Wednesday, December 21, 2016

San Jacinto Monument and Battleship Texas

Close to my mom's house is the San Jacinto Monument and the Battleship Texas and Ben has been itching to go see them every time we have visited. My mom usually comes to us for Christmas and we visit her in the summer--which makes the experience not so much fun in the Texas heat. However, it was Ben's lucky day! We finally went!

The San Jacinto monument marks where the Texans defeated Santa Anna and his army after the loss of the Alamo. I don't remember too much about my past visits there other than we did our girl's camp 'hikes' there to prep for camp. The monument is reallly reallly tall and we rode the elevator to the top and looked out at the ship channel. I'm pretty sure all of those pictures are on my big camera. Ben would love to have spent all day reading the signs but Caroline was not about to let him do that! So I've promised Ben someday he can go back by himself to look through the museum portions of the monument.

A quick drive down a little road was the Battleship Texas. I remember going when I was little and there wasn't much to see--maybe because a lot of parts of the ship were closed. However, they have really added to what you can go see on the ship and it was so fascinating. Caroline loved running and climbing up and down all of the tall and narrow stairs. It was like a playground for Ben too and I really loved Ben telling me all about the ship.

It's the only surviving WWI battleship and it also served in WWII. After texting my grandpa pictures of the ship he told me that when he was in the Navy in WWII that his ship was docked next to the Texas in Ulithi Harbor (literally in the middle of nowhere). He watched the ships gunnery practice in preparation in case Japan decided to invade...how cool!

Caroline loved the top deck and climbing the towers to the top and Ben followed her up and down all of the narrow stair cases--even when I hit my limit for how high I would climb on the ship. We went below deck through all of the sleeping areas, cafeteria lines, doctors offices, quarantine rooms, post room, and all sorts of displays they had below deck. It was so interesting...especially the bathrooms and the showers...only 20 toilets for 2,000 people...not enough in our book! ha!

After we we got off of the ship we went and walked around and Caroline caught a butterfly! Her dreams of catching a butterfly finally came true after months of trying to catch one. That was the highlight of her day for sure. Even though at the end of the day she told Ben "Dad, I did not have any fun today!"...we have no idea where she got this but it cracks us up because she always tells us she didn't have any fun after we've done something exciting. Crazy child.




















Monday, December 19, 2016

Quick Trip Galveston

While we have been in Houston we have heard all about Christmas lights on Galveston Island. Ben decided that we needed to go check them out and I was curious because I had never been down there for Christmas before. ANNNND Caroline took a 4 hour nap so we knew she was going to be awake much later than usual. We didn't find too many lights but we did find La King's Confectionary which is probably even better. There was a little square that had a Christmas tree and a huge chair to sit in. So after grabbing some ice cream (none for Ben, he has 11 more days before he can eat ice cream again) we drove down the seawall. It all made for a fun night out!






VIsiting Cousins!!!

Finally! Finally! Finally!

After three years we had the ultimate playdate with Tammy, Kaylee, and Kara! It was so much fun! We met at my aunt's house and just let the girl's play, we had lunch, and then watched them run circles around the outside and the inside. Houston got a blast of arctic air and we have been so so cold...so we would run inside to thaw out after running around outside for just a little bit.

Kaylee is 7, Caroline is 3, and Kara is 2...it was the perfect bunch of girls to play. Kaylee was so sweet with Caroline and Kara was such a hoot. I love a cute happy two year old that is super squishable. 

The girls enjoyed eating potato chips in my aunt's bed, drawing, coloring, playing with toys (both new and old---especially my 'vintage' cupcake dolls). The front porch swing was another popular spot or pitstop as the girls ran around the house. Kara and Caroline enjoyed being pushed by Kaylee! Everything was just perfect making for the best cousin playdate ever!


















Sunday, December 18, 2016

Where have we been?!?

Always catching up, right?!

Shortly after my birthday we packed up a suitcase and flew to TEXAS! Ben had to finish up a rotation but once it ended he drove from Miami to my Mom's house in Texas. A week before we came out our plans changed (for the better)!!!

Our original plan was to do interviews and Ben had an away rotation setup at a program in Houston. We had a good amount of interviews but more interviews were being extended and that interfered with the away rotation...and to programs that we really wanted to go to. Ben also hadn't heard from the program that he had scheduled the away rotation with and after some emailing and phone calls we decided to cancel the away rotation for interviews. Best decision ever! So we were still staying in Texas but had more flexibility to visit family, go and do fun things, and for Ben to wrap up his thesis paper.

So, with the change of plans we are soaking up being close to family, helping my mom, and playing a little too. Caroline is loving having a backyard, a park around the block, and really nice outside weather. Well, it was 80 degrees yesterday and 40 degrees today so maybe I should say she's also getting a good taste of Texas winter too!

We've been able to go to my grandparents to visit, plus Thanksgiving, my grandma's birthday, and an upcoming Christmas get together...it's been fantastic. We have a cousin playday setup for this week with Tammy, Kaylee, and Kara which I am super excited about. We also spent a weekend in Tyler with Ben's aunt and uncle and they were really eager to show us around and sell us Tyler, Texas--easily done! It's a gorgeous place!

Ben's had interviews all over Texas, one in Oklahoma, and one in Ohio. We were able to drive up to Tulsa and stay while he interviews and I went to Pawhuska to go to The Pioneer Woman's new Mercantile store. It was fantastic! Randomly, my cousin was also in town so we met up for breakfast and enjoyed talking all morning. We really loved the Tulsa area--it was gorgeous--hilly and trees--not anything like what I pictured Oklahoma to be. I was still assured that it was really flat and that Tulsa was a hidden gem. 

We are working on our rank list and debating about going on a few more interviews in other states...it's really excited and a can't believe that May 2017 is coming for us--we are ready for it! Ben still has a few rotations between now and May but the finality of medical school is upon us and it really takes everything in me to not shout my excitement from the rooftops--or gush about how excited I am for our little family to move on.

Christmas is so close and we are soaking up all the holiday excitement. Caroline is allll about Christmas and Santa this year so it's even more fun. One of my favorite Christmas for kids cds is by Raffi and Caroline just sings along to all the songs in the car--totally melting both of our hearts--but especially Ben's. We haven't done a lot of big activities but we decorated my mom's Christmas trees, look for Christmas lights at night, and we did the Zoo lights at the beginning of the month. It's just a special little season--both of the year and in life. 

We still have a little bit of time left until Ben leaves and then Caroline and I will fly back around New Year's for a Van Leeuwen Christmas/Vacation in Florida. After we hit Disneyworld and the beach Ben is flying back with his family to interview in Utah and Caroline and I won't know what to do with ourselves!

                                    
Driving through Tulsa--so pretty!         
                                    
Ladd was there! And so was Todd...I think! 

                                    
Waiting in line to shop!
 
Tea party at my grandparents and washing my mom's car--before she bought a new one!
                                 
Making friends
                                              
Our flight landed at 7:45 texas time so my mom brought donuts and kolaches for us!