Wednesday, December 24, 2008

You get what you ask for

Clara has a way of asking the same question in many different ways, many times in a row, to get to the same answer each time. It can be rather frustrating. The day before we were to leave for Phoenix, Torie was trying to get all our stuff in order for our trip. Clara was doing the question thing and Torie fought back a little. She asked Clara, "Why do you always ask the same question over, and over, and over, and over, and over.......?" To which Clara innocently replied, "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.........." I was rolling on the floor laughing, trying not to pee myself. If looks could kill, I would not be here to post this for Torie!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Tree Lane

Saturday night, after decorating our gingerbread house,we headed to Christmas Tree Lane, a neighborhood in Fresno that is splendidly decorated with holiday lights each year. It began in 1920 with the decoration of a single tree in the memory of a child who died. The family decorated a single tree in their front yard with holiday lights, and each year other neighbors followed. Christmas Tree Lane celebrates its 86th anniversary in 2008, making it one of the longest-running holiday events nationwide. It's a tradition where 140 homes and 300 trees are decorated for a span of nearly two miles. The kids and I went last year, and this year we took Chris along for the ride.

I took this picture for a neighbor of mine who captured a tumbleweed and decorated it as a Jack-o'-lantern for Halloween. She had intentions to add 2 more and make a snowman as well, but the base's well-meaning yard keepers took it away just after Halloween, so she didn't get the chance. I thought this tumbleweed snowman was pretty cool!

These next couple pictures I actually took to share with my friend Katy, who has 2 little boys who are huge Toy Story fans.

Jonathan was excited to see Spiderman make an appearance on Christmas Tree Lane

Clara was equally excited to Ariel and the gang.

This was one of the more elaborate yards we saw. The picture doesn't do it justice. The kids loved looking at the lights and listening to Christmas music.

Gingerbread House

Saturday evening we headed to the Young Chefs' Academy to make a gingerbread house. I figured it would be great to to let the kids have the experience of building a gingerbread house, and since we weren't doing it at home, I had no mess to clean up!

The excitement was a little lost on the kids though. Jonathan just wanted to eat everything. Likewise, Clara was worried that if we put the candy on the house, that meant she couldn't eat it right then. As a result, she grumpily told us 'no' every time we suggested something. Still, we all managed to work through it and have fun.

Clara tried squeezing out the icing, but it was a little difficult for her.

So, Chris and I helped her with the icing.

You can see Jonathan was already helping himself to the cookies!

Jonathan found it a little more fun to run around in the lobby between snacking sessions.

Daddy and Jonathan hanging out in the lobby.

Jonathan did help put Mike and Ike's along the roof for Christmas lights.

The had popcorn and hot chocolate for us to snack on while we built our houses, as if the candy wasn't enough!

The back of the house, complete with dog house and campfire!

There was a Christmas tree and snowman on the side of our house.

The front of the house. We did eventually turn that top peppermint patty into a wreath, check it out in the next picture.

The finished project. We even had Santa going down the chimney. For the record, Jonathan does not suck his thumb, he must have had some icing on it or something, I don't know.

We were pretty proud of our house. Chris is ready to quit his day job and enter gingerbread house competitions. I asked him to hold off on that idea for now though!

Peter Pan

Friday night was date night. We took the kids to a production by the Children's Musical Theatreworks - Peter Pan. It was wonderful. It was a play put on by a local children's theatre group. It was a perfect date!

Here are my dates before the show, eagerly waiting.

Here they are posing in front of the darkened set after the show.

Clara and Wendy

Clara and Peter Pan... Imagine her surprise, Peter Pan was a girl!

Clara and an Indian

The kids did fantastic for the show. Including the 2 intermissions, the show was about 2.5 hours long. Jonathan got a little restless just before the second, longer, intermission so he and I stepped out about 5 minutes before the break. We missed the part where they got the audience involved, clapping to bring Tinkerbell back to life, "I do believe in fairies!" Jonathan gladly went back in after intermission to watch the end of the show. Clara was enthralled by the whole show. We weren't allowed to take pictures during the performance, otherwise I'd probably have about 50 pics of her face as she watched the play. The play stayed pretty true to the movie with Mary Martin. Clara has only ever seen Disney's version of Peter Pan, so she was intrigued by the little differences. There were parts where the cast members came into the audience, the Pirates entered the stage by walking up the aisles, and Wendy, John, Michael and Peter Pan all flew too! Clara said she'd definitely like to see more plays so we joined the mailing list of this theatre company, they'll be doing Alice in Wonderland this summer!

School Days

Chris didn't have to go in to work on Friday, so I had a chance to go hang out in Clara's classroom for a while. It was a lot of fun. Clara was so excited to show me around and introduce me to all her friends.

Clara made snowflakes with Mrs. Lorraine

Ta-da! Snowflakes!

We played dress-up for a while. It's difficult to see in this picture, but she has curlers in her hair -- too cute!

Clara's class hasn't been able to go outside much lately due to the weather. It hasn't been raining , but it's fog season and the dense fog leaves everything wet outside. Instead, the kids had a chance to dance around for a while with the ribbons.

I had so much fun hanging out with Clara. She liked 'being in charge' for a change. Since it's a place that she knows more about and is more familiar with, she was able to call all the shots about what area we were in and what we played with. She showed me how things worked and how many kids were allowed in each area. I even got to see the 2 chickens they've hatched in the classroom incubator!

Deck the Cat...

...with lots of bows....

I guess Clara was still in a decorating mood!

Fa la la la la, La la la la!

Deck the Halls

We've been busy lately. Last weekend we were able to get the tree up and decorated. We hadn't really planned on putting a tree up this year since we're heading to Phoenix at the end of this week to spend Christmas with Chris' parents. However Clara requested a tree, and not just the little fake 3' tree I have put up in past years as a concession when we don't plan to be home for Christmas. So we went and picked out a Christmas tree.

I did decide, however, that it would be more fun to make ornaments this year, which would save me from unpacking and repacking all of our other ornaments. I had grand thoughts of stringing popcorn and cranberries, but the more I thought about it, I feared that our dog would have too much fun eating the Christmas tree, so we stuck to paper this far, nothing has been eaten :)

I think it turned out quite nice for a 'homemade' tree!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Yesterday I took the kids to see Santa and for the second year in a row I was only successful in getting Clara to sit on Santa's lap. As soon as we walked past the velvet ropes to get a good view of Santa, Jonathan dropped down to his knees crying. Never mind that for the last few weeks anytime we went to the mall, he has joined his sister waving at Santa and yelling, "Hi Santa!" from across the mall. Nope, he was not having any part of this. He cried until Clara was done talking to Santa and came to give Jonathan his very own coloring book, which Santa was kind enough to give to Clara.

I called my mom last night and we were talking about differences between Clara and Jonathan...there are many. I was recalling that Clara also went through a phase at around 18-36 months when she wanted nothing to do with the likes of Santa and the Easter Bunny. However, she is always wanting to please Chris and I and would compromise by standing just in front of Santa, often holding some prop gift box or toy lying around in the set long enough to get a picture. Jonathan has no interest in trying to appease me, if he doesn't want to do something, there's absolutely no making him, no compromising with that kid!

I also spoke with my mom about how fun it is to watch the magic of Christmas alive in both kids, but particularly Clara. Both kids are intrigued by the lights, esp bubble lights, and the trees and stockings (or 'Christmas boots' as Jonathan calls them), but Clara is really excited about Santa. I worry that it won't be much longer that she'll believe. As we walked away from having her picture taken with Santa, she said, "Santa's not wearing his regular clothes, and he doesn't look as tall today". We've been to another mall recently and the Santa there is in fact a thinner, taller man. I tried to explain it all away, that Santa must not have gotten all his laundry done in time for work and that he only seemed shorter because he was sitting down. I wasn't sure she was buying it, and I feared that the magic of Christmas might be nearing it's end with her...until today.

I picked Clara up from preschool and was asking all the typical questions about her day when she informed me that they made lists for Santa, so he'd know what they'd like for Christmas. She went on to tell me she asked for some 'other' stuff. So far all she's asked for is a pink castle and some bubbles. Curious, I asked,"what else did you ask for?" To which her response was, "Let's just wait till it comes and then you'll see." Looks like I'll be having a conversation with her teacher on Friday to find out what Santa is bringing!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Pics

Those of you with small children know it can be a chore to get a good family picture. I decided that since I just got that new hi-tech camera from Chris, we'd try and put it to good use and take our own Christmas card picture this year. The base decorated a plane, 'the Christmas Jet', with lights, so we dragged the family over, along with the new camera and tripod to try and get a good picture. The kids actually cooperated really well, though none turned out well enough to use for a Christmas card. Still, we had a lot of fun taking them and I thought I could at least share them here.

Is it bad that my kids have started to pose at the mere sight of a camera?

The pictures all turned out a little too dark (have I mentioned I don't really know how to use this new camera?!) You may have to click/enlarge the pics to really see us.

Silly Faces

Kissing Siblings

After getting home and realizing we still didn't really have a good pic, I tried to get the family to sit together once more in front of the tree. As you can see, Jonathan was over modelling at this point!

Merry Christmas!

Little Gym

The Little Gym just opened a new gym in the town near us. They held an open house on Saturday from 2-5pm and so we took the kids to check it out. They promised 'Fun, crafts and more", and boy did they ever deliver. Both kids had a great time as did Chris and I. The day left us trying to figure out if we can afford to sign the kids up for some classes there.

Initially, Jonathan's favorite part was the arts and crafts. He was able to decorate his own Christmas tree with stickers and such...I'm sure the cookie and lemonade helped, too!

Looks like both kids are going to be lefty's like their Mommy!

There was sooo much to do in the gym and they'd bring the kids together on the mat for a group activity from time to time as well. Clara had a ball jumping on this inflatable.

She was so proud of walking on the high balance beam on her own.

She was amazing -- as well as amazed by how much she could do on her own. I love watching her confidence grow with even the smallest of activities.

She figured out how to put her feet up on the bar and hang like this. She was thrilled later when one of the employees told her it had a name, "Basket Hang." She proudly told me, "She said it's called a basket-case!"

Even Jonathan finally worked up the nerve to come into the gym and attempt the high balance beam.

By the end of the day he was walking it on his own!

He loved climbing and jumping on all the mats.

Taking time to rest with Daddy.

Just hanging around!

We had a ball there and hope to find a way to fit it into the New Year! It was a great place to watch the kids expend some energy and gain some confidence, all while making friends and having fun!