happy {almost} new year!

We celebrated New Year's Eve in high caloric fashion (diets start tomorrow, right?) with a trip out to eat at a local burger joint. This was one of our first outings since Lake Charles, as we have been in "laying low" recovery mode, and so the kids (and me!) were pumped to get out of the house.

She was hugging him lovingly, not trying to stab him with the fork as it kind of appears....
Elise showing off her corn dog, which she took about 4 bites of...meanwhile Lila went to town on some fried pickles, chicken and fries, and Bennett did pretty well with his cheeseburger!
They were very well behaved at dinner...so much so that David looked at me at one point and said, "whose kids are these?".
{We had a rough day yesterday with very little cooperation}
And, the lady at the table next to us even walked over and told me how well behaved they were.
I am hoping this was God's little nudge that maybe I am doing one or two things right, because as of yesterday afternoon I was frantically searching for parenting books, pretty convinced that I am failing miserably. :)
So, we decided to end the year with one of David's favorite things- Baskin and Robbins ice cream.

Was a great way to end a great year.....
Off the top of my head a few highs and lows from this year:
-Mo and Phillip get hitched in Nashville
-trip to the big purple house
-loss of our cat, Tiger
-addition of our sweet Boss
-watching several friends welcome new babies
-birthday celebrations
-David and I celebrating our 10th anniversary (11 is just around the corner)
-girls' dance recital
-friday playdates with friends
-visits with great grandparents
-kids first plane trip to Virginia to visit the Allisons and Gilberts
I'm sure there are many more I am forgetting, but the bottom line is that we have a lot to be thankful for, this year and every year...
Happy New Year!!!


Christmas Morning

(*A funny note about the pillow pet...Elise opened it and said, "You know what they say on the commericial? It only takes one hug for your child to love their pillow pet!")

We definitely realize how blessed we are, not only with things, but more importantly with people to love and who love us back....
Merry, Merry!


Our Christmas eve was different in many ways this year- we stayed home, picked up bbq for dinner, wore pajamas all day- but we did keep our tradition of lighting the way for the reindeer....

Aunt Mo and Phillip got into town, and they, along with Mimi and Grandpa and my parents, came to eat BBQ with us...we had planned on having Christmas Eve with the Mills as well, and were sad that wasn't able to happen....Lila and Bennett are still recovering from pneumonia and croup, and poor Elise, while still on antibiotics for her pneumonia had a rough night Wednesday night with a stomach flu...
With every one's resistance so low, we decided to have a quiet night at home, hoping that God would understand not bringing the kids out to a usually packed Christmas church...so we talked about Jesus' birth before bed, said our prayers, lit the way for the reindeer and went to bed early....feeling very thankful that, even though we have had a sick few weeks, we were all going to be together for Christmas....


Parnell Christmas

We headed to Lake Charles this weekend to celebrate Christmas with David's parents. The kids were so excited to go to Emmy and Pop's, and I think the change of scenery was good for all of us.
Lila and Bennett had started coughing badly on Thursday night, but after getting a pretty clear report at the Dr. on Friday we decided we could go lay low just as easily in Lake Charles as we could at home...so we loaded up and headed out.
We took it easy Saturday, and after the kids went to bed we ate the best Chinese food ever. LOVE IT. So good....
On Sunday morning we all woke up and opened presents...

I think E's favorite was her new camera. In fact, she took so many pictures on Sunday that it needed a change of batteries!! Future photographer???

Lila loved her "Taylor Swifts" doll, which sings "you belong with me". I even heard Pop singing along by the time we left!
Bennett had fun playing with his transformer and train tracks...the kids were thrilled.
We gave Emmy and Pop a web cam so that they can skype with the kids. We have found that they much prefer skyping to talking on the phone....it is the way to go!
After that, since everyone seemed to be feeling ok, we went to the Parnell's Club to have lunch with Santa. It was pretty much a repeat of the breakfast with Santa we went to earlier in the season, where Lila remained on the verge of a breakdown, Bennett steered clear, and Elise ran right up, jumped on his lap, and recited her list.
After an afternoon of resting, the Parnells treated us to a horse carriage ride along the Lake to look at Christmas lights. The kids LOVED it. It was very, very pretty....

The way we are bundled up it looks like it was 40 below, but it really wasn't that cold...we just wanted to make sure we were all cozy. Afterwards, the horse (I think mule actually) owner let
Elise and Bennett (Lila passed) feed "Lucy" her snack of apples for taking us on our long ride. They loved it!!
We had a great trip, ate too much, had lots of fun, and relaxed.....
We got back late last night and unfortunately, when loading the sleeping kids from the car, realized that both Lila and Bennett had fever. Turns out that now it is Lila's turn for pneumonia and Bennett has a double ear infection. So, we are really thankful that we had such a great weekend because it looks like we'll be spending the next few days until Christmas inside trying to get well....
Let the countdown begin....


high note

This week started off a little rough, with Elise coming down with croup (which later turned into pneumonia), but it ended on a high note with all of the kids being able to participate in their Christmas programs at preschool.
This was Lila and Bennett's first school stage performance (although Lila is a pro after her ballet recital last year) and they did great!! We weren't quite sure what to expect from Bennett, but he looked like he was having a great time participating in the singing!! I love their precious little angel collars.

It was adorable!! David and I, along with David's Mom and my Dad were there for the show! Sadly, Elise wasn't well enough to attend, but she had a blast watching the video later on that night...and I think she had a pretty good time hanging out with SuSu while we were at the show...

Elise's biggest concern all week was will she/won't she be able to be in the program. I can't remember her ever missing a full week of school...pneumonia really takes a lot out of you. And, after already missing her ballet party Monday night, we were really praying all week that she would be well enough to go...
I guess a little comfort from her buddy Boss helped...

So, after two full days without fever, and a much improved cough, we decided to allow her to participate today. Instead of doing too much too soon, we only brought her right before the show to let her line up with her class- it was SO SWEET how excited they were to see her!!
And, even after missing a full week of practice, she sang her little heart out! :)
The pictures from the actual program were really dark, but I got a few cute ones with some of her classmates afterwards...

These two crack me up. Look at William's face in the second one!!! Elise told me that he told her that he wants to marry her. So funny! They were actually baptized together and have been in class together for the past 3 years. He also recently became a big brother to boy/girl twins and so they have that in common as well. They will go off to kindergarten together next year at the same school, so we'll see if the romance continues....

There are only 4 girls in her class this year, but they are all super sweet! I couldn't track down Farrah, but here are Talia, Reese, and E...best buddies! Elise and Reese have gotten really close because they are our neighbors and we carpool together...

Besides William, E has other precious boys in her class....Dane is to the left, and Reese is in front with the sweater. This is their second year together as well....so cute!

We feel so blessed that she has had such a wonderful experience so far this year. I feel like it has become so obvious to David and I that we made the right decision for her to stay an extra year, as we have watched her blossom and absolutely adore her teachers and class. Her change in confidence has been great, although admittedly this has resulted in some increased sassiness and hardheadedness (is that a word?). But, she has also made several friends that she will be not only in school with next year, but on the same school bus, and I think that is going to make her transition to the bigger school that much better (at least that is our hope)....
Gosh, I got off on a tangent, didn't I?

Her sweet teachers Mrs. Cantrelle and Mrs. Mitchell...

We were all so happy that she got to perform, and for her finale Christmas program she even had her brother, sister, and both sets of Grandparents there....I think it is safe to say she is very loved!
Great way to end a dreary week!


my b

Bennett and his quirky little personality has been keeping me quite entertained lately...First of all, I am feeling quite guilty, because I apparently passed down the dreaded fever blister trait to my son. On top of that, I think I gave him his first one (at age 3- so sad) from kissing him to pieces while I had two last week! I guess he carries the gene, and so I need to be careful in the future. Poor little man. Of course, he barely stays still long enough for me to really notice, and it didn't seem to phase him at all!

The other night I was putting all of the kids to bed (David had some kind of work commitment, because we tackle this together when able) and Bennett was waiting patiently in his room while I tucked in the girls. When I walked into his room he was sitting at the foot of his bed with all of his Toy Story game cards laid out on the bench that sits at the foot. He was very seriously waving his hands above the cards. Without looking at me, continuing to focus on what he was doing, he said, "mama (i love that he calls me this sometimes), i am goin' to make these cards disappear. Then they are goin' to be in that book Santa is holding." {He has a stuffed Santa reading the night before Christmas currently on top of his dresser.} I didn't say anything, not wanting to discourage his magical powers, but just stood and waited. And then he said, "Man. I guess these cards need wings."

That same night after I tucked him in he said, "How old will I be on my next birthday?". I said, "Well, you are 3, right? What comes after 3?". He paused for a minute, and then his pretty eyes lit up and he said, "Mama, are you thinking what I'm thinking?".
I couldn't stop laughing.
I said, "I don't know. What are you thinking?"
He said, "FOUR!!!!"

Which leads me to his next little quirk. He is obsessed with the number 4 (hence the extreme excitement that he will be 4 next). David and I both are born on the 4th, and have always like 4 as well, but have never knowingly taught the kids (or B) that. Interesting. Wonder if that is hereditary like the fever blisters! HA!

And, in true boy fashion today, Bennett ripped off his own big toenail because it needed to be cut. Seriously.
He came limping into the room with blood squirting out of his big {BIG} toe, holding the piece of toenail (pretty much the whole thing) that he had ripped off "because it was bothering him." It took two rounds of singing ABC's while I held pressure on it to stop the bleeding (learned that trick in the ER with Elise and it really helps..gets their mind off of the issue) and a Buzz Lightyear band aide to top it off. When he remembers about it the limp returns, but I think he is going to survive.

Our little B. Just love him.



Thanks to David, we are all lit up and ready for the Holiday Season.....I think the star this year is the highest yet!!

Now......if we could just keep from blowing fuses a'la Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation....