Monday, December 15, 2008

Go Tigers!

Michael and Ryan drove to Clemson this past Saturday for Clemson's basketball game against South Carolina State (I think...) Although Ryan was a little resistant about making the trip and attending the game, I explained that it was a junk food connoisseur's paradise with cheese nachos, popcorn, soda and hot dogs all at your finger tips. This seemed to inspire him a little bit and so off they went.

Ryan enjoyed the basketball game although from what I understand, he talked most of the way through it, annoying other spectators during the game. Very surprising indeed!

He came home with all sorts of goodies from his travels as well. Like this big foam hand. Every kid needs one of those.

But the big purchase was this Clemson football uniform complete with jersey, pants, helmet and even shoulder pads.

Ryan was anxious to try it out, so Sunday afternoon he put the gear on and tossed around the football. I'm sure he'll have fun with it for awhile and make his Dad proud. But when it comes to dreams of actually playing a game of football with other people... Ryan is always quick to make his Mom proud saying, "I'm not playing football! Those guys get hurt out there!"

That's my boy!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Just hear those sleigh bells jingling..."

Wingard's, a local nursery down the road from us held a special evening of Christmas activities for children of Avery's preschool - Pilgrim Lutheran - last Friday. Since I am all about free events, we made sure we were there exactly when the gates opened at 5:30 p.m.

The kids (and I) enjoyed a ride in Santa's sleigh train which circled through Christmas trees, plants, and water fountains as we made our way around the nursery grounds.

After the exhilarating train ride, we were able to chat with Mrs. Claus. Although it does not appear this way in the photo above, Avery went to Mrs. Claus and sat on her lap all on her own. She just wasn't excited about Michael taking her picture!

Ryan thoroughly enjoyed meeting Mrs. Claus and kept her on her toes the entire time. He just recently watched the old 1970 animated television version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

The story basically explains how Santa (Kris Kringle) was taken in by elves and raised to make toys and share them with the world. He comes to Sombertown where he has to battle the evil Burgermeister who has outlawed all toys. Eventually, Kris Kringle wins the town over as well as the local school teacher' s heart. The school teacher's name is Jessica and she and Santa eventually marry.

Well, poor Mrs. Claus had no idea that she would be quizzed about her origin and her eventual meeting of Santa! When she mentioned that her children were all grown, Ryan got such a confused look on his face and asked, "You and Santa have children? There was no mention of that!"

He even explained to her how he knew she used to be a school teacher a long time ago. The lady looked at him with an equally confused expression and decided to just agree with everything he said. He is the authority on Santa Claus!

Finally, she offered each of them a candy cane and we were able to usher the kids over to the cookies and hot cider table. Avery ate her candy cane in record time. I'm not even sure if it can be considered "eating." As a kid, I remember just slowly sucking on my candy canes and making them last as long as possible. Avery literally crunches and swallows everything as fast as possible hoping that we won't notice and will accidentally give her another one!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving with the O'Briens

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! We traveled to my parent's house on Callawassie Island for Thanksgiving this year. It is always a treat to get out of cooking all of the food and cleaning the house every now and then and letting it fall to someone else!

My parents always do a fabulous job hosting Thanksgiving and this year J.T., Kassi, and their two adorable daughters, Evie and Addison came as well for the festivities. The above photo is my handsome brother J.T. and his sweet baby girl, Addison.

You will notice that I make myself scarce in the kitchen area because it is very important for someone to take pictures and document the day's events...right? So another great photo of my handsome husband Michael and my adorable son Ryan.

And think about it...they are not in the kitchen either now! Are they?

But let's face it, the real excitement comes when it is time to play a round or two of "Ring Around the Rosie." Here my dad and brother are getting into action with Avery and Evie. "Ring Around the Rosie" is Avery's all-time favorite game. EVER. It's just so hysterical when everyone falls down.

Don't you miss those days when the greatest moments of your life revolved around games like these? I do. Every day. I curse the fact that I keep getting older.

Again, I digress...Back to the game. So you can actually watch it in action here. "Ring around the rosie. Pocket full of posies..."

"Ashes, ashes..."
"We all fall dooowwwnnn..."

Avery's expression is priceless in this photo. You can tell she just had the best time ever. EVER.

Ohhh, but there is much more fun to be had. Next comes along, "Pet My Duck." My dad loves getting his faux pet swan out for everyone to see.

Not really, but that would be really funny.

And this is an action shot. Avery trying to lick cousin Addison. You can see the concentration on her face...Addison's probably thinking, "Please, nooooo!"

Here she comes again. Addison remembers what happened the last time Avery got near her. Avery was very nice and gave her cousin a sweet hug. She was probably still high off of the last game of "Ring Around the Rosie!"

I don't know how I managed not to capture any photos of the culinary feast that was center of attention that day. But I didn't. I can say, however, it was all fantastic. Thank you Mom and Dad for having us all over!

Ryan and Emma's School Thanksgiving Feasts

Ryan and Emma's school classes both had Thanksgiving activities that were held a few days before Thanksgiving. Ryan's first grade class held a very traditional meal of turkey and ham sandwiches, corn, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and for dessert...pumpkin and apple pie. I volunteered to help with the set up and serving during their mealtime (the ugly side to being a stay-at-home mom - I always feel guilty if I don't volunteer for every activity that comes along!)

Emma was in preschool that day but I had to bring Avery along with me. Boy, was that a mistake! As I was trying to help dish out plates of food before the kids came into the classroom to eat, Avery was walking around pulling everyone's crayons out of boxes and was coloring all over the tablecloth paper. Once she saw the food that was being ladled out, she sat in another student's seat just waiting to be served her plate. I must say she was very patient waiting for her plate of food. However, once she saw that she didn't have one...let's just say her ugly side made an appearance.

Luckily, Ryan is a good big brother and he let her pull up a seat next to him and shared some food with her. So you can see in the above photo, Avery eating a Thanksgiving meal with the first graders. But isn't that the whole point of the holiday anyway? Pilgrims and Indians...two-year-olds and six-year-olds mixing together?

Emma's preschool had a special Thanksgiving celebration for the three-year-old classes and their parents. The kids sang several Thanksgiving themed songs for everyone - one of which was called "Five Fat Turkeys Are We." I have this song memorized as well now since Emma enjoyed singing that one all the way home from preschool each day.

After the music portion, everyone sat down to eat the "Blessing Soup" that supposedly, the three-year-olds helped prepare. Emma was one of the few children there that actually ate the soup. Very impressive but I've always known Emma's got a quirky side. I don't know where she gets that from.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Avery's Fall Preschool Program

Last night Avery's preschool, Pilgrim Lutheran Church, held their annual fall program and art show. This is something that I have been looking forward to because I was really curious how Avery would participate in singing a song when she barely talks.

Avery and her classmates were asked to dress in their Sunday clothes and show up to their classroom at 5:45 p.m. Michael was not able to get home in time to go with us (he did meet us there) so went through the common everyday ruckus of me trying to get three small children dressed, pottied and out the door and on time.

Here is a picture of the girls ready to go for the evening and eating a little snack since I knew we wouldn't have time for dinner until after the program. Avery in particular can turn into quite a little beast when she is hungry. Not something I wanted all of the Pilgrim preschool parents to witness first hand.

Avery wore her new ADORABLE dress that her Aunt Kassi and Uncle J.T. gave her for her birthday. I believe, but not yet confirmed, that Kassi made the dress herself and I am so impressed. I purchased a sewing machine about three or four years ago determined to learn how to make fabulous things such as this. Alas, I really did not have the patience to try and figure out how to thread the thing and gave up. It now lives in our walk-in attic and hasn't been seen in years.

Anyway, perfect strangers made a point to stop me and point out how cute Avery looked and how much they liked her dress. I don't know about you, but I smell a home business project cooking! She could make some serious cash selling those things. I would buy a few!

Back to the fall program...We got to the church and I ran Avery into her classroom to drop her off knowing the kid was going to freak out. It was dark outside and she knew something was up. It just isn't a normal thing for me to take her to preschool at night, so of course, she started crying when I handed her over to her teacher. I was so nervous that she wouldn't settle down and would ruin the show for all of the other kids in her class! But we sat down inside the church and waited for the program to begin.

It was so cute! Avery's class comes walking in single file. I seriously almost fell over from shock! I had no idea that child would conform so well. I am totally holding her to higher standards from this point forward.

They all sat down nicely on the bleachers, didn't cry, and entertained the crowd in their little way. They sang "If You're Thankful and You Know It" which is a twist on "If You're Happy and You Know It." There weren't many singers, so Avery wasn't alone. She kept looking behind her at the other children to see what they were doing.

I tried my best to get a picture of them up front together. I know it is hard to see but if you click on the picture itself and look on the far left of the bottom row, you can make out Avery sitting down with the orange bow in her hair.

I did get this picture of her class walking by as they exited the church after performing. I didn't want to call attention to myself to get an actual good picture of her since I knew she'd start crying and refuse to go back to her classroom with the rest of her classmates.

After each class had sang their Thanksgiving-themed songs, everyone was invited to the gym to look at the students artwork and partake in cookies and juice. Avery's class decorated turkeys and made a pumpkin collage using their hand prints. We stayed long enough for my kids to raid the cookie table (remember they still haven't had dinner yet) and then made our way home.

One more close-up of Avery's turkey. He looks like he got hit on the head or something!

I'll have more Thanksgiving updates coming. Ryan's school is celebrating pilgrim and Indian style with a full Thanksgiving feast that Avery and I will be attending on Monday and then Emma's class will be serving "blessing soup" to all parents for lunch on Tuesday. At this rate, we'll be all "Thanksgivinged" out by next Thursday. Who am I fooling - I am soooo looking forward to roasted turkey and our famous family stuffing at my parent's house!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy 2nd Birthday Avery Claire!

Avery turned two last Friday, November 7th but we waited and celebrated with a little party on Saturday. My parents drove up from the Bluffton area to make it an extra special day. It was a gorgeous day out, definitely short-sleeve weather so we spent a majority of time relaxing on the screened porch out back.

No party is a good party without food, so we fixed up a lunch menu fitting for fall. The table was set with roasted pumpkin seeds, Chex mix, chicken bog (Southern chicken and rice dish that makes enough food and leftovers for several large families) ...

A mixed greens tossed salad...

and of course, the birthday dessert...cupcakes!

I hit up Target and Walmart's Halloween/Thanksgiving bargain bins since it's all about Christmas now, and got many different fall themed sprinkles to decorate the cupcakes with. I even picked up a large container of Halloween themed sprinkles (purple, orange, black and green) to save for next year's festivities. I am so excited! See, it doesn't take much nowadays!

Avery opened her many gifts out back on the porch and received lots and lots of goodies including bath toys, a new pink tricycle just her size (and obviously just Emma's size too since she is quick to claim the new bike anytime she can get away with it!), a beautiful dress and shirt, a new "big girl" handbag with lots of matching hair accessories, play-dough, dress-up clothes and the Sock Monkey.

The Sock Monkey is already rather popular since it travels with us a good bit in the car now and it even has it's own theme song that Emma sings, "Sock funky monkey...Sock funky monkey!"

Emma and Ryan were right on hand to help their little sister open all presents. They are just naturally sweet...jealous...I mean, sweet.

Grandma helped the girls get set up outside with the new Play-dough that they thoroughly enjoyed playing with, although most of it is stuck to our wooden floor boards now. (I keep meaning to clean it up, I swear!)

Then it was time to whip out the candles and sing "Happy Birthday" with NO cha-cha-cha's, as demanded and requested by Ryan. The cha-cha-cha's are just plain lame I guess. He's real popular in his first grade class!

The kids have been enjoying the continued overload of sugar products in our house. Someones got to eat the darn things so better them than me is what I think!

Avery had a terrific second birthday. I am still stunned that my little baby is now two but that's how it goes. A big thank you to Grandma and Grandpa O'Brien for their visit! We missed you Papa and Nana and look forward to seeing you soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Trick-or-Treat Ya'll

I will admit I have not been on top of things this past week. Thanksgiving is peaking around the corner and I am finally getting my Halloween photos posted! Avery's 2nd birthday was celebrated over the past weekend, the girls have been sick off and on the past few weeks, and I feel like I have been running from one thing to another lately.

We had an enjoyable Friday night of trick-or-treating October 31st. Halloween evening is always good family time and I tend to do the same things each year: prepare a Halloween feast for the kids before they go out, simmer chili for Michael and I, and then get the kids dressed and out for the evening.

As usual, I bought waaaayyy too much candy. The basket in the photo is just one half of the candy. The rest was tucked away in a large plastic bowl to refuel the candy pot as it dwindled throughout the night.

Emma went dressed as Dora the Explorer this year and Avery was Dora's sidekick Boots the Monkey. Emma's costume had this crazy brown wig that went with it and it looked hilarious on, but of course she refused to wear it. I can't really blame her though, the wig didn't stay in place very well and kept flopping over her face.
Ryan was Batman this year and is still getting lots of use from his costume! All of the kids came home with plenty of candy and as usual, I am sure Michael's co-workers will be receiving a large bulk of it after the kids begin to forget that it is there.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Spooktacular Food

I thought I'd quickly share some of the items that were on the kids' menu for Halloween night. Halloween is one of the few occasions when they are allowed to dine by themselves in the formal dining room. This is partially due to the fact that the dining room lends itself to the spookier decor complete with gravestones, skeleton chair covers and spiderwebs hanging from the chandelier.

My mother sent each of the kids their own adorable treat bag which added a cute touch to each of their own table settings. I also put together a little goody box with assorted candy next to their seats. There is nothing like getting the sugar high off to a good start!

The three dined on pumpkin and ghost shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches...

jack-o-lantern fruit cups...

and a ghost mousse dessert. Yum!

In the center of the table there were many goodies that were waiting for them on their return from trick-or-treating: popcorn balls, chocolate and peanut butter haystacks and cat chocolate cookies on a stick. I made these cookies to pass around at Emma and Avery's class Halloween parties and as special treats for Ryan's teacher and Emma's dance teacher.

It's really difficult to displease a child with a meal comprised mostly of chocolate, peanut butter and plenty of orange Kool-Aid to go around!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Catch a ride with Farmer Ryan

Now that our children are completely addicted to hayrides...spooky hayrides at that...they are facing withdrawal symptoms. Last week Ryan and Emma decided to create their own spooky hayride with a little creativity. They filled the red wagon up with pine straw from our garden beds and staged very spooky scenes around the yard with Ryan's superhero toys.

Ryan tossed on his handmade farmer's hat, collected money from Emma, and off they went traveling by scary things like this...

A headless...repeat headless...Spiderman. Yikes! And if that weren't frightening enough, there was more to come. Like this...

Darth Vader and some superhero I am not very familiar with resting on the side of our house.

Then they took the trail to the backyard where Ryan had even more figures planted in our hammock and screened porch (I guess that is where the guests must exit for a moment.)

Emma seemed to pleased and felt she got her money's worth. I think Ryan has some bright business opportunities ahead of him. That's good. It's always nice to be a parent of a rich kid!