Monday, December 30, 2013

Mommy and Daddy's Christmas

Ben and I exchanged some of our presents early, one because I  needed Ben's input on his gift and I knew it was something he was going to buy early with or without me.  Ben gave me my gift early b/c he wanted me to wear them while we were in New Orleans.  I had seen these awesome boots at a leather shop in AZ, but decided not to get them b/c of cost.  He found them here in Austin and surprised for my anniversary/C-mas.
At Mimi and Paw Paw's I got some kitchen gadgets, new shoes and a bag.  Ben got shoes, targets, and a gift card to Papadeaux's.  At Gigi and PopPops I got a gift card and Ben got ammo.
On Christmas morning, I opened a hot pink super girl under armor workout shirt, jewelry from the girls and the gift I have asked for fifteen years.  I got my first full length mirror since I have been married.  Yes, I know, I have not seen my full outfit without standing on the side of the tub, ever.  Ben got a cookbook that he wanted from the girls.  Our trip to NOLA has inspired him to cook more and he has already experimented, maybe a midlife crisis career change in our future???

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Girls' Christmas

We celebrated Christmas at Gigi and PopPop's early Christmas Eve and then we went to Mimi and PawPaw's for second breakfast and round 2 of Christmas Eve.
At Gigi's the girls got books, art supplies, and art kits, a jewelry box and they each got an heirloom necklace that was from one of Ben's grandmothers.
At Mimi's house, they opened games, books, clothes, and a doll bed that PawPaw crafted from their wish lists.
At home, they exchanged gifts from each other including more books, an American Girl DVD and after a scavenger hunt around the house and backyard they found their new American girl dolls, Kit and Emily waiting for them under the tree.

Boys' Christmas

The theme this year must have been planes, trains and automobiles b/c the boys loaded up on anything with wheels.  At Gigi's Read got a big bulldozer and at Mimi's he got a wooden train track for his Thomas trains and they both got more cars and trucks and train movies.  HR got a plasma car that he loves scooting around the kitchen on and lots of puzzles.
At home, HR got Toy Story pajamas that R2 claimed for his own and a helicopter.  R2 got a talking Mater truck, that sent him searching for a matching McQueen.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas dinner

We did it, we actually cooked a Christmas meal at our home and it was really good. Steve blessed us at Thanksgiving with a turkey, so we decided to be brave and try to actually have a traditional Christmas meal.  First we brined the turkey and then roasted it.  Our sides were a Apple Cranberry Sweet Potato dish , that was actually a paleo dish I discovered.  We made what has become my signature dish, 24 hour salad.  Ben requested a pumpkin pie and since he would have been the only one to eat it, I ventured out to make this Turtle Pumpkin Pie, which was really good.

24 hour salad:
bag of spinach
bag of Romaine lettuce
half bag of frozen peas
1 bell pepper diced (any color)
2 stalks of lettuce diced
3 strips of cooked bacon diced
grated cheese of your choice (I use Gouda)
1 cup (or less) of mayonnaise (I used homemade paleo)
1 T (or less) of sugar 

Layer ingredients beginning with greens and refrigerate for 24 hours.  Toss salad when ready to serve.  
My MIL made this salad for Ben and it has always been his favorite.  I love to surprise him and make it for pot lucks.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Big Easy - celebrating our anniversary

Food, food, food, food, food, and uninterrupted sleep; what a great way to spend an anniversary.  We ate, ate, ate and ate our way through New Orleans.

First stop on our anniversary night was to Jacques Imo's for alligator cheesecake (notice none is left on the blue plate), BBQ shrimp and creme brûlée.  It got high ratings on yelp and the menu sounded great.  Loved all of it, four out of five stars.  Afterwards we went to the French Quarter and walked around, had a couple of drinks and then a really great night sleep at our hotel, the International House.

Breakfast consisted of granola bars and fruit from the hotel lobby and a stop in their gym and then  lunch at our favorite spot we discovered, 
Cochon Butcher
.  Oh my gosh, the best sandwiches ever.  Ben had his fantasy meal of muffalata and I had turkey with arugula and a basil aioli.  We actually switched sandwiches b/c we liked what we each other ordered better.  Five star rating.  We walked off lunch (or a portion anyways) around the French Quarter some more, and took the trolleys into the garden district. Return to the hotel to get ready for night out #2.  Dinner was a fail at the Acme Oyster House.   Two stars for the tourist trap.  We had char-grilled oysters which could have been cooked over a volcano they were so overcooked, oyster po-boy and étouffée.  Poor service, poor food.  But dessert was Cafe Du Monde for hot chocolate and beignets.  Ahhh, just as I remember.  Happiness covered in powdered sugar.   Then to walk around the French quarter again, this time we ventured into a couple of clubs to hear live music.  Ok, we heard music, but it was all cover bands, not exactly what we had in mind.  We stayed out really late and did not make it up in time to run the Reindeer Romp on Canal Street that I had planned.
Skipped breakfast on Saturday morning and woke in time for lunch at  Parasol's. I had been dreaming about this meal since we were in NOLA four years ago.  But, it was a little disappointing from what I remember.  I don't know maybe it was just the other food we had was absolutely amazing.  When we got up to leave and venture further into the garden district it had started raining, a heavy rain that lasted the rest of the day.  We took a taxi back to the trolley lines and got a ride back to our hotel.  But, quickly discovered the trolley lines don't always run in the rain.  We rode the rain out in the hotel and decided to search for the best pralines in NOLA.  Using yelp, we walked from candy shoppe (with an umbrella this time) to the next (six in all).  We discovered Laura's Candies were our favorite.  For dinner we headed back to Cochon's Butcher b/c it was that good.  This time I had the Gambino and Ben had the "Le Pig Mac".  Was even better day #2.
For breakfast on Sunday morning, we took the advice of our concierge and ate at the Red Ruby Slipper.  We had a 35 minute wait, outside in the cold and the rain.  I almost gave up about 20 minutes in, but I am so glad we didn't.  This place was amazing.  We both had specials, Ben was the Eggs Cubion with fried catfish filets (white plate) and I had the caramel creme stuffed french toast.  Wow, we both picked well on this one.  I am happy to say I did not gain any weight on this trip, which makes me want to go back and do it all over again next month.  The best food I have ever had on a trip; which is exactly what we were going for.  Great memories to honor our fifteen years of becoming self-proclaimed food snobs.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

another bout of physical therapy

I had to start another round of physical therapy this past week, this time on my shoulder.  I have had  pain in my right arm right between my tricep and bicep for almost a month.  I have not been able to do any upper body workouts b/c of the pain and fear I was going to make it worse.  This past week, it began hurting even when I was running, so I gave in and went to see Dr. Waggenblast.  He said I had a strain in my rotator cuff.  After two visits I can already tell a difference and he even had me lift weights this week.  I asked him if I get a repeat customer discount this time around.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

American Girl Book Club- Brave Emily (Molly)

The girls and I led our American Girl Book Club yesterday. Each month our club chooses a historical girl's book to read and then learn about the time period.
We chose Emily, Molly's best friend.  The book took place in 1944, the year America joined WWII.  We wanted a new book that hadn't been chosen before.
The girls came in their pajamas and we planned to listen to fireside chats that were hosted by FDR; that didn't work out as planned. We still had a pajama party b/c Molly and Emily lived together when Emily was evacuated from England to escape bombings by the Axis countries.
We made marbles by rolling polymer clay into balls. The girls were given 2 one-inch  (different colors) squares to make roll together to shape into a ball.  After the balls were shaped, we cooked them in a convection over for seven minutes.  Marbles was a popular game during the World War 2 era.  After our craft, we had popcorn and watched an excerpt from Dumbo, a movie which was originally released in 1941.  Every Saturday, children in WWII era would go to the local theater to see a moving picture and watch the news.  For ten cents, they could get into the movie, get a popcorn and a bottle of Coca-Cola.  We had lemonade instead.
After snacks and crafts and discussion of life during the war versus our lives now, we played Statues.  One person was the sculptor and spun a girl around twice releasing her into a pose.  After every girl was spun, the sculptor got to choose their favorite statue to be the next sculptor.  After 3 rounds of statues, we played Pom Pom Pull-Away, the girls told me it was a lot like sharks and minnows.
We had a really great time and I think we learned a lot.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


He put p33-p33 in this potty!!!  He also put p33-p33 on the floor, but it's a start.  Way to go, brother!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas caroling

A couple in my fitness class go each week to the local nursing home and lead the residents in music and play BINGO.  I asked Miss Peg if we could take along this week and sing Christmas carols.  She was so excited to have us join her.  We went during the boys' nap time.  The girls and I learned a couple of polka songs and then we sang Christmas carols.  LE even played Deck the Halls for those who arrived early.  We finished with Jesus loves me and it took everything in me to not cry.  It was such a special memory. I was so proud of them.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

15 years of memories

1 cat
2 dogs
3 zip codes
4 children
5 pregnancies
6  homes (FBG, Kville, Wells Branch apt, Honeysuckle, Curry, here)
7 vehicles (spyder, civic, xterra, accord, 2 motorcycles, minivan)
8 nieces and nephews
9  emergency room visits (Landry 1x, Ben 2x, Kristi 2x, Bella 4x)
10 computers
11 different job titles
12 brothers, sister-in-laws/girlfriends
13 vacations (honeymoon, NY, San Fran 2x, NOLA, beach 2x, Cozumel, skiing 2x, DW, AZ)
14 Christmas mornings, Thanksgivings, Easters, Independence Days, and Valentine's Days
15 years of waking up to my best friend
Happy Anniversary, Honey!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

first family portrait

We have never had a family portrait taken, yes I said never.  We had pictures taken at each of the kids' birthday parties, but never let's get dressed in coordinating clothes, go somewhere special and have someone else take our picture.  My friend Erica, has been asking me to take her family pictures and I offered to swap, hers for ours.  We took them at a nearby park on a cool, rainy, overcast day.  The overcast made for perfect lighting, but the mist made for cranky boys and crazy hair.
We don't do Christmas cards, but if we did, this would be the one.  Thank you so much Erica, for making our first family portrait happen. I love how they turned out.

Monday, December 09, 2013

counting down

Only sixteen days till Christmas.
So far we have...
#1 had french toast and hot chocolate for dinner
#8 decorated sugar cookies
#10 kissed under mistletoe
#11 read the Nativity Story
#17 watched a Christmas movie
#19 made a popcorn string for the birds - FAIL
#20 wrapped gifts
#24 made homemade ornaments

Sunday, December 08, 2013

fitness class Christmas party

Last night was our Christmas party at the church where I teach fitness classes.  The classes have grown to twice a week, but I only teach on Wednesdays.  Three ladies in the class have pursued fitness certifications and two even attended silver sneakers training.  I got the most encouraging letter this week from a member.
Just want to say thank you for all the great work you and these beautiful ladies have done! When I first started the exercising class I could barely walk let alone jog, not to mention being a little depressed. Praise GOD, I've lost thirty pounds, well I have to say, three of it came off since I've been sick. I'm wearing five sizes smaller! So for me the classes at PCC have been such a blessing not to mention the great fellowship. I've met a bunch of sweet ladies as well and it's been a joy! 
We enjoyed a potluck dinner, and games including Christmas edition of pictionary and catchphrase.  The girls played with their friends whose mom and grandmother attend the class and the boys stayed home with Miss Sharon.  The weather has been pretty bad this week, so our turnout wasn't quite what we hoped, but we had a really great time with those who could make it.  They blessed each of us instructors with a gift card to Logan's Steakhouse for Christmas.  

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Duncan, phone home

Our sweet Duncan dog will be fifteen years old next week.  He is having a very hard time and when this cold snap hit, he was gotten wose  He doesn't like to be alone so I have been keeping him with me and just putting him on a blanket and then covering him up b/c he just shivers.  Yesterday, I was cleaning out the boys' closet and turned around to find that R2 had made him a little more comfortable.  It reminded me of the scene in E.T.  Sweet boy.

Friday, December 06, 2013

2013 ornaments

top left to right - Mama's sassy shoes
R2's monster truck
bottom left to right- LE's American Girl Kaya, Daddy's AT-ST, Boo's American Girl Molly, HR's dinosaur (b/c his new fave thing to do is Rawr)

Thursday, December 05, 2013

visit with an old friend

An old friend came to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday, and my he has grown.  Connor is a full head taller than both girls and he isn't four anymore.  We were so excited when Jane texted last week and asked if they could come visit us over the weekend, that we even left our hometown early and missed the night Christmas parade so we could have breakfast with Connor, Jane and Brian.  They moved four years ago to Missouri.  I cannot believe it has already been four years, but so glad we all picked up right where we left off.  R2 made a new friend in Mr. Brian and they had fun assembling Thomas puzzles and playing helicopter games.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

a new cousin

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we got to meet the newest addition to the Richards' family.  Baby Wyatt was born in early November and the girls have been chomping at the bits to meet and love on him.  The boys were pretty excited to see him too.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

train party for a 3 year old

I asked you if you wanted a train or a car party and without hesitation you replied trains.  So, I went to work pinning train ideas, Mimi found a Thomas #3 cake and Miss Erica made you train birthday invites.  But 48 hours before the party, when I ran to Party City to get the party goods, you saw McQueen and decided you wanted a Cars party.  Luckily, I convinced you Lightning needed to stay at the store and we were off to find trains.  So much so, that you made everyone in the store laugh, when you started calling, "trains, trains, where are you?"  Your party was perfect.  Gigi made tortilla soup, Mimi made cupcakes and you opened gifts of Thomas, monster trucks and tools.
Thank you everyone for making his birthday so special.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Happy 3rd birthday

I cannot believe you are three.  Where has the time gone?  
Every morning, you are the first person awake.  You come to my room around 5:45, which makes getting out of bed to go to the gym a little easier.  We have toast together and you play on my Ipad until everyone else awakens.  You love Cars, Tom (Thomas the trains), and Fireman Sam.  Your favorite thing to eat is toast and fruit.  This past year you started to wear glasses and sleep in a big boy bed.  You have started to do "school" with your big sisters and you love to play games even though we have to play by your rules, i.e no rules.  You are such a blessing to our family and I cannot imagine a life without you. We love you so much, Brother.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

countdown to Christmas

This time of year, there seems to be no shortage of Advent calendars and countdowns to Christmas.  Last year we did the book thing, this year we made a bucket list of things we want to do this holiday season.  Tonight, we kicked off the month of Jesus' birthday with french toast and hot chocolate for dinner.
Here is the rest of our monthly plans:
#1 make snowflakes
#2 See Christmas lights
#3 Take a picture with Santa
#4 Visit a nursing home
#5 make candy cane milkshakes
#6 Have a sleepover under the Christmas tree
#7 Give away a Christmas jar
#8 decorate sugar cookies
#9 dinner by candlelight on December 21st
#10 kiss under mistletoe
#11 read the Nativity Story
#12 Sing Christmas Carols over the phone to Granny and Grandma
#13 make gingerbread men
#14 make snowglobes
#15 take treats to neighbors
#16 write letters to Santa
#17 watch a Christmas movie
#18 have a Christmas dance party
#19 make a popcorn string for the birds
#20 wrap gifts
#21 make Christmas cards for Miss Joelle and Miss Ashley
#22 take canned goods to food bank
#23 make reindeer cookies
#24 make homemade ornaments