Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cousin Weekend

We worked out a kid swap with our other Arkansas Pendletons, and after enjoying our kidless getaway to OKC, we had a few fun days with two extra cousins in the house! We lucked out that it was First Friday that weekend, and not just any First Friday, Toyland! All the Walmart vendors come set up booths and showcase all their toys for the holiday season, often with generous samples. I knew the crowds would be crazy, but I also knew the kids would love it so we hit it up right after school. It was just as crazy as I anticipate, but the line of cars coming in as we left told me we had come at the right time!

Afterwards it was like Christmas morning as the kids spread out their loot and built their different kits. Each of the six kids ended up with a Lego set, and I'm pretty sure Logan built at least four of them. Jack patiently waited until Logan had finished his so he could get help.

Jeff helped Izzy with her set. In our family, I am usually the designated Lego builder because I love them and Jeff... not so much. So the fact the Jeff helped Isabelle build her tiger, well, that's just true love right there.

Avery is a child after my own heart. Without any prompting whatsoever, she laid all her toys out neatly on display. Why don't any of my kids do this?

They stayed through the weekend, so we had a Sunday morning together where we were all frantically getting ready for church. (Luckily it was regional conference so we didn't have our normal 8 am church time!) I walked into the girls' room to find Savannah and Avery getting each other dressed. It was a sweet peak into the future. I know these cousins will help get each other through the teenage years in once piece!

It was such a pleasant weekend with our built in friends/cousins! The kids were so happy just to be together and it made our job easy.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Halloween Recap 2015

Halloween was a treat this year. The kids are prime age for dress-up holidays, and it tends to rub off on us adults. I have to pick and choose which costumes will take time and energy, and which will be single stop purchases in order to maintain balance and sanity during October. This year, Isabelle and Savannah got the time consuming costumes, while the boys got the easy button. Luckily, everyone was content with this arrangement.

Savannah and Isabelle were Inside Out characters. I bought two different Joy costumes for Savannah, hated them both, and ended up returning them and making my own. She loved her wig and wore it all day at school on Friday and most of Halloween.

Isabelle, on the other hand, did not enjoy her wig at all. I searched high and low for the right wig, finally settled on an adult wig that was way too long, and cut it to the right length. After all that, I barely got it on her long enough to take these pictures. By Halloween, she didn't even want to be Disgust anymore, and asked if she could be a princess instead.

But she does make a pretty good Disgust face. ;)

As for Logan's costume, I sent him into a Halloween store with Jeff and told them to come out with a costume. What did he pick? A ninja. Again. No matter that he was a ninja two years ago. It strikes me as strange, since he normally doesn't have much of a ninja fetish. But he was happy, and I didn't have to sew a thing. Win-win!

And Sawyer was our 3rd Nemo. Everybody has worn this costume except for Savannah, and it still looks great! Disney may be many things, but it certainly knows how to make quality products. Sawyer doesn't know who Nemo is, but loved being a fishy.

We trick or treated in James and Katy's neighborhood since their houses are a little closer together and more accessible. All the Smith posterity met at their house for some pre-trick-or-treating soup, then we hit the streets.

James and Katy mandated that all must come in costume, so Jeff and I threw together this Big Bang Theory duo and came as Sheldon and Amy.

Someone was sneaking treats as he went.

Our whole sugar filled crew (minus Henry)!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

FHE in the Leaves

Neither Jeff nor I are very good about planning activities for Family Home Evening in advance. Usually we just look around, see what's available, and wing a lesson based on something that is relevant to our family at that time. A few weeks ago, as we were doing our usual hurry-and-think-of-something routine, Jeff had a stroke of brilliance. "Everyone outside! We are building a leaf pile!"

It was getting dark fast, so these pictures are blurry and grainy, but I think that actually represents the evening perfectly. I can practically hear the laughter just by looking at them. It was an FHE for the books!

Puppy Talk

Sawyer is a late talker. But recently he's started picking up new words on a daily basis and I'm loving it. So when he puts on his puppy towel and starts "woof, woof"-ing, I give him pretty much whatever he wants.

Coming Home

Every afternoon, after picking up the kids from school, I stop at the bottom of the driveway and ask one of them to check the mail for me. Without fail, they all jump out, fight over who gets to pick up the mail, then waive their car rider rights in order to walk up our super steep driveway. It's ridiculous and usually makes me roll my eyes, but then I smile because they are so happy to come home all together.

Bath Time Humor


Sarcasm must be genetic.

Autumn Cookout in Devil's Den

We didn't get out hiking nearly as much this year as we had hoped, so we jumped at the chance to end our fair weather season at the same place we began it: Devil's Den. When we came in the spring, the trees were in the middle of blossoming and spring was in the air. This time our views were of changing leaves and fading brush. Nate and Laurel met us there with their dutch oven masterpieces (I love camping with them!) and we explored for a bit then settled in for a delicious outdoor dinner.

I love this area. It's nature's playground at it's best. We had planned to do a longer hike as well, but the days were getting short and we were racing daylight, so we skipped the hike and just played in the riverbed. The kids were thrilled. (They still haven't caught the hiking bug.)

It appears my camera only had eyes for Savannah and Sawyer that day. I'm glad we at least got a family picture to prove everyone was there!

Nate and Laurel with their two and a half girls. I love having family nearby that share so many of our loves and hobbies!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Right Choices Pumpkin Patch

October has been absolutely gorgeous this year. Just enough cool weather to start the autumn leaves turning, but plenty of Indian summer days to make us want to be outside enjoying it all. I have been wanting to check out a pumpkin patch I'd heard lots about in Missouri, so we picked up a pizza to eat on the way and drove out on a Saturday afternoon.

The setting was unbelievable. Nestled between two small ridges, the patch was it's own valley paradise. The entrance was elevated just enough to give you panoramic views of the entire property. I had serious land envy.

We played the free games, then paid for the corn maze. We hadn't left ourselves enough time for the long maze, so we settled for the 5-minute shorter version. The maps they gave us at the entrance had a cross on the cover. Did I mention the name of this pumpkin patch is "Right Choices?" So awesome.

The patch had been a little picked over, so we headed towards to back to get a better selection. Truthfully, I feel like McGarrah's had a better patch (and is much closer), but nothing could compare to the views at Right Choices. Eventually we found our winning pumpkins, clipped them from their vines, and loaded them in the wagons. The hill at the entrance wasn't so enchanting when you had to haul 20 pounds of pumpkin up it.

We had to transfer our pumpkins from wagons to wheelbarrows, and naturally I saw that as a chance to get more pictures with a different background.

I really can't describe how beautiful this part of the country is May-November. It's something you have to see in person to really appreciate. Or maybe I just have a sweet spot for rolling hills, wooded backyards and secluded fields. I am so sad that this season is coming to an end, but luckily the holiday season keeps excitement levels high for at least a few more months.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fall Hike at Lake Fort Smith

As the weather showed hints of cooling down, I realized the entire spring and summer had passed by and we hadn't hardly done any hiking. This was unacceptable, so when the kids had a Friday off school, we headed a short ways south to explore a new lake.

The trail itself was one of the more unexciting ones we have done, but we stayed right by the lake the entire time and the leaves were on the verge of their fall glory. My favorite park of the whole day was actually the drive in. Man, it's beautiful here.

We did have one exciting moment when we came across a snake sitting in the middle of the trail. I almost stepped on it before I spotted it. In case you were wondering, Savannah is a screamer when startled.

Look at these happy hikers! Must be because the hike is over.

After we finished our hike, we let the kids play on the shore for a little bit. Logan had brought a notebook with him, and was working on some inspired lyrics for his new song.

Just before we left, Sawyer got a hold of an extra large rock and threw it in the water. I guess the weight of it was more than he anticipated, and he tumbled in right after it! It was only a couple of inches of water, but enough to drench him pretty well. He rode home in a diaper.