Monday, August 27, 2012

1st day of Kindergarten

As much as I’ve been trying to hold it off, the day finally arrived. Ben started Kinder this morning. Every time I’ve thought of this day for the past YEAR, it’s made me tear up. I figured once the actual day came, I would be a mushy, inconsolable mess. Thankfully, Brian took the day off from work, so he was around for all of the 1st day shenanigans. This also allowed me to go straight to work after we dropped Ben off, where I kept busy, busy, and tried not to think of how big my little boy is!
Last night we got everything ready to go so we wouldn’t be running around like the crazy people that we normally are. We had clothes laid out, bags packed, & lunch made, as well as a note to go in Ben’s lunch box and a 1st Day of Kindergarten sign for him to take a picture with. I set my alarm for “oh. my. word. it’s EARLY!” o’clock, and we were good to go.
I figured that getting Benji up at 6:45 would give him enough time to get ready. My hope was that I would be able to sneak into his room and get him out without waking Gracie. That way, he could get dressed and have breakfast, and I could wait to wake G & N up until right before we had to leave. I should have known that wouldn’t happen. Grace can hear my eyes open, so as soon as I whispered Ben’s name, she was sitting up in her bed shouting, “Is it time to wake up?!” So much for that plan.
Even though I had an extra tag along, we had a great morning. The Lord must have known that I would need some comic relief, because the kids made me giggle constantly. These are some of my favorite quotes from the morning:
Ben: “It seems more like a 2 or a 3 o’clock in the morning.” (As he observed that it was still dark outside).
Grace: “We are waking up toNIGHT?!” (As she, too, marveled at the wonder that is 6:45 am).

Ben: (Once he finished putting on his shoes) “Well, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”

Ben: (At 3 or 4 different times) “Are you crying?” “Are you gonna cry?” “Are you crying yet?”

Despite Ben’s best attempts to turn me into a basket case, we were out the door with plenty of time to spare for a few pictures.
 
This is the face you get when you say, “No smiling, Ben. Kindergarten is very serious. There is NO SMILING in Kindergarten!”
 
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We drove to school, parked, and broke about 16 jay walking and cross walk rules to get Ben to the front door.
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The Kindergarteners get dropped off in the cafeteria, so that’s where we headed. As we walked through the school, I could tell Ben was getting a little nervous. He was saying things like, “I’m not sure where to go. I don’t know which one is my table.” I assured him that we wouldn’t leave until he was with his class and his teacher was there. He sat at the table with his teachers name and he seemed a little quiet and serious.
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This is when my tears came. I am proud to say there were only 3 of them – I counted. For the most part, I held it together and did my best not to embarrass my little man. When Mrs. Mancias walked in, we gave him a big smile and a wave and we were on our way. We’re so proud of you Benji – you are going to take Kinder by storm!

I found this little poem online last night when I was working on Ben’s 1st day stuff.
I have no idea who wrote it, but I LOVE it!

I wonder what you are doing right now,
and if everyone is treating you kind.
I hope there is a special person...
a nice friend that you can find.
I wonder if the teacher knows how special you are to me,
and if the brightness of your heart is something she can see.
I wonder if you are thinking about me,
and if you need a hug.
I already miss the sound of your voice
 and how you give my leg a tug.
I wonder if you understand
how hard it is to watch you grow.
On this day my heart is breaking 
as  I am learning to let you go.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Birthday Week 2012

Another birthday week has come and gone. I know I’m spoiled rotten/five years old but I LOVE my birthday. I love my hubby even more for going all out year after year. This year’s celebrations included multiple dinners with friends & family, a vacation from kitchen duty, some sweet gifts, and the highlight – my baptism! Here’s a brief recap of the fun-filled festivities:
 
On the Friday night before my birthday, we met the Sullivans for dinner at Panera Bread. It’s always a great time when our families are together. Ben & Emily were especially giggly and were having some pretty cute conversations. They are growing up too fast!
 
On Saturday, the Collins family came to town! We met them for lunch at MARTHA’S!! (You have to shout the name – it’s a rule). Just like the previous night with the Sullivans, we were reminded of how big our families have gotten. Table for 10, please. Yikes!
 
After lunch, we headed to the Means’ house for my baptism. You can read all about that here – but I’ll just say again that it was AWESOME… and God is awesome! The Collins stayed with us that night. We ordered pizza for the kids and Lauren & Mary came over so that Aaron, Liz, Brian and I could grab some dinner and see a movie. Before we left, Brian surprised me with a cake – so we sang and let the kids dig in!
 
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We headed to Pappadeaux’s and it was YUM-MY. I won’t go into what movie we saw after that, but it was terrible and I felt gross after watching it. This was the only disappointing moment during an otherwise wonderful week.
 
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On Sunday & Monday, Brian worked, but he took over with the kids as soon as he got home and just gave me a break. He did the meal plan, grocery list & shopping for the week. On Monday night, he and the kids brought me a toy frog with a Happy Birthday tag on it. I stared at him, confused. He said that we were going to eat at Freddy’s, then I could take as much time as I wanted to catch up on the blog. Freddy’s + Blog = Frog (apparently). Brian has an unusual fascination with word play. Regardless – you’ll notice that I did a lot of catching up on the old blog that week!
 
Tuesday was my actual birthday. I already had the day off, because I believe it should be against the law to work on your birthday. Brian surprised me and also took the day off. This led me to the conclusion that it should also be against the law for your significant other to work on your birthday. I wonder how hard it would be to get this ground-breaking legislation in front of Congress?
 
Anyway… we just had a great family day together. Brian and the kids took me to lunch at Los Patios (courtesy of my awesome Mama).
 
Grace is obviously too cool for Los Patios.
 
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Noah was a big fan of the Al Fresco dining.
 
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Ben gave us a lesson in camouflage.
 
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This was our best attempt at a group shot. Do you see those little plates of biscuits? They are why I go to Los Patios. They are “slap your mama” good. Lucky for my mama... she wasn’t there.
 
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There are lots of squirrels at Los Patios because they also love the biscuits. Coincidently, I love squirrels. So when I’m at Los Patios, all I do is win.
 
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Here, squirrely squirrely squirrel.
 
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We opened presents when we got back home. I asked for this:
 
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And Brian also got me this:
 
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Can you believe that he picked it out all by himself?! I love it!
 
He also surprised me with a massage and pedicure at my favorite little spa place that afternoon. He fed the kids while I was doing that, and then we had a stay at home date once they were tucked in for the night: take-out and the movie “Bernie”. It was hysterical! Please rent it. You won’t be sorry.
 
The rest of the week continued with lots of relaxing family time and a little bit of craziness as we prepared for Ben to start school the next week. Brian and the kids made me feel so very special and reminded me, again, of how blessed and lucky I am to be a part of this wonderful group of people that are my family.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Buckhorn Saloon

Gracie was invited to a party at the Magik Theater downtown. I was working, so Brian dropped her off and he decided to kill time by taking the boys to the Buckhorn Saloon. Noah was pretty indifferent about the whole experience (imagine that), but Ben LOVED it. They took lots of pictures.
 
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There were stuffed animals everywhere.
 
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Ben was in heaven, of course.
 
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I had no idea that moose were so big.
(Raise your hand if you think it should be “mooses” or “meese”. One moose, many moose… I don't like it.)
 
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Two-headed sheep
 
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Shrunken heads
 
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Other miscellaneous heads… there must have been a head theme in this area.
 
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This emblem was made entirely of rattle snake rattles.
 
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Super Nanny is thinking too small with her time out chair. Can I get a time out iron cage?
 
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This was Brian’s favorite – it had the Sheriffs' badges for the different counties across the state.
 
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It’s been too long since I’ve posted about a Daddy adventure. – we were overdue. I’m sure that this is one that Ben will be talking about for quite a while!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Baptism

Because I was raised Catholic, I’ve never been baptized by immersion. In fact, I never even thought about it or studied what the Bible said about it until I became a member at Oak Hills. I read about it and had some conversations with Brian as well as other Christians that I am close to. I came to the conclusion that it was something that I wanted to do and something that we, as followers of Jesus, are called to do. I decided that I would really like to do it when my first child decided to be baptized.
 
A  week or so ago I was at my mentor’s house with some other ladies in our small group. The subject came up and I explained my “plan”. I was still pretty sure that waiting to get baptized was what I wanted. I just had this picture in my mind of standing with Ben one day and making it a family affair. Fast forward a few nights later, and I was spending time with one of those ladies again. As we were saying good-bye, Amy said, “You know, you getting baptized has nothing to do with your children. You don’t have to work to make it special. It is simply about your obedience to God, and it will be special in its own right.” Cue dagger to the heart. Up until that moment, I had been making this important step all about me (and of course, I was missing the point). Just like every other part of our faith, it’s NOT about me. It’s about Jesus. I cannot add to or take away from his work on the cross. Similarly, it is not my place to alter his commands so that they fit into some picture in my mind or an expectation that I create. I am so thankful for Amy and for her courage to speak Truth into me. I am thankful for the way the Lord works and how he uses us to rebuke and guide each other towards His wisdom.
 
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
 
After the Lord made his point clear through Amy, I talked to Brian and told him I wanted to be baptized soon. At the same time, we were trying to coordinate a time with Aaron & Liz for them to come to town and hang out with us for my birthday. Everything lined up (as it always does when God is working on something) and I asked Aaron if he would be the one to baptize me. Also, I decided to do it at my mentor’s house, because it is such a beautiful setting (and it was where all of this started in the first place).
 
SOOO, this past weekend, I was joined by all of these lovely people as I took this step of faith and obedience.
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As I said, the scenery was breathtaking.
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Aaron said a few words about baptism and prayed.
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Remember how I wanted to do this with Ben? Well, the sweet boy was FASCINATED by the whole thing. The other kids were more focused on getting their swim suits on and getting in the pool, but my Ben just stood right on the edge of the water and never took his focus away from what was happening. I looked up while Aaron was talking and locked eyes with Ben and he gave me a huge smile. The Lord said, “See, you wanted your child to be a part of this and here he is. This was just one more opportunity for you to make the gospel come alive for him.”  Praise God for his faithfulness and for the ways he gives us the desires of our hearts!
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“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Acts 22:16
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A big hug for my mentor, Cindy, who God also used to convict me to finally do this!
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It was a good day!
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When we were done, Cindy & Dennis invited us to stay and play.
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How much fun were these two guys having?
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It is an awesome privilege to share my faith with these three. I pray that they will grow to know the joy and peace that come from walking with our Savior.
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Salvation is an incredible gift that I pray I never take for granted.
 
“When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.”
 
I love this line from the song “Baptism”
 
This road is long and dusty,
sometimes a soul it must be cleansed
And I long to feel that water, rushin' over me again
 
Thank you, Jesus, for looking past my weaknesses and giving me your Holy Spirit to nudge me towards obedience. Thank you for always working to move us closer to YOU!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It’s NOT a good morning!

Ben & Grace have always been bright eyed and bushy tailed when they wake up in the morning. I thought I was a morning person until I met these two. One minute they can be PASSED OUT and the next they are skipping through the house singing “Oh Happy Day” while sunshine and skittles pour out of their ears.

Noah… not so much. In fact, I usually give him a good 15-20 minutes in his bed after I hear him stirring because if I go in right away he’s usually not happy to see me. He normally gets up between 7 and 8. This morning he was still sleeping at 9:30 (there must have been a late night party that I didn’t know about), so I needed to wake him up. This is what I found when I went in his room:
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I walked in, rubbed his back, left and got the camera, came back, focused the camera (which beeps) and he was still like this. I reached down and gently rubbed his back again and said his name, and he finally started to stir. However, this was his response: 

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If he’s this grumpy as a toddler, I’m a little worried about what the teenage years will be like! I guess he’ll be a night owl like his Daddy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Island Paradise, Part 1

I’m trying to muster some warm and fuzzy feelings about this process with that lovely title. Truthfully, this project was a MONSTER and it has so consumed my husband that I am not allowed to speak of any other home improvement ideas while he is in the middle of it for fear of his head exploding. I love you, my sweet and oh so talented hubby, and I’m so sorry for getting you into this mess! Just remember there are sometimes lots of bumpy roads on the way to paradise.

I mentioned in our first house update that we wanted to convert this bar in our kitchen:
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 To something that looked more like this:
(source is Style at Home magazine)

We did some research and I started with a company outside of Austin that builds custom wooden countertops. (We thought wood would be more economical than granite while still giving us the updated look we were going for.) I gave them our dimensions and requests for routed edges and dark stained wood and the quote came back at $3,500. After I stopped laughing/crying, I hit the internet for more research. Word on the street web was that you can stain IKEA butcher block countertops, and they are super affordable. We read and read and read some more and finally decided to go with these:

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Ikea Numerar Counters, Beech 

The only problem was that IKEA doesn’t make the dimensions we needed. The deep option was too short, and the long piece was too shallow. In the end, we decided to get two of the long pieces and splice them together.  

Three things needed to be done to the counter tops before we began the process of staining them the color we wanted. First, we had to connect the two pieces. Then, we had to do the cut out for the sink. Finally, we wanted the counter to look more like a table top and less like a true butcher block, so we needed to route the edges. Brian could have handled the first two jobs, but we don’t have a router, so we needed to hire that part out. The carpenter that did the work for us gave us an AMAZING price for doing all three of these things, so that definitely ended up saving Brian some time and headache. This was his first and last break on this project!)

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When the carpenter was done, Brian set up shop in our garage and got to work. We researched some stain colors and techniques and purchased a few samples from Lowe’s & Home Depot. This is where things started to get CRAZY. All of the tutorials we read showed the Beech Ikea counters taking stain beautifully. We followed all of the steps including sanding and conditioning the wood, but these bad boys didn’t want to take the stain. We kept ending up with an oak look… which we did NOT want.  Luckily we had lots of scrap pieces to work with, because it took us FOREVER to find the right combination. Where we ended up was still not as dark as we were hoping for, but the Beech just wouldn’t take any more stain. The final formula to get the color we ended with was this:

1. One coat of Minwax Gel Stain in Red Elm. (We did not want a red tone, but for some reason, the Beech took in the most color when we used something with red dye in it. We got some dark saturation on this first coat, and then spent the next 4 coats covering the red to get more of a brown.)

2. Two coats of Minwax Gel Stain in Hickory.

3. Two coats of Rustoleum Wipe-able Stain in American Walnut.

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We waited at least 24 hours between each coat, and at least 48 hours after the final coat on each side before we flipped it over. In case you’ve lost count, that’s 5 coats of stain x 2 sides of counter top + drying time = two full weeks of just staining. Now you’re beginning to understand the “Brian’s head may explode any minute” comment above. He was such a trooper, and I motivated him by singing my own version of Dory’s Finding Nemo song (Just keep staining. Just keep staining. Just keep staining, staining, staining…) I’m not sure if it helped.

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Once ALL of that staining was done, it was time to drill the holes for the fixtures and prepare the counter for the sealant. To do this, Brian rigged up a crazy contraption to hold the new sink in place so that he could measure and mark where the holes need to go. He needed to drill for the faucet, the soap dispenser, and the air switch for the garbage disposal (one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard of.)

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I am so excited about the undermount sink - so purty!

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Again, we did lots of research before deciding on Waterlox. This was the product used by the company mentioned above to seal all of their wooden counters. It’s strong enough to be used on floors, and when used properly, it waterproofs wood surfaces. We went back and forth between the original glossy finish and the satin finish. In a perfect world, we would have chosen something in between the two. I read that the satin will lighten the finish a little bit. We had worked so hard to get to the depth of color that we had, and we didn’t want to take any chances of lightening the stain. That ended up being the deciding factor in choosing the original formula. 

 The Waterlox went on pretty easily. There was a little bit of a learning curve, but Brian started on the bottom so that he could perfect his technique before flipping it over and finishing the top. (He used a small, dense foam roller to apply it.) After even more research, we learned that we would need 3 coats on the bottom of the counter and 6 coats on top (because we would be using the wood in a wet area). Again, there was a minimum 24 hours drying between each coat. Are you noticing a trend here? The project that WOULD. NOT. END. I think people have built entire houses in less time!

The three coats on the bottom looked great – I ended up really liking the glossiness. We waited a couple days for that to dry, and then we flipped it over again. This is where Brian nearly lost it. I was worried that he might wrap a chain around it, attach it to the back of his truck, and drag it away from our house never to be seen again. He didn’t realize that when he was sealing the bottom, a small rim of Waterlox was forming around the sink edge on the top of the counter (which had been facing down at that point). LIFE/DIY LESSON – you should ALWAYS be mindful of and wipe the edges when you are working with something that is two-sided. I have to remember this when the time comes to re-paint the kitchen cabinets! 

What came next was pouting, sanding, more pouting, creative/artsy stain application, stomping around, swearing, and more pouting. Bri is some sort of magician, though, because although it’s not perfect, you have to know what you’re looking for now to find the imperfections. Poor guy. He now has to apply the six coats of Waterlox and then the Island top will be ready for installation. We both can’t wait for that day to come!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vacation Part 3, Beach Bummer

The third and final leg of our getaway was set to begin on Sunday morning. We had plans to drive down to Orange Beach, AL for a little fun in the sand and sun. There was a little bit of that, but there was also a LOT of misery. Remember that stomach bug we we mentioned that tormented Diane and all three of our kids? Well, it wasn’t through with us yet. Oh, no. It was just resting up for Round 2. I swear, this disease rivaled the Motaba virus on Outbreak (minus the gruesome deaths and village bombing). Somewhere in North Texas there is an infected capuchin monkey running through the pine trees and spreading this thing around.

It hit Brian in the middle of the night after the wedding. He rallied and hung in there to help me pack all of our stuff up and check out of the hotel, but he passed out as soon as we got on the road. We stopped for lunch a while later and he tried to eat a little something, but again, he just wasn’t up for it. He spent most of our lunch sleeping in the van. Poor guy. We unloaded at the hotel in Orange Beach and he was down for the count again. He was finally able to start moving around that evening and joined us for a brief play time on the beach and a late dinner.

The next morning Brian woke up sore, but feeling much better. I, sadly, could not say the same thing. I felt like I’d been hit by an truck. I spent the first part of the morning revisiting Sunday night’s dinner, and the second part laying in bed, nauseated, moaning, and battling a headache. I’d feel a little better and then I’d move and the nausea would come rushing back. The kids, Brian, and my Mom headed out to the beach and I had to stay behind. Sadness. At least Brian took pictures for me.

Noah and Grace played in the sand.
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Then Noah got tired and decided to take a little water side nap.
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Ben also played in the sand…
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and in the waves…
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and of course Mr. Social took some time to make a new friend.
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After the beach, they hit the pool for a little more swimming, and then everyone came back in for baths and naptimes. I still felt terrible, so I kept sleeping (and moaning and feeling sorry for myself). When everyone woke up, I felt a teensy bit better. I thought maybe we can finally go out together and have some fun. Then I saw my Mom. Another one bites the dust.
Stomach Virus – 7, Barrick/Guidry Family – 0.

While mom stayed in bed writhing in pain, the rest of us went to Waterville USA. We enjoyed it, though I must say that the brochure was a bit misleading. Can you say “Photoshop”. Regardless, the kids had fun. There was an indoor room with some inflatable slides that we visited first. Then we headed to the rides outside where Brian and Ben drove the go-carts and Gracie rode in a fire truck. After that, I was pretty much done. I went to lay down in the van while Brian and the kids played a few arcade games. When we left there, Brian dropped me off at the hotel while he took the kids to dinner. (I swear, it was like we each took our own separate vacations).


Everyone took a turn on the big slide.
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I tried to get in on the fun… but I still felt terrible… about as good as I looked.  I love how Noah looks like he’s saying “cheese!”
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We moved outside where Bri and Ben raced some go-carts.
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Noah & Grace looked on, wishing they could go, too!
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I think they had good reason to be jealous. Brian and Ben were having a blast!
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Don’t worry, Noah. You and I can stick together!
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Until it’s MY TURN. You’re on your own, little brother.
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At least everyone was big enough to play in the arcade.
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The next morning we packed our pitiful selves up and headed back home. We left Alabama at 11:30, dropped Mom off with Holly & Michael in New Orleans, and then drove the rest of the way to Texas. We arrived Home Sweet Home at about 1:30 am. I got out of the van and kissed the driveway.

I won’t say that our trip was a failed vacation. We saw friends & family, and the kids had a terrific time. I am SO VERY GRATEFUL that we were all feeling great on the day of Claire’s wedding. None of us had to miss it, and that was a ginormous blessing. We just didn’t have the “family” vacation we were hoping for because we ended up getting sick in shifts. Oh, well. We’ll try again next year.

P.S. If you’re roaming around North Texas… beware of the stomach virus-spreading Outbreak monkey.

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