Monday, December 21, 2015

Year End Summary

Year End Wrap Up!

Helaman and Midland Mayor Jerry Morales
This year Helaman took and passed the written portion of his board exams, and eagerly awaits the oral portion in February. He works very hard and at the time of this blog entry is removing a record setting 10 sets of wisdom teeth in one day. He continues to hone his culinary skills at home, as there are not that many places to eat out here. Recent favorites include homemade Krispy Kreme doughnuts, a Thanksgiving fried turkey, and bagels. He puts hot sauce on everything, and has spread that habit to Elliott. We met the mayor at a Medical Society dinner.

This year on Charlotte's birthday we went to LegoLand in Carlsbad, California, and ran into some wonderful friends we knew as a young couple in Tempe, Arizona some 12 years ago. I was elected (unopposed) President of the Midland Medical Alliance, which is an organization for physician wives. We hold various social gatherings and service opportunities for members and are frequently asked to accompany hospital recruiters as they entertain potential employees' wives so we can convince them Midland is a super fun place! I've also enjoyed getting to know the great families in our neighborhood at block parties, neighborhood events and mom's night at the clubhouse once a month. In August, I went back to Dallas for a fun girls' weekend at the Gaylord Texan resort with ten friends (five of whom were pregnant!) I decided having a fall baby was not my favorite time of year, as I had to spend the largest part of the pregnancy in a very hot summer. I recommend early summer babies to anyone.
Charlotte had a big year. She was baptized in April, and started a new school in the fall. She had some problems hearing, so we had her checked and ended up getting tubes in her ears as well as an adenoid removal surgery. She was a champ through it all. She is also the proud owner of a new pair of glasses. She loves reading, and is in the top 5 kids in her school (of all grades) in a program where you take tests based on the books you read. She continues to excel at piano lessons though it is a struggle to get up at 6 am sometimes! This year she also organized a street children's choir (complete with practices, photocopied music, schedules - the works), and recently led them on a Christmas caroling outing that everyone enjoyed.

Olivia started kindergarten this year. She has always been a big napper so I thought it would be tough for her to go to school all day, but she enjoys it and is proud of her perfect attendance and good citizen awards. She also takes early morning piano lessons, and has done gymnastics once a week. She also enjoys her art class at school and is often found drawing and crafting.

Elliott enjoys going to his school twice a week, and is usually too busy to say goodbye to me when I drop him off. He has started talking a lot, and though I can't understand all of it, his sisters can and are happy to translate. He is love with all things truck and car, happily plays with his sisters and currently charms everyone when he asks each day, "Baby Gwam are?"

Graham arrived on November 21 this year. He thought he would make the perfect anniversary gift. I was supposed to be induced early on Nov 20, but the hospital L&D was full and I wasn't able to go in until 2pm. Which was actually perfect timing, since Helaman didn't get done with his patient load for the day until 1. Labor started around 4 and progressed steadily until 1:30am when he popped out. I can't believe he was stuffed inside me. He was big then and has been growing at a good rate since. He is a sweet little guy and we are so happy to have him join us.

2015 Travel Log:

Feburary: Great Wolf Lodge in Dallas
March: Scottsdale, Arizona at the Fairmont Princess and Carlsbad, California at LegoLand
June: Dallas (Arboretum, Torchy's, temple, Northpark, OMS grad night), Buchanan Dam for family reunion
July: Cruise to St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados out of Puerto Rico.
October: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Caribbean Trip 2015

Our flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico was uneventful, and we were even able to sleep for a few hours of it after I had a short allergy attack of the variety I've been having since being pregnant this time - sick to my stomach and extreme itchiness on hands and feet. Luckily it went away after ten minutes. We arrived at about 7am and had a cab driver take us to our ship. He said he'd drop us at a nearby hotel since we wouldn't be able to board yet (boarding time was 1:30pm). So we had breakfast at Denny's and passed out on some benches on the hotel grounds. After that, Helaman said it was just .5 miles to the ship, so we set off. Unfortunately, it was a LOT farther than a half mile in the blazing sun and we ended up having to get a cab anyway. Though the cruise documents said to not arrive before 1:30, we have discovered no one reads nor heeds instructions like that. So we showed up at 11am and were able to get on, though the room was not ready. We then went to the ship library which had some very comfortable couches and again took another nap. Once the room was ready, we took much needed showers, went to a round of trivia and then to dinner. We were assigned to a lively table with another couple our age, and a family with three daughters. It was so nice to not have to prepare and clean up meals all week. A welcome variety and comedy show was that night. We wondered if the comedian stayed the whole week after doing his 30 minute show or if he got off somewhere.
Sunday morning we arrived in St. Maarten. The perfectly blue and aqua waters were straight from a postcard, and the most beautiful I've seen. We had intended to find the local LDS branch, but were not allowed off the boat until it was almost over. We took a tour around the island and stopped at a beach that planes fly right over as they land. There was a lot of air traffic for such a small island - a landing about every 5 minutes.

Monday we arrived in St. Kitts. We took a taxi down to the beach and met up with some natives to go stand up paddle boarding. It was not the best day for it, as it was really windy with some decent waves. Even the guide was falling off! That night we enjoyed an ice skating show onboard.

Tuesday we came to Antigua. We had a little speedboat take us around the island. We were with another family from Tyler, Texas and a bunch of Italians wearing what I suppose is normal Italian swimwear, meaning tight white briefs for the men! Funny. We stopped to snorkel and see starfish, then at an uninhabited island where the guides cooked up some lobster for us for lunch. The water was perfectly cool, clear and refreshing, and it was fun to tour the island by boat. That night, we went to the classic "Love and Marriage" cruise game show which was entertaining and fun.

Wednesday we got to St. Lucia, which is very lush and tropical looking compared to the other islands we had been to. We rented a car and drove down the coast (on the left side of the road - yikes). We toured a really nice resort called Jade Mountain which looked amazing with its open air rooms all overlooking the lush scenery and Piton Mountains. That night we sat on the pool deck where they were showing the movie "Insurgent."

Thursday was Barbados, where the whole island is surrounded by beautiful beaches, perfect green/agua waters and mansions. We took a catamaran trip around it and stopped to snorkel around turtles and a shipwreck. They served a nice lunch on the boat. Sitting on top of the catamaran was fun when we could get a spot in the shade! That night was a onboard scavenger hunt.

Friday we had a gloriously laid back day on the ship. We slept in, did some trivia, went from one buffet to the next, read books, caught a movie, H participated in a ping pong tourney, and we went to the farewell show with a clown and a different comedian. Since we had been in the sun all week, we stayed inside and let our skin recover. We had a balcony room this time so we got our ocean and sun fill just by sitting on our little deck.

Saturday we got our last breakfast buffet and headed out into San Juan. Since our flight was not until late afternoon, we took a tour of the area, walked around a bit, had lunch and then headed to the airport.

I'm already looking forward to our next trip - with me NOT being pregnant.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Charlotte's Baptism

We had a wonderful weekend celebrating Charlotte's baptism. First, Mom and Dad got home from their mission and were able to come out! We enjoyed some Barbie clothes sewing, kite flying, and homemade ice cream.
 I made a cake.
Grandma and Grandpa E also came for the occasion.  The baptism was wonderful.  Two other girls from the ward were also getting baptized.  Three families from the neighborhood also attended in support.  Afterward, we had a BBQ feast at our home including home smoked turkey and chicken, HEB brisket, Albertson's ham, Texas Roadhouse rolls. A true tour of Midland. We enjoyed lots of friends and family, including Steve and Kalina, who drove up from Houston!
  All of the family who came minus Grandpa E.

 The cousins had a great time together.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Year End Wrap Up

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from us!  We had a great year!  In the spring, we made it down to San Antonio to hit Sea World for the first time, and had a blast.  I am thrilled that Olivia loves big rides as much as I do.

The biggest event, of course, was Helaman's graduation from his oral surgery program.  He is legit now, and happy to have his first "real" job, though it was sad to say goodbye to our little house that treated us so well and provided so many nice memories. 

We couldn't bear to sell it so we are renting it.  We also made it down to Houston for a beach trip with the cousins.

The kids have never been to a beach before, so there is nowhere to go but up from Surfside.  We then moved to Odessa, Texas, to stay in a apartment for 6 weeks until our home was finished being built.  We enjoyed the pool there but didn't care for the highway noise, mouse houseguest and tight quarters.  We are spoiled!  We moved into our Midland house and have loved it, improving it only by adding a swingset and trampoline to take advantage of the larger backyard.

We drove to Houston for Thanksgiving to enjoy some cousin mayhem, then stopped in Austin on the way back to catch some much-missed Torchy's and a visit to the state capitol. 

Our Christmas road trip was to Phoenix!  Shortly after setting out, a semi in front of us lost its wheel which barreled into the side of my brand new van, taking off a panel and severely denting the door.  However, no one was hurt and the van was drivable.  We made it to Phoenix without further mishap - this is the new temple there.

Personal updates:

Charlotte is 7 and loves school.  She loves it so much that she comes home each day and teaches Olivia, Elliott and her doll collection what she learned, and converted the upstairs to a classroom.  She makes all 100 percents on her report cards which makes me a little nervous about the quality of the curriculum, but I think it has done good things for her confidence.  She is a great big sister, always helping with Elliott and around the house.  She also enjoys practicing the piano and performing duets with her dad, as well as scooter and bike riding around our neighborhood.

Olivia is still her spunky self.  She goes to Pre-K but is less enthused about it some days ("it's all babies there!") not realizing that the kids are her age - she is just used to hanging with her older sister.  She loves reading books with mom, playing with Barbies and antagonizing Elliott.
Elliott is still our little prince!  He is at the age where he gets into everything when you turn your back, but has such a sweet disposition and smile that you can't be mad at him for long. He loves looking at pictures of animals, but if he sees any in real life he gets very scared. He is curious about everything and gives great hugs and kisses.
Helaman and I celebrated 11 years together this year, and look forward to many more! He has been busy at work, mainly with wisdom teeth and implant cases, and looks forward to using his NetBricks membership to join the girls in big time Lego construction.  He also bought me a bike for Christmas so we can go riding together.

I am busy putting the house together (some days more than others) and this year I am determined to learn how to use Helaman's camera to document our adventures with a little more quality.  Looking forward to the year ahead!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Early Christmas!

The kids got an early Christmas gift this year when our new playset for the backyard arrived!  We're so happy to actually have the space for one now, and they have been making good use of it and really enjoying the beautiful weather we've had.

We also enjoy taking walks down to the ponds in the neighborhood where hundreds of new ducks have taken up residence lately.  They love old corn tortillas.

Other news is that this big boy is now enrolled in preschool with Olivia, allowing me a few hours a week to get things done solo.  I don't know how you parents of boys do it - lately he has just been terrorizing our home, systematically going from room to room getting everything out.