Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Running of the Gifts

Sitting in my attic the past several weeks have been boxes of different shapes and sizes

wrapped in various assortments of colorfully printed paper.

Pooh for Grant....Princess for Grace
Star Wars for John and Tinkerbell for Emily

Funny how the older the kids get the fewer presents they get.

Boxes that are much smaller but much more expensive!!!

After doing all the work of buying the gifts, wrapping and hiding them, I figure the kids can do their part to help me.

So a couple days before Christmas we have what has officially been named
"The Running of the Gifts"

Let the running begin!!!

This is the first time they've seen their presents.

They get the pleasure of carrying them downstairs and placing them under the tree.

It takes Grace and Grant several trips to finish moving theirs.

And now the countdown to Christmas begins in earnest.

We are enjoying a quiet day at home.
I hope you have the pleasure of doing the same.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Party! - Party! - Party!

Computer is running nicely.
Recovered hard drive has returned from California.
Pictures seem to be safe. (I have not verified all of the missing file dates yet...too scared to do it)


Let the posting begin!!

Pictures taken last week at Grant's (first) birthday party.

He wanted a dinosaur cake, so I obliged.

Having a mid-December birthday makes scheduling anything tough.
We invited a couple neighborhood buddies of his over after school on a Friday evening for a few hours of fun and pizza (and of course cake).

Here they are popping balloons dinosaur eggs to get to the treats hidden inside.
I underestimated boys. 

This game took all of thirty seconds at the most.

After a dinosaur treasure hunt and a paleontology activity with dog biscuits dinosaur bones,
we proceeded to celebrate the birthday boy with cupcakes and ice cream.

I was mean and made them eat the cupcakes made from extra cake batter instead of the dinosaur cake. I didn't want to have to make another cake for his real birthday just a couple days later, so we saved the dinosaur cake for the real birthday.

I don't think anyone minded the cupcakes.  They ate them without complaint.

After food, I moved them to the living room to open presents.
The big mountain is something Grant had seen in an old video of John's.
He wanted it for birthday, but they don't sell them anymore.

So what is a mother to do?
I bought him a used one on ebay.
He was thrilled and could have cared less if it was new or not.

Grant got his second birthday party at school on Monday.  I took in cupcakes for the kids in his class.  They sang Happy Birthday to him and he got to be line leader for the day.
Oh, and he got this awesome crown to wear.....

His real birthday was on Tuesday.
That was the last day of preschool before Christmas break so he got ANOTHER party (Christmas party) at school that day as well!!

That night we partied again at home.
We sang Happy Birthday and (finally) ate dinosaur cake.

Some of us even took small enough bites to TASTE the cake.....

not Grant though.
Two bites and it was history.

Birthday card made by Grace.....
Grant was miffed that she drew herself taller than him.
He's so funny.

David and I have an unspoken contest going on for the 'coolest birthday card' for our kids.
I thought for sure I had this one in the bag with the gigantic pirate card that played a song while a pirate sang to the birthday boy.

David's card won the contest this year though.
Not only was it a monster truck card that made cool truck noises, but it had a maze in it as well.
Grant is seriously into mazes and puzzles right now.
David definitely had the winning card.

One more present to open from Mom and Dad....

but wait....

 The look on Grant's face says it all....

A few days before his birthday, Grant saw this big truck/tractor set in a toy catalog.
He had circled it and painstakingly written on the catalog cover that he wanted it for birthday.

Guess who saw the catalog and had to buy it for him?
Yes, my overgrown kid!!

The final birthday celebration took place at Grandma's house when we had our family Christmas.
Three family members with Christmas birthdays meant taking time to recognize them before opening Christmas presents.

Now how's THAT for thoroughly celebrating a birthday??
Only five years old, but got five chances to celebrate his birthday!

We love you!

Just because it was the last picture in the file....

Grace and Grant sporting their new rain gear.
I thought Grace's raincoat looked small a couple weeks ago when getting out at carpool line.
I looked at the tag later.

It was a 3Toddler.

She'll be seven years old in March.  Time for a new coat.
Of course she's still wearing a size four jeans.
If only I had her weight problems!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


My husband is the greatest!

He got my computer up and running again.
my hard drive has been worked on for the past few days and is now on its way home from vacation in California.

I'm still a little jealous.
I didn't get a trip to California.

Soon I'll have my files rebuilt and be back in business.


Until then, I'll have to be content with pictures that are on my camera.

Like this one.....
taken after I scrubbed Grant's face unmercifully.

It was a huge improvement from what it looked like when I started scrubbing.


That would be a spider stamper he got while trick-or-treating.

Who gives a kid permanent ink stampers?


Friday, December 16, 2011

Still waiting

Still waiting for my hard drive to be fixed. It got to take a trip to California. I've never been to California. It malfunctions and gets a vacation??? So unfair! Still waiting on Christmas. The kids had their last day of school today until the new year. I took grant in to help with grace's Christmas party. They go a bit overboard I think. A chocolate fountain for a first grade party?? Really? Maybe I'm just being ebenezer, or at the very least ebenezer's grumpy wife. Anyway, the party was fun and school is over. No more 5:30 mornings until next year! We decorated the tree at the farm tonight. I forgot the big needles needed to string cranberries so that was a fail. Instead we made salt dough cookies with our Christmas cookie cutters. The kids each made a hand print too. I'm waiting on them to finish baking as I type this. It is peaceful here tonight looking at the tree, listening to Christmas music and the sounds of family surrounding me. What more could a person ask for on a perfect December evening? Tomorrow we are going riding. Did I mention we got some more horses? We got more horses. Six more to be exact. That put our horse population up to eleven. Actually though we traded two of our horses to a guy for two others then bought four others so we really "only" have nine horses. How does a family go from having NOTHING relating to horses to owning nine of them in under six months?? leave it to us to figure out a way to do it. We wanted horses a little more reliable and trustworthy for now. None of us are experienced riders and the two horses we traded were simply too advanced for our limited skills. They will be happier elsewhere and we will be able to do some riding instead of retraining horses too long left unridden by previous owners. Last night john and Emily had a Christmas concert at their middle school. The auditorium was standing room only. We know that because we stood! That's okay though. It made taking pictures easier. The concert was really enjoyable with all the various groups performing quite well. The band, orchestra and choir all took turns entertaining the audience. I'm always amazes at how much their instructors can accomplish with a bunch of rowdy kids in such a short amount of time. Grant is now officially five. We had a little celebration the evening of his actual birthday. I do have pictures. I'll get pictures posted as soon as I have my computer back up and running. I'm not proofing this so there is a high probability that autocorrect has made this totally unreadable. Hopefully not. Take care. More later from the zoo!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Finally, A Post

I still don't have a functioning desktop computer, but found time this evening to sit with a laptop and catch up on the zoo's happenings for the past few days/weeks.  So here it is in a nutshell before something happens and I don't get this finished.....

Highlights at the Zoo

Emily received the Hilltopper Award for her class in October.  I have pictures, but they are on my dead computer.  Not gonna be showing them anytime soon.  Hilltopper Awards are given to a student in each room once a month.  The award is for students showing leadership and qualities of discipline, leadership, helpfulness, etc.  She fits this bill pretty well and was pleased to get the recognition.  She and John both received the award last year.  I'm not sure John will this year seeing as how his homeroom class is an honors class and the teacher draws a name from a hat each month.  She claims all her kids are exceptional and none deserve the recognition more than others.  Sounds like a teacher not wanting to make a decision, but to each his own.  Congratulations Emily.

On a sad note, John did not make All County Band this year.  He has auditioned four years in a row now and this is the first time he has not made it.  He was disappointed to say the least, but I think like me, he was also a bit relieved.  That meant not having to make all of the after school practices and meant he did not have to work on the extra musical pieces for the concert in addition to regular school work and band.  I think he'll give it a shot next year.  He enjoys playing too much to give up that easily I'm guessing.

The kids have finished two grading periods so far this year.  John and Emily are both pulling all A's with the exception of maybe one B I saw on someone's grade card the first grading period.  That's not too shabby in my humble opinion.  Grace doesn't get letter grades yet.  She did receive all S's and O's.  That is about typical for a primary report card at her age.  It drives me crazy because to me it isn't an indicator of how she is really doing.  I think by third grade they switch to letter grades.  Overall, she's happy and well adusted to public school now.  She handles it like a pro.  Her favorite parts of the week are library and music.  She's not overly fond of PE or science.....just like her mom!

The week of Thanksgiving Grace's class put on a little performance in their classroom for the parents to watch.  It was the ABC's of Thanksgiving.  She had a piece to memorize that was several sentences long.  Never one to be shy, she stepped right up and said her lines like she'd done it a hundred times before.  The program was very cute and very brief....perfect. 

Grant has been a busy guy in preschool too.  He had a Halloween party in October and got to dress up as Batman for that.  In November they had a Thanksgiving feast.  All of the four year old classes sit down to a full meal dressed as indians and pilgrims.  The indians outnumbered the pilgrims about ten to one.  Mrs. C said kids don't like to be pilgrims because the costumes aren't as much fun to make and wear as the indian costumes.  Grant informed me they are not 'indians'.  They are 'native americans'.  So much for keeping my son away from political correctness!!  He's already been indoctrinated!!

Last weekend John and Emily arose bright and early.  I took them to a local high school where they participated in a Duke University testing program that allows seventh graders to take the SAT test.  It can have some adacemic and financial benefits and recognition if they do well on it.  They were not thrilled to sit in a room with high schoolers for four hours testing, but I think once it was over they realized it wasn't so bad after all.  I'll be curious what their test results are.

Last Saturday was also the company Christmas party.  It was a good time sharing food and stories with everyone from work.  As always there were pool and dart tournaments for those interested.  A new twist this year was that we let  John and Emily babysit while we were at the party.  This was the first time we left them in charge of dinner and bedtime.  Things seemed to go well and they were very appreciative of the babysitting pay.  We were thrilled because we saved a bundle paying our own kids at 'novice babysitter' rates instead of 'experienced college girl' babysitter rates.  Yipee!

We spent Thanksgiving visiting with family in Carrollton and West Salem.  It was great to sit down and enjoy good company and good food with those we love.  As always, the kids had fun playing with cousins and dogs.  I look forward to seeing everyone again for Christmas.

Tonight we had a little party to celebrate Grants upcoming fifth birthday.  Since his big day is so close to Christmas, it gets tough to find time for a party.  This is the first time we have had a party for him.  He chose to invite two neighbor boys over for the festivities.  We had a dinosaur cake and a few games and treats.  Everyone had  a good time and we suffered no major damage from energetic boys on a sugar buzz and a pre-christmas high.  Whew!

Presents are bought.  Presents are wrapped.  The tree is decorated.  Cookies are baked.  Lights are strung.  We are ready for Christmas!!  Of course there will be no Christmas cards because I can't get to my contacts which are saved on my computer.  Well, okay.  Those addresses that I have memorized might still get a card, but hey, I'm not promising anything at this point.

Next Friday is the last day of school for the kids.  They are getting excited.  The few flurries of snow this week haven't helped calm things down at all either.

Here's hoping you're enjoying the season and not too overwhelmed by the to do lists and activities that come with this time of year.

And now folks, I will end this essay before it stretches into a novel.  I'll hopefully be up and running on a computer in a week or so.

Take care!!

Love you all.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Have You Missed Us?

OK.  We did not fall off the face of the earth.  We did not die.  We did not leave the country.

We are all fine and functioning.  Well, all of us except my computer.  My hp computer has done its annual 'crash and burn' routine.  It is TOTALLY DEAD.  As David calls it, it has the 'blue screen of death'. Sucks.

Anyway, we're working through some technical difficulties.  Last year my husband sort of wanted to blame it on questionable websites I frequent.  You know my penchant for spending all my free hours each day on illicit websites looking at inappropriate subject content.  Another theory was that my super online Christmas shopping frenzy was just more than one little computer could handle. 

This year I think we've narrowed the issues down to possibly my youngest child playing on my computer using the touch screen feature.  I went most of the year with no trouble, but I wouldn't let anyone under the age of twenty touch my computer.  I finally caved to the constant barage of pleas to play on my computer.  A few days spent happily tapping my computer screen with the Cat in the Hat and PRESTO......dead computer.......again.


After giving my computer last rites and saying my goodbyes, I dug out my laptop once more to try and catch up some.  Have I mentioned I stink at using a laptop?  I drive myself crazy with that little bitty mouse pad thing. Anyway, I won't complain.  At least I have something to use.

Hopefully, I can get caught up on blogging the family news in the next couple days.  I have decided this is faster than scrapbooking, but there is still a certain amount of 'mother's guilt' when I fail to get done what I want to. 

Later!  I'm off to pick up the kids from school.  John and Emily have Quick Recall practice after school on Mondays.  I think I'll take the boat.  We've had so much rain that I bet I could just about float there instead of drive!!