Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We are going to Disney World!

The balloon that came out of the bag that says "We are going to Disney World!"
Ever since our last visit to Disney World 2 years ago I have wanted to go back and really wanted to figure out how to do a trip at Christmas. We decided a long time ago to take each kid to Disney World the summer before they start Kindergarten as kind of a celebration of ending being a baby and the start of being a big kid. Since Ryan will have to wait until she is almost 6 to start Kindergarten, that gave us 4 years in between trips so I decided to try to make a Christmas trip in between the two Kindergarten trips happen and Nathan's mom decided to join us for the trip this time! I got with our amazing Disney Travel lady Rachel Robinson and we discussed dates, budget and special promotions. I was able to budget a plan to go with free dining and be able to pay for it all by myself without trouble. So, for 8 months I faithfully took money out of each check and used all the money I made at two Rhea Lanas sales and paid our trip off right on time! Disney is doing free dining while we are there so we ended up getting our meals for free - that saved us well over $1,000! I know it may be busier this time of year, but I am betting we will still be able to make lots of good memories! Plus, we have all our meal reservations made and Fast Passes, so those waits should be small for those things at least.

About to open their gift :)
I told the kids that once we got our tree up I would tell them what their present was from me and Nathan. They were on top of it too! We ended up getting our tree up 5 days earlier than normal  because of the busy schedule we had coming up we had to do it when we had the chance. So, the day after the tree was up I got our Magic Bands in the mail so it was perfect timing to give them their present. Our travel agent also sent us mistletoe Minnie Ears for Ryan and a Mickey Santa hat for Noah - which were perfect for the present! The kids were very excited to open the present and even more excited to learn we were going back to the happiest place on Earth!

I don't do much without my kids. I don't have hobbies and don't really even hang out with my friends - I just feel really bad leaving the kids on the weekend since I work 40 hours a week away from them. So, it is rare for me to leave them much. I decided my hobby is going to be to take the kids on as many vacations as I can to make the best memories with them before they grow up and are gone. So, this trip means just as much to me as it does to them. I didn't go on many vacations as a child - besides Branson I can only think of one. But, I have the best memories from what little traveling I got to do. I want my kids to have the same memories as I do, of course only better - we always want better for our kids. Nathan was fortunate enough to get to travel a lot as a child and I love hearing his stories about fun things he got to do and see with his family. So, we are already planning a beach vacation this summer and maybe skiing next winter and who knows what in between!

To answer those who have made comments about how we must be rich or they can't believe we are already going back. Rich we are not - but I can budget and save and make good use of the expendable income we have. We will go to Disney and anywhere else we can get away to and I will share the photos not to brag or to show-off, but to share our happiness with our friends and family.  These kids are just too much to keep all to myself without sharing them :) So, sit back and hold on - the Stillwells are going places! :)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving Stillwell Style

The day before Thanksgiving was Nathan's birthday. Luckily it rained the day before so Nathan was able to take the day off of work and I took him to Ft. Smith shopping and out to eat for his birthday. I love that he loves to shop as much as me - I can't tell you how many times I have been waiting on him to get done shopping when I am done. We got some Christmas shopping done and had lunch at our favorite place - TGI Fridays. We came back and got the kids and took them with us to have a birthday dinner for Daddy. We went to Crosswoods for some steaks and to listen to some people sing some lovely karaoke ;) The kids loved pretend playing the video games at the bar - so I just had to snap a picture of them bellied up to the bar.

We had 3 Thanksgivings on Thursday! We started at my grandmas house where Papa Vallie took the kids to see the rabbits and then they played with the same old toys I used to play with. We love visiting Grandmas house! We got to Grandmas house a little late (all Nathan's fault by the way ;) ) so we didn't get to stay as long and were a little late getting to our next stop - Nathan's family Thanksgiving.

Ryan and I were twins this year for Thanksgiving :)

24 hours later Papa Vallie was rushed to the ER with chest pains - luckily they caught it before he had a full blown heart attack and he is recovering now!

We had Nathan's family Thanksgiving at his uncles shop - it is a nice open space so no one is crowded and lots of room for the kids to play. The kids had a blast with the pool table and foosball table - plus the 4 TVs were a bonus :)

Sleepy Daddy :)

Me and my Dad always do our Thanksgiving by going to Walmart to do Black Friday shopping. There wasn't much on the list there for my family this year so I was there mainly for help with the others. I got a new DVD player for the car and some new DVDs and games for the kids stockings. I helped Dad fill up 4 carts for the other grandkids though :) It wasn't wild or crazy, I didn't see any fights or have to fight for anything and I was home and having movie night with the kids by 7:30!

On Friday we had my mom's Thanksgiving. We always do a non-traditional Thanksgiving with my mom. This year it was Hawaiian food. We had grilled fruit and vegetables and pork loin. We also celebrated my sister-in-law Jessica and Nathan's birthdays. The kids had so much fun playing with their cousins and have been asking when they can do that again - this makes me so happy - I loved playing with my cousins growing up.

We wended our Thanksgiving Holiday with a family movie date to see Moana. It was a really good movie! Me and Noah both had to try really hard not to happy cry ;) 

I cannot tell you how much money we have put in this Die Hard game at them movies!

Next up - we finally told the kids about their MAGICAL Christmas gift from us! The countdown has begun!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Retail Therapy & Soccer

The kids and I love going to the movies and count down the weekends until the next kid movie comes out. We have a little bit of a wait until the next one comes out so the kids were literally begging to go see Trolls again on Friday night. I couldn't think of anything else to do so we decided to watch it again. It really is a cute movie and was still entertaining a second time, even for me :)

Saturday morning we decided to go to Conway for the day to do some golfing and shopping. Our friend Scooter went with us and the kids and I dropped him and Nathan off to golf while we shopped :) We hit up on of our favorite stores - Target to do a little clothes shopping and look at things to tell Santa we wanted for Christmas. The kids showed me a few things and we had to take pictures of them to e-mail to Santa so he would know what they wanted ;) The kids were really good and we had such a fun time together. After we picked the guys back up we went to our favorite restaurant - TGI Fridays for lunch.

One of the items on Ryan's Christmas wish list :) An Elsa Doll over 3 feet tall!

After that we had to hurry home to drop Scooter off because we had a birthday party at the skating rink for our friends daughter Mia. Noah attempted to skate once before and Ryan has never tried. When I first took Ryan out there she said "why did she have to have a skating party, I can't do this". Not 10 minutes later she jerked her hands away from me and said "I don't need your help, don't stand near me" and she took off! She saw the other girls her age doing it alone and she wanted to do it alone too. Typical Ryan. I still tried to stay close to her to catch her in case she fell hard but she never really did. She was a natural. She then said "Can I have a skating party next year?" :)

Happy Birthday Mia!

Now, poor Noah is another story. He tried really hard but his coordination was not there. I was very proud of him for trying it several times though and not giving up and not crying. I always ask the kids during their nightly baths what their favorite part of the day was and Noah said skating - that is a perfect description of him. It was hard and he fell and never really did it too well, but it was his favorite part of the day :)

After church Sunday was the kids last soccer games of the season. This has been the best sports program my kids have been part of yet. I loved the morals and lessons in each practice that the coaches focused on. It is not always that you hear a coach tell your kid they are special and they will keep them in the mind and heart all year long.  During Ryans last practice her coach (who is also the high school soccer coach) had her team practice with the high school team on the big field. Ryan LOVED it! She asked if she could be a Panther soccer player when she was bigger :) After the last games we had an awards ceremony. The kids each got an Upward backpack. Then we packed Operation Christmas Child boxes before cake and ice cream. The kids were begging to do a celebration dinner at Chili's. I told them we would have to skip the cake and ice cream. They both said they didn't care. So, as soon as we packed our boxes with our teams we took off. It was a nice ending to a memory filled weekend.

Ryan's coach reminding his players that these little players are always watching
and listening to them so they always need to be aware of their actions. 

My week days are a little less busy with soccer over, but the holidays are in full swing so I am sure I will find something to fill them with. Like today, I will be hanging my outdoor Christmas lights on my house on my lunch break :)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Fun Fall Weekend

On Friday I got to attend Noah's field trip with him to the Janet Huckabee Nature Center in Barling. I am so glad that I am able to do these things with him - it probably means as much to me as it does to him. My parents had to work long hours when I was growing up and were not able to attend many school events during the day, so I know how special this is.

We planned a trip to this place last spring break but were unable to make it, so I was glad to finally get to check it out. Our first stop was a nature hike. The kids learned about trees, camouflage and how seeds are spread.

Counting the rings to see how old the tree was :)

Our next stop was inside to learn about snakes. The lady taught us all about snakes in our area and even got two snakes out for the kids to pet. Noah told me to get the camera ready because he was touching it quick :) Momma passed on petting the snakes, but acted like it was no big deal to Noah - I don't want my fears to become his fears. 

Our last stop was to the basement to learn about fossils. Noah was a little sad that there were no dinosaur fossils, but still thought it was "pretty cool". There was even fossilized poop! 

We then had a picnic lunch out on a dock and watched the geese. Then the kids played on a little play area - which was my low point of the day for sure. I have managed to avoid being stung by anything for 34 years but got my first sting while watching Noah play. Now, I have wished it were me instead of him all 3 times Noah has gotten stung (yes, he has already been stung 3 times in life) and now I see why he freaked out so much - that really hurt! It throbbed and burned for the next 8 hours! Thankfully I am not allergic and ice helped with the pain, but I am really going to try to avoid it for another 34 years!

Friday night we had a family date night to see Trolls. It has been 6 weeks since a kids movie came out so we were having movie theater withdrawals! The movie was very cute and the kids are already begging to see it again. 

Saturday morning Noah had some Little Mister Johnson County duties and we were in the Veteran's Day parade. We love to honor our Veterans and I was so happy to see the turn out for the parade was so much bigger this year!

Selfie by Daddy :)

Saturday night I told Nathan to make plans to take me out somewhere. I was needing a kid free night to eat and watch a movie with him. We went to Fat Daddy's Downtown to eat and watch the Razorback game. The food was good and I love it when we get to talk uninterrupted about future plans and just life. From there we went to Lowe's so I could get some new yard flags - yes, I spent part of date night at Lowe's and loved every second of it :) Then we had to stop by Walgreens to get Nathan some medicine - he was starting to get a "man cold" so we had to get him some medicine to help him get through the movie. Then it was on to the movies. I wanted to see Deepwater Horizon for a few reasons. One: Mark Wahlburg. I will pretty much watch anything he is in. He is in my top 5 favorite actors for sure. Two: I love movies based on true life events. This was based on the BP oil spill from the oil rig explosion in 2010. Three: It was not a chick flick so I knew Nathan wouldn't be bored to death. This was one of the most intense movies I have seen since Lone Survivor. I laughed, cried (well, I rarely actually cry in movies - but I could have if I would have let myself), and had to just look away several times. It was really a great movie and an honor to those who lost their lives due to the mistakes of others. My favorite part was when all the survivors kneel down and recite the Lord's Prayer together on the life boat as the oil rig is burning down. They just went through the unimaginable and lost close friends and still prayed to God.

Sunday morning the "man cold" had gotten a lot worse. So, we quarantined Daddy to our room and the kids and I went to church. After church we had lunch and then went to soccer games. Both kids did really good this week! Noah was running around like crazy and blocked several scoring attempts by the other team. He also ran over to give me a hug and kiss during the game and another time yelled "Mom, am I doing awesome?" :) Ryan ran and smiled and played the whole time - much better than last week. My Dad was there  for the games and both kids spent so much time wrestling with him on the sidelines - we don't get to see Dad as much as I would like so I always love seeing them together.

Now on to our normal busy agenda this week: our last soccer practices, ballet, birthday party, and our last soccer games with an award ceremony following. Then it will already be time for our November birthdays and Thanksgiving!