Jingle the Elf 2014 {Week Two}

Posted by casey on December 14, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

Another busy week of fun for our family as Jingle made his way around the house each morning. Caden is quite the expert “Jingle-Finder” this year making me wonder if his hiding spots are going to get any trickier!

Poor Jingle must have had a crash landing on his way back from the North Pole!  He seemed to make do with some candy cane crutches, Christmas band-aids and domino splints which were all a big hit with our boys!  We were sure to give him lots of rest this day so he could better and make it back to the North Pole.

Clearly Jingle didn’t want to be left out of the crew.  Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael helped gear Jingle up for some Ninja lessons and boy were we surprised!  Teenage Mutant Ninja Jingle!

It appears that Jingle knows how many giggles his secret sleepovers get out of our boys each year.  What would you think if you woke up to find a little elf taking a snooze in your room with a blanket, pillow and snuggly like yours?!

Jingle most definitely hears Everett’s sweet requests for Jingle to rest in his room too, so after his flight back from Santa he swapped his blanket and snuggly for one just like Everett’s and tip-toed in his room under the tree to feel at home.

Choo-Choo!  Who doesn’t want to go for a ride on the Polar Express is the real questions?!  A Christmas tree train ride to show us one of the season’s favorite movies that we hadn’t watched yet this year.

Poor Jingle took a little spill off of the Polar Express or Everett couldn’t resist and touched him yesterday and had to stay an extra day at the North Pole to get his magic back.  It is a good thing he sent from photos from the North Pole showing that he was there and not only that, but he had delivered our letters to Santa straight from our mailbox to the jolly man himself!

I mean, there are only 11 days left Jingle, I guess you were right and we better get to baking!  Since he was ready to go, and the proper attire was all laid out, cookie making at 7:00 a.m. was the only obvious option to meet this request!

Knowing Jingle always has some tricks up his little red sleeves but that he also has some family favorites like the sleepovers definitely keeps us on our toes as to what the last week and a half will hold!


Jingle the Elf 2014 {Week 1}

Posted by casey on December 9, 2014 in Family, Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

Oh Jingle. How we all missed you. Last week was already a week full of silliness and surprises with you in the house & after your annual Snowflake breakfast the boys were ready to find you each day.

With impeccable timing on December 1st, Jingle managed to locate all of our Christmas books among the packing chaos so we could read them throughout the month and provided an always classic countdown chain to help us get to the 25th!

Caden and Everett went the the “big movie” the afternoon prior and couldn’t believe when they woke up the next day to see Jingle watching Big Hero 6 just like they did. He surely heard all of their chatter about Baymax and his super friends and had to check it out for himself.  Only a movie date with Woody & Jessie, Batman and popcorn are good enough for Jingle.

Help! Jingle is stuck in a snowglobe!  This day was fun because we got to pick up and shake the snowglobe since he was protected by the jar not to mention all the perfect for toddler sized hands snowglobe magic around him.

Not even Jingle could resist Everett’s Batman Robot so he outfitted up for the ride.

Gooooooaaaaalllll ! Or not. Sorry guys, Jingle saved that one.

Who wants to walk with the dinosaurs? We do! After all, with winter upon us we certainly want to keep our feet warm and cozy.

Trying to guess just what Jingle will do and where he will be next seems to be a daily conversation now as the morning hunt for him is on as soon as little peepers open.  Rest up Jingle, you have a couple more weeks to go!


Jingle’s 2014 Debut {Snowflake Breakfast}

Posted by casey on December 8, 2014 in Family, Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

You may or may not recall our little friend Jingle the Elf who visits our home every year during the month of December.  Based on our yearly postings of his shenanigans I am going to guess that the “you may or may not recall” is more of a “you may”.

A little over a week ago Jingle kicked off the holiday season on Sunday, November 30th which was a surprise to us since that is one day earlier than he typically comes! Our guess is that he wanted Daddy to be able to be at the Snowflake Breakfast too since it was a Sunday.

The “night before Jingle” we had a little preparation.  I  told the boys that we were going to watch his movie so we would know his story before the morning {which we do each year}.  Naturally, we needed baths first so that we could be comfy, cozy during the show!

I got a little note from Jingle saying he had dropped off an early surprise to help us get ready and after looking, and looking, and looking I just couldn’t find it.  Wouldn’t you know that two nakey boys straight out of the tub found a box for each of them on our front porch!  They couldn’t believe that Jingle must have snuck right by me.

Of course Jingle would give his own jammies…I think he likes himself!  Two Jingle clad boys ate smores and happily watched “An Elf’s Story” to see how they might treat their elf and what Jingle may do.  Off to bed to get ready and wake up to,

Snowflake Breakfast!  The usual snowflake décor, Christmas plates, cups and elf hats were out and ready. Their favorite? The super special green plastic forks.  Duh.

My favorite surprise was the handcrafted metal Jingle bell you can see sitting at the top of their plates.  A candy cane handle stem and holly leaves make this red Jingle bell extra fun and festive.  If you don’t remember, our elf Jingle gives the boys a Jingle bell of some sort each year on this day to play with since they can’t pick up and play with their actual Jingle elf.  A little trade off.

With faces properly splashed with powdered sugar “snow” from the donut treats and sprinkled snow over their breakfast we read “Jingle’s book” to see him in action and remember the rules.  Caden was the expert this year remembering the rules first hand and Everett kept nodding his head in excited agreement.

Jingle seems to know that this always makes for a great welcome to his month of his mischief where we can enjoy breakfast together and have time to re-introduce him into our home before starting the day and season.

We welcome Jingle not because he “watches our every move” and makes sure we are “angels only this month” but because he is one small way we come together as a family this month in silliness and tradition.  Jingle reminds us to have fun, to be kind to one another and him, and yes, to believe in the good, the magical and the moment.  Welcome Back Jingle we are so pleased to have you!



A Feast

Posted by casey on December 4, 2014 in Family

Thanksgiving was all the things a holiday gathering typically isn’t but should be this year; calm, quiet and relatively stress free. We are beyond spoiled around the holidays because we rarely have to travel. Wahoo!  With my in-laws in town and my Dad being in Florida which I pretty much refuse to travel to over holiday traffic we get to have our normalcy and our celebration at the same time. AKA: cake and eat it too. Sorry Dad.

However, Thanksgiving is one of those “up in the air” holidays because typically my in laws actually end up traveling to Houston or the like then since Christmas is at home.  Last year, you may remember that we also did a road trip down to Austin (to see the Houston aunts/uncles/family) who were hosting at Barton Creek.  We hadn’t been down in awhile, especially for a holiday and didn’t know if we would have a new baby by this year and not be wanting to travel again.  It was delightful but with my tough first trimester and an up to the minute work schedule we decided this year we were going to stay in Dallas.  In years past we have even done Thanksgiving just the four of us at home, one year we all had the flu, very festive, and just kind of hunkered down.

This year though, Colter’s parents were also staying in Dallas and so it became an intimate family Thanksgiving reminiscent of our Sunday dinners but obviously, with all of the fixings and a beautiful set up.  We divided up some responsibilities, Carolyn taking the brunt as always and went about things with a general time frame but you know what?  With it being just us, it didn’t really matter!

Our morning was slow, cozy and filled with memories.  The boys and I watched the Macy’s Day Parade in our PJS as I worked on our apple pie and green beans.  Every year growing up my mom and I watched the parade, she loved it, and in her home, seeing that Santa at the end was the real deal, the big start to Christmas.  It was a glamorous event for her to dream about and I think some part of that dream came true when she came with me my senior year of high school to watch the parade up close and personal as I danced in it.  A very special memory.  Since it just feels wrong, it is always in the background on Thanksgiving though this year, the boys were totally into it.  “There is Dora Mommy! Look, Captain Hook is singing!  Those girls look like presents!  SPIDERMAN!!!!!”  I loved watching their faces and seeing them pick up on things in between playing games and being under my apple dropping feet.

Caden and Everett made the ultra glamorous turkey place cards.

Prepping the green beans made me think of my grandmother and snapping them from her garden as a kid.  When we were really young we always gathered the Orr family members at Grandma’s house for a big Thanksgiving feast.  She made all the dishes and one tradition which I now realize isn’t normal, is that we had birthday cake in addition to the various pies.  My Grandmother’s oldest daughter Gwen, had a birthday that always fell just around Thanksgiving.  So part of our celebration was to celebrate her.  With a deja vu filled brain I called my Grandmother to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving, remember all of the childhood times and celebrate Gwen, who we lost a couple of years ago and would have been 71 years old this year.  My grandmother is a joyful jewel who I wish I saw every, single day.  But I digress.

With the food prepped we ditched the kitchen and headed to Nonna and Pa Pa’s for some early fun, naps, munchies and of course, cooking.  Sweet Hannah dog who was in her final days with us was getting lots of love and cuddles from everyone throughout the day too. Once our two little turkeys woke up, we feasted and it donned on me that I couldn’t remember the last time that it had been just us at Thanksgiving.  We kept to our own timeline, the boys enjoyed the meal and went off to play while we continued on and all was well with our hearts and tummies.

Football, family, food and feelings of thanks.
Just the Thanksgiving this pregnant Mama needed.


The Big Guy in Red

Posted by casey on November 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

It was a BIG day around here.

1. Jingle the Elf made his 2014 debut officially kicking off the holiday season.

But more on that later because…

2. The Big Guy in Red stopped by.

There he was, on an eighty degree day in November, fresh from the North Pole.

I couldn’t believe it myself.
A introduction to remind us that tomorrow is December 1st and that with 25 days to get our letters in to the North Pole and our trees shimmering awaiting his goodies we better continue to be on our best behavior as we have all year long.

Talk about a gut check.

But more on his unexpected visit later because we have Thanksgiving to catch up on!


From the Mountaintops

Posted by casey on November 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

I have been told.
I have been told that it is time.
Time to stand on the mountaintops and shout with joy…

After a lengthy journey to get to this point and an abundance of prayers, Baby Kaz III has been a reality for us for almost fifteen weeks now.

We are very thankful to be adding this sweet little sibling for Caden and Everett in May of 2015 and they are VERY excited!


Safe Streets

Posted by casey on November 12, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Family, Life as I Know It

With our Jack O’ Lantern lit and our costumes on for hours, waiting for the sun to set to officially start Halloween festivities was the biggest challenge.  This year it seems, the boys had fully grasped the concept of filling their buckets with more sugar than they have ever seen in their little lives. Treats, treats, treats!


The good news is that we were extra safe walking the streets on Halloween.  Double safe to be exact, with double the Spiderman.  One old-school and one new-school, though Everett liked to reference Caden’s new-school costume as “bad Spiderman”. While it was pretty hit or miss until the day of whether or not they were going as Double Spidey or Superman and Batman (thank you Buy One Get One Target) the theme was always there – superhero. Duh. Is there any other option?

Excited was an understatement so we played a little front yard, costume clad tee-ball while we waited for our spooky streets to darken. Equipped with their glow necklaces and buckets they happily led the way starting at our neighbor’s house for a little practice run on the procedure and etiquette of this “when you think about it very bizarre tradition”.

What we found this year was Everett’s unbridled enthusiasm yet again. For someone who never has had and can’t have most of the treats you wouldn’t know it because he ready to fill that bucket baby.  At each and every house the entire time he would say, “Can we go to another house now?….march, ring, trick or treat, fill bucket, march “Can we get to go to another house again?”  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Our neighborhood is great for their age and this process in general.  One big loop with several cul-de-sac streets.  Straightforward and more treats for your time without having to hike too far.  We let them go an extra street this year from last year and then they were happy to haul their loot home and finish handing out our candy to the local monsters and such.  I enjoyed getting to “let go” a bit while walking with Colter and them getting to go up by themselves with big brother in charge.  A parenting right of passage watching two adorable fierce Spidermen keeping the streets safe and stocking our chocolate stash in one swoop.


Jolly Jack-O

Posted by casey on October 31, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Family, Holiday Fun, Life as I Know It, Toddler Time
As kids, I remember carving pumpkins every year.  We each had one and even did all of those crazy elaborate designs as we got older and older.  Crazy elaborate. (Here is where I should show you a childhood picture I dug out of an album and scanned for your viewing pleasure but those are packed somewhere and who has time for that?)

I have avoided carving pumpkins successfully for my four and a half years as a parent. Yes, I take pride in that.  It is a well known fact that we don’t short holidays around here and that the kids get to do crafts, cooking and activities galore, so I am not too concerned about the lack of pumpkin carving in their “up until now” little lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkins. We get them every year for everywhere as you have seen in our front yard hay-stack donned pumpkin patch, the front porch etc.  The boys have painted pumpkins every year and this year even fancied one up with anything and everything they could glue to it.  It is the actual carving of a jack-o-lantern that has been left out.

Honest?  Part of it is the smelly rot factor. I am not doing it long before Halloween because it  will start to become that half melted looking pumpkin as it grows strange fuzz and gets taken over by mysterious bugs. Nope. No thank you.  The other part is that they couldn’t really do anything in years past to really experience it so I put it off.  I had intentions each year and then would logic myself right out of it.

Not this year.

Caden, at four and a half, finally figured out that Halloween means jack-o-lanterns.  Thanks to every cartoon and every picture and every storybook perfectly pointing out those perfectly illuminated orange globes on squash it was on.  We have gathered pumpkins off and on since October 1st, but picked out some particular carving pumpkins not long ago to set them aside.  Last week one was adorned with sequins and pipe cleaners as seen in the oh-so-beautiful result above and this week the other was gutted.

In all little boy dreams they went to school with the promise of pumpkin carving with Mommy when they got home.  I don’t know if they were more excited or appalled at their first glimpse of pumpkin insides.  To say this was unexpected would definitely be accurate. “Aaaaaahhhhh, Ewwwwwww, Smelly, Yucko, What is That?”

In keeping true to my mission to make this a team effort so that they would really get the idea of all that pumpkin carving glory I scraped down the sides and began the scooping but made sure they got a good feel too.  Hesitant.  That is what they were. My all boy, bring mommy worms, roll in the dirt sons were quite hesitant when it came to touching pumpkin guts.

One arm in and quickly out. One finger in with a brief touch and back out while running down the driveway. And then, the moment of truth, the full handful.  I almost lost them right there.

A quick disposal into our handy trash bag and they were fine to leave me to finish the scraping while they ran about – as if we didn’t know this is how this endeavor would go.  At carving time though, they were back in it and full of opinions.  “I want triangle eyes!” “I want circle eyes!” “Nice!” “Funny teeth!”  Combining all of their ideas into a simple face was the goal and with stenciled lines, pre-sawing by Mom and supervision they happily contributed to the “sawing”

After hacking away, pulling out pieces and carving a bonus bat on the side for one little man’s dreams their very first jack-o-lantern was carved and ready for a candle two days before Halloween.  Prime no-rot time. Take that bugs and fuzz.

I think they are pleased.
A jolly jack-o-lantern indeed.


Busy Season

Posted by casey on October 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

If you haven’t already assumed so by my regular absence for the last, oh, six months or so, this has been one of the busiest seasons of our lives with no real stop in sight!  These past months we have been busy getting the new house in order and busy trying to get the current house in order.  We have been busy trying to get appointments checked off and tee ball games attended.  But mostly, we have just been busy with each other in those moments in between.  With projects a plenty I have really tried to reign in my time with our little family of four to make it count and keep it to us.  But then, the photos pile up and the memories fade and with all of the journaling and documenting at some point the stories will come out.


For now though, I am enjoying my little men.
It is almost Halloween time as they remind me.
It is almost house selling time as all of the packing lists remind me.
It is almost Everett’s birthday as he and Caden are sure to remind me.
Which means after that it is almost time for Santa to come they equally remind me.

Remind, remind, remind.

And here I am, in this season of the year that seems to fly by anyway just trying to remember this age and stage and maybe my name. On a good day.


There They Go II

Posted by casey on September 2, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Life as I Know It, Uncategorized

Last week marked the first week of another year of pre-school for our boys which means that it is another time of reflection for us as parents and as a family.

It is funny.  School really isn’t that different for us this year.  Caden is still going three days a week, and Everett upped his game from two days to three days as well. So, the only real difference is one extra day.

Losing one extra day of alone time with Everett.  And yet, watching them go last Tuesday still felt like letting them go for the first time again. The preparation, the excitement, the nerves.

But they were ready to go primarily because of new shoes, new lunchboxes, new…

Back to School.

They love school, so it isn’t the idea of school, it isn’t the days they are away, it is knowing their hearts and praying that their teachers learn and hold their hearts with tenderness too.  Each year as we get closer and closer to Kindergarten, I pray harder that my boys will love school and be loved by their school.  I searched for a pre-school that would help them learn how to “do school” and we have had such a positive experience at their pre-school socially, academically and emotionally.

Meet the Teacher Pre-K

As a former teacher I don’t struggle in letting them “go” to school but as a parent in knowing that the warm, loving, controlled bubble they have been molded in, in the years since their birth is slowly fading. Which is a good thing too, but it comes with its own set of challenges and concerns.   I read in an article recently that the best you can do as they grow, and get more and more input and examples from this full, busy and not always pleasant world we are raising them to be a part of is to make sure that each day when they walk in the door home from school a warm, safe, loving and consistent environment waits for them.  So, as I watch their little friends start to impact their hearts, minds and behaviors more and more I wish for good friends for them like I was fortunate to have, for good mentors and for a safe path.  Yes, I know they are still mini men, but setting the tone for the years to come so that they

Meet the Teacher Night

feel the pull to respect, work hard, be a good friend, and yes…play, be silly, enjoy life.

As a whole, the boys had a fabulous first week.  Caden is a school champ.  He never has any issues adjusting to a new class, new teacher or new friends.  My shy guy turned social bee.  He is loving the new responsibilities and priviliges of his official pre-kindergarten class; a locker, getting to check out books in the library, eating in the gym (instead of in the classroom) and of course, no nap.  He received rave reviews from his teacher about what a great kid he is, so thoughtful, well-mannered, hard-worker, good listener and kind friend.  Talk about some key compliments your parent heart wants to hear!

Everett, my tough, risk-taking child is a puddle when it comes to school. He just does not handle change well.  We were so surprised that he was so sad to go to his new class because they are Caden’s teachers from last year who he loves!  The poor little guy just gets a bit worried.  He is always happyand pick-up and excited to tell me about the great day he had but the first two daysof drop off were sad for him.  He still goes in, and he still gives hugs and kisses goodbye, but while he has crocodile tears pooling on his teacher’s lap as she snuggles him.

The last day of the week though, I told him that he couldn’t be sad because he had to help his friends if they were feeling sad.  If his friends were sad he could give them a hug and tell them “It’s okay, we are going to have a fun day!”  Bless his heart, the sweet child looked at me at drop off, went in his room a little teary, walked back out, (his friends were sad), looked at me square in the eye and took the biggest breath held up his hand for a kiss and marched back in tear free to help his friends.

Bless him and our deep breath calming technique.
All by his big little self.

I love hearing about their days, and they do spill all the details and I love getting to further work with them on the things they are doing at school to match up with our home “school”.  With a real “Farewell to Summer” Labor Day weekend behind us we soaked up family time, the independent stage they are getting to and the tiny moments that they just need us and still seem just that, tiny.

Back to School.

Which means I might actually be back to catching up.

But lets not get hasty. :)

Back to School 2013 Comparison

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