We had a wonderful time in Decatur celebrating Christmas with Aaron's family. We missed those that weren't able to make it, but we had a great time with all the kids - especially little Hogan. Doesn't he look just like a little candy cane!
We've joined in the wonderful tradition of leaving "cookies" and milk for Santa. This year, the boys decided to color their own letters/pictures and we left a brownie and a peanut butter M & M's cookie. We, of course, can never forget the reindeer. So after leaving some reindeer food on the lawn (Jack made it at preschool), we also left him a carrot.
Aaron surprised all of us by ordering new furniture. We've been planning on doing that for awhile, but just hadn't gotten around to it. With Ellie coming in April, I think Aaron decided he'd better get anything new he wanted for the house now since all of the funds will be channeled into her wardrobe! Oh - he got a new HD TV and blu-ray player too - is it bad to REALLY love stuff this much?!
Our ward Christmas party was the first Friday of the month and we had a great time. Sam was recruited at the last minute to play Joseph in the nativity and he and his friend Ashlyn made the cutest little Mary and Joseph. Jack was excited to see Santa this year again. I would say that Sam was too, but he figured out RIGHT away that his Poppy was Santa's "helper", so he didn't think he needed to sit in his lap. By the time the night was over, Jack had figured it out too - guess that's the last year for that!
We had a great time putting up our tree this year. As always, it MUST be a real tree, so the boys went with Aaron to pick one out, cut it, and bring it home. After Aaron and I got the lights on, I started unwrapping the ornaments and Aaron and the boys put them on. I don't think I hung a single ornament - what luck! Sam got to be the lucky one to put the star on this year!
Since it has now been a month since Sam's birthday party and three months since Jack's party and I still have a list of thank you notes that haven't been written, I decided to acknowledge that it probably wouldn't ever get done and post my thanks here instead. So, a big thank you to all of our friends and family who did so much to make Jack and Sam's birthdays the best they've had so far. Aaron and I never cease to be amazed at how much you guys all do for us and especially for the boys - not just on their birthdays or around the holidays, but all year round. We are so blessed to be a part of a wonderful family and an amazing group of friends. This Thanksgiving, we're thankful for you!
We had a great Halloween this year - we had two Spidermans - the good and the bad. When Jack decided he wanted to be Spiderman, Sam jumped right in and decided to be Venom. I wonder how much longer we'll be able to convince them the dress along with the same theme - maybe one more year if I'm lucky! Our day started with a trip to Daddy's office for trick-or-treating. They had both costume and door contests at Biztech this year, so Aaron and Micah went all out and built a pirate ship. They won the door contest and Micah won the costume contest (Aaron was still changing clothes during the judging, or else I'm sure he would have won!). We then moved the entire pirate ship to church and built it around the truck for trunk or treat. The kids got so much candy and our "treasure chest" of candy wasn't even half-way empty. Guess next year, we don't need to buy fifty pounds! The boys had a great time playing games at the Fall Festival at church too. I think they liked the football toss the best, but I didn't get a picture of Sam becuase he sent a spiral straight through the first time. Hopefully that aim will pay off one of these days! Just a side note - see if you can find the one or two pictures I got with Jack with his mask actually on - my little genius has such a big head that the mask wouldn't allow him to open his eyes!!
We had Sam's 6th birthday party back on the 18th at Jump Zone in Madison - what a great place! The kids had a blast and were totally worn out by the end of the day. I think the adults that decided to jump around had a great time too (myself included)! We had a terrifc crowd and a great day all together! I can't believe my first little baby is six!
Aaron took a day off of work back during fall break and we took the boys to the aquarium in Atlanta. We loved it and the boys had such a great time. My favorite - the Beluga Whales - they were amazing. I think the boys liked the whale sharks the best just because they were so big. Sam even took some of these pictures - see if you can pick out his photography skills!
Okay - so I'm going to try to get caught up today for the past few weeks (okay maybe several weeks). The baby is doing well. I'm thirteen weeks along and everything is progressing very well. The baby was a bit stubborn at yesterday's doctor appointment (it took longer than I would like to find the heartbeat), but once we did it was nice and strong and in the upper 160's. I go back on November 18th for my next check-up and we scheduled the ultrasound for December 9th. Hopefully a new doctor and new ultrasound machine will give us a better view than we had with the boys! Either way, we'll have a 4D ultrasound near the end of January, first of February, so we'll be able to verify then. Our house has been somewhat chaotic - we've been wanting to redo our floors for sometime, but we decided (Aaron and I still fuss over who's idea it was) to go ahead and repaint the whole house in the process. The kitchen is pretty much done and while the hardwoods were put down in the living room yesterday, we've had to order more for the hallway and then we'll just have to finish installing and painting all the trim. Aaron's done the largest bulk of the work, but I've done a little here and there. Next we'll tackle the three bedrooms including the study which will soon become a nursery. They'll all get new paint and carpet too. Aaron's even thinking about making us a new headboard for the master bedroom, so we'll be pretty busy from now until...well, I guess forever! All else is well - Aaron and IntelCell are doing great. There was a fantastic article in the Fall 2008 Huntsville R & D magazine about Cellulosix (the company Aaron took to this year's Alabama Launchpad competition), but they also discussed IntelCell a little and got a hair to do another article. So, Aaron will be on the cover of the Winter 2008 edition (January, I think). When the Huntsville Times got wind of that, they called for a story too. All this press has got to be good! I'm so proud! Okay - I'll do my best to get all of our recent pics up and try to stay caught up - we'll see how that goes!
Grandchild number 24 (on Aaron's side), Hogan Arthur Richardson, arrived on September 7, 2008 to proud parents Betsy and Michael. This is number 3 for them - Hattie is now 7 and Clark is 2 1/2. He's the sweetest little thing and we had such a great time visiting them. Of course, Sam and Jack woke up every person on the floor, but what else is new. Happy Birthday baby Hogan and welcome to the family! On a side note - how great does Aaron look - of course, he decides to get small right as I'm getting ready to get fat!
Aaron and I got to see the baby today for the first time. He/she is doing very well with a whopping 176 beats per minute heartrate and a nice strong spine. Of course, that's all we could make out, but the technician and the doctor both said that everything looks great. A bonus - there's only one! My official 40-week due date is April 30th, but since we're trying to go for a size and labor closer to Sam's than Jack's (a.k.a. short and easy at two weeks early with a six pounder versus induced and hard at one week early with an injured eight pounder!), Dr. Callison marked me down for Wednesday, April 15th - that's two weeks and a day early, and on a Wednesday to make sure she's not out of the office or in surgery. If I don't go on my own by that day, she'll help me out! Man - do I love my doctor! A tax break on tax day - that's a happy thing!
Jack started preschool last Tuesday, September 9th. His first day was actually supposed to be Thursday, September 4th, but he woke up that morning with a nasty fever, so I had to keep him home. He absolutely loves preschool and is never ready to leave when I go to pick him up. The first day, I believe his comment was - "I not go with you, Mommy - I live at preschool!" That's my boy!
My very first blog post ever was last August when Aaron and I spent the weekend at the Gaylord Opryland hotel in Nashville to see Alton Brown and the celebrity chef series. We're big fans of Alton Brown (Good East, Feasting on Asphalt, and now Feasting on Waves on the food network - he also hosts Iron Chef America) and had such a great time last year that we went again this year on August 16th. We had a fantastic view from our room this year (thanks babe for the upgrade!) and couldn't stop laughing at the seminar - he's a riot! So nice to be away, just the two of us - even if it is just once a year!
I'm finally getting around to downloading all the pictures and video of Jack's birthday. We had a great time at Chuck E. Cheese (I actually didn't mind it that much!) and Jack was, as always, spoiled rotten. Thanks to everybody that attended - he had the best time!
This song was introduced to me by my niece, Brittany, and it's amazing! There are a few different versions including the original artist's version on YouTube.com. There's also one with three missionaries playing ukelele's which could be my favorite, but this one had to be tops since it had pictures of the Savior. Hope you like!
The potty training is finished! I'm one of those wait until they're begging me to potty train kinda girls and I did just that with Jack. Sure enough, Tuesday morning he woke up and said, "Mommy, I ready to use the potty." So, after two days of wearing pull-ups and keeping them dry, we're in underwear. Not a single accident so far! I'm so proud of my little man - here he is with his completed potty chart. Notice the piece of gum in his mouth - that's his favorite "I used the potty" treat!
My dad, a.k.a. Papa Coons, was in the area last week for a Tennessee Fire Federation conference (is that right, Dad?) and we got to go up to Shelbyville, TN to meet him for dinner last Friday night. Aaron and I loaded up with my brother Michael and SIL Karrie and took all the boys for a visit. We had a great time and it was so great to see Dad.
Friday was Sam's first day of Kindergarten! We did a half-day of pre-K last year, so he was already used to the routine, but this is the first time he's been away for the whole day. I'll admit, it was weird, but so quiet. Evidently, my second child can entertain himself very well and mostly very quietly without his brother - go figure! We had a good day and Sam absolutely loves school and loves Mrs. Amanda, his teacher (isn't she pretty!). My big boy is growing up too fast!
A) Four places that I go to over and over: Gym, Publix, Church, Target
B) Four people who e-mail me (regularly): Dad, Sandy, Brandie (posts from her blog), Losing it with Jillian Michaels - does this count?!
C) Four places I love to eat: Macaroni Grill, Conner's, I Love Sushi, Jason's Deli
D) Four places I would rather be right now: At the beach, asleep, back at the hotel in Niagara Falls - it was amazing!, with Aaron
E) Four tv shows I watch all the time: Jeopardy, Jon and Kate Plus 8, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Iron Chef America - there are a ton more that haven't started back up yet (Heroes, The Unit, Grey's Anatomy, The Biggest Loser, American Idol - thank heaven's for DVR)!)
Okay - so as some of you may know, I'm an absolute "Wicked" fanatic! When we were in Niagara Falls, we walked past a conference center on the Canada side and low and behold, a big poster of Wicked was displayed! At first, I freaked at the thought that the tour was right there and I didn't even know it - luckily, or unluckily, it had ended the weekend before. So, I still didn't get to see it, but at least I wasn't close but no cigar either! At any rate, I decided to check for upcoming productions online and it's going to be in Atlanta in October and Birmingham in April! Not sure which one we're going to yet, but Aaron (when I woke him from his sleep to ask) said, sure, we can go! Looking around a little more, I found this quiz you can take to see if you're more like Glinda or more like Elphaba. This is the response - somewhat accurate, although I think we all know that I don't ALWAYS know when to keep my opinions to myself!
Go to http://quiz.ivillage.co.uk/cgi-bin/uk_politics/tests/witch.pl if you want to take the quiz yourself! Happy witch hunting!
You're a bit good, and a bit wicked!
You are a mixture of good witch Glinda, and wicked witch Elphaba. You may have strong opinions, but you know when to keep them to yourself, and try to avoid conflict unless it is absolutely necessary. You like a night out with a big group of friends, and you are often fun and gregarious, but you never try to overshadow anyone. You can be just as happy sitting in a corner chatting to a good pal as you are in the centre of the dance floor prancing round your handbag!
While we were in Palmyra, we saw this - a vending machine with live bait! Evidently it's pretty common here - they said you can find one anywhere you would normally see a vending machine - even sometimes at car dealers! And they say Alabamians are rednecks!
The last stop in our trip was Kirtland, OH. This is also an important place in our church history and served as a gathering place for the Saints after they left Palmyra. We saw the schoolhouse, the Newell K. Whitney house and store, the Johnson Inn, and then finally, the temple which was the first temple built after the organization of the church. All in all, we had a great, although tiring, trip. We finished out the day in Cincinnati, OH and then drove home last Friday. I would definitely recommend any of these sites for potential trips - we hope to someday go back. Even if we don't, we have some memories that we'll never forget. We got a ton of video too (Aaron bought us a new camera for our anniversary), and if I figure out how to get it in any time soon, I'll upload those too!
Our second stop on our vacation was Niagara Falls. We spent most of the first day on the American side of the falls at the State Park. We started out with a movie on the legends that surround the falls and then we went straight for the Maid of the Mist boat ride. We actually rode out in a boat to the bottom of the falls. The views were all just amazing. We also hit the observation tower, ALL the gift shops, and then headed over to the Cave of the Winds. We rode down under the falls in an elevator and then walked out onto a deck that walked along side and somewhat underneath the Bridal Veil part of the American Falls. The upper part is called the Hurricane Deck and we all got drenched! Aaron and Sam loved it the best - we had to basically pry Sam away. What an experience - standing under Niagara Falls! We got back on the trolley that toured all around the State Park and headed to our hotel. We stay at the Sheraton on the Canadian side of the falls, so after making it through customs, we got checked in and went up to our room that had an amazing view of the falls too! Our dinner reservations were at the Fallsview restaurant on the floor below us, also with a view of the falls! Man! Finally, we ended the day up in our room watching fireworks over the Horseshoe falls (closer to the Canadian side). We rounded out our Niagara trip at the Aquarium and Discovery Center. We were then on our way to Kirtland, OH!
We were so excited to finally take a family vacation this year - the first time the four of us have had an actual vacation together (aside from visits to family). Our first stop was Palmyra, NY. This is a very special place in our church history and we had a great time. We started at the Joseph Smith Farm and there toured the log cabin, the frame home (80% original!), the threshing barn, the cooper shop, and the sacred grove. Our second day, we visited the Book of Mormon publication site, the Palmyra temple and then drove out to the Peter Whitmer farm where the church was organized in 1830. We finished up with the Hill Cumorah Pageant - amazing! We've got pictures at each of these places and too many to describe individually. There is one picture where the boys are standing by the rail at the temple looking out over the sacred grove - I think it's my favorite. What a blessing to be in this wonderful place where many important events in the history of the church took place!