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December, 2004
(Hold your mouse over a picture for its caption.)

December 3, 2004

Happy Birthday Patch!

My baby's six years old today!  Can you believe it?  He got to choose where he wanted to go for dinner tonight, and he said he wanted to stay home for tacos.  I guess he likes my little restaurant.  ;-)  Mom and Dad came over for dinner and cake and helped us celebrate.

Reading his birthday letter from his piano teacher' Opening his Bionicle from Grandma and Grandpa

Alex was playing Happy Birthday on the piano while we tried to sing along - it was amusing, to say the least! Here we go!

December 4, 2004

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  Mark put up the lights on the house this morning while I put out the outdoor holiday decorations.  I just love this time of year!

Alex's class met up at the movie theater to see the Polar Express together.  It was a wonderful movie, and really nice to see all of the kids and their parents show up.  Out of 16 students, 10 showed up on a Saturday.

We've been neglecting our back yard lately, so there are a lot of bare dirt spots that Grendel loves to dig in.  Mark and I spent the afternoon planting a bunch of plants and spreading new mulch.  When all was said and done, I had planted 98 plants, and Mark had hauled 10 yards of mulch!!!

The weather has turned a bit cooler, so the neighbors gathered around our chiminea this evening.  It was nice to relax with our friends in the middle of all of the holiday madness.

The boys spent the evening wrestling on the minitramp - my little maniacs

December 5, 2004

Patrick had a reptile birthday party at our house this afternoon.  The kids made soaps with plastic turtles and frogs inside, made pipe cleaner snakes, and of course, played with our snakes!

Giving me a big birthday smile Patch had Cassey climbing around his neck

Justin and Alex with snake necklaces Yes, I made it (*brag, brag*)

He's getting pretty good at this! A bunch of happy campers eating cake

December 6, 2004

Mark is on a business trip for a few days, so Alex helped me put up the Christmas tree, and the three of us decorated it tonight.  Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted my pictures from today, but I'll take more in front of the tree soon.

December 8, 2004

Mom, Dad, the boys and I went to see The Nutcracker this evening.  The performance was part of the "children's series," so it was an abbreviated version lasting only an hour.  It was perfect for the kids, and of course, we adults enjoyed it, too.   There is a scene involving a group of mice.  The smaller mice at one point quake with fear, which the kids thought was funny.  I didn't realize how funny, though, until the drive home.  Patrick asked why the little mice's legs were shaking.  I said that it was because they were scared.  He said, "Oh, I thought it was because they had to go to the bathroom."  The boys rolled with laughter the rest of the way home!

Trying their darndest to act respectably at the theater My mom and dad, looking mighty nice!

December 11, 2004

The boys and I had our Christmas piano recital at a local retirement home this afternoon.  I started taking lessons again a few months ago, and haven't performed since I was probably 14 years old.  I managed to get through it without passing out or throwing up, and even managed to get all the way through my piece.  The boys and I played duets, and all and all, it was a lot of fun!

We tortured the children with a family picture All of the "little" performers

December 12, 2004

We went with some friends of ours to see Ice! this evening.  "Explore a wondrous world of ice…including 17-tons of frolicking polar bears, a herd of Santa’s reindeer and an awe inspiring nativity. And, a visit isn’t complete without a trip down one of the slippery ice slides."  And wondrous it is!  Everything is made out of ice - the walls, platforms, all of it.  It's amazing!  We bundled up in our winter clothes before we went.  The exhibit is kept at a balmy nine degrees, and even with the parkas they provide, we were still cold!  The kids had a blast going down the ice slides - the stairs are even made of ice!

All bundled up Yes, that entire thing is made out of ICE!

Frosty, the ice man Patrick careening down one of the ice slides

Alex in front and Anthony and Patch in back of the ice carriage Taking a QUICK break on an ice bench.  Brrrrrrrr!

The most beautiful nativity I've ever seen

December 14, 2004

We made snowflakes out of coffee filters today.

Making our own Florida snow Proud creators

December 16, 2004

Today was holiday party day at the school.  I spent the morning running around like crazy taking care of last-minute touches for teacher gifts, then helped in Patrick's class for their party.  After that, I visited the gifted class to deliver that teacher gift, then off to Alex's class for his party.  Whew!  Oh, and did I mention I also had a closing two hours away this evening?  Zzzzzzzzz. . . . . . . . . . .

Cutie pie! Reading by the fireplace between activities

Getting a hug from his teacher Making snacks is always the best party activity!

Contrary to popular belief, no, we have not fallen off the virtual earth.  As you're about to see, we've just been busy, busy, busy!  Sorry this has been so long in coming.

December 17, 2004

We've got a very big weekend coming up, so I spent the day getting as much of our lives under control as possible while the kids were at their last day of school in 2004.

Patch helped Daddy put together our new book cases

December 18, 2004

The true holiday madness started in earnest for our little family today.  Mark's company holiday party is tonight in Ft. Lauderdale, so he and I left early this afternoon for the long drive, while the boys hung out with Grandma.  They're spending the night with Justin tonight, which of course, has them very excited.  Before we left, we had to have ourselves packed for the night, the boys packed for the night, and the house ready for company to arrive tomorrow. 

December 19, 2004

Mark and I had a fabulous time last night at the company party.  How wonderful to spend an evening out without any kids around!  I finally got to meet some of his new coworkers, and was truly impressed with the camaraderie among such a large group.  No wonder Mark has been so happy there!

We managed to drag ourselves out of our beautiful hotel this morning and made the drive back home.  Meanwhile, Mom picked up the boys from Justin's, and called to tell us all went well.  My Aunt Lois arrived today to stay at my parents' for a holiday visit, so she and Dad came over to our house.  Mark and I got home just in time for Mom and me to head out to the airport to pick up my brother.  I had prepared dinner ahead, and we all crowded around the table and got caught up.  It's so nice to have them here!

But no, our day doesn't end there!  Tonight is Justin's dad's company party, so Justin and his brother, Shane, spent the evening with us.  Actually, Justin ended up staying the night.  I'm also watching Justin all day tomorrow since Sherry has to work, so it just made sense.


Mark cuddling with Shane

December 20, 2004

David and I took the three kids (ours plus Justin) to Islands of Adventure!  Alex has been dying to take Uncle David on his favorite ride, Fear Fall.  It was one of the coldest days we've had this season (you northerners will laugh, but for us it was pretty chilly!), so the water rides were off limits, much to the kids' chagrin.  Somehow, we managed to have fun anyway!

Patch was hitching a ride with Uncle David

Help!  They're turning into comics! Goofballs

Patch scaling the climing wall Alex reaching for the sky

Universal passes:  $100 each.  Lunch for five at a theme park:  $60.  Three boys with a snail:  priceless!
Looking for the snail's head to come out of his shell

The three amigos Just a great shot of my boy!

Their favorite roller coaster - The Unicorn.  They rode it over and over and over and over . . . . Alex and David in the front row

Me and my boys Patch took this one of me and David

December 21, 2004

We all split up today to take care of our own thing.  Mark, David and the kids ended up at Mom and Dad's for dinner while I did a closing a couple of hours away.  Why does business have to pick up now?

December 22, 2004

My friend, Becca, is going through a rather difficult pregnancy.  This morning she had an amnio to see if the baby is mature enough to be delivered by c-section tomorrow (five weeks early).  Unfortunately, the baby is not mature, so no baby tomorrow.  We are on call to watch her three boys when the baby comes, so we were ready to have them over for the night tonight.  :-(

Last week Mom took the boys to a local butterfly exhibit, and they came home with caterpillars on sprigs of milkweed.  They've morphed into chrysalises and today the butterflies emerged.  It's been rather exciting! 

Posing with his new friend before he releases it Patrick's hung out awhile before flying away.

December 23, 2004

Mark and David have been wanting to shoot off some rockets.  It's been rainy, but there was a break in the weather this morning so they jumped at the chance to go out.  They came back full of stories and excitement, of course!

The lineup Retrieving the rocket after it landed

His expression is great!  "Cool!" Setting up


My dad's family is staying at a condo nearby for their holiday break, so we headed over to see them.  We had gone years without seeing each other, and in the past year or so, we've managed to get together several times.  We had a wonderful visit with my aunt, cousins and their children.

Mom's quite the storyteller!  The boys played a card game with Kelly.

December 24, 2004

I've had a closing everyday since Tuesday, and Christmas Eve is no exception.  Of course, I love to see the business come in, but it sure would have been nice to be able to relax and enjoy Christmas break with my family instead of running around like a lunatic.  I got home from my closing just in time to gather up the clan and go to the candlelight service at Mom and Dad's church.  I think this is one of my favorite parts of Christmas.

Singing Silent Night to candlelight

Up until today, we've been the big mean parents, refusing to let the kids have a video game system.  We finally caved in and are giving them an X-box for Christmas.  I hope the big boys don't wear it out "testing" it tonight!

Regressing back to their childhood

December 25, 2004


We told the boys last night that they could wake us up at 7:00 this morning.  Alex came in at 6:58.  LOL  They tackled their stockings while we were still rubbing the sleep out of our eyes.  We then steered them towards the playroom where the X-box was - the reaction was priceless!

Children on Christmas morning - does it get any better than that? Checking out the X-box

We started making a breakfast feast and Mom and Dad came over for breakfast and gifts.  Patch had only asked Santa for one thing - a Game Boy game.  He's been saving his money for a Game Boy, and we told him he couldn't buy anything until after Christmas, thinking that the X-box would change his mind about the Game Boy.  Mark's Mom called and told the boys that Santa had come to her house, too.  Patch later said to me, "Maybe Santa left my Game Boy game at Nana and Papa's house."  I had to explain to him that we had told Santa about the X-box and not to bring him a Game Boy game.  He seemed okay with it, but I still felt horrible!

A sleepy Daddy and Mommy Uncle David helping Patch with his airplane

The dogs were tuckered out after all the excitement Uncle David got caught raiding the kitchen

We spent a couple of hours visiting and playing before heading over to the River for more gifts and children everywhere!  After a wonderful day, I tucked all my boys into the camper and headed back home to spend the day tomorrow with my brother before he heads home on Monday.

Julia's "helping" Nana and Papa cut the roast Danielle and Ashley

Danielle giving Uncle John some lovin' "The Claw", a/k/a Uncle John, got Patrick in a tickle attack!

Ryan's a little butterball! Ashley making Ryan laugh

Ryan's just the happiest baby!

December 26, 2004

Becca's husband, John, gave Mark tickets to a Buccaneers game today, so he and Alex went.  Alex had a blast, and hasn't stopped talking about the game.  He's old enough now that this will be the first pro game he went to that he'll remember forever.

See that happy little baby in blue in yesterday's pictures?  Well, can you believe he's in the hospital today?  :-(  He was having trouble breathing so he went to the hospital, and he has RSV.  He's responding well to treatments, but he'll be admitted for a couple of days to get him better.  I can't believe that same happy guy yesterday is so sick today.  Get better soon, Ryan!

December 27, 2004

I took my brother to the airport bright and early this morning and said goodbye.  I hope we see each other again soon!  When I got back home, I climbed back in bed and didn't wake up until 1:00.  I guess I've been more tired than I thought!  For Alex's birthday, I told him I'd redecorate his room.  With everybody out of the house, I thought I'd get the bulk of it done today.  Well, of course, I slept away half the day.  It took the rest of the day to pick the wallpaper border off his wall, inch by inch.  Who hung that thing anyway?  (Oh, right, it was me six years ago!)  Ah well, as my Mom likes to say, you can't finish until you get started.

Becca went into the hospital yesterday having contractions, and it looks like she's going to be there until the baby comes.  They don't have set visiting hours, so I went over this evening and we had a "girls night out" in her hospital room until about midnight.  Without husbands or kids to rush home to, we had a great visit!

December 28, 2004

Mark and the boys were still over at the River this morning.  I was watching Justin today, so he and I drove over this morning to play at the River for the day with Jay, Stacey and the kids.  Patch still wanted to buy a Game Boy, so I told him I'd get him one and bring it with me.  Of course, then Alex wanted to buy himself one (neither one of them had spent their birthday money yet) so I bought two.  Justin brought his with him, and the drive home this afternoon was a dream!  The three of them were in the rear seat, all huddled together checking out each other's games.  It was too cute!

December 29, 2004

It's so nice to have everyone back at their own homes and beds.  Well, except for Alex.  His room is still in shambles while I work on it, so he's sleeping on the sofa bed.  I need to get cracking, though.  He really wants his own room and bed back, and I can hardly blame him, after sleeping in a different bed every night for practically the past week.

Playing his Game Boy in bed with Boudreaux

December 30, 2004

I took Becca's boys for the day so John could have a full day at work.  My boys have been asking to go to the zoo, so I took the five of them today.  This zoo has an awesome play area and we spent the first half of the day just climbing around.  I figured we'd grab some lunch then see the animals.  Well, apparently every other patron of the zoo had the same idea.  It took TWO hours for lunch!  We waited in a long line for the bathrooms, then a much longer line to buy our food, then another line to pick up the food.  All this with me alone with five little boys.  Argh!  The boys were absolutely terrific, and played well while I waited.  Fortunately, that was the only mar on a beautiful day, and I took five completely worn out boys home.  :-)

Climbing on the "spider web" Trying not to get caught in the web!

Peek-a-boo! Patrick, Alex, Carter, Nathan and Andrew on the stegasaurus skelaton

And we can never leave the zoo without feeding the giraffes

December 31, 2004

All of our wonderful neighbors gathered out front to ring in the new year!  We agreed to do a big fireworks "finale" at 10:00 so the kids can go to bed without missing out, since we're all trying to get our kids back on schedule before school starts on Monday.  I was surprised all of the little people accepted it and went to bed without a fight, but the big people still managed to ring in the new year proper at midnight.  Sorry - we were too busy enjoying ourselves to bother with the camera!