Friday, December 31, 2010

Annual Cookie Party

Every Christmas the boys love decorating sugar cookies (and so do I!) so we make it a little party each year. They do such a great job!

Santa sure did love them!

Christmas Fun

One of the things we love to do during Christmas time is go to the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park to see their light display. This year we thought it would be fun to invite a friend to come along, so Benny's little girlfriend, Maddie, and her mom came with us. Although we went near the middle of December, it ended up being the first night of the light display, so the line was incredibly long and took over an hour. But since the kids all had each other to play with it really wasn't bad. We finally got on the train and the kids had a blast with each other!

The light display, as always, was awesome. They really do a great job putting it together.

After the train ride, we rode the carousel...

and the kids got their boogie on to the live music.

It's always a good time at the railroad park! Merry Christmas!

Great Season, Dragons!

Joshua had a great first season of soccer! His final game was on December 11th. It was so fun to see his improvement over the season. He totally understood the rules of the game, and surprisingly, was a pretty darn good goalie. He had a lot of fun and got to make some new friends, so all in all, I'd say soccer was a success for him. Go Dragons!

Of course I had to make a cake to share with the team to celebrate a great season.

Great season, Dragons!

Polar Express!

Over the last couple of years we have really wanted to take the boys on the Polar Express train ride in Williams, Arizona, but we had wanted to wait until they were both old enough to enjoy it... not to mention that it sells out so fast we usually have missed our chance for tickets. I was determined to go this year, and actually remembered to book our tickets far in advance. What made it so much more fun was that we went with some good friends of ours whose 2 little boys are the same age as ours. I can't even begin to say how much fun we had!

Since all tickets are done by Will Call, we were advised to get to the station early in the day to pick up the tickets to avoid long lines. So we left that morning and drove up to Williams (about 40 miles west of Flagstaff) and got to the station at about 11:00. It was great because we were pretty much the only ones there.

We got to peruse the gift shop for a while, and try on some of the fun winter hats.

After getting our tickets we checked into our hotel. We opted out of the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel package and decided to save a little money by staying down the street at the Holiday Inn. I'm glad we did. Our room was comfortable, large, and much more secluded than the GCR. There had been a snow storm moving through a few days before. And even though a lot of it had melted, there was a big patch out behind the hotel... perfect for little boys to play in! So when our friends arrived at the hotel, we all spent at least an hour playing in a 1-2 inch deep patch of snow. It doesn't take much to entertain the little ones!

After playing in the snow we all headed back to our rooms to suit up in our jammies to head down to the train station. The weather was beautiful, and the station was less than 1/2 mile away, so we decided to walk down. It was great!

The Schnabels

Inside the station they had all sorts of activities for the kids. We attempted to go see Santa and take a picture, but both of the boys chickened out right when it was our turn. Benny decided a few minutes later that he wanted to try again, and worked up a little more courage this time, although he still didn't want to sit on his lap.

Josh still was not interested in visiting Santa, especially when he learned that there was coloring in the other room.

One of the other activities available was to make an ornament to hang on the Christmas tree. Both of the boys had a lot of fun making their ornaments.

After coloring, Benny went to visit with Mrs. Claus for a minute. Josh was still not interested. Oh well!

Pretty soon the train arrived!

The train ride was so much fun. We got to eat cookies and drink hot chocolate...

And we got to hear the Polar Express story.

And having great friends to share it with made it all that much more fun!

Pretty soon, we were at the North Pole!

Santa got on the train at the North Pole and came through all the cars, and gave each child a special gift. The kids were so excited for Santa to come!

The gift, of course, was a bell. If you can hear the bell, you still believe!

After Santa came through we spent the rest of the trip back to the station singing Christmas carols. It was a lot of fun.

The next morning we all met for breakfast at a little local restaurant with really yummy food. Thankfully they had a table big enough for all 8 of us!

Before heading back home, we stopped at a new wildlife park in Williams called Bearizona.

Bearizona is a drive through park, with all sorts of animals, including wolves and black bears.

There was also a walk through area with bear cubs, fox and bobcats. We got there right at feeding time so everything was awake and active.

And of course, these little animals!

It was a blast! I'm so glad we did it!

Open for Business

I have successfully completed my cake decorating courses, and I still really really enjoy making and decorating cakes. So, I have officially opened up my little side cake decorating business. Check out my cake blog at I've had so many fun projects already and I look forward to many more in 2011!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Copper's Overhaul

Copper (our beagle) was our first "child". When it was just the three of us we doted on her and gave her tons of attention. We brushed her teeth and got her regular cleanings, made sure her vaccinations were up to date and that she always had a new squeaky toy to play with. But ever since the human children have come around, Copper has moved on down the totum pole and we just haven't taken as good of care of her has we should have.

A few weeks ago, Copper came down with a horrible cough. It was the kind of cough that came from deep in the belly and just sounded miserable for her. We decided it was bad enough to warrant a visit to the vet (where she hadn't been in close to 6 years). She must have understood us when we told her where we were goiing. She absolutely refused to put on her leash and get into and out of the car. As soon as we were in the door she was trembling uncontrolably. She refused to move her legs so I had to carry her the whole time! Poor thing was scared out of her mind, but at least that made it easier for them to examine her. She let them do whatever they wanted without so much as a peep because she was so scared. The diagnosis was possible Valley Fever (which thankfully turned out negative) or some other upper respiratory infection, as well as a raging ear infection in her left ear. When they told me she had an ear infection, it was like a little light bulb went off. So that's why she will sometimes yelp if you pet her head the wrong way, and why she doesn't seem to hear us very well anymore. We had just attributed that to the fact that she is 12 years old.

During her examination, I was scolded about the condition of her teeth. Some people might have been offended by the mild tongue lashing I received, but frankly, I knew I deserved it. They were really bad. Trust me. So we decided to purchase an annual health plan for her that included a dental cleaning and would ultimatley save us money with everything else we needed done that day. We left with many lovely prescribed parting gifts.

Thankfully the cough disappeared pretty quickly and the ear infection was gone in a couple weeks. After getting the clean bill of health, she was ready for her dental cleaning, which we did on Saturday. Nothing is ever as easy as it sounds, is it? During her cleaning they found 11 infected teeth that need to come out. If they don't the infection could spread to her internal organs and could ultimately be fatal, so we of course plan to have that done. Poor girl is going to need Doggie Dentures! They assured me she will be able to continue to eat her dry food after everything is all healed up, even with missing all those choppers, and that removing these teeth would greatly improve her quality of life. So that's next on the to do list. By the time 2011 rolls around, Copper will have had the complete overhaul! She'll be a whole new puppy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The holiday season is officially in full swing, and it couldn't have been brought in any better than it was with our thanksgiving celebration. It was truly a wonderful weekend full of family and friends. We have so much to be thankful for! (Unfortunately, not one picture was taken of the festivities all weekend. I should be shunned from the blogging community!)

I have long ago conceded the Thursday of Thanksgiving to other family members. I love to make the food and have lots of people over to enjoy it, but it just doesn't work out that way with the other sections of the family. So what I have started doing is celebrating Thursday with family at someone else's house and then cooking my own meal on Friday for whoever would like to stop by. This has affectionately come to be known in our house as "Thanksgiving Friday".

This year we spent Thanksgiving day with Andrew's family in Avondale. It is always a blast getting together with the family out there. The kids love any chance they get to play with their cousins, so they were in heaven all day, and loved having their own children's table.

Funny story of the day: We had just arrived at my mother-in-law's house, and people were slowly trickling in behind us. We had been told that it would be a full house for dinner, and often times they will invite friends from church that we don't know, so it's not really a rarity that we would be sharing Thanksgiving with complete strangers. So, we were all hanging out together when the doorbell rings. Andrew answers the door and finds 4 people he doesn't recognize, all carrying side dishes and looking very confident about being there, so he lets them in because, as I said, that isn't unusual. So they all come into the kitchen and start introducing themselves to everyone, and everyone is looking around saying "who are these people". Then my father-in-law starts giving them a strange look and realizes they are in the wrong house. Maybe you had to be there, but it was so funny! We joked that if they were going to crash Thanksgiving, at least they brought their own food!

After filling up on dinner and dessert, it was time to go home and crash for the night to begin the next day's fun!

For our Thanksgiving Friday, we invited our small group from church to come and share in our meal, and they all happily accepted. The total head count was 10 adults and 10 kids. It sounds crowded, but it was so much fun! The kids had a blast playing football and other various games in the backyard, and which left the adults some time for good conversation and fellowship. The food all turned out really well and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I so wish I would have taken a picture of the turkey. it was beautiful. I've made quite a few turkeys in my day and while they have all been tasty, none have turned out LOOKING so good.

After dinner the guys took the kids to the park while the ladies hung back and cleaned up. It sounds so 1950's but it really was a good time, and I was so happy to have the help with the mound of dishes! Then of course it was time to dive into the pie! This year I made my very first fruit pie, a caramel apple pie, and it turned out so yummy! I'll definitely be making that again!

So another successful and fun filled Thanksgiviing is in the books. I am so excited for this Christmas season, and I hope we can make the most of every opportunity to create lasting memories for our family! Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Kindergarten Fun!

A couple weeks ago, Joshua's kindergarten class had planned a field trip to Mother Nature's Farm in Gilbert, and I planned to go with them. Unfortunately, on the day of the field trip it was raining, so his teacher decided to postpone the trip to the next day. Since the kids all had their hearts set on a fun day, she decided to take them over to the Family Life Center on the church campus, where there is none other than a roller rink! This was Joshua's first time on roller skates. All things considered, it sounds like he did pretty well. His teacher, Mrs. Harren, was nice enough to take some photos of their little adventure.

I think there was a lot of this going on that day...


Josh quickly learned that holding onto the wall prevented taking so many tumbles.

His little friend, Ava (who is completley head over heels in love with Josh) is a more experienced skater than most of the other kids. She was trying to help Joshua, and told him to let go of the wall and skate over to her, promising to catch him if he fell. Mrs. Harren caught this precious photo.

It wasn't the farm that everyone had planned, but a fun day was had by all anyway.

The next day proved to be sunnier, and so the farm was a go! It was such a cute little place, complete with hayride, pumpkin decorating and farm animals. It was a blast!

Here's our group of cute kindergarteners!

First order of business was a hayride.

The hayride dropped us off right in front of all of the animals. We found out that a litter of piglets had been born just 5 days before. Aren't they the cutest?

The rest of our day was super fun too. The photos can pretty much speak for themselves.

We had such a great time. I hope I can go on a few more of the field trips this year so I can spend more time with this great bunch of kids!