November 15, 2015

52 Project: 46/52

Week 46
November 9 - 15, 2015

Top:  Trying on their photo dresses.
This is the first time ever that I let my girls select their own outfits.
So hard for me to say goodbye to matching!

Bottom:  First ever ponytail.  Love that curly mess!

November 12, 2015

Veterans' Day Assembly

As a teacher, I don't often appreciate legislation that makes any activity mandatory across the board.  But Oklahoma recently required schools to honor our service men and women on Veterans' Day, and I could not support this legislation more.

It was fantastic to hear what Ella and Kate learned in school about our men and women in uniform.  The information they received was age-appropriate and unbiased.  No propaganda, just respect for all who serve.  

Our school capped off Celebrate Freedom Week with a lovely assembly.  Ella was part of  the "cup choir" and drummed out a solo cup rhythm with her classmates.  Kate read a special thank you with a handful of first graders.  There was a slide show featuring photos of all veterans with a tie to our school.  At the conclusion of the assembly, our principal instructed the kids to thank veterans for their service.  And when it was over, many of the kids did just that.

Love the salute from the Vietnam vet in the stands.
So thankful that this man and so many others are finally getting the recognition and respect they deserve.

The back of Ella Mae's head during the cup choir performance.

Kate is the second A in VETERANSDAY.

The best part of this Veterans' Day was when my big girls called their Great Uncle Erick to thank him for his service.  My Uncle Erick was drafted for Vietnam and served his tour of duty when he was 20 years old.  He was a member of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (Blackhorse Regiment).

My Uncle Erick is without a doubt the gentlest, kindest, most sensitive and thoughtful man I have ever known.  He is also one of the strongest.  I cannot imagine the sacrifices Uncle Erick and our other service men and women make while they are fighting and continue to make when they return home and attempt to adjust.  My uncle tells me that he doesn't want me to imagine.  He fought so that hopefully I will never have to.

My uncle in Vietnam, 1968.

My dad, Chris, and his big brother, Erick.
Uncle Erick was honored at the Veterans' Day assembly in my hometown.

My dad was only 15 when his big brother left home to fight, and only 16 when he returned.  My Pops has never been able to fully comprehend the sacrifices his brother made.  He is, however, completely aware that we all owe him a great deal, as evidenced by this song he wrote two decades later.  I wish you could hear it, but I don't have a digital copy of the recording.  Trust me that the music is just as hauntingly beautiful as the words below. 

"Unpaid Debt"
by Chris Price

Fresh out of high school, 
It was a hot summer day.
You planned to go on the college, 
But you were 1-A.
And when that notice came, you felt you had no choice,
Just like half a million true blue American boys.
There's an unpaid debt we all owe 
To the Vietnam Vet.

Boy, you're a soldier now,
You'll bleed OD green.
Boy, you belong to Uncle Sam,
You'll be a fighting machine.
And then they teach you to hate and they teach you to kill.
Gonna wipe out Charlie, bet your ass we will.
There's an unpaid debt we all owe
To the Vietnamn Vet.

And in the ebony night
You pray to God for the light
And you dream about home.
The only thing that kept you going
Was believing and knowing that
This hell must be the price
To keep your family free.
Just hope you live to see nineteen.

Back to the land of the free,
The home of the brave.
Where they call you a killer,
Protest on your buddy's grave.
And you can't seem to fit in, no matter how hard you try
And they wonder why every time you drink, you cry.
There's an unpaid debt we all owe 
To the Vietman Vet.

To see your best friend face down in the mud,
Your combat boots wet with his life's blood.
 God, what a debt we all owe to the Vietnam Vet.

Thank you to our veterans everywhere!

November 8, 2015

52 Project: 45/52

Week 45
November 2 - 8, 2015

Top:  Piper, Ella, Sienna, Kate, and Annie.  

Bottom:  Teensa thinks it over in the bath.

November 7, 2015

Nick & Nick PC

Even though we've lived 5,000 miles away from him for the last decade, I have written several blog posts about my husband's best friend (here, here, and here).  Nick Hill is just THAT awesome.

What's more, Nick Hill's wife is equally awesome.  This is especially important considering how often the Nicks launch into large mock-karate battles and/or laugh hysterically about obscure past events only the two of them remember.  Their conversations get so weird sometimes that a self-respecting girl has no chance but to leave them to it.  If Nick Hill had married a weirdo, I would dread their inside jokes and trips down memory lane.  But thankfully Nick did not marry a weirdo.  He married Ashley.  And Ashley is so awesome I actually look forward to the times when the boys do boy things.  Nick has his Nick, and Aubrey has Ashley.  Beautiful, I tell ya.

And while we're on the subject of ready-made friends, the Nicks have six daughters between them.  With dads who are best friends and moms who adore each other, our six girls were basically bred in a lab to be besties for life.  This weekend was the first time our girls have all spent time together and they got along better than I had even hoped.  Ella, Kate, and Annie have Sienna, Piper, and Emma.  This is the stuff dreams are made of!

The Nicks with their two-year-olds.

Nick H plays catch with Annie.

Nick P plays stylist with Sienna.

Our six girls: Piper, Emma, Ella, Sienna, Kate, and Anne. 
This is as close as we came to a group shot.
Seven out of ten isn't bad!

Leave it to my Nicholas to have the greatest friends in the universe.  And leave it to the other Nicholas to marry one of my favorite girl friends on earth.  And leave it to both Nicks to be the world's best dads to their six sweet, kind, gorgeous daughters.

The Nicks are just that awesome.

November 1, 2015

52 Project: 44/52

Week 44
October 28 - November 2, 2015

Top:  Three little punkins in the pumpkin patch!

Bottom:  Daddy and Mommy are under her spell for sure.

Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2015

Really Truly Halloween

This year these three ladies had the pleasure of experiencing Halloween in America!

American Halloween . . . with an English accent.  :)
Ella and Kate were so excited to wear their robes from our second trip to Hogwarts.

There are countless perks to raising children in foreign countries.  It's no exaggeration to say that my girls had meaningful cultural experiences and interactions every single day of the years they lived in Europe.  But occasionally those cultural experiences fall a bit flat.  Halloween is one of those occasions.  The Brits don't really do Halloween at all, and German Halloween is . . . weird.

If you're long on time, you can read about our Halloweens past below.
Halloween 2011 not celebrated (we were on holiday in Greece)

This year our girls got to experience American Halloween at its finest.  We started celebrating on Halloween Eve with a family viewing of Hocus Pocus.  Don't let those smiles fool you.  They were terrified.  In hindsight, we totally should have stuck with Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest or It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Mini Mary, Sarah, and Winnifred.  :)

On Halloween morning we got out bright and early and visited the pumpkin patch.  These three pumpkin posers were on a mission to find the perfect pumpkins.

Pumpkin posers for sure.

Me:  It's called a scarecrow! Act afraid!
Ella and Kate:  No way, Mom.

Annie pats the pumpkins.

Nick with his little ladies.

After pumpkins were selected, we braved the cane maze.

"Brave" wasn't an accurate description.
This is the farthest Annie ventured from my side.

A friendly scarecrow.
Annie can't wait to dart back and cling to my legs.

After the pumpkin patch, we came home and carved pumpkins with Nana and Poppa.  Nick's parents drove in from Missouri to celebrate Halloween in America with their grandgirls.

Pumpkin carvery is his speciality.  

This girl LOVES scooping the seeds out of pumpkins.
Nick and Ella have got guts.  Pumpkin guts.

This girl still hates getting her hands dirty.
But she enjoys supervising.

The finished product.

After a quick dinner, the girls put their costumes on and got ready to trick-or-treat!  We were the first ones out in the neighborhood.  We hit a few houses, then we came back home to wait until the masses came out to play.  Apparently these people are SERIOUS about their Halloween.  It MUST be dark.  Even for the littlest kids.  Lesson learned!  We'll know for next year.

Hufflepuff, monkey, and Gryffindor.
At the age of two, I'm even more convinced that Annie will be a Slytherin.

In case you were confused about Ella's jack-o-lantern in the photo above, here's a better angle.
A cat.  Naturally.  Her obsession simply will.not.go.away.

Once this girl got the hang of trick-or-treat, she was in constant motion.
Asking Nick to open her one millionth bag of candy.

The girls loved this year's Halloween celebration.  We were all super excited to finally celebrate in America.

Happy Halloween!