Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Celebrating Autumn even when it feels like July

I went to college in East Tennessee. Gorgeous in the Fall. I spent many years in Northern Virginia. Beautiful in the Fall. I lived in Kansas City for a few years and I spent one autumn traveling across the Midwest where I watched red leaves tumble to the ground on chilly afternoons.

So, what I am trying to say is that Falls are ruined for me. If I am not sitting on a porch in the Smoky Mountains bundled up in a blanket while sipping hot chocolate and watching the leaves fall, then I refuse to recognize the season. Sweating at soccer games while guzzling water and praying for shade is NOT Fall to me.

But at least there is a whole lot to do here in the Dallas area. There are a lot of festivals and fun things going on every weekend, so I will just be happy with that. Here are a few pictures from some recent outings that have made it feel like Fall in spirit, if not in temperature.

First up was the GrapeFest in Grapevine, Texas. This town looks awesome and I can't wait to check it out when there isn't a huge event going on. Oh, and it was actually cool that night so the long sleeves were appropriate for once. Thanks heavens.

We also checked out the Plano Balloon Festival. They had one very similar to this in Kansas City and we had missed it while we lived in Alabama so we were excited to find one here in North Texas. We took lawn chairs and just camped out all evening. The kids ran around and played and then at night they lit up all of the balloons. It was gorgeous.

God Bless Texas. Naturally.

We were told that we had to go to the State Fair of Texas from the moment we closed on our house. I am not exaggerating that much. People talked about it nonstop and we figured that we would not be taken seriously as Texans until we checked it out. Ummm.... we were not disappointed. It was amazing. I can't do it justice. There isn't anything I could write on here that could accurately describe it so just trust me in saying that it more than lived up to the hype.

Yes, Lainey, everything is bigger in Texas.

Big Tex. Living (kind of) legend. 

My parents were in town for the fair and so they got to experience the fair for themselves.

Another weekend we went to Farm Fest in Plano. We all got to tour an old farm that is still working and participate in county fair type events. I did not sign up for the husband calling contest, much to Rob's relief. I don't know. I totally think that I could have won. But here is my beautiful bugaboo all decked out for Fall.

The loves of my life. And yes, I am aware that Will has worn that shirt to every festival this weekend. he loves it and calls it his "soft and cozy shirt" so why not? If he's happy, I can put up with repetitive yellow stripes in all of my pictures.

The Webster girls will always love horses. This one is Breezy and I would have ridden him home if I could. Now there's a mental picture for you.

This creepy tree came to life and we all ran and hid. Except for this little guy. He's the only brave one in the bunch.

Is there anything cuter than a 3 day old goat? Nope. Didn't think so.

Will entered a barrel riding competition and.....

...he won first place!! He was so proud that he took his blue ribbon to show and tell the next week at school. Way to go, buddy!

We have also gone to downtown Dallas and played in parks and walked through museums. We spent one beautiful morning in downtown McKinney browsing the candy store and cheering on marathon runners. And we have spent many mornings at soccer games cheering on Will. And pretty much every Saturday afternoon and evening are reserved for football. And that's how life goes. 

Family fun on Friday evenings. Soccer games on Saturday mornings with football the rest of the day. We are at the church most of the day on Sundays with services in the morning and then choir that night. And I love every bit of it.

Happy Fall, y'all!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Celebrating our 2 year old

For Lainey's birthday, I decided to go low key this year. Like, really low key. If you look over at my most viewed blog posts, Will's 2nd birthday is by far my most viewed post. I see searches for "train birthday" popping up constantly and I am thrilled. I loved doing that party for Will. In fact, making that train late at night with Rob is one of my favorite memories. He and I had a lot of fun figuring out how to construct that thing and then we painted it in stages for a week. I adored that birthday party.

My friends and I have had a lot of talks about kids birthday parties. In this age of Pinterest and Etsy, what is too much? My philosophy is that the kids don't care either way. They are happy with a store bought cake and a balloon and they adore big themed parties as well. Do what you want to do is how I look at it. If you have the time and energy to do a big party and you do it because you sincerely enjoy it, then go ahead. If you don't, then don't. It's pretty simple in my book. 

Anyway, I knew Lainey wouldn't ever remember her 2nd birthday cake, but I thought that my older kids would always remember making their little sister's cake, so I let Bennett and Will make it this year. They made it from scratch and I was so proud of them.

We chose to do an Elmo cake so the frosting was a bit tricky because we wanted it to look like fur and not smooth icing, but my meticulous little buddy did a great job.

It was a pretty tedious process. They rolled out the fondant themselves.

The finished product. Sure, it might have looked better if I had made it and it certainly would have looked a whole lot better if we had used an Elmo pan or ordered it from a bakery, but we had fun, Lainey recognized Elmo right away and it was delicious. A total win in my book.

This was it for my decorations. All I did. Again, Lainey loved them and I spent $2.I did fill her room the night before with a package of balloons. I do that every year for the kids so their room is filled with balloons when they wake up.

My parents came to visit for Lainey's big day so we took her to the mall while Bennett and Will were in school. She got to go to the Disney Store and then play on the playground. She ate Chick-Fil-A at the Food Court and her grandaddy bought her a cookie. What more could a 2 year old want?

Oh, maybe a ride on the merry go round. That's what.

When the big kids got home from school we went to a little farm that is only 5 miles from our house. Lainey got to feed goats and pet sheep.

And who do you think hopped on a horse first? Some things never change.

So, I think only one of my girls likes horses. You couldn't get Bennett off of a horse when she was 2, but Lainey is terrified of them. No riding horses for this one.

That's more like it. Well, 2 out of 3 isn't bad.

Lainey thought she had better stick to looking at animals in pens.

Are they not the cutest?

After awhile we took a wagon ride through this old western town. It was fascinating. My parents had to stop and have a drink in the saloon.But don't worry. My Mom is holding a bottle of water to prove that she isn't serving alcohol to minors.

And I had to add this video. I started to video Bennett and just asked her where she was. Without skipping a beat, she launched into this little spiel about being at the Tumbleweed Cafe. The imagination on this kid is awesome.

On to more touring of the abandoned town. I considered leaving them here.

Lainey bug with her grandparents on her 2nd birthday.

We came home and had her amazing sibling made Elmo cake and then opened a few presents.

As you can see by the back of the cake, my older kids got a little tired of frosting the cake by the end.

And a final goodnight story after a long day of malls, playgrounds, merry-go-rounds, farms, wagon rides, cake and presents. Whew!

And I have to end this post by bragging on my baby a little bit. She really is a smart girl and at her 2 year check-up she got her first "A." And it was actually an A+. She got it in development. When the doctor came in to do her well check up she was singing songs, counting and telling the doctor all of her colors. Whenever the doctor asked her a question she would answer and if she didn't know it, she would say, "I not know, doctah." I was told that they give out A's fairly often, but an A+ is rare.

She is also a really tall kid rocking the 96th %. I am so proud of this little bugaboo. She is a headstrong, stubborn, funny, loving and unpredictable ball of energy. We all love her so much and we hope she always knows how incredibly loved she is.
Happy 2nd Birthday, Lainey Kathryn Webster!!!