Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Catch-Up: Cutting Down the Christmas Tree

The day after Thanksgiving this year was the designated day to help my parents and sister cut down their Christmas tree.  It had recently snowed, which made for a beautiful, albeit chilly, event.

The kids quickly discovered it was fun to knock snow off the trees to assess their needles and symmetry ... or that it was just fun for fun's sake.

I tried so hard to get the kids to stand still for a picture, but, being in a silly mood, they instead got down on the ground and wiggled their tushies at me.  So I took a picture of that.

They finally cooperated ... kind of.

Then I asked them to hug each other and, their snow gear weighing them down, they took a tumble.

But, as luck would have it, I was able to finally get our Christmas card picture taken!  Here it is:

I even made it into a shot!

After paying and getting the tree secured on the roof, we hopped in the car to get some lunch.  The kids spontaneously held hands for a little while along the way.

Lunch was great but we had lots to do back at their house, so we scurried home to get the tree up and decorated.  Baylor colored for a bit while the guys brought in and secured the tree.

Once the tree was up, my husband sat down in a chair and didn't move much until the decorating was over.  He's not really one for decorating trees or houses or anything, so he generally just tries to stay out of the way and enjoy the merriment from a comfortable seat.

Mollie took a bit of a rest on the couch while the tree was being situated, and Aunt Christine treated her by reading her a story.

The annual vacuuming up of the first fallen needles was quickly taken care of.

And then the decorating began!  Well, after Mollie played with the ornaments, of course.

Dad even let the kids put some higher up on the tree ... with his help, of course.

It was a beautiful tree, filled with ornaments full of memories.

On our way back to our house, Mollie actually dozed off.  Tromping through the snow apparently really took it out of her.

So much so, in fact, that she didn't wake up after being transferred inside to our living room.  She didn't wake up when Baylor snuggled up to read and pretty much sat on her legs.

But she did wake up when he tried to steal her blanket.  She wasn't really ready to get up, though, so she curled up and snuggled into her brother.  He wasn't having that, though.

As usual, it was a very fun, cheerful day and a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season!

2013 Catch-Up: This n' That from November

I had a bunch of random, awesome pictures from November, so I decided to put them all into one post.

The month started off with a visit from my cousin and his girlfriend, both of whom the kids just adore.  We had a lovely day for their visit so we took the opportunity to try out the rocket they had given Baylor for Christmas last year.  The kids, though, just wanted to ham it up for the camera.

Most of the tries this time were unsuccessful ... and messy!

But there was just so much excitement!

The kids are still in swim lessons.  They really enjoy them and seem to be progressing steadily.

Baylor, boy after my own heart, is getting into crossword puzzles and created one of his own.  Then I decided to make one for him.

After saving up their birthday money (for quite a while), the kids finally decided to spend it on some Legos.  Baylor went all out and got a huge Lego set, 1012 pieces huge.  Then he proceeded to put it together largely on his own.  Awesome job, little man!

Mollie only spent part of her money, but she bought a set she'd been eyeing for months.  She needed help putting it together, but she had no problem playing with it!

My dad's birthday falls in the middle of November, and the kids did their best to help him open his gifts.  My mom bought him a hilarious card that just happened to have a character with his name on it, and he laughed so hard!  I love watching my dad laugh.

After all the gifts were open, Baylor and Dad fought as superheroes. It was epic.

Meanwhile, Mom and Mollie read ... and Mollie played with her nose.

In an attempt to get the kids to help me out a little and to give them more responsibility, I bought two smaller laundry baskets, prettied them up with washi tape, and told the kids that whatever clothes were in these baskets were theirs to put away.  One day, Mollie took it a step further and helped me out by sorting the clothes!  It was awesome.

Then, when her pile got too big, she sat on it to squish it down.

Another day Baylor came home with this ...

... and I have no doubt that he is.

I get really excited when I have the opportunity to teach the kids life skills, and when a friend had trouble using a socket wrench they became very interested in learning how to use one.  So after dinner one night, I took some time out and showed them how it all works.  Mollie got the hang of it right away.

But Baylor got a little hung up looking at the different measurements and figuring out how to use the socket extender.

Later on in the month, Mollie got to put her new skill to good use when she and I reinstalled our mailbox.  I hit it last winter with the trash can/my car, and after sustaining injuries from pesky teenagers throwing pumpkins and intense wind storms it could no longer be propped up.  So I dug a new hole and cemented a new post in place one evening, and the next day Mollie helped me hook the mailbox to the new post.  Unfortunately, about three-quarters of the way through the process she had an accident, so we took some time out to get her changed.  She chose what she wanted to wear and, for reasons unknown to me, selected a pair of shorts.  I told her she was going to be too cold outside in those, but she assured me that she wouldn't be and that she would cover herself up with leaves should she find the air too brisk.  However, earlier in our task I lost a sharp screw in the leaves around the mailbox, so she was unable to make a blanket of leaves for herself safely.  Seeing my point, she took it upon herself to run back inside while I had my back turned, dash into the living room, grab her favorite blanket, and bring it back out to cover herself up.  *sigh*  Ah, my girl!

November went by really quickly, but looking back I can see just how much we filled the month up!

2013 Catch-Up: Halloween!

When I was a kid, Halloween was my holiday, my favorite holiday.  I could not get enough of the costumes, the trick or treating, and the candy ... it was all so awesome.  Needless to say, it's not always easy for me to remember that Baylor really doesn't like this holiday at all; the only part he can really get behind is the candy, and that's the exact part I wish he wouldn't care about.

I can understand why Baylor doesn't like this holiday, and I am all for "protecting" him from it as much as I can, but at some point I have to be realistic - most kids really like this holiday, get excited for it, and want to dress up to the hilt.  So this year I was determined to get Baylor as into this holiday as I could.  I knew I probably wouldn't be able to warm him up to the idea of costumes, but I could try to at least get him in the spirit of things.

Mollie, of course, didn't need any coaxing; she loves to dress up and was gung ho about the whole day.  So she didn't bat an eye when I gave her a "pumpkin" orange for breakfast that morning, though she wouldn't eat the celery "stem" no matter how much I asked.

Hoping to get Baylor into the swing of things, I re-imagined his typical lunch for the day.  Instead of cold grilled cheese bites (terrifying in and of themselves, if you ask me) he had "troll fingers".  Instead of red grapes he had "purple monster eyeballs".  And instead of carrots he had "pumpkin teeth".

I got a little too into it, though, and decided that the carrots really needed to look like teeth.  So I spent the better part of my alone time that morning whittling carrots into tooth shapes, molars, incisors, and canines.

I wish I could say that he ate his lunch really well, but that was the beginning of a rough patch with him eating any of his lunch, so most of it came back home with him at the end of the day.

His time at school went well enough; he participated in the school-wide costume parade and did the activities at his class party.  All in all, his school Halloween experience was a success!

Unfortunately, the day was drizzly and grey, not the best weather for trick or treating, but the kids were not going to pass up the chance to get as much free candy as they possibly could.  Mollie decided to add a little something to her Minnie costume at the last minute: a pair of glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth she got at Baylor's class party.

Seriously, she wore those things almost the entire time we trick or treated.  She'd smile at people when they'd come to the door, and by the end of the night she had been dubbed "Scary Minnie".  It was awesome.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Before we left, we took the annual pre-trick-or-treating picture, sans vampire teeth, and the kids looked beyond adorable.  In case you were wondering, Baylor is dressed up as a Detroit Tigers fan, something he already is, which is a prerequisite for any of his Halloween "costumes".

 Both kids were really excited about the whole event, but Mollie really got into it, running from house to house as far ahead of us as we'd let her.  Neither of them would really say, "Trick or treat!" but Baylor stuck with his "may I have some candy, please" and people seemed okay with that.

By the time we got back to the house, the kiddos were soaked ... and so was their candy.  Anything wrapped in plastic was just fine, but those wrapped in paper didn't fare so well.  A bunch of stuff had to be stealthily thrown away, and the rest of it had to be toweled off.  But the kids were thrilled with their haul and enjoyed separating it by color ...

... and type of candy.

Before we herded them off to bed, they snuggled in with Daddy to watch the last bit of Jeopardy, I believe, and to finally warm up.

It was a great night, albeit a wet one.  Baylor made some good baby steps this year, and hopefully next year he'll make even more progress in at least accepting this holiday for what it is.  Mollie, on the other hand, will likely only get more and more into it as the years go by.  We'll see!