Chess

Myers and Graham were recently accepted into their school’s Gifted program. Their first unit of study in Kindergarten is to learn to play chess. Rachel doesn’t know how to play and while my uncle taught me the basics years ago, I’ve since forgotten how to play. The boys’ teacher sent us this URL: http://www.chesskids.org.uk/ so that we can follow along with them as they learn.

Dr. A, the Gifted teacher, requested that we send pictures for her to use to construct custom chess boards for the boys. Some parents sent pictures of family members and pets, but we sent pictures of the boys’ favorite things: Pokemon for Graham & Lego for Myers. They turned out really great! See?

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, y’all! What a wonderful day! By the way, Myers is feeling much better…

BB and Hank came over first thing this morning. Just as all kids do, ours were up bright and early, eager to find out what Santa brought. We were still waiting for BB/Hank so we let them open their stockings, which kept them entertained for quite a while. And we got them involved in passing out the gifts and sorting them into piles.

The kids were angels as we opened gifts. They were so patient and quietly took turns opening gifts. They said thank you a lot and expressed genuine excitement and interest over what other people received. So sweet!

The kids mostly got little gifts — stuffed animals, some board games to share, and books. Myers was especially excited to get Action Plates, which are basically like the Fashion Plates that Louisa got for her birthday, but are instead used to design your own superhero.

The big gifts came from family, not Santa. From us, Myers and Graham each got a LeapPad tablet (age appropriate and indestructible) & Louisa got a Kindle Fire tablet. They also got one other really cool big gift from BB and Papa Hank — bicycles and helmets! Grandpa & Granny Annie gave the boys scooters and Louisa got a sewing machine. Grandma T gave the kids some money to pick their own present. They will enjoy a trip to the toy store on a rainy day!

Rachel and I never do much for one another on Christmas, but we did exchange ornaments and I got a new menorah, a long-running tradition of ours. Louisa made beautiful gifts for us at school and BB gave me a beautiful sterling silver and topaz (my fave shade of blue!) necklace. Even the back is so pretty, I may have to try and find a way to wear it like that, too.

Just as she always does, Rachel cooked up a mess of food large enough to feed an army! We had an amazing breakfast and enjoyed watching the kids play. BB and Hank had to jet off to spend the afternoon with their other grandkids & Rachel and I enjoyed the rest of the day relaxing and watching TV. Oh, and we ordered Chinese food for dinner, which brings me to this…

‘Tis the season to be jolly!

Christmas Eve dinner

We have a tradition of eating dinner at BB’s house on Christmas Eve. Family friends, Angela and Bengt, came and Rachel’s brother, (Uncle) Lee brought his fiance, Ally. A great evening was sure to be had by all, until…

Myers kept complaining about his tummy hurting, but was still playing with his brother and sister, so we shrugged it off. Dinner was running behind, as it always does on Christmas, and so we even thought he may be hungry and tried to encourage him to have a snack. He started complaining more, however, and ended up vomiting all over the floor. Poor little guy!

Ally (also a nurse), jumped right in to help me clean up the vomit. Since dinner was just about to be served, I didn’t want Rachel and the kids to have to miss out, so I agreed to sit with Myers in the bedroom. Rachel made me plate and I ate while keeping an eye on him and watching cartoons. Louisa and Graham came in to check on Myers and to see me for a bit. It wasn’t quite the celebration I’d planned, but things happen.

We hated to have to leave so early, but it was good to get the kids home and ready for bed. After all, Santa can’t visit unless kids are sleeping! Plus, we still had some gift wrapping and organizing to do, and it was nice to avoid staying up so late. Hey, gotta look at the bright side! Big picture, we still had a great night. Merry Christmas, y’all.

Christmas Party at Ada’s

For a few years now, Papa Hank’s daughter-in-law, Lari, has hosted a Christmas party at her house. We were invited for the first time this year. Oh my goodness, it was so much fun!

For starters, Lari and Ben really went out of their way to prepare for the crowd. They converted their garage into a Christmas themed dining hall with long tables and chairs & on one side there was also a table set up with arts and crafts for the kids. They got to decorate ornaments and name plaques, and even the adults participated. Everyone brought a dish or two to share, so no one was about to go hungry, that’s for sure!

The kids exchanged gifts and opened Christmas crackers. Graham and Ada were so cute with their crackers, first giving them a shake and then helping one another to open them. Ada also wanted to sit next to Graham at the dinner table. All the kids laughed and laughed through dinner. These guys like being official cousins!

Many thanks to Lari and Ben (Ada, too!) for hosting a fun evening to celebrate the holiday. Ho ho ho!

Happy 8th Birthday, Louisa!

The old adage “time flies” is proving itself to be true. It seems like just yesterday that Louisa was born and here we are, celebrating her 8th birthday. Unbelievable!

The weekend got off to a good start when, on Friday, Louisa got to attend a sleepover at Daisy’s house to celebrate Daisy’s birthday. And then, when the girls all woke Saturday morning to a huge breakfast, they sang Happy Birthday to Louisa. How sweet!!!

Louisa chose to have a party at the roller skating rink, which was so perfect because while there was a time limit to the party itself — in other words, the amount of time the staff would cater to our needs — the skating rink stayed open much later and the kids were able to continue to skate as long as they wanted. Most everyone invited came to the party and it was fun to meet some of her friends’ parents.

One little boy, Alex, evidently has a “crush” on Louisa. His mother said that as soon as he got the invitation to her party, he was over-the-moon excited and insisted on picking out her present on his own. He enlisted his sister’s help to make her a flower pen and he gave Louisa a little jewelry set. He’d written a letter, too, and as she read it, he ducked down behind the table. We definitely want to remember this story to share with Louisa sometime way down the road. You never know, she could end up dating him one day or something!

Louisa also got to celebrate her birthday with the family. BB made a wonderful cake, as always, and we had a great dinner too. There was one mix-up with gift giving, which was that BB/Hank gave Louisa the same thing that we’d gotten her — Fashion Plates! The kit they bought was nicer and had more stuff, so she kept that one. She was ridiculously excited to have the Fashion Plates, the only thing she really asked for…

Here she is below, blowing out the candles on her cake.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, sweet girl.

O, Christmas tree

This year, we planned to get our Christmas tree from a local business. After running errands and getting haircuts and grabbing a bite to eat and dealing with kids acting like turkey-lurkeys all day, we finally managed to arrive at our tree destination. They were closed! We tried to convince the kids to wait one more day to get a tree so that we could return, but they weren’t havin’ it. Off to Lowe’s we went…

We walked up and down every aisle, looking for the perfect tree, and kept coming up empty handed. We wanted to get a BIG tree, but pretty much every tree was either too bare or too narrow or too short. Just when we were giving up, Louisa found a really good tree tucked away. Score!!!

While we waited for help to bag the tree and tie it to the car, the kids checked out the different yard and light displays for sale. I had the idea to get a group picture, but as usual, these silly kids decided to make faces. Cute, though!

We can’t wait to put up the tree! Realistically, it will probably take several days. We like to set out the cases with ornaments and just do a little here and there for a couple of days. The kids lose interest if we try to do it all at once and this way, we get to enjoy the festivities of trimming the tree a little longer.