Sunday, March 15, 2020

A New Decade!

Happy 2020! 

We kicked off the New Year by moving the girls into the same bedroom and setting up bunk beds! 

We inherited the awesome beds from Dan's sister, brother-in-law, and their daughters who recently moved to Montana. Thanks so much, guys!!  The girls absolutely love their new beds, but Emma had mixed emotions about sharing a room with her little sister and no longer having a "safe place" to hide her toys.  Hallie, however, was thrilled on all levels! Haha! It look a solid week for them to learn to fall asleep within a reasonable amount of time, which is why we made the change while they were on Christmas break. Hallie still struggles with her newfound freedom at night and in the very early morning, since this is her first time out of her crib, but we're all adjusting.

During Christmas break, some of Emma's classmates and their moms planned to meet at an ice skating rink. I was working that day, but Dan and Emma joined them.

Emma with some of her classmates. It was her first time on ice skates and she did great!

Dan is 10,000x better than me at ice skating, so it was good for her to see how it's really done!

A week later, we met up with Dan's brother Tim, our sister-in-law Dawn, their 5 boys + some of their friends to ice skate again.

The group taking a break while the ice was being resurfaced.

Even Hallie got on the ice for a few minutes. She did not enjoy it.

They had plastic "walkers" to assist the little kids who needed help staying up. Where have these been all my life?

Speaking of skating, Dan's been playing ice hockey for the past few months.  Right after Thanksgiving, he enrolled in a hockey skills class since it's been several years since he's played. Then he joined a league and starting playing twice a week. He loves it, and we've been able to go to a few of his games when they're not too late at night. 

 In other news, the girls have continued their Saturday gymnastics classes. Hallie was in the toddler + parent class and recently graduated to the 3-5 year old class. So now Dan and I get to sit on really uncomfortable bleachers and watch her through a glass window instead of assisting her through the class each week. She cried through a few minutes of class when she realized we wouldn't be with her, but since then she's really enjoyed it.

Showing off their mad gymnastics skills!

Emma had been begging to go to Funville, an enormous indoor playground. I was hesitant to take Hallie because it can be wild when there are lots of kids playing and some areas of the playground are hidden from view.  The girls had a random day off from school in January for winter break, and I figured it wouldn't be crowded that day, so we went with a couple of other kids from school.

The girls had an absolute blast and played at Funville for a solid four hours!  It's a little pricey, but they definitely got their money's worth. I sat at a table and got to know the other mom while our kids played together, and we learned that the cafe's pizza is really good. Win-win!

Dan and I are planning to change the landscaping in our yard this spring, so we took the girls to the Virginia Beach Backyard Garden Expo to get some ideas. 

They had a fun kids' play area in the back of the convention center and displayed a few animals like this tiny owl, so the girls really enjoyed it, too!

We celebrated my birthday in January with the Jester family and my parents. I had lots of good candle blowers assisting me.

My parents also babysat the girls for us on my birthday so Dan and I could go for a bike ride at First Landing State Park and have a romantic dinner at Riverstone Chophouse.

On January 15th, we received the devastating news that our brother-in-law, Rob's, mother, Patti, died suddenly in a car crash. On February 1st, we attended Patti's funeral in Laurens, SC, along with many other friends and family members.  She will be greatly missed by many people. 

The Woottons and Jesters during Patti's celebration of life.  We are so grateful for her legacy of faith in Jesus, which continues to impact those who knew her.

When we returned home, our girls had Spirit Week at school.

Day 1 was "Character Day." It was not on my radar after our weekend in SC, but Dan called me as we were leaving our neighborhood to let me know that all the kids were dressed up. So Emma and I detoured back home for her to dress up as The Little Mermaid, which was totally worth being late to school.

The following day was "Animal Day," and Hallie got to dress as the cutest bunny in the world. Emma was an adorable arctic fox. 

Wednesday was "Circle of Life Day," where the kids could dress as babies or old people.

I really wanted them to dress as little grandmas, but both girls chose to be babies.

On the last day, Emma's class celebrated "Italy Day" because they've read "Pinocchio" and studied Italy this quarter. Many of the parents came to volunteer and we all had a blast with the kids.

Emma wanted to dress up as the Blue Fairy, so we dyed her hair blue the night before (using washable hair chalk)

Of course Hallie had to get in on the hair dying action, too!

Since the Blue Fairy is the only female in the Pinocchio story, most of the girls were Blue Fairies that day. But Emma was the most beautiful one. :)

Each parent helped with an activity, and I was in charge of grape stomping! So much fun!

One of the traditions at StoneBridge School is Liberty Day - a ceremony to honor the students' family members who currently or formerly served in the Armed Forces.  

My dad served in the Army during the Vietnam War, and he, Emma, and Hallie participated in the ceremony this year to honor all our family members who have served.

Hallie LOVES her Papa!

After two years of mild winters, we finally got a little bit of snow at the end of February!
It was just a dusting at our house, but the girls were thrilled!

There wasn't enough snow in our yard to build anything, but the girls gathered some ice blocks from to their playground and build a "snow fire." 

The next morning, our family visited the school to help shovel and lay down salt on the walkways. There were several inches of snow at school, so it was more fun for the girls to play in.

Some of the high school girls showed up at school and Emma got to help them build a snowman.

Emma had a big milestone in February! She lost her first tooth! She wrote a note to the tooth fairy asking for $20. After we stopped laughing, we broke the bad news that she'd be lucky to get more than a quarter, since that's what we got for our teeth when we were kids!  Dan and I settled on $1, which Emma seemed happy about when she discovered it under her pillow the next morning. 

Hallie also had a special day at school. They celebrated Noah's Ark Day in her class, and I got to join them for the day. 

We tried to dress up as bears, but we turned out looking like mice instead. 

Cutie pie

I helped the kids with Fruit Loop sorting and tower building. I gave them clean Fruit Loops to munch on while they worked.

Hallie's rainbow

The class dressed up as animals. It was almost too cute to handle. After all the indoor activities, they ended the day with a visit from Teeny Tiny Farm (baby farm animals) in the school courtyard. 

We ended the month with a fun day at the Virginia Zoo because the zoo offered free admission on Fridays in February.  Our sister-in-law, Dawn, and her boys joined us, as well as one of Emma's classmates and his mom. It was chilly that day, but we had a great time!

This was the best group shot we got at the zoo. It was hard to corral everyone!

And just because, here are some glamour shots of the beautiful and mysterious ladies living at our house. They're growing up way too fast.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Catching up on Christmas (and December)

We kicked off December with Dan's birthday weekend!  Every year during the first weekend of December, we meet the Jesters for the Williamsburg Christmas Parade on Saturday, celebrate Dan's birthday with extended family afterwards, and then Dan and I run the Busch Gardens Christmas Town 5 mile race on Sunday morning. It's a busy, but awesome way to start the holiday season.

The Jesters waiting for the Williamsburg Christmas Parade to start
After the parade, we celebrated Dan with lunch, cake, and ice cream!

Sunday morning, Dan and I were up bright and early to run through Busch Gardens. It's my favorite race of the year!

We had an unseasonably warm December, but the over-the-top Christmas decorations in our neighborhood helped us get into the season.
Regent University hosts a European-style Christmas Village with family-friendly events and vendors selling handmade wares. We live around the corner from the campus, and loved spending one Saturday afternoon there. 

We watched their live Nativity performance
Rode rides

Met elves

And the girls got their very first photo with Santa. I don't know that it'll be an annual tradition, but it was cute, free, and there wasn't much of a line. 
The ladies at my office organize a delicious potluck brunch each year. This year's theme was "crazy Christmas hats."
 We also had an office Christmas luncheon. Denise (left), and Cristi are the two ladies I work most closely with in Portsmouth. They're both amazing!
Hallie and I got to tag along on Emma's December class field trip to the Virginia Living Museum.

Emma the tortoise, carrying some of her classmates. Ha!

The museum has tons of hands-on exhibits, as well as a large dinosaur excavation play area outside. The kids had a blast!

While Emma's class watched a 3-D movie about the Christmas Star, Hallie and I fed some fish during their lunchtime (under the supervision of the museum staff worker).

And she got to play vet and help the poor, sick stuffed animals.
One of the biggest highlights during December was having my brother, Steve, his wife, Sheila, and their kids, Meera and Rowan in town for Christmas week!
Sweet cousins
We took the whole family to the Portsmouth Children's Museum one day

The kids in the giant chair

Sheila, Rowan, and Steve posed for a photo, too (Meera was too busy playing to stop for a picture). The Children's Museum is perfect for our kids' ages.  There are dozens of themed, hands-on play rooms for them to explore, as well as a kid-friendly IMAX movie. We spent a solid 4 hours there!
Christmas Day came and we started the morning at my parents' house opening gifts.

Gifts and more gifts!!

We left and drove to Williamsburg to open gifts with Dan's family at lunchtime.  Then my whole family joined the Jester family for dinner later on Christmas day.  We're so very thankful that our families love each other.
The Jester clan, minus Dan's sister, Robin, and her family since they recently moved to Montana. We miss them tons!
The rest of Christmas week was spent enjoying our time with Steve's family.

 We took the kids to the park one day, but we mostly stayed in and let them just play.  We don't get to see each other as much as we'd like to!

Princesses Meera, Hallie, and Emma and Prince Rowan can't wait until they're together again!
Merry Christmas from the Jester Family! We are immensely thankful for the season's constant reminders of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, and the eternal life He offers to everyone who trust in him for salvation. We pray that God blesses you and your family in 2020!