Our Thanksgiving in Pictures

Wednesday morning, we packed up the car to make our annual Thanksgiving trip down to East Texas to spend time with my dad and his family for the week!  We spent most of our time out at the lake with my dad and his wife, cousin and his family, along with my aunt and uncle, my grandpa and a few close friends.

The first day was Texas hot...like 80 degrees or something.  Jack was a little obsessed with this water hose...like stood by it, making sweet pleading noises for someone to turn it on again.  It was pretty convincing so he did a lot of playing with the water!  And Carson wanted sooooooo badly to turn it on for him...but knowing Carson, he was strongly advised not to by his dad...

Katherine and I put together a kids craft table that was a big hit.  The temp dropped from 80 to 50 in a matter of hours, so we thought a little crafting might be needed when outside play wasn't an option anymore!

Jack did a lot of contemplating...

This is Jack with my grandpa.  Jack's full name is Chester Jack and my grandpa is Chester, too!  Jack is actually the 4th Chester in our family.  The other 3 are Chester Luckett, but we tweaked it a bit with Chester Jack.
Jack found a minnow net that the big boys were using and it became the toy of the afternoon!  Such a cute picture with Jack and Dad. 

Jack and my cousin's boys played well together....no seriously!  They did!  I have no idea why Jack's crying here...but don't they look all sweet and concerned?  I think I was probably laughing...

I think there's one day in every family holiday that I decide not to wear make up.  And WITHOUT fail, it's the day that we get a picture taken.  So excuse the no-make up face...
For lunch on Friday everyone came over to my dad's house for some good ole fashioned trampoline fun!  This was Jack's first time jumping...with a little help from Carson, of course!

And there were so many leaves to play in!

Here's Jack with Dad and Barbara before we hit the road on Saturday morning.  He's a little sleepy and check out that bed head!

We came back to Fort Worth on Saturday, just in time for a Thanksgiving brunch at Jeff's parent's house on Sunday morning.  Jack and Buddy had to compete for the cutest guest....it was quite a competition!

Mom and Kat joined us for delicious meal!

Jack was loved on a lot this week....it's hard being the center of attention all the time, so he's working on catching up on some much needed sleep this week!

We are so blessed to be where we are, and thankful for the family and friends the Lord has brought into our lives. 

Good times at the park!

In the past few weeks, Jack has gotten so good at walking!  He's verging on running...but sometimes his body gets ahead of his little legs and there's a small catastrophe...so I'll say he's not quite running yet.

With this steadiness comes GOOD times at the park.  He is, actually, in love with the slide.  He's always been a little dare devil...loves nothing more than when we jump out and scare him, squeals with delight when my sister twirls him around and flings him in the air...and now there's the slide.

Jeff and I had a kind of tag team going this day at the park.  Jeff was at the bottom, waiting to catch Jack at the bottom, and I was at the top, making sure he didn't jump off the platform...because he gets THAT excited about the slide!  I'm serious! 

He gets so excited, that he climbs up the steps and just throws himself down the slide!  For a while, I was doing a pretty good job of making him sit on his bottom to go down...

Smile on his face?  Priceless!! 
And check out that static...
But after a while, I couldn't contain the crazy!  He wanted to go down face first so badly!  And so he did...over and over and over and over and over and over.....not kidding.  And loved every minute of it!!

We did get a few cute pics with Daddy and Mama...

The park is sooooooooo fun! 

Mulching Mania

I counted today.  We have eight Oak trees in our back yard. 

And I love them!  They're tall, sturdy, awesome shade in the miserably hot summer...but I hate loathe them between October and December. 

Eight Oak trees means 8,000,000,000,000 leaves.  And I'm not kidding.

This morning, instead of doing out regular work outs while Jack was taking his morning nap, Jeff and I tackled the back yard. 

It's serious, ya'll.

Look at that wall of leaves.

We've found that the best thing to do is mulch them.  Which basically means Jeff repeatedly runs over this ridiculous pile of leaves with the lawnmower.

It's no easy task for our backyard to look like this in the middle of November.

Nor is it easy to be walking inside after working for a few hours and watching the leaves twirl down and land in our fresh yard.

Tomorrow, we tackle the front.  Wish us luck!

Buddy the Dog

Jeff's parents got a new puppy yesterday and he is ADORABLE!!  We went to visit today, and he's just so precious. 

Almost as precious as my son.  Whose new favorite toy at Nana and Papaw's house is the doggie pen. 

10 Point Manifesto for Joyful Parenting

I did not write this, it was taken from here, but it's one of the most encouraging/convicting things I've read about parenting lately.  Things I can put into practice right now!  Some things that I read about are hard to do with a toddler...making sure to ask about their day, invest in their time at school, or seek out the conflict in their heart when dealing with misbehavior...that's not really where we are right not.  But this, this will be printed out and hung on my wall from now until forever.  And it isn't just limited to thinking about the way I treat Jack, it is the way I should live to treat all people!

10 Point Manifesto for Joyful Parenting

1. Today, I will make our home a house of prayer. I will pray at set times. And I will invite our children to come move into an interior space that lives with God.

 2. Today, I will transfigure all things into beauty, and I will refuse to see anything else.

3. Today, I will not have any emergencies. There are no emergencies! Only amateurs hurry.

4. Today, when stress mounts, I pray to dismount it with gratitude. My stress management plan will be intervention with verbal thanks. I can only feel one feeling at a time, and I choose to give thanks at all times. Fight feeling with feeling!

5. Today, I will pray to speak words that are only STRONG words, words that make these children feel strong. Grace words. Grace is the only non-toxic air. All other words I breathe are death words.

6. Today, I will pray to be consistently consistent. I will create safe rhythms that our children can find security in. I will create daily ceremonies because everyday we are CELEBRATING the gift of now!

7. Today, the moment when I am most repelled by a child’s behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child.

8. Today, I will hug each of my children as many times as I serve them meals — because children’s hearts feed on touch. I’ll look for as many opportunities to touch my children today as possible — the taller they are, the more so.

9. Today, my priorities will be all Things Unseen.

10. Today, I will laugh! And I will let the little children laugh! I will create a culture of JOY!

dancing, DAN-cing, DANCING!

It started with the stomping of the feet.  That lasted a few weeks.

Then there was the sway.

Then there as the bob.

Jack is dancing!

It's quite possibly the cutest thing EVER!!!

Dancing to commercials, dancing to the intro music of the news, dancing to music at the restaurant, dancing to his toys...dancing to ANYTHING! 

And I love it....and you will too.  You know how suspicious he is of cameras, so imagine this x10, with out inhibition of the camra...

Things you will see in this video:
1.  Me talking baby talk (sorry)
2. Jack dancing
3. Vincent being grumpy
4. Jack being ornery and not showing off how big he is
5.  The cutest toddler in the whole world
6. Jack putting himself to bed

Shower, baby!

Yesterday I was blessed to be one of many hostesses for a baby shower honoring my childhood best friend, Beth.  She's due at the end of February with a little girl and I couldn't be more excited for Jack's wife to be born!  Just kidding!  Maybe...anyways, off topic.

The hostesses included my other 2 best friends from high school, and I have to say, we're pretty good at throwing showers.  We've done quite a few of them together!  Three weddings, and now, three babies....there's a lot of showering in there.

We held the shower at the Botanic Gardens, and I think it turned out just perfectly.

The food was delicious....don't you just want to dive in?  The yogurt parfaits were a big hit!  And the petite fours....um.  You haven't lived until you've tasted these petite fours!!  I didn't realize until Saturday morning that I'd given the pastry chef the wrong date....somehow I typed in 17 instead of 14, so she was planning to have them ready for a shower I was supposedly throwing on Wednesday!!!  Thankfully, she's wonderful and I love her, and she popped these bad boys out just in time for me to pick them up on the way to the Botanic Gardens yesterday.  If you ever need petite fours, Micah is your girl!

The shower had a book theme because Beth loves books...majored in English, taught high school English/Lit for a few years...so we thought it was a perfect fit!  The hostesses all brought books to give Beth and we used those as decorations on each table.  There was also a book quiz.  Ten children's books were given alternative names and you had to figure out what the real name was.  It was so fun to watch all the ladies, young and old, try to work the names out!  I totally stole it from Pink Tea...

There were also library cards on each table for people to write Beth encouraging notes or motherly advice.  I hope she loved reading through them!  They were hole punched to put on her blessing ring.  I absolutely love blessing rings!  Jack has one that a friend gave us, and it's the perfect place to keep notes or cards with out just sticking them in a box to never see again. 

One of Beth's favorite books is Corduroy Bear, so one of the hostesses brought Corduroy Bear to use as our guest sign in.  Very Cute!  You can see the blessing ring hanging in the top pic on the tree, and the framed invitation on the table beside it.  I also put together some party favors, little tea bag covers, that had the baby's name on it, and a reminder to say a prayer for Beth and her husband as they become parents.  You can kinda see them in the pink basket on the table...

Everyone had a great time!

And Bradly got some beautiful things!  All of the ladies were so generous.

Here's Beth, Bradly making here presence known, standing in front of the drinks table.  Isn't she cute?  And you can see the name banner I made behind her!  I'm loving making banners these days....

The obligatory hostess picture....

and Beth''s mom, Judy, Beth, and her sister, Sara.

And a cute little boy who happened to stop by.  Eek!  He's so cute and I love him so much!

Anyways, it was a great day, great shower, wonderful time celebrating with Beth.  I can't wait for her to be a mom!!!  She's going to be such a good mom to Jack's wife.  :)

Beans and Cornbread

Speaking of yummy winter meals...enter beans and cornbread.

Yesterday I made my first pot of pinto beans...ever...and verdict was?  YUMMY!  These will be a staple on our winter dinner menu. 

I soaked about 2 pounds of pinto beans for 5 hours and while that was soaking, cooked up the most wonderful smelling mixture in the world. 
Half a pound of bacon, chopped,
one onion, diced,
5 cloves of garlic, diced
a handful of cilantro leaves
There is no better smell in the whole world than this.  This sauteed up for quite a while...until the bacon was fully cooked and the onions were getting translucent.
When that was done, I drained the grease off and dumped it in bottom of my crock pot.  Into that mixture, I added 1 tsp of chili powder, cumin and salt. Drained the beans and dumped them on top of that, and topped with a can of drained diced tomatoes.  Filled up the crock pot with water, and let them go.  I think it was on low for a few hours, then I cranked it up to high to finish off.

They were DELICIOUS!!!!  Jack loved them, my mom loved them, my (picky) sister loved them, Jeff (who told me he didn't like pinto beans) loved them...yeah, we'll be doing that again. 

They look kinda lame in a tupperware...but I forgot to take a pic in the crock pot!

Now, no pinto bean dinner is complete without cornbread.

One summer after I graduated college (and moved to the arm pit of America to be close to my boyfriend...who broke up with me 2 weeks after I moved there...and worked as a skating car hop at Sonic...with a college degree) I worked with Beth up in Estes Park, Co.  Replaced the arm pit of the world with the mountains of Colorado.  Um, yes please! 

Anyways, it was a bed and breakfast that served lunch.  The food was very simple, only soups, salad, breads and desserts.  But it was all oh so yummy!  The cornbread there was the best...ever.  I don't care which side of the fence you're on, unsweet or sweet.  It doesn't matter.  You'll like this cornbread.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cups creamed corn
1/2 cup Monterrey jack cheese, grated
1/2 cup medium Cheddarr cheese, grated
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs one at a time.
Gradually mix in corn and cheeses.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Spread evenly in a greased 9x13" cake pan.

(I added jalapenos to half of the pan...yummy!)
Place in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Bake for 1 hour.

If you make this, you will thank me...your hips won't but you will.  I mean you'll thank Lois.  It's her recipe...
Enjoy your beans and cornbread...weather man says it's supposed to be cooooooold next week!

Chili Cook Off

It's cool outside....ok, not actually today, it's supposed to be 80, but in theory, it's fall, it's cool outside, stay with me...which makes all of America think of hearty home cooking.  Pot roast in the oven, tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch, beef stew, for some reason, lots of casseroles...and chili.  Mmmmmm, chili. 

Last weekend was the first annual (maybe...give me a few months to recover and then we'll talk annual or one time only) Rooted Chili Cook Off!!  Sometime back in September, the idea came to me and this past weekend (thanks to the help of a lot of folks), the idea became a reality, and it was beyond stressful fun!

Each City Group competed for 3 prizes.  The Golden Ladle for best chili.  The Golden Gnome for the best booth decor.  The Golden Pear for the best dessert. 

It's amazing what a trip to the Salvation Army and a can of gold spray paint can do, right?

It was fierce battle, everyone competed well....and our booth didn't win anything!  Although we did come in second place in two categories, the dessert (which was a pumpkin trifle that we threw together last minute at the park) and the booth decor, which was absolutely lovely! 

Check out the blog and video of the award ceremony on the church website

Will someone PLEASE force me to wear lip stick?  I mean seriously.  Don't even be nice about it.  I'll thank you in the end!

Now that we've had the inaugural go at it, I can already think of ways we can improve and a list of things people can help me with next year.  You know how when you're planning something for the first time, you have no idea what you're doing, much less can you tell people how they can help you, because you don't even know what you're doing?  Yeah, that was me.

Probably the most stressful time of the whole deal was Saturday afternoon.  I'd arranged to rent a generator (who wants cold chili?) from a place close by our house.  Check that off the list! Or so I thought.  We went to pick it up on Saturday around 12:30...and drove up to an empty parking lot, I realized that they closed at noon on Saturday.  Really?  REALLY?  Think you could have mentioned that on the phone when I was reserving it?

After a panic attack, I did some scrambling on my phone to find a place open on Saturday afternoon (who knew that was a rarity?) and found that Lowes rented generators and was open on Saturday afternoon.  Thank you, Jesus, for making that work. 

It was a super wonderful time together with brothers and sisters, and I am truly hopeful that as we get more comfortable with the event, it will be a great place to bring neighbors and friends who are in need of a church family.

Winter Basil Remix

My basil plants were out of control this summer...and I loved it!  Basil was in everything.

I hate the winter, all the goodness of my herbs are gone, and it's either spend some exorbitant amount on fresh herbs from the store, or resort to the dried variety.  Which aren't the same.  At all.

So I did a little research.  Come to find out, you can preserve your basil in the freezer!  I read that the best way to do it was to make a pesto type mix, stick it in ice cube trays, and pop it into a freezer bag to use over the winter months.  Um, home made tomato soup?  Take out a cube of basil, toss that mama in there, bam!  Tomato basil soup!  Cook up some pasta, toss a cube in, dinner is served! 

So, here's how it went down on Morning Glory.

First thing I did was harvest my basil...and there was a ton!!  I filled up the sink with water for a cool crisp water bath...and to rinse all the outside goodies off.
I don't have a food processor, so I used my handy dandy blender.  This part was slightly challenging.  I'm sure with a big food processor, it would be super easy.  With a blender, it was a little more challenging.

I added the basil with a ton of olive oil and cranked it on! 
The basil was having a hard time getting down to the bottom close to blade, so I decided I'd use my spatula and poke them down while the blender blended.  Don't do that.  Somewhere lurking in my pesto are large chunks of wood.  I could hear it being chopped up in the blender.  Lesson learned.  And beware if you come to my house and have pesto.

I don't have ice cube trays, so I used my mini muffin tins and it worked just fine! 

Popped these in the freezer for a day or two and they were good to go! 

Since muffin tins don't quite pop the way ice cube trays do, I held them over a pot of boiling water I was using to make some pasta and they came right out.

I can't wait to use my fresh basil through out the winter months!!!

My little crazy.

If you saw my child in the bathtub these days, you'd secretly wonder if he's gone crazy. 

Bath time these days is are my greatest struggle...and Jack's greatest joy.

Here's how bath time goes right now:
"Jack, you want to take a bath?"
He races to the bathroom to peer into the tub. 
I strip him down, he's loving it!
I fill the tub with water and plunk him in.
He sits there for a minute and I get started washing his hair...fast, because I know what's about to happen.
He gets a crazed look in his eye.
Then all hell breaks loose in the bath tub. 
He's rolling, turning, flailing, crawling, standing up...and laughing hysterically.
When does he laugh the hardest?  When I get hold of his little arm, give him my sternest teacher stare and say, in a very firm voice, "NO".
He laughs uncontrollably, all the while, rolling, turning, flailing, crawling, and trying his best to stand up.

Picture an alligator rolling and being all crazy in the hopes of not being captured.

That's Jack. 

It's HILARIOUS when Jeff's giving him a bath and I get to watch.  Not so hilarious when it's me trying to wrestle the little crazy in order to not let him slip and drown or bust his head open.

It kinda makes me want to laugh, and kinda makes me want to give him a spankin'.

I've resorted to not even filling the bathtub. 

I just run the water.

Sorry environment.

Happy Halloween!

I can't help but love putting pictures of last year right beside pictures of this year.  I love it!  I love seeing how much Jack has grown, I love thinking about how I was feeling, what we were doing last year compared to this year...it's just a reminder how God works, what he brings us through, what he brings us to...I love it.

Moving on....Jack had a great Halloween!  Saturday night, we joined our neighborhood at the annual Halloweenie Roast (hehe) at the park.  The Halloweenie Roast is for real.  Our neighborhood association doesn't mess around!!  One of my favorite things about our neighborhood is how neighborhood-ish it is.  There are a lot of older people in our hood, and they are amazing organizers, planners, and everything they do is done with such joy and love!  I love it! 

So, we hung out at the park for a little while with Jack's friend Sam the dog and his new friend Crash the Ranger...who had pretty much the cutest and most creative costume....

Jack wasn't quite sure what to think of all the fairies and Jedis running around...but I think he had a good time!  Probably wondering the whole time why he was wearing his pajamas at the park and what was this thing on his head....

The Pumpkin Patch

We went to the pumpkin patch....a few weeks ago.  I've been so slow getting these up!

Anyways, it was a beautiful fall afternoon, we planned to head up to the pumpkin patch, spend a few hours exploring, eat dinner out, then head home for bed. 

What we weren't thinking about, being pumpkin patch novices, is that pumpkin patches are shadeless spots, so when the thermometer says 83, it really means 110...or something like that.  It was sooooooooooooo HOT!!!!  We got there at 3:30 and had our fair share of pumpkin patching by 4:15!!  We were both drenched in sweat and Jack's face was bright red...hot or not, we had fun and came away with some adorable pictures!!

First, we did a little pumpkin patch exploring...

the we hung out with the pumpkins....

and then...THEN...we found the wagon!  And while wagons are super fun to ride in....they're even more fun to help Dada push!  I wish this picture had sound to go along with it....the squeals were priceless!