Thursday, February 4, 2016

Christmas Dates

I wanted to try something new for Christmas this year. In addition to spoiling my kids rotten with manufactured junk (because who can resist?), I wanted to give them each an experience. I wanted to give them the gift of time. So Jeff and I brainstormed and came up with three unique activities that reflected our children's individual personalities and gave them each a date for Christmas. Jeff got to go with the boys, and I went with the girls. (Well, actually, Jeff just went with Logan. Sawyer is still a little young to appreciate it, and he gets more one-on-one time than anybody!)

First up was Savannah. I gave her the choice of a sewing date or a pedicure date. She chose pedicures. This girl loves being pampered!

She was so excited the whole time. She kept saying the funniest things that reminded me of how much I love her and what great friends we will be, even long after she "needs" me. The nail salon we went to was called Happy Nail Salon. They were so sweet and we had the place to ourselves which was great. It was a mother/daughter duo that did our pedicures, which seemed appropriate. As we left, Savannah said, "Mom, my nails really are happy!"

She also told me, multiple times, that this was the BEST. DAY. EVER. (Go, Mom.)

After our nail appointment, I let her choose a restaurant for lunch. She chose Pei Wei. This has become a favorite of my kids ever since they discovered they can order plain noodles with teriyaki sauce on the side. Boring, but, hey-- they are happy, I am happy, we all win. As we sat down to wait for our food, Savannah said, "Tummy, are you ready for paradise?"

Then, when we were about to leave, I asked if she was finished, and she said, "I dunno. I have to talk to my tummy about that." See what I mean? This girl is a clown.

Logan and Jeff had their date a few days later. They both got much needed hair cuts, then ate at Firehouse subs, and went to see Star Wars together. I will admit I was awfully jealous of this date. I wanted to see Star Wars so bad, but I also wanted my boys to have their date without mom tagging along. In the end, I sneaked away with Meg to see it later that night, so I didn't have to sacrifice all that much. Logan LOVED it. Really really loved it. Since then, we have purchased the first six episodes, and he has watched them all multiple times. I think I have been trumped as the biggest Star Wars fan in our house.

Isabelle had to wait a week for her date. I took her after the kids went back to school, and Sawyer tagged along. Isabelle never complained about having her side kick along for the ride, and shared every aspect of her date with him. First up: Chick-fil-a for lunch and some play time. I'm pretty sure my kids love this place just for their fruit cups.

After lunch we went to Build-a-Bear. Whoever invented this concept is brilliant. Such a money hole. But my kids love it. And I love it. So we keep coming back for more. All the kids have a bear from Build-a-Bear except for Izzy. She has a penguin and a My Little Pony, but it's the classic bears that the kids always play with. So I insisted that she make a bear this time.

I had Savannah take some pictures of us after we got home with her new bear, Lucy. I sure love this cutie pie...

... and her love of silly faces.

These dates were so much fun and such a great opportunity to connect with our kids. I ,embarrassingly, was a little nervous to fill so much time with just one child at a time. I am used to being pulled so many different directions at home that I never need to make small talk with my own family. Did I even know how? I should NOT have worried! My children are fascinating, one-of-a-kind little people, and I love talking and listening to them! I only wish I did it more often. I will be looking for ways to go on mommy/daddy dates again soon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Since we were not doing any long distance traveling over the Christmas break, we contemplated a short road trip to one of the nearby big cities. We considered Kansas City, Dallas, St. Louis and Nashville, but ultimately decided a stay-cation would be just as fun without any time in the car. James and Katy were on board, so Katy and I mapped out the week with plenty of fun planned for each day. I gave my camera a break that week so I don't have much proof, but believe me-- we played hard. Here is the run-down of our staycation week:

1. Bowling at Fast Lanes.
2. Swimming at the new Bentonville Rec Center. Water was a little cold for my liking, but not a bad pool and something our community had been lacking.
3. Hotel Transylvania 2 at the second-run theater in Springdale.
4. Big Rub BBQ at the newly remodeled Walmart in Lowell. We're still bummed that Big Rub doesn't have a food truck in the square anymore, but glad they set up shop somewhere else so we can still get our mouth watering burnt ends tacos.
5. Chuck E Cheese. Santa put tokens in the kids stockings so we put them to good use one morning during a house showing.
6. Cousin sleepovers. One night we had all the cousins, and another night they all went to James and Katy's. It honestly doesn't matter much what we do-- as long as we are with cousins, the kids are happy!
7. Date night while the kids were having their cousin sleepover.
8 Ringing in the new year with the Willardsons. Highlights included Pie Face, the saran wrap game, and hanging out with my birthday buddy who turned one at midnight!
9. Touring the Frank Lloyd Wright house at Crystal Bridges.

10. Triple date to Ozark Escape in Fayetteville. We nearly broke the record and solved the room in 27 minutes. I'd never heard of escape rooms before, but love the idea now that we've tried it. Basically you get put in a room with your group and presented with a mystery of some sort. Working together, you have a set amount of time to try and solve the mystery and "escape" the room. We were solving puzzles, uprooting furniture, turning on blowdryers, cracking safes, and more. It was really a lot of fun-- I kind of wish we hadn't solved it quite so fast!

It was a jam packed staycation and we had a blast every day. We were so lucky to be able to stay right at home and have so much family to play with. We miss you all!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Christmas Eve and Morning

Our Christmas started the night before with our traditional Christmas jammie exchange. Since Mom and Dad really didn't need new pajamas, Dad's gift was a pair of his old pjs wrapped up (but with a new University of Arkansas t-shirt, to remember Arkansas by when we left) and Mom got a little-bit-frumpy-but-super-fuzzy robe that is totally amazing.

Christmas morning started bright and early. I couldn't convince the kids to sleep in so I could have better lighting for my pictures. I guess that excuse only works once.

The older kids dove into their stockings while we waited for Sawyer to wake up. Go figure this was the one morning he actually slept in! He'd been sick that week and had had a long night, so we didn't want to wake him up any sooner than he was ready to.

Logan was super excited to find Jurassic World in his stocking, and Jeff was excited to finally have a child old enough to enjoy the same movies he does.

Logan, Savannah and Izzy each got a remote control car. We had a blast playing with them while we waited for Sawyer. They were surprisingly durable and could drive right over each other!

Still waiting. Logan dove right into his Minecraft magazine...

...while Savannah tested out her jumbo pen.


Sawyer scored the big gift this year-- a ride on ATV! Too bad it was missing a piece and he didn't get to actually use it until a week after Christmas. It made a nice seat in the meantime, and he opened almost all his presents sitting on it. Logan was tasked with filming our morning and putting it together in a montage. It's nice to have electronically savvy kids!

This picture is before the real mess started, but it captures the chaotic joy that is everything Christmas morning should be. Spoiling kids is fun. :)

It was a wonderful Christmas and the perfect way to celebrate our last days in Arkansas. A few days later we took all the decorations down and started packing in earnest. But for this one day, everything was perfect.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Christmas Week - Gingerbread Houses

In early December, I bought a few gingerbread house kits from the store. I didn't have very high expectations for them, but figured at some point I'd want to hit the easy button on holiday entertainment and these would hit the spot. Christmas Eve seemed like the right time to pull them out.

As it turns out, I was impressed with the quality of the kits. The frosting was stiff, the candy decorations colorful and assorted, and, as the kids quickly discovered, the taste wasn't bad, either! Here Isabelle is taste testing the frosting. Every 10 seconds.

Logan and Savannah shared the house, while Izzy and Sawyer decorated the train. Logan lost interest after about 10 minutes, but Savannah dedicated herself to her cottage until every inch was decorated. she even made super cute snowmen out of peppermint balls that I failed to get a good picture of.

Sawyer was a good helper, too. He found that if he put the candy in his mouth first, then on the train, it stuck better. At least, I think that was his strategy.

I almost edited out Isabelle's milk mustache, but decided not to. She has that mustache nearly half of her life. My kids love their milk!

Finished! Merry Christmas Eve!

Christmas Week - Downtown Square

By Wednesday, we needed some new ideas as the natives were all getting very restless waiting for Santa. The weather that week was gorgeous, with highs in the 60's. We decided to head downtown for some fun on the square. We had meant to head straight to the museum, but the weather was so nice that we played outside for a good half hour first.

This may look like some sort of cult ritual, but they were actually protecting a trinket from the evil Logan.

Of course we had to play on the cute vintage toys outside the five and dime...

... and check out the miniature Christmas village inside. Gotta love the irony of the "Please do not touch" sign right in front of Sawyer's nose as he climbs under the caution tape and grabs the display.

This was a better vantage and provided more protection for the villagers.

After the museum, we ducked into the brand new downtown Neighborhood Market to pick up some pampering toiletries to contribute to Meg's last minute Christmas service idea. Our contributions were added to others and used to stuff some gently used stockings full of goodies and necessities for a women and children's shelter. It was just what we needed to remind us to think outside of ourselves in the final hours before Christmas.

Christmas Week - High Rise

The Monday before Christmas finally arrived. The kids were out of school, and we had no agenda other than to play and relax and sleep in as late as the kids would let us. But by mid-Monday morning, I realized we needed some planning to help us to pass the five painful days until Christmas! We started by taking advantage of family night at High Rise. The $35 family pass was a steal compared to their normal prices, which I could never bring myself to pay. That is why this was the first time we had checked it out since they opened about 18 months ago. Having the other Pendletons there made it even more fun. Everyone and every age loved it! Our only regret was not arriving early to allow for time to check in. Our hour session was cut short by about 15 minutes of line time. Not cool.

Savannah rocked this ribbon swing. Future circus career?

Isabelle took her normal cautious approach to all things adventurous. Her jumps were small, but her smiles were big.

Sawyer had a blast! He is about the age Isabelle was when we first got our backyard trampoline. At the time, none of our kids had the coordination to jump on it. I didn't even realize that was a learned skill until I saw them try! But Sawyer has been jumping since he could walk and is a pro on the trampoline. He and Jack especially loved this inclined mat that doubled as an awesome slide.