Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Let December Begin!

Getting back into the swing of things when we got back from our Arizona Thanksgiving was a bit tough, especially with Christmas on its way but taking forever to come (according to Edith), but we managed. There's always a lot going on during the first few weeks of December leading up to Christmas break, too, which helps (if you're not 3). Let's take a look at how we spent the first part of December leading up to Christmas (you know, the part that drags…).

Trying to make our everyday errands a little more fun helps take some of the drudgery out of it all. Edith and I don't seem to have much problem being silly together. 

Seriously so unimpressed that I was taking her photo while she was chewing. Ha!

Oh, well. She got over it.

What a cute goof. I love her.

We were all super excited to put up the Christmas decorations (which I love), but which made the wait harder for Edith. Sorry, kid, it's all about the anticipation and tradition, not about the actual day. We're helping build your character!

Pen's Holiday dance concert was that first weekend we were back. I think she was still recovering from the excesses of Thanksgiving (both staying up late and eating a ton), but she did great. It's always a pleasure to see her dance. She's the back on the left...

We brought home a big box of hand-me-downs from from Arizona. Edith is always so excited to see what her cousin has given her and wants to wear it all right away. That's why she ended up going to the library looking like this:

I tried to get her to change, telling her that she'd be cold, but she insisted she'd be fine. And, of course, the library ended up being overly warm inside, so I was gifted an I-told-you-so look and she was perfectly dressed while the rest of us roasted in what we were wearing. Ha! She looked so adorable, though, and when a cute college boy walked by her and gave her a smile and a wink I think it made her day. You should have seen her blush. 

The next day, Rophone came home from work with some gorgeous flowers for me. It's so nice to be loved.

The weather was unusually warm throughout the first part of December. So weird. It didn't feel right to have it be so warm, but it allowed us to head out on another tricycle ride. You can tell that Edith is a little less enthusiastic about it than she used to be (she's ready to move on to a balance bike, for sure). It wasn't really shorts weather, but if there isn't snow on the ground Big will tell you he's hot in anything else so, whatever. 

I was happy that Bud and I were able to spend some quality time, just the two of us, when he finished up at the orthodontist more quickly than Ginger. We don't get to be alone together very often, so it was great. Such a good kid, my Bud. I sure do love him.

On the 12th, we were able to attend Bud's very first choir concert and it was great. Choir isn't Bud's favorite thing, but we're happy he gave it a go. He never would have known it's not his thing if he hadn't tried it. Now we know he'd just rather be in a band. The choir was so good, though. The director does a fantastic job and the concert is always the perfect not-too-short, not-too-long length. No prolonged misery here (hooray!).

The next night we had dinner and a white elephant exchange with some friends. It was so much fun and we scored this awesome wig:

I really can't decide who wore it better. :)

The next week it was back to making the everyday stuff a little more exciting for a few days before the pre-break Christmas parties and performances. 

The Thursday of the last week of school, Edith and I got to go to BOTH Christmas programs again because we're lucky enough to have a kid in both the upper and lower grades. It's fun, but I loved it last year when we only had to go to one. 

I helped out at Bud's class party (brought pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and read books) the morning that school let out for break, and then they were freeeeee! All of us were free for two whole weeks. Yessss!

Friday, December 12, 2014

It's on the List

Time for one of my favorite posts of the year again! When we got back from our Thanksgiving trip we had the kids sit to make their Christmas lists. Some items on their lists were totally expected, some not so much. 

Okay, Edith's list was totally predictable: Wonder Woman, My Little Ponies, and Frozen, you say?? Hard to believe, right? Ha!

It's apparent that Big got online before making his list. No Bruder this year, but lots of other specific items. His interests are definitely changing and expanding. He still likes construction, but more to watch it rather than play. Playing with their Hot Wheels on tracks is the new passion for all three youngest. I say, hey, whatever keeps them occupied. :)

Bud's list is great. He's on the verge of straddling that kid/tween line and you can tell. I love how he left #6 vague so as to cover any and all existing cool stuff. And I like how with #9 you can tell he was aware that a $50 iTunes gift card is most likely a pipe dream. I'm proud of him for shooting for the stars, but it's a good thing he's willing to settle for any amount. Ha! Music is this kid's life-- he knows all the new releases that are coming out every week and can spout off facts like you wouldn't believe. I hope he can use his passion someday.

Ginger's list is getting older in theme, but still has something cooking related on it, of course. She still loves to cook-- right now she has her sights set on owning a sandwich shop someday. On a side note: I'm still kind of struggling with the fact that high-waisted light wash skinny jeans are back in...

I love Pen's list this year-- such a one-eighty from what she's been doing (which is no list at all). Pen is always a pretty tough one to buy for, so having everything spelled out so clearly for Santa (and us!) makes things a lot easier. And I love her note at the end-- she really tries hard to be mindful. It's great.

As always, I love how their lists are such an illustration of where the kids are at in their interests and ages. You can tell that the 4 younger kids did a bunch of scooter riding while we were in Arizona for Thanksgiving. It doesn't seem to make much sense to acquire scooters in the middle of winter here, but I guess we'll see what Santa does. Thank heavens there are do-overs when birthdays come around. 

I can't wait to see what everyone gets! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Still Sporty At Forty Thanksgiving

We arrived to our Thanksgiving destination just in time for dinner at the place my sister, Martha, was renting for the week. It was so good to see everyone, and when the older kids took the younger kids to the park after we ate, we got a good taste of what the week was going to be like. A lot of adult time while the kids kept each other occupied. Heaven on earth I tell you.

My younger sister, Art, just moved into her new home a few days before we arrived-- she was so generous to let us stay with her. I'm impressed with how much she got unpacked before we got there! It was a great place to stay and we felt so welcomed. 

The new house that Rib and Jazz Hands moved into at the beginning of November was amazing, too. And the greenspaces both next to and across the street from the house were a perfect place for the kids to play. A perfect gathering place for our big group of 26. 

They were so nice to have us all down for Rib's 40th birthday and Thanksgiving, but I'm pretty sure they're happy to be getting more settled into their houses now that we're gone! 

Rib's birthday was on Tuesday, so we went to his house to hang out and celebrate as a family. Just a few minutes after we arrived, I threw on a mullet wig and challenged Edith to a tricycle race. Doesn't everyone do that?

Dinner was nice and relaxing and the taco bar was delicious! Happy Birthday, Rib!

After dinner, we got to work making Rib's 40th birthday wish a reality-- a family band to play at his birthday party the next night. Everyone gets together with their family and puts together a 12 song set list with 1 1/2 practices, right? So, so much fun to do. I wish we'd done it years ago. 

We spent the day on Wednesday getting food and stuff ready for Rib's big 'Still Sporty at 40' birthday bash. Art and I hosted the big family dinner at her house and then we got all of the kids settled in with snacks and treats and a movie before we headed back to Rib's for the party and big gig. It was really a lot of fun. Not without glitches, of course, but a total blast. I'm so glad that my brother requested we do it. An evening without children, playing music with my siblings? I'll take it. 

Thursday was Thanksgiving, of course. I made a batch of gluten free stuffing that morning and tossed it in the crockpot, then we headed over to Rib's after lunch and spent the day relaxing. After taking some family photos first, that is.

When I saw that Rophone and Plumbean were both dressed in green shirts, I insisted that we take a couples shot. :) Aren't they handsome fellas?

Before we lost momentum, I gathered my family in the backyard and had Art take a quick photo. I don't know why, but I love this candid shot of my girls. Maybe because it captures their personalities-- Ginger singing, Pen dancing, and Edith worrying that maybe I'm asking them to stand too close to the pool. 

I decided to take advantage of the good light to shoot a few photos. I sure didn't have my camera out as much this trip-- probably because I was enjoying participating and relaxing. Definitely not a bad thing. 

These three boys are so cute:

I love the relationship Ginger has with her cousin, The Genealogist. 

Their interaction when she discovered he was standing on his tippy toes to seem taller really shows the affection they have for one another. I hope they'll be friends forever.

First, a covert stepping on the toes…

Then something a little more obvious and proactive…

Tippy toes and bunny ears!

I wanted to take a picture of Pen and Edith together, but one of them was more willing than the other. Still, I managed to get my shot. 

Then Mathman appeared so we had to add him to the mix. No tippy toes necessary, he's just getting tall!!

Three lovely ladies: 

I even went in search of the kids when they were out playing, putting my adult time aside for a moment. Huge risk, just in case it altered the course of things and I'd end up being required to parent! :)

Taking a breather:

I managed to capture this cute moment between cousins as I turned to go back to the house. 

The kids spent their time together playing a lot of soccer and board games, riding scooters and bikes and, after darkness fell, they played Mission. That was Edith's favorite. The bigger kids were so nice to include her, and it made her day to be playing with them, in the dark, with no parents present. I was so happy to see the kids having such a good time together, and that they're getting old enough that the adults can have more fun together, too. We're entering a new era! 

With all of us pitching in, Thanksgiving dinner rivaled the best I think I've ever had. So many good dishes. Definitely a food coma in the making.

Rophone was his normal wonderful self, helping Edith to stay focused and eat a good dinner so that I could hang and talk with my siblings. I took a few pictures during the meal, too.

It cracked us up to hear the kids at this table talking politics. For real.

I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of the adults! Bummer.

Rophone hung out with the men and all the kids at Rib's house on Friday so that Martha, Jazz Hands, and I could dive in at Art's house to help her unpack and organize a little more (Opera and Jules had left, or I'm sure they would have joined us!). I was so happy to help Art get to a more functional and relaxing point with her house-- it was the least I could do after she let our not-so-little family of 7 invade her space. She even let me build a couple of chairs! I love to use my hands, so it made my day. 

On Friday night, Rophone and I managed to go out with our good friends Hoolio and Miner. Such great company. I wish we could manage to see them more often-- we'll have to see what we can do about that. 

This vacation was such a blast. A mix of time having fun adventuring with just our family, great times with extended family, and a fantastic visit with friends. Can't get much better than that.