Sunday, December 21, 2008

Santa, "The Man"

We went to the mall last Thursday night to see Santa. Seth was so excited, though he doesn't show it in these pictures. Brian said to Seth, "There's the Man!!!". When Seth laid eyes on Santa, he started jumping up and down saying "I see Santa....I see Santa!" And most of the time while he was sitting on Santa's lap, Seth was just grinning ear to ear. It was too cute! Mia is turning 8 in a few weeks so her excitement over Santa was a little more contained, but at least she's no longer scared of him! There were several years where she wouldn't sit on his lap until Brian or I went with her. It was the same for the Easter Bunny too. After visiting Santa, the kids rode the mini train. Mia put on her "antlers" for the ride.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gingerbread House

The kids and I decorated this gingerbread house the other night while Brian went to the Cabela's store in St. Louis with some buddies. We had fun but the kids were impatient through parts of it while I put on the frosting. Mia broke the little candy snowman when she opened the package and cried for a bit. And Seth just kept asking when he could eat some of the candy. Funny how you try to create these Norman Rockwell moments with your kids, but it turns out more like the Griswolds! At least that's usually the case in our house!
All in all, I think the gingerbread house turned out pretty cute, though it looks nothing like the picture on the box! And I noticed today that we must have a little mouse in the house because some of the candy pieces are missing. I think it's a mouse by the name of Seth!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Decorating the Tree

We decorated our Christmas tree last week. Here are some shots of the kids putting on the ornaments. Seth got more ornaments on the tree and Mia is able to reach fairly high now compared to years past - reminds me how fast they are growing up. I still need to get a picture of the finished tree though.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Centennial Park Visit

Mom came up for a visit after Thanksgiving and we had the brilliant idea to take the kids to the park on Saturday afternoon, figuring it would likely be the last such outing before winter. The morning was sunny and calm, but by the time we got to the park, it had turned overcast & windy. Sure made us wonder what we were thinking. We ate our Culver's fast food in the car (to conserve our heat) and then let the kids play on the playground for about 30 minutes. They were relatively warm because they were doing so much running around, but mom and I were fairly frozen.

Here's Mia in a jumbo baby swing at the park. Mom and I even sat in them. They are extremely comfortable for a plastic chair due to the back support, but we both agreed that they needed heaters installed for the colder days. Soon we began envisioning the idea of these large chairs in the home of every adult, upgraded of course and complete with cup holders, automated swing motion, foot rests, leather or suede exteriors, cushions, heaters and massagers, etc. Kind of like a baby swing for adults. I think the cold must have been getting to us!

Mountain-climber Seth

You can really make out Seth's hairdo in this photo. He now wants it spiky like Shark Boy in the Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl.

Mia loves this swing-like device.

Future pilots

One good photo for the album (too bad I had to take a dozen or so pictures to get a good one!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas

Seth imitating Santa.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Silver Dollar City Fun - Part 2

Seth was so excited to ride the Frisco Silver Dollar Line train. The tracks went through part of Silver Dollar City and then into the nearby woods. There were lit character boards throughout the way and they played Christmas songs.

Then, the train stopped on the tracks next to "Grandpa", who was sitting in a rocker next to the tracks. Grandpa told the story of Jesus' birth and as he did so, various character boards were lit up. It was really a neat touch to the train ride and Seth, who is fixated with "grandpas" loved it. He kept asking, "Is that my grandpa?".

After the train ride, we ventured up to the Mill Restaurant for a prime rib buffet. The food was pretty good and relished the chance to get out of the cold for a bit and sit. After dinner, it was time for the lighting of the Christmas tree. The lights on the gigantic tree would change colors and patterns, all to the beat of a musical score. It was so impressive. Too bad we were having trouble figuring out how to get our camera to take good photos of the lights at night.

The Mill Restaurant all lit up.

After the Christmas tree lighting, we hightailed it back to the train to catch another ride. We knew that the trip would be even more beautiful after dark with the lights. And Seth was eager to see Grandpa again!

Following the train ride, we lined up on Main Street to await the lighted parade. Here's a view up the street. Nearly every building and structure at Silver Dollar City has some kind of lights. They boast over 4 million lights total. It truly was beautiful. Sure wish we had gotten more decent pictures.

Brian & Mia just before the start of the parade. Seth is actually sleeping in the wagon next to Mia under the blanket. He fell asleep mere minutes before the parade started! In case you're wondering, Mia has some rock candy in her mouth, thus the blue blob!

I didn't get any pictures of the parade. For one, we were so enthralled with watching it that we just forgot. And two, we still haven't figured out a good camera setting to take photos of lights at night. We definitely need to fiddle with it.
Anyway, that's all for Silver Dollar City. We left shortly after the parade. And the following day, we left Sue & Rich's house at 5:30am and made it home in a quick 5-1/2 hours. We had a rocky start with 2 cranky kids, but then everyone settled in for the ride. We had fun but were glad to get home.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Silver Dollar City Fun - Part 1

After our stop at Bass Pro Shop, we continued our journey to Forsythe, Missouri where our cousins Sue & Rich live. We sat around their house chatting for the rest of the afternoon and then headed into Branson (a 1/2 hour drive away) for dinner. At Rich & Sue's suggestion, we ate at Mel's Hard Luck Diner. This is the home of the Singing Servers. The wait staff are local talent who actually have to audition for the job by singing. Each waiter or waitress is assigned a section of the restaurant to wait on and they all take turns singing songs. When it's their turn to sing, they put on their music, grab the microphone, and stroll through the restaurant. All of the wait staff were incredibly talented singers. We were assigned to Jason Yaeger's table. Jason was a Top 20 finalist on American Idol in 2007. He was so nice and brought the kids complimentary sundaes, telling them teasingly not to spread the word around. Mia was enchanted and had to get her picture taken with him. Isn't he a cutie?!

After dinner, we strolled through the Grand Village Shops outdoor mall. The mall was adorned with gorgeous holiday decorations, as was all of Branson. The mall was so quaint with unique shops and brick paths. I couldn't resist snapping a photo of Brian and the kids in the oversized rocking chair.
The next afternoon, we headed to Silver Dollar City. Unfortunately the weather was very frigid. We bundled up in several layers of coats and gloves and still felt chilled. Seth had fallen asleep on the drive over and wasn't happy to awake in such cold conditions, so we bundled him up in blankets until he got out of his cranky mood.
The official Christmas tree for Silver Dollar City. It's simply enormous!

Mia gets up close and personal with the local wildlife!

The kids loved playing in the large buildings at Geyser Gulch. There were many kids activities, but they loved the air guns the best. They loved shooting the soft balls throughout the building.

More to come on my next post!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bass Pro Shop Stop

This past weekend, we loaded up the van and headed to Branson, MO to visit Brian's cousin Susan & her husband Rich. They moved down to the area nearly 3 years ago and have been dying for us to visit. Sue thought it would be perfect timing.....we could also hit the first weekend of holiday lights at Silver Dollar City. We left Thursday night and made a stop in Litchfield at grandpa's house before heading to mom's house to sleep for the night. We were on the road by 6am on Friday and after getting through St. Louis ahead of traffic, we stopped at Krispy Kreme for some world famous donuts. There's nothing better than a Krispy Kreme hot off the assembly line! We continued on our way and all I can say is, thank heaven for portable DVD players. They really helped us keep our sanity with the kids! We stopped in Springfield, Missouri at the Bass Pro Shop. The kids loved seeing the live animals (fish, turtles, ducks, snakes, etc.) and trying their hand at an electronic shooting game.

Our neighbors have nicknamed Brian, "Crockett" and when Seth came along, he became "Baby Crockett". So, it was only fitting that Seth try on a Daniel Boone coonskin hat.
Seth & Mia checking out the giant gar & other fish in the large aquariums.
Brian helping Mia & Seth with the electronic shooting game.
Mia & Seth hanging out with the local bears.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Spot On Decor

I redecorated Mia's room over the weekend. You can read all the details and see some photos on my stamping blog:

Needless to say, Mia loves it. Now if I can just get her to keep it clean!

Trick-or-Treat Gang

Though you've seen the kids in their costumes on a previous post, I figured I'd share a photo of our trick-or-treat gang. We invited several families over to our neighborhood to trick-or treat since they don't really live in a good subdivision. We wolfed down pizza, got dressed in our costumes, and set out on foot after getting this group shot. It was a fun night but it got off to a rocky start. I couldn't find Seth's costume when it was time to get dressed. We looked everywhere and I finally found it stuffed in a cabinet down in the basement! Who knows what 3 year olds are thinking?!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

Tonight, we carved our pumpkins for Halloween. Well, I should say that I actually did the carving. We bought some gigantic pumpkins at Sam's but they were rock hard and I could barely get our pumpkin saw through them. Mia was so disappointed that she couldn't do any carving, but I was fearful that she would slip and cut herself. That's all we need is another set of stitches! The kids did each get to pick out their pumpkin design. Mia chose a kitty face and Seth chose a mean face. I think they turned out really cute. While we were working, we roasted pumpkin seeds in the oven. Yum!

Campsite Trick-or-Treating

On Saturday, we went out to Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Park to meet up with our neighbors and other friends who were camping out there. The kids played on the hill above the lake most of the afternoon. For dinner, everyone pooled their food together and we had quite the feast: ham & beans, hamburgers, Italian chicken, chili, meatballs, BBQ mini dogs, etc. After we ate, the kids changed into their costumes and went trick-or-treating from campsite to campsite at dusk. Many of the campers brought Halloween decorations, lit pumpkins, and of course, plenty of candy. The kids pumpkin buckets were full by the time we were done. It was such a blast! Seth went as a blue Power Ranger and Mia went as a cheerleader.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Slider & Squirt

Just wanted to give an update on our pet baby turtles: Slider the red-eared slider (he's the larger, green one) and Squirt the painted turtle. We recently moved them to a smaller tank after the demise of our beta fish, Gabriella. Since the fish tank is smaller, we were able to make the water deeper. The turtles are really loving their new habitat and spend alot of time at the bottom of the tank. We put our remaining platy fish, Tiger, in the tank with them, and much to our surprise, he's still alive and kicking. Good thing these turtles are still so small. I was able to get some good photos of the turtles under water the other day. I especially love the 2nd photo, which shows Slider casually leaning with one "arm" against the rocks. If you look close in both photos, you'll see a bubble on his nose as well.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Raving Review

Warning: Parental brag fest ahead! Stop reading now if you feel the content might cause you discomfort.

Parent-Teacher Conferences were held yesterday at Mia's school. Mia's teacher, Mrs. Dodd, told us that Mia is doing very well in class and she loves having her. Mia made all A's on her report card, 2 "M's", and 3 "E's" (there are a few subjects for which they don't get a grade, just an "M" for Meets Expectations, or an "E" for Exceeds Expectations). According to our neighbors who have daughters older than ours at the same school, the E's are really hard to come by. We also found out that Mia's reading skills are comparable to those of an average fifth grader (Mia is in 2nd grade) and that she scored 99% or higher than kids her age NATIONALLY in reading. We knew she was a good reader, but we were still floored. Obviously, we are extremely proud of her!

I debated whether I should share this news as I'm not crazy about parents who brag about their kids ad nauseum, but I think it's important to recognize a child's strengths and hard work. So how could I not share this exciting news?!! Plus, we know that Mia is far from perfect. For one, she is a terrible slob. We're continually asking her to pick up her room or pick up the basement. There's more but I don't want to ruin the festive mood!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What a Character!

Mia's teacher assigned the kids in her class the Pumpkin Project. The kids are supposed to pick a book that they've never read before, read it, and determine the main character. Then, design their pumpkin to resemble the character. Mia choose the book "Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day" by Jamie Lee Curtis (yes, the actress!).
We set to work last night with my paper, punches, and ribbon to work on her pumpkin. In this book, the character doesn't actually have a name because she refers to herself all the time. I've included photos of Mia & her pumpkin, a closeup of the pumpkin, a drawing of the main character from the book, and the back page of the book (which is a dial-a-face......Mia chose to do the silly face on her pumpkin).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Seth's First Hunt

Last weekend, Brian took Seth on his first hunt. Of course, Seth is still too young to shoot a gun but he loved hanging out with daddy in the field across from our house waiting for doves to fly in. I hope this is the first of many hunting trips for the two of them - Brian is eager to pass on his love of hunting to Seth.

Firehouse Fun

Seth's 3's & 4's class went on a field trip to the Fire Station last Thursday. They've been before but never get tired of seeing those big trucks and the firefighters. We got to tour the fire station and see where the firefighters eat & sleep. The kids couldn't resist jumping on the beds in the dormitory. While we were there, one of the engines had to go out on an alarm call, though they were back a little while later. Before we left, the kids each got a plastic firefighter helmet.