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December 1, 2005

The boys helped decorate gift bags for Becca's kids' Hanukkah gifts. 

Creative minds at work

December 2, 2005

Patrick has been bugging me since before Thanksgiving to put up the Christmas tree, and today he finally wore me down.  :-)  We turned on the Christmas music and got out the ornaments, and lo and behold, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Fa la la la LA, la la la LAAAAAAA!

December 3, 2005

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

I know I say this every year, but I can't believe my BABY turned 7 today!  His party is tomorrow, so we didn't do too much today.  I cooked his favorite dinner and we put a candle in a cake snack for Happy Birthday and he opened the family presents.

I took Boudreaux to the vet for a follow-up on his heart, and she said he sounds better and the meds seem to be helping.  I swear he's the only dog I know who is thrilled to see the vet.  They're such buddies!

He does enjoy being in the limelight!

December 4, 2005

Poor Patch has been anxiously awaiting this day with bated breath!  The birthday party finally arrived!  The party was at his gymnastics gym and the kids had a wonderful time.  He had a Bionicle theme for the decorations and cake.  Patrick was "wrapped up" and then "unwrapped" in a parachute, they did flips into the marshmallow pit (big chunks of soft foam), played in a bouncy house and ate cake.  What more could a kid ask for?

Parachute gift wrap

Gettin' ready to BLOW! Make a wish!

December 7, 2005

Mark was down in Ft. Lauderdale for the past three days, and as he was driving home today, he witnessed an accident and had to wait in the rain to talk to the police.  When he finally got going again, just a few miles down the road he was involved in his own accident.  Fortunately, traffic was slow and he wasn't hurt at all.  A tall pick-up truck was merging into his lane, didn't see Mark's car and merged his right front wheel right into the doors on the driver's side.  The damage isn't too bad and should fix up just fine, but Mark's day was pretty much shot!

December 8, 2005

The tile guy has been here all week working on the bathroom, and it's looking great.  Cross you're fingers that we'll be bathing in luxury by Christmas.  :-)

Shower view My incredible tub!

I picked up some nuts at the grocery store this afternoon, and the kids had a field day trying to crack them.  It was hilarious to see them squeeze with all their might, only to have the nut shoot out the side across the room.  Of course, Grendel would then snatch it up and run into the back yard with it. 

Ready, aim, FIRE!

December 9-11, 2005

'Tis the season for . . . . . craziness!  I think at least half of the kids we know, including my own darling son, has a birthday in December.  Toss that together with Christmas shopping, office parties, school parties, closings, oh, and let's not forget the construction, and you're looking at a frazzled Mommy!

This weekend was no exception.  Friday night Justin's parents went to an office party so we watched Justin and Shane, his 3-year-old brother.  The boys had a blast, of course, and wore Mark and me out.  At bedtime I took Justin and Shane home and put them to bed and stayed until his parents got home at the wee hours of the morning.

Saturday morning, Mark and I dropped the kids off at friends' houses and headed off to Ft. Lauderdale for an overnight trip.  While we were gone, the boys went to Anthony's birthday party at the bowling alley.  Anthony's parents dropped the boys off at home, where Mom was waiting to take care of them.  She had her church Christmas party, so we had a sitter come for the evening until she got back.  Meanwhile, Mark and I went to his office party Saturday night in Ft. Lauderdale and acted like we were much younger than we are until well past our bedtime.  Sunday morning, I felt like I was much older!  While we were making the long drive home on Sunday (while I slept in the back seat, miserable!), Mom took Patrick to yet another bowling birthday party.  By the time we got home, all the parties were over, the boys were happy as clams, and poor Mom was tuckered out!  Talk about a double-booked calendar!  We can't thank Mom enough for taking the reins, especially on such a crazy weekend.

December 12, 2005

The boys got started decorating their ornaments tonight.

Intense concentration Gotta love the tongue

December 13, 2005

The tile is finally done in the bathroom, which means we can finally use the new huge whirlpool bathtub!

Hammin' it up Goofballs!

December 14, 2005

I went and helped with Patrick's class holiday party this morning.  I was a little early and got to see their morning routine.  It was so cute seeing them look outside to check the weather and then chart it, and update the calendar.  I managed to snap a picture of them greeting their neighbors, and Patrick and his two buddies are squeezing each other tight!

  Group hug! Playing Hot Potato with a beach ball

December 17, 2005

Becca and I had the most wonderful girls night out today.  Mom gave us tickets to see Menopause The Musical, and it was absolutely hilarious!  We laughed ourselves silly, although it was a little bit freaky that we could relate to much of what the show was about, even at our tender ages.  ;-)  The performers invited the audience to join them onstage for the final song, and Becca dragged me up on stage with her, where we were singled out to start a second row - in front - with some of the performers.  We were still giddy from the show, but in retrospect, I can't believe we went up there!  Afterwards we went out to dinner and then did the mall. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Mark had his hands full with the kids as well as the neighborhood Christmas party.  Every year he volunteers to make sure there are tables and cookies for the party.  At the last minute, there was a glitch with the trailer for the hay ride, so as I was walking out the door for my stress-free girls night, he was busy trying to drum up enough pick-up trucks and drivers to make sure the kids could ride through the neighborhood behind Santa.  From what I hear, he pulled it off and everybody had a wonderful time.  Alex had a bit of a rough go with back-to-back lip injuries.  While in the bouncy house, he collided with another kid and split his lip.  He tried to sooth it by drinking some apple cider, which was hot and burned his lip as well.  Poor guy!

December 18, 2005

Some days, the kids go at each other like wild animals, then other days are magical like today.  Mark had been bugging the kids all morning to get off the xBox and do something physical.  Somehow they translated that into making a huge pillow fort in the living room.  Once it was built, we all grabbed nerf guns and took turns attacking and defending.

Adding a roof to their fort

December 20, 2005

Winter Break officially started yesterday, so the boys are home from school for the next couple of weeks.  Mom came and stayed with the kids while I had my hair done, and got completely suckered into getting them all ice cream from the ice cream truck.  ;-)

Look at Patrick's BLUE lips!

December 21, 2005

We were having a nice quiet afternoon (yeah, right, and if you believe that one . . . .) when our neighbor called and told me to look out front.  I couldn't believe my eyes - there was a wild turkey in our front yard!

Just passing through Bye bye!

December 22, 2005

I think this is the first day in December when I haven't had to be somewhere.  It was wonderful!  We hung around the house and the kids played all day long with the neighborhood kids.  Ahhhhhhh.

Playing baseball across the street The pillow forts turned into cozy spots for watching TV

December 23, 2005

We did the tourist Christmas attractions today.  Mom gave us tickets to Dolly Parton's Christmas Dixie Stampede (thanks, Mom!) which was an awesome show!  We ate a wonderful meal while being entertained by horseback riders, ice skaters, a live nativity, Christmas carols, piglet races, and believe it or not, an ostrich race!  We were truly entertained and very much in the Christmas spirit when all was said and done.

My little cowboys???

From there we went to see the Ice! attraction.  I took the boys last year, but Mark has never seen it.  Everything in the exhibit is carved from ice, including the stairs!  They provide parkas, since the exhibit is kept at 9 degrees, and we were still walking icicles by the end.  The highlight for the kids is the ice slides - you are actually sliding down solid ice.  The perfect end to the attraction is the free hot chocolate afterwards!

I went a little camera-happy because the sculptures are so impressive.

An amazing piano! A big welcome by Frosty

Patch was amazed by the tin soldiers Walking across a bridge made out of nothing but ice!

The polar bear exhibit was almost cuddly! Frolicking polar bears

In front of the life-size nativity Surfing the ice!

Alex screaching to a halt at the bottom of the slide Daddy barrelling down!

Whoa Patrick! Mommy trying to maintain a shred of dignity

Look at those rosy cheeks! Anybody who knows Alex recognizes the attitude when I asked him to look up for the picture

December 24, 2005

We are all very excited about Christmas tomorrow, but Patrick more than the rest of us.  You see, he still has the gift of belief - in Santa Claus, that is!  Last night at Ice, the boys sent Santa an email, and in Santa's reply, he told the kids to make sure they got to bed early.  Patrick took that very seriously and went to bed a half-hour early tonight, only to stay awake for over two more hours too restless with excitement!

The kids have been begging and pleading to open "just one" present today.  It actually didn't take too much convincing for Mark and me to give in.  We got them a trampoline and have been working on putting it together all day when the kids seemed occupied - we couldn't seem to get rid of them for any length of time.  We were so worried about them discovering it in the back yard that we let them "open" it today.  Don't worry - we've already started assembling the safety net that goes around it.  We didn't want to put it on before tonight because you can see it over the fence from the front yard which would spoil the surprise.  They have some friends with trampolines and know all of the games.  In this picture, Mark is the "popcorn" and as the kids run around him, he "pops" up and down.  Grendel was under the trampoline, as confused as ever!

December 25, 2005


C H R I S T M A S !

What a beautiful day we've had!  Of course, it started at about 6:58 with the boys invading our bed (we told them they had to wait until 7:00) and then tearing into their stockings.  That held them off until Grandma and Grandpa could get here for our now-traditional Christmas breakfast.  It was all the kids could do to let us adults finish breakfast before they dragged us to the tree to open gifts.

While the kids got acquainted with their loot, Mark and I packed and hooked up the camper and we headed over to the River for the Finster celebration.  It was so nice of everyone to wait for us.  Mark's mom prepared a fabulous Christmas dinner and afterwards we hit the gifts again!

We are blessed with such wonderful family and friends.  Everyone was so generous with their gifts, and we appreciate all of you so much.  It was such a special day to be able to spend with so many loved ones!

Attack the wrapping paper! Cool - laser tag!

Mark helps Alex open his new metal detector

December 26, 2005

We had a wonderful time just hanging out with the clan.  All of the kids put together a Christmas skit that was adorable and hilarious.  Let's see,  Ryan was baby Jesus, Danielle and Julia were angels, Ashley was Mary and Preston was Joseph, Heather and Alex were the wise men (wise persons), and Patrick doubled as a shepherd and the little drummer boy.   However, during the rehearsal, the baby Jesus bit one of the angels so they sat out during the performance.  All in all, the entire event was quite entertaining!

Mark's mom got Alex a metal detector, and she had tossed some coins around the yard yesterday for him to discover.  Later on, Stacy, who didn't know about the hidden treasure, took some stuff out to the compost pile, and when she came back, she said, "That was a profitable trip - I found 47 cents!"

A VERY happy Nana and a VERY happy Ryan Hmmmm - which one is the princess?

Checking out the metal detector

Mary and Joseph with the Jesus understudy (a doll).  At least it wasn't the football someone suggested! The angel up high

Kneeling before Jesus The drummer/shepherd using his staff to bang his drum.  LOL

Presenting the gifts - yes, Alex is holding a cell phone as his gift! Mike still cool despite having 3 girls to dress him!

That box Boo's chin is on is a Hickory Farms gift box - nothing like a subtle hint instead of all-out begging! Alex, Ashley and Heather doing a puzzle book together

December 27, 2005

It was such a gorgeous day that we headed out to the beach.  Mark and Alex spent some time with his metal detector;  the kids built forts for a laser tag battle;  we fed the seagulls;  had a race up the beach;  and watched Ryan splash in the water (best entertainment by far).

Hunting for treasure Ashley and Patch in the old lifeguard tower

Cutie Pie Ryan - that water's COLD! Mark, Ryan and Julia

On your mark, get set, GO! Racing against the gorgeous view

Alex crossing the finish line Patch finishing the race

Heather and Alex working on their fort Patch testing out his bunker

Let the battle begin!