrilled with their jack-o-lanterns!

Jake & Ella Kate show off their work!