Saturday, February 24, 2018

New Year Happenings

We've had an eventful couple of months so far in 2018.  The Virginia Beach area got a big snowstorm in January and Dan and Emma's school had four snow days!  The last day was warm enough to go outside and enjoy playing in it, so we went sledding.  Emma loved it and Hallie hated it, which was exactly they way they each felt about snow in general.

Dan and Emma on their first run down the slope

I took both girls down together, thinking Hallie would enjoy it more if Emma was sledding with her. Nope! She fussed the entire way down the hill, because there was WIND in her FACE. Oh, the humanity!

After our sledding adventures, we went to the playground and Hallie had a much better time.

Hallie has a new babysitter, Jessica, who attends our church.  Jessica has two boys who Hallie enjoys, usually. When she's not being "toughened up" by them!

They do have their sweet moments each day.

Dan and Emma have had some good times together after work & school.  They were trying each other's shoes on for size one night and cracking up about it.

Dan broke his "no slimy mess" rule to make homemade slime for Emma. She absolutely loved it!

 Emma taught Hallie how to play "Hide and Seek". They were counting before they tried to find Dan. Heh! Kids are so much fun!

I celebrated my 40th birthday in January, and my sweet coworkers, Denise and Lori, made a cake for me to share with our coworkers.

We also had a birthday party for me with our families. This was a picture with my candle blowing helpers.

Hallie loves cake as much as her mom.

She also loves making messes

Playing dress up

And getting into everything that she sees us doing

The biggest news this month is that Hallie finally decided to walk! At 17 1/2 months, she certainly took her sweet time.  Once she finally started, she really took off! We knew she had the skills for months before she believed she did.  She's struggled these past two months with colds and a couple of fevers, so she may not have had the energy to make the jump to walking until recently. Also, it's much more fun to be carried everywhere.

We had a fun play date with Emma's friend, Elisha, and his mom, Jenna, at the Portsmouth Children's Museum.

Emma and Elisha played with giant bubbles in the bubble room

Went fishing from the ship

Hallie brushed enormous teeth in the Human Body room

 And Emma pretended to be a mistreated Cinderella in the Fairy Tale room

My parents were kind enough to babysit the girls so Dan and I could have a Valentine's date the weekend before the holiday.  We celebrated on Valentine's Day, too, with cards and gifts from Grandpa, Grandma, Papa, Nana, and each other.

Last weekend, we got together with Dan's parents, his sister, Robin, and the youngest Jester cousins for a day of swimming and playing. Left to right: Josiah, Miriam, Naomi, Emma, and Hallie. We absolutely love being close enough to share these fun times and watch the kids grow up together!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Snow Days!

This Wednesday night, Virginia had a major snowstorm and all schools were closed on Thursday and Friday.  My office and many other businesses also shut down, so our family made the most of being snowed in! It's the most snow we've seen since moving to Virginia Beach, and we're thankful that we didn't lose our power in the storm, since I'm sure many people did.

As soon as Emma woke up, she wanted to go outside to play!  We made her eat breakfast and bundle up first.  She had the best time making snow angels, having a snowball fight with Dan, and exploring our back yard winter wonderland. The snow had piled up between 6"-12" and in some areas where drifts had formed, it was up to her thighs!  At one point she went around the corner of the house out of my sight and I heard her yell, "Mom! Mom! Come here!" I yelled back, "Come back here to tell me what it is, Emma," since I didn't want to plow through all that snow myself. *Long pause* "I CAN'T WALK!" She was stuck fast - heh!

Licking an icicle and pretending it's a lollipop.

*We* built a snowman (I'm giving her credit for carrying the snowman accessories out of the house and saying, "C'mon, Mom! Hurry up and make the next part!" every time I stopped to take a breath.

Hallie was all smiles for the first 5 minutes.

Then she touched the cold snow and the wind blew in her face, and the romance was over.

Dan was able to create 10 more minutes of fun with a sled ride! But otherwise, snow held no magic for her.

She had much more fun building snowmen inside our cozy house.

She also got a kick out of Emma throwing snowballs at her - as long as she was inside the cozy house.

Dan spent the afternoon shoveling the driveway, with me giving him a break when I could. 

I had never shoveled snow before, and it was really hard! I didn't do nearly as much as Dan did, and it nearly broke my back and wrists! It made me feel better when Dan said that was the hardest snow he's ever shoveled before.

Emma appreciated all our efforts, since it resulted in a snow mountain for her to climb!

We're making fun memories during these unplanned days off. Temperatures are supposed to stay below freezing for several days, so we should get to enjoy the snow for a while!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas Festivities

We packed so much into the month of December!  My apologies in advance for the photo overload.

Just a few days before his birthday, Dan went out of town with a couple of other guys to see Dream Theater perform in concert. He loves their music, and although it was a long drive and a late night before work the next day, they all had a great time.

Dan's birthday is December 1st, and unfortunately he had one of his longest work days on his birthday. The girls and I did get to pick him up for lunch, but he didn't get home until bedtime that night.

We made sure to party all weekend to make up for no celebration that day!

The first event that weekend was the Colonial Williamsburg Christmas parade with Dan's parents and his brother, Tim's, family. It's one of the best holiday parades in the area, and so far, we've attended it every year with some of the Jester family.

After the parade, Dan's folks babysat the girls for us so we could have a date. A delicious meal at Texas Roadhouse, some furniture shopping, then back early to put the kids to bed.  Yep, we are party animals!

The next morning, we ran the Busch Gardens Christmas Town 8k Dash with my coworker, Lori, and her husband, Terry.  Lori and I have been running together at lunchtime for a year now, and we've worked up to running that hilly 5 miles! Dan, on the other hand, hasn't run in a year and just ran the race along with Lori and I without any training or preparation. Show off.  He hates running, and only let me sign him up because they included a free ticket to Busch Gardens in the registration packet.

However, I could not convince him to dress up as one of my elves for the race. Heh!

We had a birthday lunch with Dan's family after the race.

This picture cracks me up because Emma had just jumped the gun and blew out all Dan's candles before he could do it.  She looks so proud of herself, and he's going "well...okay, then."

 And that night, we attended First Night at Colonial Williamsburg with Dan's parents. It's an outdoor event with live performers who entertain everyone until the end of the evening when fireworks go off right over the historic buildings.  It was pretty cool!
Dan's mom, dad, Dan, and Hallie watching the fireworks

Emma's face during the fireworks grand finale. After it was over, she said "I did NOT see that coming!" Haha!

I got to attend my company's Christmas party one evening later in December.  My boss and team are still in San Diego, but here's a picture of me with the two amazing ladies I work most closely with in the Portsmouth office, Denise and Cristi.

And me with my running buddy, Lori.

I received an Employee of the Month Award, and she got the Employee of the Year Award!

 A few days later, we had an office Women's Potluck Breakfast and sock/gift exchange. It's an annual tradition for the ladies, and we always make plenty of food to feed the rest of the office after we're done with our party.

On Emma's last day of school before Christmas break, she performed in a Preschool Christmas Concert.  Her grandparents and Hallie and I got to attend.

Before the entire preschool got on stage, Emma was one of six K-4 kids selected to perform a special number. She was the cutest one up there, of course!

 After their concert, the kids enjoyed a Christmas party in their classroom.

For Christmas this year, I bought my mom and I tickets to see "The Sound of Music" in Norfolk. We both absolutely loved it and it'll be one of my most fun memories with her.

Dan's sister, Robin, coordinated a day for us to join them at Busch Gardens Christmas Town.  It was crowded, cold, beautiful, and lots of fun! We enjoyed seeing the Christmas lights and decorations, watching a spectacular ice skating show, and letting the kids ride rides and play in the kids' areas.

We had our Christmas celebration early with the Jester family, on the 23rd. We met at Dan's parents' house for brunch and our gift exchange.

The kids played while they waited (somewhat) patiently to open their millions of gifts under Grandpa and Grandma's tree

Emma was the most excited about receiving two LOL surprise dolls!

Hallie was the most excited about ripping the paper off of everything she could reach!

She got a new tunnel to crawl in and she had a blast with that, too.

The Jester Family Christmas photo. We are grateful that everyone was well and able to enjoy our time together.

On Christmas Eve, the girls got extra fancy for church, and they even cooperated for a few photos before we left home.

Earlier this month, the girls had helped Nana and Papa decorate their Christmas tree.

We were getting ready for my brother, Steve, his wife, Sheila, and their daughter, Meera, to come to Virginia for Christmas!

On Christmas morning, we went to my parents' house and got to play and open presents with my family. The girls loved playing My Little Pony with their Boston cousin, Meera!

My parents opening some of their gifts. As usual, my dad got three times the number of gifts as the rest of us, because my mom loves him the most.

Our beautiful niece, Meera

My brother, Steve

Our sister-in-law, Sheila

On Christmas night, we drove to 43rd Street in Virginia Beach to see an entire block of beautiful houses that went all out with Christmas decorations. Dan was feeling sick that afternoon, so he unfortunately didn't get to go with us.

 The following day, we invited my family and Dan's parents to our house for lunch and games.
The adults played Preacher's Poker

Emma and Meera played dress-up while they ate lunch

They even got Sheila involved! Ha!

Another day, we made "Snow To Go," artificial snow that you can make at home by adding water to a small amount of powder. The girls loved playing with their Lion Guard figures in the snow.

We also took them to MacArthur Mall in Norfolk to play and eat lunch one day.

The Campbell Family Photo

Silly pose! We had the best time with Steve, Sheila, and Meera while they visited for a week! We wish we got to spend this much time with them all the time!

 Dan and I got the most unexpected Christmas blessing this year.  One of his student's families was upgrading their kitchen appliances and wanted to give their 4-year-old stainless steel appliances to us!  We had hoped to upgrade to stainless steel at some point, but thought it would be years down the road after we spent money on more critical upgrades for the house.  We are thrilled with our "new" appliances and how they finish off the look of our kitchen.  Dan, my dad, and his dad spent time during Christmas break installing them and creating enough space for the larger refrigerator. What an amazing gift!
The fridge and dishwasher

And microwave and stove

On our date night earlier this month, Dan and I had chosen and ordered a kitchen table and chairs set. It arrived just before Christmas, too! We are loving our beautiful kitchen more and more each day!