It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…

Weekly Happenings: This past week was really nice. Joseph had the full week off for Thanksgiving and Paul had Thursday and Friday off (and he was able to get off work early on Wednesday, too). On Wednesday, we went to the zoo after Paul got home. I packed sandwiches for us to eat for an early dinner (we ate at Brackenridge Park, which is right next to the zoo) and then we checked out the zoo. We also stayed late enough to see the Christmas zoo lights (the zoo was all decorated with lights and music and all sorts of fun like that). It was really fun! Thursday was Thanksgiving. It was just our little family as usual, which was nice. Paul grilled the turkey and I made the sides (green beans, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, and rolls). I also made pecan pie the day before. Then yesterday, we worked at putting the fall decorations away and putting Christmas decorations out. It’s fun to see the kids getting excited about the holidays.

The Weekly Weather: It’s been mild and cool-ish for the most part. Yesterday and today have been even cooler and we’ve had a bit of rain. It rained yesterday morning and then was clear. It’s been sprinkling/raining all day today, though.

What Paul’s Been Up To: He was the only one in the office this past week, but luckily it was a short week. He worked hard to get the lights up outside of our house and he’s also been working to get the holiday decorations for the neighborhood ready. He was going to put them up today, but the weather hasn’t been cooperating, so he’ll need to do that a different day.

What Sarah’s Been Up To: I took this week off from piano students, which was a nice break. I also got all of our inside decorations up. Paul got the trees put together (we have our big one but Joseph has a small tree for his room and Abigail has a small tree that is kept downstairs right now; when she gets a bit older, we’ll probably start letting her have it in her room, too) and “fluffed”. The kids were in charge of decorating their trees, which meant I was in charge of the big one.

What Joseph’s Been Up To: It’s going to be hard to get him up for school on Monday after having a full week off, but luckily, I think he only has three weeks before it’s Christmas break. This time of year goes so fast!

What Abigail’s Been Up To: She has been just loving all the Christmas stuff being up. This morning, she came down the stairs and was in awe about it all (she must have forgotten about it overnight). I love seeing the holidays through the eyes of my kiddos.

This Week in Pictures:

Sunday family selfie! This was right after we got done with church, out by the pavilion for our building.
One without Daddy wearing sunglasses.
Batman was being a little clingy. πŸ˜€
All ready for the oven! I’m pretty confident about the filling, since it’s pretty basic, but I’m always a bit nervous about making my own crust…
…but it turned out pretty good!
All wrapped up and ready for the fridge.
She was excited that the butterfly wall was still there.
On the carousel.
She was excited that she got to sit on a Texas animal (a horned lizard). She told me it was her favorite, haha.
Y’all. This look. This look right here is why I leave my comfy home in search of fun things.
Playing in the “snow” (I think it was soap of some sort).
Another family selfie! It was hard to get one where everyone was looking at the camera, haha.
Fresh rolls for Thanksgiving dinner! I’m not sure what caused the one on the bottom right to go rogue (I probably didn’t get it balled up tight enough), but that’s okay. We ate it anyway. πŸ˜‰
Plate of yummy food…
…and a couple hours later, dessert! I also made the whipped cream, so I felt pretty proud of myself about this dessert. πŸ˜‰
I had to document that I actually got my kitchen all cleaned up after the craziness that happened with putting on a large dinner.
Snugglin’ the one who was going to bed first. πŸ˜‰
The stockings were hung by the…electric fireplace…with care. πŸ˜€
She was so excited to get to decorate her own tree.
We got this nativity from a family who is very dear to us (the Hustons). It was made in Bethlehem and if you twist the star, it plays “Silent Night”.
The big tree.
I recently “attended” a virtual Relief Society activity where we did a bingo game. I won this little tree (along with a few other things). Joseph came up with the idea that we turn it into a “Charlie Brown” tree (think “A Charlie Brown Christmas”).
The piano this year.
Abigail’s nativity (and one that I made as a teenager and have decided she can put next to hers, since she really likes them).
Abigail’s tree.
I love how this wall looks.
Joseph’s tree.
A Santa I made when I was a teenager, our countdown, and one of my favorite Christmas quotes).
Some perfectly-placed mistletoe. πŸ˜‰
I love how simple our wreath is. πŸ™‚
I had to put this guy up pretty high to keep him safe. πŸ˜‰
Kitchen lights.
Lights under the breakfast bar.
The outside of the house. I love how Paul turns the garage door into a big present.
The front porch.
This is one of my favorite views. 😍
This lighthouse. My mom gave it to me close to two decades ago and it has been a part of my holiday decorations ever since. Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love lighthouses…not just for their architecture, but for their deep symbolism as well. Guiding the way through darkness, fog, and storms, through treacherous waters into the safety of the harbor. I feel it especially this year…but I know that if I watch for the light and follow it in faith, I will be able to find my way to the harbor and safety.

Bonus Video: Google Photos took bits and pieces of a bunch of videos that we’ve taken of Abigail and mashed them all together with nice music. It’s a pretty nice video!


One Week Closer

Weekly Happenings: It seems that Abigail has gone from asking when it will be Halloween to asking when it will be Christmas. πŸ˜€ I’ve explained that Thanksgiving comes in between, which she is happy about, but she’s definitely looking forward to putting the Christmas tree up and putting up her stocking (those were the two specific things she mentioned). This week has been a pretty ordinary one. It’s hard to believe that we’re less than a week out from Thanksgiving and then full-launch into the holidays after that. I’m really looking forward to it. Watching the joy of the holidays through my children’s eyes is kind of my favorite.

The Weekly Weather: it has definitely not been acting like we’re in the middle of November. This year reminds me a lot of how it was the year Abigail was born. It’s not hot, per se, but it definitely isn’t cold, either. It’s that “jackets in the morning and shorts in the afternoon” weather that Texas is famous for. πŸ˜€ No rain, either…which is weird.

What Paul’s Been Up To: He’s been busy with stuff with the neighborhood and he’s also been getting the decorations ready to put up at the different entrances to the neighborhood. He’ll be doing that a week from today. It’s crazy that we’re already at this point!

What Sarah’s Been Up To: I’ve been testing out my new pressure cooker. So far, I’ve made boiled eggs, steamed some spaghetti squash, and used the slow cooking function to cook a pork shoulder (I ended up pressure cooking it at the end because I had greatly underestimated just how much time I would need to cook it, since it was a bigger cut than I usually get). I’m excited to see what else I can cook in there!

What Joseph’s Been Up To: He made it through his last week of school and is now officially on Thanksgiving break (which he’s really excited about).

What Abigail’s Been Up To: Because the mornings have been cold, we’ve pulled out the hats to wear while dropping Joseph off at school. She has enjoyed wearing all the different hats and has also enjoyed pretending to be different superheroes, cartoon characters, etc.

This Week in Pictures:

I was finishing up Joseph’s lesson and Abigail wanted in on the fun.
It was in the 40s one morning, so we bundled up. She also had her mask on since we were getting ready to walk up to the school to drop Joseph off and her sunglasses on because it was really bright out. When I realized I could only see the top of her nose, I just had to snap a picture.
Pretending to be the Incredible Hulk. She was stomping around saying, “I’m pretending to be Hulk!” Then she grabbed a little plush Incredible Hulk she has and said “Hulk is chasing my nice dinosaur! He’s so angry. We need to put him somewhere!” I told her to put him in the “pillow prison” (under a throw pillow) which she agreed to. Then all of a sudden several other toys of hers all each became the Hulk and they all had to go to the pillow prison. Then, after they calmed down, they were allowed to leave the prison. Then she said she needed to get her Cinderella finger puppet to help Hulk (the original one) stay calm.
Several years ago, I bought Joseph a long-sleeved Mario shirt that came with a matching beanie. I royally messed up the shirt while trying to get a stain out of it (I was using rubbing alcohol to get out a marker stain from the back of the shirt and it soaked through and took part of the silk-screened design off of the front 😬). He was devastated, so I went and bought a replacement, which meant he ended up with an extra hat, which has always been just that: extra. It’s come in handy a couple times when he’s misplaced the other one, but it really came in handy one day when Abigail was bent on matching him in some way, shape, or form.
I love these flowers. I love the subtle bit of darker pink right that surrounds the yellow right at the center. I love the contrast between the pink and the green. I love their delicateness. I just love them!
I just got this tool and it is awesome! It easily broke down my ground beef into smaller, more uniform pieces, which made it cook a lot faster. I’ve also used this thing to smash boiled eggs for egg salad sandwiches. I have more plans for it, too (mashing potatoes, smashing fruit to make filling for pies, breaking up frozen fruit juice concentrate…the possibilities are vast). I love multi-use tools!
This is my pressure cooker. It came with this glass lid to use when I want to use it as a slow cooker.
Here’s the regular lid. That little red button pops up when the cooker is under full pressure. I also like how far the pressure-release button is from the valve itself. I’m not worried at all about scalding myself. Also, the outside only gets warm to the touch, not hot, so I’m not worried about the kids getting fingers burned. That’s a huge benefit!
Some days I’m just glad she’s eating breakfast and the location isn’t important. Funny enough, as soon as she heard I wasn’t going to let her have a coaster to go with her drink, she was quick to get back up to the table.
I used my breakfast sandwich maker to make an individual serving of…well, the recipe called it French toast, but it was probably closer to a bread pudding. It was so yummy!
She loves this Minnie Mouse. If you press its hand, it sings a song.
I love seeing how much joy she finds in little things. It warms my heart.

Happy Fall, Y’all!

Weekly Happenings: This past week, we pretty much just hung around the house. I think that’s the new norm for how life is, to be honest…we don’t really go anywhere unless we need to. I’m okay with that, though. I’ve found that as I get older, I’m getting to be more of a homebody. Plus, with the holidays coming up, I’d much rather cozy up at home instead of being out in the hustle and bustle (unless it’s fun hustle and bustle with memory-making opportunities for the kids…those are always fun).

The Weekly Weather: It’s been kind of in-between cool and hot. It’s been kind of muggy. Pretty typical November weather, actually.

What Paul’s Been Up To: He had some use-or-lose time to use, so he took Thursday and Friday off. He already had Wednesday off (for Veterans’ Day), so he’s had a lot of time to get stuff done. On Wednesday, he built a platform and ladder for the slide he picked up from someone in the neighborhood. It’s attached to the swing set and looks great! He did some maintenance work at the park (cutting tree limbs, spreading mulch) on Thursday. We have a company that’s supposed to take care of that stuff, but they’ve been dragging their feet, so Paul applied as many bandaids as he could and sent out emails to hopefully get them fixed soon. It’s kind of a tumultuous time because we’re in the middle of the HOA being turned over to homeowners from the developer, but we want the developer to take care of any already existing issues before the official turnover. We have a feeling that the developer wants to try to stick us with as much of it as they can. Hopefully we can come to an amicable agreement.

What Sarah’s Been Up To: I ordered a few more things from Pampered Chef that arrived this week (a pressure cooker and some accessories for it and some little odds and ends: some oven mitts, some oven rack protectors, another batter bowl, and a new little gadget that’s supposed to make it easier to cook ground meat more evenly). I love finding things that make cooking/baking easier!

What Joseph’s Been Up To: He had a good week at school, but he did make sure to tell me that he is looking forward to the week after next when he has the entire week off for Thanksgiving. πŸ™‚

What Abigail’s Been Up To: She has enjoyed playing outside with the cooler weather, has enjoyed playing inside (it’s fun to overhear her imagination at work), and has enjoyed being my little constant companion.

This Week in Pictures:

We’re actually seeing some fall colors which is really nice!
She wanted to set up a picnic in the kitchen for lunch one day.
One of my favorite sights this time of year: so cozy!
My second attempt at making rolls from scratch, using my recipe that requires hand-kneading. I let the yeast sit in the water/sugar mixture for a bit longer and I increased the second proofing time to a full hour (as opposed to the 30 minutes they suggested) and they turned out a lot better!
Since Wednesday was Veterans’ Day, I felt like sharing one of my favorite pictures of Paul. This was in Iraq, back in 2005/2006, when he got to go see the ziggurat at Ur. It was really neat knowing that he was in Abraham’s birthplace.
It’s been warm enough for my rose bush to bloom!
These are my silicone oven rack covers. No more accidentally burning my arms when I go to pull something out from the lower rack!
Working on the slide. Someone in the neighborhood was looking to get rid of the slide part, so Paul nabbed it and then used his time off to get the wood required to build the platform and ladder.
The finished product.
I just love the autumn light in the trees.
Abigail and I tagged along when Paul went to the park to do those few things I mentioned before. We took a walk back into the trees and I wanted to take her picture.
I sure love this little ham!
Headed back down the path to the playground.
I’m really loving that the trees are changing this year. Some years, they aren’t as noticeable.
She loves the swings!
Sometimes you need to just make yourself comfy with a pillow and a cozy blanket.
She told me that she made the piano spooky again by adding her “spooky stuffies”. I think she misses Halloween, but she’ll be okay. We’re putting the Christmas tree up in a couple of weeks. πŸ˜‰
When I put her jacket on, I said, “Oh! You’re so stinkin’ cute!” and she then said, “Yeah! You want to take my picture?” πŸ˜€
She wanted another picture later without her jacket on. That scrunchy nose gets me every time!
She was calling it a tree house. πŸ™‚
While Abigail was playing, I noticed movement above me and looked up to see vultures circling. There were so many of them! I counted forty before I wasn’t sure if I’d counted some of them multiple times. They moved on pretty quickly, though, so I guess they didn’t find anything tasty. πŸ˜‰
The full view of the swing set and slide.
Being a princess can be exhausting! πŸ˜‰