Monday, December 31, 2012

From Smores to Snores

We aren't big New Years revelers...... but we have our own version of fun.
Big Al's plans for the evening changed and she ended up at home, but we had plans......

We roasted marshmallows in the fireplace and made s'mores. Then Cheesie, and Blondie worked on their Lego village for a bit until Big Al found the Rockin' New Years's Eve on television.

The kids ended up in a pile with the dogs on the floor and on the couch.... flipping between New York and the Chick-fil-a bowl.  So excited for Clemson - what an exciting game (although we are looking forward to the Outback bowl tomorrow- Go GAMECOCKS). With fireworks starting to boom, we'll see who makes it to midnight.

UPDATED:  T-Rex announced that she could play Auld Land Syne on her violin, so I made her run up and get it. Enjoy.

Then Big Al took the violin and pretended to play. Chopper wasn't sure what she was doing.
 Happy New Year to everyone. I hope 2013 is full of wonderful memories for your family.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Impromptu gathering

Big Al, T-Rex, fifth daughter "I,"  and friend "C" were going to the mall to meet up with T-Rex's friend and go see the Hobbit. We were all set even though Big Al, and "I" were less than thrilled.
As soon as we pull into the mall the power goes out (really bad winds knocked a tree into a transformer) and everyone had to leave the theater. So.......... we came back to a dark house, and found various forms of entertainment. Thankfully the lights came back on fairly quickly.
Blondie is adding to Lego central on our dining table.  They are slowly working through their sets they got for Christmas, and Blondie bought another one today. A year ago she wouldn't have been able to follow the directions to build a model, but this school year she really took off with it.  The spatial part of her thinking is something we constantly work with, and her math teacher really pushes it in her class (HAHA).

"I" and Cheesie started up the Xbox (LOVE this thing) and Just Danced for hours. "C" and Big Al (and I) joined in too.  It's very loud in the living room right now.

This is "C."  I don't know why he is trying on my daughter's sweatshirt, but..... whatever.
I promised I wouldn't post videos of him dancing, so I won't.
T-Rex and her friend "A" sought refuge in the library to work on a puzzle and watch Dr. Who on netflix.  I guess the noise was too much for them. (Brian disappeared to the safety of our room too).

I love the noise and the chaos..... so if you're out and about and need something to do, swing by. There are lots of things going on here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas morning

Big Al maintained her awful tradition of waking up early. Long ago we had to institute the "6 a.m. rule" where she couldn't get out of bed until 6 because she would bug us all night to get up and open presents.  It's our fault..... we like big Christmases. We don't do tons of shopping during the school year except for needed items, so I don't remotely apologize for it. 
T-Rex was very excited to get her new bow and arrows. Brian found a Zombie survival guide for her as well.

Blondie and Cheesie were excited to open absolutely everything.

Then T-Rex found her Zombie targets.

The Christmas Lego sets were discovered.

"Uh mom, this is a book."

Big Al shows off her gifts. These included a car radio (since the car she'll have access to doesn't have a USB port, she says it needs to be replaced), new cushion for her papasan chair, misc. sweatshirts, and t-shirts, ornaments, photos from the past year, scarves, and gift cards.

T-Rex with her new bow and arrows, books, movies, Hobbit Legos, knitting basket, sweatshirts, jewelry, art supplies, photos and Zombie equipment.

Blondie with her American Girl boxes, Legos, jewelry, new loom set for bracelets, photos, and fencing gear.

Cheesie received the American Girl gymnastics set, Legos, construction sets, playmobil gymnastics, photos and movies

Later today we'll try out the Xbox Kinect and compare it to the Wii. I'm hoping that it will force Blondie to move that left side more than the Wii does - don't tell her this though because presents shouldn't have ulterior motives. Later today we'll meet up with family for Christmas dinner here at our house, and then dessert and family presents at my sister's house.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Nativity Play

Tonight the family went to Christmas Eve services. The girls were all part of the Nativity play put on during the service. We have a new priest who has managed to maintain the family atmosphere, and inclusion of children very well. 

T-Rex, Blondie and Cheesie were all Angels.

Big Al was one of the three "wise women."

Everything went very smoothly (and we got the required chuckle from the littlest angel who stomped her foot repeatedly at a shepherd- probably her brother- because he wouldn't turn around and pay attention to her).

Afterwards we came home, ate our big ham dinner, and watched The Polar Express while eating milkshakes.  
We are excited for tomorrow, and looking forward to spending it with family and friends. 

Traditional light viewing

Every year our family heads out to Saluda Shoals to see the Christmas lights by the River. This year we went on December 23rd. Note to self...... go earlier in December.

I think most of our city had the same thought we had, because it took us 2 hours to drive the 2 miles or so to the entrance.  SOMEBODY driving the car was NOT a jolly old elf by the time we got to the gate. I just sat in the car and enjoyed singing Christmas carols and knitting.

The girls enjoyed the lights. I was especially touched by the tribute to the various Military branches.  We received word early on Christmas Eve that our cousin James Hager is back from his deployment in Kuwait and arrived home around midnight. I know my Aunt and Uncle are thrilled, as are we all, to have him home safely and makes Christmas even more wonderful.  My personal prayers go out for all soldiers separated from their families (I was away from Brian our first Christmas together as he served in the Navy). It is a difficult time to be apart. 

Santa..... I KNOW him

 We have a family tradition where we take photos with Santa every year and display them on the stairs. If you live at home, you're GOING to be in the picture.  This year we went out with my sister and her two kids (they are 18 years apart..... yes, really).

Let's just say when Santa saw the tribe coming he didn't look too pleased. Thankfully he loosened up when my nephew Super S didn't cry at all.

However, SOMEONE who is old enough to be in college in Scotland, can't take a picture without photobombing it..... every time.
This is really the best that Cate could manage.
Super S and Santa.

We ended with my kids getting their yearly picture, and I'm fairly sure Santa was glad to see us walk out the door.

Charlotte with Friends

Big Al turned 16 this year. She didn't want to do the normal "party" type thing. She brought a couple friends along for a trip to Charlotte for shopping and dinner.
Big Al and "M" tried on clothes all over the mall. Then we had to go back to certain stores and make our purchases. We were totally pooped by the time we headed for the car. Poor "C" (a guy) followed them all over the mall, never complaining....... except at the very end when I was grumpy too. 

Then we went to Cheesecake Factory (I'm in so much trouble when one opens up in our local mall). We chatted,

and laughed,

and got coke on our face from....

flicking straws and making them pop.

FINALLY, they brought out the cheesecake. We had a selection to share at our table (although 2 had to be Snickers, because I was NOT willing to share mine).

They brought out Big Al's cake and sang to her.

"M" trying her first cheesecake. She decided to stick with the strawberry shortcake she ordered.

We cleaned up, and headed home with a lot of take home boxes.  A fun day with super friends.

Craziest Day Ever

It is very rare, even with four kids. That I feel overscheduled. I'm a "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" kind of person, and tend to just focus on the moment I'm in, not the moments that are coming up.

Saturday, December 8th I can honestly say..... I don't know how I did it.

Let me start by explaining that usually Brian is fully involved with the dropping off and picking up of the girls, but his work is getting really busy, and he had to work that Saturday. Yay..........

T-Rex had spent the night at a friend's house and needed to be picked up and dropped off at a fencing tournament she wanted to participate in around 9.  This was a little tight though because Big Al had to take her driver's test at 9:45 and wanted to switch cars with her Dad in case she had to take it in our car and not the driver's ed car.  So we picked up T-Rex, ran her up to the tournament and she realized she needed her socks. Of course she did. So we ran to a soccer store nearby and grabbed a pair that could pass and drove back to drop them off.  BUT..... I walked into the tournament and realized T-Rex was in over her head. It was an open tournament for ages 13 and older. I expected a lot of teens from all different ages, but what I saw was adults. A LOT OF ADULTS gearing up. I found T-Rex getting her equipment checked and the fear on her face was evident. I .could. do. nothing. for. her.  except maybe smile and tell her to enjoy herself. I left her standing there to meet my next obligation (felt like a parental failure).

Drove to Brian's work, switched cars, took Big Al to get her license, and waited. Found out that I was paying the driver's ed place to give her the test, which could have been done much cheaper at the DMV, AND found out that it was possible for her to go to the DMV to get the actual license and be pulled to retake the test. So I waited, and then made a BIG mistake. I was bored inside, so I went to sit in the car and wait. RIGHT NEXT TO WHERE THEY PARALLEL PARK.  A lot of pressure was on Big Al with me sitting there, but she thankfully passed. 

We drove back to the tournment in time to watch T-Rex in a couple of her matches. When she had a minute she mentioned that in her grouping she was competing against two coaches (see the picture above). Oops.  She managed a few points off of one lady, but pretty much lost magnificently.  The coaches did come over and tell me that they were proud of her for not giving up, or...... crying.
We did finally meet a friend of my sister's who also fences. She offered to hang out with T-Rex and give her some pointers. So I ran T-Rex home, fed her, and took her back to the tournament. Then I headed to go get Blondie and Cheesie from a girl scout sleepover. They had a blast, but both had to be in different places at 3:00. Thankfully Brian was finally home around 1 and we could divide and conquer.
Blondie had to go with me to a local pool and practice with her snorkel and fins for our fifth grade Mantee trip coming up in January. Mr. Cary (above) goes with us every year, and I adore him. He has a great banter with the students (even though he teaches them that pelicans are pole birds because they sit on poles on the dock). I'm not too worried about Blondie doing this trip because she can swim, and the wetsuits will keep us floating without much effort. I needed her to try the fins to see how it would work with her left side. Everything was fine.
 While I was with Blondie, Brian took Cheesie to her concert at the local outdoor mall.  I had attended her concert the previous Thursday (Brian took T-Rex to her violin concert) so I didn't feel too bad about missing this event. Our music teacher puts on a very enjoyable show, and this was Cheesie's first time really performing. She was so excited.
By the end of the day, I was one tired puppy. The tough thing though, was that I knew the next day was going to be just as busy......