Tuesday, March 31, 2009

McIver Rode his Bike!!!

Olivia and I went for a quick bike ride late this afternoon. When we got home, Will and McIver were in the street practicing on McIver's bike. I watched the live action for a while to be sure this was for real, then ran in to get the camera. That is one proud little boy!

He still needs a little help getting started.
But once his feet are up, he's off! Will had already been on a run today and ended up getting another workout chasing after McIver.

Olivia was so proud of her little brother. They even ended up riding all the way around the block with no falls.

In other news...
Olivia decided that she'd like to try some salad and pad thai which we were having for dinner. I was so proud that she's branching out and trying new things. Then it occurred to me that she's just growing up. She read an entire chapter of her new library book, got herself all ready for bed, wanted to use our 'grown-up toothpaste' and even asked to floss. (Uncle Robert will be so proud!) I think I've been trying to hold on to my little girl lately and I'm finally beginning to come to terms with the idea that she's just growing up.

... and she liked it!

Spring Break 2009 - Part 4

"Peggy Pa" and Dawn's dad offered to keep the kids at home for us one night so we could hit the town. We really could have gone either way as far as whether or not to go out, but we decided we needed to take advantage of the chance to head out on our own for a little while.

Before we left, Peggy Pa had a little sit-down with all of the children to let them know her expectations for the night. They had several activities planned (art/face-painting, hot tub, dinner, cookies, movie, reading) and if each was performed without incident (she was mainly speaking to the boys!), they would earn a star and possibly some sort of prize the next day. Here she is laying down Peggy Pa's Law.

Andrew showing off his scary painted face.

McIver growling for the camera.

Olivia being her sweet self.
While the kids were busy with Peggy Pa, we headed to the Taj Mahal concert which was held on the slopes after some sort of 'legend ski competition.' He was driven up to the stage in some sort of stretch ski mobile limo which we thought was pretty funny. This was the best shot I could get - I wasn't even sure which one he was. (This was also taken before they told us not to take pictures; so, let's just say I followed the rules.) We had actually heard of Taj Mahal, but since it was cold and crowded and we were hungry, and the bar ran out of beer, we left early to find some dinner.

Dawn had told us about a place with great nachos so that's where we headed. Look how cute they are!

And, they took a picture of us, too. I took a picture of our table full of food, but it's not at all appealing after the fact. Trust me, though, the nachos at this place were great!

And when we got home, the children were nestled all snug in their beds and everyone had earned their stars! (Olivia's were written in after the picture was taken.)

Spring Break 2009 - Part 3

On our way to go snow tubing at the top of the mountain.
We had no idea how much fun we were about to have! Olivia and McIver LOVED riding the gondola to the top of the mountain. Olivia had already ridden as partof ski school, but the boys had not 'graduated' up to that yet.

The kids loved 'driving' the snow mobile while we signed up for tubing. We had several hours to spare so they all took turns driving.
Olivia on the Salto Trampolino - we stood in line long enough for Olivia to get used to the idea of what she was about to do. She decided that rather than flip, she'd just see how high she could go. She loved it!

McIver, on the other hand, watched and studied those who went before him so that he could do as many flips in a row as possible. He was dizzy when his turn ended!

Snow tubing was so much fun!! We each had our own tube and could choose the long or short run. I worried that Olivia would not like it when we weren't allowed to 'train' (hold on to each other's tubes on the long run), but she totally proved me wrong. As soon as she got to the bottom, she laughed and screamed about how 'awesome' it was. We tubed for an hour straight and everyone had a ball!

Spring Break 2009 - Part 2

Olivia and McIver could not resist the hottub on our very first day in Vail. They just thought it was hilarious that we would be in our bathing suits in a hot tub with snow all around. McIver made this attempt at making a snow angel in his bathing suit, but the snow 'burned' too much.

Dawn & David's little boy, Andrew, is a cutie! And this may be the first and last time that these boys were this close and this happy at the same time. That's not really true, but it felt like we were having to run interference quite a bit. We've got our fingers crossed that in a year's time, before our next get-together, they will outgrow whatever issues they have with each other. Olivia loved being able to play the moderator/instigator between the two of the them.

The weather was absolutely perfect for skiing. It didn't take too long for me to get my 'ski legs' back. I moved from the green (easy) slopes to blue (more difficult) before lunch on the first day. I even managed to try a black (very difficult) without incident. The guys took off pretty soon to hit the tougher slopes. Dawn was very patient with me and could tell which runs would not be too hard for me. I have since been convinced that I'll need a lesson during our next trip to 'take me to the next level' so that I can keep up with Olivia and McIver!
Dawn and me waiting for the guys to meet us for apres-ski before picking the kids up from ski school
Here we are on St. Patrick's Day at Belle's Camp - this was Spring Break central for lots of crazy kids. It was people-watching at its finest!

Dawn snapped this picture at the bottom of my first black slope of the week. Later, after managing some much-tougher slopes, Dawn confessed that this was a pretty wimpy black.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring Break 2009 - Vail, CO with the Pumpellys

Spring Break '09 was a blast! We have been planning our trip to Vail to meet Dawn, David and Andrew for over a year. Will and I went to a conference in Park City last February and knew the kids would love to ski - well, we knew McIver would love it and hoped Olivia would learn to love it - so we called Dawn up and invited ourselves to Vail with them. Even if the kids didn't love skiing, we knew they'd love the snow.

Our trip started early - and I do mean early! - on Sunday morning. We woke the kids up about 3:15am and headed to the airport for our 6:30 flight. The kids woke up more than we anticipated - who wouldn't be excited!? Our flight went smoothly with most of us getting at least a small cat-nap along the way. After retreiving all luggage and deciding to go with the rental pick-up truck, we hit the road from Denver to Vail.

Once we got there, the kids immediately went straight for the snow!

McIver couldn't resist making a snow angel while we waited for the bus to take us to the Village to meet Dawn and David. The weather was perfect for our entire trip. Clear blue skies and warm enough that we didn't even need jackets unless we were up on the mountains.

We rented my skis, got the kids' gear and signed up for ski school. And, finally, we met up with Dawn and David at Garfinkels right on the slopes. They had a great table with snacks and drinks waiting on us.
Olivia and McIver spied the Hagen-Daz ice cream store conveniently located outside the doors of the ski school so they were perfectly happy...

And then McIver passsed out.

Friday, March 13, 2009

1st Grade Field Trip to HMNS

I was the Mom-in-Charge of these three 1st graders for their field trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science this week. We've been before, but it's fun to see what most interested the girls this visit - the gemstones. Even though we spent the most time in the gemstone area, we also managed to see the sea shells, dinosaurs, wildlife, and chemistry exhibits, in addition to the Alaska IMAX movie.

They were able to sift through some soil from the Bryan-College Station area (about an hour from Houston) and look for sea shells. It was pretty cool to see them realize that this part of the country used to be under water.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rodeo Carnival: Part 2

This is where we parted ways. Gay took a quick picture of The Merritts in TX at the Rodeo Carnival before Will took McIver over to ride the mechanical bull. Apparently, he did pretty well. He was very excited and animated when he told me about it later that night.

Someone pointed out to me that I look like the only one still having any amount of fun in this picture! Olivia was melting (I was, too, for that matter!). McIver was sad that he didn't get to stay with us (even though he didn't even know we were going to the Jonas Brothers concert). Will was on call and hot. So, maybe I was the only one having fun at this point! (That's the Astrodome, the 8th wonder of the world, in the background - its future is still up in the air. There was talk a while back about turning it into a hotel which I think would be pretty cool. As it is now, it's pretty ugly compared with Reliant Stadium and Arena.)

As hot as the girls were, all it took to cool them off and make them happy was a bowl of Dippin' Dots. We took a look at the Jonas Brothers merchandise, but it was a total rip-off and since they were happy with a $3 bowl of ice cream, we were, too!

This shot is a recreation of a shot from last year's Hannah Montana concert.

At one point, NOTHING would do unless we found a sausage on a stick and a bag of chips. Since the day was pretty much all about these girls, they got their hearts desire. (We're just glad they weren't desiring the $40 t-shirts!)

Rodeo: Jonas Brothers Concert

After all the snacking, we finally made it into Reliant Stadium for a little bit of rodeo action before the concert started. We saw some Bull Riding, the ever-popular Calf Scramble, and the newest addition to the Rodeo, Mutton Bustin'. (They let 4-6 year old kids put on helmets and climb up on a full-grown sheep. Whoever stays on the longest gets a trophy - McIver probably would have been pretty good at it!) We had tears in our eyes from laughing so hard at (with!) the little kids. They were all troopers.

Olivia & Abby watching the Rodeo and waiting for the concert to begin.

The Mamas had a great time this year, too, even though we knew way more Hannah Montana songs last year than we did Jonas Brothers songs this year.

Let the screaming begin... the announcer came over the loud speaker to announce that the lights were going to go down. The ENTIRE stadium erupted with squeals and screams. (And the ringing in our ears didn't stop until lunchtime the next day!)

We were in the same seats as last year, so this was our view of the stage.

This was our view of the jumbo-tron (and Joe, my personal favorite of the Jonas Brothers!). Can you tell he's looking right at me!?
This is Nick - Olivia hearts Nick.
This is Olivia not enjoying herself at all. She was not even trying to have fun when she didn't know the song, but she was happy to kick back with the biggest bucket of popcorn you've ever seen. Then, when one of her songs came on, she was up and dancing again.

This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime (if we can help it!) day for the girls. We all had such a fun time and will always remember our rodeo concerts with Gay & Abby.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

From Olivia this morning...

I told the kids this morning that we probably won't stay for pizza tonight at church if it's raining. (We usually stay and play on the playground between choir and the pizza delivery on Wednesdays.) Then I wondered out loud if our new church in Columbia will have children's choir, a playground, etc.

Olivia turned to me and said: Usually, it's kind of easy to make friends if you're really nice.

She has been telling people all about our new house and her new room. She has even talked about how 'cool' her new school is going to be because it has a ropes course and microphones in the classrooms for kids to give their reports. We have also gotten the scoop about the kids in the neighborhood. Both Olivia and McIver are thrilled that a set of 6 year old boy-girl twins live right next door!

I know that we'll have our moments where we aren't all so excited about the move, but I'm glad to know that she's processing the whole thing and is generally positive about the move, for now.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Rodeo Carnival

Gay & I managed to 'win' some very coveted tickets to the Jonas Brothers concert at the rodeo this year. Last year we learned that we didn't need to arrive inside Reliant Stadium as early as the time on the ticket, unless we wanted to sit through several hours of actual rodeo. So, this year, we made plans to enjoy the carnival before going to the concert.

McIver joined in the fun this year. Here they are waiting for the light rail to take us from church to the rodeo.

Will met us at church so we took advantage of having another grown-up present to take our picture.
Every year, we have a picture taken with one of the boots around the rodeo.

We had a little bit of a ticket snafu this year... one of the tickets didn't have a bar code printed on it. So, Gay spent part of her morning on the phone trying to remedy the problem. We went straight to the ticket counter once we got to the rodeo and it turned out to be a non-issue. They issued us another ticket and we were good to go.

First stop, the rides. Gay & Will took off to find some food while the kids and I waited in line for the spaceship ride. Olivia snapped this shot of McIver and me.
The girls were so excited for the first ride of the day.
That is half of a lemon in McIver's lemonade. It was a hot day, so lemonade hit the spot!

Will was the trooper who rode the spinning ride with the kids. Gay and I opted out and headed to The HideOut (the 21 & Older club) for some liquid refreshment.

Cotton candy is always in order at the rodeo carnival!

The Cobra was another favorite this year. For the record, they held their hands up for the entire ride. We're so proud!