Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happy Halloween

This Halloween was especially fun as the kids actually trick or treated for the first time!  Technically, it was their 3rd time to trick or treat, but in years past they were either carried or pulled in a wagon and never let out.

Between all of our  fall activities, I tried to prepare the kids for Halloween as best I could.  We read Halloween books during story time, watched a few Disney Junior Halloween themed shows, made ghosts from cotton balls and construction paper, colored pumpkins and wooden Halloween characters, and ate banana ghosts and Reese's witch broomsticks. I thought about carving a pumpkin, but then decided we needed a witch pumpkin instead.  


Wise decision, right?

But, in the end, Halloween is nothing without costumes and trick-or-treating.  The costumes this year were quite the international feat.  The pants we received from Dave's Thai coworkers (same ones worn for the 2014 TCH Bad Pants Day) and the tops were creations by a good friend of mine.  I described my vision and she just winged it on the design and sizing of the tops.  Amazing!!  Not only did they fit, but they were completely perfect and adorable too.  I called them genies, but you could also go with Thai/Arabian prince and princesses.  Whatever.



As usual, we had quite the entourage going around the block.  Three other families, my parents and grandparents, and a couple close friends.  Yeah, you could see us coming.  I started out carrying 5 of the candy buckets and 3 of the kids being carried.  Within a few houses, I was down to 3 buckets and only 1 kid was being carried.  They really caught on to the concept quickly!  But, candy does that to people.  They made it around the whole block and racked up some serious candy.  I have allowed them to eat some in very small portions as dessert.  They think it's amazing.



Caroline was the most entertaining trick-or-treater.  Several times she rang the doorbell and walked right on in when the neighbor opened the door.  Luckily she was bribed out with the candy bowl!  Speaking of, when the neighbor held the bowl for the kids to get their own candy, Caroline eagerly put both hands in every time trying to grab as much as she could.  Did I mention we have a ton of candy at our house right now?


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fall Bucket List

I have never done a seasonal bucket list before.  But I'm sold.

I made quite the ambitious list of outings and at-home activities for the Pack to do this fall.  And thanks to the trusty list and my master planner skills, we got every single item done!  {Even with a lovely week of stomach bug thrown in there to make things interesting}  I know you are on the edge of your seat waiting to read ALL about the fall bucket list fun... so without further ado...  here goes it...

Zoo

The zoo is nothing new for us, but this fall we went twice.  One time during Zoo Boo {a fun Halloween event with pumpkin patches and candy stations and cool decorations} and one time during a school field trip day {I have a knack for picking those days}.  Both visits I let the kids WALK the whole time- no stroller, no wagon.  Just the walking rope and plenty of helping hands to hold.  And it went surprisingly well!  Allison and Andrew were carried most of the time, Ben walked along slowly, Levi stayed with us but was pushing to go quicker, and Caroline was ready to go off and do her own thing so her hand had to be held.  Of course Leah was fabulous the whole time.  What has been most fun is that they're more into the animals.  They really like the aquarium, sea lions, elephants, giraffes, petting zoo, and the playground.




Barnes & Noble

We did a retry of this one since our last visit coincided with Batman Day.  Glad we did!  It wasn't crowded at all so we had full reign of the coloring sheets and train table.  Unfortunately the train table only had 2 trains, so next time I'll bring a few extra.  The highlight was snagging this cute pictures of all 6 together:


Visiting Friends and Family

We made the long trek to the other side of Pearland {kinda joking kinda true} to visit one of our great friends and regular helper at her house!  The kids had a ball exploring the new environment and eating special snacks.  My grandparents came too and I think my grandpa wouldn't have minded if we left him in the media room.



Also on the list was to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew who live in another area of Houston. We all had a great time playing ball, bubbles, hide and seek, and exploring outside!  The kids gobbled up pizza for dinner {I'm talking some serious pizza eating here} and we ended the fun with a dance party!  You know that's my jam.



Children's Museum

This was our first visit.  I have been avoiding it due to the price, but thanks to Groupon we were able to swing it this once.  On this particular day I had decided Andrew and Allison had to use their legs and walk- no crying and being carried around all day!  Unfortunately for my helpers and I, Andrew put up quite the battle.  It took us 30 minutes to get from the car to the toddler area.  But we got there.  And he wasn't carried.

Once we were inside, they all had a blast!  It really is a neat setup for little ones.  Once we got the cues they were hungry, we headed to the cafe for lunch.  They were all wonderful eating in the cafe!  I was surprised/impressed myself.  The best part?  They ALL walked back to the car with no big meltdowns- took 10 minutes.  HA!


Brazoria County Fair

My grandparents volunteer at the fair every year and have been waiting for the kids to be old enough to enjoy at least one aspect of the fair.  This year I knew they'd love the animals!  So one morning we loaded up and headed to the County Fairgrounds.  We started out in the learning center with a fake cow to milk, stick horse races, and a petting zoo with goats, bunnies, sheep, and a donkey.  Then we made our way around the show animals: pigs, rabbits, cows, horses, chickens, and turkeys.  They really enjoyed seeing rows and rows of animals.  We ended our visit with a picnic lunch and a special treat of funnel cake!  I mean, what kind of trip to the fair would it be without funnel cake?!  And, surprise, they couldn't get enough.



Pumpkin Patch

Last year I debated a visit to a pumpkin patch and decided against it.  This year I decided we could handle it.  Especially with my parents in town to help :)  We chose to go to a small patch at a nearby church.  Great decision!  Plenty of pumpkins to choose from, a couple of cute set ups for pics, an enclosed playground, a train ride, and a huge pumpkin chunkin catapult were all there.  We spent most of the time at the playground, but the girls were pretty interested in picking out pumpkins.  Caroline was getting quite frustrated that she couldn't lift most of the pumpkins.


She eventually found some smaller ones she could handle- then put them in someone else's wagon!  Our attempted family picture has much to be desired, but we survived it, found the perfect pumpkin to keep, and got out with only one meltdown.  Success indeed.

Parks

We LOVE parks!!!  Especially in glorious fall weather.  One day Dave and I were feeling ambitious and took all the kids and dog to a close by tiny park (I call them pocket parks) in our neighborhood.  Perfect for our kids!  The right size equipment, enclosed, and no one else there.  On one visit there was another child there, but it didn't take long for us to scare the poor kid away.  Pretty sure he was overwhelmed.  We have also discovered a not too far away big park that has plenty of stuff for little ones to do.  They have a blast, burn tons of energy, and we enjoy watching them and sometimes joining in too!  Even Leah gets in on the action- I take her down the slides with me.  Seeing her face light up is priceless!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Fun Around Town

Going back in time to do a little catch up here.  Like before Florida and before I started in on the fall bucket list of fun.

The Little Gym

I couldn't pass up this Houston Mom's Blog play date!  Much closer than the last one we traveled to AND Chick-Fil-A was the snack sponsor.  The play date consisted of an hour long Little Gym class (we attended the 3 and under group) followed by a Chick-Fil-A lunch and a craft!  They started out on the timid side when the class began and were quite clingy during the Mommy & Me part (in our case it was Mommy/whoever Mommy convinced to tag along & Me), but they warmed up as the class got going.  The boys really got into it and enjoyed the inflatable jumping, bar swinging, balance beam, and climbing on whatever they could.  Allison was clingy to us unless the teacher was with her one-on-one.  Then all of a sudden she could do what was asked.  Caroline stuck to herself and did what she wanted to do.  She particularly liked this one apparatus she could climb and slide down.



Of course they all dug into the lunch and really liked their first tasted of Chick-Fil-A lemonade.  The craft was a little much for my crew, so they just colored instead.  And if you know my crew, you know they LOVE to color.  We ended the play date by picking up our favors: stuffed Chick-Fil-A cows and coupons!!  This event was so worth the $5/kid!!

Bad Pants

Another fun event!  This one is near and dear to our hearts as it supports the Texas Children's Hospital NICU.  Their big fundraiser each year is the Bad Pants Open Golf Tournament.  Leading up to it, they have hosted a Bad Pants Fashion Show in the past.  We participated in the fashion show last year.  This year they changed it up a bit: Bad Pants Day!  Rather than a fashion show highlighting the NICU graduates, they honored the NICU nurses with a break in their schedule.  We were honored to be the featured family and it just happened to be on the 2 year anniversary of Leah coming home from the NICU!  



We donned our bad pants (the kids' pants were gifts from Dave's Thai coworkers when we visited last spring), gathered up our entourage, and headed for the hospital.  They were so sweet to provide toys for the kids and lunch for everyone.  We had a great time playing and visiting with our old nurses and doctors.  No one could believe how big they have gotten!  Hopefully they keep inviting us back :)


Birthday Parties

We were able to attend 2 birthday parties recently.  The kiddos are sort of kind of getting the concept.  But really I think they just get excited to eat lots of cake.  

The first party was at a fantastic park.  They loved the playground and the play doh and coloring stations.  Then ELMO showed up!  Ben and Levi were fascinated, while Andrew and Allison were spooked, and Caroline was off doing Caroline things.  Typical.  After Elmo photo ops, it was cake time.  They wasted no time digging in!  They had a great time and it was hard getting them to leave!





The second party was a Frozen themed swimming party.  You better believe the second Caroline saw that pool she was getting in it.  Andrew was right behind her.  I just keep those 2 in floaties when water is nearby.  Actually, all 6 got in the pool at some point!  They had a blast swimming and of course dug into the cake and snacks.  We left with an invitation to come back anytime, so I guess they were fairly well behaved.  Again, another fun party they did not want to leave!  


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Color Fun Fest 5K


It's no secret that I'm a runner.  And it's no secret that I can't wait to get my kids involved in the running community (2 more years to Kids K domination).  One type of event is definitely on my bucket list: a Color Run!  I see pics of my friends doing these all of the time and they look like a blast!  But, unfortunately for me, the kids are too young and my schedule's too crazy for me to attempt a Color 5K just yet.  BUT, that doesn't mean you have to miss out!!

The Color Fun Fest 5k is coming to Houston Saturday November 1st at the Sam Houston Race Park!!!


So... What's the Color Fun Fest?

An amazing adventure of an event!  You run through 4 color stations on a 5k course to finish looking like a human rainbow.  Next up is the post race party!  And more color!  Color fire extinguishers and the EPICOLORTOSS (imagine simultaneous color packets thrown throughout the crowd all at the same time!) will happen.  


Why do this?

Color Fun Fest 2014 has partnered with Free Arts for Abused Children to be the primary beneficiary charity.  This organization helps children with adverse pasts overcome their past through creativity and expression.  How great is that?!  There are also several local charities involved in the event as well. And all ages are welcome!  Truly a family fun event.


Details please...

When: Saturday November 1st  between 2-10pm.  The day run is at 5pm and the night run is at 7pm.  That means you have 2 options to fit in your schedule!

Where: Sam Houston Race Park 
              7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West
              Houston, Texas 77064

And here's the best part...

If you use the discount code PERKINSPACK tickets are only $25!!!
So go register right now!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Beach Babies

I have deemed 2014 the year of travel for the Perkins family.  We have taken more trips (solo and as a family) this year than any other year since Dave and I were married.  Still a couple more after Florida, but you'll just have to wait to hear about those!

I won the trip to St. Pete's Beach, Florida from the Unstoppable Mom contest on the Live with Kelly & Michael Show back in March.  I chose to take the trip in September in order to space out our family trips and miss the big crowds since school was back in session.  I only had a couple of weeks between Montana and Florida, and as the Florida trip date approached, I wasn't very excited about it.  The thought of packing everything and doing another long road trip was wearing me out.  But, plans had been made, so I packed.

There was no way Dave and I were taking our 6 toddlers to the beach alone.  His mom rode with us in the van and my parents flew to Tampa and met us there.  We all had separate rooms at the hotel which was much nicer than in NYC when we were crammed in the same space.  We made the drive in just under 16 hours.  Like Colorado, we did it all in one day.  Unlike Colorado, the kids were about as well behaved as could be expected.  The big boys were fully entertained by trucks driving by and the rest were entertained with music and snacks and books.  They are only 2, so of course there was whining, but a tolerable amount.  The drive home was equivalent to the drive there- a success in my book.

We stayed at the Trade Winds Resort in St. Pete's Beach, FL.  They were very accommodating and I highly recommend it for a family vacation.  Lots to do for all ages!  Being there at the end of September was great.  It wasn't crowded at all- we often had the pool to ourselves and plenty of room on the beach and no wait at restaurants.  It did rain almost everyday, but only during nap times or the evening, so it never spoiled our plans.

Everyday we did the same thing, but it was perfect!  We spent the first part of the morning on the beach then switched to the kiddie pool area.  We either had a picnic lunch by the pool or ate in the room and put kids to nap.  The kids slept great the whole week.  I had intentions of doing activities on my own during naps, but I chose to just relax instead.  After naps we either went back to the pool or explored the grounds.  There was mini golf, a walking path, pedal boats, and lots of space for chase and hide and seek.  The resort had a designated dog play and walk area; it was marked by painted paw prints that looked like Blue's Clues.  So, of course we had to play "Blue's Clues" one day by finding all of the "clues" on the path.  The kids loved it!






We generally just got food to go and ate in the room, but one night Dave and I had a dinner date, and another night we took the kids to their first real restaurant meal!  With 5 adults it wasn't difficult to keep everyone under control, and the kids really did just fine.  Dave and I enjoyed our couple of hours away too.


It came as no surprise that everyone loved the pool area.  By the end of the week, Caroline and Andrew were jumping to us in the water and floating around on their own (wearing Puddle Jumpers).  The beach went fairly well.  Caroline loved everything about it- even the 2 story tall inflatable slide!  She begged to get on the slide and we eventually gave in and I held her the whole time.  Ben loved being buried in the sand- even more than Caroline!  Andrew liked the lounge chairs, but we did get him in the water the last day.  Allison and Levi varied upon the day, but we did get them in the water before the trip was over.  They all loved hunting for seashells and digging in the sand and destroying Daddy's sandcastles.  Another big hit was the balcony.  They spent lots of time watching for animals (i.e. seagulls, fish, and swans in the pond below our room).





The one thing that was NOT a hit was the elevator.  The first time they walked on just fine, looked a little nervous when the door closed, and then completely freaked out when it started moving!  I'm talking total meltdowns x 5.  Leah was fine as she's used to elevators.  A couple of days in everyone had adjusted but Andrew.  He would cry the entire time up until the last day and a half.  He graduated to quietly whimpering.

All in all we had a great trip!!  Definitely plan to do another beach trip in the future- but we'll pick a closer beach :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Montana Wedding... Why Not?

I was fortunate enough to spend Labor Day weekend in Glacier National Park.  Why??  Because my little brother got married!!  In Montana!  And I traveled alone!

Great wedding.  Great trip.  Now let me tell you all about it...

Stephen proposed to Sarah last spring.  They debated on where to have their wedding, but in the end they decided to go destination style.  They picked Glacier National Park.  (Can I just say AMAZING scenery and pictures?!)

Leading up to the wedding Sarah was sweet enough to invite me along for dress shopping.  We had a fun girls day as she went through a few dresses (she looked stunning in everything which was kind of annoying in a good way) before finding the perfect dress for an outdoor Montana ceremony.  They wanted everything simple, so there wasn't any big hoopla before the wedding weekend.

I was the last to arrive (my trip was the shortest for obvious reasons) in Kalispell, but was pleasantly surprised by the small town and our accommodations.  The Bad Rock Bed and Breakfast was a beautiful property and the hospitality couldn't be beat!  Including the bride and groom, there were 9 of us there, so this was to be a small, intimate wedding.  And, honestly, I loved that it was.

The first night there we played Cards Against Humanity.  I had never heard of it before, but it was fun!  And very interesting.  And not for children or the easily offended.  Consider yourself warned.  Needless to say, it had been way too long since I had a game night!

The first full day we all went for a run (what else would you expect from a traveling group of runners?) and how refreshing it was to have beautiful scenery and temps in the 50s!  After we all cleaned up Sarah had her hair and make up trial (again, stunning), quick lunch, then into the park to check out the wedding site and do a short hike.  That night we had a rehearsal dinner without the rehearsal, so just dinner.  We were all impressed by the Kalispell food scene!

Avalanche Lake

The family before the dinner

What better way to end the day than with a dance party!!!  We cranked up the old school jams, busted out the drill team stand dances (that's right, I remember them), and had a grand ole time.  Then Stephen learned that the bride and groom aren't supposed to see each other the day of their wedding and he wasn't thrilled that we were enforcing that rule.  Minus the hour they had to spend getting their marriage license... because, you know, that's kinda important.

The morning of the big day Sarah surprised us girls with matching Lululemon running shorts!  For you non-runners, they're awesome, ridiculously priced running shorts.  And I'm a little too excited to have my own pair now!  Before we tested them out running, we had to do a little modeling...

Jump!

Be the bear.

Antlers anyone?

Catalog worthy right?!

After all the girls were mostly prepped for the ceremony, we grabbed a quick lunch at a yummy local cafe.  (We happened to have met the owner on our hike the day before and the place lived up to everything he sold us on).  Then we were off!  Friend/wife of best man, my parents, and I grabbed up all the decor and headed to the park to set the whole scene up and crossed our fingers Sarah loved it as much as we did.  Sarah and maid of honor picked up the cake, bouquets, and met the photographer at the B&B for a few pre-ceremony pics.  When Stephen and best man showed up at the site, the rest of us headed back to get our fancy garb on.  Then it was go time!

Cake Table.  The topper says "The Smilfs"  Smilf is my brother's nickname.

We arrived back at the ceremony site, double checked everything was perfect, then the ceremony happened.  Short, sweet, intimate, teary-eyed, beautiful, can't believe my little brother's getting married.. .. all wrapped into one.  From the best man singing John Legend to the pastor saying the wrong name (she thought Smilf was the real name) to the delicious deal (literal and figurative) of a cake to the weather... it really was perfect.  The photographer loved our guest commentary throughout her post ceremony session and the pictures will be AMAZING!!!!  After pictures, cake, champagne, and a couple of dances, we were off to dinner.  A  couple celebrating their anniversary bought our table a bottle of bubbly- how nice is that?!  We all said our toasts and congratulations (ok, I wrote a rhymey poem) and enjoyed yet another delicious Montana meal.  The newlyweds had a separate cottage to stay in that night, which us girls were able to "decorate" before they got there as a wedding night surprise :)

It's almost time...

The vows

First Dance

Toast to the newlyweds

Does it get any prettier?

So cute!  

The next morning we all met for one last breakfast at the B&B then went our separate ways home.  Well, the newlyweds continued on to their honeymoon.  After a couple of long flights I was back to reality.  Dave and his mom handled the kids (with a little help from the usual volunteers) while I was gone and they did a great job!  I didn't get to see the kids until the next morning and nothing brightened my day more than Leah's HUGE smile when I got her out of bed.

I am so thankful I was able to attend this wedding!  It was truly wonderful.  And now I have a truly wonderful sister-in-law and step-nephew- yea!!

Me, Groom, and Bride