Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Getting ready for Thanksgiving

Claire's preschool class made these Indian costumes for their Thanksgiving Feast on Monday. You can't really see it in the picture, but her Indian name is written on her headdress. Indian princess, Shining Star. Er, actually, whoever wrote the name couldn't spell, so it really says "Shinning Star." Oh well.

Meet Tom, our Thanksgiving Turkey

Seriously, just call me Martha Stewart. Tom is my idea this year for helping us all to remember to be thankful every day, not just on Thanksgiving day. For every day of the month of November, we have been writing what we are thankful for on turkey feathers, and have been adding them to Tom's tail. Ok, so I stole the idea from Parent's magazine. Shhhhhh. But the kids have really gotten into it, and even Ben has been contributing. Some of the most memorable contributions: apple crisp, Big Doggy, snow, Popsicles, ice cream, and last night, Ben was thankful that Claire was an Indian.

We are happy to report . . .

The potty training has officially begun. Stay tuned for updates.

Homecoming at Lee

To admit that I believe that it's been 10 years since I graduated from Lee University is to admit to my age. Thus, I choose to deny both and suggest that the reason Shawn and I took the family to visit Lee at this year's Homecoming was simply to catch up with old friends. Actually, that's not a lie. We really did want to see old friends, but Claire and Ben (though Ben could have cared less) had never been to Lee, and we were eager to show them where we went to school. Claire is still pretty certain that she is going to college next year instead of kindergarten, so, most of the time, I think she was scoping out where she was planning on living. :-)

In front of Shawn's old dorm - Hughes Hall. Oh the memories.

These two pictures were taken on Friday night at the DZT alumni reception. Andrea, I totally apologize for the second one, but it makes me laugh every time I see it.

Several members of Shawn's extended family live in the Cleveland area, including his cousin (actually first cousin once removed) Jacqueline. She was at Lee the same time we were and is now married with a little girl just a bit older than Claire. Jaylee and Claire were the best of buddies in about 5 minutes, and they all had fun playing together.

As far as I was concerned, the most important reason for traveling to Cleveland was to see my three college roommates who all happen to live there (no fair, no fair, no fair). Life has really changed for all of us since those college days, including the addition of no less than 11 children, all but two of whom are boys. We were all able to get together for dinner on Saturday night at Andrea and Will's house. Amazingly, at the end of the night, the house was still standing, no bones had been broken, and I think everyone actually ate some dinner.

We were determined to get a picture of the four roommates and all the kids. It was a squeeze and mass chaos - the noise was deafening.
Back Row Left to Right: Tucker on Andrea's lap, Harper on Rachel's lap, Ben on my lap, Merica holding Dosen.
Sitting on floor Left to Right: Brett Campbell, Winston Hicks, Claire, Blake Campbell, Fletcher Hicks, and peeking behind Fletcher is the other Campbell twin, Graham.
And sporting the supermodel pose across the front is Luke Stum - definitely Merica's child.
Attempt number 2

It was so good to see these faces. I love these girls dearly, and I wish we had more time together.

Claire's Birthday - Part II

Once again, I've left the blog for too long, and now I am woefully behind in recording recent events. So, although Claire's birthday was several weeks ago, I'm just now getting the time to post some more pictures from her party at home.

Generally, I try to make a cake for birthdays, and while I am, by no means, what I would call an expert at cake decorating, the cakes have certainly become more elaborate lately. No longer is the plain sheet cake with some fancy writing, polka-dots and flowers enough for Claire. Last year, I decorated the face of Strawberry Shortcake. My dad and Shawn can attest that it took me about 3 hours to finish the whole process. This year Claire wanted a Tinkerbell cake, but when she caught sight of this princess cake at the store, she wouldn't settle for anything else.

So, here's this year's masterpiece:

What you can't see in this picture (because I positioned the cake to avoid it) is that the warm weather started to melt the icing, and her entire dress was sliding down to the bottom. Now I understand why bakeries keep their cakes refrigerated. Nevertheless, melting dress and all, this cake princess still made the birthday girl very happy.

Here's Claire opening some of her various birthday gifts.
Can you believe this toy is still around?

And Ben opening his "unbirthday" gift from Grandma - Handy Manny complete with tool set.

Blowing out the candles! Look at Ben in the background. I think he's trying to help.
I can't believe she's 5 already. Time really does go by so quickly.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

MOPS photo shoot

Since moms tend to be behind the camera instead of in front of it during family photo shoots, a mother from my MOPS group decided to offer her photography services at a discounted price. Her idea was to get pictures of kids AND moms together. Here's a link to view the pictures she took of us. Some of them turned out great; some, not so much. There's only so much you can do with a 2 year old! Be forewarned - there's a bunch of pictures there.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Claire's Birthday - Part 1

Claire's actual birthday isn't until the 5th of November, but she had her party this past weekend at Chucky Cheese's. Yes, you read that correctly, Chucky (parent's nightmare/kid's utopia) Cheese's. Our last Chucky adventure occurred on her 3rd birthday, just after Ben was born. I was an exhausted mom who could not fathom the thought of planning and hosting a party, so we had her party there. She was too little, terrified of the ginormous moving mouse with the freakishly large head, and could hardly reach most of the games. This time, she thoroughly enjoyed herself.

We invited about 12 children, and 4 showed up. I promised myself I wouldn't get worked up over the whole RSVP thing in this blog post, but I'm tempted to anyway. Apparently, there are still people out there who do not understand the concept. It really irks me (REALLY irks me), especially when reservations are concerned, but Claire had a good time, so I guess that's what really matters. But, seriously, how hard is it really to email or call someone to let them know if you can come or not? Argh..... ok, I'm moving on.

Here are some pictures taken at the party.
Alicia, Ethan, Claire and Alex

Enjoying the Show

Ben had a great time playing games and eating pizza and cake

Notice Ben's hand trying to get some cake with his fork.

She's not 5 quite yet, but is fully comfortable with celebrating her birthday for at least a week. She has a party at school on Wednesday morning and our family party at home that night.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween 2008

Ok, so I'm bitter. I'll admit it. While all my little friends dressed up for Halloween and got to indulge in the trick or treating sugar indulgence, I wasn't allowed to join in. Apart from a one time high school night of Halloween rebellion, my sole participation in the event was dressing up in my mother's nightgown and high heels and walking around the outside of our own house, knocking on the various doors (we had three) and saying, "trick or treat." I think I was 4. I know, sniff, sniff, poor kid, right? Actually, most of the time I was convinced that all the people that did celebrate Halloween were going straight to hell. Now, don't go blaming my parents for all of this. To be fair, I also thought that anyone who drank coffee was going straight to hell too. Not sure where I came up with that one, but, needless to say, I saw the world in black and white those days, but I sure did yearn for a bag full of candy to call my own.

So, fast forward 2o, ahem, plus years, and I finally get to participate in Halloween. Granted, I'm not the one dressing up, but I love seeing how excited my kids get, and let's be honest, they don't need to eat ALL their candy, right?

So, here are my little trick or treaters. Despite some very ingenious arguments on my end and the really cool pirate costume hanging in her closet, Claire still insisted on being a princess (yet again) this year. She looked lovely and really enjoyed getting into my makeup too. Ben was the cutest, cuddliest St. Bernard ever. We ended up taking them into downtown King (the metropolis that it is) where they close off the streets and hand out candy from the businesses there. Tons of people were there, and Ben was the center of attention on more than one occasion. He had no idea what this whole night was about, but once that candy started filling his bucket, he was all in. Ben said, "trick or treat, man" and "thank you, man" to every person who gave him candy.

Pretty Cinderella

The cutest rescue dog, ever.

Here's a video I took right before we left the house.
Enjoying the spoils. Ben was eager to shed his furry costume. It was a fairly warm night.

Here Comes Halloween

The approach of Halloween in this house is cause for serious excitement. Claire's birthday comes soon after, and then the holidays seem to arrive before we know it. For the kids, and for me (who, no doubt, is vicariously living out her childhood trick or treat dreams), Halloween is tons of fun. The week before Halloween is generally dedicated to carving the pumpkins we have chosen. I don't like to carve them before that because they get all nasty and attract bugs, and in the south, bugs means some serious bugs. This year, however, we didn't have to worry about the bug issue. Uncle Jeff and Aunt Allison bought the kids Mr. Pumpkin Head kits for decorating their pumpkins. Instead of carving out a face, we just pushed the face pieces into the pumpkin just as if they were Mr. Potato Heads. Though Claire missed roasting the pumpkin seeds, I will say that this year's pumpkins were much cuter than years previous, AND there was no clean up (huge plus!).

Here's Ben and his Mr. Pirate Pumpkin Head. He was SUPER proud of it.

Trick ARRRRR Treat!

Claire decorated this pumpkin at school. She insisted that it be included with our other pumpkins. This is her Sleeping Beauty Pumpkin.

Here's her Ms. Princess Pumpkin Head

As all stay-at-home moms know, free programs for kids offered by the community are a lifesaver. The local library has a preschool story time every Tuesday which includes singing, reading, and usually some type of craft. We try to attend as often as possible and usually end up staying for quite some time enjoying the children's area stocked with puzzles, stuffed animals and computer games. I'm fairly positive that the librarians are happy to see us go, as Ben seems to break out his most obnoxious voice and behavior for the times we are there, but both kids really seem to enjoy it. This week, in honor of Halloween, the librarian read picture books about bats, and the kids made a bat craft. The kids loved making their bat hats and wore them around the house for the rest of the day. Ben really got into this one. You can even see the stripes he insisted on adding to his hat.

Ok, so they look like cats with wings. Use your imagination, people!