Friday, December 31, 2010

A Pink Christmas

Christmas Eve night turned out to be awesome.  Let me explain Mom met Stephanie in her breast cancer support group.  Stephanie is a young Mom with a 4 and 1 year old.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer early this year and has gone through chemo and radiation.  Stephanie lives in the Fall Creek neighborhood but I don't know her personally.  I have kept up with her through my Mom.  My Mom takes her to doc appointments and cooks for her family.  As always when you hear stories like this you assume someone or some group is taking care of them. 

It was just after Thanksgiving when my Mom was giving me an update on Steph when I decided I should ask, "is anyone helping her?".  Of course, people here and there, but there was no organized effort.  So I told my Mom that we needed to do something and the plan was in action. 

We set up a CareCalendar for her and have meals already scheduled for her twice a week through March.  And it's as if God was putting Team Stephanie in motion because a few days before Christmas she got test results back showing that the cancer had spread to her lungs.  Although I don't know Steph well, we have been praying for her every day and this news was heartbreaking. 

So my Mom organized a team to decorate her neighborhood in pink so that Christmas morning she would have a surprise from Santa too.  At 10:00pm Christmas Eve about 25 people, most who do not know Stephanie, gathered for prayer and decorating in the rain and cold.  The only way to describe that night was like the excitement your kids have Christmas morning when they realize Santa came and brought presents.  We were all so excited.  My brother, my Mom, Doug and I and my dear friend Laura and her au pair hung signs and balloons in all the yards while the others decorated her house and tied pink ribbons throughout the neighborhood.  Then at 5:00am the next morning Doug and my Mom and I went back out to fill her yard with more pink balloons. 

Stephanie said when her Mom told her to look out the front door, her 4 year old, Garrett said "Mom how did Santa do all that so fast?"  She said they all cried and later her and her husband went walking through the neighborhood to see it all.  They ran into several neighbors who told fun stories of the previous night. 

This is what Christmas is all about.  Please pray for Stephanie and her family.  And next time you hear of someone in need, take it upon yourself to help!  Don't assume someone else is doing it!  I have learned my lesson and I wished I would have put Team Stephanie into action sooner.  Thank you to all the wonderful families in Fall Creek who are helping Stephanie's family with meals, childcare or carpooling.  What a blessing to live in a neighborhood with such caring people. 

I love these pics that Steph took on Christmas morning...
And this is the picture I have in my mind at all times when I'm praying for her.  These are her little ones who I know are fighting with her!!
So many people are praying!  Please pray with us!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Matt is loving his vacation!

So Matt is having the best vacation.  Uncle Jay called with lots of exciting things to do.  On Sunday the fun started with a trip to Baseball USA to meet Hunter Pence.  Doug convinced Matt that Hunter was his favorite player (instead of Lance since he bailed on the Stros) and it seemed to work.  Matt was pumped!
Then the boys were off to Rockport for a fishing trip.  I'm not sure really who had more fun, Matt, Dad or Uncle Jay.  Sounds like they had a blast and Matt loved that it was just the guys and they could "do whatever they wanted".  To make things better they caught tons of fish!  Matt even caught several!
I am still not sure how Matt managed to stay on a boat with no sides and not fall off!  I'm so glad you guys had fun.  If anyone needs a guide in Rockport, Doug said Tim was awesome! 

Good thing Matt has tons of energy because when they got back Monday night it was time to rest and get ready for baseball camp.  Last minute Uncle Jay said Matt could go to baseball camp on Tues and Wed.  As usual he loved it.  He tried so hard to keep up with those older boys.  I am always so proud at his level of determination.  It amazes me and I'm thankful he gives it his all! 

Thanks Uncle Jay for such a great week! 

Merry Christmas Take I

The kids had their Christmas program at school and it was pretty funny really.  We rushed from ballet to make it and while most kids were all decked out in whatever sort of attire they were supposed to wear, we were just happy to be there on time with something sort of appropriate. 

Marlie's class went first.  Yes, that is a "halo" on her head in case you're wondering.  Marlie was front and center and did she put on a show!  Someone told them in practice that they had to sing loud so the people in the back of the church could hear them and she practically screamed all the songs.  Her face had a happy/mad/angry look to it.  Everyone was laughing and we got lots of funny comments afterwards. 
For those who have heard her talk about her boyfriend Hayden...this is the man!
Since Matt is 5 now, he is a little too cool for these things already.  He did go through the motions but not with near as much spunk as his little sister or as much as he had last year.  I noticed most of the other boys had the same expression on their faces..."do I really have to do this?".  And he was a Shepard but I'm sure by the fancy costume which consisted of an over sized brown shirt and some old sandals from Hawaii you can tell!
The kids had their class parties and again I played the running back and forth game.  I timed it all horribly and managed to miss both of them opening their gifts.  Oh well, they didn't seem to mind because they know so many other parents that were there too.  I didn't get any good pics at Marlie's party.  Probably because they are 3 and getting a good picture with her friends is like trying to herd cats.  But I got a few cute ones at Matt's.  Here's a pic of Matt and Hannah giving Ms. Marchesani a book they made for her.  It was a cute photo album with a monogrammed "M" on the front.  Inside they drew pictures for her and also put dessert recipes and gift cards.  She loved it and they were SO excited to give it to her.  FYI...when asked if he had a girlfriend this Christmas Matt would respond "yes" and said it was Hannah.  Hannah and Hayden are brother and sister.  Hmm...a double wedding could save us money :) AND we like their parents!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Marlie's First Recital

Marlie has had a lot of "firsts" this year but this one tops them all.  She had her first recital! The girls did 2 dances and Marlie knew the steps to both without any help.  I wish I could post the video on the blog but I need to learn how to cut it shorter and I haven't gotten that far yet!  She was so excited and did great.  She smiled and wasn't scared or shy at all!  It probably helped the her friend Avery was with her.  These two girls are adorable.  And yes...I had to fight tears for the performance.  Silly, but I have dreamt all my life of having a little girl to do these things with and it is more than a dream come true.  It's a huge blessing from above. 
Of all the pictures I think Marlie was most excited to take one with Miss Jasmine her teacher! 

Afterwards we headed back to the school for the Gingerbread Extravaganza that Melissa worked like crazy putting together to raise money for the Annual Fund.  She did an amazing job and the kids had so much fun decorating gingerbread houses.  I didn't get a shot of the room all decorated but it sort of looked like the Gaylord Texan it was so nice!
And here's the kids with the Great American Cookie who was one of the event sponsors.  Thank you to Melissa and Joel, all the parent volunteers and our sponsors for helping with this event!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas in Grapevine

Rewind back to the weekend of Dec 3rd.  We headed up to Grapevine, TX with the Wellmann's, the LaBorde's, the Kade's, the Patton's, the Molloy's and the Nieland's for a Christmas adventure.  We stayed at the Gaylord Texan where there were numerous Christmas activities for the kids.  The hotel was decorated just beautifully and we had such a GREAT time!
We were the first to arrive so the kids started taking part of all the activities.  We started with Rudolph's Reindeer round-up where we had to search for all the reindeer in the hotel using our secret decoder.
Then it was off to elf-yourself where we pretended to turn into elves and help in Santa's workshop!
The Kade's and Molloy's arrived and the kids were excited.  We toured the hotel with them, saw Santa and had a nice dinner on "the riverwalk" in the hotel. They were so excited that it was hard to get a decent picture!
I love this one with Ashdin kissing Marlie.  For the record I think she kissed him first.  Still teaching the "play hard to get" tactic.   
Everyone arrived later and the girls had "girls night out" once the kids were in bed.  At this point I'd like to tell some crazy story that involves dancing on tables and carrying someone back to their room, but let's be honest...we are all working Moms and way too tired to put forth that much effort.  So we had drinks and desserts at the coffee shop overlooking the beautiful atrium.  It was so fun and relaxing! 

Saturday we had a big day planned.  We were at the ICE! exhibit at 9:00am!!  It was amazing.  The theme this year was A Charlie Brown Christmas.  I don't think the kids appreciated it as much as the adults but they loved the ice slides.  It was 9 degrees in there so needless to say Marlie was not too happy with her multiple jackets and the cold.  She didn't get much sleep the night before because she spent most of the night kicking and punching me (which is why our kids never sleep with us at home!).  She would not be happy that I'm posting these pictures of her, but looking back it was kind of funny.  I think she was the only frumpy one of the bunch though and I was proud of all the other kids for being good sports! 
By the time our family came out Coach Dan already had hot chocolate waiting for the kids! We had to warm up because then it was off to the SNOW! exhibit.  The kids had so much fun tubing down the hills.  I would say this was probably the highlight of the weekend for them. I didn't get great pictures because it was dark, but you can get the idea!
After a nice lunch and a little nap it was time to get the kiddos in their PJ's for what we were most excited about...a trip on the Polar Express to the North Pole!  The kids were pumped and I think we adults were too.  We had a quick bite to eat on Main street which had tons of wonderful restaurants and shops.  We didn't have time to shop but did manage to find a cupcake place with amazing cupcakes.  

This was our attempt to get all the kids together for a picture but as you can see we failed miserably.  I think all the Patton kids are missing as well as Ashdin and Daniel. 
The kids were ready!  We gathered in a large tent before boarding the train and the kids got to all go on stage and sing.  Avery ran right to the front.  You can see Marlie, Brady and Daniel on the far right and I think the boys are somewhere in the back.  They sang their hearts out!
Then it was time for the Daddy Dance-off and we managed to get them to pick Coach Dan to put on the stage.  He was awesome and a great sport and ended up winning!! Surely Doug will put the video on YouTube. He is the one in the middle - not in PJs.  I really don't think the adults are supposed to wear PJs. 
So we boarded the train and well...were pretty disappointed.  There was a man trying to get everyone to sing Christmas carols who was as excited as my kids are about eating squash.  There was no Polar Express story or even an attempt at a makeshift North Pole.  But we had to laugh about it all and the kids still thought it was very cool!  They did get to see Santa and were very excited about that! 
The guys had "guys night out" that night and I'm not sure what exactly happened.  Apparently "what happens at the Gaylord Texan stays at the Gaylord Texan".  But they looked pretty good the next morning at Breakfast with Charlie Brown.
Breakfast with Charlie Brown was good because the food was amazing!  The kids loved the chocolate fountain and I loved pretty much everything else they served.  It was the perfect ending to a great weekend.
Thank you to Melissa for coming up with the idea to take a trip there and for all our amazing friends for coming with us and sharing in the fun.  I still can't believe how good the kids were and how easy it was coordinating 30 people.  We will have to do this again.  Marlie keeps asking when we're going back!