Friday, January 30, 2015

2014 - A Look Back

HEIDI'S NOTE:
I just finished writing this whole blog and realized how incredibly long, monotonous and picture heavy this may be for someone not involved in our every day activities. So, if you are feeling courageous (and incredibly bored), scroll on down for the thorough run-through of our year. Otherwise, here is the short version: 

ME: I broke both of my feet at the end of November 2013, so until the end of January, I walked around in two walking boots. Caring for a toddler and an infant with two broken feet was quite the challenge. Fast forward 3 months - I ran a 5k - then at the beginning of September, I ran my first Disneyland 10k and then in November, I ran my first official half-marathon!! I felt so proud of myself for achieving that after hardly being able to walk less than a year before. That was the biggest accomplishment of my year. However, my other big accomplishment was being cast as Inga in Young Frankenstein the Musical, where I had to learn to yodel. :) It was fantastic. 

THUMPER: He continues to run lots. When I did the 10k at Disneyland, he ran that AND a half-marathon. Then he ran the half-marathon again in November. I'd say this was a year for us as runners. Pretty exciting. 

CADE: He managed to get past his love of the binkie. For his 3rd birthday, I told him we would put his binkie inside a build-a-bear so he could keep it forever. For some reason, he assumed that the build-a-bear was his Pooh Bear, so we never had to do anything else with it. At one point he discovered the binkie again, but although he took one last "drag," he never went back. He also did quite a few races this year - as we tried to only sign up for races that had kid runs as well. Watching him smile as he ran brought us great joy. 

ELSIE: Her year was full of firsts - well-documented firsts. She is a spitfire, and very spirited. She doesn't laugh much, but she is a tease. She demands attention and won't take no for an answer easily. She loves to dance and we love watching her do it. Her greatest joy is tormenting her brother. We told him she'd be paying him back when she was big enough - and she has proven that to be the case. 

AND NOW - THE UN-Abridged version of our year:  

I just re-read my 2013 year blog and, my, how things have changed. This has been an awesome, difficult, amazing, blessed year - let me break it down for you :)

JANUARY

Aw, January. The month of my birth. The month that sets the tone for the rest of the year... if you want it to. I, however, did not want it to. You see, in January I still had two broken feet, was unable to lose the baby weight I had gained after the birth of my daughter in November because of said broken feet and my daughter had discovered she had an amazing set of pipes. She actually discovered that in December, but they continued to be strong in January. However, despite the warning not to do too much on my broken feet, I managed to hobble around alright. We went to Ikea for my birthday and we had our small group Bible study where I was presented with the most AMAZING birthday cake I have ever seen. 

Plus, I got a SIGNED marquee poster of the New York Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. My Bible Study group knows me so well.

Other accomplishments for January: Elsie managed to be the cutest Snow White I have ever seen.

I made this soft, light pink baby shawl for my photographer friend and she took pictures making my little girl downright angelic.

Cade loved his sister very, very much. And smothered her with kisses.


In an attempt to up the ante on my skills and my blogging, I made my first no-pattern pajamas pants for my boys.

We also learned of the art form of "baby planking." There were many instances where baby planking took place, but this was the only picture proof we got.

Back on Facebook, in January, I posted a picture and had a caption contest of sorts. There were three or four that tied and one that took the cake.

With a whopping 13 likes, my friend, Rebecca Douglas, won with the caption: "You mean, he will ALWAYS think farting is funny?!?" Second place was by the lovely Joni Claypool: "Just because he doesn't wear clothes doesn't mean I don't want to!" My two favorites besides these were by Crystal Kupper: "And THIS is how you repay me for my cuteness? By giving me a comedian for a brother?!?!" And Jo Judge with "He's right behind me, isn't he." This wasn't a milestone moment in our month, but the comments were so funny and I loved the picture so much, I thought I'd share. 

Also in January, my niece asked to have a tea party where everyone wore their finest clothes. So, that's what we did. It was LOVELY. Cade was the only boy that was invited to attend and he dressed quite handsomely and enjoyed dressing up so much that getting him to go without his bowtie was near impossible for the rest of the month. 


Cade was the only boy that was invited to attend and he dressed quite handsomely and enjoyed dressing up so much that getting him to go without his bowtie was near impossible for the rest of the month. 


We, like 95% of families in North America, were completely enamored with Frozen and lived in a Frozen haze for a few months where we listened to nothing but songs about building snowmen and letting go. Here is Cade singing along to "Do You Want To Build A Snowman"

One of the saving graces of the beginning of the year (and actually the end of 2013) was my dear friend Annie Willems. Who, seeing my tired eyes, my over-emotional self and my frustration as I tried to calm my screaming daughter down, offered to come watch the kids to give me a break. She came over, put food in the crock pot and sat with my kids while I just...left. What I did during that time, I don't recall, but I do recall feeling incredibly refreshed when I returned.


 She did it until Elsie stopped her screaming tantrums - which didn't stop until we got her referred to see a pediatric doctor who told us she had baby gerd. (Acid reflux for babies). I was so grateful to finally have an answer. Within a few days of finding out what the issue was and getting her some medicine to help, she was a completely different baby. She was happy and smiley and not as easily upset. I don't know that Thumper and I could've made it through the really hard baby months without Annie or my mom or my sister, Becca. It was certainly a blessing to have those loving family and friends there for us. 

By the end of January, I got my feet back, so to speak. I was no longer in my walking boots and was advised to just take a little easy on them, but that all was well. My sister works for Dr. Pollack out in Stayton (the podiatrist), so she entertained Cade while I was getting the release to get back to trying to run.


FEBRUARY

February brought many adventures, including a snowstorm that took the Pacific NW by amazement as we generally see no more than a dusting. In fact, the first snow pictures I have are from when it started snowing, as my thought process was "Well, we better get a picture before it's gone!" 


Elsie's first snow
But, it kept coming! And coming...and coming...and coming. By the time it stopped, our street was covered quite deep in snow and we were (for the first time since moving to this house) able to use our enormous hill that we live on for sledding. It was fantastic. 



I can't remember how many days the kids off from school, but I know that many parents were more than a little frustrated by the number of snow days the school gave. I, personally, loved it. However, my kids aren't old enough to go to school. Having my nephew next door for most of those days was way fun for my son. Pretty much every other mild-weather-loving-Oregonian was in this boat instead...

But, sledding was not the only fun thing that happened during the snowstorm. Drumroll please....
Elsie rolled over on February 7th at the ripe old age of 4 months, 6 days.  The excitement was almost too much to handle. 


And, despite the weather being horrendous and the drive being a little bit tumultuous, Thumper and I went on a date to see Jerry Seinfeld perform his stand-up act in Eugene. It was worth the terrifying drive (which, coincidentally, Mr. Seinfeld had to make as well since he flew in to Portland). 


A few other things that happened in February:

Elsie was dedicated at church, as her brother was the year before. 



We had mega fun at the bounce house in Corvallis where it's a room full of bouncy inflatables. 



Cade and Thumper got to enjoy Oregon State gymnastics with Don (Thumper's dad). And popcorn. Cade definitely got to enjoy the popcorn. 


Another accomplishment for my amazing son: chores! As of this date, he can put away his own clothes, set the table and put away silverware. As well as other things, but those are the top chores we have him do. And, just to be very careful, safety goggles are a must. Or, at least they were...

Here is a picture of my little girl, just because it's cute....before she got old enough to start pulling off her headbands.


And, Cade discovered that he was as talented as Jean-Claude Van Damme.



MARCH

Mostly calm, not much to report for March. Apparently, it was the month of using Elsie to play dress up, as I had many cute clothes for her to wear and took pictures as often as possible. Here are a few of my favorites. 



I've heard it said that Elsie was born with a headband on her head. That may be true - I have enough headbands for every one of her outfits and then some. I love it. I wish she loved it as much as me. 

Remember how I wrote earlier about baby planking...well, here is yet another picture proof for you. And just so you know, we do not ask our children to do this, they come up with it on their own. 


The two best things about March: 

We went to see "The Sing Off" tour at the Elsinore Theater, thanks to my amazing father-in-law. It featured accapella group Home Free and a few others that we really enjoyed. The show was very entertaining.


But, the most exciting and the coolest experience for me in March was the small part I got cast in for a movie called "10 Days In A Madhouse." It's on IMDB, you should look it up as I can't give many details right now. But, what I can say is filming was way fun and I am looking forward to seeing the finished product! I was a part of two days of shooting and the director and producer told me they are really looking forward to working with me again, which is awesome! I was told that I had good comedic timing and shine on screen. Yeah, I'm gloating a little. I was pretty excited about that. 


Lastly for March (although probably one of my favorite things about March) was hearing my daughter laugh for the first time. Cade laughed much sooner than Elsie did, but she had been in pain for the first three months of her life, so you can't fault her for not laughing sooner. Her first real laugh came after Cade was throwing his binkie around. She thought that was the greatest. 


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APRIL

Many things happened in April, first and most importantly was Cade's third birthday. We celebrated for a few days as we had plans to be out of town on his birthday, and then we celebrated again with family and friends at the end of the month. 


On his birthday, we went to the carousel and to Get Air (a trampoline place) as well as to the park. It was pretty much everything he would like...jumping, sliding, riding. I think we pretty much nailed the birthday. 






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April also brought a bit of sadness for me. Although nothing extreme and all ended well for the most part. Here's the gist. Late in the year of 2013, I discovered that Doris Day (my all-time favorite actress) was going to be having a 90th birthday celebration in Carmel-By-The-Sea, California. My husband, being the most supportive, amazing man around, jumped at the opportunity and said "absolutely, we need to be there!" Because he knows it's always been a dream of mine to meet her. Like, forever. Anyway, as the time got closer, we found out that she was most likely not going to be able to attend. Well, the tickets to go to this shin-dig were a pretty penny, so we cancelled. There was no point in driving 12 hours to go to a hotel to celebrate the birthday of someone I want to meet who most likely wouldn't be there. That just didn't seem worth it. So, we didn't go. Rather, we went to Ashland - me, Thumper and Elsie - while Cade stayed behind and hung out with his awesome Aunt Becca and Uncle Josh. While there, I was checking out Facebook and saw this post. 


Although I didn't cry, I was utterly devastated. AND holding on to the hope that she will have another birthday celebration sometime soon and I could meet her. If nothing else, God had a great reason for us not being in attendance - and I don't need to question it...but just hope for a future meeting. 

So, here are a few pictures from our vacation to Ashland and Cade's time with Aunt Becca (and as luck would have it, time with him cousins too!)







On our trip home from Ashland, we stopped by the Oregon Vortex and did the little tour that was a part of that. It wasn't that exciting, but we can now say we've done it. Also, I didn't know it was World Famous. Huh.


The rest of the month was full of many adventures including:

Seeing Menopause the Musical with some lovely women. It was a lovely, hilarious afternoon with some wonderful, hilarious women. 




Celebrating the birthday of my dear friend, Christi. 


Beach day with this lovely friend and a bunch of my other MOPS (mother of preschoolers) mamas.

Elsie's first time at the beach!
PS - isn't the picture below adorable? This is Cade and one of his "best buddies," Ryan.



Watching our beautiful and extremely talented niece, Erica, perform in a production of "Annie" as the main girl herself!


Cade constantly wanting to try to pump milk...uh....awkward!


Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter with my family. And making resurrection rolls for the first time as my nephew read the story of Jesus' death and resurrection. 




Exploring the Portland Children's Museum for Cade's best buddy Ryan's birthday

Watching my kids on the video monitor as they play together. Sweetness.

Cade trying to sleep through Elsie's screaming (which was a regular occurrence for a while).

First drive-in movie of the year!


This was actually our second time of the year - and I think it was the next weekend...
My cousin, Jill, and I made a video from a song that we really enjoyed. If you didn't get a chance to see it, here it is. 


AND running my first 5k since breaking both of my feet less than 6 months prior. I ran the majority of it and walked a little of it, but it was a good start to reaching my goals.


Cade and Grandpa ran as well. I kinda feel like Cade had the advantage... ;) They came in last, but they had fun and it didn't matter. Cade was happy to see the mascot and run as fast as he could. He was also a stand-out because of his awesome hair. 


Here are a few other accomplishments for April: 
*Cade successfully relinquished the binkie! We talked about it going away when he turned three, and he never batted an eye. He turned three and never turned back. 
*We started potty training Cade (it was a big month of milestones for this boy). 
*Played outside in the sunshine as often as possible and even got in a day or two in the sprinkler because it was warm enough!
*I got a new MacBook Pro! I am still pretty stoked about that. 

And just because I wanna, here are a few more pictures from April that I just love and have to share. 
This man...gorgeous...amIright?









MAY

It was a rather warm month, the month of May. We played outside quite a bit, surprised my nephew by walking with his mama to pick him up from school, and then decided to stay and play at the park for a bit. Rachel, his mama, my sister, was also there. We had a lovely walk and the weather was wonderful.


The first weekend in May, we ran in another race. I ran the 5k, Thumper ran the 10k and Cade and Grandpa ran the obstacle course (in which he didn't finish last! Although, I think it was close ;0) ). Here are some of the highlights from Cade's obstacle course run.

Following the arrows to go in between trees and things
Running up and down stairs
Climbing up and over a farm gate
Potato Sack!! (That may have been his favorite part)
Climbing over this little hurdle
Tire jumps
Climbing up and over a bunch of hay bales
Walking the beam

And getting a prize at the end!
Elsie got to enjoy the ride as we all ran hard.


And here we are after we all finished! 


We also celebrated my twin sisters' 29th birthday. The last year of being young for those two. We celebrated by going to Create A Memory and painting pottery as a girls day out. Just me, mom and my sisters. My brother and his girlfriend stopped in briefly too, but it was great being just us girls together.


After the birthday festivities had ended and the race had been run, I retreated to the coast for a night with my cousins, my aunt, my mom and one sister, my daughter and my grandma to celebrate my grandma's birthday. 


We had such an awesome time. It was like going home. Spending time with these girls. I grew up with them and I don't know that anybody can say they've been as blessed as we have to be a part of each others' lives - we are definitely more like sisters than cousins.



We got home the Saturday before Mother's Day and celebrated mother's day in style, with flowers from my boy...


A lovely little questionnaire about me filled out by my son. (Which was really quite accurate.)


Lots of loving on my babies.



And my husband being his goofy self as Bat-Dad.


Becca and I also celebrated the following weekend by making my mom an awesome steak dinner with bread pudding for dessert. It was wonderful.

And, I got to get my craft on and made my mom this cool little picture holder.


Another highlight of May was the time we spent camping with my cousin, Randi, and her family. The weather wasn't too cold, it was our first camping trip of the year, and the kids got along. It was really awesome.


The water was a bit cold at Detroit Lake to be getting in, but that didn't stop my husband and all the boys (minus Brian) from going in and freezing their hind-ends off.

We also enjoyed lots of walking around the campground, enjoying our time together as a family.



Around the 21st of May, our little Elsie started army crawling...and she never slowed down.

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Other things that happened in May...we went to dinner at A&W with Grandma Nancy and other family members.


Potty training began to take place!


Working out became a family event (at least for me and Cade, who created his own workout equipment from one of my headbands and some of his building toys.)


Walks to the park with dear friends.


Visits from old, amazing friends.

Fits were thrown (and made fun of)


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Nursery rhymes with movements also took place and became a big part of every day for Cade. 

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And, although there was very little sleep happening...

We still managed to have a fantastic May. And here are just a few more pictures to show off the awesomeness. 







JUNE

Many adventures took place in June, the first being Elsie's first taste of solids! She started with the nastiness...er...uh...I mean tastiness that is rice cereal.




She may not look like it, but I can tell you that she was not easily handing that spoon back to us. She didn't very much enjoy the solids - or at least not in the liquid form. She wanted something far more hardy. Which, by the way, she *kinda* had before because she managed to get ahold of a cookie that Cade had laying around... ... ... oops.

We had construction work done on the exterior of our house as it was rotting due to the weather and the house not being built properly. I didn't take any pictures, but you can trust me when I say it was a big project and I'm glad we were able to hire someone awesome to take care of it.

Throughout the year, I've worked on a lot of different projects using my Silhouette Cameo, and one of my favorites was making water bottles for my whole steering team for MOPS. My awesome friend, Katie, helped me in making them and we had a great time crafting and picking something that would suit each girl.

*Photo edited out due to my son's nakedness that was running rampant during the summer months with potty-training and other such fun things...* However, here is a picture of the finished products.


During the summer, we also went berry picking - although not quite as frequently as I would've liked. Taking a newborn is a whole lot harder than taking a toddler...


And, we had another race - continuing on our racing streak. I did another 5k, Thumper did a 10k, and Cade ran a 100 meter dash, I believe it was. It was a superhero run. Thumper took 3rd overall for the 10k and he took home the grand prize (bragging rights) for the best costume of an adult.

`


This race we ran with a few of Thumper's running buddies and also ended up running with a friend from church that we didn't know was going to be running it!







And we got to go to the drive-in in June as well. As you may already know, the drive-in is one of our favorite local family activities. :)

Cade was there, but not pictured as he was asleep at this time - but not during the movies :)
In preparation for my first trip to Disneyland in almost a year and a half, I made myself a Minnie Mouse skirt. Well, my mom and I made it together. I'm not talented enough to do this on my own. But, pretty close. And it was done without a pattern! For someone who is not very skilled at sewing, I was pretty pleased with myself.


I also found a super adorable onesie at the Disney store, but there was no way it would've fit Cade, so I removed the image and hand-sewed it on to another shirt. I, again, was very pleased with myself for that.

We spent many a day as superheroes. Cade LOVES superheroes. He often called me Green Lantern, he was Batman, Elsie was Superman (or vice versa) and daddy was almost always Wonder Woman. Hmmm.
This is the day we left for Disneyland!
And then, we went to...my favorite place on the planet! Disneyland!!


Thumper didn't get to join us on this trip as he was out of the state at a friend's wedding. Hence the trip to Disneyland - no way was I gonna try to do that about 5 days at home with just the kids. Single parents, I commend you - I did NOT want to do that. So, we planned our Disneyland trip. We went with my sister, Becca, my mom and my niece, Peyton, for her very first trip! That was so fun for all of us.


I made this shirt for Becca per my mom's request :)
Thumper with his mom

And here he is with his mom and brother

The groom (in a shirt I made for him) :)

Thumper's brother and his brother-from-another-mother and his son

This may have been the favorite ride for these two. It was the Francis the Ladybug spinner ride. They LOVED it. My mom caught this amazing moment on camera. 

World of Color is another thing we have to watch most overtime we go. Peyton really enjoyed that too.

The Nuptials 
One of the days we were at Disneyland was spent just by the pool as our annual pass didn't work on that day. This was probably one of my favorite parts of this trip. Elsie, Cade and Peyton just ran themselves silly in the pool at the Howard Johnson and we got to relax and enjoy the sunshine.


One of the items on Peyton's bucket list for this trip was to meet Cinderella. She has loved Cinderella since she has been able to talk, so that was a pretty exciting moment for her. 

Here's a picture of me and Elsie - and I'm wearing my homemade skirt! Which got lots of compliments, thankyouverymuch.

So, nobody else may appreciate this as much as I do, but I just have to share. Cade was teasing Goofy in this picture. See, Goofy is trying to get him to curl his hand into a fist so that he can bow - Cade just kept having his hand go limp. He was teasing Goofy, but poor Goof probably had no idea. He probably thought this poor kid is kinda...dumb. haha!

Picture perfect

More pics from the wedding

Peyton was really spoiled and was treated to the special treatment that you can only get by going to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. My mom was very excited to be able to do this for Peyton. And, as you can see from Miss Peyton's face, she was thrilled.



And just because I haven't shared a picture of my mom with us at Disneyland - here is a group shot in front of Cars Land. 


Right before we left for Disneyland, Cade had been fighting a very icky cold-type sickness, so he was put on an antibiotic during our trip, which caused some bathroom issues...if you know what I mean. And it was a bummer because he had done so well with potty training. At this point, when we got back home, we basically were starting back at square 1. Awe, well. He couldn't help his poor little bowels because of the meds. 

****WARNING: DISGUSTING STORY AHEAD****
My sister really wanted to share this on Facebook, but I wouldn't let her because it needed more info than would be posted in the status, so I'll just share it here. As Cade was walking one evening with Becca, he took his hand and wiped it on Becca. She looked at him and said "OH! Cade, did you just wipe snot on me??" "NO!" he replied. "It was just poop." And that was the way the whole trip went. Lots of poop. Mostly making it to the bathroom, although having the change of clothes in the stroller for this trip was definitely helpful. So, it was disgusting and kinda funny at the same time and I thought she'd appreciate me sharing. The sacrifices an Aunt makes... ;)

****RETURNING TO NON-DISGUSTING STORY****

We got home a day after Thumper (by driving through the night and a lot of the following day) and were home in time for me to say "Happy Anniversary" to my love. We celebrated by cleaning out the car and sleeping. But, I was spoiled and also got flowers from Thumper. We have now been married for 8 years (coming up on 9 this June) and I cannot imagine my life with any other. He is truly the most amazing blessing ever for me.

OTHER JUNE HAPPENINGS:
Cade went in for his first official dental appointment and handled it like a trouper. I think he had a lot of fun, actually, and he was well-behaved the whole time which helped me breathe a sigh of relief.


Also in this month, right after we got home from Disneyland, Elsie sprouted a tooth. She was so wonderful on our trip, if a bit fussy, it was a surprise to see it coming in. And, it looked INCREDIBLY painful.


We also celebrated my cousin, Jill's, upcoming wedding with a fun bridal shower.

She's the one on the right
We made cookies...and messes...

Cade went to his very first official birthday party where he got to play in a bouncy house and got a goody bag and a balloon. He was a happy camper.


Probably not very note-worthy, but I'll share anyway. I got new running shoes. My first, official, no-other-use-for-them, running shoes! Training for my half marathon continued!

Cade (prior to our Disney trip and then re-starting after) completed his Potty Sticker Chart! For which he was, rightfully, incredibly proud.

We played in the backyard quite a bit, swimming and taking selfies...

And the last weekend of the month, I had my annual steering team retreat for my MOPS (Mother of Preschoolers) group. At our retreat, we try to relax and plan the meetings for the upcoming year. It was such a great time. It was, indeed, relaxing, peaceful, productive and a wonderful time with some beautiful, loving women I am blessed enough to call my friends.



And, at the very end of the month, June 27, Elsie started officially crawling. No longer army crawling, but ACTUALLY crawling.

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And, just for kicks, here is a picture of Elsie and me at A&W and she is wearing a onesie that used to be mine. Yeah, I was cool enough to rock the Care Bears onesies.

JULY

July started out warm and just stayed that way - and it was lovely. We played in the pool in our backyard frequently.



And we played in Grandpa's pool frequently. One of the joys of swimming at Grandpa's is that he also has lots of fresh berries to pick, so we got to do that over at his house during the summer frequently as well.


Cade got to try his hand at the Slip N Slide over at his Grammy's with some of his cousins. Although it wasn't very successful, they all managed to have a good time.


And then came the 4th of July (I told you it was a hot couple of days - swimming happened EVERY day leading up to the 4th)


To celebrate Independence Day, my niece and nephews and I made sandpaper flag t-shirts.




After making the sandpaper t-shirts, we went to Grandpa's and spent a big part of the day swimming with my mom, one of my nieces and a few of my nephews, my brother and (maybe someday, basically already is) sister-in-law and my father-in-law.





After swimming, we went out to my sister's house for a BBQ and fireworks.


This is Aunt Becca using her mad skillz to get the kids to listen about firework safety

And for your entertainment, here is a video of our Independence Day fun.


Another big event that happened in July was my cousin's wedding. It was a beautiful, Beauty and the Beast themed wedding. I was honored to be one of her bridesmaids and got to share in her special day.




And my cousin, Mariah did my hair so that it would look like Rapunzel. She NAILED IT!
Mine is on the right







At the end of her wedding day, Jill and I took some downtime for some fun photos in the photo booth that we hadn't gotten a chance to use before changing out of our fancy duds. 

Seriously, this girl knows how to have fun!
As does her husband! :)

In other big news for the month of July, I ran my FIRST EVER OFFICIAL 10k (that's 6.2 miles for all you none-running types) race!


Cade also ran a little race with Grandpa. We love doing the races that he gets to be a part of too. That's the most fun.

And here are some other things that took place in July:

 The day after the 4th, my sister helped organize a neighborhood block party and asked us to come. We went for a little while and Cade got to see the inside of a cop car. I was very impressed with how well organized this event was, so even though it was just a small part of our day, I just had to show it because I was so impressed and I wanted to give my sister giant kudos.


Just for kicks, I'd like to show everyone my diva singing with me at church (during rehearsal) one day.

Another accomplishment was our little girl standing! Elsie stood up with the assistance of Grammy's table!

There was even more time spent at the pool with friends.


And more friends! :)

We made homemade popsicles - that were actually kinda gross - but the kids liked them, so, there's that...

Playing with grandpa is always a favorite activity with the kiddos

One day in June, I gave Cade and Elsie a bath in the sink. That became the new favorite...every time Cade went to use the bathroom, he ended up taking a bath in the much-too-small bathroom sink.

Working out every morning with weights and a run were frequently my norm. So, Thumper took a picture of me and Cade and my nephew, Gabriel, all working out together.


And some more cute pictures from July






OH! Also in July, I got cast in Young Frankenstein the Musical as Inga! It was my first lead role in quite a few years. I was over the moon!!

AUGUST

August was a busy month full of lots of fun. We started the month off with a camping trip to Fisherman's Bend with my whole family. My mom, my sisters, my brothers and all of their kids. It was a blast. While we were there, we celebrated my mom's 60th birthday with t-shirts that I made for all the adults and a yummy dessert.


We went swimming (well...more like wading, but still...).

Played on the playground
Elsie's first time on a swing and she LOVED it. PS - watch it, future boyfriends! This girl has got lots of protection from her older brother and cousins!
We did some hiking.



Played games.

And just spent time together, enjoying each other.


We also made lots of food and roasted marshmallows and all that fun stuff. It was awesome. For a full video of the epicness of our weekend adventure, check this out.



When we got home from our family camping trip, we went to a baby shower for some dear friends of ours. While there, we had a grand time torturing our daughter and laughing at her expense. Poor thing.

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Before the fun of our family weekend happened, Cade had to go in to the dentist's to get some outpatient surgeries done. To say Thumper and I were anxious would be an understatement. But, he handled it like a champ. By evening, when we went camping with the family, you'd never know there had been all that work done in his mouth that morning.


He brought his favorite blank and his Superman pjs and slippers so that he could be "all comfy" as he likes to say. All the doctors and nurses called him Superman. I'm pretty sure that pleased him greatly.


We couldn't be in the OR with him, so we watched as they wheeled him in a wagon back to the OR. He looked adorable and so little. I was so very nervous.


It wasn't long and he was out and feeling good, thank God. He took it like a champ. The nurses were very impressed with him. PS - don't make the same mistake we did: do NOT feed your child crackers, goldfish, wheat thins - any of that stuff, especially if you aren't going to give them something crunchy to clean it out afterward. It gets stuck in their teeth and causes decay. Start brushing before they even have teeth and floss as soon as they start having any teeth. We were great about brushing, but if you don't practice those other skills, you could still end up with a similar problem as we had. These are things I wish we had learned before all of this. At least we now know for Elsie.

After camping, much of August flew by with a few days here and there swimming



 Going to the drive-in.




Going to play rehearsals.


Play dates with friends.
Elsie with her future Prince Charming

And having playdates. This one was particularly epic as it was the majority of my nieces and nephews all in one place. My living room was full and so was my heart. 

Elsie with her little friend Cailin

And hanging out at home.

But most of it was prepping for our Disneyland trip, where Thumper would be running a 10k and a half marathon and I was going to be running the 10k.


Before we left for Disneyland, we managed to squeeze in a trip to the Oregon State Fair. Which is always a favorite activity for me and Thumper. We've been going together since before we officially started dating. It's quite different now that we go with our kids. Cade and Thumper went on the chair lift while Elsie and I watched from the ground.




We ate ice cream.
Why use a spoon when you have a working tongue??


Elsie had her first taste of ice cream.


Cade got to try out the fire safety area.


And, somehow we managed to not take any pictures of the two of us. Awe well, the memories will last. :)

A few days after our trip to the fair, we headed for the happiest place on earth!

On our way down, we stopped by my cousin, Randi's, house to say a quick hello. She moved away not long after our trip camping and I have missed her terribly, so it was nice to take a break, eat some dinner and visit.


Once we got to California, we hit up the runner's expo. It felt pretty awesome to be there knowing that I was actually a participant!!


We splurged and bought ourselves Disney New Balance running shoes, that are only available to those who are registered for the race. I was so excited, I even took a picture of the seat in the New Balance area. Look!! It's DISNEY!! :D





















After we were all registered, we hit up Disneyland. We started with the train ride since Cade was exuberantly waiting for it.  (My mom and Elsie were there too, but since Elsie was napping, mom just walked around with her.)


The rest of the day was spent resting and prepping for our run the next morning. I hardly slept I was so excited. See that skirt - my mom made that (you can't tell from the picture, but it is glittery!). She is incredible!

This race was awesome. The majority of it took place inside Disneyland and California Adventure. There were characters out taking pictures, they had some people dressed up interviewing and being goofy to cheer people on, they had a cheering squad, the World of Color lights were on and BEAUTIFUL, the whole thing was just AWESOME.


Thumper ran with me the whole time and took pictures. I don't know if I've ever been this excited about a run. I pushed myself, and PR'd and we had a great time.



Because we are annual pass holders, we had some blackout dates for our passes, so we weren't able to go to the park that day. Instead, we went over to LegoLand.


There were lots of lines and it was extremely crowded (I wouldn't recommend going to LegoLand on Labor Day weekend), so while Mom and the Boys did rides, Elsie and I watched a cute little stage show. Well, I took pictures, Elsie played in the grass.

We left a little early from the theme park. Thumper had another race to do early the next morning, so we didn't want to stay up too late.

We went back to the hotel and hit the sack early. Thumper needed to get to sleep in order to get up in order to run his Half Marathon! They called it the Dumbo Double Dare. I'm looking forward to completing that this year!

The next morning, Thumper got up bright and early before any of us were awake and headed out for his long run.

He PR'd!

PS - he totally beat Sean Astin (who is known for doing that race every year) ;)


By the end of his racing weekend, he had collected 3 medals: one for doing the dumbo double dare, one for the 1/2 marathon and one for the 10k. 


After his amazing run, Thumper needed to cool down and stretch in the pool, so we all got in and relaxed. Again, this was a day where our annual passes weren't good. We had originally planned on going back to LegoLand, but we decided hanging out locally sounded like a much better idea. 



In the evening, after swimming and relaxing a bunch, we went to Medieval Times! One of our favorite places to go for a relaxing evening of jousting, eating with your hands, cheering for your knight and booing the other nights. 


The day was restful, peaceful and fun. I was quite grateful for a day where didn't have anything to do and could just...rest. Because we had to prep for our big day at Disneyland!!




One evening, we took Cade back to the hotel for a quick surprise: A BUZZ LIGHTYEAR COSTUME!! He was thrilled, to say the least. As we walked back to Disneyland, Cade was convinced that he was THE Buzz Lightyear - he jumped over a speed bump and when we said "Nice jump" he responded with "I wasn't jumping...I was flying" in a very Buzz-esque voice. So we corrected our statement and said "Nice Flying" to which he replied in a very deep voice "THANK YOU." Adorable, I tell you. 

When we got back to the parks that evening, this cast member ran up to him (she was Mickey Mouse's handler) and asked to have her picture taken with him. He was more than happy to oblige.


And then, she asked him who he'd like to meet. He said Donald Duck, so she cut off the people waiting in line so that Buzz Lightyear could meet Donald. She said he made her night, but I'm pretty sure she made ours. 


One of Cade's favorite rides on this trip was the Astro Orbiters in Tomorrowland. That, and the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride. He totally loved being in a spaceship with his costume up. Talk about adorable!


The next morning, we had breakfast at The Plaza Inn with Minnie and Friends. Having Cade dressed like Buzz Lightyear was the best thing ever. The attention he got made it all worth it. And he LOVED it. When your child is dressed up at the parks, they ARE that character - they aren't dressed like that character, so every Cast Member called him Buzz Lightyear. Heaven, I tell ya.



We had breakfast and then jumped onto Splash Mountain where we were able to ride at least 3 times before the lines started forming.


Despite his wishes, we made Cade take off his costume once in a while as it was just too hot to leave it on the whole time.


But over the few days that we were there, he still got plenty of attention and wear time. PS - potty training with a suit that is basically like foot pajamas was quite challenging...I wouldn't recommend that part - although we had no accidents, so it was still a success!


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Buzz Meeting Buzz
Over in Bugs Land there is a splash pad that Cade, with great joy, was able to splash around in. He LOVED it.

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SEPTEMBER

September started the same way August finished: In Disneyland!

And, we saw Daisy Duck!! It's very rare to see her, she's not out often, so that a neat surprise.

(I apologize to my daughter as she gets a little older and sees how few pictures there are of her during this trip - she was asleep or being worn a whole lot. 

Cade *REALLY* wanted to go on Splash Mountain, but he isn't quite tall enough yet, so he settled for Gadget's Go-Coaster, which he went on over. and over. and over again. 


We spent the last half of our day at Disneyland and then drove through the night to get back home. We had an amazing time and were already counting down the days to our next trip.

The day after we got back home, we decided to go on a little road trip to the coast. It was not a nice day at the coast, but it was great being together and it wasn't rainy, so we still considered it a win.


We played in the sand, chased each other, built sandcastles


Threw around the frisbee.

And pretty much were THE family that you *wish* you were a part of. :) 
Just because he's SO good looking...

And then...back to reality...

After our vacation was done, I had to get ready for our MOPS year to start up, Thumper had to get ready to head out to surprise his brother for his 30th Birthday, and we had to continue with the potty training strides that Cade had been mastering.

Cade enjoyed eating breakfast each morning with his many "friends" - the Rescue Bots. Along with, Superman, Batman, Little Cade (that's the little blue guy on the table) and Purple Cade. These were the toys that went EVERYWHERE with him for awhile. 

Not a week went by before Thumper was gone on another traveling adventure. This time for a short, quick trip to surprise his brother for his 30th birthday. It was also pretty awesome because he got to spend time with his mom and his "brother from another mother," Isaac, and his friend Serge.



It was a long weekend for me, but I was very grateful that he got to go spend time with his family. As the kids get older, hopefully I will be able to join them with the kids, but for now, the kids and I enjoyed "bach'n" it for the weekend.

Other happenings in September: one of the big things was that Elsie walked!! On September 8th, Elsie took about 3 steps. She actually didn't save her walking for her parents, and instead spoiled her grandpa by walking for him first! But, I did eventually get to see her walk.


She also demanded applause after her couple of steps - hence the clapping hands in the picture. :)

Cade helped with chores, including husking corn. That was pretty exciting for me since I hate that job and he really enjoyed it.

I also had the pleasure of watching my nephew, Mickey in September. I don't see him too often, so I was pretty happy to have the opportunity. As was Cade.


Cade and I started working on writing the letters of the alphabet, we haven't gotten very far - but the "A" for "Alligator" was a hit with him and his "best buddy" Ryan.

On the weeks that the drive-in didn't have anything we wanted to see, we watched movies in our backyard.

Cade learned how to screw in screws on his new bookcase.


And the boys got to go flying with Grandpa! That was definitely a highlight for all three of them. :)


The last part of September was filled with celebrations (my nephew, James', birthday)



and making a music video for a contest with my cousins, Jill and Stephanie and Mariah.


You can check out the video here.


OH! And my biggest accomplishment for September was running close to 10 miles WHILE pushing Elsie. The boys were both asleep, Elsie and I were awake, so we went for a job. It was awesome. I was so proud of myself for that one.


And, just for kicks, here are some other fun pictures from September








OCTOBER

Early in the month of October, my MOPS group went to the pumpkin patch where there was all kinds of fun to be had. We, unfortunately, never made it back to the pumpkin patch with Thumper, which was the eventual goal, but we still had a nice time and the weather was absolutely perfect.






The following weekend we went camping with some friends that we met through our church. We spent the time visiting, eating, playing basketball (well...HORSE), and going on little hikes. It was a wonderful time, though not as relaxing as we would've liked - our trailer flooded when somebody (probably me) left the water on in the bathroom. OOPS!! So, Thumper and our friend Scott spent quite a bit of time cleaning up the trailer while Tiffanie and the kids and I visited and ate. But, we still had a really good time, even with the mishap.

To make the "HORSE" game more challenging, Tiffanie took a shot while holding Elsie - and scored! So, we all had to do the same.

Scott & Tiffanie's kids were there too...but I just didn't post a picture of them. :) 


On October 11th, I did the most amazing run I'd ever done before - going further than I ever had - and ever would again until I ran at Disneyland in November) when I did over 12 miles! Needless to say, I was a bit ecstatic.


Just a few days after my incredible feat, Elsie took more steps. Literally.

October 18th was the true beginning of the end of her crawling phase, as that was the night she was so excited to show us that she could walk that she had insomnia. She and I went downstairs and she took 12 steps!!! From that time on, she hasn't crawled much.


Here is a video of her doing it later in the day for her daddy.

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Other events on the 18th, weren't near as exciting, but still fun as we went to breakfast with my mom and my sisters. It was for some family girl bonding time - with a little bit of Buzz Lightyear thrown in.


A few weeks after our awesome camping trip (the weekend of my dad's birthday), my show "Young Frankenstein: The Musical" opened to nearly sold out crowds. It was so much fun to be back on stage.


Thumper and Cade got to go to the OSU Beaver's football game with Grandpa Don, which is always a big hit. They went to multiple games and here is just one of the pictures from it.

Doing the "First Down" move
Also, here is a video of Cade singing the "First Down" music. That's one of his favorite parts with the football games.

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Elsie and I may not have gone to the game, but we cheered from home.


The last Tuesday of the month, there is no MOPS, so we went to the Kroc Center and checked out their "Toddler Tuesday" event. Much fun was had.



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And to finish up the end of October and into November, Thumper's brother, Mac, came out for a visit. Elsie and Cade were especially excited about that.


On Halloween, Uncle Mac got to go trick or treating with the kids, Thumper and Grandpa. I was at the theater performing, but they all had a good time and I still got to enjoy their loot. ;)

However, my mom did make me an AMAZING costume that I had to wear! I was pretty excited about it.


Cade was, of course, Buzz Lightyear, and Elsie was Tigger (Cade's hand-me-down). In the morning, the kids and I drove out to my sister, Becca's, work and did a little trick or treating there.


 And when we got back, we walked around the mall and a few other places just showing off the cuteness that is our kids. And THEN we hit up Grandpa and Grammy's work and got candy and got to see cousins and go visit Ying over at Chan's Restaurant, which is always a hit for the kids.




And just to finish out October, here are a few other fun pictures that I wanted to include.





Cade was a genius when he figured out that wearing his wings with his sweatshirt was pretty close to as good as wearing the whole costume.

Cade's "best buddy" and his little sister. One of Cade's favorite things to do is to play with Ryan and Cailin. 

A little too joyful over the mess...


I see you...

NOVEMBER

November 1st. Awe a beautiful amazing day. The day that is Elsie's birthday. Elsie's 1st birthday. To celebrate her birthday, we went to the carousel with Uncle Mac and Grandpa Don. My brother and his girlfriend joined us for a bit as did my mom. 




Before the carousel, we went to lunch at Padington's Pizza where Elsie was spoiled with as much pizza as she wanted. I'm pretty sure the rest of us enjoyed it more than Elsie did, but she didn't complain. ;)





For her birthday, Thumper and I got her a baby doll. That was the highlight for her. She loved holding her baby and carrying baby everywhere she went. Baby even sleeps with her most nights. I'd say that was a hit.


To celebrate Elsie's birthday, I took her to have some professional photos done - cake-smash pictures, as they like to call them. She was so delicate and dainty, she ended up using a fork because she didn't like it all messy on her hands.

Before the cake - but this is all Elsie. 

Not liking the feel on her hands

And her beautiful smile. 

After celebrating Elsie's birthday, it was time to finish up my last weekend of Young Frankenstein.
Many of my friends and family came to see the show and I was so happy to see them there! Thanks to my awesome directors, I was able to be in this show despite the fact that I discovered a major conflict closing weekend: our Disneyland Half Marathon race!!! But, thankfully, the directors were willing to give me an understudy closing weekend, and she was gracious and wonderful and I am oh-so thankful for her stepping in.

Here are a few photos from closing weekend.

This is my understudy and beautiful friend, J'Aime!
Also, during closing weekend, Cade got to come play on stage before one of our performances. He was so excited. It was fun to watch him get excited and feel like he was able to be a part of the magic. It was very special. Our stage manager and our sound guys even humored him by running some of the sound effects and lights so he could feel like he was a part of the show. It made his day and it definitely made me happy too. :)

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One of our fab directors (in the middle) and some of my favorites!

Just some of the cast. 
Once my closing weekend happened, it was Disneyland or Bust! Go TIME! So much to do and so much prep work went into this trip, I was thrilled to be going!

This trip was full of firsts: our first time staying at the Disneyland Hotel, my first 1/2 marathon, Elsie's first "race," and our first time being at Disneyland during the Christmas season. It was amazing.




Our room was really cool - the headboard lit up and played "When You Wish Upon A Star" and the twinkly lights could be left on all night without any other lights on and you could see the fireworks from our room.

We got to Anaheim before 6am and, thankfully, we were able to check in. We wanted to nap, but the kids would have none of that, so we went straight into the parks. The biggest benefit to staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel is the magic morning hours - so you get into one park early each morning. That was pretty great. Because of our races, we didn't get to take advantage of it as often as we would've liked, but when we did, it was pretty great.

While Thumper and Cade went on Toy Story Midway Mania, Elsie and I hit up King Triton's Carousel
Just a little while later, my mom and sister arrived - they flew in and met us at the hotel. We rode on lots of rides and just enjoyed the day and then went to dinner at Ariel's Grotto.

Cade was so very tired, he was asleep in the stroller right behind us. 
The next morning was full of adventure as Cade and Elsie had their big races. Thumper and I didn't have our races until the next day, but we all dressed like the superhero family that we are. 

I made the shirts, and my mom made Elsie's adorable tutu (that was glittery!)


Cade's race was first. All of the kids were just let out in groups of 15 - in his group, I'm fairly certain he won - he was passing kids all over the place!
Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye were there to cheer on the kids
Cade getting ready to pass the kids in front of him - look at his big smile!
 Elsie also won in her "heat," so to speak, although it wasn't that much competition as she wasn't crawling for the diaper dash and just walked to the finish line. See that cameraman there with his rear-end facing our camera - they were there to make a big deal out of the little boy to the right of Elsie. And, although Elsie won, everyone was cheering on this little boy. Good for him for facing adversity, but good for my daughter for winning. Can you sense my bone of contention? Yeah. I was pretty ticked off about it. At least Elsie won. So, there's that.


After the kids' races, we went back to our hotel and changed into something a little more comfortable. Then Cade got a lovely surprise as he and I were leaving the hotel. He saw Goofy - alone. Goofy and Cade shared some special moments.

They went for a little walk over the the map and shared a moment over it.

And although there were some other folks coming in, they were amazingly gracious and patient as Goofy finished up with Cade. It was awesome - and THAT (along with the Magic Morning) is the best part of staying at the Disneyland Hotel.

The rest of the day was spent on rides and doing all that sort of fun stuff, and we got to see the Christmas parade - which was really good. Again, first time seeing that too! :)



That evening was closing night for "Young Frankenstein" so I showed my support from afar and even got Minnie in on the fun.

We went back to the hotel before it was too late as we had our big race the next morning. I was incredibly nervous - I had never run that far in my life. Thumper was in a different heat than I was, so he started about 20 minutes before I did, but we walked with each other to the corals and he was incredibly supportive of me.


Thumper did manage to PR in this race, but he wasn't as happy as he would've liked because he didn't get the time he was hoping for. There was a crazy windstorm happening as we ran which slowed everybody down - plus there was dirt blowing all around us. It was crazy weather, but we did it!

Right after our race was done, we headed back to our hotel and went swimming for a while. You can't stay at the Disneyland Hotel without trying the pool! That would be crazy! It was a bit chilly, but we still managed to have a good time.

After swimming, we went right into Disneyland where everyone went on Pirates of the Caribbean. I stayed behind with Elsie as she was asleep, but that was good because it gave me a chance to grab a bite to eat. Nothing sounded all that good, so I just had a little fruit.

After eating the fruit and everyone getting off the ride, we headed over to Splash Mountain, where there was no line. Becca, Mom and I all went on it. I was pretty excited to have my medal that I wore it on the ride to show it off. To say I was proud of myself may be a slight understatement.

PS - my mom never raises her hands, but she was feeling like a wild woman and did for this :)
We then went over to Jungle Cruise (which for the holidays was the "Jingle Cruise") and got in line for that ride. Thanks to our half marathon shirts and my medal, when the cast member extended the line, he let us stay ahead, stating "You guys have gone far enough today" BAM! Oh yeah!! Running the half marathon scored again! As we waited to board our cruise, Becca had fun playing with her new phone - say hello to the Cade-y bunch. hahahaha!


After a few rides, I started to not feel so great and pretty much demanded that we get some food. We went over to our favorite mexican restaurant inside Disneyland and, while Mom, Thumper and the kids went to find seats, Becca and I ordered food. The guy taking our order was unusually cranky. So, I asked him if he was having a bad day, he rolled his eyes, said no and said he's always like that. I responded with "Oh, that's unfortunate" and then Becca asked him another question. He was just very unpleasant which, I'm pretty sure, upset Becca - I know it upset me. But, anyway, as he's getting our food, I started to feel hot and cold and was breaking out in a sweat. I looked at Becca and asked her to get mom or Thumper, but she couldn't because she was holding the food. As I started to fall on my face, mom caught me and told me to put my head between my legs. I told her I just needed to get to a bathroom. She tried to get me to stay put and walked off to get Thumper. I thought I had mustered up enough strength and I knew right where the bathroom was, so I started to head that way again. As I was walking, I started to blackout and got VERY dizzy. The lady at the cash register saw me, asked if I was ok and when I said no she stepped out to get a manager. Just then, mom grabbed my arm and walked me to the bathroom where there was a long line to get in. Mama Bear then came out and pushed through the lines and said "SHE NEEDS A STALL NOW!" Thankfully, everybody was gracious and I went into the bathroom and just sat until I no longer felt like I was about to pass out. Then, the manager came into the bathroom and gave mom an orange juice to give to me. A few minutes later, I was starting to feel a little more like myself, butfor the shakiness. We sat down at our table and Elsie was fussy, I started to get ready to nurse her and was abruptly stopped by Thumper and Mom who demanded I get some food in my tummy first. Duh. Anyway, while I ate a little bit, Becca walked off and found the manager. She spoke with the manager about the rude staff member and the way we were treated. The manager was mortified and brought us fast passes, a free burrito and gave us our money back. Plus I had the free juice. We definitely came out ahead at that restaurant. ;) Anyway, lesson learned: I need to eat a LOT more after I run 13 miles. Otherwise, I will be unable to function or think or stand.

After the fiasco of lunch, Thumper walked me back to the hotel where I fell asleep for a good hour or two. While we were there, Becca and Mom were at the parks with the kids. It was lovely of them to take the kids and I so much appreciated it. I really needed the rest, apparently. That evening, Thumper and I went to dinner at Steakhouse 55 - which is an uber fancy restaurant inside the Disneyland Hotel.  So, basically, mom and Becca had the kids ALLLLL day. After dinner, we headed back to the park for some more fun in the sun...er...dark. Still, it was fun for all of us.


The next day was our last full day at the parks. We spent much time around the parks, getting photos taken for our potential Christmas cards. There are so many awesome photo ops at Disneyland (as if you didn't know that)... and we were able to catch up with some friends who had just arrived at the park that day. Todd and Julie met us at the Golden Horseshoe, took some photos with Pooh and Friends, and then watched our kids as we went on a few rides. Talk about a gift! We weren't expecting that, but it was a lovely surprise. They also went on a few rides with us.







In the evening, we went out for ice cream while Mom and Becca went to Steakhouse 55.



Then we all watched World of Color - the holiday edition.  That was a really awesome show.

After that, we said goodnight to the parks and hit the hay.

Our last day at the parks was a brief time of hitting up our last favorite rides again and eating cookies the size of my son's face.

Mom and Becca left close to the same time we did. We hit the road, headed home and made it back by early morning the following day.

Just to finish off the trip, here are a few of our family pictures that we liked that didn't make the Christmas Card. :)

All of us sporting our racing attire




Once we returned home, life stayed busy as we prepared for Thanksgiving and all the activities that surround it. We went to the grocery store and I just had to take this picture of Elsie getting such a kick out of pushing her feet into Cade's head as he tried to push the cart. Don't worry, he was laughing too.

Grandpa came over to visit and I snapped this adorable picture.

On Thanksgiving, we didn't have much planned, so we had lunch at Pacific Ridge - Thumper's work - and then drove to the homes of friends that we know who'd had a rough year and gave them all cookies. It was a nice way to give back and bless those we love and be thankful for the ability to do that.

That night, we went to my mom's house and had our traditional turkey sandwiches while we watched "White Christmas" and I taught Elsie the ways of the black Friday ads.

The next morning, bright and early, Thumper and I did our annual Black Friday shopping mad dash. Although we go for the crowds, we refuse to go on Thanksgiving, so by the time we got to the stores, most of the crowds had died down. That's ok, we still had an enjoyable time being together.


That weekend, we got our Christmas tree. I like to get it as early as possible, so I was pretty excited to get that taken care of. Cade was an excellent helper and he looked like a little grown up with his hands in his pockets as he walked to help pick out the tree.



Once we found our tree, we carried it back and while Thumper loaded it on top of the car, Cade and I got hot chocolate and candy canes and hung out by the bonfire. 


Not much else happened in November, other than I got to see Mamma Mia with my mom and sisters.


And Cade went to his second official birthday party where he received a goody bag - and although I have no pictures from the festivities, I did take a picture of me with the birthday boy's gorgeous mom and my lovely friend, Tiffanie.


DECEMBER

Per the norm of December festivities, we started the month off with putting up Christmas decorations. Cade and Elsie loved the Christmas lights.


And after about a week of having the tree in the house, we finally got it decorated - although most of the ornaments were at Cade's eye level and it was a bit clumpy. Cade had a very good time helping to decorate the tree...and Elsie had a good time helping to remove the decorations as quickly as they were put on. ;)


One night, my mom had my niece and nephews over for the night, so they all came over and we watched the live action Peter Pan. It was a little too long, but sitting with the glow of the Christmas lights, the smell of pizza and popcorn and old familiar songs that I remember listening to when I was little made it worth including in this blog. 


One day, I got a lovely little gift from "Santa" (aka my wonderful sister, Rachel) to make my day brighter. She knows me well - sparkles, chocolate, Disney and pictures. I was in Heaven. 


As per the norm, most of December was spent doing the traditional Christmas activities and outings. This year we did a few new things like going to StorybookLand in Albany with Grandpa. That was a really neat little set up and so much fun.




Our own little Christopher Robin

Halfway through the month, Thumper celebrated his birthday by doing a holiday half marathon ON his birthday.

Here he is wearing his holiday half shirt and opening the present Cade got for him.
And then we all celebrated by going to Oregon Garden's Christmas at the Garden.





Cade's favorite song to sing for Christmas time - and beyond is Jingle Bells, with his own made-up words in the middle.

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Also sometime before Christmas, we drove around and looked at Keizer Lights, which was fun and a little hectic. We let the kids sit in the very back with me while we ate and daddy drove. That made for an adventure and a lot of "sit on your rear" "don't stand up - look! how pretty! no, don't stand up!" But, it was still loads of fun.



Besides all the normal Christmas festivities, we also celebrated my nephew, Gabriel, turning 10 years old. I remember holding him when he was first born. Wow. Hard to believe it's been 10 years. He is turning into a fine young man. He is caring, compassionate, empathetic, loving, protective and entertaining. I am incredibly grateful for him. 


Also throughout the month of December, my worship pastor and I (with the help of my mom) put on little vignette skits for the Christmas season at our church. The video isn't very well done, and the beginning of the first scene starts in the middle of it, but here it is for those who might be interested.



And then Christmas Eve came. Christmas Eve is always full of activities and adventures for me and my sister, Becca, as we get to play Santa's little elves. This year was no different. We started off in the morning, went to lunch with my mom and Thumper's dad and then went our separate ways until the Candlelight Service at church. 


Becca and Josh (her husband) went with us to the candlelight service and it was lovely. We sat in the balcony, which I'd only ever done once, but I'm fairly certain I will forever do that on Christmas Eve from now on. It was, indeed, a beautiful, peaceful scene. 


After the Christmas Eve service, we rushed back over to my mom's house to have Christmas with the majority of our family. My mom made superhero capes for all the kids, which they all loved.


And although lots of fun was had, this is the only picture I'm posting on here for now. Just know that we had a very good time.

After the Christmas festivities had ended with the fam, Becca and I headed out for our midnight madness Christmas shopping tradition.

Why the midnight madness Christmas shopping when we already went out earlier, you ask? Well, it's a tradition. The year my dad passed away, Becca and I came to the realization around 10pm ON Christmas Eve that there wouldn't be anybody to make up a stocking for Mom, so, being the amazing daughters that we were, we got dressed and headed to the store. Only to find that every store was closed. Except Walgreens. So, Walgreens got our business. That was the biggest highlight of the holiday season for both of us, so we keep the tradition alive. And, although we now do the majority of our shopping in the morning on Christmas Eve, we always have to make our "midnight" run to Walgreens. However as we've gotten older, the "midnight" run has also gotten earlier. Oh well, the tradition lives on...


One of the best things about our trips to Walgreens is the conversations, the laughs and the stories we come away with. Here was a favorite from this year.

Becca was looking at something and turned to see me with a horrendous look on my face. She said "oh dear, what!" And came over to see what it was. I managed to snap this picture of her having the same face I did when I saw these. You can't really tell what it is, but it's basically like a little tiny couch coil that you use to remove hair. The picture even shows someone using it in their nose. OUCH! So, as we were talking about how painful and awful and terrible this product was, we see this guy in some sweatpants, a tight stained, ripped shirt over his beer belly and a untamed beard come over to us and say "I gotta see what you girls are saying is so painful." So, we showed him. He struck up a conversation about how they aren't that bad - probably better than waxing and then said he had bought some at a garage sale and then had his wife remove his back hair with it!!!! Yeah...try getting that image out of your head. It might be easier for you than it was for us. Either way, we walked away laughing hysterically (inwardly of course), happy to have another story for our Christmas Eve Midnight Madness Run arsenal.


Christmas morning was filled with lots of joy.

We opened our stockings


And then opened presents and played with our kids. Cade had specifically asked for a watch that lit up, so he got one. He was quite happy with it.


Elsie is ALL girl, so she was quite pleased with the necklace that she got.


After all presented had been opened and played with for a while, we went on a Christmas morning family fun run. And, although it was cold, it was fun. I got to wear all my new running gear - so that made it even more fun for me.


After our run, we had breakfast over at my mom's house and then headed to my Grandma's for Christmas dinner with family.

Here are the kids with two of their very favoritest toys from Christmas:

Elsie got a stroller for her baby doll. She pushes that stroller with great pride
Cade got Disney Infinity 2.0 for Christmas, so he's been enjoying playing that A LOT with daddy
New Year's Eve brought more fun for our family as we headed over to my mom's for an impromptu game night with Becca and Josh. Again, much fun was had by all.



We may not have made it until midnight, but we had a dang good time just the same. 

To finish off, here are some other photos from other December happenings

My lovely friend Joni came over for a visit and although I was so very tired, she was willing to take a rest with us while she was there. True friendship, I tell ya.
Elsie has decided that her favorite thing to do is torment her brother. And pushing is her way of showing him affection.

Cade got a ukulele for Christmas from his grandpa

This was such a cute picture of Elsie...and Cade totally photobombed...
 This was a favorite game throughout the month of December: rolling a ball for Elsie to go "retrieve" and having someone hide behind the chair. She LOVED it.


Cade - reliving his youth
First picture-proof cuddle...or body slam?
Our house is always full of dance parties. Here is one such party.



How many superheroes do you see? There are 4. Captain America, Green Lantern, Batman and Superman. This boy is my rockstar.
I ADORE this picture. It's Elsie dancing around the living room. Her favorite thing to do right now.

*PHEW* If you stuck with this all the way to the end, congratulations. You made it. It wasn't probably as fascinating as it was for me, although it may have taken you just as long to read it as it did for me to write it. But I hope you enjoyed it just the same. :)