Wednesday, November 28, 2012


About a year and a half ago, I started running.  Wasn't a huge fan, but I needed to add exercise to my life and this seemed like something I could do.  Over time, I really learned to love how I felt during and after running.  So, I kept it up and started adding to my 2 mile morning routine.  By last Fall I was ready for a big challenge and set my sights on a half marathon.  I procrastinated with the training and decided to do a Half Relay last spring with my running buddy, Elizabeth.  Neal joined in with his friend and we both had a great time.  We decided right after that to schedule a 1/2 for the fall when the weather was nice.  We picked out the Rock n Roll in San Antonio and Neal invited several of our friends to start training, too.  I was confident this wouldn't be too tough because I was already trained to run about 8 miles and had tons of time to work up to 13.1.  Soon, I realized that the relay had brought on a terrible case of shin splints that had me out of running pretty much the whole summer.  Then, as I jumped back into it in the fall, I quickly hurt my back, setting me back a few more weeks.  There were several times that I thought I should just forget it, but Neal encouraged me to stick it out!  Then came 2 weeks before and Neal gets sick.  Really sick.  He just took time off for a bit, but by even just a couple days before, he was still coughing terribly and not feeling up for much walking, let alone running 13.1 miles!  He went to the doctor who diagnosed him with Bronchitis, gave him a shot and a laugh as he wished him luck running that sick!  But we were both undeterred!  

We headed down to San Antonio Friday night and got to spend the night with Josh, Liz, and Baby Samuel.  Ryan and Kristi were there that night, too, then the next day, Mike, Val and Tyler joined us.  We all ate together, relaxed while watching football, and got ready for the next morning!  Neal and I started together but quickly got separated.  He said it was pretty tough since he hadn't been running much and since he was still recovering, but he finished and was still breathing! 

I had set a realistic goal for myself based on my injuries and was thrilled that I was able to come in just below my goal!  And really, we were both just thrilled to cross the finish line!  

So glad we got to do this together and combine it with a fun weekend with friends...there is even talk of "next year!" 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Feast time

Meredith's class had a fun feast right before Thanksgiving - I headed up to help serve the food and hang out with my favorite pilgrim!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Merry Madagascar

We love getting to go the Gaylord to see their ICE exhibit every year.  This year we heard it was going to be Madagascar and we knew we couldn't miss it - a hippo in ice is something we couldn't deprive Jillian of!

Look how happy she is to see Gloria!

Not sure which girl this is a picture of, but either way - Meredith loved the slide....Jillian cried the whole time.  Oh well!

Posing with her fav again!

Meredith with Alex

A fun time for all the Hanks family!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shrek starring PJ

Our PJ has been on the national Shrek tour starting as none other than Shrek!! So, of course, when they came close to us, we made a road trip out to see our favorite leading man! The girls were super impressed (so were we!) now, everytine we see anything Shrek, J screams -"There is PJ!"

Gigi treated the girls to their very own Fiona ears!

Meredith was super excited to pose with PJ

The whole fam with PJ after the show - notice a conked out Jillian.  She woke up as we were walking out and was super sad she didn't get to hug PJ, luckily we found him again and he was happy to oblige!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Magic of a Moment

Meredith was super excited to participate in the PTA Reflections Art Contest this year - she brought home the information and while we read about the rules, I told her that I wrote a story that won in High School, to which she told me she was going to write a story and win, too! I was excited to help her get started on her story.  The theme was Magic of a Moment and she decided her story should be about a fairy.  She and I worked together - she told me the story (in quite an animated fashion!) and I typed it up!  The story is about a fairy that comes to kids houses and turns their toys into other things (a stuffed dog into a real dog, a stuffed elephant into a rocking elephant) and then returns home.  The kids write the fairy a letter asking to meet her, but she is "nervous" (Meredith's words exactly) because she has to go all over the world to other kids' houses.  So she decides to use her magic to bring all the kids to her instead where they all play with the things the fairy made together.  She did such a great job with her story and we were super proud of her determination and hard work even just entering.  When I picked her up from school yesterday, she literally RAN to me to tell me that Mr. Day had announced that she won! Needless to say, this mama was even more proud!  She has been excited to tell everyone that will listen! Then last night, we got to go to an Open House to see all the entries and see her ribbon.  Of course, after we went out for some celebratory Frozen Yogurt!

 Look at that smile full of how excited she is!

Happy Halloween from Oz

Get ready for Halloween day picture overload!  We started off with the obligatory posed pictures in the front yard!

Such pretty little girls!  I am pretty proud of these costumes - I found one on Pinterest that I liked that was for sale, but I just used the picture as an idea.  I made the super full tutus first and then sewed each Dorothy her own apron to go over the tutus.  At first, Meredith said she didn't think they would look very Dorothy-ish with a tutu, but I thought they were too cute to pass up, so I did a little sweet talking!  And then once they each had on their fluffiness they couldn't stop spinning and twirling.  We found the red shoes at Walmart and Gigi happened to find Totos at Kohl's - throw them into a Dollar Tree basket and we were set!
And then a few minutes to be silly!

Our first trick or treat stop was Grandma's!  She just moved down the street from us, and we caught her having dinner, so she got to show off the girls to her friends!  

After Grandma's, Caleb's grandma, "Duckie" invited us to trick or treat her! 
The girls and Cowboy Caleb
Duckie came out looking silly!

Duckie shared her glasses so the girls could look silly, too.

Next up, we drove to visit Bubbie!

Bubbie and the girls practiced their Yellow Brick Road walk!

After Bubbie's, we met up with everyone at Gigi's for some pizza before trick or treating
Daddy was partially ready as the Tin Man!  He wore his costume to work and even won 2nd prize for his costume!
Jillian loves to play with "Dundle Neil"

I commissioned Aunt Sandy to loan me a Glenda dress for First Fest, which she did, but then she found this awesome Dorothy costume she had made Vic at some point and she mailed it to me!  So, I decided I would trick or treat as Dorothy with the girls - they thought it was pretty fun!
Tin Man and Dorothy

Every Tin Man needs 3 Dorothy's right?

Landon, the Mummy and the girls

After we overloaded the cameras, we headed out to trick or treat!  This year we got to go with our same crew as last year - Landon, Katie, and Caleb and the girls!

After every door, Jillian would turn around and run to me, yelling "Mama, I got some!" It was like it was a surprise every time!

The kids are all getting so big, they were able to navigate the doors all by themselves (there was some good management from Katie, though, that helped to keep doorbell ringing turns fair!)

Such a sweet shot of Tin Man and Dorothy

Hill Halloween

Since Halloween fell on a school day, Meredith's class had their "Fall" party on that day!  I am lucky enough to get to be one of her room moms this year, so I got to be a part of all of it!  It was so fun to get to see all of her friends and get to have fun with them!

 First we decorated a scarecrow (that is hanging on the easel).  The kids made a super cute one with a mo-hawk!

 We also made a craft and played Bingo with Candy Corn

 Then we went outside for a Candy Corn Relay and games with a little pumpkin!

Such a sweet class of Kindergartners!

"Put ' em up, Put 'em up!"

Since we had a whole Wizard of Oz themed Halloween, we decided to make our pumpkin fit right in!  We found some patterns for all the characters and we had it narrowed down to the Lion (Meredith's choice) and the Scarecrow (Jillian's choice).  Mommy and Daddy were pleased when a possibly rigged version of "pick a hand" led to the easier looking lion!  Jillian was a little disappointed, but she bounced back quickly!  In typical carving fashion, I took on the brunt of the tasks while I got slight interest from the girls in the beginning and Neal just cheering us on from the sidelines! 

 It is yuck inside the pumpkin! And yes, the girls are wearing swimsuits. In October.  They weren't really swimming, but they wear these around the house to pretend they are gymnasts.

Our finished Cowardly Lion pumpkin.  Somehow I didn't get a picture of him with our Dorothy girls, but we still had lots of fun with our pumpkin this year!