Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blake Family Scrapbook ~ Nov 2010 - Jun 2012

* *
Here it is! My second family digital scrapbook! It always feels like SUCH a big deal when I finish one...and it is. It's our family's life for almost two years in a nutshell. I don't get photos developed, anymore; we have this. These are our family's photo memories. (Here's the first one.)

I also didn't blog any of the completed pages as I finished from page 65-92, so the whole last third of the book you've never seen before! I can't wait until it arrives from being printed next week, and I have it in my hands...

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of 1st & 3rd

Monday was Will & Annelise's first day of 3rd & 1st grade:

It was perhaps the least anxious first day we (I know *I*) have had since Will began public school. I was filled with peace from the start. (It helps that I'm getting up at 7:15/7:30 AM now to leave at 8, instead of 6:45 AM with ten minutes to get Will on the bus. :-P) We live 0.5 miles from school, so we don't get bus service this year - very sad for Annelise, who was hoping to have her 1st bus experience, and for the certainly-upcoming days Mommy would rather stay in jammas ;-) but awesome, b/c we can WALK to school! JB has always dreamed of the kids being able to walk to school like he did growing up; well, we've got it! 15 minutes each way + twice a day = an hour of walking exercise for me. :-) Now, this morning was truly miserable: carrying 20 lbs of school supplies on this walk to drop off in their classes was like a boot camp nightmare; but we made it...and every other morning will seem like cake now. :-P

The kids came & snuggled me in the beddy before we got up and ate cereal. Everything and everyone was just ready. No rushing, no last minute forgetting anything. Annelise wore her gorgeous new boutique dress and felt beautiful; Will was even ready to get on with the show. :-P They obliged me (shhhhyeah, like they had a choice! ;-)) with their photo in front of the house before we started walking, and we still got to school with enough time for me to unload their supplies in each class before the bell.

The other bonus to this walking business is that it was no big deal to walk in with them and make sure they were settled - no trying to find impossible parking & battle the mile-long drop-off line, and certainly no "I wonder if they even found their class?" worries after them getting off a bus. It made pick-up pretty great, too: although it was hot as Hades, walking home was the perfect amount of time for me to grill them each on their days...w/o me getting ignored in favor of a snack, etc. ;-)

Will was the MOST EXCITED I have EVER seen him after the first day of school. He answered my every query w/o saying "I don't know" or "Nothing" even once. :-P Annelise also had a great day...but she was exhausted. I was a little surprised, b/c she's been going to full-day school for the last two years, so it's not like this 1st Grade schedule is new; but she still made it through cheer tonight from 6-8 PM with a good attitude, so triumph!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Zumba Job Journey CONTINUED

[Want the details from the beginning? Start here.]

On Saturday the 18th, I had my all-day, 9 AM - 6 PM Group Fitness Certification Training over an hour away. The biggest blessing was meeting another girl from the movement auditions [she does Total Conditioning, not Zumba] waiting at the General Manager's interview who said she wanted to carpool Saturday! (I hatehatehate driving, esp. when I don't know where I'm going, esp. when it's really far away, and esp. when it's to something I'm nervous about!) Having her drive was an absolute godsend for me. The training was surprisingly almost all classroom teaching; we each got a manual, and the instructor was wonderful, making sure to say "Ding! Ding!" when it was material that was going to be on the test at the end of the day. It wasn't "super fun" per se, but I *did* learn a lot. I esp. enjoyed the in-depth section on metabolism and how our bodies process what we eat with exercise.

This last week has been the tough part: just waiting. The instructor from Saturday said it would take 3-4 days until our test scores would be reported, so I didn't expect to hear anything until mid-week. The girl I carpooled with heard Tuesday night that she needed to go pick up her new hire packet...and that's when my faith test kicked into high gear. I expected to hear, as well; I had heard at the earliest possible moment for every previous step and had been first in every interview line...but now nothing. I had absolutely no reason to believe they no longer wanted me, (and I *KNEW* I passed that test on Sat. - no question whatsoever!) but total radio silence.

I asked my FB friends for prayer. I knew that evil was trying to bait me with my friend's good news when I hadn't yet heard re: myself. I knew I needed to be thankful for this strengthening of my faith - b/c I *know* I've been in God's will during this process - and remind myself that He has the best worked out for me, wherever, whenever.

I finally broke down & emailed the Group Fitness Department Head on Thursday to check in. On Friday, she asked if I had picked up my new hire package, yet.


I got all excited - b/c I hadn't heard I was getting one! - and said I'd pick it up that very morning! Well, when I went to pick it up, there was only one left, and it was for a different girl. I couldn't decide if she made a mistake, that they're not actually hiring me (like she was so busy she read "Sima" (other girl) instead of Susie on my email) or if she just didn't have MY package ready, yet. I emailed her one last time: "I stopped by the front desk for the new hire packet on Friday, but there wasn't one ready for me, yet. Just let me know when I should come back by! :-)"

FINALLY Saturday afternoon, I was inundated with several new hire packet emails and an email to all of the new "Rockstar Rookies" about the next trainings we need to get before we teach, once all our new hire paperwork is processed.

It was all just a busy oversight, and I'm really in! A week of stressing for nothing :-P ...but isn't that almost ALWAYS the way? :-D It is SUCH a blessing to be chosen over all those other ladies who auditioned; I thought they were all really good! Next step for me: heart rate monitor training on Sept. 8th.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Youth Football Season Kickoff

I'm thankful this was our family's *only* youth football Saturday as a house divided: Annelise & I cheered as our Texans played JB & Will's Falcons. We braved rain, thunder, & (distant?) lightning - NOTHING gets Texas football games called early!!! I loooved seeing JB out there as Coach, Will gave great effort as outside linebacker, and Annelise was full of gorgeous spirit! Family football = dream life...

[And better pics in the coming games, when I get to really focus on Will when he's playing, and JB can take pics of Sis when we're cheering. :-)]

Last Week of Summer

How did we spend our last week of summer vacay at home?

Let me first note that on Sunday, I felt nods to our Providence Church & Trinity Church at our new one: we sang Chris Tomlin's "Here For You" during worship, which was a staple this year at Providence, and then our new pastor referenced the biblical metanarrative. As soon as he said "metanarrative", I totally heard Dr. Moore's voice; it was one of his signature phrases. ♥

I wanted to let the kids choose where we went & what we did all week, since it was their last grasp at summer fun. ;-) Monday, we lunched with friends at a family grill restaurant with playgrounds and free soft serve. Kid friendly to the max!

Tuesday was...APOCALYPTIC: I vehemently hate playing card & board games...but I spent ALL DAY from 9 AM to 4 PM playing Will's new board game, Ticket to Ride, with the kids! :-O
#1 - b/c I love them and #2 - b/c I wasn't losing. (Yes, I play to win, even against my kids; & you don't want to see me, if I lose. This is *why* I don't regularly enjoy games. The world is a much more peaceful place w/o me participating this way. ;-)) But thank God for the grace for five actually-fun rounds! :-D I doubt I could hold back my toddler-esque pouting & tantrums playing with adults, but I have to admit, I loved playing with Will & Annelise. It's a really wonderful game, if you are in the market for one. Glowing rave reviews!!!

We got cleaned up Tuesday afternoon just in time to go to Annelise's trial class at a new gym, to see if she liked it.
She liked it. :-P
Look out, gymnastics world - Annelise has officially arrived!
At this point, she's "taking a year off dance" and will just do gymnastics (with cheer through November.) [We have a little fail safe, though, if she changes her mind: this gym also has a dance studio, so we can add dance, if we "need" to. :-)]

Wednesday was lunch with friends for literally FOUR HOURS at CiCi's Pizza. :-D Hey - you can't beat a cheap place that will cook you fresh pizzas to order, serves veggies (salad bar) that your kids will eat, and keeps your kids entertained that long so you can have adult convos with your friends!!!

Thursday was our last summer pool day: we spent hours at the Lake House Pool (before Meet the Teacher Night at school) and made new friends there, too! Will really doesn't want to give up our pool life here when school starts...and honestly, for the first summer of their school-aged lives, I'm kind of with him! Summers usually feel rather lonely for us; but the last month and a half has been AMAZING here!!!

Friday - per final request - was Rainforest Café with my new friend & her FOUR children: 2nd Grade & Kindergarten girls (yay for Sis!) and ...wait for it... 4-week-old twin boys!!! [We were brought together via FB: our old neighbor in Atlanta moved to Birmingham, AL and became friends there with this lady, whose husband was just transferred here the same time we were! We live in the same neighborhood, about 2 miles apart! We bonded over our(her older) kids' ages, Southernness, Lilly Pulitzer, and having to move for your husband's job when you are eight months pg!!! (We moved from ATL to MI when I was 8 months pg with Annelise; it wasn't twins, but Will was only 18 months old, and it was to FREEZING MI in the winter!!!)] I have to give a special mention to Will: he attended to those babies like he was the Daddy. He was amazing...and it made my heart almost burst to think what a great father he will be one day!!! ♥

Stop Me, Lilly!

Somebody, stop me. :-P I had to go back for one more Lilly sale piece this morning - the Wynne Top Printed Slub in Bright Navy Foxy:
I mean, $19 down from $78 - that's hard to beat when you really love the piece! And I have been dreaming of a one-shoulder Lilly top like this for over a year. :-)

I really love caring about style, again - the last year and a half especially. :-) Part of this is feeling fully back to myself - solidly beyond the years of being pg, nursing, & generally running on [frumpy] autopilot chasing little ones. Zumba also has me liking the way I look in new clothes and not delaying new stuff "until I can get down a size smaller." The other major factor in my personal fashion rejuvenation is the culture where we live. People actually speak to you when you're out & about; you make new friends at every turn, so it's worth the effort! :-D Up north, no one could even see what I was wearing from October-May, b/c it was hidden under my omnipresent winter coat!!! :-P But Southern life is so open and vibrant, and I love reflecting that in clothes that speak "me". :-)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Meet the Teacher: 1st & 3rd

Thursday evening, we got to explore Will & Annelise's new school and find out who their new teachers are for this school year! The building is modern, and I love the teal, blue, & mauve color palette - not very typical. I like that the hallways are all carpeted [office carpet - not cushy :-P] - feels slightly...cozy? The ceilings in the halls felt very high, while the hallways themselves felt a bit narrow; but that could've been b/c half the town was cramming down these halls altogether! :-P (The thinner hallways could also be on purpose to be slightly more kid-sized?)

We found Annelise's new 1st Grade class first: Mrs. Everhard. Annelise is EXCITED BEYOND WORDS!!! She cannot wait to start! She kept saying she wished she could go NOW!!!
[It was Flamingo's only opportunity to come see where Mommy will be during the day. ;-)]
This will be Annelise's very first public school experience, coming out of Montessori. I talked to her about it, how this would be different: instead of choosing growing work on your own, getting a mat, and doing it by yourself, you'll do most of your work here at your desk; and you'll do work all together in the order that the teacher says, OK? She's SO easy-going (& brilliant) - she said, "Yeah! That sounds great!" And it will be for her. :-)

Next, we found Will's new 3rd Grade class: Mrs. Ayala (eye-AH-la :-D)
Will is a bit more tentative. (He really just doesn't want summer to end!) I know he was wishing he could go give Mrs. Coley & Mrs. Hemphill a big hug back at Lee County Primary. (But even if we were still in south GA, he'd be moving up to Lee County Elementary, so it would be a whole nother new building & new teachers there, too.) I talked to him last night about it: remember last year when we met Mrs. Hemphill? We didn't know anything about her, and she ended up being the most wonderful teacher ever! Same thing tonight - we can't even imagine, yet, how awesome Mrs. Ayala will be. :-) [I don't mean for it to sound like Will was down, worried, or freaking out at all; he just wasn't bouncing off the walls & squealing with rapturous joy like Annelise. :-D He was quietly taking it all in; he's not ready to give up the pool, yet.] The part he IS really excited for is that he gets TWO teachers: Mrs. Ayala is his main teacher and will focus on reading, spelling, & social studies; then his class switches with the adjoining classroom to have Miss Goddard for math & science. He said, "FINALLY, I get two teachers!" :-D Makes him feels extra grown up, I think. ;-)

Lilly Pulitzer at Midnight

Oh my gosh, y'all! I just shopped the big Lilly Pulitzer Endless Summer midnight. :-P I kept opening & closing windows with pieces I love all evening. I kept debating...and only went with pieces that 1) I will actually wear more than once or twice a year [I love SO MANY DRESSES!!! But they're not as practical for my daily wear] and 2) have prices as low (or lower) than what I'd pay at my favorite Lilly consignment store in Charlotte. :-D It helps that I get to wear summer-weight clothes from at least March - October. #GodblesstheSouth These were awesome deals (esp. for my crazy-cheap-self!!!) so let me share, while I'm on my shopping high:

For me - this Callie Skirt in Worth Blue Dot Dot Hop:

And for Annelise (they only had a size bigger, so we'll coordinate in a year or so) - this Little Lilly Shift Rosettes in Worth Blue Dot Dot Hop:

For me - the Wiley Tube Top in Resort White Chum Bucket:

With coordinating Little Callahan Shorts for Annelise:

Multi Aint No Lady Printed Patch Callahan Shorts for me:

And Buttercup Shorts in Hotty Pink Lucky Seersucker:
Because I have been absolutely OBSESSING over having a monogrammed pair, since I saw this blog post in April.

YAY for scoring six pieces for as much (& potentially less!) than one regularly full-priced dress!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Trophies & Fury

Will & Annelise reached their Texas summer reading goals at the library this week and were rewarded with TROPHIES:
(There is no better prize for them!!! Our kids are complete trophy hoarders. :-P)

After trophies, we went to our new pediatrician for the first time for Will's 8-year-old well-check. LOVE HER! She's a young D.O., [I think she's our very first family physician who's younger than I am, (by - I guesstimate - 2 years ;-))] and she talked to Will like an equal, not like he was a kid. He loves well-checks...well, he used to. These last two years, he's had bloodwork (Annelise, too) just to monitor their triglycerides, since we have a serious history of young heart disease on both sides of our family, and we do NOT want to be blind to the risk. Annelise is tough; she is barely bothered by needles or finger pricks. Will, on the other hand, squeals, screams, shakes, and literally acts like he's about to be chopped wide open. There's not much logic or bribery that can get through to him; trust me, we've tried. He goes psycho; and now that he's bigger, we also have to have help holding him down, b/c he flails so much, I can't keep him still enough on my own. :'( It's heartbreaking...and maddening, b/c the stick takes half a second, and he always says, "Well, it wasn't the worst ever," afterwards. Yeah - that's after he has terrified every other kid in the office and exasperated the entire nursing staff. :-P [I pray for blessings & favor upon Ms. Betina, who deserves sainthood for enduring this fury.] Will did emerge from the melee saying that he likes this pediatrician "better than any other we've ever had!" so I'm declaring triumph! :-D I was super impressed at how fast we were seen - I didn't even finish filling out our new patient forms until OUR VISIT WAS OVER, it went so quickly.

Will at 8 years old: 4' 2.25" + 61 lbs. = BMI of 17, 75th percentile = perfection :-)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Zumba Job Journey

When I began the steps to get hired as a Zumba instructor at the nice, huge fitness center here, I didn't quite realize what I was getting into. Unbeknownst to me, I had shown up at the Lamborghini of gyms. (I've never been a real gym member, much less at one of the fanciest in the country! I only know dance studios; and the one gym where I taught in Georgia wasn't a franchise: very simple - no bells & whistles.) It was like walking in off the street to the Admissions Office of Harvard or Davidson and saying, "I'm smart. Let me in." :-D In the dance world in Atlanta & Chicago even before Zumba, I was used to just showing up at a studio with my résumé, the management really liking my personality, and hiring me on the spot - every single time.

*pop* [the sound of my bubble bursting. :-P]

That was NOT the case here. At all.

I am *WORKING* to get this position!

I got an inkling that this would be a serious corporate operation when I called to express initial interest and inquire re: openings. I was told to fill out the paperwork to preregister for the Group Fitness Movement Audition and prepare a three-minute audition song. Ummmm, OK. It's actually normal (I was just lucky before ;-)) to have a Zumba movement audition, and I liked that they'd see what they were getting with me up front. :-) What I didn't expect was to see 23 other people at the audition! It closed with the director saying we'd hear something in 3-5 business days...

Happily, I *did* hear on the very first possible day! I had passed the movement audition (forgot to mention: during which we were scored by SIX different department people!) and scheduled a phone interview for the next day.

The phone interview also went well. I had no idea what to expect: it only lasted 10 minutes. After I got a big check mark for that, it was time to schedule my first personal interview - before which I needed to memorize the company's Mission Statement, Vision Statement, & Group Fitness Department Objective. I was also asked if I'd be willing to take an all-day group fitness certification course on the 18th from 9 AM - 6 PM an hour away & pay for it out of pocket. Ummmm, OK. (I actually responded, "Of course!" with the utmost enthusiasm ...but if I'm being honest, I really thought, "ANOTHER hoop to jump through?") I completely understand them requiring the training course: they are a major company that needs quality control to protect their brand. I would require the top levels of education from anyone I wanted to employ, as well, if it were my business ...but when a job was not, yet, guaranteed, for a moment it felt like a lot to ask.

I tried not to let myself get overwhelmed (thank you, TBP!) I memorized the company statements and showed up for the personal interview Monday morning. We had a great connection & energy that put me at ease right off the bat ...but then the "tell me a time when" questions were hard. I haven't been teaching Zumba that long, so I haven't experienced many (any?) hardships that I've had to overcome; but I also wanted to come up with at least SOME answer to each question. I had no clue whether I was bombing or rocking this portion, with my stretch answers.

But apparently I rocked it. :-P She said she LOVES that I haven't taught at many other gyms, so I don't have to unlearn any bad habits. I have the energy & passion, and those are the only things she can't teach. :-D So now she wanted me to go to the next step: interview with the GM.

That was this Thursday afternoon at 4:15. My appointment confirmation made a big point of saying to wear "professional attire", so I dug my timelessly classic Brooks Brothers suit out of the deep recesses of my closet. [It was back there with other precious-yet-seldom-used gems, like my genuine red leather pants (which I rocked on my bachelorette party weekend in New Orleans ;-))] Dressed to the nines and in sleek black heels for the first time in...AGES [PS - Will looked at me like I was an alien!!! He made a point of saying he doesn't like Mommy in high heels! :-P :-D] we arrived early enough for me to drop the kids off at free childcare (joy!) and "relax" (wait some more ;-)) in the lobby.

The GM was casual and put me right at ease. She read over all my previous interview notes and even told me some of the things others had written on my movement audition critiques: "adorable", "amazing smile", and - the most jaw-dropping, from the Group Fitness Department Head - "good muscle tone". :-O #knockmeoverwithafeather I will live on that for weeks!!! :-D The GM told me flat out that the Group Fitness Department Head wants me, so I that I can "bring diversity to their Zumba program." HAAAA!!! How hysterical is THAT - that they need a dancey, cheerleadery white girl who will draw the Caucasian members into Zumba, b/c their current classes are almost all Latina/South American! :-D I never thought the race card would EVER be an advantage to me in Zumba!!! (I've even often wondered if I should trend more Latin in my music & choreography, like everyone else. I guess not! :-D)

But I still don't know exactly what's next. The GM asked at the end, "So what did the Group Fitness Head [who has been spearheading this] say was the next step?" Ummmm, I thought this WAS the last step. ??? I told the GM that she had said this was the final interview, and the GM said she was sure the Group Fitness Head would touch base with me soon, then, and they could copy my social security card & drivers license later. So, nothing formal still, but the GM told me exactly why they want me and that I'll be I assume I'm in? Tentative yays???

Yes, I still have to pass this Group Fitness Certification training all day from 9 AM - 6 PM Saturday, and I will still have to get CPR/AED certified and go through heart rate monitor training, etc. ...But it sounds like if I keep staying the course with them that I'm in.

When I found out about all these initial hoops, I did question myself for a minute: "Why not try the Y or call some other private gyms that won't make me do all this involved corporate stuff?" This was the very first and ONLY Zumba teaching opportunity here that I even heard about & pursued. I knew I was doing the right thing, though, b/c I kept praying about it with every step and gave every bit of it up to God. I asked Him to make this happen, if it was His will, and to prepare me for every hoop. There probably were/are easier avenues out there, but I'm so glad I stuck with it and have ended up in a Lamborghini situation! :-D

The free membership for me & the kids (& JB at a discount, if he wants, after football season) will be worth it alone. This place is literally a resort. A resort with free childcare that they love, too! And indoor year-round pool, hot tub ♥ , café, and day spa!!! (Oooo! Praying for employee massage discounts! ;-)) The fact that I'll get paid to get healthier and now I'll have a much stronger Zumba resume is icing on the cake. :-D Thank you, God, for carrying me through this!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Outback Bound

I got the kids registered for their new elementary school this morning:

Their new school mascot: koalas, and the campus is referred to as the Outback - so cute! *EVERYONE* around here goes on & on about how we got into the BEST school; that's pretty confidence-boosting, considering the whole system is one of the best in the state. (It's the biggest reason we moved here, instead of any other Houston area.)

All this re-registration hassle (endless forms and lines for new driver's licenses, new doctors with new insurance, new schools, etc.) is one of the WORST parts of moving. I think people who don't move can take for granted not having to do this over & over every year, with every move. I'm praying so hard that I won't have to go spend another four hours in line at the DMV/DPS (that was the 3rd time in 3 years) until my current license & online update run out in 12 years, and that now after we spent almost three hours in line this morning, that our kids will be able to stay in this school system.

We're all excited for both Will & Annelise to get to be in the same school together for really the first time. (They did go to the same Montessori for one year in Chicago; but Will was full-day Kindy, and Annelise was just 3 yrs old for preschool, so it wasn't a big deal.) I know *I* am excited to finally have them on the same holiday/school calendar (last year & a half, they had different teacher work days & Spring Break weeks = no family travel) and that I can drop them off & pick them up at the same time in the same place, (no longer 30 minutes apart!)

We get to meet their new teachers and really tour the school next Thursday, the 24th, at 4:30, and then school starts on Monday, the 27th. Just a week & a half of summer vacay left!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Off My Wall: Spice Dance College Eats

Random shareworthies on my mind and off my FB wall:

* These Sanhale Snacks Pomegranate Pistachios with Almonds, Cherries, + Black Pepper are absolutely divine!!! My mom discovered them at beloved Costco, and now we're completely addicted. Salty, sweet, + spicy! [What? Spicy? I'm raving over spicy??? Y'all, I'm working on my "Texas tongue"! :-D Seriously, over the last year or so, my spice-baby-self has begun to occasionally crave a bit of flavorful heat in my sweet: cayenne in dark chocolate and in my PB2/chia/vanilla protein smoothies. I still can't do not-sweet heat, and bell peppers will always taste cringingly bitter to me; but this tiny taste bud revolution is exciting!]

* My mom found this = 100% me:

* Wanna see me & my other cheer coach doing a dance she choreographed for our squad? (If I would've known we were going to learn & video it that night last week, I would've dressed WAAAY CUTER!!! Or at least untucked my top... :-D)

* I had a Davidson reunion on Friday!!! ♥ Lunch w/ my friend, Ina - we were on the same freshman hall, (a big deal at Davidson.) It was our first time together in TWELVE YEARS! Our kids became instant friends...and had a ball with the tabletop chalk all over their hands. :-P

* Saturday, we discovered an amazing local ice cream shop that makes all kinds of unique, crazy flavors = totally my thing! I had Mexican Hot Chocolate: chocolate ice cream w/ cinnamon & cayenne [see! :-D] = HEAVENLY. I also tasted Shiner Ruby Red, Moxie Jumble, Maple Bacon, & Butterscotch Brownie - yes, please! What crazy ice cream flavors have you had...or would you like to?

* This is what JB walked out of our room to see on Sunday morning = the Mad Genius!

* Sunday at Ephesus Mediterranean Grill for lunch after church I had my first authentic Döner Kebab (think gyro meat on a pita with tzatziki) since Würzburg! ♥
They also had amazing Künefe (phyllo & cheese pastry soaked in sweet syrup) for dessert!!!

* The half hour of the Olympic Closing Ceremonies I watched completely pandered to my mid-30's demographic. Fatboy Slim, Spice Girls, Oasis = it was a concert of my college/Germany years! ♥ I doubt any other age group cared, but I was rolling down memory lane. :-P I am totally reviving part of "The Rockafeller Skank" in a future Zumba routine, and I *STILL* remember our complete house lip sync contest choreo to "Spice Up Your Life"! :-D (And I WILL find that pic!!!)

Feel free to copy my "Off my Wall" title picture and link up here at the bottom. :-)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gelish: Texans / USA / Olympic Team Spirit Mani

It's been a while since I posted a Gelish update; I've been rocking the traditional French pretty much nonstop...until NOW! [What's Gelish?]

Enter my latest team spirit mani:
[It's really for my & Annelise's cheer squad: the Texans - but it could also be for USA or Olympic spirit, too! Any two colors = any team!]

I created this look by first freehand painting two layers of the blue Aurora EFX Special Effects Polish "Wiggle Fingers, Wiggle Thumbs, That's the Way Magic Comes" on the tips of my nails. (I can tell I've been doing the traditional French lately, b/c my freehand blue lines are getting pretty darn good! :-D) I then filled in under the blue with "Stand Out" red - just one layer. (I had planned on two, but one didn't look too light, so I saved myself the extra layer time.)

Funky, fun, full of team spirit, and totally on trend!!!

Last LaLa & End of Will's Bday

We made the most of LaLa's (my mom's) last day visiting us here in Texas on Wednesday. Will wanted to take her to Lupe Tortilla for lunch, and luckily for him, he also got some belated birthday praises: the staff sang to him, (in Spanish, to which he replied, "What are they saying???" :-P :-D), let him wear a sombrero, and brought free flan! It was HANDS DOWN the BEST flan I have ever had IN MY LIFE. Our server, Luis, put whipped cream on Will's face, and we all had a laugh:

After lunch, the kids finally got their wish of taking LaLa to one of our neighborhood pools. The water was perfect, and the slides were a blast:

Will finished off the day in spectacular form: he had the best football practice of his life (he was a defensive machine, kept causing fumbles & running them back for TDs! :-D) and was thrilled to pieces to open his birthday box from Grandma & Grandpa Blake:
Madden NFL 12 for Wii and a HUGE Lego train set!!! He is in absolute heaven! THANK YOU!!! :-)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blue Bell Creamery & We're in a Tree

We fulfilled my mom's greatest Houston dream (I wholly admit, it was up there for me, too :-D) by visiting the Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory! Blue Bell is our family's absolute FAVORITE national ice cream brand, and the tour did not disappoint. :-) Will & Annelise were completely enthralled - it was just like an episode of their fave Food Network show Unwrapped in real life. :-D I had decadent "chocolate covered cherries" ice cream for my free cup.

Fun with the old school commercial ice cream churn:


"Let me help you eat yours now, Sissy..."

"Mommy can help, too..."

Best slogan EVER: "We eat all we can, and we sell the rest."

After the tour & stuffing our faces, we saw the BEST climbing tree, so LaLa told us to get up there! We're in a tree:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Houston Zoo

You all know we are a zoo-obsessed family, so it was just a matter of time until we made our first pilgrimage to our newest: the big Houston Zoo! What better occasion than celebrating Will's actual 8th birthday with LaLa (my mom) here?! (We had his party the day before.)

Crawling through piranha!
Chimp chat

Giraffe feeding: