I headed down to see my family before Christmas like I do every year, and left the day after school got out. We had such a relaxing and FUN time! We headed to the River Walk one night and it was AWESOME. The boys LOVED riding in the river boat and listening to all the cool facts and history about San Antonio and the River Walk...the weather was perfect and the night was capped off with Mexican food!
Look at my good-lookin' parents and kids!
And my pretty sister too!
There is Casa Rio, with the colored unbrellas...it's my favorite place to eat on the river...
All of us on the boat! Thank goodness for my long arms...everyone fit in this pic!
Pics from all the lights on the river...
And we couldn't leave before stopping to get a pic of the Alamo!
One of the things me and Michelle did was put together this owl puzzle for Grandma. I got some puzzle glue and it worked! I had never glued a puzzle before! Grandma loves puzzles, and these colors and this painting of an owl was so pretty that I couldn't resist. This thing wasn't easy either. My mom and sister found a frame for it and Grandma LOVED IT!
The boys and I drove back home to Scott on Christmas Eve. We unpacked, showered and got dressed, and headed to the candlelight service at our church. It was beautiful, and even better, Amy and Jeremy and their crew came with us! We grabbed dinner afterwards! I loved seeing the Howards! What a great Christmas Eve!
Another Christmas Eve in the books! And the first one in our new house! Santa came before we went to bed...
Austin came in our room at 5:15AM. Seriously. We told him to get his behind back to bed until at least 7. ALL THREE BOYS walked into our room at 6:37am and said they couldn't stand it anymore. Apparently, Austin felt that waking up the entire brotherhood would work. It did. This was Tyler at 11am, on the way to Scott's parent's house, crashed.
The boy's school pics finally came! When I got Tyler's I noticed that the bruise on his forehead has been edited off. I contacted the photographer and she said that I was the very first person to ever ask for the UNedited version WITH a bruise, on my kid's school pic. HA! The fact of the matter is, it's just who Tyler IS. And I didn't want it erased. He got it playing football with his brothers. And if you know Tyler, you know that since he was about 1, he has walked around with a LOT of forehead bruises. It's just how he rolls!
Oh, and no. I didn't NOT ask the boys to all wear football jerseys. It just happened. I am so serious.
Every year, the 3rd grade at the elementary school does a "Wax Museum". Basically, they have to pick a famous, and dead, person, and dress up like them and learn about them. Parents walk around and push a red button (red marker colored on the back of their hand) and they are supposed to tell you all about themselves. Austin came home after getting the assignment and was all "hey mom, I wanna be someone who was REALLY REALLY rich"...typical Austin! He is our entrepenuer! Anywho, he picked Steve Jobs. And this was totally awesome because it was the BEST costume EVER. So easy!
After this project, it was time for Christmas parties! GAH! December is OFF THE CHARTS when it comes to my stress-meter. Cody, as usual, was SO HAPPY to see me, and I had Tyler with me too, who had just gotten done with HIS Christmas party! Of course, Cody asked people to scoot over so he could add a spot for his little brother...so sweet...that's my Cody!
The class made marshmellow snowmen!
Austin was pretty laid back about Tyler being there too thank goodness. He told him to come hang out with him...
Cody, after school one of these days that last week before Christmas...he got a calendar from his teacher, and apparently, his school day was exhausting...
The first thing the boys did for Christmas break that night while I was packing to leave for my parent's, was build a ping-pong table tent...
Scott had a game that week and this season has been so rough that here is what he looked like when they won a game! LOL! And the best part about it was, they won in front of a pretty much empty crowd. After finals, everyone hits the road, so winter break games are usually pretty quiet. I love this photo...he is one intense dude! But he rarely gets this emotional or animated during a game...OR IN PUBLIC. EVER. One of his guys hit a winning shot.
He wasn't the only one that was pumped!
Welp, looks like I finally gave in. Yep. This 'giving in' stuff doesn't happen very often so I hope my boys appreciated it. HA!
Okay so, back this past summer when we babysat Tugg the Goldendoodle, the main reason I agreed to it was because I had been hearing about these 'hypoallergenic' dogs, and wanted to see if it was legit, and if in fact, the boys would not have an allergic reaction. Well, it's true. Tugg not only did not shed a hair, none of the boys had any significant issues. Austin's eyes got itchy when he would roll around with Tugg and then proceed to stick his fingers around his eyes, but other than that, nothing. Still, I wasn't sold on getting a dog for all the other regular dog reasons. I KNOW I will be the one that ends up caring for the dang thing, no matter how enthusiastic the boys are about helping. I ain't no fool! And I kinda liked life without a dog to be honest. BUT, all that being said, when Tugg was around (we babysat him another time in September) the boys were extremely happy. They did everything for the dog, and Tyler, specifically, just thrived. Right away he was calmer, he acted older and more mature, he wasn't grumpy in the morning, he was nurturing and helpful...I had never really seen him THAT content. So, it stuck in my head, and the boys, INCLUDING MY HUSBAND, never lost steam in the area of begging. It was constant. For months. And I thought they would forget about a dog or that it would wear off, but they didn't. And they were constantly begging for a puppy. I talked to 3 vets about the hypoallergenic dog issue, and they all said the same thing. Yes the fact that the dogs don't shed is great and is better for allergy issues. BUT, the dander is also a problem...the skin and saliva causes allergies too. So, they all said the smaller the dog, the better, because there is just LESS dander, and if we bathed the dog more often than normal, say once a week or every other week, then the boys really should be fine.
So, I continued to look and have an open mind about the whole puppy thing, but honestly, every time we looked for one, none met ALL our requirements. And we had a lot. Here they were:
2. Small (like under 10 pounds full-grown).
3. A GIRL (this was my dealbreaker).
4. Dark-colored, not white or tan (this was Scott's dealbreaker...huh?).
5. Less than 10 weeks old.
6. Found locally or within driving distance.
7. Less than $500. PERIOD.
8. A great disposition...calm and laid back.
When you look at these, you see what I mean. Nearly impossible to find. Sooooo, I would keep looking, and every time, puppies were short at least one of these requirements. Scott kept telling me to lighten up about it, but I seriously believed that IF we were supposed to get a dog, and IF one met all these requirements, then I would find it. And if I couldn't, then we weren't supposed to have one.
All of a sudden, the week of Austin's birthday, I was poking around online for puppies because the boys were asleep and I hadn't looked in a while, and I came across a website that had never popped up before. Basically, this couple with small children, inherited this dog business from the man's dad, and they had raised puppies all their life. They have good, long relationships with just a few breeders that loved to breed dogs, but don't want to bother with selling them. So, when the puppies are ready at about 8 weeks old, they go to this family. They have a house on a few acres of land, they have young kids that are around all the puppies all the time, and on the weekends, they bring their available puppies up to a place called Trader's Village (it's only open on the weekends). Trader's Village is basically a HUGE, organized, well-run market. There are TONS of vendors, and you can pretty much find anything. It is PACKED every weekend. And get this, it is literally down the highway from us. This family owned the ONLY air conditioned/heated building in the Village, had been there for over 20 years, and were the only vendors allowed to bring in pets. On their website, they had plenty of puppies that were mixed, hypoallergenic breeds, and were ADORABLE. There were actually about 3 puppies that I really liked, and ALL met the requirements! So this was my plan...to go to this place to 'pet puppies' when Austin asked to do that on his birthday. And I was totally prepared to buy one if it felt right.
When we got there, a couple of the ones that I had seen online and liked, were already sold. But there was Holly, a "Morkie", which is a Maltese and Yorkie mix (BOTH non-shedding breeds) just sleeping peacefully on her siblings. I asked to see her (really hoping it was not her brother), and she was just so sweet. All the boys held her and LOVED HER. We looked at, played with, and held 2 others, but they were just not right. One of them was way too hyper, and the other was white (remember Scott's dealbreaker?). I have ALWAYS gone for the hyper dogs, and they have always been too crazy. I was determined to have a calmer dog this time, since we already have enough chaos. At this point I started to get excited and I attempted to call Scott but he didn't answer. The boys started begging to take her home, and I told them that unless I got a hold of their dad and talked with him about it, that it was a no. I sent Scott pics of Holly and the boys holding her. And I tried calling him again. While I continued to wait for Scott to call back, the boys played with other puppies. I continued to watch Holly for almost 2 hours. I watched her with her brothers, I watched her when she played on the floor outside of her crate, I watched her eat, I watched her sleep, I watched her interact with all of the kids...and she stayed calm and sweet through it all. Not once did I ever see her do something that was a red flag. At this point, Scott STILL had not answered, and it was getting late. I took this as a sign that it was not meant to be, and told the boys we needed to head out. I finally got 3 very sad and upset boys out the door, and was walking to the car, when my phone rang. IT WAS SCOTT. He had been at practice, and when it was done and he picked up his phone to check it, he got so excited, and he was going crazy about all the pictures of Holly. He basically told me to turn around and go get her right that minute because she was adorable and perfect. So, we did. And that was that!
Here is just another reason why I thought Holly was awesome...this is Jay, the owner, clipping her nails, and LOOK AT HER! She's just chillin'! HA!
It was COLD outside so I stuck her in my coat on the walk to the car...
Cody won the rock-paper-scissor battle to hold her in the car...
We went straight to Petco to just get essentials only, because I was so tired, and just wanted to get her home and set up so I could relax and watch Scott's game on TV. I knew that I wanted to crate train her (never done it before) and potty pad train her (never done that either), so we got her a crate, a potty pad holder and pads, and some toys. Jay had already given us food and vitamins for her, thank goodness! In the car, the boys started brainstorming names and oh my goodness, some were doosies! They really wanted to name her something Christmas-y since it was December, and some of the suggestions were ones like 'Jingle', 'Kris-Kringle', 'Poinsettia', 'Chrysanthemum' (that was Cody and I don't even know how he knows that word), 'Miss Claus', 'Elfy'...they were all disasterous. HAHAHA!
The boys were so happy when they went to bed. Austin told me, "Mom, this is the best birthday ever...I will never forget it. It's been such an awesome day."
Later that night (or the next night...I can't remember) my mom started texting me name suggestions that were Christmas-y, and one of them was 'Holly Bell'...I thought it was perfect! The boys loved it too!
I put Holly in her crate in our room and went to bed, but she woke up after about 2 hours crying to go pee. I took her to the potty pad and she went! Then we just waited up for Scott to get home because the bus was close...this was us at about 2am:
Scott just couldn't wait to meet her, and once he got home scooped her up right away. He loves her!
She really did well in her crate for the first night. I really want to do this crate training thing right because all the dogs that I have seen that are trained this way are awesome. My sister crate-trained her dog, so I will be calling her often!
Tyler walks around and holds her like a baby...she loves it!
She pretty much adores Scott...but really, I am her favorite...
She loves loves loves her bed...
And, she REALLY loves the dang tree skirt. She is not gonna know what to do when it goes away after the tree is down!
Holly sleeps...and sleeps and sleeps. And no matter what you do, you cannot wake her up. She will fall alseep sitting up! I mean, she's looking at you one minute, and snoring the next. And she loves to sleep on her back. It's hilairous.
We were playing tug-of-war with a hand rag, and she decided to plop down and take a nap all of a sudden.
Here is her first time in the grass! SHE LOVES being outside! It's too bad our backyard is a wreck, but as soon as the pool is done, we will puppy-proof our yard to make it safe so she can run free.
I swear she's a puppy/cat/baby...
Collar and name tag!
I KNOW I say this every year BUT, I seriously cannot believe I have a 9-year-old. Austin's birthday was harder for me this year. I got emotional about it and shed a few tears after taking these pics of him sleeping his last sleep as an 8-year-old. I always go through the scenario of the night before he was born and the morning that I was in labor with him, and it just seems like a whole different lifetime ago. I love this boy. He has matured and grown so much, and is simply good at the core...he has a pure spirit. He really gets it, and is growing up to be pretty fantastic. I am so lucky to be his mom...
He REALLY loves Monsters U, and is into wanting to try different apps for his iPod lately...
Of course, he BEGGED for Rainbow Loom...OBSESSED.
We Facetimed Scott in. It was the first kid-birthday he has ever missed. He didn't like it at all, but he had an away game. I set the laptop on the table and it was like he was there! Well, kind of...
Austin has ALWAYS loved cards and card tricks!
Cool basketball stuff!
Cody cracks me up. He is SO SCOTT in this pic...just hangin' out in his undies talkin' with dad...
Austin's birthday was a great day. I tried to make it as special as I could since it fell on a Saturday and his dad was gone. So, after presents and pancakes, we headed up to the church for rehearsal for the Christmas program. Right after that, Austin wanted to eat lunch at his favorite place, Pie Five Pizza. Trisha, Jinni and Ty, and Christian all met us there to eat lunch with the birthday boy. The other thing Austin asked to do was to go and 'pet puppies'. The boys have been missing Tugg, and have been BEGGING for a dog for Christmas, but I was standing my ground and saying no. Little did they know that I had been researching puppies. I will elaborate on this in the very next post about Holly. So, when we got done with lunch, we headed to Trader's Village to 'pet puppies'. And then we bought one and brought it home. Again, more on that next!
On Sunday, Scott got home around 1am. Earlier that week, we told Austin that he could ask 3 of his buddies to meet us up at the bowling alley on Sunday. Connor, Jacob and Kailen showed up and they all bowled 2 intense games...they were hilarious and had a blast. We ordered a few pizzas at the bowling alley for dinner, and then went home. PERFECT, and UNstressful!
Austin asked for a 'brownie cake with a side of vanilla ice cream' for his birthday, and he got it!
I love this sweet boy!
This year, for the first time since we had kids, decorating for Christmas was awesome for me. No furniture had to be moved out of our dang den to make room for a tree. I didn't feel like the walls were closing in either. There was plenty of room. Ahhhhhhhhh. After playing doctor on our tree, with a magical tool called 'Light Keeper Pro', that fixed all the lights on our pre-lit tree (our LAST one. I will never buy a pre-lit again), things were coming together in this house...
I even tried a few things I have been waiting to do off Pinterest! This being one of them! It worked like a champ! NAILED IT!
I even went and found a 6ft. tree on sale at Target for the boys for upstairs. We still had their little 3ft. one, but it could no longer handle all the boy's ornaments. They did almost all the decorating on the tree themselves! I just had to help with the very top! I also went and bought some garland to wrap on the banisters. Our banisters and railings are so pretty, and they looked lonely. So I grabbed some extra multi-colored lights and went to town. Scott and the boys LOVED IT. Our house looked peaceful and magical at night when we turned off the lights and turned on the Christmas lights. And we will ALWAYS go multi-colored. It's classic and awesome...
Since I used to tape all my cards on the front door that faced our den in the old house, I had to find a new way to display our cards. Thanks again Pinterest. I love you. Just a few Command hooks, ribbon and clothespins later and WALA! Christmas cards are my fav! They completely covered this wall by the end of the month...I think there were 7 rows. And I couldn't reach any more, so I started taping them along the bar. I LOVE CHRISTMAS CARDS.
I love having older boys that can now help me with manual labor...Christmas card labor...
We sat like this on the couch every night. Years ago, Scott bought a rotating tree stand at Garden Ridge Pottery. It very slowly spins our tree 360 degrees. It is one of the best things he has ever purchased. We can sit on the couch and watch the tree turn, and look at ALL the ornaments!
"Prairie Lights" used to be A LONG WAY AWAY from us and we hadn't gone in forever because of the drive. Now, we live 10 minutes away from it, and for $20 a car load, it's totally worth driving through! It's right along Joe Pool Lake, which we can walk to from our house, and it's AWESOME!
We had to pay someone to put our lights up this year now that we have a 2-story, and neither of us is good with heights. I found a GREAT DEAL and the guy and his crew came out and did this in a matter of hours! We went with red and white lights just like our old house! It was really cool how they got the lights on our stone. They used some time of glue and stuck them straight on! It doesn't damage the house and is weather proof! Pretty dang cool if you ask me. I always wondered how they did that!
I left our tree up for longer than I ever had. It was great! And Scott tried to convince me to keep the multi-colored lights on the banisters all year long but I told him no...HA!
This fall our neighbors asked us for a referral for the pool company we used to design our pool (the pool that never happened because Scott got nervous after losing 5 games right after we moved into this house last year). They quickly contacted our pool guy and began the process of getting a pool. Not long after that, our pool guy contacted us, and wanted to know if we were ever interested in finally starting on ours...he offered discounts for building it in the winter, referring our neighbors, and mostly, building at the exact same time as our neighbor. It was way more cost effective for them because they could build two pools at once using the same crew and equipment on the same days. So, I talked it over with Scott again, and it was too worth it NOT to build it! I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED ABOUT THIS SUMMER. FINALLY. I have ALWAYS wanted one, and this one is a year and a half in the making! I won't even have to leave home this summer! YAY!
Here it is...VERY simple. No hot tub. Shallow play pool on one end, diving board with deep end on the other. There is a little 'tanning ledge' with 6 inches of water that juts out in between both. This is where you will see me, looking back and forth like a dang lifeguard.
We got ICED IN!!! A major system came in, and put a layer of ice about 3 inches thick over EVERYTHING. And here in Texas, that means we SHUT DOWN. People all over the country laugh at us, but they don't understand. It's NOT snow. IT IS ICE. Like, we could walk over the top of our lawn and it wouldn't even crack. Seriously.
It started on Thursday night, so the boys didn't have school on Friday, and all of UTA was shut down too. Scott couldn't have practice either. He couldn't even get out of our driveway. Saturday, it was WORSE, because anything that slightly melted the day before, refroze over night, and the ice was thicker. Scott's game against Weber St. on Saturday got canceled. Sunday, for the first time in it's history, our church service was canceled. Scott was finally able to have practice that evening, but school was canceled for the boys on Monday again, and the university was shut down again as well. All of this was awesome on Thursday night, Friday and Saturday. We all relaxed, stayed in our pjs all day, played outside, and baked whatever we could. We watched movies, played board games...it was awesome. The boys were so happy that Scott was stuck, and quite frankly, so was Scott. We even got to use our sledding disks! They were given to us by my parents who still had them from when they lived in Reno. They brought them to us in October, and I think I even said, "Sure, we'll take them, but I don't know if we will ever be able to use them." All the neighbors stood in line to use those suckers! HA!
By Sunday, I had had enough...LOL! The boys were starting to fight, and we were running out of food. When school was canceled on Monday, I groaned. Scott saved me on Monday by taking the boys to practice with him so I could go to the store, restock the food supply and have some peace!
Scott actually had a home game on his birthday, but we fit in a homemade ice cream cake, complete with Double Fudge Brownie topped with Christmas Cookie Ice Cream!
For his birthday present I took the boys to the Men's Warehouse and let them each pick a tie for him. Cody picked his super quick, Austin was done shortly after, and Tyler...well, he took a good 30 minutes! I loved all the ones they picked, and Scott thought it was pretty cool too! He drew numbers to decide which one would be worn 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
From left to right: Austin, Cody, Tyler
We WON his birthday game (WHEW!), the crowd sang Happy Birthday to him, and the Alumni Association presented him with a gift!
...a UTA coffee mug! Weird thing was, he really needed a new one! HA!
Happy birthday to the man I love and the best dad to my boys that I could ask for!