Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tractor Rides, a Zoo Trip and a Very Special Birthday

Why is she so happy, you wonder?
She's driving a miniature John Deere tractor.
Who wouldn't be smiling?
Audrey got it for Christmas and let Claudia ride it around the lawn.
Here's what happened when Claudia saw Audrey.
She ran, gave Audrey a big neck hug & they both bit the dust.
When's the last time you've been that happy to see anyone?
Can't beat a wagon ride.
Claudia's making her "Indian cry" - not yawning.
No yawning at this playdate.
Audrey loves her tractor.
How cute is this thing?!
Mommy & Bop going into the zoo
the reflection pool at the zoo
It was the one spot not crawling with a zillion kids.
the Lemurs - one of Bop's favorites
staring at lemurs
enjoying some other primates
Daddyboy & Bop checking out a sleeping bear
Bop screaming "touch! touch!" while pointing to the elephants
I'm pretty sure the zoo staff frowns on hoisting your kid over the barriers too.
staring at the lion.
The lion's name was Jonathan. Quirky, huh?
the closest she got to touching any zoo animal
helping Aunt T blow out the candles
Happy birthday, Aunt T!
We love you!

Yesterday Claudia was reunited with Audrey. It went really well! Claudia clearly remembered Audrey and Audrey was pretty happy to see Claudia. Phew. Still on track to be BF(s)F. Today we took a family outing to the Houston Zoo. It was pretty different from the Budapest Zoo. For example, the Houston Zoo staff seemed very concerned about patrons not feeding the animals. This is not an issue at the Budapest Zoo. This may be why the animals in Budapest will snatch crackers out of your hand while you're not paying attention. Remember Jerry? We wrapped the day with a birthday partay for Aunt T. We couldn't be more thrilled that she has moved to Houston. Well, we might be even more thrilled if we still lived here. =) That said, we had a great time celebrating Aunt T's birthday. Especially Claudia, who got to eat some cake, her favorite food ever.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas in Texas

Here is Claudia plunging into her Christmas presents,
all the while squealing "ooooooh!"
My tiny tot, eyes all aglow
This year she got excited over toys!
It didn't matter how simple they were.
Here she is going crazy over a paper kaleidoscope.
She found it... and Oscar... in her stocking from Santa.
She was less enthused over a pair of socks in the stocking.
The drama of Llama Llama was almost unbearable.
Finally! A toddler car my girl can actually move.
Remember this car from a year ago? She still can't get this thing to roll.
This Radio Flyer car, however, is awesome. Well done, elves.
This is Claudia's favorite toy!
This is a close second.
It's the Melissa & Doug Pound & Roll Tower.
Melissa & Doug are apparently Santa's most talented elves.
I highly recommend all their wares.
This was a Christmas of great memories.
Claudia has definitely been missing her Gram.
Here's our family shot.
Claudia's little hands are pushing and pinching my neck.
See my strained face? I'm trying to hard to smile despite the pain.
She's struggling to break loose and dive back in the toy pile.
Claudia making a run on the cheese table.
All she wanted was "crackas! crackas!"
Here she is stacking blocks with Uncle Nathan.
Uncle Nathan was a very good sport.
Claudia knocked down every single stack he made.
Did I say that the Radio Flyer was her favorite?
I meant discarded ribbon.
That's her favorite.
My sweet girl in a moment of quiet reflection over the reason for the season.
She has successfully identified every baby Jesus in every nativity she's seen.
Also, she impressed us all by proclaiming "AMEN!" before Christmas dinner.
Open mouth smiles... they are the best.
The temperature dropped in Houston from 75 to 45.
If you can trust the weatherman, he says its about to warm back up to 78 tomorrow.
Did I say that discarded ribbon was her favorite present?
I meant sticks.
Sticks she finds in the yard are her favorite.
Here's Daddyboy doing his best to convince her that Radio Flyer is her favorite.
Not the stick.
Put down the stick, please.
Merry Christmas from Texas!

Here are some of my favorite Christmas day memories. We enjoyed every second of it and are so thankful to be spending this time in Texas. I hope that everyone had a joyful Christmas and that 2011 brings a year of new memories and blessings!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Count Down to Christmas Pics

On the Budapest to Frankfurt flight, Claudia insisted I sit in her lap.
I can't think of a more comfortable way to fly.
When we arrived in Houston, we were greeted by Santa.
I didn't get Claudia's picture taken with Santa this year,
so this is the closest thing I have.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.
... and my sweet girl Claudia has just gotten in some more hair!
She liked seeing the lights twinkle on the tree.
And she loved all the attention from Gram & Grandpa.
In Shreveport, she learned how to play Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
with her great Memaw.
Look at that concentration!
Next stop Oak Ridge!
Russell, Claudia, Kristy, Wally & I were golf carting around Oak Ridge.
We saw this sign... Kristy pointed out that there might be about
five people under the age of fifty in the village of Oak Ridge.
They have about five of these signs within the two square mile village.
Love it!
Claudia & Wally... nothing but trouble!
They can be pretty darn sweet too.
I wanted to bring Wally home with us. I love him. =)
At one point Claudia escaped from the McLendon's house at Oak Ridge.
She was a girl on the run.
Until she found some rocks. She breaks for rocks.
Claudia and Wally discussing what goodies Santa would be bringing them.
Candy. Fireworks. Bulldozers.
Claudia sharing smooches with her sweet cousin Lilly
She got in another picture with Santa in Mer Rouge.
I still can't believe I didn't get her a picture with Santa this year.
The Mer Rouge pecan orchard where Russell's boyhood house is.
It was spooky, but beautiful in the morning fog.
Great Grandad McLendon with precious Lilly
Lilly was all smiles.
I can't wait to see her running around with CC & Wally.
We also visited with everyone in Bastrop.
Claudia impressed Aunt Daina with her expanding vocabulary.
She even formed a sentence ...
"Man sit." She was looking at a little statue of a man sitting.
Russell with Great Grandpa McLendon, Great Grandma McLendon & Aunt Jerelyn
... funny story...
Claudia saw a bunch of horses in Shreveport & demanded a "ride! ride!"
We didn't know those horses, so no riding.
She threw a huge fit and rolled around on the ground for five minutes,
screaming "ride, ride, riiiiiiiide!"
We get to Mer Rouge where Grandaddy has two horses and
this adorable baby saddle waiting for Claudia.
We bring her to the horse... she couldn't get away fast enough.
No ride! No ride! No riiiiiiiiide!
Don't worry, Grandaddy, we will definitely try again!
Back in Shreveport we opened up presents from Aunt Debbie, Uncle Matthew,
Mandi, Michele & Staci. She loves her snap it dolls.
I love this smirk picture.
Funny one of Claudia & Aunt Mandi
Funny one of Claudia & Aunt Michele
Funny one of Claudia and her Great Memaw
Back in Houston, Claudia started getting ready for Christmas.
This preparation involved throwing boxes around and unwrapping other people's presents.
Claudia was extra sweet to balance out her "naughty" moments.
She was very impressed with the glowing Santa. He's been hugged about 100 times in the past few days.
Oh, yes. I celebrated by 30th birthday on Christmas Eve.
Neither of us was too excited, but at least the cake and company were fabulous.

It took nearly 24 hours to get from door-to-door (Budapest to Houston), but we finally made it! It was pouring snow in Budapest & Frankfurt, our connecting city, but, by God's good grace and some awe worthy runway salting by the Germans, we made it out! Upon landing in Houston, we blazed our trail across Louisiana, hitting up Shreveport, Mer Rouge, Oak Ridge, Bastrop & back to Shreveport. We had lots of family to visit, so it was a pretty action packed week. Poor Bop slowly adjusted to the time change, the new places & faces, but she was pretty tuckered out by the time we made it back to Houston. It was truly a blessing to be back in Louisiana. We miss our families so much and we treasure the time that we spend with them. It was a wonderful way to countdown the days to Christmas. Christmas pics to follow!

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