Hey There, Elliebelle!

It's come to my attention that Ellie and her friends have discovered our blog.  The third and fourth graders at Ellie's school are all given Chrome books (laptops) for the year.  I dreaded having to essentially add a fourth child to our family, but it's really been okay.  The worst incident was when Ellie and another student picked up each others' Chrome books after safety patrol one afternoon.  It may or may not have taken me an hour to figure out whose Chrome book she had taken.  Cause, you know, they're locked for safety.  So all you see when you turn the thing on is whatever background the student chooses.  Thankfully this incident occurred before the school system changed everyone's background to the same thing (let's not even think about why this happened!), so El knew the laptop belonged to a boy who likes Ole Miss.  Goodness.  That was fun.

Anyway, one day Ellie googled herself.  (I know, parent of the year for letting my daughter play on Google unsupervised.)  She found our blog and has now caught up on her life from age two until whenever the last time I blogged was.  Her friends have also started reading the blog.  Thinking it's time to update and attempt to keep things a bit more current.

So, sweet Elliebelle, my goal is to blog at least once a week.  And you're allowed to keep me accountable!


Happy, Happy!

Two out of three of our chickies' birthdays have come and gone in the last couple of months.  
The El didn't have a party this year.  I decided that with three kids, three parties in three months is a little bit too much.  So Ellie and MC will be on an every-other-year party rotation.  Instead, to celebrate turning nine (whoa!), Ellie had two friends spend the night and we did her favorite things: eat pizza, celebrate with cookie cake, and watch a movie.  Done and done.
Robert's third birthday was a couple of days ago.  We invited his best buddy Carson and Carson's family over for hot dogs (I know, gourmet) and cake.  Simple, but fun.  (Of course Miss Anna came, too!)
Next up is Mary Claire!  On August 19, she will be six.  WHAT?!



The day after Christmas, Robbie and the girls and I took the train into New York City.  My brother Greg offered to go with us (not to lunch for some strange reason!), and we jumped at that!!  He did everything...bought our train tickets, told our cab where to go, met us after lunch, and led the way to Times Square.  We SO appreciate Greg!!
I made reservations to eat lunch at the American Girl store sometime in November.  Our lunch was at 11:30, which was perfect.  We got there just in time to check our coats, then we were seated.  The food isn't the best in the world, but that really didn't matter.  The experience was fun!
In the taxi with my companions for the day...Kanani and Samantha.
The girls in the taxi.  They loved it.  Robbie and I did not love that they kept changing the channel on the tv in the cab to inappropriate shows.  We remedied that by making them stay on the map screen.
In true Mary Claire fashion, we hit the bathrooms at the American Girl Doll Store first!  They are always intrigued with the Dyson hand-dryers.
 I tried really hard to get sweet pictures during our lunch, but the girls were not having it.  That was my cue to put up the camera and enjoy time with my chickies!!

This was about the tenth picture that our sweet waitress took!
After lunch we shopped with the girls so they could spend the gift cards we gave them.  Both dolls got their ears pierced.  Ellie was a little freaked about making such a commitment, but was okay once she saw how cute Kanani looks with her earrings.  MC chose a hair kit for her doll and Ellie got a cheer outfit and a book.
The AG store is right across the street from Rockefeller Center, so we met Greg and walked to see the tree.  Both girls wanted to ice skate, but once they saw how long it took to just get to the rink because of all of the crowds, they were fine just watching everyone else skate!
 Times Square is only a few blocks away, so we followed Greg there next.  I wanted to take the girls to Toys R Us, because they'd already been to FAO Schwarz when they were younger.  Next time we will skip Toys R Us altogether and go to the M&M store or even back to FAO.  Toys R Us was crowded and junky.  All three floors of it.
We loved seeing all of the signs and lights on Times Square.  Ellie was excited to see where they would drop the crystal ball on New Years Eve.
Their favorite was watching a breakdancing troupe that had hundreds of people gathered around.  I, personally, didn't see a thing because I didn't have anyone to pick me up!!
At this point both girls were thirsty and cold, so we knew it was time to call it a day.  Robbie got snacks and drinks for the train ride home, then we once again followed Greg down to the subway.  
The girls were so good about always holding our hands.  They never complained about walking (and we walked a lot!) or the crowds.  I was super-proud!!
We were all thankful to be on the train home with our coats and hats and gloves and scarves OFF for a little bit!
 Mom got us at the train station, so we didn't have to find our car or anything.  Mass transit really does rock!!
When we got back to Mom and Henry's house, Robert was waiting for us.  In one of the girls' tank tops.  Mom was worried that Robert would be cold, and she couldn't find any undershirts for him.  That would be because we live in Alabama, Robert is the third child, and we don't have undershirts.
Fun day with our girls, made possible by Mom and Uncle Nick!!


Merry Merry!

Happy Birthday, Jesus!  This Christmas season we went low-key at the Latham house.  I felt guilty for not hanging our Advent calendar with fun prizes for the girls.  Then the Lord told me that it was all okay.  Instead we could focus more on Him.  So we did.  And Christmas was wonderful.  I didn't get stressed (well, maybe a little once or twice), and the kids really enjoyed Christmas.  Not presents and candy and parties, but meaningful time with family and celebrating Jesus.
On Christmas morning we had a yummy breakfast before opening gifts.  We were all shocked that the kids wanted to eat first!!
Robert got all things transportation.  And he loved having Uncle Nick there to help him open it all and put it together ASAP!!

Robert's number one Christmas request was a big blue car.  Not as easy to find as you might think!
Mom and Henry continued the Hess truck tradition, and this year's model did not disappoint!
The girls were so sweet.  They would open each gift and really look at it and love it before moving on to the next one.
For their big gift, Robbie and I took them into New York City to the American Girl Doll store the next day!!  I'm not sure who was more or the girls!
We had the most fun with Greg's gifts.  He loves the show 'Big Bang Theory,' so Mom found him a couple of things for his stocking.  Things like a dickie.  And a glass urine collector bottle.  (Apparently the show is about someone working on the Space Station.  Greg is working in Las Vegas for a private company designing their own space station.)
 Of course we put the dickie on Robert!
Greg was not the only one who got interesting presents.  He gave Nick several little things that I could not figure out.  (Let me interject by saying that all of these boys are engineers.  Robbie fits right in.  I do not.)  Here's Nick opening two steel plates.  Um, thanks Greg.  Turns out Greg gave him all of the supplies needed to make thermite (burns through things).  Later that week all of the boys went outside and burned holes through these steel plates.  True story.

 Once we were finished with presents, it was time to get dressed and get ready for family.  Lots of family!
My mom's sisters, Mary and Kathy, and her brother, Alan all came!  So did Mary and Kathy's families!
Here are all of the cousins (and our kids) that were there.  I didn't bother to edit this picture, because Mom someone left out Robert.  Someone somewhere has this picture with ALL of us in it, but I can't find it!
 My kids adore my cousin Ellen.  I can't think of anyone better to be a proud of her!!  (She also has a dog that the kids love, Watson.  Her husband Johnny is pretty great, too.)
Mary and her family.  My cousin Evan and his wife Missy are on the right.  Their dog Brody is a sweet one!!  (Evan and Missy are, too!)
 And here we all are!  Can you tell Mom was so happy to have all of us home?!
My Aunt Kathy's family left before we could get a group picture.  So Francie our elf was her family.
Greg's second calling is anything culinary.  He found avocados and made avocado mousse for one of our desserts.  Amazing! 
 We had a fantastic day!  Robert was pooped by the end of the end of the night.  So were we!!
But Mom wasn't going to bed until all of the silver was dried and put away.  Another true story.
Christmas was a month ago, but we are still talking about how wonderful it was.  We so appreciate Mom and Henry having us there for an entire week!  We always are so loved and taken care of at their house!!
Hope your Christmas was wonderful, too!
Images by Freepik