Monday, November 30, 2009

A New Christmas Tradition

I remember reading about the Elf on the Shelf last year, and I wanted to start that tradition in our family. Things got busy, though, and I forgot all about it. Last week, Abbey blogged about their elf, and that jogged my memory. I made a special trip to Hallmark the next day.

On Friday, we got a package under our tree from Santa (*wink*) that contained our very own Elf on the Shelf. Clayton was beyond excited! We read the book together and it explained everything that we needed to know. The elf sits in your house and keeps records for Santa of everything that you do - good or bad. At night, he flies to the North Pole and tells Santa of his findings. In the morning, you wake up and have to look for the elf because he is in a new spot.

Clayton has had so much fun naming our elf (he named him Nick since he is friends with St. Nicholas), talking to Nick, and finding Nick each morning. I think this will be a fun tradition for many years to come. :)

So... I took Clayton's picture with Nick before we read the book. Apparently, you aren't supposed to touch the elf. If you do, he looses a little bit of his magic. Ooops! Note to self: preread books before reading them to your child. Lesson learned. :)

This morning, when Clayton woke up, Nick was perched on the kitchen light fixture. Sneaky little elf!

Nick's presence has definitely made an impact on Clayton. He has been on his very best behavior, for sure! I am loving it! He is going out of his way to try to help around the house. He even asked if he could write out my grocery list for me yesterday. It took about 10 times as long with me spelling each thing out, but I was grateful that he wanted so badly to help. ;)

Yesterday, Drew and Clayton were playing on the floor. Drew's hand brushed accross Clayton's face. Well, Clayton piped up with, "Did you see that Nick? Drew just hit me!" It was one of those moments where you are trying to keep a straight face and discourage sibling rivalry, but I just couldn't help it. I laughed.

I wanted to share with you all my favorite Christmas book, too. It is called The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado. It is such a sweet story! I tear up every time that I read it to the boys. I remember reading it as a child, and now I love reading it to my kids. If you have little ones, it is a great Christmas book!

Leo the Lion

Clayton is in the Lion class at preschool. At the beginning of the year, the teachers sent home a letter with details about what they would be doing in class - objectives, fun activities, etc. Among other things, they explained that they have a "class pet" named Leo the Lion. Each Thursday, one of the kids would get to take Leo home for the weekend. Clayton has been chomping at the bit for his turn. Every Thursday I would pickup a very forlorn Clayton and would be greeted by, "it's still not my turn..." accompanied by a sad pouty lip.

On the Thursday before Thanksgiving, it was quite a different story. Clayton was grinning from ear to ear and said, "I get to keep Leo for ALL of Thanksgiving!!!"

Leo has gone everywhere with us. He has had quite an adventure! He went to San Antonio with us. He stopped at the UT campus with us, watched the seal show, and sat on the front row of the Shamu show. Yesterday we made a quick day trip to East Texas to see Wade's parents & Mamaw. Leo got to take a golf cart ride with Clayton while we were there.

Leo came in his own canvas bag with a 3 ring binder. The kids are supposed to write a story about what they did with Leo in the binder. So, today we wrote our Leo story. We talked about what he wanted to say and then I spelled out each word for him. But, he wrote almost all of the letters all by himself. He was pretty proud of his work. :)
Daddy, Clayton, and Leo at UT's bell tower

Clayton & Leo at the seal show

Waiting for the Shamu show

Riding in the golf cart

Here's his story for the notebook

In case that you need translation, it says:
"I took Leo to San Antonio, Austin, and East Texas. We went to U.T., Sea World, and my Grammie's."
I thought that this deserved a blog entry, since it is his first homework assignment. :) I have a feeling that he won't enjoy all of his future homework as much as this project. Ha!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving with Shamu

We just got back from an impromptu Sea World vacation. It was super spur of the moment and totally spontaneous, which is so out of the ordinary for Wade & I. Wade had taken off on Monday-Wednesday to spend some extra family time. On Friday night he remembered that he had 4 free hotel nights (that he had earned through traveling for work) that were going to expire at the end of the year. He decided that we should go somewhere and use them. So... the idea of a family vacation was born.

We decided this on Friday night, mind you, and we left on Sunday afternoon. Crazy, huh? It worked out really well, though. The boys did sooo good - so much better than I thought that they would. The ride down was a piece of cake. Our driver (aka Wade) decided that we had to stop in Austin and visit that other school. Boo! Hiss! I wasn't thrilled with the idea, but Wade & Clayton thought that it was a great way to start our mini-vacay.

I obliged to make my boys happy, but on the inside, I was cringing. I am really starting to worry about Clayton. I don't know if I'll ever get him back from the dark side...

Sunday evening we checked into our hotel and got a good nights rest before our big Sea World day on Monday.
We had so much fun!

The Shamu show was everyone's favorite. We saw it on Monday & again on Wednesday when we went back. On Wednesday, Clayton & Wade sat on the front row of the Splash zone. Crazy fools! They loved every minute of it. The show was set to Christmas music, which I loved. It made me so pumped up for Christmas. Yay! Watching those huge creatures do amazing tricks is awesome no matter how old you are. :)

Even Drew loved the shows. I was really worried about how he would do, but he was so pleasant! He really did watch the shows. He would play in the aisles and walk around while we waited for the shows to start. Then, I would put him in the Baby Bjorn during the shows. I guess it was the music/lights/movement combination that he enjoyed. Either way - I was glad that he did well. :)

Clayton LOVED feeding the dolphins. I think that was his favorite part.

Since Sea World already had all of their Christmas shows playing, they had the Polar Express (a condensed version) in 4D. The seats shook when the train was moving, they piped in the smell of hot chocolate for the cocoa scene, and at the end they had "real" snow (more like bubbles). Drew was totally mesmerized by the snow. He held his hands up and laughed so hard. It was pretty cute. ;)

Okay, so the funniest Clayton moment of the trip happened in the Coral Reef exhibit. They had a diver that fed all of the sting rays and fish. She wore a microphone in her gear and answered questions from the audience. There were tons of kids and parents all sitting on the floor in front of the ginormous tanks during the question/answer session. The announcer guy introduced the diver as "Diver Reyna" (pronounced rain-a). Well, when he asked if anyone had a question for Diver Reyna, Clayton's hand shot up. Then he announced loudly, "I have a question for Diarrhea!!!" Oh my gosh - I was mortified! It's funny now, but at the time, I just wanted to crawl under a rock. Ha!

Clayton and Diver Reyna (or Diarrhea... whichever you prefer)

At the end of the coral reef exhibit, Santa swam out in a wet suit. Who knew that Santa was into scuba diving?!?!

Drew loved the big fish tanks. He pointed and laughed and had himself a good 'ole time!

Can you see Wade's red hat on the front row? They are nuts, I tell you!

Clayton also fed the sea lions and seals. I don't know what he enjoyed more - actually feeding the animals or grossing out his Mama with the dead fish!

Hug or choke hold??? You decide.

We spent 2 days at Sea World and really enjoyed every minute. They were running a special and the season pass ("Fun Card") that is good through December of 2010 was only like $10 more than a 1 day ticket. So... we will probably go again in the spring (maybe even again next fall). We'll see...
On Tuesday we did the classic San Antonio types of things.
We went on a river boat tour.

Then Wade took Drew back to the hotel for a nap while I took Clayton to the children's museum. It was the best children's museum that we have been to. Clayton had a ball!

Then we all met up at the Alamo. Good times!

I am thankful for a little getaway with my 3 favorite guys! It was an unexpected, but super fun trip. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wade's Mini-Me

I've noticed lately that Clayton tries very hard to imitate his Daddy. He wants to do everything that Wade does. If Wade is working in the yard, Clayton wants to help him. If he is watching football, Clayton wants to watch too. If he is eating a snack, then Clayton wants the same thing. It is pretty cute to watch.

There are 2 silly skills that Clayton has mastered lately that just make me realize that he is Wade's little Mini-Me. First of all, he learned to whistle. And, he does it all. the. time. In fact, he is whistling as I type. Last week he came into the kitchen and said, "Mama, does our town have a whistling team?" When I broke the news that, no, we did not have access to a whistling team, he was very disappointed. He said, "Aw, nuts! I guess that means that I'll have to practice by myself."

Wade tells me all of the time about how his mom banned him from whistling in the house or in the car. She told him that whistling was an outdoor activity. Ha! Now I get where she was coming from! Wade still whistles a lot, and now Clayton is following in his footsteps. They are two whistling fools! ;)

For as long as I can remember, whenever Wade has given Clayton a bath, he blows him bubbles with the bath soap. He puts soap on his hands, mixes in just the right about of water (I'm told that the soap:water ratio is a highly scientific skill), and blows bubbles. Not just little bubbles, mind you, we're talking huge bubbles. Well, Clayton figured out how to do the same thing a few weeks ago. It has dramatically increased our soap consumption, but the smiles and giggles are worth it. :)

Clayton's Bubbles

Daddy's bubbles

Apparently, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! (Or the whistle ability far from the whistler. Or the bubble blowing skills far from the bubble blower.) :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Feast Day

Today was Feast Day at Clayton's preschool. Our little Indian (er, uh, Native American, to be politically correct) was stoked about his vest and headdress.

The boy's a sucker for a good costume (even if it is made out of butcher paper!). :)
They made placemats and little place cards. Very cute!

Me & My Eldest
Since Clayton's feast was from 12:05-12:45, Daddy got to come during his lunch hour. Clayton was so glad to have him there. Clayton feasted and played hard at school. Then he came straight home and fell into a food coma on the couch.
Thank you Lord for tryptophan! Perhaps I should feed Clayton turkey for lunch every day. Ha!
P.S. I just read the Feast Day post from last year, and it made me cry. :( My babies look sooo much older than they did last year!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Feels Like I'm Falling for Fall...

Noggin, anyone? Gotta love Moose & Zee. :)

A cold front just blew through last night, and now it is really starting to feel like fall. We've had BEAUTIFUL weather with highs in the mid 70's for the last few weeks, but now it is starting to feel more like November. It's time to bust out the coats, rake the leaves, and cook up some comfort food. I love it!

I am not a cook, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, feeding my family is something that I really struggle with. Tonight, however, I tried a new recipe and it was really good. I mean really, really good - like makesyouwanttoslapyourMama good.

(Don't worry, Mom, it's just an expression. I'd never lay a hand on you! Ha ha!)

I saw the recipe on the Big Mama Blog and knew that I wanted to give it a try. Since it turned out so good, I wanted to share with all of you.

Tortilla Soup from The Mansion

3 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 corn tortillas, diced
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
4-5 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon of cumin
2 tablespoons of chili powder

Saute all of the above until tortillas begin to crisp.

Add the following to the above and simmer:
1 cup onion puree (I just chopped up a small onion and pureed it in a mini food processor)
1 large can (29 oz) of tomato puree
2 quarts of chicken stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cayenne Pepper to taste

To serve: top with any or all of the following: diced grilled or baked chicken, avocado, shredded cheese, crisp fried strips of corn tortilla.

I bought a rotisserie chicken, shredded the meat, and added it to the soup, too. Then topped it with a dollop of sour cream, avocado, and strips of fried corn tortillas.

Yes, I fried them myself. I'm not usually this domestic... I don't know what got into me tonight. But, here is a picture of the finished product.

It was sooo good! Y'all gotta try it.

And... Because a post just doesn't feel complete without pictures of the boys, here's a couple of fall pictures of my monkeys. :)

Happy Fall, Y'all!