Sunday, March 04, 2012

Birthday Dash 2012

The time between New Years and Spring Break, January - March, always seems like a dash or a scramble.  Maybe it's due in part because of having to "recover" from the Christmas holidays, maybe it's from having to get back into the pattern and pace of work and school.  But for us it's also in part because Hannah and Patricks' birthdays come pretty quickly after Christmas and New Years and are also pretty close together.  (They were born 12 months and 2 weeks apart.)  Not to say we don't love celebrating them - we surely do, but there's always a bit of a deep breath when Spring Break is close and birthdays are behind us (or maybe it's the prospect of another vacation in front of us?).

This year's Birthday Dash was a lot of fun, though; don't think there's any complaining going on.  With the New Year the kids started some new activities.  Hannah is taking horseback riding lessons a couple times a month.  Patrick has moved away from soccer and has taken up Tae Kwan Do.  Both really enjoy these new activities and continue to enjoy Brownies, violin, and Cub Scouts.

In January, Patrick participated in his first Pinewood Derby.  He took 3rd place in the Tiger Cub division and won the award for "Most Original" car.  Hannah continues to enjoy being a part of "Spirit Squad" at school and would have cheered on the start of the 5K Fun Run at the school's Family Fun Day if it hadn't been rained out.

And of course there were the birthdays themselves.  Both kids wanted parties with a small group of friends this year.  It was a happy Dolphin theme for Hannah and an awesome Pokemon theme for Patrick.  It's hard to believe Hannah is 8 now and Patrick is 7.  They grow up so fast!

With Spring Break only a week away, there will surely be more stories and photos.  Until then, enjoy these pictures!

Birthday Dash 2012

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Happy Thanksmas 2011!

It's been quite a busy fall and winter, full of school, team sports, and family adventure.  Patrick started Cub Scouts in the Fall and he's been working his way towards his Tiger Scout badge.  Hannah has moved from Daisy to Brownie scouts and is really enjoying it.  (Anyone need Girl Scout cookies?  It's that time of year...)

Another thing that seems to be becoming tradition is visiting with family over the week of Thanksgiving.  You think "Sure, that would be called 'celebrating Thanksgiving.'"  True.  But we add a twist.  Since we live so far from most of our family (at least 800 miles away from the nearest) we usually don't see them at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  So we've started to merge the holidays into Thanksmas.  We've even started talking about the lore of Thanksmas, like when Santa Gobble comes to bring presents.   It's a great time and a great way for us to celebrate with each other as much as we can.

This year another reason we needed to celebrate Thanksmas was that we took a family vacation over Christmas.  Recall that Dad had to work pretty much non-stop over the summer.  So we really didn't get a chance to all go on vacation together.  So we just moved our summer vacation to the winter.  We decided a couple years ago we'd do this and we wanted to do a big Disney vacation.  So we saved up and this past Christmas we spent time at Disney World in Florida and went from there on a Disney Cruise in the Carribean.  It was an excellent time and a great chance for us all to get away from Houston and spend time alone as a family.  We had a great time!

And now we look ahead into 2012, wondering what is in store.  No matter what we try to plan, we're sure God will entertain us with some unexpected turns in the road.  Already this year the kids are trying some new things - Hannah is starting horesback ridingn lessons (I'm sure Grandma Van Cise and Aunt Carrie are thrilled) and Patrick is starting Tae Kwan Do instead of playing soccer.  The kids will also be celebrating their 8th and 7th birthdays - growing so fast!

Don't worry, there will be pictures a plenty, probably in the April/Easter timeframe.  Until then, here are photo albums of the Fall/Thanksmas and our Disney vacation.  Enjoy!

Fall and Thanksmas 2011

Disney Vacation 2011

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Summer's Over Already?

Another summer is behind us.  This year was crazy (aren't they all) but with a twist.  Ed was the Lead Flight Director for the International Space Station this summer (May through September) and as such he pretty much lived at work and came home to sleep.  Mom and the kids didn't see him much.  During that time frame was also the STS-135 shuttle mission, which also kept Ed at work for long hours.

We knew in advance that it would likely be this way so we decided to try to keep to our summer routine as of late, but with a twist.  For the last few summers we've been meeting up with the Millers - either in Tennessee or in Texas - to spend time together and to let all the cousins 'hang out.'  This year, Amy and the kids drove up to Tennessee and spent some time there.  Then both the Van Cises and the Millers drove up to Michigan for an escape away from the heat.  They played in Frankenmuth and Muskegon and also spent some time visiting with Grandma and Grandpa Van Cise.

Everyone came back to Texas at the end of July.  As the school year approached, so did the start of fall sports (can you call it "fall sports" when the temps are over 100 and there's a more than 30" shortage of rain?).  Hannah is again cheering for the Clear Lake Space Raiders football team as a  Clear Lake Satellite, but this year they're cheering for the flag football team.  As this is Hannah's second year, she's also one of the Captains of the cheer squad.  Patrick continues to enjoy playing soccer and improves with every practice and match.  Hannah has also joined a new Girl Scout Troop and has started her first year of Brownies.  Likewise, Patrick has joined Cub Scouts and is working on this Tiger Cub badge.

Over Labor Day weekend, the entire family flew up to Baltimore, Maryland.  Ed's cousin, Tim Weiman, got married and Patrick was the ring bearer for the wedding.  It was great to see the family, great weather, great fun and sightseeing, and great to be able to at least get a few days away from Houston together as a family for a small family vacation.

So yes, it was a busy summer that now, in hindsight, seems to have flown by pretty fast!  The kids are really enjoying school - Hannah is now in 2nd grade and Patrick in 1st.  I write this as we have the house windows open and the a/c turned off for the first time since March.  It's great to have evening temperatures the drop below the 80 degree mark and daytime highs (at least today) that didn't go above 90.  Hard to believe it's already October 1!  Hopefully the weather will stick. 

There are more adventures head, I'm sure.  Until I write again, you can see some of the highlights from the summer in this photo album.  Enjoy!

Summer 2011 Part 2

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Cannon Ball!!

Splish Splash, it's summer pool season!  It's been a while since we've updated the blog.  Since that's more often the case than not, maybe we should just call this our regular quarterly update?

It's mid summer now.  Easter has come and gone, school has ended, and we've even gone through a full season of swim team.  Amy's cousin Stephanie Hoppe and her family came to Houston to see the NCAA Final Four.  We got a chance to have them over to the house and show them around NASA - it was good to see family and friends we hadn't seen in quite some time.

We had a good Easter (He Is Risen!), enjoyed our very first professional soccer game (the Houston Dynamo beat the DC United 4 to 1), wrapped up the soccer season for Patrick, and finished Kindergarten and First Grade.  School was enjoyed by all and it's amazing how much both have learned over the year.  Both Hannah and Patrick can't wait to start 1st and 2nd grade.

In May the kids joined and started swim team (the Clear Lake Stars) for the first time.  Between daily practices most of May and June and day-long swim meets in June, it was quite a commitment.  However the kids did extremely well and really enjoyed themselves.  It was a lot of fun to watch the kids develop and grow as well. 

The rest of the summer is still in front of us - time to visit with family and friends, enjoy some summer camps, and then all too soon get ready for school to start again.

Until the next quarterly update, here are some photos of the fun we've been having.

Summer 2011 Part 1

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Where has the time gone - Winter 2011

It's been so long I don't know if anyone out there still follows/reads these posts...(feel free to comment if you do)

This is where I create a plausible excuse for not having updated our blog in 4 months.  Blame it on Snowpocalypse?  Blame it on having too much fun?  Blame it on forgetfulness?  Blame it on lazy?  Well, that last one might be closest to the truth but we'll go with fun.

You'll be relieved to know that I'm not going to go day-by-day in order to catch you up.  You'll have to trust us that we've been having fun though.  Christmas was a blast.  We enjoyed time at home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, then went to Tennessee to spend the week between Christmas and New Year's at the Millers.

In January we again went and saw Monster Jam.  Does two years in a row make it a tradition?  We also had a great time celebrating birthdays - Hannah is now 7 (in February) and Patrick is now 6 (in March).  Can't believe it's gone so fast!  We spent time at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, caught a hockey game, and had Aunt Sally and Aunt Bunny come visit us - as well as hosted a small Todd family reunion. 

For some Spring Break fun and time away from Houston, we spent a couple days in Dallas.  It was our first time and we enjoyed seeing the Dallas Zoo.  Since we've been to the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville, we enjoyed looking around the Gaylord Texan resort in Dallas.  For Christmas this year, Hannah's prime desire was an American Girl Doll - which she got, and named Elizabeth.  At the Galleria in Dallas is the American Girl Doll Store and Bistro.  (yes, really)  So the ladies (Mom, Hannah, and Elizabeth) got all "dolled up" and went shopping.  Hannah had gotten some gift cards to the store for her birthday, so it was a great way to use those birthday gifts.  Mom had also made reservations for the three of them to enjoy tea together.  They had a great time.  Patrick and Dad, in the meantime, went to use Patrick's LEGO store gift cards at the Dallas LEGO store.

So we really have been having fun, and really - the kids have been in school, too.  It's amazing that school is actually going to be winding up in a couple of months and then we'll be into the realm of summer break and vacation.

Speaking of that - who knows, it might not be until after the summer break that the next set of photos and stories is posted.  You'll just have to wait and see!  Until then, enjoy these photos!

Winter 2011