Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Christmas in a few photos

The kids and Daddy all dressed up for Christmas Eve festivities.
The kids with Mommy on Christmas Eve. It may have been beneficial to get the tripod out.
The kids in their new Christmas Eve jammies getting ready to pick out cookies for Santa. They all loved these jammies and I loved the fact that they all matched. I don't know how many more years (if any) I can get away with that.
Both boys wrote Santa a letter and Hailey drew him numerous pictures.
Christmas morning ready to come downstairs and see what Santa brought them.
Hailey could see her "dollhouse" from upstairs and was unbelievably excited.
Spencer and Evan got a gift from Santa to share wrapped half in Evan's wrapping and half in Spencer's wrapping.
Spencer got a lot of LEGOS and a lot of books -also some books about LEGOS.
Evan got an Air Swimmer shark. It is huge and looks and moves very lifelike. It freaked Hailey out at first.
Kitty Boy getting in on the unwrapping frenzy.
Hailey got a DVD of her favorite movie. This movie was on one night while we were having a slumber party in my room. It is sort of like a "Home Alone - Baby Edition". Very silly, but she loved it and would ask to watch it on other occasions and could not understand why I couldn't just pop it in the DVD player. Now I can. She watched it on Christmas morning.
Evan's new personalized playing cards - Ninja holding root beer!
Spencer finally got his new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. He dove right in on Christmas morn.
Evan models his new hat. Our Evan - he loves to be warm.
Christmas afternoon at my cousin's house. Our family photo on Santa's lap.
The gift hut Evan made to barricade his presents during Christmas with my mom.
Evan shows off his new walking stick from Grama Dune. It was one of his favorite gifts along with his sound machine. He thought they would both be good editions to "Mister Black".
Grama and the kiddos. Evan and Hailey painted her the birdhouse for her yard.
We have two more Christmases yet to come. I am sure many more memories will be made.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

May your days be merry and bright!

Christmas 2011

We woke up this morning to see the neighborhood covered with a dusting of snow. It seemed to be just what we all needed to get into the Christmas spirit. We look forward to the yearly Christmas shows put on by the kids’ classes, the parties we attend and the hustle and bustle that comes with every year. But there is something about the snow that makes us want to hunker down at home and bake cookies or gingerbread houses or sit on the couch snuggled in a blanket and look at our beautiful Christmas tree and reflect on the past year and those who are so important in our lives.

Hailey is almost five which is hard to believe. Mostly due to the fact that she acts like she is about twelve. She started her second year of preschool at Ross Park. Hailey played soccer in the spring and fall and t-ball over the summer. She was not as sporty as we imagined she might be (not at all J) but she had fun and was thrilled to receive her first trophy – and popsicles. Hailey likes to paint, color or anything crafty. She loves girly things like Barbies, princesses and dress-up, but is just as comfortable making mud pies on the porch steps or picking up bugs or dead mice (don’t ask) in the driveway.

Evan is seven years old and in second grade this year. He really enjoys learning and is always eager to come home and share some new fact or tidbit that he learned during class. Evan has continued in Scouts as a Wolf and attended his first day camp over the summer. He played Pee Wee Little League this year and surprised all of us with a bit of natural talent at the sport. His team made it all the way to the play-off finals where they came in second place. He was thrilled with his “big” trophy and even was awarded a game ball for MVP in one game earlier in the season. This fall he decided he wanted to take Karate and is enjoying it – he has even earned his first belt. Evan spends his free time playing board or computer games, LEGOS, and anything where he can use his imagination.

Spencer is in fourth grade this year and turned ten over the summer. We are starting to see the “tweener” tendencies beginning in our oldest child – i.e. messy room, laziness, wanting to stay home alone instead of hanging out with the fam. It doesn’t seem possible that our “baby boy” is embarking on the preteen years. Spencer played inner city tennis over the summer and constantly grumped about going but always did well and had fun while he was there. He has continued with his acting classes and Scouts as well and is a Webelo this year. They have been able to do a lot of interesting things through Scouts. He even attended his first overnight camp last summer. Of course with Dad as your leader, it seems less of a big deal. Spencer keeps busy with LEGOS, TV, YouTube, hanging out with friends and he recently started up Destination Imagination after school.

Trent is still at R-P high school. He just wrapped up an amazing fall show of Peter Pan and is already looking toward The Sound of Music in the spring. He took on the Children’s Theatre class this year just to add to his never ending “to-do” list. He is a hard worker and seems to be busy all the time.

Jen continues to stay home and keep everybody fed, clothed, washed and somewhat organized. If the rumors of all day Kindergarten next year are true, she won’t know what to do with herself! (Yeah, right!) For some reason we imagined that as the kids got older, things would get easier; we were greatly disillusioned as things seem much more crazy and more busy as they grow.

Our family trip this year was a “circumnavigation of Lake Michigan”. We started out through Chicago onto Wisconsin where we stayed for a weekend with Jen’s sister and family. Then we headed north from Madison through the UP of Michigan. It was a great trip and we were gone for over a week. We saw Kitchitikipi natural spring, explored the ghost town at Fayette, shipwrecks in Munising, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, fed bear cubs, played in Tahquamenon Falls, swam in Lakes Superior and Huron, hung out under the Mackinac Bridge. It was awesome – so many amazing memories. We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful state.

We feel lucky and blessed by so much in our lives, especially getting to share it with our amazing family and wonderful friends. We wish for you a year filled with health, hope, happiness and love.

Love – Trent, Jennifer, Spencer, Evan & Hailey

Saturday, December 24, 2011

He's comin' to town!

As long as there are LEGO's involved, we will have a great Christmas Eve! Our hope is that you do the same.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingerbread nativity

While shopping at TJ Maxx the other day, I came across this...

At first glance I thought it was unique and would look great in my nativity collection. I had never before seen cookie cutters anything like this. Then a few days later while grocery shopping I saw gingerbread cookie dough in the ready made roll.

And the Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea.

The only kid of mine with any sort of attention span for a task like this is Evan. Believe me, he was into it from the moment he saw the picture on the tin. He asked me everyday for days when we could make the gingerbread house. Finally it was Christmas break and his gingerbread dreams came true.

All the kids helped decorate the pieces and I got to curse under my breath as I tried to make them stick to the plate and stand up with the royal icing I whipped up. The kids were wonderful while we frosted the pieces - they were patient and sharing, even complimentary to each other. At one point I heard Evan tell Hailey that her wise man looked really good.

Our finished masterpiece. The food coloring options were limited. More of an abstract version for our first attempt - not much detailing going on there.

One of the batches of "extra" pieces we left in the oven too long. Thanks to the Silpat they just got really, really dark. Hailey spotted them in the garbage and rescued them telling us that we could use them for shadows. I was pretty impressed that her almost five year old mind could come up with that.

It was a bit more work than the ready made kits that we usually buy, but it was fun. Although I think the kids may have missed the decorating with candy. I am sure Hailey did. Maybe next year we can bedazzle the manger with candy canes and smarties.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Like the top of Mt. Crumpit?

To make the Grinch grin I would:

Lump off a clif

I laughed because he made his "L" exactly how I did when I was little. I can't tell you how many Christmas decorations my mom saved that say "Lenny" on the back.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I know how she feels

I wish I could crash on the couch like this. Unfortunately, my belly wouldn't be nearly that cute.

I am tired. Tired of shopping. Tired of finding recipes. Tired of cleaning up messes. Tired of wrapping.

I am ready for the hustle to be over and the enjoying to begin.

We are almost there...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Let the festivities begin...

The boys had their school Christmas show the other night. It is always a cute little play with the fifth graders having the speaking parts and the first through fourth graders in the chorus. I can't believe that next year Spencer will have a role in it.

Evan loves to dress up. He thinks wearing a tie and even a sport coat is about as awesome as it gets. When his teacher told the class to dress in their holiday best, he made sure to let me know. I ran out to Kohl's and found him a pair of dress pants and a sweater vest on sale with an additional twenty percent off coupon. I knew he would want a tie and we didn't have any Christmas ties or any black or gray traditional ties. The ties at Kohl's were not on sale except for a buy one get one half off deal. I didn't want two ties. I was about ready to give in and spend over twenty bucks on ties when I remembered this bow tie I picked up for Evan in October at my aunt's church yard sale in Wisconsin. He was thrilled. And also pretty stoked that other kids had ties on but he was the only one in a bow tie. I hope he continues to be eclectic in his clothes choices - I love his style.

Little sister would never miss an opportunity to ham it up with her brothers.

All of these shots are from far away with a less than stellar telephoto lens. They are not for framing, just for remembering.

The last song of the show is "Let there be peace on Earth" and as they sing they do the sign language for it.

Evan told me before the show that he was a little nervous that he didn't know all the hand motions. I told him just do his best and that I was sure that other kids felt the same way. Two of the teachers were out in the stage wings to watch if you got stuck and I could tell he was watching them a lot. He did a great job though - all the kids did.

Today Hailey had her class Christmas party. Trent took a personal day today to attend a funeral of one of his high school friends so he was able to come to the party for a bit before the service. Hailey felt pretty special to have both her mommy and daddy at her party.

She was also feeling special because I let her wear a Christmas broach that I used to wear as a little girl. Citing her Fancy Nancy books she told me that it was cool to wear an heirloom.

I was busy at the party trying to coordinate and help with the crafts so these are the three pictures I took. This one of Hailey with Olivia and Addison, two of her besties, listening to someones mom read a story made me laugh. They all kept bringing her books. She was probably thinking she wanted to be with her kid not hanging out with everyone elses!

We have more busy days in our near future. I hope to get some posts done before Christmas, but we shall see how it goes. At least there are two posts for December now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Out of the backpack

It has been a long time since I posted something "out of the backpack". Who am I kidding? It has been a long time since I posted anything. Not for lack of content, but for lack of time. When I saw this paper today that Evan brought home, it totally made my day.

"My Grama's favorite game is Mister Black. My Dad's favorite food is turkey. My brother's favorite game is to torture me."

I love the way he spells brother. I love that his teacher wrote "not Spencer" under the torturing part. I love that he got a "super" on it. Mostly I love that his teacher is probably wondering "What kind of game is Mr. Black? I have never heard of that game."