Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall is in the Air

This week we welcomed in the fall season with open arms. Mary Virginia is learning about the seasons and what comes with each season....she knows that her birthday is in the fall and let me tell you how excited she is! We did all of the usual this week: painting burlap, school, playing outside, and playing with the kids in the neighborhood! This weekend we ventured out to The Rural Life Museum Harvest Days. This is a venue that shows life in the nineteenth century rural Louisiana sponsored by LSU...there were living history demonstrations to show life on the farms and plantations during the harvest season.
This was a hands on learning day. The kids were able to take dried corn and scrape it off the cob and then run it through a mill to make grist.

MV was playing with one of the toys that the children used to play with. It was a large round wooden hoop that you hit with a stick and make it roll. She was amazing! She caught on immediately and was running up and down the yard with the hoop - John Bay didn't have as much luck, but he did have fun hitting the hoop with the stick! As we walked through all of the exhibits, we saw a blacksmith, someone making cracklins, candle makers, but our favorite to watch was the horses and the plow! It is no surprise that anything we love has to do with horses!

We kept walking trough the exhibits and we came to the Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch! In the middle of the corn maze was a hay mountain! The kids and Ed had fun climbing the mountain, but the most fun was sliding down the hay bales!

What a wonderful weekend - a chance to experience life in Louisiana and welcome in the fall!

The kids in the middle of the corn fields!

We are going to run and play! See you next week with another fun fall activity!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's in the Stars!

Week 16: This week was all about being a STAR! Mary Virginia was the star student at school this week. She had homework over the weekend which was to create an "All About Me" poster. You know that we had that poster decorated beyond belief! She had so much fun writing and drawing pictures of all of her favorite things! Through the week, the star student gets to do all sorts of fun activities: telling the class all about yourself, reading your favorite book, wearing a special t-shirt, getting a special prize necklace from the principal, a star student bracelet, a book from the class, and the most fun - I got to eat lunch with her class! That is the most fun group of kindergartners! I learned all about the lunch line and what it means to be on "red cup" (you can't talk to anyone and you have to be on your best behavior). I also was able to stay and play for recess! The book from her class was one of the most precious things - everyone in the class wrote something that they liked about MV. The consensus is that she is quiet, follows directions, and she does all her work.

We also had the first night of Girl Scouts this week! There are 6 girls in the troop and MV loved every minute of it. They all seemed very energetic and excited to start on this adventure together. This is going to be a very special group of girls...and we found out that 2 of the girls live in our neighborhood! I can't believe our luck! We are working on getting her uniform ready, so as soon as I have that ready, I know she will want to share pictures!

Our "adventure" of the week was Crawfish Pie! I said that I was going to try it out and I did! I wasn't sure about this, it just doesn't sound that great to me. I mean do you really think of seafood when you think of pie? I do not! I will be the first to admit that I was wrong...It was fabulous and I can't wait to bring the recipe back to Alabama! I just have to figure out how to get crawfish up there!!!

The weekend went the same as always lately - we are getting our rest for our fall weekend schedule starting next week...it is going to be busy with all of the fall festivals in the area! We had a Saturday full of playing at the playground, football, and a birthday party!

This is John Bay mastering yet another spider web!
And Mary Virginia trying to master the monkey bars!

We had so much fun at the birthday party! It was just MV and a couple of the boys from her class, but they had a blast and lived up the Toy Story Theme. Here they are waiting very patiently for cake! I couldn't catch them long enough to get an after picture, but I will tell you that they were green and blue from head to toe (icing). It has been fun getting to know the families of all the kids in MV's kindergarten class!

We are looking forward to an eventful weekend next weekend - so get ready for some pictures! We have a fall festival at the Rural Life Museum! I can't wait, I was told that it is amazing!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Family Time

Week 15: I love a short week as much as anyone, but I just don't recover from holiday weekends like I used to! We all wanted to be back at the lake! Once we got back in the swing of things, the kids were excited to be back in their routines - both kids had a great week at school...for John Bay that meant that he went into his class without crying! It was a typical week for us - painting burlap, playing with friends, school and riding horses! And on Saturday...there was football! The kids proudly wore their orange and blue! We were a little out of place among all of the purple and gold at the playground, but they wouldn't have had it any other way!

On Sunday, again we proudly wore our orange and blue. I think they were a little surprised to see our Auburn gear at church, but they will learn! After a Sunday of remembrance of September 11, we decided the best thing to do was to have some family time. We walked around the Botanic Gardens through the Crape Myrtles - so pretty - and the kids posed for a few pictures! They actually let me get a few good ones!

And to add to our family time, of course there was a trip to Bass Pro Shop...where better to spend family time. They were having some fun activities for the kids, so we made visors, played with the race cars, played a bean bag toss, and tire roll! I think Ed had more fun with the toy remote control cars than the kids did!

We topped the day off with cupcakes and ice cream!

We also are working on potty training and riding a bike without training wheels - I just didn't think that you would want to see pictures of that...both are a little messy!

We can't wait for next week - We have our first Girl Scouts meeting, our fall fundraiser for school, Mary Virginia is the star student of the week, and I get to have lunch with MV on Thursday! I can't wait to share!

(Looking out towards the Hudson River from the stadium at West Point)

Just as a side note - I know that I quickly passed over the September 11 talk, but it is still hard to talk about or write about without getting emotional. Ed and I talked a lot about what we remembered from that day and we watched as many of the programs as we could handle Sunday night. As most of you, I know exactly where I was sitting the moment I heard the news. We had only been married for 2 weeks...I was a new military wife in a new town and I had no clue what to expect. I was sitting on the floor in our living room watching CNN and writing thank you notes as I had done every morning for the past week when I saw the news. A little later I got a phone call from Ed saying they had locked down the base and he wasn't sure when he was coming home. Knowing no one in town, I just sat there and watched the day unfold. For some unknown reason, I went outside to walk around our neighborhood and to get some air and I ran into some neighbors that were just moving in - Michelle and Mike - how funny now that these are now some of our best friends! I don't know that they knew the calming effect they had on me that day...Mike was able to explain what was happening on post and what was probably going to happen, and Michelle was there as always just to be my friend! Oh, how our lives have changed because of that day - I don't really remember how things were before 9/11 - especially married life. We know so many people that were affected by the events of that day and I am so grateful for all of our military friends and what they do on a daily basis to protect our country. We are truly blessed to have each and everyone of you in our lives.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Weekend!

Week 14: This has been a fun week followed by an amazing weekend! We started the week with our first school fundraiser....Hat Day! I like these kind of fundraisers where all I have to do is send $1! The kids were so excited, they could bring $1 and wear any hat they wanted...of course, Mary Virginia sported the pink Auburn hat! I think the hat rounds out the uniform perfectly. John Bay also had an exciting week. He started a new school! We were having a few issues trying to make it to our original new school on time, so after a desperate call to our church, they were kind enough to squeeze John Bay into their program. He is loving it! He walked right in the first day, we had a few tears, but overall he did wonderful! We miss our friends at Vestavia Day School, but this is a nice alternative, and the teachers are so sweet!

First Day of School
Sporting his new backpack and very proud of it!

Now for the fun! We made the long journey home through Tropical Storm Lee, but once we got there, oh the fun we had! We had a great welcome dinner on Friday night with all of the grandparents. On Saturday morning, the Youngbloods came down to play with us for the weekend! It was so good to see them, you don't realize how much you miss your friends and family until you can't see them anytime you want to! We had a fun day of tubing and swimming on the lake and of course, many boat rides!

MV and Jaja playing on the boat! (Scary how much that looks like me and dad)

Ella and MV hanging out on the boat!

It is like looking back in time...

Sunday, we started to experience the Tropical Storm and the rain, but we still had fun! Who wouldn't have fun with 8 adults, 4 kids (3 running around and 1 newborn), and a dog all stuck in the house! We played around the house, told stories, and watched movies! When the rain finally let up, the kids were able to play in the pool!

John Bay had more fun playing around the pool than in the pool!

Even with the rain, we couldn't have asked for a better weekend. I can't wait to do it again. The kids are already asking for Ella and Caroline. So, we already have the countdown for when we get to see our friends again...

Anniversary Week!

Week 13: This week brought a week of anniversaries. We celebrated my adoption day at the beginning of the week and our 10 year anniversary at the end of the week.

My parents adopted me 34 years ago! Wow, I can't believe it has been that long! It feels like only yesterday I was walking up the dog's leg in my hard-soled baby shoes, lying in the recliner next to my dad watching Saturday morning cartoons, or creating my own recipes in the kitchen with my mom! (I am not sure that you would call what I was creating a recipe!) It has been a wonderful 34 years and I am so blessed to have such amazing parents. Thanks to those wonderful parents, I have a loving extended family and the best friends that anyone could have asked for. I have also had so many experiences that I may never have been able to have. The most important part though is that they have taught me how to love and care for those around me, especially my children. Thank you mom and dad for letting me be a part of your lives! I love you!

Ed and I have been married for 10 years! I can't believe that it has been that long! The kids helped us celebrate with a yummy dinner on Thursday night and then we were able to sneak away to New Orleans for a night! Mimi and Balba came down to visit so that we could head out-of-town. We were all so excited to see them! I hope they weren't too exhausted from the kids on Sunday! I think they all kept each other very busy!

It has been a crazy 10 years...7 new addresses (not including Ed's address in Africa), 2 amazing kids, 1 dog, 1 fish (which is still alive), and lots of memories! We have made some of the most wonderful friends along the way - and lived in some crazy places! Ten years ago, I would have never thought that I would have the opportunities or experiences that we have had: riding on the back of my husband's Harley Davidson to the beach, living in the hills of Missouri (which was one of the most fun falls we could have asked for - great football and amazing friends), relaxing by Table Rock lake outside of Branson, our first child being born in an army hospital with a midwife as the primary doctor, moving back to Birmingham to the neighborhood I grew up in, being out of the army and still moving around the country, having a "Florida house" and being able to head to the beach whenever you want, and now living in the bayou and learning about the Cajun way of life! It has been 10 years of making wonderful memories...I can't wait to see what the next 10 years bring!

Here is a quick recap of our trip to New Orleans! We can't wait to go back. Ed booked us an amazing room at the Roosevelt Hotel (one of the Waldorf hotels). It was so beautiful - I couldn't capture the beauty in a picture! We spent Saurday afternoon walking around New Orleans and the French Quarter. We walked along the river front and took a little detour to the Hard Rock Cafe for a quick lunch...yum! Then it was off to Jackson Square to see the St. Charles Cathedral and to check out the artist around the park! Of course, we also had to visit Bourbon Street!

After a delicious dinner at Red Fish Grill and a fun night out on the town, we finished the trip with breakfast at Cafe du Monde and a walk along the river! I highly recommend Red Fish Grill to anyone heading to New Orleans - especially the Red Fish!!!

A trip to New Orleans isn't complete without Cafe au Lait with Beignets!

The walk along the river was beautiful! We can't wait to take the kids back for the Audubon Nature Experience...zoo, aquarium, insectarium, and more!