Catching Up 
Contrary to belief, the website isn't dead, we have just been really busy. It has been nine months since our last post... and here is a little "catch up" of what happened between then and now (pics available at mypicsof.us):

February:
Kemah Boardwalk - Carissa rides some of the bigger rides now...
Aquarium at Moody Gardens - Caden likes sharks.
Cozumel Cruise to Celebrate Carissa's Sixth Birthday

March:
Everett Reed Cherry is born!
Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo - Zac Brown & Mutton Bustin' with Carissa
Pool Season Officially Opens at the Cherry House
Jonda and I both get our Scuba Diving Open Water Certifications
Carissa joins Legacy Gymnastics - Hand stands and Cartwheels

April:
Utilizing our Zoo membership for Zoobilee - Caden likes elephants
Westwood Elementary Round-up Celebration - Carissa has a ball
Beach Trip - Caden decides he really likes dirt/sand

May:
Astros Game - These guys couldn't be any worse this year
Spartan Sprint & Spartan Junior - Aroo
Carissa graduates from Kindergarten - In the blink of an eye
Grandma Cherry Passes
Beth visits from Germany - Guten Tag!

June:
Joey/Loni/Parker/Everett visit from Arizona
Harris Resevoir Crab Cookout
Pirate's Bay Water Park
A Week in Wimberley with the Woods - And water balloons
Chris & Margaret's Engagement Party - Mexican Style

July:
Friendswood Freedom Parade
Symphony of the Goddesses - Zelda visits the Houston Symphony
Carissa goes to British Soccer Camp - Football on the pitch
Carissa plays soccer for the "Toronto Tigers" in Pearland
Carissa goes to Dinosaur Camp - Rarh
Finally completed six months of roof/balcony repair on our house

August:
Jonda turns 25... again. This time in San Antonio -
Natural Bridge Caverns / Wildlife Park
Riverwalk / Children's Museum / Sea World
Robert Irvine Live at The Grand in Galveston
Carissa Starts First Grade - Already!?!

September:
Lake Livingston Trip with the Wilkerson
Caden goes back to Pre-K
Aggie Football Returns... SEC Style. Whoop!
Carissa plays soccer for the "Seattle Sounders" in Pearland

Weddings are coming! Congratulations to all the couples on their future tieing-the-knot dates: Adam & Hollie, Chris & Margaret, Rachel & John, Kevin & Amanda, Jeff & Sarah, and Claire & Matt!

So there you have it, a quick look back of all the things we should have written about in greater detail... but didn't. The spring/summer of 2012 was unbelievably awesome with the two greatest joys of our lives, Carissa and Caden. We're looking forward to getting back into our school routine... and hopefully won't go another nine months without an update.




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Happy Birthday Caden! 
We celebrated Caden’s birthday a few weeks ago. I know it is cliché, but it is so hard to believe that an entire year has gone by. We celebrated by hosting our families at Madres Restaurant around the corner from our house. The Birthday Boy behaved very well. The waiters even came around with a big sombrero and sang Happy Birthday to him. He shared the sopapillas with all of us though!

After lunch, we came back to the house for cake and presents. Caden was not really into opening the presents, but his sister was glad to help him out. He got some much needed new outfits and PJs, a set of blocks, a silver dollar with his birth-year on it, and his very own chair for the living room. He loves the chair and climbs up and down it all the time. Carissa proudly helped to decorate his ‘smash-cake’, and Caden made the obligatory mess and posed for pictures. We also blew-up the Mickey Mouse clubhouse for the party, and Caden likes it just as much as Carissa does!

Caden is such an absolute delight! He is a very happy little boy and has the best smile and laugh. He adores his sister and tries to follow her everywhere and do everything she does. He loves to watch her play with her friends. Carissa loves him right back. She always tries to help him out, and she plays really well with him (when she’s in the mood). As their mom, I really enjoy seeing them interact, especially when they smile and laugh together. I’m sure this brother/sisterly love won’t last too much longer as they grow, if my and Trav’s sibling relationships are any precursor!

Caden has been described as “all-boy” by anyone who meets him. He will not sit still for any portion of time. Even when eating, his arms are constantly waving around. He has already had a black eye and all the bumps and bruises that come with learning to walk way too fast. Climbing, playing with balls, eating, and being outside are his favorite things to do. I think my dad has lost ten pounds since Caden became really mobile!

He jibber-jabbers so much, and his favorite words are ‘moh’ (more), da-da, bye-bye, uhhh (usually means he wants a snack), ‘mihhhh’ (mine). He loves to take the dish-soap out of the cabinet and the aloe bottle out of the refrigerator, leaving everything else alone. His favorite foods are ritz crackers, Gerber cheese puffs, bananas, applesauce, and french frys. He also likes to take a sip of water from his cup and spit it out at his dad (Trav doesn’t care for that trick too much!) Caden also likes to dance with that little baby-bounce step. It is too cute!

Happy Birthday Caden! We love you very much and cannot wait to see you grow!

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Christmas 2011 
Christmas came and went in a blur this year. Carissa and Caden both had Christmas parties at their schools. Pa picked up Carissa early from school so she could go to Caden’s and see her old teachers. Her party was on a Friday morning so the kids got all sugared up for the teacher to enjoy for the rest of the day! They did a book exchange where you pass the book around in a circle and where it stops, you get to unwrap the book. Carissa brought in little bags of “reindeer noses” to pass out to her friends. There were eight malt balls and one cherry red sour ball. It was a cute idea, courtesy of pinterest (of course).

We kicked off the family festivities in Livingston this year with the Campbell side of the family. Pat and Odie rented a great lake house for the whole family to enjoy for the weekend. The older kids all received Karaoke machines from Grammy and Pawpaw so quite the performance was put on! It was a really nice weekend with plenty of playtime outside for the kids, roasting marshmallows by the fire, jalapeno-stuffed olives, a trip to Trade Days, and walks around the neighborhood.

Christmas Eve we spent at my mom and dad’s house. We did breakfast with the Wilkerson-side of the family complete with a Hot Chocolate bar set-up by my Aunt Diane. We then exchanged gifts with Ryan, Valerie, Owen, Mom, and Dad. Travis was really excited about the counter-sized office chair! He has been using a regular desk chair propped up with pillows in the office for months! Carissa got some roller skates that stayed on for most of the evening and also some spy goggles that Ryan picked out for her. Caden really liked a new jumper toy from Owen and a set of Lincoln Logs from Grandma and Pa. I got some moo-lah for some kitchen cabinet accessories. I just need to go pick them out and sweet-talk my hubster into installing them!

Christmas Day the kids surprised by sleeping in! Travis and I were up watching TV in our bedroom wondering when the kids would ever get up! They finally did and WOW do we spoil our kids. Carissa started out asking Santa for a pottery wheel, a two-wheel scooter for Pa’s house, and a three-wheel scooter for Pa’s house. Then, she got to play with Alex and Hunter’s DS and PSP and suddenly that made it to the list too. The problem with this is that Travis and I already bought her one for her birthday and had bought the mobo bike for her ‘big’ Christmas present. We down-played the DS for weeks (“it really is a six-year-old toy”), but she kept insisting that Santa knew she could handle it.

Christmas Eve night while we were setting out all the goods, I begged Travis to go ahead and let her have it. We waffled back and forth until I pulled the “this might be the last year she REALLY, truly believes in Santa”…. Santa came through for her. She was so excited on Christmas morning!

Caden got a Red Racer Car from us to ride in for our walks. He loved it. It was pretty rainy and nasty over the holiday, so we kept the car inside for him to play with. He would open the door, get in it, honk the horn, turn the blinker on, stand up in the seat, get out, circle around, and do the whole thing over and over again.

Of course they both also got a truck-load full of other toys. Like they need a thing, seriously. But, I love spoiling my kids – it was one of the reasons I have a good job!

We normally would have gone down to the Cherry’s for Christmas, but they went to Phoenix this year. We missed our tradition, but it was really nice just getting to hang out around our house and enjoy each other. We had bacon and eggs for brunch and stayed in our PJs for most of the day.

We did go down to Angleton the following Wednesday for Christmas with Pops and Grandma Ronnie. Caden and Carissa both got some awesome books that were personalized with their names. Carissa also got a toy shot-gun from Parker that she loves along with some art projects. Caden got a dump-truck full of blocks that he of course likes to dump out as soon as we pick them up, a dog that sings and talks to you, and a toy train.

New Year’s we spent up in Ace with the Wood Family and another great time, making memories was had. We played dominos, ate all day, watched football, shot guns, shot fireworks, and had Secret Santa. Austin’s girlfriend Krista was my Santa and she got me a new board game called Quelf. We played several rounds of that hilarious game! Let’s just say it involved: Pops talking like Ahmed the Terrorist, Grandma Wood being thumb master and saying ‘Whatever’, David chewing on a shoe, Travis wrapped up like a mummy, Adam acting like a movie-making-Frankenstein, Carissa saying ‘Captain Poopy Pants’ when a player lost a space, me talking like a pirate, Krista singing 99 bottles of beer, Austin being a ninja, and Veronica laughing at everything!

Now all the fun is over, and we’re all back in the routine of work and school. BUT… we do have a certain little boy’s birthday to celebrate in just a couple of days! I don't understand how some days seem so long because the years just keep flying right by us!

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Kiddo Update 
CARISSA ANN:

... is so looking forward to Christmas. She just can’t stand the waiting. Travis and I made the mistake of wrapping a bunch of presents to the kids from us and putting them under the tree. Every day she asks, “Can I please open just one? Puh-lease? Just ONE!”

We’re doing the little Christmas-countdown house again this year. (Carissa was already asking about it at Halloween!) Travis made out a standard diagram of our house so we wouldn’t have to draw out treasure maps all month long. It has worked out wonderfully! The treasure is usually a cheap little toy, or a pack of pencils and a note-pad with dogs on it, or a craft (think dollar-store quality items – she doesn’t get 25 ‘real’ toys!). We also did the Gingerbread house as a treasure and I plan to put activities in a few doors like ‘Make some cookies’ or ‘Go look at Christmas lights’. Travis says she is going to hate those days, but that is ok, I will like them.

This past Saturday, we had a breakfast with Santa at my grandpa’s church. They did a pancake and sausage spread for breakfast and then they had at least eight tables set up with different crafts for the kids which you know is right up Carissa’s alley! She made some little ornaments, did a hand-stamp that was made out into a Rudolph (Caden did one too!), decorated a cookie, etc.

Her favorite Christmas song is “The Little Drummer Boy” except she calls it “The Pum-Pum-Pum” song. She also gets very upset when the radio versions do not match the version that Grammy has in her car.

Carissa is still doing great at school. She is doing wonderfully with reading and even tries to read on her own without us even prompting. She likes making little crafts and notes to take up to her teacher, Mrs. Vail. Spelling words is a little difficult for her, but then it is difficult for me to explain too – like why sometimes a C makes a “kuh” sound and other times it sounds like an S. Or why sometimes a word that starts with a “kuh” sound is actually a K and not a C or why the K is silent… Sigh, I always hated language arts. Math is so much easier…

CADEN MICHAEL:

… is WALKING! Not all the time, but he can string together enough steps to get from the trash can to the fridge or from the stairs to the backdoor! It is really funny to see him try to ‘run’. His little legs just try to move so fast (usually to try and catch his sister), that he just changes his mind about walking and crawls as fast as he can to catch up!

Caden is giving ‘five’ upon request and he also does the finger-crunch wave and says ‘bye-bye’. He also will say ‘Dada’ and he said ‘Pa’ as clear as day this morning. (Of course, his very first word was ‘Momma’. Though I was the only one to hear it and he hasn’t said it since! But, I swear it happened! LOL!)

Caden loves to eat. If he’s in a bad mood, just give him a little something for his tummy and he’s a happy camper again. He gets that from me. He loves to be outside and go for walks in the stroller. He loves when the front door is open (we have a glass porch-door too) and he’ll stand up to the glass and will holler out at anyone who is walking by.

He is also turning out to be a climbing little monkey. He loves to try and get up on the couch or climb up any chair. Which wouldn’t be all that bad, but he is also accident-prone and likes to get off of stuff head-first. He doesn’t really like the word ‘no’ and tends to ignore you. Carissa could have cared less about the cabinets – Caden loves to open and close them. (Speaking of, I need to remember to talk to Travis about getting those little latches…)


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Halloween! 
We had such a fun time for Caden’s first Halloween. Caden kicked it off with a Halloween Party at his little school. The teachers mentioned that all the kids loved the tails of Caden’s dragon and another little boy’s monkey! They took a ride on their six-seater stroller to see all the other classes and took some pictures together. Soooo cute.

Carissa also had a Pumpkin Party at school. In order to wear costumes and participate in the costume parade, they had to tie their costume in with a book. Luckily, Travis quickly found a book on Amazon about a knight! I was able to go up to school for the party where the kids all had treats galore and they played a couple games of bingo. After school, we went up to Kohl’s and Target - yes, with Carissa in her costume! She thought that was pretty cool.

The day before Halloween, we had Owen over so we could try and take some pictures of Carissa the Knight and the two Dragons she planned to train (or slay). I made some mummy-dogs and spider-web dip along with queso and grilled burgers by Travis. The pictures didn’t turn out too well, but that’s ok. We had a fun time with family.

After dinner, we went up to Stevenson Park for the Friendswood Trick-or-Treat trail. And, omg, was it crowded! I think next year, we’ll plan on sandwiches at the park so we can find a place to park! Odie jumped a curb in Pat’s explorer and parked in the grass; Travis was not so brave and we parked across 518! It was a good time though – lots of booths set up for candy and it was fun to see all the kids in their costumes.

On Halloween, Carissa paced around for hours asking over and over if it was time yet for trick-or-treating. Whoever decided to move the ‘Fall-back’ time change obviously does not have kids. We finally saw a group heading down the street, and she was able to get her costume on. Travis took the kids around the cul-de-sac and then he and Caden stayed home to pass out candy while Carissa and I went farther into the neighborhood.

There was a house down the street that had been setting up Halloween décor in their yard for several weeks. Carissa was really excited to go down to it. They had a dark, blow up tunnel with a strobe light leading to their front door, and I asked Carissa again if she was sure she wanted to go up. She was so brave and walked slowly through the tunnel up to the house… but they had some sort of skeleton and a life-size monster-looking thing that moved and made noises when she got to the porch. She screamed out ‘NEVERMIND’ and ran back over to me with her lip trembling and tears welling up in her eyes! We quickly walked away, but I just felt so bad for her! She really wanted to be the big kid that went up to the haunted house. I told her how brave she was and it is all just pretend, and that she got farther than I would have. She laughed at that… but was still very nervous even when we got home. Maybe next year… though I think she’s likely to stay away from that house for a few more years.

Now, we’re onto Thanksgiving and fall! The weather has cooled off, at least cool for Texas! We went up to Dewberry Farm last Saturday which was a lot of fun, especially for Carissa. Caden enjoyed his time outside as well. The kids were invited to a neighbor’s birthday party last Sunday, and we have Aubry’s First Birthday this Saturday and Carissa has a school-friend’s birthday on Sunday. Joey, Loni, and Parker come into town the following weekend and then it is Thanksgiving week! Busy busy, but with fun stuff!

I can’t believe Caden is already ten months old! This year has just flown by!

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