Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy Birthday, Graydon!

Graydon has been counting down the days until his birthday starting back in October.  And it is finally here!  Our boy is now six!!

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2010
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2011
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2012
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2013
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It continues to be a joy watching this little boy grow up.  This was kind of a big year.  He finished preschool, moved to another state, started kindergarten, and is learning to read!  It's almost as if he is rediscovering the world around him as he looks at the sign on the road and tells me, "That sign says STOP!" Or, "That toothpaste says CREST!"  He is doing very well in school, listens well to his teacher, and is making good friends.  He prefers to get hot lunch at school and often asks, "Can I get tray today?" (what he calls hot lunch, since it is served on a tray).

He still loves to tinker and create things out of random objects.  His eyes light up when I finish a bottle of juice or the paper towel runs out and I'm left with the cardboard roll.  "Can I keep it?"  Sometimes the objects get incorporated into a work of art (he made a pretty cool rocket ship from empty soda bottles and duct tape).  Other times they get taken apart and there is a mess of pieces to clean up.  I'm often fascinated by how his mind works and I just love his imagination.

Here's a few other randoms about Graydon. . . 
  • He's a difficult one to wake up in the morning.
  • He gives the best hugs!  
  • His favorite snack to make himself is bread and butter. 
  • He wants to be a "builder" when he grows up.
  • He doesn't like getting his nails clipped.
  • He loves spending time at church friends' farms.

I was really close to using the song, "Don't Blink" from Kenny Chesney for Graydon's slideshow.  Part of the chorus talks about being "six-years-old and you take a nap. . . ".  It seemed so fitting and I was close to using it.  But the song makes me cry when it just pops up on the radio; so when it's paired with photos of my son actually growing up, it's too much for me.  I think the songs I chose are pretty fun.  Happy Birthday, Grady-boy!!
   

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cookies and The Polar Express

Homemade Thin Mints have become a Christmas staple around here. They are so simple to make and so yummy to eat.
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We also made some Christmas cookies together. 
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We put together little cookie plates to deliver to our neighbors in an attempt to meet them.  We love that we have actual neighbors!
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A local museum put on a fun event for the kids.  We made sure to have our tickets in hand to board The Polar Express!
IMG_0605 We found our conductor right away.  She punched our tickets at each new activity. 
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Hot cocoa!  (We call those Curtis's crazy eyes.  When he's feeling extra silly, the crazy eyes come out!)  And the dress code was pajamas.
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Crafts!
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Photo props!
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Toy making in Santa's workshop. 
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The toys we made were for cats and dogs in a local animal shelter. 
IMG_0621 Train exhibits.  The kids learned about how they used lanterns for communication back before radios, cell phones, etc.
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The two hours went fast and the kids were disappointed when it came to an end.  But they each got a special goody bag and their own bell that rings for all who believe.

When we got home that night, guess which movie we watched.  :)

And here is a random photo of Graydon that didn't fit anywhere else.  He bumped his head; so we got out his boo-boo bunny to make it better.  He actually asked me to take this photo of him.   
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Friday, December 26, 2014

More Christmas Programs

Bella joined the children's bell choir at our church.  Here they are at church a couple of Sundays ago.


Bella played the chimes at our last church.  She says that the bells are harder.  I think they did a great job!

Earlier this week, we got to enjoy Curtis's preschool Christmas program.  Here are some highlights from that.  In case you can't understand Curtis's line, he says, "Is Christmas all about Santa's list?"


I saved all of these photos with objects blocking the faces of the other kids, just to protect their privacy.  Then I just now realized that the video above kind of negates all of that.  At least I tried, right? 
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Santa and Mrs. Claus showed up at the end of the program and they had a stocking for each of the kids.
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I love watching my kids' school/church programs!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Bella's Birthday Party

We kept Bella's party super simple this year.   
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Just a few girls instead of the whole class.
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A few store-bought decorations and some cupcakes and snacks.
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A little slumber party following the school Christmas program.  
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One friend couldn't make it because she came down with the stomach bug.  But we were not lacking for noise that night!  Just listen to this group of girls. . .


The only planned activity I had was drawing on white pillow cases using fabric markers.  The rest of the evening, the girls were playing in the basement.  While they were playing, we tried to keep the boys contained to the upstairs.  This is how they felt about that. 
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Bella did let them color pillowcases and they did end up watching a movie (Toy Story 3) and camping out in the living room with all of the girls - so they weren't totally left out.

And here is how I found Curtis the next afternoon.  Too much partying for this little guy. 
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Bella's birthday festivities have officially concluded. Now it's time to gear up for our next big birthday - Graydon's!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Evening with Santa and a School Christmas Program

Bella and Graydon's school hosted an "Evening with Santa" a few weeks ago.  He read stories to the kids and then there was cookies and crafts while every child waited for their turn to sit with Santa and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. 
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We tried to pay attention to what they said, because we were having a difficult time coming up with ideas this year. 
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A week or so later was the kids' Christmas program at school.  The area preschools were also invited to sing at the beginning.  Below is a video of highlights from that evening.  A little disclaimer on Curtis's portion of the video. . . The preschool classes were never together at the same time to practice.  You'll understand what I mean when you watch.  It was funny.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Wisconsin Weekend

My Grandma was heading south for the winter with plans to leave in early December.  This bumped up my extended family's Christmas celebration and also allowed me to attend for the first time in ten years!  The kids and I drove up one Friday afternoon and made some new Christmas memories on this family-filled weekend.

A new tradition in my family is attending the Miller Brewery Christmas Lights Show.  
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My parents attended the show two years ago and enjoyed it so much that they started to include the rest of the family last year.  I remember seeing the pictures from their time last year and thinking sadly to myself that this is just one more thing that I will miss out on.  Who knew how much things would change in one year?!

The light show was pretty awesome.  Thousands of lights all set to Christmas music.  
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And after the show, there was beer tasting (and soda for the kids).  
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We concluded the night with my Dad treating all of us to dinner at one of his favorite spots in Milwaukee.  We took up three different tables!
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St. Nicholas arrived by the following morning.
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And Curtis started to feel under the weather.  'Tis the season for the sickies!  
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I sprayed disinfectant around everything that Curtis touched and, thankfully, he was feeling better by the evening when the rest of the family came over for Christmas.

(I copied the rest of these photos off of Shutterfly from an album that my sister shared.  The resolution is a little lower because they are just copies, but I still wanted to include them so that I could have the memories on this blog). 
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I met my cousin's baby.  It's been a while since I held such a wee, little one! 
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This is always a highlight about coming home during the cold months.  I love fireplaces! 
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The evening concluded with a dice game. 
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These two were partners and ended up winning the game! 
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Ava slept over that night and all four kids slept on the floor in Grandma and Grandpa's room! 
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This was just the first of many more Christmas celebrations to come!  I love this time of year.  :)