Sunday, December 26, 2010

School Holidays

Oliver's school does a great job of celebrating diversity. One day of Chanukah his teacher invited me to come teach a Chanukah lesson (mostly a fun game of dreidel!). They also hosted a parade of holidays. Each classroom represented a different winter holiday and the parents stayed while the children paraded around the playground.

Oliver's classroom drew Christmas and the kids were adorable in their tree hats singing Jingle Bells every few paces.
Oliver, A Very Happy Tree

The School Representing...

Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah...

I was thrilled this year that Chanukah for Oliver and Ava was not all about the gifts (come next year, we'll see if this is still true). Oliver absolutely loved "lighting" his wooden menorah with the wooden candle flames every night and singing the prayers. He also enjoyed giving gifts to others!

We were lucky to spend several of the nights among friends as well as a few cozy nights at home exploring the new toys. We spent the first night with friends at our house.

Easily the Biggest Hit of Chanukah - Gammy and Paw-Paw Gave the Kids a Bouncy House

Oliver is a Big Fan of Ava's Chew-Chew Train Plate Set

A Little Help....Believe it or Not Oliver Asked Ava for Help Opening his Gift. Very Sweet!

Chanukah Party at Anat and Rotem's

Ah, the sign of a good Chanukah!

Kids Giving to Kids

The Saturday after Thanksgiving there is an annual parade in town for operation Blue Santa. The idea is that all the kids who come bring a toy for other children in need during the holiday season. It was a very fun parade and touching to see the huge trucks and floats full of gifts for children who would otherwise go without. Jon and I have decided to make it an annual tradition to attend when we stay in town for Thanksgiving.

The kids enjoyed the event thoroughly....maybe next year :)

Back to School

In November, one of Jon's buddies from college got married. We went to the wedding which was in Lafayette, IN - the sister city to West Lafayette where Purdue University is located.

We flew in and out of the Windy City.
Jon Sampling a Taste of His Town

We got to see some friends and family there as well as visit some tourist destinations like Navy Pier, Shed Aquarium and the Children's Museum.

Gammy and Paw-Paw met us in Lafayette to visit during the short weekend. They watched the kids during the wedding ceremony and picked them up from the reception so Mommy and Daddy could enjoy some late night dancing. It was wonderful!

At the Wedding

We are all Wimpy at Heart

Cousin Maddie loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. So when we found out Jeff Kinney and the purple bus were coming to Austin to sign his new book, we thought we would get Maddie a copy.

There was a cool release party too! We got to hear Mr. Kinney speak as well as the actors from the Wimpy Kid movies. Zoowee was a fun time.

Recovery Trip

Paw-Paw had his second knee replaced in September and decided to spend some time here "recovering". Aunt Jen and cousin Chase accompanied him on the trip and we did our best to pack in the schedule hindering most chances of R and R...but we had fun!

We went to the library, the gym, Gymboree class, out to eat several name it. One weekend day, we happened upon an opening of Panda Express with free food and give-aways. Then we went on to the Kookie Cookie Festival where we made aprons, playdough, watched a magician and sampled/judged 15 different cookies.

Ava Approved of the Day's Activities

The cousins had a great time playing together. We got used to hanging out together, playing, bathing and doing bedtime routines. By the end of the trip they were all best buddies:

Holding Hands in the Car

Halloween parts 3-7....

And then...

Oliver decided he wanted to be a wagon. I have no idea where he got the idea but he was pretty insistent. Since going to the store and buying a wagon costume seemed a little out of the question, we improvised a little and made a costume.

Oliver Showing Off his Costume

We took the contraption to the Princess and Trolls Tea Party at the library the day before Halloween:

Ava switched it up too - A Rams Cheerleader

Then, we hit the fall festival in our neighborhood:

Ava and Daddy Napped this one Out...But Ollie and Mommy had a Blast!

Later that night, we went to the Round Rock Halloween Party where we entered the costume contest.
I still think we were robbed of a prize!

The next day was Halloween. We hit the Malloween event before tackling the neighborhood:
Wagon and Spider

Then wrapped up the super busy weekend with neighborhood trick-or-treating and a stash of candy that is still going strong as we approach the new year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Halloween 1 and 2!

I had a great plan this year for Halloween. Oliver was going to be spider man and Ava a spider. So for our first two Halloween events, the plan went swimmingly. Oliver was Spiderman in his school parade and both kids dressed up for a Halloween party at Emma's house.

Ollie's Class at his School Parade

Sweet Berry Farm Fall Festival

There is a farm in nearby Marble Falls which we love to visit, called Sweet Berry Farms. We held our bake sale for Share our Strength there last spring, visit every year to pick strawberries and blackberries and never miss their fall festival. The place is great!

This year we organized a group to go and celebrated Aunt Jen's birthday there (sans Aunt Jen unfortunately, but we were thinking of ya!).

We decorated pumpkins:

Played on the Haystacks:

Fed the goats:

Went on a hayride (apparently there was something much more interesting to look at than the camera...Mommy missed it!):

Navigated the hedge maze to ring the bell in the center:
And enjoyed a strawberry popsicle:

We had an awesome day!

Time to Make the Donuts

Krispee Kreme offers a family night once a week where kids can decorate a donut and make a craft. Now some responsible parents might say giving kids donuts right before bed is a bad idea...but then again nobody ever accused me of being overly responsible.

I think the Kid Looks More Delicious than the Donut...Numnumnum

All Star Decorating Team

Waco Zoo

Before Annie left town, we caught a few extra play dates. One of them was to the Waco Zoo with Renee and her youngest son, Ryan.

Livi, Oliver and Ryan Hangin' with our Komodo Dragon Friend

Ava and Oliver Playing on the Musical Playground by the Orangutans

Moments later Oliver got a bee sting. He took it like a champ though and was a-ok.

Apparently Mommy only took decent pictures of the human animals at the zoo....oh well, they are cuter anyway:)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The State Fair

Jon has always wanted to go to the Texas State Fair. With all the great festivals in Austin, we were sure this would be an uber-festival to remember. So, we packed up for the fair's final weekend, and headed to Dallas.

When we arrived in Dallas, we went to a theme restaurant called the Magical Mystery something where we were served a smoking blue potion by Ted (from Bill and Ted's Great Adventure). The food was mediocre but the experience was fun.

Everyone except Oliver (who I am convinced could sleep through a rock concert) had a pretty sleepless night, compliments of Miss Ava. So in the morning, the kids and Mommy headed out for a little breakfast and exploring while Daddy slept in. We found a cute little breakfast place and then played for a little while at the mall near our hotel.

Then it was off to the fair. We ate funny fried foods, shopped, perused the rides and games and watched shows (lots of cars and some animals). It wasn't the uber-festival we had hoped for but it made for a nice day anyway.

The Kids Enjoying the Indoor Sandbox at The Fair

Farewell to Nate and Annie

Our good friends, Nate and Annie, and their children Olivia and Casey decided to leave Austin for Harrisburg, PA. The sad news is they are not here (though I am willing to visit them not only for their friendship but also for their proximity to Hershey Pennsylvania...Annie says the whole city smells like chocolate!).

We got together with a couple other friends to throw a going away bash. The party was fun, though the goodbyes were not.

Fly In

The neighborhood across the street has a landing strip in it and most of the residents own planes. They host a fly in once a year and we are lucky enough to have friends who invite us. It is tons of fun to see all the planes taking off and landing. Mr. Marc even let Oliver check out his plane up close!

Oliver and Marc's Daughter, Haley, Ready for Take-off


In October, Oliver started swim lessons with Miss Elaina. He is doing a great job and seems to really enjoy it! Pretty soon he will be swimming like a fish!

A Turkey

Jon and I went bowling on one of our dates. I was having a horrible game but ended up with a turkey in the tenth frame...yeah don't look at the final score though!


On Labor Day, we hosted a small gathering for friends in the afternoon. In the evening we dressed in our sports gear and headed to Chic-Fil-A for free chicken sandwiches. We were representing St. Louis....

Weekend in San Antonio

As you might have noticed, we like to vacation. Long trips away, short jaunts in Texas, you name it and we are up for it. So when Jon found a weekend getaway deal to San Antonio, we said sign us up! The weekend included a 2 night hotel stay on the river walk, tickets to a taste of San Antonio restaurant, the botanical gardens, a walking river walk tour, the art museum and boat ride tour on the river walk.

Ava Checking Out the View
Walkin' the River Walk

Playing in the Fountain at the Botanical Gardens

Couldn't Miss Visiting the San Antonio Children's Museum

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ava turns 1, for real!

Ava's birthday party was a few days before her real birthday. On the actual day we also had some Ava-specific fun. We went to the library, took a mid-day Amy's ice cream break and played at Gymboree before heading home for dinner and birthday cake.

Library Story Time

Now that is a cake face!