Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Birthday jesus!

Hello zero drama, zero travel, and zero tantrums!!! ok, well, maybe one break down at the end of the day, but I will take it! This had to be the absolute best Christmas for me personally with it being so laid back. Not having to travel is such a blessing and I was so grateful for my family coming over to our house Christmas afternoon.

My christmas present arrived early on Friday when Lance surprised me with a new car! Too bad I had just gotten an oil change on my old car the day before! I am just glad I didn't get the new tires like I was supposed to have! ;) He got a really good deal on a 2011 GMC Denali and i love it! Our warranty had run out on my Tahoe and lance was getting nervous with how much time we spend on the road. I don't have a picture of it, but it's a pearl-ish off white color. A nice change from my last car which was gray.
Christmas eve we spent with Lance's family at his parents house. We had our delicious lunch that i look forward to for 364 days. Seriously, it's that good... and I am not talking about my contribution of the green bean casserole! Lance's mom has the best dressing that will knock Martha Stewarts socks off!! And her sweet potato pie....uuuuoooowe weee! Super yummy! We open gifts, take a break and then welcome more family who come from Shreveport for our annual game of bingo. This is the first year that Landon played and he LOVED it!! Each number that he had, he would scream out of delight to tell everyone he had it! Super cute and i had no idea that he would enjoy it so much.

Landon loving his mario characters from Big Papa and Jana

Cousin shots (kennedy, Hudson (1) and Landon
three cousins with baby Carolina Lee
Kids putting out cookies and carrots for Santa

Checking out the chimney. For some reason, this is as close as Kennedy would get

It was great seeing Lance's cousins and meeting the new addition of Carolina Lee, who is the 8 month old daughter of Philip and Destiny Deas (lance's cousin). She was a cutie pie and gave me and lance a little baby fever (just a little!).

Christmas morning came with much anticipation! It just keeps getting better with each year and I can never get enough of watching our kids faces. The kids woke up around 7:30 and the action began! Lance's family came over to witness it. Our nephew, Hudson, was also able to open his gifts that santa brought.

Opening Santa gifts...
her bat costume

The rest of the day was spending time with my family while we ate a yummy lunch...yes, I finally got my christmas cooking down!! Well, i had some help from the mother in law (dressing) and sister in law, April (green bean and squash casserole). But I did rock the turducken, sweet potato casserole, and salad! After opening gifts, we (by that i mean my dad and brother) started to assemble the new ping pong table that my parents gave to us. Then we had some serious ping pong games!! Fun!
Lance and his sister Leslea

Kennedy's favorite gift was her pink roller skates
Kennedy feeding my grandaddy Cochran

Lance and I celebrating my mad cooking skills!

Well, after two straight days of my kids being in pi's, I guess it's time to give them a bath! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and you were able to cherish your time with family while celebrating the birthday of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Glory to God for sending him our way to save us from our many sins.

Pre Christmas Celebrations

The week before Christmas, the kids were out of school and it was filled with several activities to keep the kids active and involved. I loved this week!!! We did several crafts, had our annual christmas craft play date, experienced roller skating for the first time, baked cookies (several times) and had our Christmas choir program at church. Having the advent calendar this year really made it fun because of the anticipation and activities. I loaded the activities up for this week because i knew we would need them.

Landon had his Christmas program at school and he was one of the three wise men.

Here are the boys in Landon's choir group. I was able to snap a shot of them before they got on stage and then my camera died. I did get it on video at least!

Making Christmas cookies. Landon had already bolted outside before i got the camera out!

Making apple snowmen at our christmas play date.

We later went over to Mandy's house for a wilderness hike to see what we could find.... Here is Kennedy shooting some deer

and here are the deer...cute, aren't they?!?

After we went inside, we got the grand tour of Mandy's new house. I love it! Landon said as we drove up, "Wow! they live in the woods!!" But unfortunately, while the mamas were looking around, my friend's little girl, Landry Grace, feel and cut her head pretty good. Poor thing had to go get stitches. :(

Now we are getting ready for santa to arrive! Here is a gift that i am proud of making... what would i do without pinterest in my life?!?!

Merry Christmas to all my bloggin peeps!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meeting Santa

I LOVE Christmas time! My house always feels so much warmer and festive when it's all decorated. It's a good thing i started decorating before we left for Disney otherwise I am not sure if I could have gotten it all up!

This year, we started an advent calendar countdown to Christmas and I was surprised at how the kids have loved opening up each day to find out what activity to do. Sometimes there are two activities so we can do one in the evening with Lance. Here is one activity, having a picnic by the tree. ;)

Last week, we attended the Christmas parade downtown Ruston. We were able to stay warm at Donnie Bell Design and then step outside for the parade action. It got a little loud and crazy inside so i think we were glad once the parade started!

We were able to meet Santa on two different occasions. The first was at Lance's bank and the set up for pictures with Santa was soooo good! Much improvement from the last few years. Then on Saturday morning, we did our annual visit with Santa at Squire Creek with Breakfast with Santa. I was proud that Kennedy did so well with Santa. She was a little hesitant, but Landon was a great big brother and talked her through it.

Little snack before seeing santa at the bank

Breakfast with santa:

After breakfast with Santa, Kennedy and I went to a ginger bread making party while the boys went to the duck camp. We had a blast celebrating our sweet friend Landry Grace. It didn't take us long to bake the cookies that she gave us for a party favor!

Birthday girl, Landry Grace and her mama
Aren't these aprons adorable?!?

This past weekend, we were able to meet up with my brother, Klint and his family. They are spending Christmas with her family during Christmas so we exchanged gifts with them. They are expecting their second child this May and I am so excited for them!

This week is basically hanging at the house and doing different activities. The kids are super excited about the upcoming week and for Christmas to get here. Letters have been sent and I was shocked that Kennedy is requesting only ONE gift and it's a bat costume...i know, weird, right?!? Her inspiration is from Animal Kingdom when she one a stuffed black bat at one of the games. Should be interesting this Christmas! ;)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Disney 2011

Our first family trip to the magical place of Walt Disney World was absolutely fantastic! It really exceeded all of my expectations and I am really looking forward to planning another trip there. Early on, I was having some anxiety about having lance's, my family, and my parents going and worried about all the different personalities and needs of everyone. But it couldn't have worked out better. We were all focused on what the needs of the kids were and it all fell into place. It also didn't stop anyone from riding the thrill rides (me, my mom and landon couldn't get enough of these!!!). I knew going in, that most of the group didn't like the big rides. But there are plenty of other things to do for the entire group.

Here is a recap of what we did (if you want to be spared of all the details, just scroll down to the pics and I won't bore you with details!!) ;) I want be able to record all we did so I can look back on it!

We did the direct flight from Jackson and I thought it worked perfect and highly recommend doing that. Probably my two favorite things about disney were how each 'cast member' or employee was extremely nice and how I never had to deal with my luggage (arrival and departure). This is golden when dealing with two young kids and 7 checked pieces of luggage. We arrived around 5:00 to our hotel (the Polyonesian) and got settled in before our dinner reservations at Ohana at 8:00. We had some time to kill so we looked around our resort and then hopped on the monorail to the Grand Floridian resort to see their large gingerbread house. After dinner, the kids and i went to the beach to watch the fireworks at 9:30 (everyone else was pooped and getting ready for bed) and this was a special memory i will have watching that with both kids in my arms.

Day 1 had to be a Magic Kingdom day and it was perfect. We had lunch at the castle and that was absolutely priceless. My favorite quotes from Lance this week was during the princess lunch, he said, "Whatever the cost was for this trip, that moment just made every penny worth while. I will never forget Kennedy's face." And, fyi, this was probably the third time i had cried on that day (the first was when we got to see Mickey 'open' the park). AFter a few rides following lunch, we started to get rained on. The Hall grandparents went back to the hotel to stay dry while the rest of us threw our ponchos on (thanks Suzanne!) to stick it out. I thought it was perfect because it cleared out the crowds and we were able to watch the afternoon parade right in front of the castle with no one around us. Even with this being our first parade, i still knew how lucky we were to have that opportunity. All the characters would come up to the kids and i got a huge kick out of it. Kennedy was very particular about who she wouldn't hide her face from (see pictures). I got a great video of it, but too bad I will never see it (that's a whole other story). The rain stopped and we were able to enjoy the rest of the evening there at Magic Kingdom.

Day 2 was a morning at Epcot. We didn't get up in time to be there when the park opened but we were still able to beat the crowds. Actually the crowds never got too bad. We had lunch in Norway at the Akershus Royal Hall. Looking back this is one reservation i should have canceled, but i know better next time (we had just seen these same princesses the day before, but i was told they would be new ones). Still good, but we could have done without. after lunch we went back to hotel for naps so we could be rested up for the Mickey's Merry Christmas Party. This was fantastic. We all loved it and I was glad we all got naps in because we didn't get back in until 12:30am. The highlight of this night was the dance party with Woody, Jesse and Bullseye. No one was there and we just got to dance the night away with them...just picture this in your mind right now: landon singing every word to Justin Bieber's song, Baby, to Jesse. It was priceless! This is also the night i will remember because i lost my phone somewhere. I am sick about the videos that will be forever lost. :(

Day 3 was Animal Kingdom. The kids really loved this...all the animals! And the most pleasant surprise favorite was eating breakfast at the Tucker House. We all loved it. The food was amazing and it was our first time to get to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Daisy. The kids were so cute. We spent the entire day at AK (it closed at 4:30) but we missed the 3:45 parade, which was supposed to be awesome. We had Chef Mickey dinner reservations at 5:00 and i was afraid we weren't going to get back in time because everyone leaving at once and us having to take the bus. Looking back, i think we could have made it...oh well. AFter dinner the kids were done....they went to sleep about 7:15 while Lance and I went downtown (believe me, we were VERY tempted to go to bed too, but we wanted to suck it up and experience as much as we could!). Downtown was nice (didn't care for the 35 min bus ride there and back). We did some shopping, drank hot chocolate, and admired the lego displays!

Day 4 was Hollywood Studios day. This is the day i was looking forward to. I would totally do this day differently, but you learn as you go. We didn't get off to an early start, which messed our timing on eating and the schedule we followed. But it was still fun. We had to eat our dinner at 2:45 so we could get the Fantasmic package. That would have worked out great but no one was hungry after our lunch. But it was worth it once we watched the show that night. I worried that Kennedy would get really scared (it was a bit scary), but we prepared her for it and I would totally do it again. Very impressive! And Kennedy enjoyed it way more than i thought she would. AFter the show we went to see the light on the Osborne Family street and this too was so impressive. I don't have any great shots b/c of the lighting, but i know it wouldn't do it justice.

Day 5, final day there, the kids got to choose and they wanted to go to Animal Kingdom (we originally were going to go back the MK, but we heard that justin bieber and other singers were there shooting a christmas show there and we didn't want to fight the crowds. As it turned out, we really enjoyed our 2nd day at AK. We didn't feel rushed and were able to do some things we missed the first time. After most of the day there, we decided to rest up and go back to the Christmas Party at MK for our last night. it was just as good the second time around! I loved not having any lines and the parades were really good.

That was our trip in a nut shell and it was great. Landon's favorites were: riding all the big rides, especially space mt, splash mt, mt everest and thunder mt. By the end of the trip, he was a pro and holding his arms up through all the rides. Kennedy's favorites were meeting the characters, watching the parades and the dance party was jesse, woody and bullseye. the 2nd christmas party we were able to dance with Pluto, chip n dale and goofy. My favorite parts were watching my kids faces during the parades, the fireworks and light shows, the thrill rides and character meals. Lance's favorite parts were the fireworks and lightshow, the parades and the toy Story Mania ride.

Here are some of the pictures i took. There were so many to choose from so this was hard!

Day one

Day 2, Epcot and Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom

And the coolest dance party ever and probably the best kept secret at the Christmas party!

Day 3, Animal Kingdom

Day 4, Hollywood and Fantasmic show

Day 5, Animal kingdom and Christmas party

Thanks for looking and huge big thanks to my buddy suzanne for letting borrow some clothes, bags, thoughts and ponchos!! ;)