Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Catch Up (marathon post - reader beware!)

Realizing it's the last day of 2008 (what the heck!?), and knowing that the dork, type A, obsessive freak in me would not be happy with posting Christmas pictures in a post listed under the new year, I am taking my last opportunity to finally catch up on all the pictures from our Christmas trip to Ohio. We were up there for a week, but it felt like two days with all the running from place to place. We had three separate Christmas celebrations, opened a ton of gifts, and ate more food than I care to admit. It was a lot of fun, but I was totally bummed that we missed out on the snow. We don't get much, if any, snow down here, and I hate it. Claire asked me the other day what sledding was, and I about had a heart attack.

New life goal: take kids sledding.
The first few pictures were taken before Christmas. We stayed at my mom's this year, and one day the cousins all came over.

Zeke, Ben, Tristyn holding Noah, Kayli and Claire

I've posted before about how different Claire and Kayli are, but I think these costume choices say it all: Claire - princess ballerina with tiara. Kayli - blue M&M with matching hair

Zeke - Jesse's son. Enough said

Angel baby, Noah. We watched my newest nephew one day at mom's and I was astounded at what a good baby he is. He did not cry one single time the entire day. I'm not kidding. There were times we almost forgot he was even in the room! How in the world did my hellion brothers end up with such sweet, well-tempered babies? Seriously. I'm trying hard not to be bitter, but it's not really working.

Here are various pictures from our first present opening on Christmas Eve with Shawn's family.

Ben is THRILLED with his Thomas the Train pjs.

I know she looks unhappy here, but, trust me, this is Claire trying to hold back her excitement. She really wanted this Baby Alive.

There's always one toy (at least) that a kid gets which drives his parent's absolutely bonkers after about 5 minutes. Well, this truck is it. Ben LOVES it, but the motor sound it makes when pushed is mind numbing.

Happy boy watching his Bob the Builder dvd.

Ben also received a very special "gift" from Voyar, Jeff and Allison's German Shepherd. When leaving their house for the night, Ben gave hugs to everyone in the family, including the dog. However, the dog was not happy with this show of affection and proceeded to show his annoyance by clamping his mouth right on Ben's throat. No, I'm not kidding. He literally had him by the throat. Now, to be fair, I think the dog quickly realized, "shoot, this isn't a puppy," opened his mouth and dropped Ben to the floor without ripping out his jugular. Ok, maybe I'm overstating this a bit, but, really, I was petrified. It happened so fast. Yes, Ben was hysterical. Yes, I was terrified. Yes, I was really, really angry (still am, a bit). And, no, we won't be back around that dog anytime soon. This picture doesn't do it justice, but you can see the mark down Ben's cheek and under his chin

The Blacks

These few pictures were taken early Christmas morning. We let the kids open their gifts from us before heading over to my dad's house. Ben's big gift was a tool bench. He was absolutely enthralled with it, so much so that when we asked him if he wanted to open another gift or look in his stocking, he replied, "nope."

These pictures were taken at my dad's house where the family all got together to open gifts.

The Brownings

And, finally, these pictures were taken Christmas evening back at mom's house.

The kid's table. Guess which one belongs to Jesse.

The 4 siblings. I swear I am a member of this family - just the short one.

After Christmas fun at Jesse's house. Rock Band - Jesse on drums, dad (and Zeke) on guitar, and Tristyn singing vocals.

I think Ben was done with getting his picture taken.

Whew! I think that's it. We had fun with family and friends, but we are glad to be home.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Nutcracker

I had ballerina dreams as a little girl, dancing around my living room, so wanting to see a performance of "The Nutcracker" was a natural progression. Shawn and I were supposed to see it in Cincinnati one year but couldn't go due to a snowstorm. Thus, I have been anxiously waiting for the year that Claire was old enough to take her to the annual NCSA's production. I've heard about how wonderful it is, and we were not disappointed. Though seated so high up we could have communed with the angels, it was really an afternoon to remember. I was thoroughly impressed. Claire was beside herself, and eventually had to get up and dance along with the Sugar Plum Fairy at the end.

Ready to go

I copied these pictures from the NCSA website. They didn't allow photography during the show, but this is what it really looked like.

As we walked out the door of the theater, Claire was already making plans to pull out her tutu and ballet shoes. This is her "Sugar Plum Fairy" outfit. She was dancing around the living room for the rest of the night.

And, as every ballerina knows, no performance is complete without a leading male. Ben was happy to fulfill that role. When he came out of Claire's room dressed like this, I almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard. Shawn, however, was not laughing.

Personally, I think the pacifier is the perfect touch to his outfit
Here they are doing their own Nutcracker dance.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Decorating the house for Christmas was on Claire's "to do" list for the day after Thanksgiving because, as she put it, "I'm tired of all these pumpkins, mommy." But we didn't get a chance to put up the tree until last weekend. We bought our tree on Saturday morning and decorated it Sunday afternoon. I LOVE doing this with kids. They were both so excited, Claire to see all the old decorations she remembered, and Ben because, well, good grief, there was a tree in our house AND there's lights on it. What's not to be excited about, I mean, really? So what if our tree is lopsided, 1/3 of the ornaments are hung in a 1 ft. square area, 1/2 of those on one branch? The kids loved it, and we were happy with our tree in the end.

Claire is also getting ready for Christmas at her school; she actually only has 1 day left next week before she's off for the holiday break. But on Friday she sang in the preschool's Christmas program. Earlier, in the fall, the school had a short program, and Claire broke down crying half way through, so we weren't sure what to expect this time around. But she did great. Her eyes stayed fixed on her music teacher up the balcony. Seriously, she did not look to the right or left one single time during the whole program. We were waving like idiots, and she never looked at us. Come to find out, her teacher told the class to remember to look up at Ms. Susan, and Claire, ever the rule follower (hmmm... where did she get this trait?), followed the instructions to the letter.
I know this picture looks like a bunch of zombie kids, but you can see Claire, just right of center in the red dress with white collar. She is already staring up at the balcony.
Here's the one smile we got from her during the whole program. She was walking out of the church and saw us in the pew.

A Horsey Birthday

Claire's good friend, MB, had her 5th birthday party last weekend at a riding academy in the area. They have a full sized indoor riding ring and tons of horses. The 20+ kids at this party had a chance to paint a craft, get their faces painted, learn to groom a horse, and of course, had several chances to take a ride on a horse.

Craft Time

I was really pretty impressed that Claire was so willing, eager even, to ride a horse. A daredevil she is not. Though, I'm not sure it took a lot of courage to ride these horses. They looked like they already had one hoof in the glue factory.

Learning to lead a horse - or, rather, a really little pony that acted more like a stubborn dog.

Ride #2

Ride #3 - on "Buttons" this time
Yes, they are spray-painting the horse's butt. Poor guy. He really earned his oats tonight.
The whole gang. You don't notice him at first, but right in the middle of the picture is the poor horse with whom the kids played dress-up. He must have been drugged or something.