Saturday, November 30, 2013

Two Movies in Two Days

Totally out of the normal for our family.  We not only went to the movies, but stayed awake through both movies this weekend!  Considering which ones we saw explains why we didn't fall asleep (or why I didn't fall asleep - remember the Matrix, Dad and Mom??).

Jeremy and I saw Hunger Games: Catching Fire with Andrew, Jon and Allison yesterday.  Amazing.

Today Jeremy and I took the girls to the first showing of the day at Stonebriar to see "Frozen."  Wow - so loved it!!!  When we got home, Jeremy downloaded the music and the girls and I danced around the living room.  The girls really loved it too.

Highly recommend both of them!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today was a really great day.  We facetimed with Jeremy's family.  Then my parents took the girls to the airport to pick up Jon and Allison.  Jeremy cooked up green bean bundles and stuffing.  I went for a 3 mile run and soaked up our balmy 40 degree weather.  Then we headed over to my parents house.

It was so great to spend time with Andrew (my cousin), Jon and Allison.  Allison looks absolutely adorable pregnant.  She's around 6 months along and too cute.

We ate a wonderful meal, spent time chatting and the girls entertained us by stringing stuffed animals from their balcony and then batting them back and forth.  We held a mini baby shower for Jon and Allison since we won't be able to get out to RI before the baby is born.  Lots of cute baby clothes!

Riley shared that she likes Christmas better than Thanksgiving.  My mom said "Because you get presents?"  She answered "No!  Because it's Jesus birthday!"  Later in the car I asked the girls what they were thankful for.  Julia answered "My Daddy, My Mommy, Jesus and Riley."  Riley answered "That I'm friendly to strangers and to animals.  I like the stars, the moon, etc..."

What a really great, low-key day of Thankfulness!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Riley's First Sewing Project

A few days ago Riley asked if I would sew something.  At the time I couldn't think of what I wanted or needed to sew.  Decided today to use some fabric that we have to make some American Girl Doll dresses.  Riley begged to sew with me.  I told her that after I finished the side seams of the dress, she could sew.  She was ecstatic!!

She cut out the teeniest pair of pants that she wanted to sew.  The stitches would have been all of an inch long so I told Riley that we'd have to make something with long stitches so she could get good practice sewing straight and it'd be easier.  She chose to make a pair of pants for her American Girl doll.  Perfect!

She chose an old shirt of mine from a pile of clothes that we will use to upcycle into other things.  She chose which way she wanted the stripes to go on the pants.  The pants are blue and white striped.  We cut my old shirt.  I did the pattern and got it ready.

Riley sewed the entire pattern herself (except for the elastic waistband - I did that part).  She loved it and insisted that she could do it herself.  I helped guide her a few times, but she pulled the pins out and guided the fabric.  She did such an amazing job.

As soon as the pants were done, they went straight onto her doll.  She really wants to do a shirt next which will work.  She can do anything she sets her mind to!


In our traditional fashion, we went to the mall to see Santa today.  It is always much easier to go the week of Thanksgiving when I have time off with the girls.  Makes for short lines and ease of getting in and out.

The girls were really excited to go.  Riley asked if they could wear their elf pjs.  Of course!  Julia didn't want to wear hers and wanted to wear purple leggings, grey skirt, blue dora shirt and a very very small cardigan that was dark pink.  I told her that she could wear that in the car, but if she wanted to see Santa, she would have to put on her elf pjs.  Otherwise - no Santa.  (Actually it was all because it would have looked ridiculous to have one in elf pjs and the other in tons of crazy colors. Though it would have been an honest reflection of what they wanted to wear today.)

We drove to the mall which is all of 15 minutes away - tops.  A few minutes into the ride Julia asked "When are we going to be there?  It's taking too long!"  She definitely does not have patience when it comes to getting places.  She asked the same question on the way home too.

The girls wore their elf pjs into the mall and carried their Christmas Wish Lists as well as a pack of Nabisco chocolate chip cookies that Riley wanted to give to Santa.

They had a blast playing the fake snow as we waited and looking at the polar bear video and touching the cold ice.  It was quite humorous to watch families as they waited in the area with the fake snow.

Most parents were very stern-faced and doing everything they could to keep their kids out of the falling fake snow.  Parents rolled their eyes if their child dipped their head into it or got outright angry if they tossed some in the air onto themselves.  Comments like "Don't touch that!  Stay close to the side.  Come here now!  I need to fix your hair.  Bend over so I can get all of it out.  Ugh - ok so now let's comb it out.  We can't have you looking like this for the photo."  Some parents even shielded their two kids from getting near the snow and held them against the wall to make sure they were kept clean.

I'm sure the parents judged me along the way as well.  I knew there was snow.  That's why it's called the Snow Globe.  And I knew my kids were going to want to touch it, toss it and enjoy the 25 minutes we had to wait inside of it instead of standing doing nothing until their turn.  Apparently the other parents didn't expect this as they were so sour and grumpy about the whole thing.  I was quite a different parent and could see some of their eyes watching me now and again.

My girls went in and picked up the snow.  Touched it with their hands and gasp!  stood under where the snow falls down and held their hands up to feel it fall.  And it fell.  All over their hair, their clothes, their shoes.  They tossed some in the air.  Got close to me once, but I told them that many parents didn't want to get snow on themselves which is why they were all standing on the edge of the globe.  Told the girls to play in the center which they did.  The girls found it hilarious to pick up handfuls and just drop it on each other's heads.  Yes they were covered in fake snow and loving every second.

One little boy decided to make a snow angel in it and I thought his parents were going to erupt with anger.  He had a grand time doing it, but the parents were quite unhappy about it all.

The girls arrived to Santa with pure joy.  They gave him the cookies and their lists.  Julia shared that the only thing she wants is a "Jewee doll" (Julie doll - American Girl).  Riley asked Santa to take their lists to the North Pole, but he said that it would get there quicker if we took it home and mailed it to the elves as they would get it faster.  Riley didn't really share what she wanted.  She told me yesterday that she really isn't sure what she wants.  And that's true.  As the only thing she really desires is to have a real puppy.

They gave Santa hugs.  Julia petted his beard and the front of his suit.  They both smiled huge as we left and then Julia decided to sit on the floor and wouldn't move because she wanted to stay at the mall.  I told her that we had something special at home that Daddy had left us (cake from his work party) and that helped get her out the door.

We'll be sending the lists with Buddy to the North Pole and I'm sure he'll get the message to the right person as to what they both would like.


On our way out to dinner tonight, we passed by the Lexus Park Place Dealership.  The largest dealership I think I have ever seen.  We pass it all the time, but it was particularly lit up tonight as it was dark.

As we passed, Riley stated "Wow.  There sure are a lot of people parked there."


I've seen so many posts and pinterest pins about families who have chosen to look at the Christmas season as more than just a time of stress, spending money, buying presents and hoping that you purchase the right ones and possibly even sadness during a time of year that is marketed to be the happiest time of the year.

Our worship leader's wife Jen started a tradition with her family last year that was really amazing.  Her blog post about it can be found here:

I read about what she did last year as her family was doing it.  My thought was "wow - that could get expensive."  Just being real.  But then I did more thinking about what we spend our money on and how there are so many things we can do that don't cost much money or that can impact someone with just a small amount.

This Sunday starts the month of December and I'm excited to see how our family can focus on Jesus, others, time together and fun events throughout the month.  Here is our first family advent:


Week One:

1 - purchase a gift for a child and deliver it to church for Frisco Family Services Holiday Gift Program
2 - Tape quarters to the pop machine at work and donate a meal for a student's lunch
3 - Buy a gift card to a restaurant and give it to a family that could use a night out
4 - Write a letter to a family member that lives far away.
5 - Bring dog food and treats to our local pet shelter
6 - Family movie night:  Watch Elf or Charlie Brown Christmas
7 - Pay for carousel rides for kids at the mall

Week Two:
8 - Make ornaments for the tree
9 - Bring a warm drink of coffee or cider with some donuts to our school crossing guard
10 - Donate to World Vision and choose an animal to give
11 - Clean out our playroom and find toys to give to others and to CCA
12 - Make Christmas Cards or notes for the girls' teachers
13 - Pay for someone's dinner at the Texas Legends Game
14 - Attend the Tarnell Christmas Party and drive around looking at Christmas lights

Week Three:
15 - Watch the Colony Firehouse Light Show
16 - Give canned goods to the local food pantry
17 - Holiday Piano Recital
18 - Leave a thank you note for our mailman
19 - Julia's holiday performance with her school
20 - Family Christmas date night at a restaurant and hand out Carousel coins
21 - Put all the newspapers onto our neighbors porches on our entire street

Week Four:
22 - Give flowers and chocolates to a close friend that had knee surgery
23 - Read the story of the first Christmas as a family
24 - Spend time with family and go to our Christmas Eve Service at church

Here's to being joy, kindness, thoughtfulness and spreading the love of Jesus through simple acts of kindness this Advent season!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time with Julia

Riley had gymnastics today from 3:30 - 6:30 so after we dropped her off and watched for a bit, I was going to take Julia home to play.  She asked if we could go play together at her favorite doll store (Pottery Barn Kids) and as we had nothing else planned and she'd already had her nap, I told her 'Sure!'

We went on a ride on the carousel.  Julia told me not to hold her as she was a big girl and could do it herself. Then we played for the longest time at the store.  I have several events coming up in December and January that I will need a new dress for so I went to my favorite store Altar'd State and found two dresses that I love.  Julia was incredibly patient while I tried them on and gave her opinion on all of them.  "I like the red one, the black one.  NOT the brown one.  Dat one is not nice."  All of the sale dresses were 'Buy one, get one free.'  So I got two dresses for the price of one sale dress which was awesome.  Can't wait to wear them!

Jules is outgrowing her sweaters from last year and for some reason we don't seem to have hand-me-downs from Riley for this winter season.  Not quite sure where they all went.  We stopped by Hanna Andersson and the Gap as they were having a great sale.  The Gap had zip-up hoodies half off which was awesome.  Got her two to last the winter.  But had a somewhat sad revelation:  Julia no longer fits into the majority of clothes at the BabyGap store!

And it's not about shopping at that one store, but more the fact that she's really and truly not in the 'baby' section anymore.  She is such a petite thing, but is growing and she is closer to be into a 4T.  The Gap Kids starts at size 4-5 so things like pants are way too big still.  But for shirts, she is somewhat between stores.  We are truly almost out of the baby/toddler/preschooler phase.  She was so proud to get her new sweatshirt hoodies that she wore one walking out the store.

Visiting the Vet

Riley has a school project when we return from break - her PBL (project based learning).  The students will be looking at what they want to be when they grow up.  She has always loved animals despite us not having any and knew right away what she wants to be and has always wanted to be:  a vet.

I have a student at school whose mom is a vet so I emailed her and asked if it was possible for us to ask her some questions and stop by to talk sometime.  I've taught both of her kids over the last eight years and knew that she did some kind of vet practice.  She explained to me more of what she does and then asked if I could bring her to her practice where she could show her around and explain more of what she does and give Riley a real inside look into the job.

This morning we went out to the North DFW Vet Surgery Center in Grapevine.  Dr. Franks is  one of the surgeons there.  She is an amazing person and really loves her job which shows.

She put us in the schedule which was really more than kind of her.  Riley wrote out a paper and titled it "Veterinarian Things."  Then put columns with titles of what she was to ask about for her PBL.  Things like "job description, what they wear as a vet, tools they use, technology they use, etc..."  Riley was quite shy and Julia was also very quiet.  I asked some of the questions and then the girls warmed up to her.

Riley made a book about vets and had written on each page about what vets do and gave it to Dr. Franks to keep.

One of the best parts was when Dr. Franks brought out fake bones to show how she adds a plate and screws into the dog bones to put them back together.  She showed Riley a hip joint with a new hip and an elbow joint with a plate.  Then explained exactly what she does to help the dogs.

We were able to tour the entire facility.  The girls saw dogs with bandages, cones on their heads, cages, the table where they do the surgeries and the Cat Scan.  There was a dog having surgery and since it was appropriate for them to see, they got to see the dog's leg completely wrapped up and the dog was covered with a large blanket.  The girls also got to see a dog in its cage who had just had an entire leg amputated yesterday because she had cancer.

Their favorite part was when they were able to pet a golden retriever.  This only happened because one of the workers there had just adopted a dog and it was in the kennel that morning.

The girls thanked Dr. Franks and Riley is still determined that she wants to be a vet.  She was very excited about the idea of helping the animals.  We did explain that Dr. Franks is a very specialized vet and that not all vets do her job.  That some just do regular check-ups and don't do surgeries.

Night Buddy

Julia has become my nighttime buddy.  She comes into the room around 3-4am every morning.  Sometimes earlier.  She climbs on my side and says "Mommy, can I sleep with you?"  It's been hard to get up and put her in her bed because I'm sleeping so deep (thank you celexa!) so she climbs in with me.

I always tell her that I love her and she whispers it back.  Then sighs really deep.  Our heads always have to touch and she likes to put her hand on my arm.  It is very sweet.

It is truly amazing how few inches on a mattress you can take up when you make room for a preschooler.  I think I slept on all of 4-5 inches tops last night and contorted myself so that my head was off the pillow and I was curved around where she had moved.  Will be stretching out today!  Love our snuggle time.

Tattle Tales

Julia and I woke up this morning and played with lincoln logs and matching puzzles and princess matching games.  Lately she has been wanting to tell us everything that is going on.  In particular all the things that Riley is doing to her that she doesn't like.  So our conversation goes like this:

Julia:  Riley took the book away!

Me:  Oh that's sad.  What did you do?

Julia:  I don't want to tell you...  can I tell you what Riley did?

Me:  Only if you share what you did.

Julia:  No.  That's ok...  can I tell Dad what Riley did?

Me:  Only if you share what you did.

Julia:  No.  That's ok.

She'll walk around and play and then come back to talk about it with Jeremy later on when he gets home.  He tells her the same things.  She doesn't ever want to share that she took the book first or whatever it was that happened.  It has definitely stopped the tattle taling.

Thankful Eagle Lunch

This year Riley performed in the Thankful Eagle Lunch.  She got to say a line of a poem into the microphone and did it clearly and well.  Her line was "Pilgrims and Indians celebrated plenty."

My mom and dad were able to come watch her perform.  It was a 12 minute performance followed by lunch and the book fair.  She was very excited about the whole day.


Riley has been excelling at school.  She is reading on second grade level and making great choices at school.  Her progress report was quite a shock to me as a result.  When I opened the envelope, the first few grades made sense.  Then she got a few 'satisfactories' which didn't totally line up with how I thought she was doing, but figured that I hadn't seen some of the assignments so it was possible she was just getting by and that we needed to do some extra work at home on math in particular.

The grade that really threw me off was her 'demonstrates responsibility.'  She is one of the students that her teacher can count on to be responsible and make great choices.  However, her grade was an "N" which means she needs improvement.  I was really confused.  This didn't line up with the daily reports I'd gotten or how she behaves.

By the time Jeremy got home, I was really frustrated.  I was thinking that maybe Riley had misbehaved and we hadn't been told.  Or that she wasn't doing as well as I had thought she had.  I even told him "This report card doesn't even look like our child!"

Jeremy looked at the progress report.  Had a confused look on his face and then asked "Who is ______?" and named a student in her class.  I told him that it was a person in her class and asked why.  He said "Because we got their report card.  This isn't Riley's report card."

Turns out that we got the wrong one and that Riley's report card was glowing and excellent.  I should have been more patient in reading it and realized that it was possible it wasn't hers as it definitely didn't reflect her.  I felt hugely relieved when I was how well she was doing and so silly for ever doubting.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


1.  On our way to church, we pass by a small lake that was newly formed as they are building a very large building site and added the lake.  So we told Riley that it was a man-made lake.  Riley paused for a minute and then said "What about woman-made lakes?  And girl-made lakes?"

2.  Tonight we are having a family movie night and watching "The Croods."  It's hilarious so far.  In the beginning, there is a big disaster where it appears that they are gone as there is only dust and smoke from where the catastrophe occurs.  Julia says matter-of-factly "Well!  They're dead.  Okay!"

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Five Star Complex had a carnival and fireworks show last night to celebrate Veteran's Day.  One year they had it the night of my birthday and Riley still talks about how I got to have fireworks on my birthday.

Last night we had the girls stay up a little late as we knew the booming sound would keep them up anyway.  And it's always fun to watch them!  The four of us sat at the top of the balcony and watched out the window.  The girls loved it.

For a while they would call out the colors.  Then they'd say "Wow!"  or Riley would say "Wow, that is so amazing/beautiful."  They both really enjoyed the ending as there were so many going off at one time and quickly.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rodriguez and Hernandez

Today was Arianna Hernandez' birthday party at Cosmic Jump - an indoor trampoline place. Julia was super excited to go as it was a party just for her!  Riley has lots of them to go to (one next weekend) so Julia was excited to go.

She ran everywhere and laughed tons.  Julia had a huge smile on her face through the entire party.

When it was time for cake, the girls all sat next to each other and couldn't wait to dive right in.  Julia always eats cupcakes by sticking the entire top of it into her face.  Apparently that is how Rodriguez eats her cupcake too.  The girls would take a bite and get frosting all over her mouth.  Then they'd stare at each other and laugh hysterically.  Then repeat again and again.  It was so cute.  Julia had yellow frosting and Arianna had blue frosting.  Cracked me up.

They immediately went back to the trampolines and jumped until it was time to go.

Piano Lessons

Riley has been taking piano lessons now for a few months.  Not consistently until school started, but summer was a good time for her test it out.  Since school has started in August, she's learned so much.  She is almost finished with Book One and we just purchased Book Two.

Tonight she practiced her two recital pieces:  Up on the Housetop and I like Candy Canes.

She is so eager to learn and loves it.  Julia also loves learning and wants to do it as well.  She spends a lot of time reviewing white keys, black keys, loud, soft, high, low.  Can't wait until there is more for her to be able to do!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Tonight Jeremy had class at SMU and I had the girls at home.  My dad came over to help put the girls down (thank you Dad!!).  Before he got here, the girls and I had dinner and then they got out some fun craft things from the hall closet.

Riley found a can of glowsticks.  I opened them for her and then she created dog collars out of them.  She also found some ribbon and tied the ribbon to the dog collars.  She hung the dog collar around Julia.  Then took her for a walk around downstairs while Julia barked, shook her bottom and sniffed around.

Riley decided to make another collar and I walked the girls for a bit.  Riley's collar came off so she took off like a dog would do and ran away.  My dad came in and she immediately asked him to take her for a walk around.  He walked her and I walked Julia.

The girls would meet and start licking each other on the face and nuzzling on the neck and side of the arm/waist just like dogs do.  It was hilarious.

They would bark and then say something and bark after like:

"Ruff Ruff  Let's go upstairs ruff ruff"

"Ruff Ruff I want Eggos ruff ruff"

When we told Jeremy about it tonight when he got home, he said "That's like when Riley would say "neigh-ne neigh neigh" and respond like a horse."  She did that SO often when she was Julia's age.

All I want for Christmas

Riley made a list with my dad tonight of what each person in our family would like for Christmas as well as a list of things that she wants.

Riley's list consisted of the following:
dog - the ones that aren't dusty  (My dad suggested the word hypoallergenic)
little christmas tree
giant minion (as seen on the movie "Despicable Me")

On the other side of the paper, she told my dad what each of us would like.

Me - Riley suggested jewelry.  She said that I wear jewelry all the time and that I love rings and bracelets and necklaces and earrings.  That I love jewelry.  (she did good!  I definitely wear more than I used to and enjoy the pieces I have)

Julia - stuffed animal because she's not ready for a real dog.

Jeremy - well, he likes to cook...  Riley's suggestion was that he get lightbulbs and batteries.  And some stuff to make jewelry because he really loves to make jewelry.

Can't wait to see what we end up with!  Such a great girl!


Chicken is the best word.  Ever.

At least Julia has decided this.  In the past few weeks, if she wants to make us laugh she comes over to us and says "CHICKEN!"  and then giggles like crazy.

Tonight she peeked in Riley's door before going to bed and called out "Hey Chicken!" and laughed some more.

Sometimes she even adds exciting words like "Hey chicken head!" (one of her favorites) or "Chicken face" "Chicken butt" "Chicken poopoo head"

She's very clever with her use of chicken.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Trash cans rock!!!!

I had only one request for my birthday this year:  I wanted a new trashcan in our kitchen.  We've used the same one for almost ten years now and it drives me crazy.  The lid gets food all over it and swings around; the girls drop things in or put their hands in and get dirty; the lid drops inside the trash can often and you have to fish it out.

We've wanted a nice trash can for a long time, but other things have been more important and we didn't want to just settle for an okay trashcan that we would have felt the same way about.  Last year after my birthday I told Jeremy that the only thing I really really wanted when I turned 36 was a trash can.  And I got it!!!!

He surprised me last Monday with it.  I started jumping up and down.  The girls thought it was the most amazing thing in the world.  They are still putting their foot on the lever and watching the lid close gently.  Riley told me the next day that it was the best trash can in the whole world and that she loved it.

Such a blessing to have a nice item that we use non-stop everyday.  And so thankful to have gotten it so our whole family can use it.

My Early Birthday

Last night the girls slept at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  They had a blast and both went to bed tonight around 8:30.  Totally tuckered out.  As I'm sure Grandma and Grandpa are too.

Riley came home from their house with a present all wrapped up for me.  My dad told me that she worked on it for hours.  Literally hours.  She was so excited for me to open her gift.  I told her we had to wait until Jeremy got home and as soon as he walked in the door, she handed me the gift.

She had worked so incredibly hard on this present.  It was incredibly meaningful to me.  I opened it with Julia's help and Riley told me that there were five or six things in it.  Each one was a book she had made herself (with a little bit of help, but mostly her doing).  One book had pictures of family memories and members.  Other books told stories - funny ones - of when I was growing up and funny things that Jon and Jim and I did.  Like when Jim locked Jon, our friends and myself in our shed in the backyard.  My mom opened it as we were all banging on the door and screaming like crazy.

She had another book where she wrote the name of instruments and then drew pictures of them:  cello, flute, violin, etc...

My favorite book that she made had a this written by her in the back.  She said she had no help on it and that she wrote it herself.  Was precious!!


this is a card to you. it seas "ceap doing the beats you can and your dreams will come trew. I love you"

On the back it said "love Riley  Happy Birthday."

Best gift ever.