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December, 2003
(Click on an image to enlarge)

December 1, 2003

Time to pack up and head back home.  We had a little twist to our plans, however.  Rick was supposed to drive us to the airport this morning.  He's a paramedic and was just coming off a 24-hour shift.  He called us at 6:30 this morning and said they'd had a very busy night and he was exhausted.  So we went to Plan B and my aunt drove us to meet a shuttle bus that goes to the airport.  Seems simple enough - in theory, anyway.  We obviously cut things a little close, we realized, when we watched the bus pull out of the parking lot as we were pulling in.  That's when the excitement began.  We ran inside to find out the bus's next stop, then took chase!  I took over the driving while my aunt held on for dear life, and we managed to beat the bus to the next stop with time to spare.  Okay, okay, truth be told, the bus had a small detour to another stop we didn't know about, so I wasn't driving quite that fast!  The rest of the trip was smooth sailing.

When we stepped out into the parking lot in Orlando, it was a balmy afternoon, and Patch said, "This weather is just right!"  We stopped for dinner on the way home, and Alex commented on how nice it is to be back home, but he wishes Michigan were right next door so we could come back and forth as much as we want.  I couldn't agree more!

December 2, 2003

It's so nice to be back in our own beds.  Both boys were asleep by 8:00 last night, and Mark and I weren't far behind them!  Alex's eyes are still red and swollen, so we went to the walk-in hours at the pediatrician first thing this morning, in the hopes that he could still get to school on time.  It's a good thing his eyes were swollen, or I would have sent him to school today with an ear infection and strep throat and pink eye!  Yep - he has all three!  He swears his ear doesn't hurt, although it was the same with his last (and perhaps only) ear infection.  That time he just said he couldn't hear well.  He hasn't eaten much lately, but I attributed that to the traveling and didn't think anything of it.  Turns out it hurt to swallow - but of course, he never shared that with me!  He's a pretty tough kid!  So he gets two more days off from school, even though he swears he feels fine, and is acting like his energetic self (shoot me now!). 

Patch had a little birthday celebration in his classroom today (he doesn't have school tomorrow), so I brought over some cupcakes.  When the class sang Happy Birthday to him, he sang right along with them, and pointed to himself with his thumb and sang, "Happy Birthday to ME!"

Happy Birthday to MEEEEEEEEE! He got a set of markers from his teacher

Ms. Nancy reading his card to him

December 3, 2003

Happy Birthday
to Patrick!!!!

OMG!  My baby is FIVE!!!!!  He had several cute moments today.  Let me share some with you.

When I was in the shower this morning, Patrick came bursting in and said, "Mom!"  Me:  "What?"  "I'M FIVE YEARS OLD!"

At his piano lessons, it's standard for all of the kids to learn to play Happy Birthday.  At his lesson today, his teacher sang along to him as he played it, and he, of course, sang along "Happy Birthday to Me!"  (He seems to have that part down pat!)

The poor kid had to go to the doctor on his birthday today because he, too, has an ear infection.  (This has been an interesting week to say the least.)  There was a boy in the waiting room with a birthday hat on, so of course, we talked about them both having birthdays today.  The other boy turned four today.  Patrick said, "I was four yesterday."  La tee da.

Patrick chose Froggers restaurant for his birthday dinner.  They have arcade games (did you think he chose that restaurant for their food?), and the boys love to race each other on the race car game.  Patrick won the first few races, much to Alex's chagrin ("I picked the wrong car, that's all.")  I heard Patch say to Alex, "It's because I'm older now."

And on a non-birthday note:  I had a closing last night so Mark put the kids to bed alone.  Patrick woke me up at 4:00 this morning saying, "Mom, you never said good night to me."  Argh!

Patrick got his favorite Bionicle for his birthday and is putting it together Patch can barely reach the pedals!

He was too embarrassed to even look up when they sang to him at Froggers! Birthday smile!

Dig in! Wednesday is kids night at Froggers and the clown paints things on the kids

Cool spider! Alex had a shark painted on his hand - his thumb was its jaw (this caused considerable angst for Patrick in the back seat with Alex on the way home!)

December 6, 2003

Patrick's birthday party finally arrived!  He chose a robot theme, so the kids used paper shapes and googley eyes to decorate their own goodie bags with robots.  We had some interesting robots!  And of course, a robot piņata and cake. 

Robot creators hard at work Birthday Boy showing off his robot

The final blow! Raiding the loot!

I wish I could take credit for this one, but Publix came to my rescue!

Patch's favorite part of the party He was thrilled with his underwater camera and gear from Nana & Papa

A heated foosball game Nothing like a little bubble wrap to liven things up!

December 7, 2003

We put up our Christmas decorations today!  'Tis the season!

Patrick went berserk today trying out all of his birthday presents!

Playing with his Kasey the Kinderbot

December 10, 2003

Patrick made coffee filter snowflakes today, and then we decorated a gingerbread cutout for school.

focused artist proud creator

glue and glitter = one big mess = happy boy!

December 11, 2003

We went to the annual Gingerbread Night at the preschool tonight.  We made a gingerbread house and Patrick talked with Santa and had everyone in stitches as he scratched his head thoughtfully and changed his mind repeatedly about what he wants for Christmas!  It was a little bittersweet, since this was our last Gingerbread Night, as Patch will go to elementary school next year.

no, wait - what I really want is . . . . Master Architect

Happy Holidays!

The boys took some pictures of their own.

Gee - I wonder where my kids get their silliness from! Alex the ham (as taken by Patch!)

Patch the ham (as taken by Alex!)

December 13, 2003

Patrick had his first piano performance tonight!!  It was in an informal setting, at the studio's Christmas party.  He was his goofy self and had everybody in stitches with his nervous little funny comments!  Just click on the picture of him at the piano to hear him play!

Patch getting his goody bag ready at the party There's a sign where you can write Christmas comments at the studio - Alex wrote, "Thank you for my family."  Awwwwww.

Alex got me!

This afternoon Mark and a bunch of boys were throwing the football when it went down the storm drain.  Mark opened up the man hole to retrieve it (not the first time this has happened!) and let Alex get the ball.

Go fetch!

December 14, 2003

The cure for a rainy day - let the kids loose in the garage with Daddy's roller blades!

Bigfoot on wheels Hoorah!

It's been a bad fish day for Mommy.  We're taking care of Alex's class's two fish ("Rain" and "Bow") over the holiday break.  Wouldn't ya know, my second day as fish babysitter and Rain dies (at least I think it's Rain).  I also gave our aquarium its big monthly cleaning, and ended up flooding the living room with the siphon.  Then after everything was back in the tank, the filter pump wouldn't work.  I was summing this up for the boys tonight, and Alex's response was, "Mom, you'd better stay away from the snakes today!"

December 18, 2003

'Tis the season - for hectic schedules, that is!  And unfortunately, my camera has been left behind so I don't have any pictures to share.  Aside from running around at a breakneck pace, I've also somehow become a bit of a zoo keeper.  Let's see . . .  There's Boudreaux, of course, and the two snakes and our fish tank.  And I've already mentioned the class fish that we're keeping over the holidays.  Then we ended up with a mouse and her eight babies (don't ask - you don't wanna know!).  And tonight I brought Becca's brood to my house for the holidays - another fish bowl and two guinea pigs.  It's starting to look a little bit like my old college apartment around here!  (And anybody who knows me knows I'm loving it!)

December 19, 2003

This was the last day of school before winter break, and it was full of festivities!  I spent the morning at the elementary school helping in Alex's class with their holiday activities.  Then I went to the preschool for a birthday party for Jesus in Patrick's class.  There's nothing like the sound of children celebrating to put you in the Christmas spirit!

A little overzealous for the camera! Saying grace before cake

I mentioned before that we have a bunch of little friends staying with us for the holidays.  Boudreaux would very much like to get to know the guinea pigs better!  Every time they make a peep, he's right there, nose to nose!

Lickin' his chops!

Becca has this wonderful enclosure so the kids can play with the guinea pigs.  Those poor critters have gotten more exercise and attention than they know what to do with, between my kids and all of the neighborhood kids!

Alex with Milly, Patch with Molly Alex has a way of making animals feel at ease with him

December 20, 2003

I'm hoping we've started a Christmas tradition of going to see the Nutcracker.  We went last year, and believe it or not, the boys have been asking to go again this year.  Mark finally fessed up that it's just not his thing, so Mom and Dad and I took the boys today.  They were absolute angels and really enjoyed the first half.  But after the intermission, the dancing lost its excitement (for all of us, actually), and the kids did a good job of suffering in silence!

They were adorable!  They walked all the way from the car arm in arm! Typical boys - dressed nice, but still disheveled!

December 21, 2003

Santa came to our subdivision today!  And rode on a fire truck through the neighborhood, no less!  A big group of us rode on a hay ride behind the fire truck and listened to carols and ended up at a party in the back of the neighborhood, complete with a bouncy house, popcorn, cotton candy, cookies and apple cider.  The kids bounced and ate and bounced some more, while we visited with our wonderful neighbors.  We are so blessed!

December 22, 2003

It's officially the first day of winter break from school, and naturally, all of the parents are feeling it.  ;-)  With the hectic schedule lately, the kids really haven't had any just plain old play time with their friends, so I had a big crew over today to play.  I haven't taken any pictures these last few days, but believe me, after the time the kids had today, I'm not planning on sharing the looks of my house with anyone!

December 24, 2003

We told the kids that we would open one present each tonight after dinner.  It just about killed them to have to wait until evening!  They told Mark that the calendar is wrong, that today is actually the longest day of the year!

Mark had a special gift in mind for me to open early - a new camera!!!!    It's a 5 megapixel and takes video.  Yippee!!!

Patch was playing Christmas carols for us

December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas!!!!!

We've had a very full, exciting day!  The kids always get to open their stockings first thing when they wake up.  Alex came into our room when he woke up and climbed into bed with us.  A while later, he sat up with a start, said "It's Christmas!" and ran and woke up Patch.  I guess he'd forgotten for a moment!  Then the two of them came and tackled us until we got up. 

Is it really empty? Anything else in there?

Mom and Dad came over for Christmas breakfast, and then we raided the gifts!  Christmas is so much more special through the eyes of children.

Gotta love those dimples! I was jaw-dropped at the gorgeous "Mom" pendant the boys gave me.

Check out all that loot!

These boys were very comfy together on the couch An engineer and a 5-year-old trying to construct a Lego star ship

After opening all of the gifts, Patrick was a little overloaded.  He stood in the middle of all of the gifts, arms outstretched, turning and looking at everything, and couldn't figure out where to start!  He got a gift certificate, and looked around and said, "But what do I need?"

We had a beautiful Christmas dinner (I finally got to use my good china!), and then packed up the van and the camper and headed over to the River.   They were in the middle of a power outage, so we opened more gifts by candlelight.

More presents! Danielle stole the show!

We got to whet our camping appetite by sleeping in the pop-up in the yard.  It's the perfect thing for us - sleeping outside, but with a space heater and a potty!

December 26, 2003

The cousins had a wonderful time playing together all day.  Mark took several kayak trips to take passengers to see manatees.  Danielle is absolutely adorable, and says "no" in the sweetest way possible.  What a great visit!

Girl stuff! Heather put Alex in his place!

Nana with Danielle, Julia and Ashley Nana helped Danielle at t-ball

A million toys don't compare to a pile of dirt! Kids love a picnic

Boudreaux was looking quite regal Jay and Mike earned their "Uncle" titles

Heather and Ashley did manicures Preston was taking careful notes!  LOL

Ashley and Preston are best buddies.  Too cute! Heather showing off her karaoke skills

Patch gave Preston a horsey ride

December 27, 2003

We had another beautiful day of fun and games.  Mark and I spent hours putting together Legos and Bionicles for the boys (Who bought them these things anyway?  Oh yeah - me!).  Tonight we left the kids with the guys and had a girls night out at the movies.  We definitely need to make a habit of it!

December 28, 2003

Our Christmas trip wound down today as we packed up and headed back home.  We've had the most wonderful time visiting, but it sure is nice to be home, too.

December 30, 2003

I took the kids to the arcade at the mall today to blow off some steam.

Patch is a skeeball champ "Look at all of my tickets!"

December 31, 2003

We went to a place called the Plaster House this afternoon.  The kids picked out a piece of molded ceramic and painted it.  It's pretty neat!

Alex painted a turtle, and Patch painted a blue owl.

We had our usual block party tonight to celebrate the new year.  Both kids actually made it to midnight this year!  There were also sound asleep by 12:15.  LOL