Our English Adventure: Part Four

This one will be shorter than Parts One, Two or Three -- promise!

On the final day of our trip, we explored a bit more of Bath, including Bath's Abbey and the Roman Baths, then headed back to London for our flight home the next day with a quick stop along the way. 

Day Seven: Bath Abbey, Roman Baths and Avebury

Here is Bath Abbey.  Well, not the one on the left, that's just another church in Bath.  But the two on the right are definitely the Abbey.  On the far right, you can see angels climbing their way to Heaven.

Here is Bath Abbey.  Well, not the one on the left, that's just another church in Bath.  But the two on the right are definitely the Abbey.  On the far right, you can see angels climbing their way to Heaven.

From the Abbey, we went to the Roman Baths.  This area felt so much like Italy, it was a little eerie.  I asked Sue how long the Romans were settled in this area, after seeing the elaborateness of the architecture and engineering involved.  She said, "Oh not that long.  500 years give or take?" America isn't even half that old yet. 

From the Abbey, we went to the Roman Baths.  This area felt so much like Italy, it was a little eerie.  I asked Sue how long the Romans were settled in this area, after seeing the elaborateness of the architecture and engineering involved.  She said, "Oh not that long.  500 years give or take?"

America isn't even half that old yet. 

In this corner, the water flows directly from underground out into the main baths.  Its heavy mineral content produces some very intense colors. 

In this corner, the water flows directly from underground out into the main baths.  Its heavy mineral content produces some very intense colors. 

While fairly crowded on this particular day, the museum was wonderful to see.  Apparently tossing coins into a fountain isn't such a new thing. 

While fairly crowded on this particular day, the museum was wonderful to see.  Apparently tossing coins into a fountain isn't such a new thing. 

These small, metal tablets represent a sort of ancient Roman justice system.  If someone was wronged by another, they would pay money to a scribe, assuming they didn't have the necessary skills themselves, who would then produce one of these tablets.  The lines would often include the names and deeds of the guilty parties and a requested punishment from the person who would toss it into the water. 

These small, metal tablets represent a sort of ancient Roman justice system.  If someone was wronged by another, they would pay money to a scribe, assuming they didn't have the necessary skills themselves, who would then produce one of these tablets.  The lines would often include the names and deeds of the guilty parties and a requested punishment from the person who would toss it into the water. 

Steamy.

Steamy.

In case you're wondering, yes, you can taste some of the healing waters from the Baths.  Heavily filtered of metals that might kill tourists, of course.

In case you're wondering, yes, you can taste some of the healing waters from the Baths.  Heavily filtered of metals that might kill tourists, of course.

Wandering around the city of Bath a bit more before lunch.

Wandering around the city of Bath a bit more before lunch.

No. 15, Avebury.

No. 15, Avebury.

Similar to Stonehenge, this is another ancient site of standing stones.  Unlike Stonehenge, this site is far larger (nearly 30 acres) and you are free to walk right up to the stones.  And pet the sheep.  Just don't tell the officer at customs that you pet the sheep. 

Similar to Stonehenge, this is another ancient site of standing stones.  Unlike Stonehenge, this site is far larger (nearly 30 acres) and you are free to walk right up to the stones.  And pet the sheep. 

Just don't tell the officer at customs that you pet the sheep. 

Peek-a-boo.

Peek-a-boo.

Our stop was brief, but I was thoroughly awed. 

Our stop was brief, but I was thoroughly awed. 

Also in Avebury, we found Silbury Hill.  Made largely of chalk, this Neolithic mound is the largest man-made of its kind in Europe.  Its breadth and height compare to the contemporary Egyptian pyramids; its purpose is still a mystery to modern researchers. 

Also in Avebury, we found Silbury Hill.  Made largely of chalk, this Neolithic mound is the largest man-made of its kind in Europe.  Its breadth and height compare to the contemporary Egyptian pyramids; its purpose is still a mystery to modern researchers. 

After leaving Avebury, we mostly sat in traffic to get back into the city on a Friday afternoon.  St. Ermin's was a familiar, welcome sight.  We said our thank yous and reluctant good-byes to Sue, dropped our bags and ventured out to a restaurant that was thankfully a short walk from the hotel.

After leaving Avebury, we mostly sat in traffic to get back into the city on a Friday afternoon.  St. Ermin's was a familiar, welcome sight. 

We said our thank yous and reluctant good-byes to Sue, dropped our bags and ventured out to a restaurant that was thankfully a short walk from the hotel.

Exhausted, happy, heads spinning with all of the beautiful things we got to see and the wonderful weather luck we had, we enjoyed one last Mother-Daughter dinner together.

Exhausted, happy, heads spinning with all of the beautiful things we got to see and the wonderful weather luck we had, we enjoyed one last Mother-Daughter dinner together.

Mom and Molly got busy repacking and organizing for our early morning departure.  Maybe I was already done?  Little did we expect the next day's adventures.

Mom and Molly got busy repacking and organizing for our early morning departure.  Maybe I was already done?  Little did we expect the next day's adventures.

Waiting for a taxi that was booked for an hour later than we needed to get to the airport.  Whoopsie-daisies.

Waiting for a taxi that was booked for an hour later than we needed to get to the airport.  Whoopsie-daisies.

After commandeering someone else's taxi (with insistence from the concierge), we made it to Terminal 5 in record time.  So that we could wait for more than two hours to check our bags since British Airways was evidently experiencing a massive, world-wide technology failure that day. 

After commandeering someone else's taxi (with insistence from the concierge), we made it to Terminal 5 in record time.  So that we could wait for more than two hours to check our bags since British Airways was evidently experiencing a massive, world-wide technology failure that day. 

One by one, all of the flights around us were cancelled. Thousands of passengers filtered back out to (possibly) claim luggage and wait in more lines to make alternate arrangements.  We thought surely we'd be next, and lucky us, we'd be at the end of the lines of irritated travelers. But for some wonderful reason, our crew was extremely motivated to get our flight to DFW, home of American Airlines which is a major partner of British Airways.  It took a few more hours, but after each piece of luggage, catered meal, passenger and hand towel was manually manifested and we got a physical signature from air traffic control in the tower, we were green-lighted to take off. 

One by one, all of the flights around us were cancelled. Thousands of passengers filtered back out to (possibly) claim luggage and wait in more lines to make alternate arrangements.  We thought surely we'd be next, and lucky us, we'd be at the end of the lines of irritated travelers.

But for some wonderful reason, our crew was extremely motivated to get our flight to DFW, home of American Airlines which is a major partner of British Airways.  It took a few more hours, but after each piece of luggage, catered meal, passenger and hand towel was manually manifested and we got a physical signature from air traffic control in the tower, we were green-lighted to take off. 

A few final iPhone memories are all that's left!  Our luggage may have taken a week to find us at home, but I suppose the universe has to balance things out somehow.

xoxo

Our English Adventure: Part Three

If you're just jumping in, and need to kill some time, here are links to Part One and Part Two.

At the start of Part Three, we head out for another day of exploring smaller villages, most of which I can't name, on the Western-most side of Cornwall.

Hm, I think we may have messed up the map a bit. Oh well, we'll go with it.

Hm, I think we may have messed up the map a bit. Oh well, we'll go with it.

Day Five: Charlestown, Mousehole, Bottalack's Tin Mines and St. Ives

Our first stop on Day 5 was to Charlestown.  I think No. 10 is supposed to represent it on the map, but it's actually one bay to the East, before you get to Fowey.  Oops. This area has also been used as a frequent filming location for Poldark. 

Our first stop on Day 5 was to Charlestown.  I think No. 10 is supposed to represent it on the map, but it's actually one bay to the East, before you get to Fowey.  Oops.

This area has also been used as a frequent filming location for Poldark

A few of my photos are reminiscent of Where's Waldo cartoons. 

A few of my photos are reminiscent of Where's Waldo cartoons. 

We met a few characters along the way.  This gentleman gave us his dog's Facebook profile address before we parted ways.

We met a few characters along the way.  This gentleman gave us his dog's Facebook profile address before we parted ways.

Next we went to Mousehole (pronounced "Mouz-uhl") for lunch.  A cornish pastie, for tradition's sake, and the best sparkling water I can remember having.  I need to do some research on where to buy Folkington's in Texas. 

Next we went to Mousehole (pronounced "Mouz-uhl") for lunch.  A cornish pastie, for tradition's sake, and the best sparkling water I can remember having.  I need to do some research on where to buy Folkington's in Texas. 

Next!  One of our absolute favorite stops.  No. 11, the tin mines in Bottalack. 

Next!  One of our absolute favorite stops.  No. 11, the tin mines in Bottalack

This view serves as the cover art for more than one edition of the Poldark books. 

This view serves as the cover art for more than one edition of the Poldark books. 

Back on the road, we got back to St. Ives, No. 12 on the map, in the late afternoon.  There wasn't quite enough time to see the Tate St. Ives (connected to the Tate Modern in London) so we had to make do with shopping and browsing menus for a dinner spot.  Vacation is so taxing sometimes. 

Back on the road, we got back to St. Ives, No. 12 on the map, in the late afternoon.  There wasn't quite enough time to see the Tate St. Ives (connected to the Tate Modern in London) so we had to make do with shopping and browsing menus for a dinner spot. 

Vacation is so taxing sometimes. 

I fell short of my desired scone intake.  Guess I'll need to go back. 

I fell short of my desired scone intake.  Guess I'll need to go back. 

Day Six: Tintagel Castle and Wells Cathedral

Packing up, we headed East, back toward London, stopping first at No. 13, Tintagel Castle.

Packing up, we headed East, back toward London, stopping first at No. 13, Tintagel Castle.

On the walk out to the castle ruins, which were once the legendary home of King Arthur, built in the 12th century. 

On the walk out to the castle ruins, which were once the legendary home of King Arthur, built in the 12th century. 

What goes down...

What goes down...

Trust us, it was quite a climb.

Trust us, it was quite a climb.

In the photo on the right, there are the foundation remains of the most ancient dwellings on this site, dating back to the Dark Ages. 

In the photo on the right, there are the foundation remains of the most ancient dwellings on this site, dating back to the Dark Ages. 

Within the remains of a walled garden on the highest point, you can find a brief telling of the story of the lovers Tristan and Iseult. 

Within the remains of a walled garden on the highest point, you can find a brief telling of the story of the lovers Tristan and Iseult. 

King Arthur, is he fact or fiction?

King Arthur, is he fact or fiction?

Not having taken enough steps yet that day, I went down to the sea-level where there's a small waterfall. 

Not having taken enough steps yet that day, I went down to the sea-level where there's a small waterfall. 

And Merlin's Cave.

And Merlin's Cave.

A nice, light English lunch. 

A nice, light English lunch. 

No. 13.5, Wells Cathedral.  We sort of missed making a dot for Wells, so imagine there's a No. 13.5 just to the Southwest of Bath (No. 14.)

No. 13.5, Wells Cathedral

We sort of missed making a dot for Wells, so imagine there's a No. 13.5 just to the Southwest of Bath (No. 14.)

What I would call a quad, surrounding the cathedral.  It was a popular spot for kids just out of school that afternoon. 

What I would call a quad, surrounding the cathedral.  It was a popular spot for kids just out of school that afternoon. 

The dates on this particular tomb caused both Mom and me to pause.

The dates on this particular tomb caused both Mom and me to pause.

Wells Cathedral turned out to be my favorite of all we visited.  Actually, my favorite would be to mix the facade of Salisbury Cathedral, with the interior of Wells Cathedral. But if I had to choose just one, Wells wins.

Wells Cathedral turned out to be my favorite of all we visited.  Actually, my favorite would be to mix the facade of Salisbury Cathedral, with the interior of Wells Cathedral. But if I had to choose just one, Wells wins.

Back on the road for our final leg of the day, we ended up in Bath where we stayed at the Royal Crescent Hotel.  It gets it's name from being part of the Royal Crescent, a near semi-circle of historic residences.  The hotel was recently renovated and spans both No. 16 and No. 17 of the original buildings.

Back on the road for our final leg of the day, we ended up in Bath where we stayed at the Royal Crescent Hotel

It gets it's name from being part of the Royal Crescent, a near semi-circle of historic residences.  The hotel was recently renovated and spans both No. 16 and No. 17 of the original buildings.

The view of Bath out the back of the hotel.

The view of Bath out the back of the hotel.

Off to dinner. 

Off to dinner. 

Italian this time. 

Italian this time. 

After dinner, we wandered around a bit.  We found the Circus and peeked in a few real estate office windows to see what the going rate would be for one of these beauties.  (The kids can get scholarships, right?)

After dinner, we wandered around a bit.  We found the Circus and peeked in a few real estate office windows to see what the going rate would be for one of these beauties. 

(The kids can get scholarships, right?)

Back at the hotel, we stopped in the garden for a glass (or two) of wine.  And tried not to think about going back to our regular lives of work, housecleaning, eating the kids' leftover lunches as our meals and opening a week's worth of bills would feel like.

Back at the hotel, we stopped in the garden for a glass (or two) of wine. 

And tried not to think about going back to our regular lives of work, housecleaning, eating the kids' leftover lunches as our meals and opening a week's worth of bills would feel like.

Our English Adventure: Part Two

If you missed Part One, you can find it here.

Where I left off, we were in Wareham for the night.  The following morning, we hit the road bright and early.

Day Three: Durdle Door and Dartmoor National Park

No. 5: Durdle Door
Arriving early has it's perks.  We had Lullworth Cove all to ourselves. 

Arriving early has it's perks.  We had Lullworth Cove all to ourselves. 

Okay.  If Sue would have said, "This is it!"  I would have been completely happy, snapped about 100 photos and trotted back up to the van.  But instead, she laughed at how long I was lingering on this side of the peninsula and said, "You realize we haven't even gotten to the Durdle Door part yet, right?"

Okay.  If Sue would have said, "This is it!"  I would have been completely happy, snapped about 100 photos and trotted back up to the van.  But instead, she laughed at how long I was lingering on this side of the peninsula and said, "You realize we haven't even gotten to the Durdle Door part yet, right?"

Still lingering. 

Still lingering. 

And finally, we moved on to see the 'door.'

And finally, we moved on to see the 'door.'

It was windy, y'all.  We didn't want to make a phone call to Dad describing how we lost Mom over a cliff in a stiff breeze. 

It was windy, y'all.  We didn't want to make a phone call to Dad describing how we lost Mom over a cliff in a stiff breeze. 

Walking barefoot on these large pebbles felt like a foot massage.  At first.  Then I was mad at myself for walking so far away from my shoes. 

Walking barefoot on these large pebbles felt like a foot massage. 

At first.  Then I was mad at myself for walking so far away from my shoes. 

On the road again.  Leaving Durdle Door, we set out on the longest stretch of our trip, from Lullworth, through Exeter and the Dartmoor National Park, all the way to the North side of the coast.

On the road again.  Leaving Durdle Door, we set out on the longest stretch of our trip, from Lullworth, through Exeter and the Dartmoor National Park, all the way to the North side of the coast.

No. 6 Dartmoor National Park You might be thinking, that photo doesn't look like it's from a national park. And you'd be right.  We drove for a lot of hours that day but never did see much that resembled the park we expected.  We did, however, stop to wander around this little village.  We enjoyed it, but I cannot remember the name. 

No. 6 Dartmoor National Park

You might be thinking, that photo doesn't look like it's from a national park. And you'd be right.  We drove for a lot of hours that day but never did see much that resembled the park we expected.  We did, however, stop to wander around this little village.  We enjoyed it, but I cannot remember the name. 

To add to our mountain of largely useless knowledge, we learned that there is a significance to whether or not and how the legs of Crusader's memorial statue are crossed.  Crossed at the ankles = Survived 1 Crusade Crossed at the knees = Survived 2 Crusades Crossed at the groin = Survived 3 Crusades, perhaps working as a career accountant At any rate, this gentleman was clearly skilled at dodging swords. 

To add to our mountain of largely useless knowledge, we learned that there is a significance to whether or not and how the legs of Crusader's memorial statue are crossed. 

Crossed at the ankles = Survived 1 Crusade

Crossed at the knees = Survived 2 Crusades

Crossed at the groin = Survived 3 Crusades, perhaps working as a career accountant

At any rate, this gentleman was clearly skilled at dodging swords. 

All of the detail and columns inside each arch was hand-carved from a single block of wood.

All of the detail and columns inside each arch was hand-carved from a single block of wood.

We stopped for the first of three nights in the Boskerris Hotel in St. Ives (No. 12 on the map).  Well, it's not actually in St. Ives but in nearby Carbis Bay but I suppose they get more bookings with the St. Ives ruse.  Sminings. While a little out of the way, it was a lovely, friendly hotel and we enjoyed the quiet view.

We stopped for the first of three nights in the Boskerris Hotel in St. Ives (No. 12 on the map).  Well, it's not actually in St. Ives but in nearby Carbis Bay but I suppose they get more bookings with the St. Ives ruse. 

Sminings.

While a little out of the way, it was a lovely, friendly hotel and we enjoyed the quiet view.

Once again, waiting in a comfy sitting room where they serve appetizers and take pre-dinner drink orders while your table is being prepared.  Someone seriously needs to make this a trend in the States. 

Once again, waiting in a comfy sitting room where they serve appetizers and take pre-dinner drink orders while your table is being prepared.  Someone seriously needs to make this a trend in the States. 

Day Four: St. Michael's Mount, The Minack Theater and Another Village or Two I Can't Name

Beautifully colored lichens cover pretty much anything that will stand still for a century or so.

Beautifully colored lichens cover pretty much anything that will stand still for a century or so.

When we arrived at St. Michael's Mount, the tide was out and so we could walk across to the island.   Four hours after this photo was taken, all of the moss and rocks were back under several feet of the English Channel. 

When we arrived at St. Michael's Mount, the tide was out and so we could walk across to the island.   Four hours after this photo was taken, all of the moss and rocks were back under several feet of the English Channel. 

The variety of flora across the island was unexpected.  Who knew so many tropical-looking plants grew in Western England?

The variety of flora across the island was unexpected.  Who knew so many tropical-looking plants grew in Western England?

There's a fable about a giant who was defeated on top of the mountain and ultimately fell down into the well on the left.  I apparently didn't listen closely enough to the story; I photographed the large rock on the right assuming that was the giant's heart.  Instead, it's a heart-shaped pebble in the walk to the left of the sign (not pictured).  Maybe our definitions of Giant differ somewhat. 

There's a fable about a giant who was defeated on top of the mountain and ultimately fell down into the well on the left.  I apparently didn't listen closely enough to the story; I photographed the large rock on the right assuming that was the giant's heart.  Instead, it's a heart-shaped pebble in the walk to the left of the sign (not pictured). 

Maybe our definitions of Giant differ somewhat. 

Mom and Sue taking a rest on the climb up to the castle.

Mom and Sue taking a rest on the climb up to the castle.

The people of Cornwall often see themselves as being separate from England; this is their Cornish flag.  Being from Texas, we could relate.

The people of Cornwall often see themselves as being separate from England; this is their Cornish flag. 

Being from Texas, we could relate.

After walking back to the mainland, we were off to lunch.

After walking back to the mainland, we were off to lunch.

And then to No. 8 on the map, The Minack Theater.

And then to No. 8 on the map, The Minack Theater.

On what was our only drizzly day of our trip, we saw Under the Milk Wood in this gorgeous outdoor theater.  To be honest, it was hard to focus on the plot rather than the scenery. 

On what was our only drizzly day of our trip, we saw Under the Milk Wood in this gorgeous outdoor theater.  To be honest, it was hard to focus on the plot rather than the scenery. 

From there, we drove to a little village and this cove, which fans from the current PBS series of Poldark might recognize.  It's been used on several occasions.  We were hoping to have a cream tea in a nearby cafe but they were closed for the day.  Wandering around was a treat all the same.

From there, we drove to a little village and this cove, which fans from the current PBS series of Poldark might recognize.  It's been used on several occasions.  We were hoping to have a cream tea in a nearby cafe but they were closed for the day.  Wandering around was a treat all the same.

Not to be completely skunked, we stopped in another seaside town to take a break, have some hot tea, watch the surfers and laugh about how well our hair was handling the humid day. 

Not to be completely skunked, we stopped in another seaside town to take a break, have some hot tea, watch the surfers and laugh about how well our hair was handling the humid day. 

Finally back at the Boskerris Hotel, nursing our sore feet, calves and backs after so many steps and so much climbing, we walked down to a waterfront restaurant for dinner.  And then hired an Uber to take us back up to the hotel.  It might have been the smartest decision we made all day.

Finally back at the Boskerris Hotel, nursing our sore feet, calves and backs after so many steps and so much climbing, we walked down to a waterfront restaurant for dinner.  And then hired an Uber to take us back up to the hotel.  It might have been the smartest decision we made all day.

That's it for days three and four!  With a few more iPhone shots, I'll close out this post and get started on the next. 

Our English Adventure: Part One

This trip was an amazing trip.  Inspired by the Poldark books, authored by Winston Graham, and the 1975 BBC mini-series that followed, Mom has been talking about seeing Cornwall, England for as long as Molly and I can remember.  The books are currently being filmed again as a miniseries on PBS (Season 3 coming soon to the U.S. and now airing in the U.K.)  If you're a fan, you might recognize some of the places we visited later in the trip. 

Due to a little Vacation Research Scope Creep, we ended up seeing much more than just Cornwall, packing a heck of a lot into eight days.  This first post covers days one and two...so maybe there will be four parts in all? Can you stand the suspense?

Rather than try to remember all that we learned and surely get something (eh, most things) wrong along the way, I'll link to all of the historical site websites throughout each post for anyone interested in knowing more. 

Thank you, Mom, for dreaming up this adventure and bringing me and Molly along for the ride.  xoxo

This map is an overview of our major stops.  Basically, we started in London, meandered out to the furthest West coast and then meandered back to London to fly home. 

This map is an overview of our major stops.  Basically, we started in London, meandered out to the furthest West coast and then meandered back to London to fly home. 

Departure day.  Something was up.  And Brisket could tell his leash wasn't going to fit in that suitcase.

Departure day.  Something was up. 

And Brisket could tell his leash wasn't going to fit in that suitcase.

DAY ONE: DFW>LGW, Westminster Abbey, The River Thames and the Tower of London

A close-up of the first couple of legs of our journey (plus the last leg...more on that later).

A close-up of the first couple of legs of our journey (plus the last leg...more on that later).

No. 1 on the map: Jet lag be d*mned, we were off to explore London.

No. 1 on the map: Jet lag be d*mned, we were off to explore London.

But first, some carbs and caffeine.

But first, some carbs and caffeine.

First official stop: Westminster Abbey

First official stop: Westminster Abbey

Taking a cruise up the River Thames to the Tower Bridge let us see a lot of the city in the short amount of time we had to spend that first afternoon.

Taking a cruise up the River Thames to the Tower Bridge let us see a lot of the city in the short amount of time we had to spend that first afternoon.

We were the very first people to ever think of taking this photo at The Tower of London. 

We were the very first people to ever think of taking this photo at The Tower of London

Traitor's Gate

Traitor's Gate

If you're a bride in public, I'm going to sneak a photo of you.  I can't help myself.

If you're a bride in public, I'm going to sneak a photo of you.  I can't help myself.

After a tasty, but slow, dinner at The Blue Boar, we settled back in at St. Ermin's Hotel (where they apparently raise their own bees).  Taking up temporary residence on the porch, we eavesdropped on a wedding party that was out for a smoke.  They later showed off their headstands and somersaults, bride included, but sadly my flash didn't reach far enough. 

After a tasty, but slow, dinner at The Blue Boar, we settled back in at St. Ermin's Hotel (where they apparently raise their own bees).  Taking up temporary residence on the porch, we eavesdropped on a wedding party that was out for a smoke.  They later showed off their headstands and somersaults, bride included, but sadly my flash didn't reach far enough. 

DAY TWO: Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, Old Wardour Castle and Wareham

No. 2: Stonehenge

No. 2: Stonehenge

Stonehenge took our breath away to see in person. 

Stonehenge took our breath away to see in person. 

Near the small museum that accompanies the historical site, there are replicas of thatched-roof huts that may be like what the people who built Stonehenge lived in 5,000 years ago.  While beautiful, I had to wonder...these unknown people could transport, carve and precisely place multi-ton stones in alignment with celestial beings...and this is what they built to live in?  I wonder if the historians and archeologists might be missing something. 

Near the small museum that accompanies the historical site, there are replicas of thatched-roof huts that may be like what the people who built Stonehenge lived in 5,000 years ago. 

While beautiful, I had to wonder...these unknown people could transport, carve and precisely place multi-ton stones in alignment with celestial beings...and this is what they built to live in? 

I wonder if the historians and archeologists might be missing something. 

Saracen ruins on a hill we passed on our way to Salisbury.

Saracen ruins on a hill we passed on our way to Salisbury.

No. 3: Salisbury Cathedral Having read Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth, a heavily researched fictional novel based on this cathedral, it was especially interesting to wander around. 

No. 3: Salisbury Cathedral

Having read Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth, a heavily researched fictional novel based on this cathedral, it was especially interesting to wander around. 

We found modern art installations in a few of the churches we visited.  Which was equally surprising and awesome. 

We found modern art installations in a few of the churches we visited.  Which was equally surprising and awesome. 

I've not mentioned her yet, but we had an incredible guide, Sue, who we found through Luxury Vacations UK.  Hint: Sue is the one holding the large pink bag above on the left.  She has stellar driving skills in tight spaces, an encyclopedic knowledge of English history, a quick wit and endless patience for all of the times I wanted to stop and photograph something.  We thoroughly enjoyed spending the week in her company. 

I've not mentioned her yet, but we had an incredible guide, Sue, who we found through Luxury Vacations UK.  Hint: Sue is the one holding the large pink bag above on the left. 

She has stellar driving skills in tight spaces, an encyclopedic knowledge of English history, a quick wit and endless patience for all of the times I wanted to stop and photograph something. 

We thoroughly enjoyed spending the week in her company. 

Sue planned a surprise picnic on the lawn for us.  It was a gorgeous spot, a welcome breather, and provided a great excuse for Mom and I to polish off the half-bottle of wine we had brought along in the van from our evening at St. Ermin's.  

Sue planned a surprise picnic on the lawn for us.  It was a gorgeous spot, a welcome breather, and provided a great excuse for Mom and I to polish off the half-bottle of wine we had brought along in the van from our evening at St. Ermin's.  

Our long day of touring came to an end as we checked into The Priory Hotel in Wareham, England.

Our long day of touring came to an end as we checked into The Priory Hotel in Wareham, England.

Before dinner began -- we had to wait until seven o'clock -- we went out to explore the hotel's gardens.  And we were more than surprised by what we found.  The gardens are clearly a labor of love for someone, and The Priory should charge admission for visiting guests.  They're worth it.

Before dinner began -- we had to wait until seven o'clock -- we went out to explore the hotel's gardens.  And we were more than surprised by what we found.  The gardens are clearly a labor of love for someone, and The Priory should charge admission for visiting guests.  They're worth it.

I believe we were giggling as we began piecing together the dinner that was in store for us.  While we sat there in our jeans and comfy walking shoes, covered in a slight layer of road grit, we noticed that everyone around us was dressed to the nines in the sitting room where we were asked to make ourselves comfortable.  We ordered drinks and enjoyed some complimentary appetizers before a waiter, neatly dressed in a tuxedo, led us to our dinner table. There's feeling out of place, and then there's...feeling out of place.  Ha!  But the meal was so melt-in-your-mouth good, we forgot all about that and focused on our dark chocolate terrines.  (Yes, plural.)  To the credit of The Priory staff, they treated us just like we had recently showered and dressed appropriately for dinner.  This hotel is worth detouring to Wareham to stay for the night.

I believe we were giggling as we began piecing together the dinner that was in store for us.  While we sat there in our jeans and comfy walking shoes, covered in a slight layer of road grit, we noticed that everyone around us was dressed to the nines in the sitting room where we were asked to make ourselves comfortable.  We ordered drinks and enjoyed some complimentary appetizers before a waiter, neatly dressed in a tuxedo, led us to our dinner table.

There's feeling out of place, and then there's...feeling out of place.  Ha!  But the meal was so melt-in-your-mouth good, we forgot all about that and focused on our dark chocolate terrines.  (Yes, plural.)  To the credit of The Priory staff, they treated us just like we had recently showered and dressed appropriately for dinner.  This hotel is worth detouring to Wareham to stay for the night.

With a few goofy iPhone photos from days one and two, I'm going to call it quits on Part One. 

Whew!

Spring No. 2

While I've clearly given up on monthly posts -- and laugh at myself remembering I used to manage weekly ones -- I'm fully committed to seasonal posts.  And hey, this is number two for Spring alone!  I'm winning. 

The Cardinals take warming up very seriously. 

The Cardinals take warming up very seriously. 

Third is officially the High-Five Base in 5U ball.

Third is officially the High-Five Base in 5U ball.

Playing the actual game?  Eh, not always so serious.

Playing the actual game?  Eh, not always so serious.

The Minions finished up another great season!  At this age, there are no trophies for teams that don't finish 1st or 2nd, but thankfully, Michael hasn't noticed yet.  Please enjoy his retro jersey (it was clean!) and inside-out socks (no annoying seams rubbing in his shoes!)

The Minions finished up another great season!  At this age, there are no trophies for teams that don't finish 1st or 2nd, but thankfully, Michael hasn't noticed yet.  Please enjoy his retro jersey (it was clean!) and inside-out socks (no annoying seams rubbing in his shoes!)

These boys keep a close eye on each other, playing a heated game of Dawgopoly. 

These boys keep a close eye on each other, playing a heated game of Dawgopoly. 

Rise and shine!

Rise and shine!

Henry was excited to be the first player to show up.

Henry was excited to be the first player to show up.

Ella played in a Spring tournament with her Fever team.  There was a decent fence between the soccer field and the inmates taking air at the minimum security prison next door, so that was comforting. 

Ella played in a Spring tournament with her Fever team. 

There was a decent fence between the soccer field and the inmates taking air at the minimum security prison next door, so that was comforting. 

Easter!  Time to find what the Bunny hid at the farm. 

Easter!  Time to find what the Bunny hid at the farm. 

Okay Wes is right.  Not the best haircut Henry's ever gotten.  But that smile!

Okay Wes is right.  Not the best haircut Henry's ever gotten.  But that smile!

It was a good thing this photo turned out.  While setting it up, I dropped a wooden board on my pinkie toe.  Henry asked, "Mommy, why are you blooding?"

It was a good thing this photo turned out.  While setting it up, I dropped a wooden board on my pinkie toe. 

Henry asked, "Mommy, why are you blooding?"

Nobody believes they're sisters.   *cough*

Nobody believes they're sisters.   *cough*

Easter + celebrating three birthdays calls for cake + cupcakes, of course.  Happiness is...sitting, chatting and passing the day sitting on the porch at the farm.  Pairing it with a slice of cake just makes it obnoxiously good.

Easter + celebrating three birthdays calls for cake + cupcakes, of course. 

Happiness is...sitting, chatting and passing the day sitting on the porch at the farm.  Pairing it with a slice of cake just makes it obnoxiously good.

Calling the cows over for treat time.

Calling the cows over for treat time.

It started off a little tense, but we got a loving sibling portrait in the end.

It started off a little tense, but we got a loving sibling portrait in the end.

Then the kids declared the tree swing seat needed to be replaced.  Rocket picked up the board that annihilated my toe and headed for the wood shop.

Then the kids declared the tree swing seat needed to be replaced. 

Rocket picked up the board that annihilated my toe and headed for the wood shop.

Prest-o, change-o, a new swing seat was born in less than 8 minutes. 

Prest-o, change-o, a new swing seat was born in less than 8 minutes. 

It works!

It works!

Poppa and Gigi came to visit!!  And were total troopers.  Henry's 8 a.m. T-ball game was freezing.  And windy.  Not a bueno combination. 

Poppa and Gigi came to visit!!  And were total troopers.  Henry's 8 a.m. T-ball game was freezing.  And windy.  Not a bueno combination. 

The big kids pretend it's embarrassing when twelve people show up to cheer for them.  But Henry basks in the limelight, waving to his many (frozen) fans as he runs the T-ball bases.  

The big kids pretend it's embarrassing when twelve people show up to cheer for them. 

But Henry basks in the limelight, waving to his many (frozen) fans as he runs the T-ball bases.  

We followed up T-ball with a (freezing) soccer game, sorry no photos...my fingers wouldn't bend...then on to Michael's flag football game.  This is where I admit the embarrassing mom/photographer truth that my camera was stuck in a manual focus mode for the whole weekend that Poppa and Gigi visited.  Any photos that are in focus were purely lucky ones.  :(  Good thing the season isn't over and we get to hang with the Mannings again in June!

We followed up T-ball with a (freezing) soccer game, sorry no photos...my fingers wouldn't bend...then on to Michael's flag football game. 

This is where I admit the embarrassing mom/photographer truth that my camera was stuck in a manual focus mode for the whole weekend that Poppa and Gigi visited.  Any photos that are in focus were purely lucky ones.  :(  Good thing the season isn't over and we get to hang with the Mannings again in June!

Poppa held catching practice and LEGO building play-times with the kiddos.

Poppa held catching practice and LEGO building play-times with the kiddos.

Hibachi for dinner!  The kids' pick, of course. (Pardon Ella's blurry face.)

Hibachi for dinner!  The kids' pick, of course. (Pardon Ella's blurry face.)

Sunday evening, Ella and her team played a heck of a game. 

Sunday evening, Ella and her team played a heck of a game. 

Here she is, advancing one (of three!) goals up the field.

Here she is, advancing one (of three!) goals up the field.

It's hard to see, but the ball is going right past the post, avoiding both defenders and the keeper, on it's way to the net.  Gooooaaaaaaallllll!  Yes we are obnoxious parents. (She also had two assists.)  Like, really obnoxious. 

It's hard to see, but the ball is going right past the post, avoiding both defenders and the keeper, on it's way to the net.  Gooooaaaaaaallllll! 

Yes we are obnoxious parents. (She also had two assists.)  Like, really obnoxious. 

Heading out for some hard-earned ice cream. 

Heading out for some hard-earned ice cream. 

Spring

With April showers and all of that, we have enjoyed a couple of nice, lazy days so far this spring.

Despite our best efforts to ward it off, the horse lovebug has bitten Ella.  Hard. 

Despite our best efforts to ward it off, the horse lovebug has bitten Ella.  Hard. 

The Minions are back at it this season. 

The Minions are back at it this season. 

I'm happy to announce Henry knows how to make more than guns with LEGOs now. 

I'm happy to announce Henry knows how to make more than guns with LEGOs now. 

Ella thought I was so weird for taking this photo.  BUT.  1. I loved the light.  2. There aren't many Mom Chores that I dread more than clipping nails.  It makes me so happy to see she's taken over this task, and without any nagging.  Two more kiddos to go...

Ella thought I was so weird for taking this photo.  BUT. 

1. I loved the light. 

2. There aren't many Mom Chores that I dread more than clipping nails.  It makes me so happy to see she's taken over this task, and without any nagging.  Two more kiddos to go...

Ella is loving being on the soccer field again.  Go Hurricanes!

Ella is loving being on the soccer field again.  Go Hurricanes!

I need to step up my flag football photo game. 

I need to step up my flag football photo game. 

It was a quick lesson, but it's fun to see Henry finally showing some interest in learning to ride a bike.

It was a quick lesson, but it's fun to see Henry finally showing some interest in learning to ride a bike.

After a tumble on his tricycle, Henry needed a little time to ponder what went wrong.

After a tumble on his tricycle, Henry needed a little time to ponder what went wrong.

Tricks!

Tricks!

A Belated Hello to 2017

It would appear that the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 have swallowed me whole.  It's partially true. 

BUT! While not posting, I have been taking pictures. 

First, December. 

 

December started off with an incredibly cold soccer tournament on fields in the worst condition we've ever seen.  Parts of the playing field cordoned off with crime scene tape.

December started off with an incredibly cold soccer tournament on fields in the worst condition we've ever seen.  Parts of the playing field cordoned off with crime scene tape.

But the girls had an amazing time anyway, because they're awesome like that.  There were holiday and birthday celebrations at the hotel.  Giggles and cake, too. 

But the girls had an amazing time anyway, because they're awesome like that.  There were holiday and birthday celebrations at the hotel.  Giggles and cake, too. 

Back home, it was time to set up the Christmas tree!  Those who know me, know what a complete Christmas Dork I can be. I'm training these three to follow in my footsteps.

Back home, it was time to set up the Christmas tree!  Those who know me, know what a complete Christmas Dork I can be. I'm training these three to follow in my footsteps.

Ella's class had their annual field trip...to Cowboys Stadium.  You read that right.  It was extremely educational. 

Ella's class had their annual field trip...to Cowboys Stadium.  You read that right. 

It was extremely educational. 

And Michael's soccer team celebrated their No. 1 season ranking (playing one year up!)  These boys may look sweet in this photo, but they are a rowdy, hard-playing bunch.  We're very proud of them. 

And Michael's soccer team celebrated their No. 1 season ranking (playing one year up!)  These boys may look sweet in this photo, but they are a rowdy, hard-playing bunch.  We're very proud of them. 

And then our girl turned 11.  Holy cow.

And then our girl turned 11.  Holy cow.

Aunt Amy scored yet another crucial, quick save. 

Aunt Amy scored yet another crucial, quick save. 

Hint: the gift she just opened was a trip to the place in the next photo down. 

Hint: the gift she just opened was a trip to the place in the next photo down. 

Ella wants to grow up and be Joanna Gaines.  With her organizational skills, she's off to a good start.

Ella wants to grow up and be Joanna Gaines.  With her organizational skills, she's off to a good start.

We had a ridiculously fun day, checking out the Silos. 

We had a ridiculously fun day, checking out the Silos. 

Onesie Christmas jammies!  (The boys still haven't figured out that their Christmas Eve gift will always be jammies...they'll come along eventually.)

Onesie Christmas jammies!  (The boys still haven't figured out that their Christmas Eve gift will always be jammies...they'll come along eventually.)

I promise, Brisket also got to open his own gifts. 

I promise, Brisket also got to open his own gifts. 

Some gifts require a pirate sword to open. 

Some gifts require a pirate sword to open. 

Man, it's hard to wait your turn. 

Man, it's hard to wait your turn. 

I mean, a book about Farts?  Thanks, Aunt Molly!

I mean, a book about Farts?  Thanks, Aunt Molly!

When waiting your turn, feel free to turn gift wrap into costuming.  Kate makes it work. 

When waiting your turn, feel free to turn gift wrap into costuming.  Kate makes it work. 

The main event.  Christmas dinner is ready. 

The main event.  Christmas dinner is ready. 

Wes makes homemade Christmas pickles which are gaining quick fame.  He only had to remake one batch after his sous chef (ahem, me) didn't rinse the cucumbers well enough after their salt bath. 

Wes makes homemade Christmas pickles which are gaining quick fame.  He only had to remake one batch after his sous chef (ahem, me) didn't rinse the cucumbers well enough after their salt bath. 

#nanaknitsAll of the kids got knit hats this year. I've already "borrowed" Ella's on multiple occasions. 

#nanaknitsAll of the kids got knit hats this year. I've already "borrowed" Ella's on multiple occasions. 

Immediately after Christmas, we went home to pack up the tree, plus a few bags, and headed out to the lake for the best week of the year. 

Immediately after Christmas, we went home to pack up the tree, plus a few bags, and headed out to the lake for the best week of the year. 

Of course, we packed up some of the kids' gifts to keep them busy so us grown-ups could sit out on the porch with a blanket and a good book.  

Of course, we packed up some of the kids' gifts to keep them busy so us grown-ups could sit out on the porch with a blanket and a good book.  

We also discovered the dice game Left/Center/Right. 

We also discovered the dice game Left/Center/Right. 

Henry cleaned us out, every round. 

Henry cleaned us out, every round. 

Happy New Year!  Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017. 

Happy New Year!  Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017. 

January

The year started off on a warm, lazy note. 

The year started off on a warm, lazy note. 

Like, really lazy. 

Like, really lazy. 

Back to home and reality, Ella celebrated her birthday with friends for a sleepover.

Back to home and reality, Ella celebrated her birthday with friends for a sleepover.

Poor boys, they were stuck watching movies in Mom and Dad's room while the girls took over the house. 

Poor boys, they were stuck watching movies in Mom and Dad's room while the girls took over the house. 

This beautiful girl turned sixteen.  Sixteen. 

This beautiful girl turned sixteen.  Sixteen. 

Aunt Amy with the save!

Aunt Amy with the save!

February

One of the best parts of Pre-K? Lunch.

One of the best parts of Pre-K? Lunch.

Another one of my bright ideas...recovering our antique dining chair seats turned into a full weekend project.  But at least I had helpers. 

Another one of my bright ideas...recovering our antique dining chair seats turned into a full weekend project.  But at least I had helpers. 

More birthdays! 

More birthdays! 

And a trip to the Perot Museum. 

And a trip to the Perot Museum. 

Snack break.

Snack break.

The boys built a pretty impressive "gate" to their hiding place in the backyard.  This was taken on construction day one of three. 

The boys built a pretty impressive "gate" to their hiding place in the backyard.  This was taken on construction day one of three. 

Valentine's Day preparations underway. 

Valentine's Day preparations underway. 

Progress toward the finish line wasn't exactly linear.

Progress toward the finish line wasn't exactly linear.

Valentine's class parties are rough on boys who don't dig Freeze Dancing. 

Valentine's class parties are rough on boys who don't dig Freeze Dancing. 

Tossing in his Valentine's treats -- score!

Tossing in his Valentine's treats -- score!

The football training has begun.

The football training has begun.

My beloved XT-1 died a very slow death (following a July 4th lemonade spill) so the time came for an XT-2 replacement.  It came with me to Atlanta for some test shots and a quick manual shooting lesson for a friend. 

My beloved XT-1 died a very slow death (following a July 4th lemonade spill) so the time came for an XT-2 replacement.  It came with me to Atlanta for some test shots and a quick manual shooting lesson for a friend. 

T-ball!  After deciding soccer wasn't his bag, Henry is giving baseball a try this spring. 

T-ball!  After deciding soccer wasn't his bag, Henry is giving baseball a try this spring. 

Bright. Cold. Early. 

Bright. Cold. Early. 

Henry's favorite things about t-ball, so far, are dancing in the outfield and hanging with his buddy Drew. 

Henry's favorite things about t-ball, so far, are dancing in the outfield and hanging with his buddy Drew. 

The Minions are back in action!

The Minions are back in action!

A trip to the farm was a great excuse for Ella to try her hand at baking a multi-colored 4-layer cake from scratch. 

A trip to the farm was a great excuse for Ella to try her hand at baking a multi-colored 4-layer cake from scratch. 

My photographer's assistant got a little distracted in Rocket's car barn. 

My photographer's assistant got a little distracted in Rocket's car barn. 

If you're in the market, this gorgeous girl is up for sale. 

If you're in the market, this gorgeous girl is up for sale. 

And a touch of March.

Drew's last choir concert.

Drew's last choir concert.

Watching the boys climb onto the dugout bench is really funny. 

Watching the boys climb onto the dugout bench is really funny. 

West Side Story was incredible at Casa Manana -- if you're local, try to check it out. 

West Side Story was incredible at Casa Manana -- if you're local, try to check it out. 

Ella and Kate wanted to meet Maria, so we stalked her after the show. 

Ella and Kate wanted to meet Maria, so we stalked her after the show. 

Followed by lunch at the Cork & Pig.

Followed by lunch at the Cork & Pig.

And dessert!

And dessert!

Thankfulness

This first photo pretty much captures how our Thanksgiving trip to meet family at the beach started out. With joy for the days to come and the time spent with those we don't get to see nearly enough. 

While laid over in Atlanta, some of our very favorite people made the trek in to meet us for lunch.  Here the kids are meeting their new 'cousin Will' for the first time -- I loved how Henry had to take a photo, too. 

It was dinnertime when we finally rolled into the beach house and we all made a bee-line to love on sweet baby Jennifer.  One of the biggest surprises of the week?  Discovering Michael is nearly as much of a baby-hog as Ella. 

The temperature stayed in the 60s on Sunday and Monday so we made the kids wait to head out to the beach while it warmed up a little and we could enjoy a leisurely start to the day.  This resulted in a dead-run to the shore when they were finally released from the house.  Which was a nice change from the two hours of whining that preceded heading outside. 

Venice Beach was full of interesting finds.  A month before we arrived, there was a red tide, the remnants of which littered parts of the beach.  Shells were abundant and apparently the beach is also known for sharks' teeth but we didn't luck out with finding any of those. 

What do good parents do to entertain their kids on the beach without sand toys?  Trick them into thinking the find-mama's-toes-in-the-sand game is awesome. 

What do *great* parents do to entertain their kids on the beach without sand toys?  That now-empty Miller Lite can isn't just for the recycle bin, folks. 

Ella took on as many baby care duties as anyone would let her. 

Ella took on as many baby care duties as anyone would let her. 

We should have known that things were going too smoothly by Sunday night.  Our flights ran on time, we got a deal on upgrading our rental car, the cousins were all getting along, there was no rain in the forecast. 

For all of this, we were punished with a stomach virus that hit Henry first and kept us up most of the night.  Poor kiddo was feeling a bit better in the morning and so I carried him out to sit and chill on the beach.  (Yes, those are his jammie pants and maybe the second or third shirt I had changed for him since 1 a.m.)

Thankfully, everyone else was still feeling well and I was making use of Lysol wipes on every possible surface of the beach house on a regular rotation. 

Jennifer's first time out on the beach was a hit. 

Joshua proved to be much smarter than our kiddos (not that we were surprised).  He explored the beach thoroughly over the week, but wisely chose to steer clear of the very chilly ocean water. 

Monday evening, the bug took down Michael...then Ella.  Tuesday morning, Wes got hit.  It was another sleepless night but, gratefully, it seemed to be a fast-moving bug and only Henry was still trying to fully recover by Tuesday night. 

Given the amount of clean-up and snuggling duty I took on for a couple of days, it's a wonder I didn't also get sick.  I did try a new trick -- can't say that it's what kept me healthy, but I'll share it in case anyone else wants to give it a try at warding off GI sickness.  Three times a day, I drank a full glass of 100% grape juice with a generous splash of unfiltered apple cider vinegar.  I chose Bragg's ACV that includes the Mother in the vinegar. 

Most of all, we are grateful that neither Joshua -- who has been recovering from a nasty bout with strep and has a weakened immune system -- and Jennifer stayed well.  PHEW. 

Lysol wipes and quarantining strategies for the win!

There's always that one kid...

There's always that one kid...

Flying a kite.

Flying a kite.

Henry couldn't get the height he wanted for wave-jumping so he enlisted Ella's help. 

Henry couldn't get the height he wanted for wave-jumping so he enlisted Ella's help. 

My wonderful, goofy girl came out to test some golden hour light for a quick family photo session for the Foldens and Gigi & Poppa. 

My wonderful, goofy girl came out to test some golden hour light for a quick family photo session for the Foldens and Gigi & Poppa. 

The photo session wasn't for us, but heck, we were there, the light was pretty and miraculously, all five us managed to face the camera and smile at the same time while Aunt Kristi took a couple of quick snaps.  I just love these four people.  Especially when they aren't vomiting.  xoxo

The photo session wasn't for us, but heck, we were there, the light was pretty and miraculously, all five us managed to face the camera and smile at the same time while Aunt Kristi took a couple of quick snaps. 

I just love these four people.  Especially when they aren't vomiting.  xoxo

Wednesday night, we started preparations for our Thanksgiving dinner.  Wes began to brine the turkey and us ladies got the apple pie underway. 

With an early wake-up call to get to the airport on Friday morning, we made the most of our Thanksgiving day on the beach.  It was absolutely beautiful and very peaceful with hardly anyone else around. 

I felt a deep thankfulness that day that went beyond my normal sense of daily gratitude.  Life is truly good and we get to share it with the most incredible people.  We will seek to pay forward as much kindness and giving as we can this Christmas season and I look forward to all of the traditions we've begun to build as a family over the years. 

On the hunt for those elusive shark's teeth. 

On the hunt for those elusive shark's teeth. 

Henry doesn't look like he was crying and throwing a mega-fit a few seconds before this was taken, right?

Henry doesn't look like he was crying and throwing a mega-fit a few seconds before this was taken, right?

Thursday morning, the bird spent a little time smoking on the grill, then got an herb butter bath and headed to the oven.  It was quite tasty, under Wes' careful supervision. 

As for me, it was my first time trying my mom's dressing recipe, and it turns out that I needed to pay a lot closer attention to her cooking skills.  Oh well, the mashed potatoes were edible.  I think. 

Happiest Thanksgiving. 

"Hi there."

I'm playing a bit of catch-up on the blog today, getting ready for our Thanksgiving week trip to the beach.  I have a funny feeling I'm going to come home with one or two shots from vacation...maybe three. 

Ella is quickly beginning to fill some of my odd jobs, directing Halloween house decoration activity seems to be one of them. 

Ella is quickly beginning to fill some of my odd jobs, directing Halloween house decoration activity seems to be one of them. 

We had a beautiful day for Fort Worth's annual JDRF fundraising walk.  Thank you again to all of our wonderful friends and family who helped us achieve our goal!

We had a beautiful day for Fort Worth's annual JDRF fundraising walk.  Thank you again to all of our wonderful friends and family who helped us achieve our goal!

It was a sweltering day at the pumpkin farm.  Still today, I'm not sure that Fall has really arrived. 

It was a sweltering day at the pumpkin farm.  Still today, I'm not sure that Fall has really arrived. 

Kate performed in her high school's adaptation of School of Rock.  I think she practiced that look on the right to perfection with her brother over the years. 

Kate performed in her high school's adaptation of School of Rock.  I think she practiced that look on the right to perfection with her brother over the years. 

"You're on the same team!" may be heard occasionally during Minion games. 

"You're on the same team!" may be heard occasionally during Minion games. 

Finally, Halloween arrived and the costumes could come out to play. 

Finally, Halloween arrived and the costumes could come out to play. 

We picked up a couple of extra Trick-or-Treaters this year. 

We picked up a couple of extra Trick-or-Treaters this year. 

"So Dorothy and a hot dog took a walk down the street..."

"So Dorothy and a hot dog took a walk down the street..."

Since we celebrated Halloween on a crazy busy Saturday, carving our pumpkins waited until Sunday.  Henry took his creative duties quite seriously. 

Since we celebrated Halloween on a crazy busy Saturday, carving our pumpkins waited until Sunday.  Henry took his creative duties quite seriously. 

One of the out-takes from our Christmas Card photo shoot in the back yard. 

One of the out-takes from our Christmas Card photo shoot in the back yard. 

We are so proud of Michael and his soccer team!  They finished No. 1 in their age group and have worked so hard these past few months.  Go Mighty Minions!

We are so proud of Michael and his soccer team!  They finished No. 1 in their age group and have worked so hard these past few months.  Go Mighty Minions!

September

Fall! 

According to the calendar, but maybe not the mid-80 temps we have forecasted all week, it's finally here. Time to start thinking about Christmas lists, chili nights, and chilly nights. 

If we think it, it will come, I'm telling myself...For now, we are happily not sweating into puddles at the soccer fields each weekend. 

We made it to one of Drew's games! 

We made it to one of Drew's games! 

And Michael turned the big 0-8 with his dream gift -- a Wii U, which has only been forcefully removed from the playroom one time due to bad behavior.  Not a bad track record for our lovable kiddo.

And Michael turned the big 0-8 with his dream gift -- a Wii U, which has only been forcefully removed from the playroom one time due to bad behavior.  Not a bad track record for our lovable kiddo.

Once again, Aunt Amy comes to the rescue, keeping pesky little brother from big brother's cake.

Once again, Aunt Amy comes to the rescue, keeping pesky little brother from big brother's cake.

I love this photo.  Thank you to our crazy family who happily jumped in the frame when I asked for more people to stand behind Michael as he blew out his candles. 

I love this photo.  Thank you to our crazy family who happily jumped in the frame when I asked for more people to stand behind Michael as he blew out his candles. 

And he's 8! It's official now.

And he's 8! It's official now.

Aunt Kristi wins the Favorite Birthday Card award. 

Aunt Kristi wins the Favorite Birthday Card award. 

On the same day as Michael's birthday, we were blessed with a new addition to our family! 

Welcome to the world, baby Jennifer.  May I never forget to send your birthday gift on time with such a wonderful way to remember your special day. 

The Undefeated Minions. 

The Undefeated Minions. 

Michael took a turn as keeper.  He didn't get too excited about anything until the ball was five feet or less from the goal -- a little nerve-wracking for us parents on the side line but he was completely unconcerned with our anxiety.  They won with another shut-out so I guess we worried for nothing!

Michael took a turn as keeper.  He didn't get too excited about anything until the ball was five feet or less from the goal -- a little nerve-wracking for us parents on the side line but he was completely unconcerned with our anxiety.  They won with another shut-out so I guess we worried for nothing!

Ella's Fever team played a group of girls who thought they were at a tackle football match instead of a soccer game, but they really hung in there. 

Ella's Fever team played a group of girls who thought they were at a tackle football match instead of a soccer game, but they really hung in there. 

#FeverProud!

#FeverProud!

Labor Day Weekend

But first!  Proof that we've gotten to go to one soccer game since June.  We're still hopeful Ella will get to play in 2016.  Things are looking promising for Tuesday night.

Now, the road to the lake.

Henry did not stop talking for two and a half hours.  Nonstop.  Non. Stop. Naturally, he fell asleep when we were less than 10 minutes from the house. 

Henry did not stop talking for two and a half hours.  Nonstop.  Non. Stop.

Naturally, he fell asleep when we were less than 10 minutes from the house. 

This is so Michael.

This is so Michael.

Drew built the New Year's Ball Drop out of Contraptions. 

Drew built the New Year's Ball Drop out of Contraptions. 

While the big kids threw the football on one end of the boat, this was going on on the other end.

While the big kids threw the football on one end of the boat, this was going on on the other end.

Bye, Lake.  See you on December 26. 

Bye, Lake.  See you on December 26. 

August

We rounded out the summer digging in the dirt, enjoying a visit from Gigi and Poppa, seeking A/C wherever possible, and finally sending off three kiddos to the elementary school down the street.  Kind of wished we hadn't blinked so much. 

This kid is "building an underground house" in our side yard. 

This kid is "building an underground house" in our side yard. 

We had a visit from this little cutie (and her big sister and mama) who is just about ready to start running laps. 

We had a visit from this little cutie (and her big sister and mama) who is just about ready to start running laps. 

Gigi and Poppa came for a visit and while Ella's soccer tournament was canceled that same weekend, the good news is that we didn't spend hours out in the Texas heat on the hottest weekend of the year.  Instead, we explored the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History one day and the Perot Museum the next.  We're happy to report their air conditioning is all working beautifully.

Gigi and Poppa came for a visit and while Ella's soccer tournament was canceled that same weekend, the good news is that we didn't spend hours out in the Texas heat on the hottest weekend of the year.  Instead, we explored the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History one day and the Perot Museum the next.  We're happy to report their air conditioning is all working beautifully.

Any of my '94 Fillies friends automatically hear Aretha singing when they see this?

Any of my '94 Fillies friends automatically hear Aretha singing when they see this?

1. We finally discovered Meso Maya. 2. Henry switch-hits quickly between bandit and photographer with ease.

1. We finally discovered Meso Maya.

2. Henry switch-hits quickly between bandit and photographer with ease.

Brisket has officially taken up residence on the couch, even when we're clearly looking. 

Brisket has officially taken up residence on the couch, even when we're clearly looking. 

Ella's team kicked off the season with new shirts and nicknames.  We've got our fingers crossed that the weather cooperates and they finally get to play a game this coming weekend. 

Ella's team kicked off the season with new shirts and nicknames.  We've got our fingers crossed that the weather cooperates and they finally get to play a game this coming weekend. 

Goofball.

Goofball.

He really wanted to be in this picture with me.  Promise. 

He really wanted to be in this picture with me.  Promise. 

Treat time for Daisy and pals. 

Treat time for Daisy and pals. 

First day of schooooooool!  I made my sleepyhead pre-Kr, 2nd grader and 5th grader pose for a few photos before walking to school with the rest of the neighborhood kids.  

First day of schooooooool!  I made my sleepyhead pre-Kr, 2nd grader and 5th grader pose for a few photos before walking to school with the rest of the neighborhood kids.  

Too bad they aren't old enough for coffee just yet. 

Too bad they aren't old enough for coffee just yet. 

If Henry sat down with his backpack, he'd never have been able to get back up.  Smart kid. 

If Henry sat down with his backpack, he'd never have been able to get back up.  Smart kid. 

Checking out the Cork & Pig down in Fort Worth. 

Checking out the Cork & Pig down in Fort Worth. 

The food wasn't fast...but it was delicious. 

The food wasn't fast...but it was delicious. 

Love for dinosaur bones?

Love for dinosaur bones?

Hanging Onto Summer

My Facebook feed has been chock full of adorable faces sporting backpacks on their shoulders this week.  It's incredible to think summer is so close to being over for us here in Texas as well.  The weeks have been fun and fleeting -- we'll be squeezing as much as we can out of our remaining three weeks of later bedtimes, not packing weekday lunches, no homework and not dealing with a mountain of school papers that seem to multiply as they escape from the kids' folders.

Aunt Molly held a tablet drawing lesson and I'm not sure that even a plate of chocolate cake would have distracted them. 

Aunt Molly held a tablet drawing lesson and I'm not sure that even a plate of chocolate cake would have distracted them. 

One drawback to watching July 4th fireworks from a floating dock deck is not being able to set a timer to capture the actual fireworks.  Maybe next year I can convince everyone to watch from dry land.  Maybe.  (Note the 15-year old Snap-Chatting her burning sparkler in the foreground.  We know Ella is right behind her!) 

One drawback to watching July 4th fireworks from a floating dock deck is not being able to set a timer to capture the actual fireworks.  Maybe next year I can convince everyone to watch from dry land. 

Maybe.  (Note the 15-year old Snap-Chatting her burning sparkler in the foreground.  We know Ella is right behind her!) 

Biscuits and Gravy Morning is serious business.

Biscuits and Gravy Morning is serious business.

The collegiate flags are now flying over Pokagon.  Go Dawgs and Hoosiers!

The collegiate flags are now flying over Pokagon.  Go Dawgs and Hoosiers!

Stretched out, Henry finally outgrew his toddler bed so we made a trip to the furniture store and came home with a new big boy bed for him.  I only cried a little (a lot.)

Stretched out, Henry finally outgrew his toddler bed so we made a trip to the furniture store and came home with a new big boy bed for him.  I only cried a little (a lot.)

Aunt Kristi's having a baby girl!!  We are just a little bit (crazy) excited to meet her. 

Aunt Kristi's having a baby girl!!  We are just a little bit (crazy) excited to meet her. 

More lake!

More lake!

Peek-a-Boo! Some things never get old. 

Peek-a-Boo!

Some things never get old. 

Faker.

Faker.

The tube never even made it into the water this past weekend -- it was knee-boarding and wake-boarding all the way. 

The tube never even made it into the water this past weekend -- it was knee-boarding and wake-boarding all the way. 

Ella managed a 360 on her second time ever riding on the knee board.  Show-off that she is. 

Ella managed a 360 on her second time ever riding on the knee board.  Show-off that she is. 

Nana and Rocket celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary this past weekend. xoxo 46 years!

Nana and Rocket celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary this past weekend. xoxo 46 years!

Henry doesn't really understand why you would have a cake without candles.  And we had no solid argument...so, candles.  Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Henry doesn't really understand why you would have a cake without candles.  And we had no solid argument...so, candles. 

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Sliding Into Summer

I'm caught up on the last two months of photographs!  This can only mean one thing -- it must be a holiday weekend. 

Happy 4th y'all. 

The Mighty Minions finished their season strong and competed in a tournament packed with academy teams.  They didn't win, but they kept all of those teams running hard.  We're very proud of this group of boys!

The Mighty Minions finished their season strong and competed in a tournament packed with academy teams.  They didn't win, but they kept all of those teams running hard.  We're very proud of this group of boys!

#dallastilidie

#dallastilidie

4th Grade Field Trip

4th Grade Field Trip

Memorial Day Weekend -- shouldn't my children be the most cooperative?  Haven't I drilled them on group photo expectations enough over the years?  Turkeys. 

Memorial Day Weekend -- shouldn't my children be the most cooperative?  Haven't I drilled them on group photo expectations enough over the years?  Turkeys. 

It's not a weekend at the lake without biscuits and gravy.

It's not a weekend at the lake without biscuits and gravy.

Sunset Cruise

Sunset Cruise

It's not an award-winner but all three of my babies are in one frame so I'll take it!

It's not an award-winner but all three of my babies are in one frame so I'll take it!

Watchin' 'toons.

Watchin' 'toons.

When you have 26 ears to clean, you enlist all of the help you can find.

When you have 26 ears to clean, you enlist all of the help you can find.

Driving out to Tyler to drop the big kids off for their first ever week of sleep-away camp, we stopped in Dallas for brunch at Independent Bar & Kitchen.

Driving out to Tyler to drop the big kids off for their first ever week of sleep-away camp, we stopped in Dallas for brunch at Independent Bar & Kitchen.

Ella ordered the Big Timmy which we assumed was one cinnamon roll.  And then this giant plate of gorgeousness, smothered in a browned butter bacon glaze, showed up.  The good news is that mom was there to help her out when she couldn't finish it off. 

Ella ordered the Big Timmy which we assumed was one cinnamon roll.  And then this giant plate of gorgeousness, smothered in a browned butter bacon glaze, showed up.  The good news is that mom was there to help her out when she couldn't finish it off. 

All of kids hung out windows and sun roofs on the slow drive into the camp. 

All of kids hung out windows and sun roofs on the slow drive into the camp. 

We spent a couple of hours, making beds, meeting new friends and counselors, and getting the lay of the land.  After both kids passed their swim test and we embarrassed them with final kisses, we headed back to the city to pack. For Miami!! With no kids!  (Whom we love and missed dearly every moment of our time away.)

We spent a couple of hours, making beds, meeting new friends and counselors, and getting the lay of the land.  After both kids passed their swim test and we embarrassed them with final kisses, we headed back to the city to pack.

For Miami!! With no kids!  (Whom we love and missed dearly every moment of our time away.)

By an absolute fluke of using Starwood points, booking at the last minute, and a complimentary upgrade, we ended up in this crazy suite. Our next hotel stay at the Motor Inn is going to be a real let-down. 

By an absolute fluke of using Starwood points, booking at the last minute, and a complimentary upgrade, we ended up in this crazy suite.

Our next hotel stay at the Motor Inn is going to be a real let-down. 

Viva Las Cowgirls!

This year, our traditional Cowgirls weekend took a journey south of the border to Mexico City. Not to make the rest of the Cowgirls jealous, but we had kind of an amazing time.  #vivalascowgirls!

Arriving at MEX International.

Arriving at MEX International.

George, our furry Welcome Wagon in the darned cutest little package.

George, our furry Welcome Wagon in the darned cutest little package.

Welcome Cocktails!

Welcome Cocktails!

Umbrella and hat placement both courtesy of a very sneaky, very adorable five-year old. 

Umbrella and hat placement both courtesy of a very sneaky, very adorable five-year old. 

Our hosts' beautiful home in Polanco -- with one special detail I had to include for my sister -- a limited edition David Bowie mask made from an original cast.

Our hosts' beautiful home in Polanco -- with one special detail I had to include for my sister -- a limited edition David Bowie mask made from an original cast.

Thursday afternoon, we explored a little of Polanco, accompanied the girls to their swim lessons and eventually headed out to dinner at an Italian place named Brassi, just around the corner.  We may have even sneaked in a power nap.  Ah, vacation. 

Thursday afternoon, we explored a little of Polanco, accompanied the girls to their swim lessons and eventually headed out to dinner at an Italian place named Brassi, just around the corner.  We may have even sneaked in a power nap. 

Ah, vacation. 

Friday morning, we headed off to catch a hop on/hop off tour of the central portions of the city. 

Friday morning, we headed off to catch a hop on/hop off tour of the central portions of the city. 

Traffic in Mexico City is no joke, but on the bright side it does give you plenty of time for photos and selfies. 

Traffic in Mexico City is no joke, but on the bright side it does give you plenty of time for photos and selfies. 

Buried utility lines haven't yet caught on as a fad, as far as we could tell. 

Buried utility lines haven't yet caught on as a fad, as far as we could tell. 

Everywhere throughout the city, we found incredible street art installations, murals and inventive graffiti. 

Everywhere throughout the city, we found incredible street art installations, murals and inventive graffiti. 

Genius idea: a separate counter just for desserts.  Why has America not figured this out?

Genius idea: a separate counter just for desserts.  Why has America not figured this out?

Catedral de Mexico

Catedral de Mexico

I may or may not have been reprimanded for photographing the Holy Doors.  (A sign would have been helpful.)  Oh yeah, I got in trouble for photographing the Black Jesus pictured a little further up on the blog.  There was sign in that case, but in my defense, I hadn't seen it yet.  Hard to argue that I wasn't capable of translating "NO FOTO." Whoops.

I may or may not have been reprimanded for photographing the Holy Doors.  (A sign would have been helpful.)  Oh yeah, I got in trouble for photographing the Black Jesus pictured a little further up on the blog.  There was sign in that case, but in my defense, I hadn't seen it yet.  Hard to argue that I wasn't capable of translating "NO FOTO." Whoops.

(Early!) Saturday morning we headed to Teotihuacan to visit and climb first the Pyramid of the Sun, and then the Pyramid of the Moon.  The Aztecs began construction on these pyramids and nearby temples in 100 C.E. Beating the crowds, we had the top of the first pyramid all to ourselves, surrounded by hot air balloons that launch early in the day.  It was absolutely a bucket list kind of morning. 

(Early!) Saturday morning we headed to Teotihuacan to visit and climb first the Pyramid of the Sun, and then the Pyramid of the Moon.  The Aztecs began construction on these pyramids and nearby temples in 100 C.E. Beating the crowds, we had the top of the first pyramid all to ourselves, surrounded by hot air balloons that launch early in the day.  It was absolutely a bucket list kind of morning. 

Here we're featuring our limited edition 'Viva las Cowgirls!' 2016 t-shirts, and a stray dog who was very interested in us and our pint-sized, talented photographer.

Here we're featuring our limited edition 'Viva las Cowgirls!' 2016 t-shirts, and a stray dog who was very interested in us and our pint-sized, talented photographer.

It was STEEP.  Thankfully they had a hand rail for portions of the climb that involved 30-foot long sections of metal wire covered by plastic tubing that swung around as you grabbed hold of it.  (Side note: Apparently I have suddenly inherited my mother's fear of heights.)

It was STEEP.  Thankfully they had a hand rail for portions of the climb that involved 30-foot long sections of metal wire covered by plastic tubing that swung around as you grabbed hold of it.  (Side note: Apparently I have suddenly inherited my mother's fear of heights.)

There are clearly fewer lawyers practicing in this area of the world. 

There are clearly fewer lawyers practicing in this area of the world. 

Well we got close, but I think we missed the exact spot where this original photo was taken of David Bowie.  But Bowie's photo didn't include a hot air balloon.  So there.

Well we got close, but I think we missed the exact spot where this original photo was taken of David Bowie. 

But Bowie's photo didn't include a hot air balloon.  So there.

Back in Mexico City, we cleaned up and set out, walking first through a fresh air market organized in the park across the street, then to a French restaurant for a long, late afternoon lunch. 

Back in Mexico City, we cleaned up and set out, walking first through a fresh air market organized in the park across the street, then to a French restaurant for a long, late afternoon lunch. 

Not pictured: the rest of our visit was spent eating, drinking, talking for hours and sleeping without having an alarm set to wake us up.  Basically, a little bit of heaven. I did manage to snap a pic of our goodbye Cava toast. Until next time! Or in my case...until five hours later when I returned from the airport to stay one more night after missing my flight.  But that's a story for another time. !Hasta la próxima vez!

Not pictured: the rest of our visit was spent eating, drinking, talking for hours and sleeping without having an alarm set to wake us up.  Basically, a little bit of heaven. I did manage to snap a pic of our goodbye Cava toast.

Until next time! Or in my case...until five hours later when I returned from the airport to stay one more night after missing my flight. 

But that's a story for another time.

!Hasta la próxima vez!

April

Michael excels at many things.  Waiting for the action to come to him is not one of them.  (I missed catching the part where he was sitting in the grass, inspecting the blades.)

Michael excels at many things.  Waiting for the action to come to him is not one of them. 

(I missed catching the part where he was sitting in the grass, inspecting the blades.)

"My ball!"

"My ball!"

Getting ready to board a plane to see our Georgia family!

Getting ready to board a plane to see our Georgia family!

Knit Bear needed to be on top "so he could breathe okay."

Knit Bear needed to be on top "so he could breathe okay."

Joshua let Ella help him run up and down the stones a few times which made her afternoon.  

Joshua let Ella help him run up and down the stones a few times which made her afternoon.  

Arts and snacks time.

Arts and snacks time.

If bread is involved, Ella is IN for helping with dinner prep.

If bread is involved, Ella is IN for helping with dinner prep.

Thankfully Gramps didn't have to break up too many fights over the drive-way baseball game.

Thankfully Gramps didn't have to break up too many fights over the drive-way baseball game.

Saturday, we headed to the homeland. 

Saturday, we headed to the homeland. 

14 years ago, Wes asked me to marry him by this fountain.  The best part of this story is how Ella makes gagging sounds and tries to run from the room every time we start to tell it.  Pure entertainment. 

14 years ago, Wes asked me to marry him by this fountain. 

The best part of this story is how Ella makes gagging sounds and tries to run from the room every time we start to tell it.  Pure entertainment. 

Joshua (and the rest of us) had an amazing time at the G-Day game!

Joshua (and the rest of us) had an amazing time at the G-Day game!

Uncle J was clearly ready to do whatever it took to get B Duck-Duck-Goosing with the rest of the crowd. 

Uncle J was clearly ready to do whatever it took to get B Duck-Duck-Goosing with the rest of the crowd. 

#93K(and then some)Day

#93K(and then some)Day

Grandmother Martz was kind enough to put up with the boys running around her apartment, throwing paper airplanes and treating her rocking recliner like an amusement park ride while we visited.  God bless her. 

Grandmother Martz was kind enough to put up with the boys running around her apartment, throwing paper airplanes and treating her rocking recliner like an amusement park ride while we visited.  God bless her. 

With bad weather in Texas, we learned while driving to the airport that we would be delayed so we made a quick detour to have lunch near where we bought our first house in Atlanta.  We lucked out spending some more time with Uncle J and B, and then let the kids stretch their legs exploring Oakland Cemetery, complete with a stop to pay our respects to Mr. Bobby Jones.  "Bob- Hit 'em straight. GAH"

With bad weather in Texas, we learned while driving to the airport that we would be delayed so we made a quick detour to have lunch near where we bought our first house in Atlanta.  We lucked out spending some more time with Uncle J and B, and then let the kids stretch their legs exploring Oakland Cemetery, complete with a stop to pay our respects to Mr. Bobby Jones. 

"Bob- Hit 'em straight. GAH"

The history lesson I gave the big kids on the Civil War probably wasn't the highlight of their weekend, but it made the mommy-teacher in me feel like, well, at least they are building stories to moan about together when they get older.  "Remember when mom droned on about the history of the states?  And then she quizzed us?  Ugh."

The history lesson I gave the big kids on the Civil War probably wasn't the highlight of their weekend, but it made the mommy-teacher in me feel like, well, at least they are building stories to moan about together when they get older. 

"Remember when mom droned on about the history of the states?  And then she quizzed us?  Ugh."

After clearing security, we were hit with a few more hours of delays.  Enter: TGI Friday's and our fully-charged iPads (thank the Lord.)

After clearing security, we were hit with a few more hours of delays.  Enter: TGI Friday's and our fully-charged iPads (thank the Lord.)

While sitting at Friday's, Ella took an interest in my camera and we held an impromptu lesson about the exposure triangle and manual operation. All of these photos are SOOC (straight out of camera) and I'm especially proud of how she did on the series of three at the bottom.  At her request, I asked her to expose for the plane outside, the seat inside and then her brother's cheek.  She only took these three shots -- no practice shots were deleted. In an hour, she seemed to grasp what took me more than a year to figure out on my own.  Stinker. 

While sitting at Friday's, Ella took an interest in my camera and we held an impromptu lesson about the exposure triangle and manual operation. All of these photos are SOOC (straight out of camera) and I'm especially proud of how she did on the series of three at the bottom.  At her request, I asked her to expose for the plane outside, the seat inside and then her brother's cheek.  She only took these three shots -- no practice shots were deleted.

In an hour, she seemed to grasp what took me more than a year to figure out on my own. 

Stinker. 

Following the end of the regular season, Ella's team competed in their first travel tournament.  Several of the team members wore double French braids the first day which was a great idea until it came time to cheer them on from across the field -- and we couldn't tell who was who!

Following the end of the regular season, Ella's team competed in their first travel tournament.  Several of the team members wore double French braids the first day which was a great idea until it came time to cheer them on from across the field -- and we couldn't tell who was who!

Exhibit A: The teams they were playing were somewhat more...well, not all in fourth grade.

Exhibit A: The teams they were playing were somewhat more...well, not all in fourth grade.

Saturday night, El and I took a quick break from the team to pick up some take-out from Cracker Barrel.  Naturally we had to test out the oversized Checkers board and rocking chairs while we waited. 

Saturday night, El and I took a quick break from the team to pick up some take-out from Cracker Barrel.  Naturally we had to test out the oversized Checkers board and rocking chairs while we waited. 

Home.

After a few months with far more travel than normal, we're enjoying a few uninterrupted weeks at home.  It's been a nice change of pace and my dusty to-do list is benefiting a little.  Unfortunately, the next big item is getting our tax paperwork together and I'm running out of excuses to avoid it altogether.  (Help, anyone?)

Michael was recently inspired to 'hang a shingle' and formalize branding for his bedroom.  If you get there early, the cover charge is pretty reasonable. 

We've since upgraded his desk to allow more room for the very serious projects he likes to take on between bedtime and lights-out time.  This kiddo's brain takes a while to wind down at the end of the day. 

The annual preschool egg hunt is a sight to behold. 

The annual preschool egg hunt is a sight to behold. 

The annual tradition.  This time, no major spills or fist-fights happened so we're calling it a win.

The annual tradition.  This time, no major spills or fist-fights happened so we're calling it a win.

The Easter Bunny brought marigolds and herbs this year!

The Easter Bunny brought marigolds and herbs this year!

The Hunt.

The Hunt.

Oh yes, I did.  I subjected all of our Texas family to a group portrait.  And we'll do it all again when we can include Aunt Sandy, Aunt Maureen and Uncle Mel.  The lucky devils. 

Oh yes, I did.  I subjected all of our Texas family to a group portrait.  And we'll do it all again when we can include Aunt Sandy, Aunt Maureen and Uncle Mel. 

The lucky devils. 

Nice faces.

Nice faces.

Silly faces.

Silly faces.

Where's Waldo?

Where's Waldo?

I believe this excitement was over the pastel-colored deviled eggs, courtesy of Mamaw.  (Yum.)

I believe this excitement was over the pastel-colored deviled eggs, courtesy of Mamaw.  (Yum.)

Brothers.

Brothers.

Happy birthday to Aunt Molly!  And yes, this was The Cake.  Or, well, the second one. 

Happy birthday to Aunt Molly!  And yes, this was The Cake.  Or, well, the second one. 

Henry took over my camera for a little while during cake-and-cards time.  I kind of liked this one. 

Henry took over my camera for a little while during cake-and-cards time.  I kind of liked this one. 

Apparently my constant singing on the way home didn't keep Henry awake.  I'll try harder next time.

Apparently my constant singing on the way home didn't keep Henry awake. 

I'll try harder next time.

Well Into the New Year

The calendar tells me it's February already and 2016 is on pace to go by even faster than 2015, if that's possible.  We started off the year with our favorite niece turning FIFTEEN.  Ugh. 

Two more of our January birthday girls!

Two more of our January birthday girls!

Family Game Night (Georgia-themed, of course.)

Family Game Night (Georgia-themed, of course.)

Can you hear the maniacal laughter?

Can you hear the maniacal laughter?

Ella suffers so as a big sister to two ridiculous little brothers.

Ella suffers so as a big sister to two ridiculous little brothers.

We hit the Ft. Worth Stock Show & Rodeo for the first time this year.  Of course, we missed the Rodeo part -- we'll plan ahead better next year -- but the midway was worth the trip. 

We hit the Ft. Worth Stock Show & Rodeo for the first time this year.  Of course, we missed the Rodeo part -- we'll plan ahead better next year -- but the midway was worth the trip. 

I regretted agreeing to ride the Ferris wheel with Ella the minute we sat down.  She had a blast, though. 

I regretted agreeing to ride the Ferris wheel with Ella the minute we sat down.  She had a blast, though. 

Dinner on the Woodshed Smokehouse patio by the river was a little chilly.

Dinner on the Woodshed Smokehouse patio by the river was a little chilly.

Spring season's started! Our eyes are still adjusting to the new neon uniforms.

Spring season's started! Our eyes are still adjusting to the new neon uniforms.

Valentine's Party No. 1

Valentine's Party No. 1

Valentine's Party No. 2

Valentine's Party No. 2

Valentine's Party No. 3

Valentine's Party No. 3

Saturday, we took the kids to watch the U.S. Women's National Team beat Mexico.  Ella lit up watching Carly Lloyd finally score on a PK near the end of the game. 

Saturday, we took the kids to watch the U.S. Women's National Team beat Mexico.  Ella lit up watching Carly Lloyd finally score on a PK near the end of the game. 

The Away jerseys are a little easier on the eyes. 

The Away jerseys are a little easier on the eyes. 

December & Such

Hello 2016!

I'm going to ignore you for a smidge while posting photos from our days in December. 

December was more fun anyhow.

This year, our family members who missed out on attending the Christmas program at Henry's school didn't miss too much.  His expression stayed pretty consistently sour throughout the performance.

This year, our family members who missed out on attending the Christmas program at Henry's school didn't miss too much.  His expression stayed pretty consistently sour throughout the performance.


Wait, that's not entirely true.  He did swap out to a pouty-lip once or twice. 

Wait, that's not entirely true.  He did swap out to a pouty-lip once or twice. 

The Winter Blast 5v5 tournament came with some wonky rules for the girls to learn, but Ella got the chance to step outside of her usual defender position a bit and scored a whopping three goals in the final game of the day.

The Winter Blast 5v5 tournament came with some wonky rules for the girls to learn, but Ella got the chance to step outside of her usual defender position a bit and scored a whopping three goals in the final game of the day.

Everybody loves Class Holiday Party day. 

Everybody loves Class Holiday Party day. 

Gigi and Poppa came for a visit just before Christmas!

Gigi and Poppa came for a visit just before Christmas!

The obligatory Christmas Cookie Decorating event.

The obligatory Christmas Cookie Decorating event.

This year, we traded The Nutcracker for Elf! The Musical.  A few less ballerinas and a few more laughs.  There's no substitute for the classics, but we really enjoyed the show.

This year, we traded The Nutcracker for Elf! The Musical.  A few less ballerinas and a few more laughs.  There's no substitute for the classics, but we really enjoyed the show.

Henry knocked down some pins!

Henry knocked down some pins!

2015.12 Selects-38.jpg
Ella turned 10.  She did not ask our permission.

Ella turned 10. 

She did not ask our permission.

Good save by Aunt Amy.

Good save by Aunt Amy.

Drew's expression here wins this entire blog post.

Drew's expression here wins this entire blog post.

For her birthday, she got her ears pierced.  (A right of passage at age 10 for the Feighner family.)  This is her Before shot.

For her birthday, she got her ears pierced.  (A right of passage at age 10 for the Feighner family.)  This is her Before shot.

And During...

And During...

...still During.  And if I had an After shot that was in focus, I'd share.  Oh, well.  She was clearly the bravest, coolest kid in the tattoo parlor that day.

...still During.  And if I had an After shot that was in focus, I'd share.  Oh, well. 

She was clearly the bravest, coolest kid in the tattoo parlor that day.

Huddled around the computer, researching genealogy after dinner.

Huddled around the computer, researching genealogy after dinner.

What a Monday morning looks like on Christmas Break.

What a Monday morning looks like on Christmas Break.

For official family photos, we make them put on pants, of course. 

For official family photos, we make them put on pants, of course. 

As it turns out, Christmas Break evenings are not materially different from Christmas Break mornings.

As it turns out, Christmas Break evenings are not materially different from Christmas Break mornings.

SANTA CAME!!!!!

SANTA CAME!!!!!

"Don't make me look at the camera, Mom.  Someone could steal my new antler. I mean, seriously."

"Don't make me look at the camera, Mom.  Someone could steal my new antler. I mean, seriously."

It took approximately 20 days between Santa bringing the trampoline and our first trampoline-related Urgent Care visit.  And eight of those days, we were out of town at the lake.  I know, I know.

It took approximately 20 days between Santa bringing the trampoline and our first trampoline-related Urgent Care visit.  And eight of those days, we were out of town at the lake. 

I know, I know.

Christmas Day at the farm.

Christmas Day at the farm.

You know four-year olds.  If anyone -- anywhere -- is opening a present, they are there by their side.

You know four-year olds.  If anyone -- anywhere -- is opening a present, they are there by their side.

The next time we come to dinner at the farm, I expect this dish towel to be prominently displayed in the kitchen.

The next time we come to dinner at the farm, I expect this dish towel to be prominently displayed in the kitchen.