Monday, December 24, 2012

Visit to The Big Man!

This year was my favorite visit with Santa as of yet!
We picked up my mom and met Scott, Shawna, & kids in Walnut Creek.
Connor came prepared with his letter he made at school.
"Dear Santa
I wish
to have
any Legos
and a
Star Wars
Angry Bird.
But wait, there
is more...trains."
When they first sat down Emma Kate discussed what she wanted with Santa...
A baby wolf.
(She played with a little stuffed fox she found one day at Macy's when we were shopping.
She called it her "Baby Wolf" and ever since then, that's all she's been asking for.)

Then it was Connor's turn.
He used his time to read his letter to Santa. 
Then Dom slipped in for a picture. 
My mom wanted to attempt an All Grandkid Photo.
I was skeptical at first, but it turned out hilarious! 
Poor Harley!
He was NOT a fan!
Here's my version of the photo... 
My kids said their good-bye's so that Harley and Abby
could be torured some more
could have some time alone with Santa... 
I LOVE that Santa was crying too!!
That picture makes me laugh every time.
And because I love crying kids with Santa pictures so much...
Here's another!
After sitting with The Big Man, we got our traditional frozen yogurt in 50 degree weather.
Come on, who can really be within 50 feet of a FroYo shop and not get any?!
While Harley enjoyed being free of the scary man in the big red suit! 
P.S. Connor has been really skeptical of Santa this year.
I HATE how kids talk at school!
We've had many talks about believing in things that we cannot see right before our eyes, as well as what Christmas is REALLY about.
And yet he insists on going to The North Pole to see it for himself as soon as he is able!
If only the magic could last forever.
Maybe at least another year?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Polar Express: Schwab Style

Looks like just an ordinary mini van, doesn't it?
Well tonight we transformed it into
The Polar Express!!
Every year we take Jeff's parents with us to drive around looking for
really neat Christmas light displays.
This year we added a twist.
Connor and Emma knew NOTHING.
I purchased a bell for each of the kids and Dominic helped
print up some Polar Express tickets.

While Jeff bathed the kids I set to work...
Hot cocoa for some, and tea for others. 
Emmy got chocolate milk in her sippy. 
Of course Jeff was the conductor. 
What? A picture of me?!?! 
When everyone/thing was in place and the kids were ready for bed,
the train whistle blew.
And tickets were passed out.
"What?!?!" Connor said. 
Tickets got punched on the way out to the garage station. 

They opened the van train door to find Ma and Papa waiting for the ride!!!! 
Dom was a good sport being scrunched in the back with Connor and I.
(It was cozy.) 
And we set forth with our beverages, bells, Christmas music, and smiles. 
We even listened to The Polar Express, read by Liam Nieson, in the car.
As the story began, Connor said to me, "Mom, you should really ask before you borrow something from me!"    Ha!
And for the next hour we drove around, finding really cool Christmas lights, lots of manger scenes, and re-discovering the magic of Christmas through the eyes of our children.
This ended up being such a cool twist of our usual tradition...
I think we might just do it again next year!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Kick-Off

Yes, Christmas-time is now in full swing around the Schwab House!
We kicked off the season a week ago with our annual Christmas Train Ride
from Sunol to Niles. Jeff has volunteered for years at the PLA.
Every year the club spends hours decorating the train in lights and it has become a
family tradition to start out our Christmas season.
In fact Jeff proposed to me on this train way back in 2001!
So of course I have to get a picture every year of just the 2 of us:)
This year we thought to get some family pictures while the kids were still in good spirits, instead of after the ride when everyone is tired. 
OK, we almost made it... 
I am so excited to get both sets of grandparents with all their grandkids!
Love these shots! 
It was my niece, Abby's, first Christmas Train.
(Shawna had to work and didn't get to join us. Sad.) 
This train ride always reminds me how thankful I am to have our parents all live so close
to do these types of things together. 
And how blessed our kids are to grow up so close to them. 

I love this time of year. I love the lights. The music. The parties. Time with family and friends.
Starting new traditions for the kids to remember forever.
But mostly, remembering our Savior's birth and all the He does for us.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Night Dinner Challenge

Tonight we had this for dinner...!
Chicken and Biscuits!
Mmmm.....comfort food.
"Who," might you ask, "made it?"
Good Question...Dominic made dinner tonight!
Tonight marked the first night of our official
Wednesday Night Dinner Challenge!
Here's how it works.
Every Wednesday night (maybe every other...not sure yet)
it's Dominic's responsibility to make dinner.
He finds a recipe that he'd like to try out.
He has a budget...this week it was $25.
He does the grocery shopping for the meal.
(He's allowed to use any ingredients we already have in the house.)
And he cooks it for the whole family.
The only other rules are that dinner has to be ready by 6:00 and
it has to include a vegetable!

How'd he do his first night?
It was yummy and we all had "second's."
It was ready at 6:30 but it was his first time.
And he came in under budget with $20 spent!
I am so excited about our new challenge.
Dominic has always showed an interest in cooking.
And he will be leaving for college in a year and a half!
I am suddenly feeling a rush to teach him the many things he should know before leaving home.
Things to help him live on his own, be a better roommate, boyfriend, and yes, eventually...
Things like...
Doing laundry.
Sewing a button back on his shirt. Or pants.
Living on a budget.
Doing his own grocery shopping.
Yes, the list goes on!
But for now I'll focus on the cooking.
I have to admit Jeff and I enjoyed coming home from work tonight 
 not having to worry about dinner ;)
And I think Dominic was pretty proud!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Halloween 2012

I know, I know...Halloween was a couple weeks ago already!
I'm a little behind.
But, you see, the flu ran it's course through our house hard and strong.
It all began with me the night before Halloween.
During the night I tossed and turned with an upset tummy, not sure if I was really getting sick or I was just really worried I was getting sick.
When I got out of bed that morning, it hit me.
I know when I can't drink my morning coffee...
Fortunately I had the day off work.
Unfortunately it was Halloween and Halloween was not going to sit around and wait for me to get better.
Jeff took off for work and I mustered everything inside me to make Connor's lunch and get everyone ready for the day.
After I dropped Connor off I headed over to my parents' place for some help with Emmers and maybe a little down time.
Not much of a success.
And not long before it was time to head back to school for Connor's costume parade.
PLEASE GOD...don't let me throw up in front of hundreds of children!
( I seriously took a Ziploc Bag just in case!)
I made it through, but Emma wanted to just climb all over me as I sat on the asphault, watching the kids. I really just wanted to go home to bed, in the dark...ALONE!
But these kids were pretty darn cute.
I just loved the series of shots I got of Connor and some of his buddies.
(I know...Super Mom...ehhh? I got pictures too!)
I did call J to come home early from work.
Thank God he got home in time to pick Connor up from school.
And I rested a little before it was time to head to Nick and Beck's for our annual Trick or Treating with the cousins.
I managed to remember all the pieces to the kids' costumes..
We have Darth Vader... 
And Ariel... 
I did forget their really cute treat bags. Fortunately family has a way of coming through with back-up's.
Now for more costumes...
Cale was Darth also!
And Corben...
well he was also going to be Darth Vader but at the last minute he whipped out
his doctor dress up outfit...
I love that kid! 
All the kids, including neighbors, and C&C's cousins from the other side of the family... 
Libby, AKA "Pumpkin," got in on the action too. 
I know this next picture is blurry, but I love how it shows Emma Kate's excitement.
She was INTO IT this year!
It was so fun to watch the kids. I think I enjoyed this year the most so far...
and that's saying a lot considering I wanted to hurl my guts into the bushes.
(Sorry for the visual, but that's reality folks.)

Emma's little tushy was pretty stinkin' hilarious in that Ariel costume, I couldn't pass up a picture of the back of her.

It was a very, very successful night.
The kids were super happy with their loot at the end of the evening. 
We left their house and stopped by church for the tail end of their Harvest Carnival too.
I know, we're a little crazy.
And I think the kids got as much candy there in 30 minutes as they collected the whole rest of the night!
Oh, BTW Dom ditched us for his friends.
Shocker...we are so exciting!
Side Note: Dominic wore his Nachum costume from his "beggar" part in Fiddler on the Roof  to school the day after Halloween so he could wear it to his favorite classes.
He was actually called into the Principal's Office for "not being sensitive to homeless people."
Dominic was both completely freaked out, having never been called into The Office before, and mortified that anyone had thought he was making fun of the homeless.
And on a Side, Side note...if you thought anything you saw on Halloween was scary, be glad you were NOT at my house the following week!
One by one, we were all knocked down by the flu.
On a positive note...I got it first so the whole time I was caring for everyone else, I wasn't worried I would catch it!
We were followed by Scott's family...and my dad got it too.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pumpkin Carving 2012

Have I mentioned before how much I LOVE carving pumpkins?
*Insert as much sarcasm as you can possibly imagine here.*
Usually I do the carving "with" the kids without any hubby help.
He is not a fan either.
And it takes FOREVER!
This year I guess I probably complained enough about not wanting to do it, that Jeff offered to get the tops off and get them all cleaned out.
Things are lookin' up!
I also used some new tactical maneuvers. Usually I have all those fun templates for carving...
you know, for Cars themed pumpkins, or super scary...and detailed carvings.
This year I had them, but I didn't even take them out of the storage bin.
There was no mention of anything fancy and no one asked!
Connor set to work immediately after Jeff had his cleaned out.

Oh my goodness!
I helped a little bit, but this kid knocked it out of the ballpark!
Finally he can carve his own. *Sigh*
And he was so proud.
(Unfortuantely this is the best picture we got of final shots.
We didn't even get them lit this year, for reasons that deserve a post of their own.)

What, might you ask, was Emma Kate doing while this was going on?
Stabbing her pumpkin over and over again.
I gave her a couple tools and she went at it!
I have never seen a child so enthralled! 
Finally Jeff decided to cut hers open as well.
But...she wouldn't let him clean it out.
SHE wanted to do it herself.
Ahhh...the independence of a girl!

She was so intent. She literally pulled all the seeds out, dumping handfuls into a bowl. Then she would shove them back into her pumpkin, only to repeat the process over and over again.
LOVE this next picture!
They were so busy:) 
Good thing we decided to carve outside.
It was a mess!
Might I mention that Emma's pumpkin never even got carved.
She was totally content with what she had done:)
What did I do during all of this?
Take pictures.
And enjoy my kids.
Dom didn't get to his till the next evening.
He was super fast!
This is what he came up with...!

I so wish I had a picture of it glowing.
It was so pretty!
So I have to admit that this mom is changing her
Pumpkin Carving Tune...
And still learning that simplicity is often better.
Let go.
Let the kids have fun just doing it on their own.
And nothing has to be perfect:)