Thanksgiving in Nola

As we do every other year, we trekked down to New Orleans for Thanksgiving break. It was a wonderful trip (with great weather), and particularly special to see the girls and Juliette spend quality time together!

Our flight was early on Wednesday morning, so we had a full day of fun once we got in.img_0724img_0732img_0728img_0727img_0740

…followed by restful sleep. Mike and I stayed at a friend’s guest house around the corner because Dom and Ross are staying at Grammy and Grumps’ house while their house is being renovated. It worked out for us in that we weren’t around when our kids woke up, so we actually got restful sleep the whole time we were there!img_0742img_0741

We woke up ready to go for Thanksgiving. Dom and Ross took the girls to get beignets at Morning Call in city park.img_0550img_0721img_1083img_0368img_0797

Sanitary.img_0748

As they were leaving, they got trapped by the Thanksgiving day 10k race for about an hour. Yikes!img_0503

We changed clothes and got ready for everyone to come over to the house. Photo opp (with a Juliette photo bomb)!img_0745img_0692img_0085

Celine got a little jealous when I took a picture of the Chauvins. She’s working through her feelings.img_1052

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The food was delicious!img_0973img_0768img_0056img_0909

We had a little jewelry trunk show after dinner, and Celine scooped up a sweet pair of earrings.img_0892img_0363

Then there was some relaxing…img_0773img_0790img_0791img_0792

A little Go Fish-playing…img_0787

…and we declared Thanksgiving a success and went to bed!

The next morning we did some heavy lounging as we transitioned to Christmas season. We didn’t really do much beyond that.img_0815img_0819

Saturday we went to brunch, had extended park time, and then decorated gingerbread houses while Mike and his dad went to the LSU game.img_0830img_0833img_0834img_0841img_1105

There was also some successful petting of Bud.img_0854img_0853

Sunday was our last day in New Orleans, but we maximized our time with the fam, complete with jaunty Christmas dresses. The earrings made a reappearance along with pink hats as an early Christmas present from Aunt Dom.img_0865img_0858img_0863

Sweet cousins. 🙂img_0868img_0890

Our airport experience and flight home were the easiest they’ve been in a long time, and just like that we were back in Dallas! We love spending time with the Louisiana family.img_0895

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Friendsgiving in Broken Bow

My friend Nat spent a weekend in Broken Bow, Oklahoma with friends a couple of months ago and liked it so much, suggested we all go with our families for Friendsgiving. I had reservations about the idea – 19 people (including 9 kids) in one house? Eek! – but it ended up being a wonderful weekend!

We headed up after school on Friday and arrived 8pm. The kids ran around for about an hour and then we put them to bed. The grownups had some bonding time and retired to our beds around midnight.img_0637img_0042img_0024

The next day, we woke up and decided to hit up the Folk Festival in the state park. It was a pretty small affair but kept the kids entertained and fed for a few hours, so – win! (Although I think the adults got some indigestion from the fried foods…)img_0006img_0639img_0035

There was a petting zoo that the girls were VERY into. Celine excitedly held a chick but Louise was a bit too apprehensive. They were both happy to pet the goats, pony, rabbits, and pig.img_0640img_0648-1img_0646-1img_0651-1img_0653-1img_0655-1img_0001

They also had a kid’s craft station where they could make bracelets. Celine picked the colors and I did hers, but Louise rocked hers all by herself.img_0658

We were pretty much done after that, so we headed back for nap time while others went mini-golfing and hiking.img_0044

Once everyone was back at the house, we started prepping for Friendsgiving dinner. Colin and Lindsey’s friend smokes brisket and we snagged some of that, along with a bunch of sides. It was super delicious!img_0063img_0061

Thankful for these friends!img_0058img_0052img_0057

Then we had a little birthday celebration with cookies, brownies, and Susanne’s snickerdoodle bundt cake.img_0049

We had some more bonding time while we digested. A few of the kids had some hot tub time.img_0053img_0667

Ollie!img_0674img_0676

The next morning, the kids bonded some more while the grown ups packed and cleaned up. Jack and Louise in particular had some quality time.img_0678img_0069img_0071

We’re already thinking about doing the same thing next year but adding a day. Plus we’ll have two more kiddos at that time so we can pump our person count over 20! =)

Halloween 2017!

Not even the rain could stop our fun Halloween day!

We had three activities planned for the day: the girls had a parade and party at school, we popped by my work to trick-or-treat, and we did our standard trick-or-treating in our neighborhood with our annual posse of my parents, Taylor, and Hillary.

The girls’ Poppy costumes were quite the hit at school! Louise was briefly concerned that people were laughing at her, but once she realized they were laughing with her we were good to go.img_0474img_0549-3img_0477img_0506img_0522-1

Celine’s primary concern was to get the show on the road so we could go back to her room and eat cupcakes.img_0482img_0485img_0501

The parade was a little overwhelming for both girls, but they were TOTALLY ON BOARD with trick-or-treating at my office. There were stations set up around the office and everyone was very generous with giving the girls the sweets. Celine was also pretty pumped to meet Captain Obvious.img_0512-1

We went home, watched a little TV, and ate dinner while we waited for our group to arrive. Once they did we made some Hot Toddies and headed out around 6:30.img_0523-3img_0527-3

We brought the wagon in case they got tired of walking, but they wanted to get in it after every house. Finally we instituted an “every three house” rule to speed up the process.img_0536-1

The girls were totally into it, going from house to house with gusto. Celine would get candy and then shriek “trick or treat!” as she sprinted back down the walkway. Louise would get offended if the person handing out candy didn’t respond with “you’re welcome” when she said “thank you.” She was sure to point it out to me each time. They’re learning a lot about being good citizens at school and she’s taking it pretty seriously.img_0544-3img_0541-3img_0546-3img_0547-3

We did our standard up-one-street-and-down-the-next path and then retreated back to our house to hand out candy and survey our spoils. Celine was very involved in handing candy out to the trick-or-treaters who came to our door, and always responded with a “trick or treat!” when they said thank you.

Then it was bathtime and bedtime! The girls slept until after 8am this morning which they desperately needed. Success!

All of the pumpkin parties

This weekend was filled with Halloween-themed pumpkin goodness!

Saturday our friends the McDonoughs hosted their pumpkin carving party. We rolled in pumpkinless, but still had a great time. I was honestly exhausted from the night before so I wasn’t much fun, but it’s always good to get quality time with all of the ladies – and the kids had fun roaring around the house!img_1044img_1049img_1046img_1066

There were a lot of outdoor activities and crafts to keep the kids busy in the chilly weather.img_0422

The McDonoughs have this amazing rocking unicorn thing that Celine was completely obsessed with. She’d trail behind whoever was on it and stare them down until they got off and gave her a turn. At one point, Louise was on it and Celine tried to muscle her off, so Nat said “Celine, wait your turn!” Celine proceeded to have a meltdown…and then when Louise finally got off, Celine had the saddest unicorn ride you could imagine.img_0428

We lined the kids up for a photo before we left. With a few exceptions, all of these kids are going to be back together for a weekend in Broken Bow in a couple of weeks! It’s going to be quite the experience =)img_1059

The next day we had a little photo shoot at our front door before a trip to Sam’s in these sweet dresses my mom got for the girls.img_0441img_0458

We had (another) pumpkin decorating party at our house, this time for our little cohort of families who met during Louise’s first year at DIS. It was a pretty easy party to put together since it was a mirror of our party last weekend! Love spending time with this crew.img_4436

While the kids were playing inside, Celine snuck in the backyard and painted everyone’s pumpkins pink. And then proceeded to get annoyed when the kids came out and painted over her pink in another color. Oh Celine =)img_4437img_4429img_4426

Looking forward to the big event tomorrow (crossing fingers the rain doesn’t ruin trick-or-treating)!

October at the Arboretum

Our entire family couldn’t wait for the fall season to kick in gear. The morning of October 1st, we were ready to pounce on the pumpkins at the Arboretum! I bought the most adorable Halloween shirts at Boden and this was the perfect opportunity to debut.IMG_0045IMG_0060

We went with the Thurmans and saw a bunch of other people we knew there as well. I guess everyone was as excited as we were!IMG_0079IMG_0081

When Louise and Sawyer spotted each other once we were inside, they sprinted full speed toward each other while shrieking each other’s names. Once they were within 6 inches of each other, they screeched to a halt and just stared at each other. What silly cuties.IMG_0066IMG_0068

The exact moment Louise spotted one of the quinceanera girls.IMG_0074IMG_0097DC09001F-CF50-4191-9265-6C7932ED6C19978F2901-D63D-45C4-9B3F-FE6A7E8B3E9E6104ACD5-CA9C-4CFD-ABBA-A2192297807A

The Arboretum had a Wizard of Oz theme this year and it was very interesting! I like how they mixed it up.

Celine wanted some glamour shots taken of just her…with pumpkins, on the bridge, etc. She would get despondent if I wasn’t ready to take her picture immediately.IMG_010170019173-B520-4A04-AFDB-7913915B62A2A985B716-2635-490D-B709-76E4690C01C8A725804D-D00E-4948-8018-768984DD88BCE77C0CD9-E789-4E6A-A29A-09C323F09E3A

Afterward, we let them run around in the ampitheater area. A show started with women and men hula hooping…it was quite interesting to watch. All in all, a fun morning with friends!51D4765B-F9B8-4BD4-9F03-A44537FABA4D

Yellowstone

This past Sunday, we set up a private tour of Yellowstone with Big Sky Shuttle. Our tour guide, Bruce, was very knowledgeable and we were glad we could all be spectators (versus one of us having to drive).

Even the scenery on the drive from our house in Big Sky to Yellowstone was amazing. I tried taking pics from the car – you can imagine how those turned out.img_9476

Louise fell asleep on the hour drive. Saving energy for the park I guess!img_9469

We stopped at the visitor’s center to get our passes for the park. The National Park Service is amazing – one $10 senior citizen pass granted our entire van access – and access to all other parks for a lifetime!

We headed in to the park and, lo and behold, the first thing we saw was a bison lumbering along the side of the road. We were pretty psyched about that.img_9665

Our first stop was Gibbon Falls, a waterfall that drops over a remnant of the Yellowstone caldera rim.img_9575img_9486img_9482img_9478

Celine wasn’t jazzed at this moment of the trip because I asked her not to sprint down a hill (crushing spirits, that’s me). We tried to get her to give Juliette a high five.img_9492

She was also complaining because her sunglasses were in the van. So I gave her mine…and she complained that they were too big. #toddlerproblemsimg_9489

We packed back in the car and headed to Artist Point – the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It was majestic…for real. Look at it:img_9507

Obviously we took six thousand photos in front of it.img_9582img_9577img_9576img_9506img_9501

Notice Celine acquired her sunglasses.img_9497

Some photo attempts were less successful.img_9583img_9509

After that, we headed over to the Lake Hotel for a picnic lunch. We had the option of eating our lunch inside, but we wanted to sit on a picnic table by the lake and take it all in. Which is what we did…img_9511

…until it started hailing on us!img_9666img_9578

We packed up our lunches and headed to the car, finishing up lunch and playing around while we waited for the hail to stop.img_9515

After lunch (and a brief rest at the Lake Hotel), Bruce drove us the 1.5 hours to Old Faithful. Juliette wasn’t interested in napping but Celine took some time to herself.img_9518

We got to Old Faithful about 15 minutes before it went off, so it was good timing (it erupts approximately every 90 minutes). We looked inside the Old Faithful Inn while we waited – it’s a pretty impressive place!img_9521img_9519

Mike stayed in the car with Celine as she was still sleeping, but she woke up just in time to see the geyser erupt. She was calling all geysers and hot spots “fireworks” all day.img_9522img_9579img_9526

The next stop was the Grand Prismatic Spring. It was probably the fan favorite of our van – SO interesting. Celine in particular couldn’t get enough.img_9547img_9542img_9538img_9553img_9555img_9556img_9561img_9560

The water dribbled down to the adjacent river.img_9532

We saw some other hot springs, geysers, fumaroles, and paint pots.img_9580img_9581img_9563img_9534

Many of them smelled of sulfur which delighted the girls. Lots of shrieking about things smelling like toots!img_9584

We were all pretty beat at this point, and the kiddos had done their best at being good kids but were tired as well.

All in all, Yellowstone was almost exactly as I imagined – amazing, beautiful, awe-inspiring, and vast. It was really cool to get out in true nature and remember what’s out there. I was slightly bummed we didn’t spot a grizzly…but it gives us a reason to go back! 🙂

Montana

Whew…where to begin!

Earlier this year, we planned a week in Montana with Michael’s side of the family. Mike’s mom heard of a place called Moonlight Basin in the southern part of Montana (Big Sky), so that’s where we booked. We headed out last Wednesday for a week of excitement!

We weren’t exactly sure what we were going to do when we got there since the three girls are too young to do any of the outdoor sports stuff (whitewater rafting, mountain biking, etc), but we ended up filling our days quite nicely.

DAY ONE:
Grammy, Grumps, and the Chauvins had an early morning flight to Dallas, and we were all on the same plane up to Bozeman. The plane had screens and was only about 3/4 full, so it was an easy flight and the kids did great. We shuffled around quite a bit to visit each other and before we knew it, we were in Montana!img_9223img_9145img_9153img_9157

The Bozeman airport is really small which made for an easy exit. Getting our rental cars took about 10 minutes – really wish Boston could learn a thing or two from the Hertz counter in Montana!

The ladies piled in one car to take the kiddos to the house while the men took the other car to Costco. It took about 45 minutes to drive to the house which included multiple animal spottings (elk, mountain goats, and deer). We spent the rest of the evening unpacking and frolicking around in the gorgeous weather. The views weren’t crystal clear because of the forest fires but it was still a beautiful place!img_9158img_9170img_9178

Sweater weather! I kept calling the girls’ fleeces “sweaters” which really irritated Louise. “They’re jackets, mom!!”img_9212img_9203img_9186img_9222

As I tend to do, I decided last minute to get matching mountain pj’s for the girls (we can all agree that matching clothes is VERY important). Look at these cuties! “The mountains are calling and I must go.” (John Muir)img_9224img_9225

DAY TWO
We started out strong with a hike to a waterfall. We rented hiking backpacks with the house which worked out perfectly. Louise and Celine both were a little cranky on the hike back, but in general it was a great way to spend the first morning in Montana.img_9236img_9320img_9321img_9277img_9269img_9253img_9251img_9634img_9264img_9266img_9245img_9319img_9322img_9291img_9281img_9305

We took it easy for the rest of the day, acclimating to the altitude. We headed into the base camp area to check it out and get some ice cream in the afternoon.img_9330img_9325

Juliette had a toy that was plastic cake slices in different colors. She and Celine immediately clashed over the pink cake slice. Louise tried to mediate, hiding the slice in different places in the house. Celine would wait until Juliette was distracted and swoop in to snag it. Here she is hoarding all of the slices under her legs. We all learned lessons about sharing on this trip. *sigh*img_9323

DAY THREE
We took it pretty easy the next day (Friday), too. Lots of hanging out around the house, hot tub time, and matching pj’s. (Notice the cake slices next to Celine)img_9335img_9362img_9366img_9365img_9357img_9360img_9363

Mike and I decided to take a jog while the girls were resting…turns out we weren’t super prepared for a hilly run at such a high altitude. We completed two miles but it wasn’t easy!img_9343img_9345img_9341

We headed back to base camp for some playground time. Celine found an enclave of candy and launched into a five minute rationalization of why she should have some.img_9347img_9339

A little puzzle time!img_9348

DAY FOUR
We stuffed quite a bit into Saturday – another hike, boating, and an evening concert in the town square of Big Sky.img_9369ce6ad406-e769-46b2-9773-dd029fddc6f9

We started with a hike on the ski mountain.img_9437img_9404img_9431

Celine was not into it until we started picking flowers.img_9435img_9412img_9436img_9418

Booger Queen.img_9421

Trying to get a picture with three small children…img_9434img_9639

Oh well. Let’s head down!img_9426img_9420

We hung out for a bit at the base of the mountain, soaking up the good weather.img_9430

After nap/rest time, we gave Grammy a bit of alone time and took the girls to the lake for paddle-boating and canoeing.img_9636img_9637img_9638

We headed back to the house to pick up Grammy and motored to the town center for an outdoor concert. It was easily one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip – the girls were free to frolic, we had pizza and drinks, and the weather was absolutely perfect. Also, I learned that a can of wine is two glasses…good to know.img_9443img_9441img_9459

Grammy tried out a huckleberry smoothie which immediately gained interest from the grandgirls. So they each got their own to devour.img_9642img_9643

In between bursts of energy, all three gathered grass in cups – followed shortly by dumping the grass clippings all over everyone. Rinse, repeat.img_9641img_9450

Celine and Juliette decided we were stationed too far back, and ventured to the pit for some dancing.img_9640

Mambo Kings’ biggest fans!img_9635

DAY FIVE
Sunday was our all-day tour of Yellowstone. I’m doing a separate post on that. It was amazing!

DAY SIX
We had scheduled an expedition to the peak of the mountain at 8:45 in the morning, but we awoke to rain and cold weather. We moved it to 11:30 which worked out much better. The morning was spent lounging around and watching Mary Poppins.img_9610img_9609img_9611img_9612

Then we headed out! We waited around for a few minutes before the trip began, and the girls played some putt-putt and Celine found a walking stick.img_9587img_9613

To get to the peak we had to take the chair lift to a covered truck to a gondola/tram. The truck and tram really tested Dominique and my height anxiety, but Louise and Celine LOVED the chair lift. Might have been their favorite part of the whole trip. Celine couldn’t stop exclaiming “this is so FUN!” the whole ride up and down.img_9588img_9604img_9616img_9615img_9617img_9614img_9596img_9597img_9599

Celine absolutely loved being above the clouds. I had an iron grip on that klutz!img_9595

Visibility was not great, but there were breaks in the clouds so we could see the surrounding mountains.img_9598

The excursion took about 2.5 hours, and after getting back, we relaxed at the house and the boys cooked one final, delicious dinner. We started getting everything together for our trip back the next day.img_9621img_9622

DAY SEVEN
We were out of the house around 10am and drove back to Bozeman. We took a quick detour to check out the downtown area and then headed to the airport. We were so sad to leave the beautiful house and perfect weather, but we were happy to be back home!img_9626img_9630img_9633