Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lucy's birthday and Halloween planning

We LOVE Halloween around here! Well, we love any holiday, but Halloween is probably a favorite at our house. We spent this past weekend making lots and lots of Halloween goody bags: for our trick-or-treaters, for Lily's school party, and for our Halloween party at out house!

Lily helped make every single one. It took hours, but it was so much fun! The hardest part, per usual, was keeping "the crazy one" away from all of the candy. I think Reese had about 6 suckers while we were trying to pack bags.

Side note- I bought candy at Sam's, and it was crazy cheap compared to Target and grocery stores.

Lily insisted on storing some of the goody bags in her room. She wanted them all on her dresser, but we compromised with the closet. 

One year ago (October 18, 2013), Lucy joined our life. 
We were walking with Sissa and Noni at the Knoxville Mall, and Sissa said, "one day I am going to take you there, Lily", gesturing to Build a Bear. 
Then, in typical Sissa fashion (she is more fun than I am), "Let's go right now."
I kept saying, "NO! Melissa, that is ridiculous." Build a Bear is crazy expensive, and I knew that the stuffed animal would just take up space in my house, never even played with, until I gave it to Good Will.

Sissa grabbed Lily's hand and marched her into the store. Lily turned around and looked at me over her shoulder, giving me a little shrug, and a "I can't help it if Sissa is cooler and more fun than you are, but who I am to stop her?"

And, that is when Lucy entered our lives. Lily picked the creepiest, most noticeable stuffed animal, despite our attempts to steer her toward a normal looking animal. 


She goes through phases with all of her stuffed animals and dolls where she will set up an elaborate party for them or make them books. She has loved Minnie since she got her when she was 3 from Aunt Shannon. Then, for a while, it was Daisy (and then the addition of Laisy from Noni). Daisy lasted about 9 months until she was just phased out. She still loves Minnie, but for the past year, it has mainly been all about Lucy.

Lily packs her own suitcase, and I love when I see her animals peeking out. 

So, for Lucy's 1st birthday, I took her to the Build a Bear that just opened here. Well, Sissa sent me $15 in coupons, so that is what motivated me. But, the timing worked out perfectly. Lily got to groom Lucy and I let her pick out two outfits for her. 

Lily spent the Birthday Eve copying the birthday certificate into one of her many books.

The next morning, the birthday celebration started about 6am. 

And, it continued all day. 

Even Reese walked around saying, "Happy Birthday Lucy!" all day. Reese is always trying to find Lucy and then run and give her to Lily, screaming, "Here, Lala. Here's Lucy."

If you have ever wondered, "What is Nicole doing at 6am on a Saturday morning?" Here is a little video to give you an idea. Yes, it is still dark outside, and we are already deep into our multiple parties for the day. Not by my choice, of course. I bribe, cajole, punish, beg, etc... to try and get Lily to PLEASE PLAY BY YOURSELF. But, I have discovered, I would rather just play with her at 6am than deal with her pouting and throwing "Lily H. is sad" notes down from the balcony for the rest of the day. Plus, the party did end up being kind of fun. 

I love when Reese spots us and starts running. "Hurry!"

So, Lucy is part of the family. In addition to her niece named Lucy, Melissa also has a god-daughter named Lucy. :) We sure are glad that Sissa is so much fun. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

New Orleans

Yes, I am basically the luckiest person in the world. Please don't hate me.
Hughes goes to the ASA (Anesthesiologists...America...something) every year in October, and I always get to tag along. We have been to DC, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, and now New Orleans.

I didn't even think I liked Italian ice, until I tried this bit of frozen heaven in a cup from a little stand in the French Market. Seriously, this was probably the best part of the trip. The man selling them just had a little booth and it looked like he was selling snow cones. We had a long talk with him about marketing ideas, because this was absolutely delicious, and nobody could tell what he was even selling. He was precious. 


The real reason I am so lucky? Because we have so much family who love our girls. Sissa and the Pieces in a selfie. My parents not only agree to watch them...but are EXCITED about it. 

Sissa took Lily to build a haunted house with Anderson while Mom watched the two terrorists Max and Reese. 

How amazing is this?!?!?! It was $250, so I obviously did not buy it, but I was practically drooling over it. They had a Democrat version, but I barely glanced at it, of course. I probably spent an hour just staring at this and imagining where I would hang it. I even went back the next day to stare some more. 

Anderson got to go to the UT game and get ON the field! This has nothing to do with New Orleans, but it happened while we were there, and it has to be included. 

A few of Hughes' partners came, too, so I got to hang out with the wives. This is Candy, and I LOVE her. We had so much fun every day on our adventures as we tried to figure out where we were and not get lost in NOLA.

Meredith= one of my favorite people, ever. 

Meredith and her husband had to leave early because of a family emergency, which was so awful. Meredith ties with my mom as being the most positive people in the world, so she handled it with the expected "it's going to be okay" attitude associate with her. But, their sudden departure made the rest of our trip feel little sad and lonely without them. 

Cafe Du Monde...because it has to happen. 

Sissa texted me this one of the babies eating push pops for lunch. 
Also, as Sissa pointed out, Science is a lie. Our kids, who are genetically half siblings, look NOTHING alike. 

Bourbon street!!! 
We walked down it for about 30 seconds, but...well, New Orleans is HOT, humid, stinky, gross, and filled with drunk people. I got the picture of the sign and then moved on to more exciting areas...

Like the WWII museum!!!!!!!!

When I go on these trips with Hughes, I live and breathe Trip Advisor and Google Maps. For several of the years, it would just be Hughes and me. He is usually in classes from 8-5, so I had to just figure out the city on my own. Since I have been known to get lost driving Lily to school (the same one where she has gone for over 2 years), this is a really terrifying thought. Directions are not my strength. 

The WWII museum was ranked #1 on Trip Advisor, and it deserves that ranking. It was definitely my favorite activity we did. 

My favorite picture of the week- Anderson patiently and gently brushing Reese's hair. I love that they  have their own special cousin bond. 

18 weeks pregnant. Yes, with only ONE baby. I feel huge.
Also, I can't feel it move very often, but it is clearly growing. Shouldn't I be feeling it move more often?

The only picture of Hughes and me from the entire time. He HATES, DESPISES, LOATHES pictures. Especially selfie pictures that end up on social media. We are so opposite in some ways.

Again...luckiest person in the world. My awesome friend, Jenn, and I carpool, so she took Lily to school while we were gone. She sent me daily texts, videos, and pictures to let me know everything was going great! Pictures like this definitely lessened my mom guilt at leaving them for 6 days!

We ate at fancy restaurants, which were delicious, of course. But, this was a hamburger dive and it was probably my favorite meal. Port of Call. It is 6 am, and this picture is making me crave a burger. 

Candy and I did a cemetery tour, which was really interesting to hear the history of the cemeteries. 

Hughes and I actually met (well, sort-of...we semi-met one other time before, but it was really brief and at an 80's roller skating mixer, and I am pretty sure he doesn't remember) in New Orleans! We did an Alternative Spring Break service trip thing with UT. It's a long story, but it's basically when I realized I was going to marry him, even though we didn't start dating until a year later. 

This was our FIRST picture together! In a cemetery in New Orleans...we were cleaning out a cemetery. I remember Hughes made me climb into this rusty wheelbarrow. I was skeptical, because I thought he was going to tip me over. I wish we had taken more pictures on that trip, but I am so grateful for this one!

More Italian ice. We rode the street car and bus to get to this place, and I know we were BEAMING with attempted-nonchalant pride when we finally found it. 

My parents (and Sissa) had the girls over the weekend, and MeeMaw and Granddaddy drove up to get them on Sunday night until we got back Wednesday. Again, not only were they willing to watch them, they kept THANKING US for LETTING them watch the girls. 

Picture of the Princess from MeeMaw.

The ONLY picture I got with an actual grandparent. 
MeeMaw had done the laundry and cooked us dinner, and kept everything picked up. It was WONDERFUL!!! 

I was trying to unpack several suitcases, sort the 427 handouts Lily got from school, dealing with Reese refusing to get off of my leg, trying to cram 6 days worth of to-do list items into a few hours, etc... So, I barely talked to my fantastic in-laws at all. But, they were so understanding and so helpful. 

They left Halloween gifts for the girls. I didn't  get a picture of everything, because Lily ran off with all of the crafting supplies, stickers, and candy. But, how ADORABLE are the little candy bags she made? The pumpkin and candy real life, they are even cuter, if that is possible. 

We are so lucky. I cannot even believe this is my life. The truth is, going out of town requires HOURS and HOURS and hours and hours of planning and of recovering after. It will take me weeks to get caught up. BUT, 6 days in NOLA without my kids?!?! While they are getting spoiled here?? Definitely. It was awesome. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lily's books.

Lily is OBSESSED with making books.  It started a few months ago- I think my mom taught her how to make holes and tie yarn through? She ties them with yarn, staples, them, uses a binder clip, uses rubber bands. She makes tiny books, huge books, colored books, books with words, books with pictures. Constantly. I am a saver/hoarder, but I only save about 15% of what she makes at home. About 98% of what she does at school gets thrown away. 

Here are a few of the pictures I have taken JUST of books made over the last 6 days. 

She set up a school with some stuffed animals. Nothing like a free prescription notepad added to our craft supply stash. 

LOTS of books for the new baby. She puts them in a special overflowing box. 

Aunt Paula gave the girls (Reese) a new little car, and Lily spent hours Sunday writing me notes and sending me the car. I had to write back immediately (or else).

This was maybe half of the books she sent me on Sunday. 
"Mom Book," by Lily H. 

Here is what I love about Lily. I spent all year trying to get some of my students to remember to write their names on their papers. And, they were in middle school! Lily has another Lily in her class (she is Asian! It's hilarious to me), so she has to write Lily H. on everything. Including, apparently, everything she makes at home. Sometimes she writes my name as "Mom H."

These were little. It's hard to tell, but they were cut out from a coloring book and stapled together for her dolls. 

Reese did the cover page and a few others. 

She brought home all SEVEN of these just yesterday in her backpack. During "free time," they can choose what they want to do. Lily always picks crafts or pretend playing Mommy (they act out delivering babies, that is probably interesting). Yesterday, she made 7 books. I threw them all away. I have to be very selective about what I save, or we would have to designate one of our rooms just to save her crafts. 

Inside a few of the books. This one was for the new baby. 

Bug page. 

Math problems. Who is this kid?

On Sunday, she said, "Mom, I need to start doing chores. I am going to make a chore book."

I am a terrible mom and should have jumped on this chance to teach her responsibility and yada, yada. But, that just sounds like a lot of work for ME to be honest. Lily is insanely responsible for a 5 year old, too. But, mainly it is just my laziness preventing her from having regular chores. 

Anyway, here is what she wrote in the book. She spelled a lot of it herself, but obviously I helped her with some words. I love how she wrote "get dressed," which is not really a chore but something that has to be done each day. This is basically like how I have started writing, "take shower" on my to-do list just so I can actually mark something off each day. 

If the words were too long or hard, she drew a picture. 

She even drew the lines herself. 

The two pictures on Thursday are "feed Reesie" and "give Reesie a bath while YOU stay downstairs and don't come up at all, Mama!"

I love her.

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