Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Week 51

Christmas here we come! Last day of school was on Friday. Kaitlyn got a half-day and Tyler's preschool had their party - pretty much just cupcakes and other yummy food and a gift exchange. Can you tell how Tyler eats his cupcakes? Yup - icing first!

12 Days of Christmas continues. The kids are having tons of fun with it.Tyler really really wanted to sleep by the Christmas tree. He brought the toy table downstairs all by himself and covered it with blankets to make his own tent. We still weren't convinced he should sleep in the living room, but he was one step ahead of us and fell asleep on the floor a whole 30 minutes before bedtime! So yeah, we let him stay there all night.

Kaitlyn's Christmas Dance Recital was on Sunday. She did great! And doesn't she look so grown up?

At least until you see her next to the other girls in her class, most of whom tower over her. Granted, most of the girls in her class are a year older, but Kaitlyn would still be tiny in a class all her age.

And of course we HAD to find a place to take the kids to see the lights. Meadow Lights is about an hour's drive from our house and a pretty good set up. They take you around the field in a train to tour the lights. Very popular place though - tons and tons of traffic and long long lines. The day we went it was 70 degree weather. At 9:00 PM - such a novelty! Despite the lack of cold, the night wouldn't have been complete without stopping for hot cocoa (Kaitlyn insists on calling it cocoa instead of hot chocolate) on the way home - so we did!

Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 Week 50

This is our final week before the start of Christmas break and there has been a lot packed into it!
Saturday was the town's Christmas celebration. The kids got to see Santa (silly me didn't even take the camera since last year they had a professional there. This year is was just someone with a point and shoot and though they did print out photos for us for free, they aren't very good), which they have been really looking forward to. Kaitlyn had rehearsed Tyler so that he would say exactly what he (or she lol) wanted. It was pretty funny to watch him rattle it off. Ty requested a DSi with a Monster Truck game. Kaitlyn wants a bike.
That night was also the town parade. It was kind of chilly but not too bad. Kind of a fun idea to have a parade at night, though I think a lot of the floats could have piled on a LOT more lights :) We ended up next to one of the girls from Kaitlyn's class so the two of them had a great time together. Tyler was really excited at first but the long day and the cold got to him and halfway through the parade he retreated to the chairs and the blanket.
In between the two events we squeezed in a party with the neighbors - fun!

The kids were excited to start opening the 12 Days of Christmas gifts that Grandma Jackson sends every year. Tyler has taken to waking up incredibly early, then waking up his sister - no matter how often I tell him not to! So we have a really big chunk of time in the mornings before school.

I played photographer a lot this week. My friend asked me to take maternity photos for her so one day I did a session with her and her husband and another day we did a solo session for her.

Also of note this week, though not in the happy category - On Monday night shortly before we were due to leave for dance class, Tyler decided to throw a pencil at his sister. Not something he should be doing and I don't know the story around it. What I do know is that all of a sudden Kaitlyn is wailing and when she gets downstairs she has blood pouring out of her forehead. It turned out to be a LOT of blood for what was actually a very small cut. But we're talking scary amount of blood here. Enough to make me get dizzy and almost pass out in the middle of dealing with it. But deal with it we did and she is fine. Of course she couldn't face making heading out to dance class after that - not that we would have made it out the door on time. We (Tyler and I mostly) spent the next hour or so cleaning up the blood trail that led from the playroom, down the stairs (hitting each and every stair more than once), into the living room, then of course into the powder room where we dealt with most of the problem. Kaitlyn was worried she would get a lot of questions about her cut at school the next day, but it was so small no one even noticed it.

It's funny how things ripple though. Because we missed dance class we didn't get the final details on the dress rehearsal for the recital, nor did we get her costume. So it took me some extra time to track down the info and she had to do the rehearsal in not quite her full costume (we got the shirt while we were there and tossed it on over her clothes so at least she kind of looked in costume). I also didn't get to do my set of errands that I had planned to do while she was in class which meant I had to spend the next morning getting the yarn for some hat orders and running around getting other things while I was out instead of finishing up the orders and working on other Christmas prep as planned. I also forgot to pick up the candy for Kaitlyn's class party so we had to leave extra early for school on Thurs to grab that on the way. On the plus side, the grocery store was giving away flowers that day. But despite the setbacks, we are now almost completely ready for Christmas - yay!

Friday, December 9, 2011

2011 Week 49

It's birthday time for Tyler! Hard to believe our little guy is 5! A lot of my time leading up to this week has been spent on prep for Tyler's Jake and the Neverland Pirates birthday party. The party itself was on Saturday. And thankfully, a lot of his friends showed up (am I going to be continually haunted and nervous before every party now, due to the low response from Kaitlyns??)

The kids had a blast and the party went great. (details of the party iself are on the craft blog)

There is the birthday boy himself, looking oh so big in his new sweater (which thankfully I didn't have to talk him into wearing. When he put it on himself on Wednesday I just had to grab some photos)

Our sweet guy, who likes to tease and is always ready to give lots of hugs and kisses.

In between the birthday madness was the Christmas parade Fuquay (the town where Kaitlyn takes dance class) and Kaitlyn walked in it with her dance class. Sam had to work the whole weekend so it was just Tyler and I hanging out to watch the first part of the parade. We cut it short to pick Kaitlyn up when she was finished.

The birthday boy on the day of his birthday (Monday, the 5th). He woke up to a balloon-filled room and cake batter waffles for breakfast. We also took cupcakes in to his preschool class.

When Sam got home from work and Kaitlyn was home from school Tyler got to open his presents. And boy did he make a killing this birthday! It looked a lot like Christmas morning when he was finished :)

And let's not forget all the elf hi-jinx. One morning they were found on an elf-created zip line running from the top of the stairs to the Christmas tree. Made out of yarn and candy canes. The morning of the party one was in the sail "boat" and the other was taking a whack at the pinata. They played with the balloons in Tyler's room on his birthday. And were also found listening to my Ipod, and messing around in the kids' bathroom with one in Kaitlyn's jewelry and the other writing notes on the mirror.

Friday, December 2, 2011

2011 Week 48

Our most favorite time of the year has officially begun! The Friday after Thanksgiving means we get to decorate the Christmas tree! Bring on the Christmas music and the eggnog and the lights and the gift lists...
We have a pretty good system with the tree. Sam set up the tree. I'm in charge of lights. Then the kids get to go wild with the ornaments while I do the glitzier stuff (and a few adjustments at the end). The kids were most excited to see their personal ornaments that Oma and Dave gave them last year (or was it two years ago?) and spent the longest time decided exactly where they should be. The rest of the ornaments Tyler put on tended to be all on the same branch. Kaitlyn, however, is getting a pretty good eye for it and spread out most of the rest of the ornaments (or "jewels" as she still likes to call them) pretty well. (This is important to me because I'm a bit OCD about making the tree look all beautiful and just so)

Decorating the rest of the house and putting up a few lights and garland outside was spread over the rest of the long weekend. We also took an afternoon to take the kids to a movie (the latest Muppets - Ty was totally bored) and tried to get them to do a little shopping for each other, which worked with Kaitlyn (who insisted on getting Tyler a DS game even though we don't know for sure that Santa will be bringing him a DS) but not so much with Ty (who wanted to look only at toys for himself).

Also during the weekend, I had a bit of a unique experience. The husband of a friend came home from deployment and she asked me to go along and take photos (and I hope the moral support was helpful too). It was unique because it's the first time I've gone to a military homecoming without being emotionally attached to the outcome. Being an observer is slightly different and does lead to some introspection. It was a good experience (despite it being a military run and thus long and drawn out and annoying process).

This week was also brought the first day of December and with it - our elves! The kids always look forward to the elves coming and have so much fun when they get here. Tyler was awake earlier than usual that morning and was the first to discover the pair. I tried to get him to play with them quietly but he couldn't contain himself and when running and shouting up the stairs to tell his sister. The elves then "helped" the kids with their morning routine. And that night the kids' made the elves a nice little bed out of a cardboard box, complete with their own little stuffed animal. It was cute.

Friday, November 25, 2011

2011 Week 47

Lots and lots going on this week (most of which I didn't take photos during). On Saturday I left the kids at home and managed to get some shopping done for Tyler's birthday and a small start on Christmas (finally! phew!). On Sunday we decided it was time to do something fun with the family so we took the kids to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. It's kind of a combination between a normal science museum, a children's museum (lots of learning activities/things for the kids to touch, do and climb on) and a zoo. A big part of the museum was outside and we completely wore ourselves out exploring. Tyler was the most excited to see the dinosaur statues. Kaitlyn's favorite thing was the butterfly garden. She and I spent a lot of time trying to get one to land on her hand (and a little success on that front, much to her delight). Another big favorite for both kids was the wind section, especially the remote control sailboats.
By the time we went inside to explore we were all getting tired and hungry and after spending some time building things we rushed through the rest of it. It will be good to go back through that one another time.

The rest of the week was just chuck full of stuff - school, dance lessons, errands, working on crafts, getting ready for Tyler's birthday and Thanksgiving, celebrating a friend's birthday (that was almost an all-day thing - fun!)...

...all jammed into a short week for everyone due to the holiday. Wednesday was half-day at school for both kids and Kaitlyn participated in the Turkey Trot (mile long race, winner in each age got a turkey). She had been looking forward to the race and even got her dad to help her "practice" a couple times. And she did great! Especially since all 100+ kids started the race in a big group and she ended up starting near the back. But Kate had better stamina than most of the kids and finished somewhere in the top 15, with only 2-3 girls faster than her. We're so proud! Sam had an early day too and stopped on his way home to pick up a giant candy bar for her for a "prize." (Ty got one too)

Thursday was, of course, Thanksgiving. We decided to spend it at home, just the four of us, keeping it really low key. Sam smoked a turkey, Kaitlyn helped me make pies (Wed afternoon), etc. Kaitlyn loves to make cards and do surprises for any event and first thing in the morning she gave Sam and I a card she had made on her own and been saving for a week. Such a sweetie. While the turkey was cooking we took the time to play a game with the kids and taught Kaitlyn how to play Phase 10 (the little monkey caught on quick and almost won!). Kaitlyn loved the turkey dinner (except for the turkey - I think she talked herself out of liking it this year) and our picky Ty had chicken nuggets and rolls (sigh). TV, hanging out, pie and egg nog... yeah it was a good Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 Week 46

Veteran's Day was Friday. Kaitlyn was really into the "holiday" - not just because she got a day off but because she thinks her dad being a veteran is pretty cool. The night before she and Tyler got together and made Sam a card (it said "special veteran dad" on the front and "we love our veteran" inside) and put together a gift for him (paper flower bouquet - Kaitlyn had made one at school the week before so they just added more flowers and a heart to it), including finding a bag to wrap it in. Very independant, these kids of mine.

It was all very sweet.

Again - Tyler and his "friends." He does a lot with them, including having them sleep in his bed with him (there's practically no room for Ty) and bringing them downstairs with him first thing.

My neighbor was nice enough to let me take photos of her brand new (totally adorable!) baby girl wearing some of the hats and hairbows I've been making to sell online. It was also a great chance to practice my photo skills and I have to say, I think I'm definitely improving.

Report cards came home at the end of last week. Kaitlyn is doing very very well. They changed the grading system so now all they get is letters of the alphabet that make absolutely no sense, so I won't share her exact grades. Her teacher's comments read: "Kaitlyn is a leader and a positive role model for other students. She is working well at this level." That's our Kate!
The awards assembly was on Thursday. Kaitlyn received the Terrific Kid award (wish I had a better understanding of how they pick them. I do know that only 2 children per class are chosen), bookworm award (for reading more than ___ books), and perfect attendance. All the Terrific Kids get a Tshirt and bumper sticker, which Kaitlyn is not enthused about. There is one other award that is a medal (some sort of Character award) and THAT is the one she had her heart set on. Maybe next time!

Friday, November 11, 2011

2011 Week 45

Finally getting back to a somewhat-normal routine this week. Just the regular round of school, homework, dance class, grocery shopping, etc. I volunteered at the school a few days, to help with the book fair.

During a lot of his time playing at home, Tyler has been hanging out with his "buddies", horsey (the rocking horse), Bigfoot (the monkey), Mater, and elephant-y. Whatever he is doing, the whole gang of them is doing - laying on the couch, reading a book, going to bed, playing with cars... He even set up an elaborate blanket tent in the playroom with special places for all of them and more.

Kaitlyn was really excited about the book fair. Planner that she is, she knew exactly which books she wanted and came home with her list then raided her bank for the money. She had picked out one for Tyler and promptly told him to bring her $5 so she could buy it for him. She also insisted that she just couldn't wait to buy the books on a day when I would be there and handled the transaction all by herself, just as promised. I can't believe how big and independant my little girl is!

We've been having some beautiful fall weather around here. Cold enough to turn the heater on, but pleasant to be out in the sun on most days. And the colored leaves on all the trees (the many many trees that are in NC) as just beautiful. We took advantage of all this and went up to Raven Rock state park to grab some self-timer family shots (I'm thinking of using them for the Christmas card, so I'm not sharing them here) then on a quick hike to the river on a trail we hadn't used before. For once, the kids were pretty cooperative with the photos, thanks to many bribes and threats (ha!) then they had a blast on the hike. Both of the kids really enjoy nature and exploring.

Kaitlyn picked up a handful of acorns and kept looking around for squirrels to feed them to. She also enjoyed reading all the information posted on the signs along the way. Tyler found a stick that he happily carried with him as we walked. Until he lost it when he put it down to throw more sticks in the river and couldn't find it again. It was a very sad event.

Also on the agenda this week was the fall festival at Kaitlyn's school last night. Each teacher had set up a game of some sort in each of their rooms and the kids went from one to another with their tickets. I think the biggest hit of the night was the face painting. Kaitlyn had not trouble deciding on a rainbow for her face. Tyler was dead set on having Optimus painted on his but the poor girl doing the face painting didn't have a clue how to do that. Or a robot. Or a semi truck. Her suggestions of football logos and other such nonsense earned her a blank look from Tyler. Finally I just told her to go ahead and do anything with wheels and he'd be
happy. Thank goodness I was right. We had to skips baths last night so the kids could enjoy their painted faces just a while longer.

Friday, November 4, 2011

2011 Week 44

The big even of the week was Halloween, obviously. On the weekend we ran errands (including picking out candy for the trick or treaters!) and carved pumpkins. Sam really doesn't like the whole carving thing (I think it's the pumpkin guts??) but the kids love it. And I decided last year that if we're gonna do it, we may as well go big. So part of our process now is finding templates online and trying to make something really fun. Tyler wanted Optimus Prime (Transformers) but is too young to carve so I printed out a coloring page for him to paint, along with his pumpkin. Somewhere along the line he decided he had "messed up" the pumpkin and the picture, threw the picture away and has been trying to hide his pumpkin ever since. I've rescued it from behind the truck and under the rain gutter.
Kaitlyn picked a Hello Kitty template (are we surprised?) and decided that this year she was going to try the carving herself. She really did a good job through the whole process, scooping out most of the gross stuff, transfering the template to the pumpkin and cutting out some of the larger pieces. Sam finally did join in the process and helped Kaitlyn with some of her carving and finished up the smaller pieces.
We had picked up 2 large pumpkins before Ty got the little one on a school field trip, so I spent my time carving that one - a Minnie (kinda looks like Mickey though) Mouse witch with a cauldron.

Halloween fell on a Monday this year (which Kaitlyn thought was unfair that they didn't take school off for the holiday) so as soon as Kaitlyn got home we did dinner and got dressed up in costumes. The kids were so excited and looked so cute! Tyler was a Monster Truck Driver and Kaitlyn had requested that she and I be "twin witches." We hadn't put any thought into Sam's costume so we decided that since we had the accessories handy, he could go as a construction worker.

I was a rainy, nasty night but that doesn't stop the fun on Halloween. We went out as early as we could (5:30), as did most of the neighborhood. That made it fun to see people we knew, not only as we rang the doorbells, but all the kids' costumes as they walked around too. We only hit the few occupied houses in the neighborhood, which turned out to be plenty for all of us. By the time we hit the 2nd street Tyler was cold and wet (because he didn't use the umbrella after the first few minutes and we mistakenly hadn't put on another layer under his costume) and ready to go home and that was just fine with us. Kaitlyn and Sam hit the final handful of houses on the 3rd street without us.

Despite only being out for less than 45 minutes, and hitting less than 20 houses the kids had tons and tons of candy!

They changed into pjs and we made hot chocolate and warm cider and the kids happily spent the rest of the evening watching a Halloween show on TV and answering the door.

As soon as Halloween is over, what ends up on our minds? Christmas! We have started getting those big toy ad catalogs in the mail this week and Tyler claims them for his own and spends hours and hours pouring over them, circling everything that strikes his fancy. I think if we put them all on a list it just might be a mile long!