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DECEMBER 2006
(Hold your mouse over a picture for its caption.)


December 2, 2006

Alex's new football team had their first game this morning, and they whooped butt!  :-)  And I'm not being a biased mother - the score was 22-0.  The poor kid has been on losing team after losing team.  I know that doesn't sound very sportsmanlike, and that I'm not teaching the right priorities, but it does start to get depressing to lose almost every game you play.  It was so nice to see them bouncing with excitement!

Gee - ya think Alex needs a haircut? Daddy's putting the final touches on the wands for Patrick's birthday


December 3, 2006

Happy Birthday Patrick ! ! 

Patrick chose to have a Harry Potter birthday party at home this year.  Mark set to work a couple of weeks ago making magic wands for the party guests which were a huge success.  We divided the kids into four groups and sent them on treasure hunts to find their goodie bags.  I just love seeing the kids trying to figure out the riddles, then tearing through the house to the next clue.

Patrick wanted to wait until dinnertime to open his gifts from family.  Nana had fun with him and had wrapped his gift in three nesting boxes.  It was hilarious!  Mom joined us for dinner and gave him a terrific chemistry set.  Mark set up a table in the garage and he and the boys spent the evening mixing up trouble!

Yes, I made it!  :) H a P p Y    B i R t H d A y   T o   Y o U ! ! !

Make a wish! The best place for cake - where the birds clean up the mess

Patrick, John and Zach working out the riddle Alex and Justin had the hardest clues

Help!  I'm surrounded by Harry Potters!

Nana's gift took awhile!
Huh?  Another gift?
Okay - I'm game

Holy cow! ANOTHER ONE!

This is fun!

Mad scientists KA-BOOM!


December 4, 2006

I chaperoned Alex's class to tour the city of St. Augustine today.  What an incredible trip!  We toured the city in a tram with a tour guide describing all of the wonderful history of Florida's oldest city.  We visited the oldest school house and learned what school was like in the 1700s.  We toured the fort and were treated to a "living history," including a flint musket demonstration, a black smith, and a leather worker.   During some of our free time, we found a man who cuts your name into a ring while you watch.  He was amazing!  Of course, Alex didn't want his name in his ring - he wanted the Colts.  LOL The kids were wonderful, despite it being an 11-hour field trip!

My group of misfits

Alex enjoying the blacksmith demonstration The musket demo

This guy cut free-hand before our eyes Showing off his ring

Boys being boys King of the mountain!

Ringing the bell at the oldest school house The outhouse/meditation room LOL Me and my buddy


December 8, 2006

Well, we've done it again!  My hairdresser, Frann, is planning to move to Panama, and her husband needs to find homes for his hunting dogs.  One of them is only 10 months old and Frann really wanted her to go to a home rather than another hunter who will keep her in an outdoor pen.  Mark and I hemmed and hawed about it, went out to meet her last week, and have decided to take her.  We went and picked her up this morning.  Her name is Tasha, but we'll probably change it since my mom's cat was named Tasha so it could be confusing.  She's a red bone coon hound, which is a whole new experience for us.  She's very sweet and beautiful, but she's also 60 pounds and has never been trained to do anything but hunt.  The kids had no idea we were getting another dog, and we teased them last night that they would come home today to a surprise.  You'd think we'd know better - Patrick couldn't fall asleep last night because he was so excited!

It's been really entertaining watching her get used to indoor life.  When she first came in the house, she was walking everywhere, nose to the ground.  She ended up in front of the black oven door, looked up and jumped out of her skin at her own reflection!  This afternoon she walked into the sliding glass door, so the boys set about teaching her the doggie door, which she picked up on quickly.  I sat down to play the piano, but couldn't play because she kept putting her chin on my hand or on the keys.  It was too cute!  She thinks toilets are great water bowls. 

Love at first sight Hi, I'm Patrick

Alex gave her the tour - "This is where you go potty!" Getting to know each other

Hey - this indoor life ain't so bad!


December 9, 2006

It appears the puppy has separation anxiety.  We're using the crate for her at night and when we leave the house, and she hates it.  It hadn't occurred to me that she's never been alone.  She's always had the other three hunting dogs to sleep with.  Even with the crate in the same room as us, she cried ALL night long.  :-(  Boudreaux is constantly snarling and snapping at her, and our carpet cleaner is getting a workout.  I'm starting to wonder what we've done.  I keep telling myself that once we get through the first week, we'll make it. 

We've decided that she needs a new name, which has been quite the to do.  We discussed it over dinner and came up with about 10 possibilities.  We then narrowed it down to two:  Arbie (or RB, for red bone) or Rebo (also for red bone).  We just couldn't decide, so Mark wrote down the names, put one in each hand and had me pick which hand.  It was Rebo, but then someone came up with the idea for Dee Dee (or DD, for D*&^ Dog), which we all thought could work, so we did the hand pick again, this time between Dee Dee and Rebo.  Dee Dee won, so that's her name!

Getting some cuddle time She really wants to be a lap dog


December 10, 2006

Ugh - last night wasn't much better.  Dee Dee cried all night long again.  And it looks like we're all coming down with colds.  As Dory says in Finding Nemo:  Just keep swimming;  just keep swimming.

Alex had a special honor this morning in church.  Each Sunday a different fourth grader is chosen to ring the church bell between services, and this Sunday it was Alex's turn.  And we finally decorated our Christmas tree.  It's beautiful!  We're finally getting into the spirit!

Dong!  Dong! We wish you a Merry Christmas!!!


December 11, 2006

We gave in last night and let Dee Dee sleep on the bed with us.  It's amazing what you'll do when you're desperate for sleep!  She curled up right between our heads and snored happily all night long, every so often stretching those long legs right into Mark's back.  So she was finally content, but we still didn't sleep a wink!  LOL  Alex stayed home from school this morning with a sore throat, and Mark is sick as well, and not really that happy (you wives know what I mean!), so I was all too happy to head out for my volunteer morning at the school. 


December 12, 2006

The quest for sleep continues.  Dee Dee was back in the crate last night and not happy about it.  Mark finally got out a sleeping bag and laid down on the floor next to her crate, and she slept like a baby the rest of the night.  But poor Mark can't be spending every night on the floor!  It's a start, though.  We're making very small steps towards house training, and every other kind of training, for that matter.  She can reach the kitchen counters with no effort and doesn't seem to think this is a problem.  She also loves the kids' toys, but we've given her plenty of her own, and she's starting to recognize the difference.  The food bowls entertain her to no end!  She'll pick one up and parade around the house with it in her mouth, then toss it in the air, and when it lands, she pushes it around on the tile with her nose until she runs into a wall.  It's hilarious!!!


December 14, 2006

We did a bit of rearranging in our bedroom and moved Dee Dee's crate next to the bed, and she actually slept!  And so did we!  Woohoo!  We're getting there.  Our next challenge is to find one of the food bowls.  Apparently during one of her playful moments, she carried off one of the bowls and it's disappeared.  On a more desperate note, we've had some rain, and it's wreaking havoc on Dee Dee's house training.  :-(


December 15, 2006

Let the madness begin!  Winter break began this afternoon - kids, kids everywhere!  And now it's time for me to start seriously getting ready for Christmas.  Argh!  I've never been so far behind!

On our last camping trip, Mark got the inspiration to make a fire ring in our back yard.  We've got a spot where the grass just won't grow, and it's a nice safe fire spot, so today he cleared the area from what little grass was there, with Patrick's help.

They're still young enough to think that helping is fun Who thought grass was heavy!

Dee Dee and Grendel and getting to be friends


December 16, 2006

Our neighborhood had their big holiday block party this evening.  Santa rode through the subdivision on a fire truck escorted by sheriff cruisers and kids rode behind Santa in the back of pick-up trucks.  At the end of his route, we had a DJ, bouncy house, pop corn, cotton candy and lots of goodies.  Mark and I have always helped put the event together and I'm proud to say it was a big success.  I did all of my work before the event, so I could watch the kids and take pictures.  Mark manned the cotton candy machine, which made him very popular!

Service with a smile! Finesse!

Patch was being the Statue of Liberty

The DJ coordinated a bunch of fun games for the kids.  He paired them up and gave each pair a roll of toilet paper.  They had to wrap each other up like a mummy.  Whoever wrapped their partner up first won.  In another game, again, they paired up and he gave each pair a balloon.  The pair had to hold the balloon between each other's faces and keep moving around without dropping it.  Patrick and his friend, Ryan, came in fourth on that one.  

Ryan wrapping up Patrick Alelx wrapping up Justin Ryan and Patrick head-to-head


December 18, 2006

Well, I guess we're going to have to store the food bowls somewhere other than the kitchen floor from now on.  Dee Dee's done it again and now two of the bowls have disappeared!  We've looked everywhere - Mark even checked under the shed.  No bowls.  Very strange!

Patrick had a friend over this morning while I was out, and they decided to make lemonade with the fresh lemons we'd gotten at the River.  The boys were very good and didn't disturb Mark while he worked.  Patrick got out the juicer - or at least part of it.  He found the top part, but didn't see the bottom part with the motor in it.  So they hand-squeezed the lemons.  It didn't matter - they had a blast and enjoyed the "fruits" of their labor.  Later on, I showed Patrick how to use the whole juicer and we made a bunch of wonderful citrus juice.

He even managed to keep all of his fingers


December 19, 2006

Patrick's been begging to go to the driving range, so we went today and even though it's been quite awhile, he did pretty well.

Ready, aim .. .. Fire!


December 20, 2006

The boys made this year's stepping stones for Grandma and Nana.  Another year or two, and their hands will be too big to make handprints!

They still love to get messy!


December 22, 2006

The boys had Justin and Kori over to play today, so I figured they were occupied enough for me to lock myself in my room and wrap some presents.  I was getting frustrated because the kids kept interrupting me.  Patrick and Kori knocked on my door and told me not to go out front because they were working on a play.  I was glad to oblige - at last they'd be out of my hair.  I finished up my wrapping and Alex came inside and told me to cover my eyes and come outside.  He lead me out and to my surprise, they'd washed my van!  No play - that was a ruse.  While I was outside admiring their work, they told me I had to stay outside and they went back inside.  A few minutes later, Alex came out and asked me in a whisper what my favorite sandwich is.  I told him ham and cheese and he was back inside.  Then they came out, laid out some towels for a picnic, and gave me a plate with a sandwich and pretzels, and a ring of fresh-cut roses around the edges!  It was precious!


December 23, 2006

The kids had so much fun yesterday getting wet that they decided to put on a car wash today.  They made about $4 each and had a blast!

Team work on Justin's mom's van


December 24, 2006

It's a good thing the kids finished their car wash yesterday, because today it has poured all day.  It's been a disaster in Dee Dee's housetraining.  You've seen her pictures - she hardly looks prissy, but God forbid she should get her feet wet!

This Christmas is going to be a difficult one, but we've had a rather pleasant Christmas Eve.  Mom came over and we had a nice meal together, then went to the candlelight service.  After church, the kids got to open one gift.  There's a gift under the tree for Patrick that has had him completely baffled.  He was very excited to discover it was a Harry Potter quill.  Alex's gift was a wooden dragon puzzle from Lexie.  He and Mark spent the rest of the evening putting it together.

What IS that thing? Let me at it!

Awesome! Cool!

The leg bone's connected to the thigh bone


December 25, 2006

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

We told the boys last night not to wake us up this morning before 7:00, and at 7:05 we were attacked in bed!  They tore into their stockings, and then Mom came over for breakfast and gifts.  Some of the hits were a huge fluffy bone for the girls (Grendel and Dee Dee), an iPod for Alex and Heelies for the kids.  Mom gallantly took on the daunting task of watching the dogs while we went over to St. Pete for Christmas with Mark's family.  She was quite successful, despite the rain, and Dee Dee didn't destroy anything or have any accidents in the house under Mom's supervision.  We had a wonderful Christmas with Mark's family, and the kids spent the afternoon playing with all of their new toys.

Baby's first Christmas gift How do you untie this thing!?

Woohoo!  Heelies! Alex was thrilled with an autographed picture of Peyton Manning

Nana read Ryan one of his new books Cuddle time

Patch and Ryan racing Poor Daddy's all worn out

Uncle KC gave Julia and Danielle rides Patch loves his new Harry Potter Lumos book light


December 26, 2006

All that rain was followed by some wonderful cold weather, and we finally got to christen the new fire ring.  David and Sarah came over for some roasted marshmallows, too.

Just like camping

Sarah and David My guy


December 28, 2006

Dee Dee has come a long way!  We're still pretty jumpy about the housetraining business, but she's settling in quite nicely.  She's still very puppyish, and if you can get past her size, she's really cute!  All three of the dogs are getting along well, although Boudreaux still has his moments.  She and Grendel are inseparable, and romp all over the place.  As I'm typing this, she's curled up next to me on the couch snoring away.  I'm starting to think everything's going to be okay!

Alex has a new buddy Dee Dee has made herself quite at home!


December 29, 2006

We had a fabulous "family date" tonight and went out to dinner and a movie.  Usually the kids hate going out to eat, but we made a big deal out of the date thing and we had a wonderful time!  We got to the theater early so we walked over to a pet store and bought some food bowls to replace the ones that disappeared.  We saw Night at the Museum and it was great!  I highly recommend it.


December 30, 2006

Mark and Patrick went over to the River for a visit with Nana this morning.  Alex and I stayed behind.  He's really needing some down time and I'm not ready to leave Dee Dee home for any length of time yet.  It turned out to be a good thing - Alex woke up feeling puny so we just spent a quiet day around the house.  I got some much-needed cleaning done, and lo and behold, not 24 hours after we bought the new ones, I found the two vanishing bowls under the couch.  I could swear I looked there before, but apparently not well enough!  Oh well - now we have spares.  LOL


December 31, 2006

I forgot to mention something in my last update.  About two weeks ago, Becca's husband, John, was in the hospital for eight days with a severe case of pneumonia.  He got home just before Christmas and was able to enjoy the holiday with his family.  However, a few days later, he collapsed in the kitchen with a TIA, which resolved quickly, but ten minutes later when the paramedics were evaluating him, he had another one and was quickly transported to the hospital.  He spent a couple of days in the PCU and is now home again.  I spent some wonderful time with their four children so Becca could spend time at the hospital.  We thank God that he's on the mend. This year can't end soon enough!

We joined our neighbors out front for celebration and fireworks tonight, and everyone but one-year-old Daniel made it until midnight.  Alex, Patrick and Kori took over the fireworks after a while and gave us a wonderful show.  Don't worry - we didn't have any super duper dangerous fireworks!  Here's to a wonderful 2007 to you and yours!

Patch lighting one up Alex got some pointers from Daddy

Mark taught Sarah how to play tic-tac-toe  Alex, Mark and Kori doing some GOOFY dancing!