Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Memories 2008

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! Warning: this will be very long, it has been a while.  Perhaps I can cure your insomnia today as you read of our Christmas happenings.  I am very well aware that it is, well, New Years, and I am just now getting around to blogging about Christmas.  It has taken me this long to recupperate.  And by recupperate I mean get back in town, unpack, and do laundry. And monitor Nerf gun usage.

We left town for Dallas by way of Austin Sunday, December 21, and stayed gone until the following Sunday afternoon.  A long trip for our little family. Here are some things I don't want to forget about Christmas 2008:

1. Seeing G.G.

We left town Sunday right after church was out and made our way to Austin to pop in to see my grandma real quick before heading to my parents' house in the Dallas area.  And I am so glad we got to see her.  The van was packed to the gills with all necessary Christmas stuffs and us.  I had a ham to bring to G.G., so it traveled inside the Coleman ice chest that I was giving my sister for Christmas (can't go wrong sticking to the bridal registry for Christmas gifts! And you just can't register for ham smell...).

The boys LOVED seeing G.G. and playing with her little dog.  I would love to tell you what the dog's name is, but in my memory he has borne the names Spot, Timothy, and Sam.  But they loved the dog, and the dog tolerated them as well.  A highlight of our quick visit was G.G.'s Christmas light necklace, when, with the quick press of a switch, lit up.  Aidan would have worn the necklace home if anyone would have let him.

2. The Advent calender

My aunt had several of those little cardboard Advent calenders left over from prior Christmases. These are the calenders that have the little "windows" that you open each day from December 1-24, and find a small ornament each day. The boys have LOVED this calender. Everyday they would ask "whose turn to open the window." Aidan especially took great joy in finding the ornament and selecting the perfect spot on the tree for it. For that matter, he took great joy in finding the perfect spot on the tree for many other items, and decided that some of the lights of the tree, in fact, did not need their bulbs. I am sure we will have some sort of Advent calender for future Christmases.

3.  Christmas Eve S'mores

Christmas Eve has become known at my parents' house for Mexican food and S'mores over the last couple of Christmases, and this year was no different.  We enjoyed an embarrassing amount of chips and salsa, and then dined on enchiladas and tamales before lighting the fire.  Dane and Aidan are S'mores mavericks.  Dane only likes the chocolate bar on the graham cracker, and Aidan only eats the marshmallows.

4. The Christmas of Weaponry and Bibles

Christmas morning was a blast.  Santa came in full force, and in true fashion, we made the boys sit on the top step before letting them go downstairs and see their stockings.  And I know some people get really cute "Christmassy" pajamas for their kids to wear Christmas morning, but I have sweaty children who do not cope well in flannel.  They got knit Wall-E jammies.

Between the two of them, the boys got 4 swords, 4 nerf guns, several "daggers", 4 throwing stars, and 2 arm guards for Christmas.  They are ready to take on a whole room of Ninja Turtles all by themselves.  The nerf guns were an especially big hit, as they have not played with these much before.  The big boys (Brandon, my bro, and my BIL) also had a big time with the nerf guns.

To help balance out all of the symbols of violence, the boys also each got their own Bibles with personalized carrying cases, embroidered by my oh-so-talented aunt Joanie.  Thanks Joanie!  They LOVE them!  (Well, Dane loves them.  Aidan spends most of his time trying to get the Bible out of the case.)

5. The train

Pappy decided that Dane and Aidan needed a train this year.  And by "Dane and Aidan", I mean "Pappy and Brandon".  He got this really cool Lionel electric train that whistled and blew smoke and we all set it up in the living room for several days until it had to be moved for a wrestling match.  Brandon even made a paper-mache tunnel for the train to go through, and textured it and painted it to look like rocks with freshly fallen snow.  

I have a picture of the pie, but not of the train or tunnel.  You can tell where my favor lies...

6. Too Much NCIS

The question that loomed large in my mind was "How much NCIS can I watch and still be Christmassy?" Thanks to a multi-day marathon and my parents' DVR, I spent WAY too much time on the couch looking at images of dead marines and that lab girl's pigtails. I was definately on "vacation mode". When we left on Sunday, 22 episodes of NCIS were saved on the DVR, and no, I did not watch quite that many. Just part of me wanted to take the DVR back home and get caught up on the last 3 seasons that I have missed. Time well spent, indeed.

7. Jumping in the Leaves

My parents' driveway has a little area where the yard is several feet lower than the driveway.  When we were kids we would pile a bunch of leaves here and jump off of the driveway onto the pile.  It is here where an unfortunate Christmas Card circa 1994ish was set, 

and here where my own boys discovered the joy of jumping off the driveway into a giant pile of leaves.  

And where Hot Brandon learned just how shallow the pile of leaves really is.

8. Friends and Family

We were in the Dallas area long enough to see and catch up with several of our friends in the area.  Brandon caught up with a couple of his old friends, and we spent an evening with Tommy (of the "How Brandon and I got together" story), Rhonda, and their two kids.  We fed the pregnant lady pizza, and returned to my parents' house for Nerf gun shooting and pie eating.  It was this night when Brandon instituted the Nerf rule "No shooting in the tenders unless you're shooting Tommy."  I'm amazed these people are still friends with us.

 (Sidenote:  "tenders" is the new name Aidan has for, well, tenders.  He got it from the Kung Fu Panda movie.  I figure if he starts talking about his tenders in the middle of Kroger, there's a decent chance my fellow shoppers will just think he's referring to chicken.  And not anatomy that 3 year old boys are fascinated with.  FASCINATED WITH.) 

We also spent lots of time with my sister, Lindy, and Now Uncle Andy, also my brother John, Brandy, and cutie Baby Zane:

 I didn't get pictures of the rest of you.  You're just not as cute as Zane.  Sorry.

9. Pajama Days

Did I mention that we packed a lot for this 8-day trip of ours?  Every suitcase and duffel and laundry basket at our disposal was filled with clothes for the drastically fluctuating weather for us and the boys, gifts, food, shoes, nebulizer machines, and everything else we might possibly need.  And what did Dane and Aidan wear 90% of our time in Dallas?  Their pajamas.  On Christmas Day I made them change into cute sweaters because my grandmother was coming over, but the rest of the time they did not get out of their pj's until mid afternoon, and then it was only to leave the house or take a bath, only to immediately put pajamas on again.  We justified it by telling ourselves that they were on vacation, and we were going to be a bit more laid back about a few of our normal routines.  This is also how we justified the boys drinking 3-4 cups of hot chocolate a day until the mix was gone.  Merry Christmas!  So we brought back to Houston more clean clothes for them than dirty ones.

10. A movie. In a theater.

Christmas night, Brandon, myself, Lindy and Andy went and saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It's this movie that came out with this little-known actor named Brad Pitt. Very talented, that Mr. Pitt. I think he's really going to have himself a career in this movie-makin' business.

This is the first movie in a very long time that Brandon and I have seen together in a theater. I honestly can't remember the last movie we saw. It may have been Titanic. I had high hopes for the movie, and it was pretty good. I think it would have been better had it been shorter and had more of "Hot Brad Pitt" and less "Old Man Brad Pitt", but that's just my humble opinion. None of the reviews I read mentioned wanting more "Hot Brad Pitt". An impromptu fire alarm helped to break the length of the movie up a bit, and we were able to get a few minutes of fresh air when the fire alarm went off about halfway through the movie.

11. A LOT of food

My momma can cook.  Real good.  Christmas Day dinner was a turkey, a turkey breast, mashed potatoes, green beans, dressing, yummy rolls, and various gravies.  Dessert included key lime pie, one of my personal favorites, and an extra chocolate pie that we did not even break into until the 26th.  Perfection.
Though she can cook, perhaps she should leave the food coloring in more capable hands.  Our delicious key lime pie appeared a bit radioactive:

Please enjoy this picture of the pie and simply imagine in your head the really cool looking train set and homemade, handpainted tunnel.

Hope you and yours had a memorable Christmas and are having a safe New Years!  See you in 2009!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Coming Soon to a Mailbox Near You...

Christmas Card Picture 2008:
There's a photographer who comes to Dane and Aidan's school every semester and takes freakishly good pictures of my children.  These children who I cannot get to even stand next to each other most of the time when I am attempting my own pictures.  Much less, um, posed and smiling.  

True to form lately, I remembered about picture day the night before, and was distraught over what my homeless children were going to wear.  They had nothing "Christmassy" at all, and only a handful of long sleeved shirts to choose from.  So I dropped them off the next morning, high-tailed it over to Kohl's, and returned with non-Christmassy-yet-does-not-overtly-clash-with-background sweaters.  Works for me!
The neatly folded hands in the lap reminds me of my own preschool pictures where I am smiling at the camera while ferociously clutching a little white Bible as if my life depended on it.
Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Dane!

I have a five year old.

It just happened Monday, and I'm not quite sure what I think about it yet.  Basically, I can't stop thinking that kindergarten is just right around the corner and these days are numbered.  These days where we sleep until the kids wake us up and we have a leisurely breakfast in our pajamas, then they watch TV until we leave to go on an adventure together or I have to break up a wrestling match in the living room.  These days of lunches together, coloring with markers, and playing Memory while Aidan naps.  He knows how to get his own cereal and milk, and doesn't need a sippy cup any more and just got his first shoes with laces so he can learn how to tie them himself.  Next year he'll be going to college.  Every night we pray with him and he prays for us and thanks God for my aunt and uncle and for their hospitality, and prays that the baby sister in his mommy's tummy will grow healthy and strong.  Soon he won't want us in his room.  He'll want his own cell phone so he can text during school.

These dadgum pregnancy hormones are killing me, people.  

Moving on to the "3 Days of Dane's Birthday".  (Remind me to tell you sometime about my sister's month long birthday celebrations.  Think weddings back in Biblical times when the party just. never. stopped.)

Sunday ("Day 1 of Dane's Birthday"):  We had our 3rd Annual Joint Birthday Party with Wilson.  We have this down to a science.  Both boys are best friends about 3/4 of the time, and both have December birthdays.  So a few years ago we started having the parties at home (Wilson's home this year for obvious reasons).  Since we were at home, we could invite as many people as we wanted without having to pay for extra people, like we would have to if we were at Chuck E. Cheese or somewhere.  We rented a moonwalk, have a few snacks, each boy gets their own cake, and we split the party expenses.  Genius.  

This is what happens when you put 15 little boys in a moonwalk.  Teams form, and ground rules are established.  Then battle begins.  (Dane is to your far left.)
A quick side story for this picture:  Brandon's high school youth party was last Friday night, and during the gift exchange, I ended up with some SWEET fake arm sleeve tattoos that he promptly stole from me.  Now Dane wants a tattoo for his 6th birthday.
Dane has been alive for 5 years and we are just now figuring out that he does not like cake.  So he got a cookie cake this year, and it was a big hit.  And his hair is not styled like this, he's just really sweaty in this picture.

Monday ("Day 2 of Dane's Birthday" or "Dane's Real Live Birthday"):  With the big party behind us, Dane, Aidan and I set off for the morning to Pump It Up to take advantage of a 2-for-1 coupon.  

Because nothing says "Happy Birthday" like a 2-for-1 coupon.

If you are not familiar, Pump It Up is a massive indoor play area filled with inflatable moonwalks, giant slides, and obstacle courses.  It's a great place for the kids to run off some energy for an hour or so.  And we never go, so this was a special treat for the boys.  After that, we headed to CiCi's to take advantage of another coupon ("Free Kid's Buffet").  Are you seeing a pattern here?  Dane loves CiCi's, and a couple of quarters for the otherwise neglected video games made it a special birthday treat.  

We left CiCi's just in time to catch Santa at the mall before he headed off on his lunch break.  I mean, before he left to go check on his sleigh and feed his reindeer.  And, well, Santa's running quite the racket.  They lady in front of us in line bought a $45 photo package of her precious daughter with Santa.  

$45???  Are you kidding me?  I brought my Rebel, and took a couple of pictures for nothing.

Dane was actually a little shy with Santa.  He didn't tell him anything, he just kind of looked at him awkwardly.
Aidan, however, had some ground to cover with Santa.  He made his wishes clear (a "monster truck with flames"), and even made a case for his good behavior.

Day 2 wrapped up with Brandon getting off of work early, and lots of playing with birthday party-acquired toys.

Tuesday ("Day 3 of the Birthday that Never Ends") included a pizza party at school.  Dane's class is only about 8 kids, so they were treated to cheese pizza, juice boxes, and Nerds candy.  The menu was selected by Dane himself.  And when Little Ceasar's advertises their pizza as being "Hot and Ready, no wait", they are lying.  Big fat liars.  Nonetheless, lunch was served, and a good time was had by all.

Quick Dane story:  A few weeks ago, Dane informed us that he had a girlfriend at school:  Marisa.  He explained to us that as his girlfriend, Marisa held hands with him and played with him on the playground.  Brandon promptly informed Dane that he was not allowed to have a girlfriend until college, and he would have to tell Marisa that they could just be friends.  

Day after day, Dane conveniently "forgot" to tell Marisa that it was over.  Until last week.  We picked the boys up, and Dane informed us that he told Marisa that he was not allowed to have a girlfriend, and they could just be friends.  

"That's great, Dane", Brandon told him.

"But I still love her, Dad." proclaimed the BMOC.

Happy Birthday, Dane-O!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sham-WOW Flashbacks

(Note:  Today is Dane's 5th birthday.  However since the birthday festivities are running for at least 3 days, I will post about his birthday later this week.  For now, please enjoy this little snippet from our lives last week.)

So I'm at the mall today.  And I see a lady standing outside her kiosk playing with what appeared to be a fluffy pipe cleaner, and she is drawing quite the crowd.  I gracefully step around the crowd, and continue my shopping, because, HELLO PEOPLE, IT IS A PIPE CLEANER.  Clearly not worth my precious mall-time this close to Christmas.

So I get home today, and what does Brandon excitedly pull off his nightstand and proceed to demonstrate for me?  That's right.  Mr. Fuzzy.

Mr. Fuzzy is a fluorescent fluffy pipe cleaner attached to a piece of fishing line.  On the other side of the fishing line is a piece of cardboard, which, according to the included instructions, is to be placed in the FRONT OF YOUR PANTS.  Because I like to keep things family friendly around here, that is all I will say about Mr. Fuzzy in the front of your pants.  Hehe.  With the cardboard end in your pants, you then manipulate the fishing line (or "magician's string" according to Brandon) with one hand while you hold Mr. Fuzzy with the other hand and "WOW" your audience with all of the tricks Mr. Fuzzy can do as you jerk on the magician's string.

All for the bargain price of $11.99.

Clearly the current economic slump is not affecting this family one teeny little bit. 

I had to work yesterday, so Brandon and the boys went to the mall in search of Santa (who apparently takes a 2 HOUR lunch break!), and brought home a Mr. Fuzzy instead.

Brandon relentlessly defended the purchase of "our new pet."  This was the conversation had between the two of us when I questioned the ridiculousness:

Brandon:  Didn't you stop and watch what the lady was doing with Mr. Fuzzy at the mall?
Me:  No!  She was playing with a hot pink pipe cleaner!  Why did you and the boys stop and watch?
Brandon:  Because we thought it was ALIVE.

Frankly, I think it was a bargain.  It's not everyday you get a real, living, breathing yellow pipe cleaner to call your very own.

I'm just disappointed that he didn't hold out for the "2 for the price of 1" deal.  Because I know of a couple of Sham-WOWs that would have made lovely pet beds for Mr. and Mrs. Fuzzy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Program

Dane and Aidan had a Christmas program at school the last weekend.  I have video, and if I ever figure out how to post a snippet, I will.  

The kids' teachers have been telling us about the program for a couple of months now.  Dane landed the coveted role of "Manger Mouse" and we were adequately warned that a costume would need to be provided.  Nothing strikes fear into the heart of this Uncreative Mama than the knowledge that a costume would need to be provided.  Fortunately for us, he was a Manger Mouse, not the Christ child himself.  Because a Manger Mouse can get away with a grey sweatsuit and some ears fashioned by his Grammy.  I still had to manage eyeliner-whiskers on the cheeks, and I spent several days trying to figure out how to make a tail from un-needed (but NOT stolen from my workplace) oxygen tubing.  A can of grey spraypaint later, and the mouse had a tail.

Though I knew what Dane was supposed to wear, I had no idea what the teacher wanted Aidan to wear.  I found out 1 day before the program that his class was to dress in their "Christmas clothes or Sunday best."  How convenient.  Especially since all my child has with him, not in storage, is several pairs of blue jeans, a Ninja Turtle costume, and a tuxedo from Lindy's wedding.  

So guess what he wore?
And I think the tux goes great with the paper crown.  Clearly, he is dressed for the occasion.

At least he got to wear the $50 tux more than once.

Aidan's class has been working on memorizing a portion of Luke 2:11 for the past couple of months now for the program.  "A Savior has been born to us.  He is Christ the Lord."  Aidan knows it well, but nonetheless, did not get to say it into the microphone as promised.  Bummer.  He did, however, pelt the poor fake-baby-in-the-manger with lots of wrapped presents.  Perhaps we need to review the details of the Christmas story a bit more.

Here is the Manger Mouse in action:
His class memorized three verses of "Away in a Manger" complete with hand motions for the program, and the 18 month old class joined behind them, all cradling baby Jesuses.  

Clearly scripturally accurate.  

(Editor's note:  The thought of figuring out how to post a video snippet from a DVD I recorded at the program is making me break out in hives.  Sorry, grandparents, no video.  And to the rest of you, you're welcome.)

(And today marks the beginning of the "8 Parties in 8 Days" portion of our Christmas holiday.  Yikes!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some Pictures I Don't Think I have Posted

I ran across a few pictures in the ole' "2008" file that I didn't think I had posted yet.  This one is Dane, Aidan, and cousin Zane back when baby Zane was a little baby, clearly not the man he is now.  They turned out surprisingly well for my children.
Here are a few more pictures from my sister's wedding last month.  And, proof that there was indeed a bride and a groom at the wedding in addition to my children.
I hope she gains 40 pounds when she gets pregnant and never loses it.
I mean, I love you, Sister.

I love the streamers.  So pretty, and Andy and Lindy were completely tangled up in them by the time they got to their super-cool Porsche. 

Grammy and GranDoug made it to the wedding to help child-wrangle.  Do you think Dane knows where the camera is at all times?
And, of course, Aidan with his signature pose:

Monday, December 8, 2008

His Mother's Child

This is the conversation I had with Dane on the way home from church yesterday:

Me:  Dane, what did you learn in church today?
Dane:  I learned about when Jesus was born.
Me:  Tell me about when Jesus was born.
Dane:  Gabe-er-eee-al (Gabiel, to the rest of us) came to Mary and told her that she was going to have a new baby!  And to name him Jesus.  Then Mary went to the stable in Bethlehem and did what God told her to do.  And when Jesus was 13 he got lost and his parents were very worried about him.  And then Jesus grew up and he got the 12 disciples.  Disciples are people you teach things to.  And, actually, what are we having for lunch?

Apparently, much more than the "Jesus was born" story was covered in Dane's class yesterday.

And the fact that he went straight from Jesus to lunch plans proves once and for all that he is indeed my boy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gingerbread Men

The boys had a great time decorating, and Aidan had a great time eating half the candy as he was putting it on.  Then after all the house-making, they decided to eat the finished product.  Not a great idea.  You wouldn't think it, but gingerbread house kits that were prepared in a factory out-of-state months ago and shipped to your local grocery store just in time for the holidays and decorated with pre-made icing and stale candies, well, just ain't that tasty.

Gingerbread house decorating also gives me great opportunities to take pictures without a flash.  And I just love taking pictures without a flash.  That's why they're a bit blurry, though.  Since I have no idea how to actually work my camera, my low light pics are always a bit blurry.  (Please don't tell my professional-photographer father and brother that I have no idea how to work my camera.  They would be so embarrassed.  And might take my camera away from me.)

Behold, the finished product (before the eating part happened.  I did the windows on the front):

Have a very Merry December!