Sunday, December 18, 2011

PJs, That Pesky Little Elf, The Potty and Some Porridge

Not many words... just a few "P" pics from my "p"hone... :)

My matching candy cane little littles... :) (PJs courtesy of KK... thank you!!)

Caden attempting to hold his counterpart...

And that Pesky Little Elf we affectionately call Bob...

Bob is a funny little guy... and has a particular liking to the MAN of our house... in fact they "meet" each morning and "discuss" the days' events... I happen to think that Bob is an excellent judge of character for taking such an interest in Justin!! :)

Bob has been excellent about delivering messages back and forth between the kids and Santa. This morning, Bob returned from the North Pole with a special note for Caden about the next "P" on our list...
THE Potty...

We started potty-training again on FRIDAY... in hopes of utilizing the break from school to get Caden's big boy status completely nailed down! We ditched the paci and the diaper in ONE day... and so far so VERY GOOD...

Except... the excitement about PEE PEEing in the potty with all of those SUPER spiffy underwear hanging in the living room quickly faded when it was time to POOP! Which is why our friend Bob had to give Caden a special dose of encouragement from Santa... if Santa believes you can poop in the potty then by golly you sure can... BUT alas we cannot...

At least not yet...

It's been brutal... like I had to walk out the front door so Caden couldn't see me cry kind of brutal. I did the SAME thing to my parents when I was young... and I have heard about it OVER AND OVER AND OVER again MY WHOLE LIFE... and now my parents are ever so kindly saying... Paybacks are ****.... and they are right!! They are ****!!!

Pray for us would y'all?!!!

And lastly, but never least in our house...

Some Porridge...

Kaki started rice cereal... FINALLY! I was trying to wait until she turned 6 months but we went a week early and she LOVES it...

It's no secret that girlfriend was ready for her some real food! :)

Hope you are all having a perfectly peachy pre-Christmas...

Love y'all!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Christmas Conundrum Turns Into a Combo Loco

WARNING: This is a completely off-the-wall, quirky-Katie, I just needed to get some stuff out there kind of post... if you are not in the mood, keep calm and carry on! Merry Christmas!

Have y'all heard? Christmas is a little less than two weeks away! What?! I just bought Kaki's stocking a hanger today and I have not one present wrapped under my tree, but it is Christmastime regardless of how on top of it I may be and I love it! Since I was a child Christmas was a time of year where I felt most at peace with the state of the world I was living in. Everything seemed to be tied up in a pretty red bow and adorned with sparkly lights and in the eyes of a child that meant all was well. To this day when I hear certain Christmas classics being used as jingles for commercials on TV an overwhelming sense of peace sweeps over me. It's weird, but it happens every time. I always say that I love my house more decorated for Christmas and when I have to take it all down it seems so empty and cold. There is a warmth of the season that is simply unmatched by any other. My wonder and excitement for the season does not stop at the decorations and the carols, of course... it is simply accented by these things and fortified by a very rigid belief in the one, the only Santa Claus.

Oh, how I loved Santa as a child...his beautiful fur trimmed red coat and happy, rosy cheeks. I loved that he watched over me all year long and was sure to reward me for my most excellent behavior. I constantly dreamed about the ways in which he was able to make it to every child in the entire world in one night, never once questioning that it was entirely possible. It was mysterious but nonetheless very believable as far as I was concerned.

This unwavering faith in Santa is the driver behind one of my favorite "go-to" stories that I tell during the infamous, "when did you stop believing in Santa?" conversations that seem to round out any good holiday party. It goes something like this... "Oh, well... I was the girl in sixth grade who took her letter from Santa to school to prove the others wrong. It was a computer generated letter with green type, but my name and Santa's names were both written with a beautiful inky red pen, one that could only belong to Santa himself. I was adamant that Santa was the real deal despite what the other kids in my class tried to say. It didn't matter who said what about my man Santa, I wasn't backing down."

The crowd listening to my story is usually chuckling by now and a few are giving their condolences in the form of a, "bless your heart!" And then inevitably I get asked, "so when did you stop believing in Santa?" And I say... "I haven't!" And then everyone laughs again... I'm tellin' y'all it is a real crowd pleaser!

But the thing is, it's true. My parents have never told me that Santa isn't real and I still imagine his house in the North Pole and his sleigh full of reindeer. And now, as a parent I feel like Santa is coming back to a fuller life as I get to dream up fantastical ways of telling the story of Santa to my children. The amazement, the excitement, the mystery of it all is so compelling and truly beautiful. Isn't it?

So here I am, chalk full of Christmas cheer one evening when I come across a blog post here, a facebook status there and I sensed a movement taking shape in regards to the ways in which we, as Americans and maybe more as Christians, treat Christmas. Now, this happens every year I believe but I suppose this year it caught my eye a bit more, or perhaps my eyes were just in the right places at the right time. Something was stirring inside of me but I wasn't quite sure what it was... so naturally, I moved on...

Until it happened again, a facebook comment here, a re-posted blog here (of which I only read the title) and I was assured that the movement was picking up some steam... and then today, another repost and another comment led me to a popular author's blog who had written a post about the Christmas Conundrum and this particular post was becoming quite popular as I had seen it mentioned as a good read in several different places and her suggestions being implemented in several homes, so I thought... "I better see what all the buzz is about... I am nothing if I am not timely!" :)

So I read it and found myself very challenged, thinking seriously about what the author said about making Jesus a bigger part of our Christmas traditions. I questioned if what I was doing was enough? Are the things of Christmas clouding the things of Christ?

So, there was that... my nice, calm, reasonable, thoughtful reaction... how could I do better? She's right... I need to reign in the Christmas cheer and bring out the Jesus Jujubes.

And then there was this... "Oh gosh! There go those crotchety Christians, trying to steal everyone's joy, again! Now we've taken to bashing Santa I see? What's next, I ask? They really are fun suckers... every party has a pooper and that's why we invited you Crotchety Christmas Cheer Killing Christians... "

I know, not what you were expecting right? Well, I'm just being honest! My sixth grade self was so hurt to hear that this author was advocating that Christmas traditions should be stripped of Santa and of his decorations and his merriment. It's not Santa's fault that Jesus gets forgotten... just like RGIII can't help that he is better than EVERY other player in college football... life isn't fair, haven't you heard?

And besides... what has Santa got to do with Jesus??!!

And then it hit me... Santa has got everything to do with Jesus!

Hang in there with me... I know it sound sketchy right now, but I am going somewhere!

I realized what had been stirring deep down inside of me that was now coming to the top was the fact that I was just plain sad that the character that represented a special piece of my childhood joy and fascination was being given a bad wrap, and that just made me want to cry. How could such a wonderful creation be bad? I just couldn't believe it... that Santa and the gifts that he gives are to blame for the lack of Jesus in our homes, in our country... NO way! If we are going to blame anything or anyone, let's go stand in a mirror when we start pointing that finger and own up to it!

Santa wasn't the bad guy... I am, and not in the ways in which you may be thinking. I have been seeing Santa through the wrong eyes. In our attempt to separate our Christmases into the church Christmas and the corporate Christmas we have lost sight that perhaps God who is nothing if he isn't SUPER SMART and VERY INTENTIONAL gave us Santa for a purpose! Maybe Santa and Jesus should be working as a pair. Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can't we all just get along for goodness sake... oh... you better watch out... you better not cry... sorry couldn't help myself...

But truly, why can't we mix a lot of Jesus with a lot of Santa? GASP! I know, I know... Santa is of the world and Jesus is well, Jesus. Jesus and Santa just don't mix. But Jesus and alcoholism do, don't they? And Jesus and anger mix, right? And how about Jesus and fear? Or Jesus and drug addiction? Jesus mixes with a whole lot of worldly things and creates some divine creations... amen? Isn't that the whole point of Jesus? Christmas is all about Jesus taking the shape of a man, born to a woman and her husband in a manger, born to live and walk among the people, and to eventually bring freedom from all that's worldly with his death on the cross!

So mixing Santa and Jesus doesn't seem like too much of a stretch does it?

In fact, I think God is one of Santa's biggest fans. Don't you see??!! By teaching our children about Santa through the lens of God we can teach them about Jesus. Today that hit me like a ton of bricks when God whispered, "Use him, Katie! Teach them by example."

Santa is our example...


We teach our children that even though we do not see Santa he is real. We believe and therefore he is. What do we tell our children about Jesus? We cannot see Jesus but we have confidence through our faith that he is real.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

So I know what you are all thinking, but Jesus IS real and Santa isn't, but let me suggest that it will be no harder to explain that Santa is a fictional character that God created to help them better understand and get to know the character of Jesus than it will when you have to explain why some families celebrate Christmas with Santa and others do not. But now if you can use Santa and his best attributes to then more aptly teach about the person of Jesus then why not... deal with teaching them the difference between real and pretend because that is a conversation you're gonna have regardless of whether or not Santa is part of your Christmas traditions.


Santa watches over all of the children, all over the world. He has their names written in a book and he checks whether they have been naughty or nice. Santa must really have a large capacity for love if he cares that much about the children of the world.

Oh but Jesus writes our names in the book of life when we entrust Him with our lives. He watches over us and loves us so very much. In fact, Jesus loves all the children of the world!

"... but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20


Santa invites children to write him letters, with their thoughts and wishes, with requests for new toys, touting of their good deeds and accomplishments and even apologizing for the bad things they've done. He invites children to sit on his lap, warm and friendly he listens as they spout their deepest desires, encouraging them on towards good behavior and well-being. He doesn't say WOAH, WOAH there, that is too much. We don't tell our children to not ask for exactly what it is they want. We let them ask for the moon...

Oh but Jesus asks the children to come to him. He wants to listen to all of our requests whether founded with good intentions or not. We ask and we receive so many precious blessings, the most sacred and holy gifts. We can ask for the moon and with Jesus He may just choose to give it to us!

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. " Matthew 19:14


Santa only rewards those that are mostly nice and not mostly naughty. He by the very definition explains what it means to be obedient and that such behavior will be rewarded.

Oh, but Jesus believes in obedience, and so much so that He, in strict obedience to His own father died a most painful death in order than we all might live. So without obedience we could not find salvation. Glory to God for obedience!

"Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you." Deuteronomy 5:16

I pray this scripture over my children every day and I believe that there is nothing more valuable to young children than the principle of obedience and understanding it in relation to the way they are loved by their mothers and fathers. We do as our Fathers and Mothers say because they know best, and know how to protect us, to shepherd us, love us etc.


Santa is all about mystery and wonder. He does the unimaginable. He employs the use of magic and lives in a world that we cannot know but can only dream. How does he do it? Flying all around the world in one night? A gift for every child?

Oh, but to know the ways of God... he is mysterious and creative and wonderful. To define God in black in white is to limit the awesomeness of his power, to squash his infinite wisdom!

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements and his paths beyond tracing out!" Romans 11:33

Do you see what I'm seeing? Santa is one of the greatest tools we have to make Jesus a more relatable figure...AND the endless resources we have at our's amazing!! Isn't that just like God to take something like Santa in which some might believe is one of Satan's better schemes and make it all the more powerful for the cause of Jesus! He is always one-step ahead, amen?

Okay, so let's talk about Christmas beyond Santa... what about the gift giving... isn't that just crazy? All of the money we spend on gifts, doesn't it seem a bit excessive? Piling up debts just for Christmas?

And while I would wholeheartedly agree that spending should be done well within the means of each family, I would also remind us that if we are celebrating Jesus that what gift would ever be enough? So I think we should all spend a small fortune on each one of our children and our loved ones.


Just wanted to make sure you were awake... I was still stuck on how to make the gift giving piece of Christmas fit into my Santa/Jesus combo loco Christmas plan. So I went back to the first Christmas and learned a bit more about those three wise guys and their gifts. I read several different commentaries on gold, franckincense and myrrh... and ashamedly I realized that I had never really given them much thought before. Turns out, God strikes again and is never short on purpose and thus is so with the gifts that Jesus was given by the three kings. Each gift was symbolic helping to tell the story and life of Jesus. Gold symbolizing him as King, the Alpha and the Omega, Frankincense symbolizing salvation in that it is a fine, white substance taken out of the bark of a particular tree which of course is no coincidence that salvation was also achieved through a tree as Jesus' blood washed us as white as snow. And myrrh symbolizing bitterness and in fact in Arabic means bitter, symbolizing the trials and tribulations of the world, death and sin, the things that Jesus would overcome through his work on the cross. And that was a short and sweet version of what I read... I encourage you to read more... it was fascinating to me!

Okay so gifting with a purpose... gifts that symbolize something... hmmmm....that got me thinking... what if every gift from Santa came with a tag listing a gift of Jesus... for example:

Caden is getting an ATV from Santa (hello Black Friday!) and attached to it might be a tag that reads, "BRAVE" or "ADVENTURE" with a Bible verse to describe how we find our courage in the Lord. Or for the fishing pole he is getting I might attach a tag reading, "SALVATION" and a verse about how God teaches us to be fishers of men, sharing with them the gift of Jesus. Of course these things would need to be age appropriate... so in the same vein I could use the word "LOVE" and write a note about how much God loves us just like Bop loves taking Caden fishing. There are so many fun and creative ways to take your gift giving and bringing it back around to God's most precious gift to us. Go wild!

Giving to those who have fallen on hard times or simply those that have less than you is an important family activity that goes right along with thanksgiving and praise, but I do believe this piece to be a deeply personal act of worship that each family must distinguish on their own. It goes without saying that giving is far better than receiving, no matter the magnitude of your gift.

Other ideas I had today include...

Stockings...what about stockings?

I thought it might be kind of fun to include a birthday candle with a bow tied around it in each stocking for Jesus' birthday cake with a special note from Santa to remember to celebrate Jesus' birth... so many families already celebrate with a Happy Birthday to Jesus cake and this is just one more very deliberate way that Santa and Jesus can partner up to help us acknowledge God's Christmas gift to us.

Oh, don't you see??? Don't you see?? The fictional character of Santa can teach us SO MUCH about the forever character of Jesus!!

Okay I think I'm done... my wheels are taking the stride of a much slower pace now and I feel as if I have done a good thing for my pal Santa and I hope too I have done a good thing for my Jesus!
I just had to do it... to say it... I just had to give Santa one, last fighting chance and all the while giving God the glory!

I'll leave you with this last thought...

You never know when a Santa experience might just give birth to a Savior experience.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmastime with the Coxes

Well, we haven't spread much Christmas cheer on the blog lately, have we? I have so loved seeing pictures of people's children in their Christmas duds, families decorating the tree, the different places the elf on the shelf has landed and of course all of the infamous Santa pics! Christmastime is a great time to be a part of the blog world, isn't it?!

Christmas has been in full swing around here for the past few weeks... starting the Sunday we got back from our Thanksgiving travels... we decorated the Christmas tree... as a family...

... of four!
And this week, Caden and I finally sat down to write his letter to Santa! We had Bob, our elf on the shelf, who is new to our house this year, deliver our letter to Santa for us. And boy were we thankful to Bob because Mommy didn't have any more stamps! :) And you know it does take quite a few to get ALL the way to the North Pole!

I wrote the letter to Santa and left some blanks for Caden to "fill in..." Just in case you can't read it, the letter says...

Dear Santa,

Merry Christmas! I have been a very good band boy this year. For Christmas I would like the Baylor Band. Thanks for loving me and Kaki. I will leave Sprite and Cookies for you. See you on Christmas! Merry Christmas to all!

Caden Cox Ford

We're working on the whole middle name thing... it's coming... except for apparently even Kaki's middle name is Ford... and mine too... and I bet if you asked... your middle name would be Ford too! :)
This morning we took the opportunity to dress the kids up and take them to see Santa. We have been home bound ALL week with a very sick little boy. He had the winter cold crud and I think is just now on the tail end of it... but if we didn't do it today, we knew we just wouldn't do it... so cough or not, we did it...

First a little photo shoot at home...

I was so excited about our black, white and red Christmas color combo... SO cute! :)

Naughty or nice??!!! You decide...

Caden has a hard time taking his eyes off of Kaki... and who can blame him?!

Look at that boy... when did he get so big?!!

Sweet as sugar, I tell ya... most of the time! :)

Next up... to Santa we go...

It started out good... with the appropriate amounts of wonder and awe showing up in Caden's little face. And Kaki was just overwhelmed by all of the eye candy... BUT as we got closer...

Uh oh... this MAY not happen... shoot!

Not a complete meltdown... he did sit in his lap... PROGRESS!

Poor Santa was a bit concerned... but was smart to pull out the big guns with the sucker! :) And by the end Caden managed to tell Santa that he wanted cymbals like the Baylor Band boys have... and then was pretty disappointed on the ride home. He kept saying, "Santa not give me my cymbals..." I think he is a bit confused on the ask and you shall receive principle... :) Patience is a bit of an issue... Ha!

After fulfilling out Santa duties we had to go cash in on our Santa bribe at the Disney Store. Caden and Kaki both got to pick out one thing for being such sweet Christmas participants this year... or at least for not injuring anyone in the process... :)

Then it was LUNCH time at Mighty Fine... Caden's favorite... besides Schlotzsky's! Milkshake with his burger...YUM!

Then we got home and checked the mail and Kaki's NEW red bow had arrived so it was photo shoot time ALL OVER AGAIN! The boys were SUPER happy about this! :)

But I am so glad we did it because look at these...

The cutest little red-bowed girl ever... :)

And even brother did okay... little ham that he is! :)

Model-esque... :)
And a picture with their "prizes!" Minnie and Oso were proud to be a part of our family photo shoot... I am just sure of it! :)

Sweet little duo of Christmas cuties and their Disney buddies! :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Heisman Day!! We asked Santa for a Heisman!!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I have three BRAND NEW posts and one that was just posted yesterday! Don't miss the latest Cox-family happenings... because at this pace it may be a while before I am up to four blogs in two days again! :)

Happy Hump Day!

A Praise-Worthy Thanksgiving: Part II

After our super fun Thanksgiving in San Antonio we headed 'em up and moved 'em on out... up the road a ways to Waco! Nana, Bop, Ree Ree, Uncle Tag, Gran and Poppa were all ANXIOUSLY awaiting our arrival. We always laugh because no sooner have we pulled in the driveway than the door goes up and the crew all come running out to greet us! We can almost count it down... 5, 4, 3... and there they are!

The Cox Fam loves them some Caden and Kaki... and I guess they think Justin and I are alright as well... especially since we make such cool kids! :)

Once we got there and settled in a bit, Bop had a SAH-weet surprise for Caden! Flags... like GIANT handmade BAYLOR flags... like the Band has! He was in heaven and I was thinking that Bop just scored him some serious brownie points!

So away to the window I flew in a flash.... wait... wrong holiday! So away to the backyard Caden ran in a rush... with a flag in each hand! It was time to do a little marching, chanting, running... football playing!
And of course sweet Bop was ready to play right along with him!

Check out the wave of that flag... you go Caden!

Inside Kaki was getting some lovin' from Gran and Poppa who hadn't seen her in a couple of months... they couldn't believe all of her new tricks! And of course Kaki was quick to introduce them to her besties... Cheech and Chong!

After a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner which included a few new Cox family Thanksgiving treats we all settled in for our Turkey comas! But they couldn't last too long because Saturday was a fun-filled day of family activities...

The boys played golf... and Caden got to tag along... for the first 9 holes! :) And the girls skipped our traditional holiday craft time this year and opted for pedicures! I am pretty sure that this is the first year we've gotten our priorities in check! Amen?!

Aunt Ree Ree snapped a pic of the girls getting our toes did, but somehow I didn't end up with a copy of it... but you don't need to see a pic to know that we enjoyed every minute of it. And I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying my new color, "Warm and Fozzie" one of the new Muppet Collection OPI colors... think bronzy, sparkly, holiday fun! Love it! It was such a treat to get to do a little girly fun and especially now that we have Kaki pants to join in the fun. It was actually her second time to the nail place... you go Kaki-girl! Thanks Nana for the fun treat!

That afternoon we did a whole lot of nothing... well actually everyone but me did a whole lot of napping. I figured there needed to be one responsible adult still awake... clearly, I had my hands full with these two...

Speaking of Cheech and word are these two ever the more alike! I think I married my mother in law!! :)

Saturday we ate mexican food TV-side and cheered on our Bears... to victory! Exciting stuff! I don't know about y'all though... after seeing all of those injuries I have a hard time wanting Caden to pick football as his sport! I mean those poor boys' mamas! I can't even imagine! Hopefully all of them will make a full recovery, especially 'ol RGIII... I think we kind of might need him this weekend!

Sunday we topped off our turkey filled week like any good Texas family should... with a big, juicy, beefy burger at the Fudd... got to love a burger and fries! We had a GREAT time in Waco and can't believe in just a few weeks we'll be right back there to do it all over again... time is flying! Tomorrow is December people!!

Thank you Nana and Bop... we are sure thankful for how you love us! And to Ree Ree and Tag for absolutely going gaga for our kids! They are such blessed little people to have so many people who love them as much as they do! (and you make flags for them... over the top Bop... over the top!!) We love you all!!

Happy Thanksgiving!! (again!)

BLACK FRIDAY (and other things against my religion!)

Well, if you read the last post about Part I of our Thanksgiving adventures you already know that I have a Black Friday story to tell... or I guess you could have assumed that I had something to say about Black Friday from the title of my post...

Or you could have assumed from said title that I had nothing to do with Black Friday since it was apparently one of the things against my religion...

BUT... alas... I did it! And theoretically I did go against my very strict belief that Black Friday is something to be avoided at all costs! It's funny how when you become a parent all of the things you always thought you'd never do... or even said you'd never do... you end up DOING! And part of you might even end up liking it...

Or maybe not...

I can't say that I enjoyed Black Friday madness... kind of like I can't say that I exactly enjoy grocery shopping with two kids...

And it's not the two kids that is the problem... they are gems... it's those dang carts! How in the heck are you supposed to do it? We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies... and it wasn't even a big trip!

But there are things that I always said I'd never do, like let my child buy/wear and enjoy character apparel... like Mickey Mouse... Elmo... Toy Story and the like. And while I do prefer other clothing... the joy on Caden's little face when he sees his new Mickey tee is worth all of the inner-turmoil I feel when I buy them! :) His joy is kind of like mine when I pulled this...

...out of the oven a few weekends ago! OH MY LANTA! Y'all this is SOOOO SOOOO good. And it's a Paula Deen recipe so you know that there are LOTS of religions out there that would be against this delectable dish... hello butter, and cheese... and canned biscuits for crying out loud! Google Savory Monkey Bread and enjoy the deliciousness, if it's not against your religion that is...

You know that grocery store picture? The dilemma of how to do it with two kids... well I am sure so many moms out there just say... Moby Wrap... Baby Bjorn... strap 'em on... and do it! Well, I am here to tell you that that is also against everything I know to be true... Oh my aching back and barely there ab-muscles... it is just not happening for more than 10 minutes at a time! Hello 17 pounder!! :)

And after looking at this picture... the other thing that should be highly against all that is sacred in this world is ME taking a picture of myself... I make this terrible face... you see it? Kind of resembles Roger Rabbit... yikes!

Okay, but really... all joking aside, Black Friday wasn't quite as bad as I had originally judged it to be. If you scope our your merch, get you a game plan and put on your big girl panties and of course take a handsome protector with you... all should be okay!

And it also helps if you have a hilariously energetic cousin who is doing the SAME thing to text pictures back and forth with! Thank you Boozy, Shannon and Terry for the laughs!! It made our standing in line for an hour MUCH more enjoyable!!

So the story goes something like this... we arrived at the Wal-Marts at around 8:45... secured us a spot in the Chick fil a parking lot... thank you for being closed on Thanksgiving! And sauntered on up to the door. Upon entry we got us a handy dandy store map that confirmed that our previously determined location for the merch we were looking for was correct. And off we went...


Wait a minute...

There was already a line... and a pretty hefty one at that... so we assumed the position... with 55 minutes to go we were hopeful!

We were gonna get that power wheel and 12" bike if it was the last thing we did! Of course, the entire ride to the Walmarts I was praying... "Lord, help us to be a light to those around us tonight. I pray that you would protect us for the crazy coupon ladies I've learned about on TV. Please let no one be packing heat and if they are I pray that they want a Wii and not a power wheel. Also, Lord, please keep Justin's emotions in check. I will be forever grateful for this. Amen!"

So I felt the peace of the Lord... and I continued to remind Justin to take deep breaths... and that "a power wheel is NEVER worth a life!!"

Of course Albi had texted to make sure we were alright before we had even made it into the store. The folks back at home I am pretty sure were holding a prayer vigil as a way of channeling their heightened anxiety about our Black Friday adventure at the Walmarts!

We were surrounded in line by lovely people who did not speak English which did take the pressure off of changing anyone's life that night... phew! It was enough that I was just there... standing... and not crying!

As time went by we were getting more and more psyched for the big event. At 9:55 my stomach started to drop... I knew the chaos was close... and I could see the concern on Justin's face as line jumpers were preparing their moves...

Oh Lord... Justin needs you...

And it was 10... and we were off... slow at first... then we were "let in" to the lawn and garden center... of course as we were following the rules a few folks decided to not... and well that left Justin with no choice but to let off a little steam...

"They are cutting! Those people aren't going the right WAY!"

I am speed walking behind him chanting, "Take a deep breath... it will all be okay. This is fun. Our kids will have a great Christmas regardless of this night."

Oh bless my heart!

Then I got my marching orders from the boss, "I'll go this way, you go that way. Get the bike!"

And so I was off... but alas, no 12" bikes. So I decided to chat up one of the ladies who was also looking at the bikes... asking her if she thought a 16" would be too big... another non-English speaker... shoot! So with a smile and a Merry Christmas I was off to find Justin.

I spotted him and he informed me that he didn't get the jeep but was able to secure an ATV... score! That will work! Right?!

Then on our way out I see some vTech lap tops.... everyone was grabbing them so I figured I'd ask how much they were... "$10... a hell of a deal," they said!

Well, alrighty then... I'll take two!

So with our two laptops and our ATV we were in line to get out ... and we spotted a bike... a cute little bike... 12" bike... Justin said, "grab it!"

So I did and proceeded to carry it through the crowded store WAY past all the people were waiting in the long check out lines... to the other side where the less crowded lines were! Suckas! We were Black Friday pros by this point!

When we got to the check out line and rung up the bike we realized that it wasn't on sale... HMPH! No way man, we are Black Friday conquistadors... we aren't gonna take no regular priced item from nobody... put it back!

And so we walked to the car... with an ATV... and two laptops... turned the car on... and the clock read 10:25...

Now that is a record!

On our way home I was grateful to have survived and Justin was ready to go to Target...thus proving the popular theory that opposites truly do attract!

Until next year... may your Fridays be any color but black!

A Praise-Worthy Thanksgiving: Part I

We were fortunate enough to get to do Thanksgiving x 2! Our first stop was San Antonio! Typically, we spend the first part of Thanksgiving in Abilene, but this year was a special year for our family. One in which I am sure none of us will soon forget. In July, our family was chosen to be a part of a journey that would end in a miracle. Baby Ryan, born well under 2 pounds is home, growing (he is over 8 pounds now), off his oxygen and is as normal as any other 4 month old. And did I mention he was PAINFULLY CUTE?!! Oh my, is he ever! So our family had to part ways this year to ensure that Ryan would stay as protected as possible during what we all know to be a bad time of year for the sniffles! While we are sure to have missed our Thanksgiving memories this year we could not have been more thankful for Ryan's life and feel certain that our celebrating will be all the more special in the Spring when he is ready to be around more people! For this and so MANY other reasons, not forgetting the two additional babies that were added to our family this year with Kaki and Kendall, this Thanksgiving was certainly praise-worthy!! Lord, we are humbled by your generosity!!

This was also a special time in San Antonio, because it may have been our last as a family... KK and Albi are moving to Houston!! And this lands us in the land of humility once again as God has so graciously blessed Albi with a new job and both Albi and KK with a new adventure! We are excited to explore the sites and sounds of Houston AND we are especially excited that with my parents being closer to Josh and Emily that we will get to see them MUCH more! In fact, God was so strategic with this job for my dad that he found them a place literally SMACK dab in the middle of the two of us...

Thanksgiving really is about more than just the food, isn't it?! But let's be real... the FOOD is REALLY, REALLY good... especially when you got KK and Gram in the kitchen! Oh... so that is one of the greatest details about this Thanksgiving... we got Gram! :) Which meant that we got as close to the REAL Thanksgiving meal as we could get! And we are especially appreciative of the rest of the clan for letting us have her! :) And yes... the food was delish!

Thanksgiving Day in our house ALWAYS begins with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade... I had been pumping Caden up about it for weeks... he was excited for the h-wade, BUT let's just say that NBC needs to TONE it down on the interviews and show us more of the parade... or else a h-wade obsessed toddler can become a bit impatient and decide that playing tennis/football with his Albi is a much better Thanksgiving Day tradish!

While we still had him I figured I should start taking a few pics... KK was ON ME this time about being BETTER about taking pictures! We hardly EVER have pics from our get-togethers and have tons with the Cox-side of the family... well, this year it's flipped! Now if I can just get them both to have tons of pics I'll be doing good!

I am not sure everyone will appreciate these pics, but we do clean up REAL nice-like later in the day... promise! One of the many perks of being BEHIND the camera!

Caden and his Aunt Emily... enjoying videos on the iPad!

Uncle Josh chillin' with Kaki while I play photographer!

And KK... gettin' busy in that kitchen! Go KK, Go KK, Go KK!

In KK and Albi's neighborhood they have strict rules on leaving your cars parked on the street overnight... just ask Aunt Emily what happens when you do... SO... in a very strategic, albeit redneck fashion we managed to get all five cars off the street... they didn't say anything about parking them in your yard!! Welcome to the Evans' Redneck Thanksgiving! Y'all come back now, ya hear! The boys were certainly proud of their masterpiece!

Just before dinner and after we all had a chance to clean up a bit (OR A LOT) we headed out to the front to take some family pics... KK and Caden were my test subjects...

After several attempts this is the best picture we got... sweet Kaki had a hard time keeping her focus... we have SEVERAL shots of the back of her head... apparently the stone wall was super exciting, thus why we switched it up and let the kiddos sit in the g-rents' laps! Regardless, I still think we clean up pretty nice... (see above pictures for proof!)

And now for the three Katherines and a Caroline... four generations of Whitaker women! Can't beat it! I have never really thought I look too much like an odd ball in comparison to the other women in the family but for some reason these pictures make me stick out like a sore thumb... I promise I am related! If you put me, Albi and others from his side of the fam I wouldn't look so odd! :)

KK, Albi and the kiddos... best one!

And a few with Great-Gram... impossible to get all three looking so I just started snapping and got some cute ones, I think.

Attempt at family pics... again our best one... :)

And now... the President and the First Lady! (This is a running joke... some of the first pictures we ever saw of Josh and Emily after they first started dating they looked like the president and the first lady... and so it stuck... ) It really just means that they are a super attractive couple... with some star power!! :)

After pics it was time to get the last few things in the oven and prepare to eat... this guy was READY!

KK, lookin' all snaz-ma-faz in her apron...

And cute Gram... everyone's busy!!

Except for Emily and I who were just sittin' around looking cute... :)

Oh and Caden too...
And Albi was playing bartender... God bless him!

After a FABULOUS meal... seriously yummy... Gram and Kaki both needed to walk off a long day... and girlfriend fell fast asleep... must be all of that motherly, grandmotherly and not great-grandmotherly experience...

Sweetest little rosy-cheeked punkin' ever!!

What a wonderful Thanksgiving! It was truly one to cherish! But don't worry folks... it doesn't end there... we've got a Black Friday post and another round of Thanksgiving to go...

Thank you KK and Gram for a fabulous meal!! Thank you Albi for providing the means in which to pay for the meal! Thank you Josh and Emily for entertaining and loving my kids! Thank you Justin for looking so sexy in your skinny jeans! And thank you Jesus for blessing us with these friends we are fortunate enough to call family!! We love y'all!!

Happy Thanksgiving!