Tuesday, December 20, 2016

December Fun

We decided to check out a Christmas event in Port Orange that promised free stockings for kids, a visit from Santa, and snow! When we got in line to see Santa we were surprised to see a familiar face. We have a man in our ward that makes money playing Santa at this time of the year and he always comes to our ward Christmas party dressed up as Santa. I guess this was one of his paid events for the year. We have never seen him dressed up as Santa outside of church, so we felt like we knew a celebrity :) 

James is scared again of talking to Santa, so he wouldn't let go of me and was whispering in my ear what to tell Santa that he wants. He asked for a Hot Wheels bicycle. Rett asked for a race car.

All the kids were excited and waiting for the snow machine to get turned on. 

Especially this one.

James trying to catch the snow in his stocking:

Rett loved it and kept saying "Christmas dirt!!!"

Our ward has a hard time keeping consistent nursery leaders, so Anthony and I are almost always helping out in nursery on Sundays. On the first Sunday in December it was just me in there with a couple of substitutes so I asked if I could take all the new Sunbeams into sharing time and singing time for the 3rd hour. They haven't had any kind of transition preparation for primary so I really wanted to do something. Surprise, surprise, all the other kids did great and Rett was the crazy one :) Since they left nursery right before snack time Rett spent a lot of sharing time and singing time asking when it was time for snack. That boy needs his food! 

After church James helped Anthony try to assemble the old crib to see if it would work as a new quail cage. Anthony decided it would be easier to build something, but James loved figuring it out with him.

James really wanted to go to the beach after school and ride his scooter, and since we haven't been in a while, I said ok. He also brought his soccer chair and set it up on a pile of sand as a throne. There weren't very many people around, so I didn't mind leaving them while we took a walk down the beach. After about 30 minutes I glanced back and saw two people pick up James chair and scooter and start carrying them away!! I have heard of other people getting their things stolen at the beach so I thought that was what they were doing. James and I started running towards them waving our hands and yelling at them. By the time we got to them they were at the stairs to walk towards the parking lot. They said that they were just moving them away from the water because they thought it was abandoned and they didn't want it to go into the ocean (even though it was waaaaay far away from the water and the tide wasn't even coming in). I was huffing and puffing from running so hard so I didn't really say anything to them, but it was weird. She kept talking to me and telling me personal stuff, like she came to the beach because her friend died, etc... After that we just packed up our stuff and went back to the car. Strange! In the car on the way home James declared it the worst visit to the beach because he got a little burn on his hand playing in a pile of dirt he didn't realize was the leftovers of someone's fire pit and we almost got our things stolen. At least we had a good story to tell!

James had a Christmas concert at school that the entire Kindergarten had been practicing for. Once they started practicing he started getting in more trouble at school and when I talked to him about it, I finally got him to admit that he didn't like the practices and that he was nervous about performing. I told him that he didn't have to be in the performance, that we could come and support everyone and watch his friends. Then, the day before the concert he told me that he changed his mind and that he wanted to be in the concert with his class! He even agreed to wear a Christmas colored shirt (we got special permission for him to wear shorts since he won't wear long pants right now).

Rett waiting for the concert to start:

The Kindergarten kids sang three songs right at the beginning of the concert, then they went back into their classroom to watch a movie while the 1st and 2nd graders did their songs. Then they came back in to do one song with everyone. The room was very crowded and we couldn't see James very well from our seats. I had to sneak up to the front to take pictures. I was so glad I got him a light up Christmas light necklace to wear because it made it much easier to find him!

They had the lights off for some reason, so it made it much harder to see the kids. At least I can pick out James with his necklace!

James didn't really sing, just looked around and made some noises. But he didn't mess with the kids around him and run round around the stage like last year's Christmas concert, so progress!

After the concert, they took all the kids back to a classroom and parents had to come pick them up individually. James looks like he is waving at me, but he actually was trying to hit the camera so that I didn't get a picture of him. Stinker!

James and one of his friends from school came up with a game of pretending to be a train and holding hands in a line. Rett loved the idea and always joins in as the caboose. Every day when we are walking to our car, all three of them are in a line as a train. After we drop of his friend at her car, Rett and James hook back up to go to our car. I love these kids and their imaginations!

The library had a Christmas lunch for the volunteers, so Rett and I went. Rett was so excited to bring his own little backpack full of quiet toys. Now when we go somewhere, he asks, "I bring my backpack?"

For the first time ever, Anthony was home with us on the Saturday of the town's Christmas parade! We were excited to show him the fun.

Rett doesn't like the loud sirens and horns of the fire trucks, so he has us put our hands over his ears. He still tries to smile and wave, but it comes out kind of funky.

Like this:

About halfway through the parade, James was bent over on the ground picking up candy and a man dressed up like the Joker, was walking backwards, not looking ahead of him and he tripped over James! The man fell on the ground and it pushed James' head into the asphalt. We knew he was hurt when he started crying and wouldn't get up. Usually if he falls down or trips, he barely acknowledges it. Sure enough, he ended up with a big scrape and bruise on the corner of his forehead. For the rest of the parade he sat in my lap and let everyone bring candy to him. Poor guy!

Once it started purpling up and really looking bad, everyone we met would ask him what happened. We decided that James was a superhero because he tripped the villain, The Joker! James got really good at telling the story and even started acting it out whenever someone would ask. Now it is almost sad that his scrape is almost healed and gone :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Thanksgiving Activities

James' class had a Thanksgiving lunch at school and families were invited to eat with everyone. I stayed and helped out in the morning and then Anthony brought Rett to join us at lunch time. After everyone ate, the kids just ran around on the field playing games with each other and having a blast. It was so fun to see them have such a good time.

For the first time in I don't know how many years, I didn't host Thanksgiving and we decided to go to my brother's in Gainesville instead. It was amazing!!! So relaxing to not be in charge. We got to walk Daniel's dog Henry (always a highlight!) and while everything was cooking we took the boys down the road to the park. There was a fun trail that went through the woods and over a creek, so we took a walk through it. All the boys picked up walking sticks and used them to check under every rock and bush for creatures.

After the walk, the boys wanted to play on the baseball field in the red dirt and James made his new Styrofoam airplane do loops and dives. Someone had a drone flying around the park with a camera and James made sure his plane did tricks when it was near us :)

On the way home that night, we stopped at the new Bass Pro Shop in Gainesville and played with the toys. Rett reluctantly agreed to sit on Santa's lap. He said he wants "red presents" and a "race car". I tried to convince James to sit on Santa's lap so that I could get a picture of him too, but he couldn't be pulled away from the toys.

After he talked to Santa, they gave me the picture and this cool frame for it for free. Isn't that awesome! We love Bass Pro, I am so glad they are opening one in Daytona soon.

On one of Anthony's days off over the Thanksgiving weekend, he got to take the boat out and go fishing. In the afternoon, we met him at the park and got on the boat to join him. The boys were so excited!!
We didn't catch anything, but we had  a good time going fast around the channels and practicing casting. James accidentally cast his fishing line the wrong direction and it went onto land into a bunch of trees. We all had a good laugh and he said, "I guess I know not to do that anymore!"

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

New House!

We've been looking around at the houses for sale in our area for months, trying to see if there is anything out there in our price range that had what we wanted. Everything was either way out of our price range, way far away, the land was good but the house was run down or small, etc... We had almost completely decided that in order to get what we wanted we would need to build something new when this house that I noticed for sale almost a year ago dropped its price to be well within our price range! The more I looked at it, the more it felt perfect for us. It is a newly constructed farmhouse built in 2012 on almost 3 acres. It is only 4 miles from the house we live in now, so not far away from everything! It has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a floorplan that I liked. The land itself is beautiful with a lot of mature trees and it even has a small pond.

We decided to make an offer on it and after a little negotiating we got it for $10,000 less than what they were asking! Which means that our mortgage is going to be just about the same as what we are paying for rent. 

Isn't it beautiful?? I feel like it fits us.

The view from the back porch. Most of the property goes out towards the right on this picture and isn't cleared yet.

This is the aerial view of the property with the pond marked. We have so many plans for this land! Anthony wants to clear all the non-useful plants and replace them with blueberry plants, raspberry bushes, citrus, and avocado trees. We are going to build a nice big area for the tortoise, plant a huge garden and probably get ducks and fish for the pond. One of the trees already has a tree swing, so we are going to add a tire swing to the other side of it. 

The only downside to the house is that it doesn't have a garage, just a metal outbuilding and a carport. Down the road we will probably build a garage and pave the driveway but it has been so fun deciding what projects we want to do. If everything goes according to plan, we are suppose to close right after the new year. We are going to take our time moving since it is so close by and spend some time cleaning up our rental house. Our landlord has been so awesome to us the almost 6 years we have lived here that we want to leave him with a pristine house :)

Beginning of November

got a notification on Facebook that Sea World was releasing a rescued pregnant manatee at the river park down the road from us. So Rett and I went to check it out! There were a lot of people there with cameras, Florida fish and wildlife commission employees, Sea World employees, and reporters.

The truck with the manatee:

The crew lifting the manatee out of the truck. They lifted her down to the ground so that they could get measurements and pictures. It was so fun to watch her lift her nose and move around a little bit.

Then it was finally time to place her in the water! They attached a buoy to her so we were able to see where she was in the water as she swam away. So cool! 

James showing me an extra long french fry he got in his happy meal.

James' school had an open house for their STEAM program (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) and they had different stations with different science activities. They had a make your own slingshot, static electricity balloons, and this cool vortex cannon station. They put fog into the boxes so that when you hit the box, you could see the air go across the room and knock down the cups. It was James' favorite station. Currently when he goes to STEAM lab (every 5 days) they are learning how to code so that they can program robots to sing and dance to jingle bells for the Christmas program. So cool!

Toysrus advertised that they were having a special event with giveaways and toy demonstrations for the holidays, so we decided to check it out. It was a total bust! There was one toy display with a girl toy and that was it. But it was super crowded, so we stood in line for at least 15 minutes to buy the little toys I let them pick out. Then at the end they got to ride the little coin operated train, so they deemed it a success :)

James found this witches broom prop in the clearance section of dollar general and got super attached to it. For at least a week he brought it with him everywhere and would walk around "riding" it. I love that he doesn't care what other people think, he just does exactly what he wants to do.

We made our annual trip to the county fair and spent a ridiculous amount of money on the carnival rides. Now that both boys like to ride everything they can it really adds up! But with all the crowds, the noise, the smells, and the waiting in line part of me looks at it like occupational therapy for James. He did so great with all of that, it made it worth it to overpay for all the rides. 

Petting the calves. So cute!

Rett was really upset that he wasn't big enough to ride the bumper cars, he just barely missed the height cut off. Next year!

This is the only ride they went on together in the same car. I thought for sure that they would have to stop the ride in the middle of it because of their fighting. There was a horn button and Rett would NOT STOP PUSHING IT. James even said, "I can't handle it!", so during the ride James kept trying to push Rett's hand off of the button and Rett kept putting it back. Thankfully they didn't start punching each other and made it through the ride without an all out brawl. After that we made sure they had their own car :)

Rett loved this nascar ride soooooo much! He was laughing and giggling the entire time.

James wanted me to take a picture of him pretending to hold this bottle.

It finally started to cool down a little bit, so we got our fire pit out of the shed and roasted some marshmallows. James loves to roast them, but doesn't like to eat cooked marshmallows so he has the job of roasting mine. Rett doesn't like cooked marshmallows either, so he just eats them out of the bag.

Mimi and Papa came to visit and brought the boys a crazy straw building kit. James had so much fun trying out different combinations. 

I saw them on the floor like this and I started telling them to stop fighting and then I heard them laughing. They were actually playing instead of fighting!! So rare these days.

The Stake Primary hosted an 11 year old scout day camp and only 1 boy from the entire stake came! Anthony had to work, so I had to bring the boys with me. James loved the different classes they had and we actually had a good time (I was sort of dreading taking them with me for a 6+ hour event).

They had a nature scavenger hunt and we had such a great time collecting our treasures. We were able to find everything on our list, even a feather at the last minute.

They had an obstacle course that we played on for awhile.

This ramp was James' favorite part of the obstacle course. He would run and jump off it and then go back and do it again.

You were supposed to army crawl underneath these ropes, but there were a lot of sandspurs, so I didn't mind that they cheated a bit :)

The last part of the course was running back to the beginning. James kept yelling, "Run is fun!"