Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Wishes

Josh and I are discovering how much fun it is to enjoy Christmas through the eyes of a child. We pray the years ahead are filled with the same joy and wonderment we were blessed with this year. From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

(Though we wish we could claim credit for these pics, the props belong to Rocky Conly. Thanks Rocky!)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jesus Loves Me/Counting/If You're Happy Medley

This is guaranteed to be the cutest thing you've seen today. (Okay, I'm bragging, but I can't help it.)

UPDATE: After I posted this, my mom emailed and said she thinks Kate was trying to sing the second verse of Jesus Loves Me instead of starting to count. After re-listening, I think she's right. (In my defense, "Little ones to" sounds a lot like "One, two"...but I still feel sheepish in translating incorrectly. ) Oh made a nice segue.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trimming the Tree

This was Kate's first year to put the star on the Christmas tree. I remember doing that growing up, taking turns between my brother and myself, and it always seemed like a special treat. I hope Kate thinks so too someday.

Snapshots from Thanksgiving

Posing with the Grandparents by their new pond.

Grandma is so much fun.

Piano recital at Great-Granny's.

She's bringing down the house.

Lumberjack Josh.

We took Kate to see my Uncle Mike's cows...she was very interested in them, but still wanted to keep a comfortable distance.

I love this picture of my Grandma...she wants to keep a comfortable distance, too.

Kate's House

This is by far Kate's favorite toy right now...a giant cardboard box. She colors in it (and on it), eats snacks in it, and even takes her flashlight to read books in it. Yea for cheap entertainment.

Here she had closed the doors to read a book with her flashlight...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Austin Children's Museum

On Monday we visited the Austin Children's Museum, along with several other moms and kids from church. This was my and Kate's first trip to the museum, and she really enjoyed it. The place is packed with hands-on exhibits and other fun things for kids. I was especially glad that the day we visited was a designated "Baby Bloomers" day, for "3 and under" only, so there weren't any big kids to trample the little ones. Thanks to Cheryl for organizing the trip!

One of the first things Kate really enjoyed was the Construction Area, where she donned a hard hat and safety vest and went to town organizing nuts and bolts.

Later, we discovered what may have been the highlight of Kate's week...a giant cow. Kate climbed up on this platform to touch the cow and declare over and over with great enthusiasm that he was, indeed, a "COW!"

Here's Kate and Adelaide playing with rice in the "Little Explorers" lab.

Kate, Adelaide and Sadie Carrell, chillin' on the bench seat in the MetroRail replica.

We had a really fun day, and afterwards we enjoyed the crisp fall weather by having lunch at an outdoor cafe with the Conlys.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Last weekend we went camping at Lockhart State Park with a few other families from our Sunday School class. We only planned to stay one night (Friday), since we knew from having already camped with Kate (when she was nearly a year old) that one night would be plenty. The weather during the day was beautiful, and Kate thoroughly enjoyed being outside and exploring the rocks and sticks and dirt. Sleeping, however, was another matter. It got very cold. I think the low was around 41 degrees. We bundled Kate up in several thick layers, so her body was quite warm, but her face got a little cold and she wound up cuddling with Josh in his sleeping bag for most of the night. It was one of those check-your-watch-ever-hour kind of nights. The Carters' tent was next door to ours, so our kid and theirs took turns waking us all during the night, despite multiple sound machines. We didn't get much sleep, but I thought in the end, the adventure was worth it.

The Grace Covenant Church New Parents Compound...

Here's Kate prepped for bed. Amazingly, she kept the hat and gloves on all night.
Ah, morning couldn't come soon enough. Thankfully we're still smiling.

Saturday was gorgeous, even a little on the warm side. (Soon after we took this picture, Kate and I shed our long sleeves for cooler attire.)

This state park had a playground that the kids enjoyed.

Kate was so completely tuckered out when we drove home on Saturday afternoon. We all were, for that matter. I hope as she gets older we can continue to take camping trips and help her appreciate and enjoy the great outdoors.

Corn dogs

So, I just had to share a moment that occurred this afternoon during lunch with Kate. I fixed her a corn dog for the first time, and she was very interested in this strange looking food on a stick. As she watched me prepare it, I kept repeating the name "corn dog," saying that it was like a hot dog, but with bread wrapped around it. We then sat down and I cut it into bite-size pieces and put some on her tray. She picked it up, examined it, and clearly pronounced, "Dog food."

Friday, October 31, 2008

Our Little Halloween Monkey

This was Kate's second Halloween, and she was of course way more interested in the goings on than last year. She loved her "monkey suit" and wore it a good part of the afternoon in anticipation of the evening's festivities. We first went to Uncle Casey's house to give him the honor of being her first "trick or treat." That's where we snapped this family pic:

We then returned to our own neighborhood, and once she saw other kids it didn't take her long to get the hang of this trick or treat business.

We just visited a few houses on our street, then returned back to our house to sit outside and hand out candy. Kate really loved sitting and sorting candy from her bag to the big bowl, back and forth. When kids came up and we showed Kate how to drop candy into their bags, she got really into it and didn't want to stop. She kept giving them more and more, until we finally had to cut her off before she emptied our supplies.

Inside, Kate continued the candy sorting. She loved checking out all the wrappers.

Of course, being that she's only 17 months old, the plan was for mom and dad (ok, mostly mom) to get 99.9% of the spoils and for Kate to get 0.1%. But, my scheme was ruined by the continued stream of trick or treaters at our door. We wound up with only a few pieces of candy leftover. :-( Considering Kate is sick with what we think is croup, she did remarkably well this evening, and I think the distraction was a good one for both her and us.
PS: This past weekend we had a visit from my wacky brother in his Halloween costume.

Kate was a little wary of Uncle Chicken at first, but then got up the nerve to offer him some tea.

We all had fun trying on the chicken head, and Casey is right...nearly everything you do in a chicken suit is funny.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

NYC, Hock-style

Two years ago, the Conlys and we Benefields had the opportunity to visit our dear friends, Joel and Stacy Hock, who had recently moved to New York City. It was a wonderful trip--so wonderful in fact that we've been chompin' at the bit to go again ever since! When the Hocks graciously invited us to come a couple of weeks ago, we jumped at the opportunity for a "baby-free" vacation and left Kate and Adelaide to be looked after (and spoiled no doubt) by their respective grandparents.

We had a blast! Joel and Stacy are phenomenal hosts and really know how to show their guests a great time. Delicious food, great conversations, cool sightseeing and entertainment... the list goes on.

The girls in Times Square:

The fellas.

Josh and I at the United Nations. (By the way, the tour is kinda a rip off...not completely unlike the organization itself.)

The whole gang eating at a tiny little no-name burger joint hidden away inside a really fancy hotel. Never know what you'll find in this city.

Autumn in Central Park. It was a perfect time of year to visit.

We miss the Hocks and really appreciate that we can have such a great time hanging out with them despite the fact that we don't get to see them very often. We look forward to their return to Austin some day!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Visiting California & Arizona Relatives

Last week we flew to California to visit Josh's mom. She lives in Hesperia (in the mountainous High Desert of Southern California). This was her first time to meet Kate, and she was thrilled to say the least. Kate and her Oma (German for "grandma") had a blast getting to know each other!

Oma's house has so many fun toys and new adventures.

Oma doted on Kate and took spoiling to a new level while we were there. :-) She fed us delicious German food and stuffed us with chocolates and other yummy desserts.

On Wednesday morning we left for the four hour drive to visit Josh's sister and her family in Kingman, AZ. Josh, Kate and I made the long drive in a rent car without tented windows through the Mohave desert. Beautiful mountains and desert landscape, but hot! In Kingman, Kate met her Aunt Natia & Uncle Johnny, as well as her three cousins Christian (6), Aubrianna (4), and Jocelyn (2). The kids were SO excited to meet Kate. Kate was pretty amazed by these "big kids" and their whirlwind of activity, but by the second day she was completely keeping up with them.

On Thursday we took a trip to their local museum (Kingman is an old train depot/mining town and Route 66 runs right through it), and ate burgers at a 50s diner. We also visited a beautiful state park in some nearby mountains, where the temperature was 20 degrees cooler and the scenery was fantastic.

We hiked up the mountain as far as we could with kids in tow. Uncle Johnny carried Kate in a backpack carrier, and she enjoyed the ride.

We returned home for cake to celebrate Josh's 31st birthday. (Here Josh is wearing the special birthday hat that our nephew Christian made for him.)

We left early Friday morning to return to Hesperia to spend one last day with his mom before our flight left on Saturday morning. It was a quick trip but we enjoyed our stay and especially enjoyed introducing Kate to her California and Arizona relatives. We hope to return soon!