Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas 2013

Another fun Christmas season has come and gone for the Courtrights! We began our celebration by spending some time at MeMe and Granddaddy's home in White Oak. All of the cousins gathered on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts and spend some fun time together.

Favorite photo of Christmas: the Morgan cousins!

All the stockings hung with care at MeMe and Granddaddy's house.

Kaitlynn and Daddy share a Christmas hug.

Couldn't resist posting this pic of the cousins' bedheads. Accurate portrayal of Christmas morning!

After opening our stockings, we enjoyed some breakfast and then started our family gift exchange. Then the kids had so much fun playing with all of their new gifts.

Jeff and Connor play with one of Connor's gifts.

The popular gift for the cousins this year: the rainbow loom. Everyone loved it!

Kaitlynn LOVES her new scooter from MeMe and Granddaddy.

Marissa and Kaitlynn were thick as thieves, as usual!

Marissa and Kaitlynn still love MeMe's baby crib.

Later that day, we had Round 2 with the extended Morgan family. We enjoyed lots of food and more gifts!

MeMe brought out all the nice Christmas dishes and platters for the dessert table this year. So pretty!

Marissa and Kaitlynn playing with some of their gifts.

The big girls, Gracie, Renee, and Karlie.

Kaitlynn wearing some of her new princess jewelry.

Kaitlynn with some of her gifts, so fun!

Michelle and Chris cozying up together on the couch.

My sweet cousin Robin and I on Christmas Eve.

Uncle Ben with his Moose Drool.

On Christmas Day, we had the movie theater to ourselves to watch Frozen. One of my new favorites!

Back in Katy, we waited for the older boys to come over so we could all celebrate our family Christmas together. Collin's girlfriend Martha was able to join us this year and we had a great time. We had a special arrangement with Santa to make a trip to our house a little later than usual and it worked out great. ;-)

Sprinkling reindeer food on the lawn in preparation for Santa.

Cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.

When the kids woke up, they were excited to see that Santa came! After inspecting our stockings and gifts from Santa, we then exchanged presents as a family. So much Christmas fun!

Santa brought some big gifts this year.

Inspecting the new Barbie dream house from Santa.

A classic Christmas-gift reaction from Connor. He couldn't believe we got him the rainbow loom, and he loves it!

Collin opening one of his gifts.

Martha (Collin's girlfriend) shows off one of her gifts.

One of the gifts from Nana and Grandpa, a "toxic" laundry bag. Perfect!!

Jeff's favorite Christmas gift every year: his personalized family calendar.

All in all it was another wonderful Christmas! 2014, here we come!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Another Sad Season

Media and fans alike predicted that THIS was the year for the Texans--the year that they would make it all the way to the Super Bowl. Could it be???

***crickets chirping***

Um, NO. Instead, our beloved Texans treated us to the worst season in franchise history, losing 14 games in a row. That's a feat most teams could NEVER achieve, ha! Oh well, we had another season of fun attending the games and now we can look forward to an offseason full of change and the #1 draft pick. Here are some pictures from our 2013 season.

Earlier this fall, Jeff and I were excited to attend Sunday Night Football at Reliant Stadium with our great friends and neighbors, Julie and Harry. We split a babysitter for our 5 kids and had a fun night out together!

For most of the other games, Jeff attended with the kids and they always had so much fun, despite the gut-wrenching losses.

Every year Jeff attends one of the Texans away games with his buddies. This year, they visited Kansas City and had a blast. Jeff even ran into one of our old friends and neighbors while they tailgated.

Fans around the city are SO glad this season is over. It was a brutal one. On to next year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Fun and Polar Express

This Christmas season has been packed FULL of fun Christmas activities for the kids. Enjoy this look at what's been keeping us so busy this month!

Kaitlynn's preschool is held at Second Baptist Church in Katy, and each year they put on an awesome Christmas show for the community. We attended one night this month and the kids loved it. Great fun for the kids AND parents!

Before the Christmas show, Connor and Kaitlynn posed for a pic.

Kaitlynn's preschool friend Sofia joined us for the show.

Sweet friends!

On Kaitlynn's last day of school before winter break, the preschool had pajama day and the kids enjoyed popcorn and hot chocolate while watching the Polar Express movie. Then, her class had a Christmas party as the perfect way to end the fall semester of school.

All decked out in her Christmas pajamas for school.

When I arrived at Kaitlynn's school for her party, her friends greeted me with big smiles!

Very cute reindeer themed party, with a yummy lunch too.

The kids had a gift-wrapped book exchange, so fun!

Sofia and Kaitlynn enjoying the party.

After the party, Sofia surprised Kaitlynn with a Christmas gift, so sweet and thoughtful!

Kaitlynn with her ballet Barbie from Sofia.

Kaitlynn and Mommy in the car after the party.

Another fun Christmas activity this month was the Christmas party with Toro's Kids Club, which is the kids club for the Houston Texans. The last time we attended, Connor was probably only 3 or 4. Since then, the party has grown quite a bit and taken over the entire club level of Reliant Stadium. It was like a huge carnival, with face painting, balloon making, ornament/stocking/cookie decorating, inflatables, tons of food and snacks, and of course a visit with Santa Toro. The kids had a BLAST! Well, except for Kaitlynn being quite intimidated by Santa Toro. She did NOT want her picture with him. Connor got his but it didn't turn out. But it was a great night of family Christmas fun!

First up, a painted arm tattoo of the Texans bull.

Kaitlynn got one with extra sparkles :-)

Next up, decorating a stocking.

Kaitlynn shows off her finished gingerbread ornament and stocking.

And to prove I was there, Jeff snapped this pic of me with Kaitlynn while she decorated her cookie.

Probably Kaitlynn's favorite part of the night: visiting with the cheerleaders. She was QUITE enamored with them all!!

Showing off their balloon sculptures.

What a fun night!

Kaitlynn's preschool had a Christmas program that the kids had been preparing for all month. The kids all dressed up as angels, shepherds, and barn animals to reenact the birth of Jesus through songs and scriptures. Kaitlynn did such a great job as an angel, singing and doing the motions with all of the sweet songs. So precious!

Before the program, Kaitlynn posed on the Christmas sleigh.

Our little Christmas angel spotting us in the audience.

Right in the center, singing along about baby Jesus.

Finally, one of my favorite Christmas memories this season has been the big SURPRISE we planned for the kids: to take them on a real Polar Express ride. The steam engine in Palestine offers the Polar Express event every year, where families board a real train and reenact the Polar Express movie with a train ride, dancing waiters and hot chocolate, and even a visit with Santa. It is such a unique and memorable experience for the kids, and so we decided to surprise our kids with a trip.

So on the night before our trip, we declared it Polar Express night at our house. We all got dressed in our pajamas and snuggled on the couch to watch the movie, but we told the kids that this time the movie would have a different surprise ending. We all watched it together, enjoying some snacks and letting the anticipation build for what the surprise might be.

As the movie came to an end, the kids looked at me and wondered what the surprise ending was. So I left the room and came back with a new robe in hand for each one, telling them to put them on and check their pockets. Inside was a ticket printed for the Polar Express ride, at which point we told them that they would be going on a REAL train like the Polar Express! Oh my, were they both so surprised and shocked!! They both started jumping up and down, squealing with glee. And then Connor came over and hugged me so hard and wouldn't let go, and that's when I realized he was actually shedding tears of joy from his excitement. I've never seen anything like it, it made me shed some tears myself. Such a magical moment that I never want to forget!

They loved their robes and didn't want to take them off.

My sweet boy.

So the East Texas Polar Express experience creates quite the logistical challenge. From Katy, it was about a 6-hour round-trip drive to/from the Palestine area. Our great friends, the Aasmyr family, joined us for the experience so we met them for dinner before the ride. Once we arrived at the train depot, the kids were hardly able to contain their excitement.

Excited kiddos!

Look at those awesome smiles!

Connor and Kaitlynn received a special gift with their tickets.

They were so excited to finally have their own copy of their favorite Christmas book.

Playing around before the train arrived.

Kevin signed up for the train ride without realizing he'd be surrounded by tons of kids.

Kaitlynn knows how to bring the smiles out in Kevin.

Sweet friends, Lily and Kaitlynn.

Our group of 5 excited kids.

After hanging out at the train depot, we finally heard the sound we'd been waiting for: the whistle of the approaching Polar Express train! The kids were so excited to watch the train roll slowly into the station. When we finally boarded, we were seated at our own tables and served by waiters just like on the movie. The train made a short ride while we enjoyed hot chocolate, sang Christmas carols, and listened to the story of Polar Express. Then, the train slowly came to a stop at the North Pole (not really) where the kids were SO excited to wave at Santa. After a while, the train headed back to the depot while Santa made his rounds visiting the kids on the train. Kaitlynn was SO excited to see Santa again, and Connor was thrilled to get his new book signed by the big man himself. Santa gave each of the kids the "first gift of Christmas," a Christmas bell, just like in the movie.

Family pic before boarding the train.

The three boys.

And the two girls.

Kaitlynn and Lily danced with one of the waiters.

Kaitlynn enjoyed her mug of hot cocoa.

The gift from Santa.

Santa signed the book, "Mr. C", just like in the movie.

She kept saying, "I told you they were going to punch our ticket!"

The conductor came around to punch the kids' tickets.

Phew! If you've made it this far, then I'm guessing you go by the name of Nana, MeMe, Grandma, or Jeff. Ha! But yes, now you probably can understand why I tend to pull out my hair every December, not only from all the crazy Christmas fun but from the time it takes to blog about it! It's hard to believe Christmas is just about here. The fun is just beginning!