Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas with the O'Briens

On Saturday, December 19th, the O'Brien family congregated in Callawassie Island to celebrate Christmas together and enjoy some tasty homemade she-crab soup (yum -thanks Dad!), salad and array of other appetizers and desserts.

The cousins enjoyed each other's company and of course - opening presents!

I tried to get pictures of every grandchild at least. I didn't do too well photographing the adults. Kids are much more interesting anyway, right!?!

J.T. and Kassi's oldest little girl, Evie, is pictured above.

Katey and Eric's oldest daughter, Hannah...

My lovely sister and her adorable daughter, Jordan.

Luke enjoying his new marshmallow blower (yes, you are welcome Katey!)

Luke and Ryan relaxing in the big chair...

Our lovely host and hostess...

Ryan opening his new magic set. He loves it!

Katey and Eric's youngest son, Simon, playing with his new vehicles.

Three generations...

Grandpa and the youngest grandchild, Jordan.

Avery opening her new baby doll...The expression on her face says it all.

My adorable niece, Addison. She is so sweet and always had a big smile on her face!

We had such an enjoyable visit with everyone. Thank you Mom and Dad for having us over!

Dance Open House

Stepping Out dance studio held their annual holiday open house the week before Christmas. Family are encouraged to attend and are able to sit in the classroom and watch their children dance (usually we wait in the lobby area.) Each class then learned a Christmas routine that they put on for the parents.

You can see Emma dancing in her class in the photo above. Michael took a few pictures of her dancing but honestly, they all looked pretty much the same.

He then took a few shots of Avery smirking and not paying attention during class...

Practicing her tap down the length of the room...

And dancing with her classmates.

And Ryan lucked out and one of his classmates was there as well so they kept each other entertained and raided the refreshment table!

Three Trees Christmas program

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday!

I'm going to be playing a lot of catch-up here as I try and post all of our recent Christmas activities so no better place to start than the two girls' preschool Christmas program at Saxe Gotha. The 2's, 3's and 4's classes put on a musical story-telling of The Tale of Three Trees.

If you are not familiar with the story it is an old folk tale about three trees that grow up to be Jesus' manger, boat, and cross.

Avery was standing in the front row with the rest of her class and Emma was in a back row with the 4's.

I wasn't able to get many good pictures of Emma during the program but I was able to capture a couple of her walking into the church.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nutcracker Fantasy

We survived our first Nutcracker Fantasy! What a weekend. Emma participated in her local dance studio' s, Stepping Out, Nutcracker Fantasy this year as a mouse. It was our first experience with on-going practices, rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and finally multiple stage performances. Four performances to be exact - Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening, and then Sunday afternoon.

We had taken the kids to see the Nutcracker Fantasy two years ago (they only put it on every two years), and they had enjoyed it back then. That was a year before Emma started dance, so it wasn't very hard to figure out where I wanted to send her for dance lessons the next year.

The studio (and of course the students performing from the studio) do such a great job with it and they really put in so much time and effort. And I personally am always impressed with how talented these little girls are. So many of them dance in multiple scenes, sometimes 5-7 different dances, and have multiple costume changes. Top that off with the fact that they have been running the performance in completion (between full rehearsals and the actual live performances) for a week, and you realize how hard these girls have been working. They have got to be so wiped out after this weekend!

And Emma was only in one dance this year and we were wiped out! I can't wait until 2011 - I'll have another mouse on my hands (Avery) and I will have another (Emma) in probably three dances...and three costume changes...and three reapplications of make-up...and three shoe changes...and three hair accessory changes...WOW! Can't wait!!!

Grandma and Grandpa O'Brien and Papa and Nana Hawkins joined us for the Saturday afternoon performance which was so nice and Emma really loved having them here to see her perform.

The kids seemed to enjoy watching the performance and Ryan made out with a new play Nutcracker sword (he loves nutcrackers!) and Avery enjoyed snacking during intermission.

This child is such a ham! I can only imagine what she will be doing on stage in another two years.

In one word - FRIGHTENING!

Emma scored some flowers - thank you Grandpa and Grandma.

And she enjoyed having her special moment!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

I mentioned my six stockings in a previous post and just had to share a picture of them all lined up across the mantel. It makes me smile every time I look at all of them and think about how our family has grown over the past few years!

One thing I added to the stockings since this picture was taken are monogrammed ornaments that I have hung over each individual stocking so everybody can tell which stocking is theirs. Unfortunately, I was only able to find one "E" ornament so Eden's stocking is designated by a "P" for her middle name Presley. I tried to find a matching "E" at many Walgreen stores but everyone was sold out completely.

Oh well! It is always good to have something to throw the kids off every now and then. I can already hear it now, "Who is this P person?" Luckily, half of the group does not know how to spell yet, so we should be safe for another year or two!

Not a creature was stirring...

...not even a mouse!!!

So our little Nutcracker mouse had her full dress rehearsal last night at the auditorium. It was a full day of dance for Emma as her preschool class attended a ballet of "Frosty the Snowman" downtown during the morning and then of course several hours of Nutcracker rehearsal last night.

After Emma's dance scene, I was able to pull her from backstage during intermission and we decided to stay (way past her bedtime of course!) to watch the third act of the show. She enjoyed seeing her friends on stage and it is the only time she will have to actually watch the show herself so I am glad we did that.

Emma's first live performance with a real audience will be tonight at 7:00 p.m. I will be off in another hour or so to start working on getting her hair into a bun (what a challenge!) and get her make-up on. After the performance we get to go grocery shopping for items to make a pot of chili tomorrow. I am sure she is going to be so exhausted after this weekend!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

St. Nick Night

Last Friday our church held "St. Nick Night" and kids were invited to wear their pajamas, bring their pillows and sleeping bags, and camp out while viewing the new Veggie Tales movie, "Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving."

They enjoyed snacking on popcorn, juice boxes and Christmas cookies while learning about the little boy who eventually became known as St. Nicholas and went on to spend his life serving others. Great movie - I loved it!

I don't think most children learn enough about the "real" Santa Claus and how he originated. I know we haven't spent enough time talking to our kids about Saint Nicholas.

They had some fun giveaways as well and Emma came home with a new musical Christmas book and all of the kids (Ryan went too - he just wasn't photographed) brought home Veggie Tale balloons.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Eden at four months

O.K. - another post I am very delayed posting, but couldn't not share these. Eden turned 4 months old November 24th. You can tell how much she looks forward to these monthly sessions by looking at the expression on her face!

She "talks" all of the time now and people are always turning around in the stores trying to figure out who is making all of this noise when we are out and about shopping.

I know I've said this a million times, but Eden is such a good baby. She doesn't fuss much, she eats well (in fact, she just started some cereal and we have even nibbled on some carrots a bit), she smiles at everyone (except when you are trying to take her picture), and she still loves her swing and the mobile on her crib.

I loved getting out her stocking for the first time this year. I had purchased six matching stockings a few years ago in case we had another baby, so it was exciting to see them all lined up on the fireplace. And Eden even has her own little Christmas tree in her room, but I am sure I'll get a picture of all of that sometime in the future.

I am really looking forward to celebrating her very first Christmas with her. She is such a precious little girl!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Belated Thanksgiving

I have been very challenged lately due to the fact that we have so many activities going on and it has been difficult to juggle. I apologize because it has been a struggle for me to get out here and post all of the things that have been keeping us so busy.

Between Emma's Nutcracker rehearsals that are every day now, Ryan and Emma practicing for our church's Christmas Eve pageant, Ryan and Emma appearing in our local Lexington parade last Sunday and preschool holiday activities to keep up with...on top of the regular holiday craziness, it has been a little stressful and I am trying really hard to not let it take over.

It depresses me how easy it is to lose sight of why we are doing all of these festive activities in the first place, so I am trying hard to keep Jesus and his birthday celebration first.

That said, now you know why I am just now posting a few pictures from Thanksgiving. We spent the day in Anderson, SC visiting with Michael's parents and eating lots of yummy food.

The kids helped decorate their tree. I'm not sure if it was done fashionably... this picture above Ryan is hanging an identical ornament right next the other matching ornament. I mean, literally, it. Kids just don't get the concept of spreading ornaments out and not weighing down branches to see how many breakable ornaments it might hold before giving way.

Oh well, they did get the tree decorated (and ours at home as well.) I'm sure they will get a little better (hopefully) over the next few years.

We had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving with the extended Hawkins' family and appreciate them having us over. I hope everyone else had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday as well!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The great Thanksgiving feast

Today was the day of many bountiful Thanksgiving feasts in preschools across the land. Well, at least at Emma and Avery's preschool.

Since I helped in Avery's classroom for Halloween, it was time to switch gears and spend some time in Emma's classroom for Thanksgiving. The kids made "blessings mix" - a snack mix where each ingredient represents a blessing of our nation.

They also decorated potatoes to create their own turkeys and feasted on Chick-Fil-A nuggets, popcorn, baby carrots, apples, grapes, dressing, cookies, and pie - just like the first pilgrims and Indians enjoyed (ha!).

And they made special accessories to wear during their feast including Indian headbands, colored pasta necklaces and vests decorated with various Indian symbols.

Isn't celebrating Thanksgiving as a small child the best!?!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Santa Christmas Pictures

Friday afternoon we took the kids to Cynthia Pace's photography studio downtown to have the kids picture made with Santa. I have been wanting to do this for years but with the kids fear of Santa when they were younger, it just wasn't worth the effort. This year seemed perfect since all four kids were comfortable around Santa (Eden hasn't developed the fear of course quite yet.)

Cynthia Pace does these gorgeous photos like the one above and I can't wait to see my proofs next week.

Since the kids were already decked out in the Christmas attire and I have no plans to dress them back up in it again until Christmas mass, I decided it would be a good time to stop off at the State House and take some photos of my own in the surrounding grounds.

As anyone with multiple children knows, it can be a real struggle sometimes to get everyone participating - NICELY - in the picture. And with our group, it can require a lot of shots and therefore some cranky children.

Here you can see how much fun the kids were having while I was trying to get just the right shot...

Avery looks like she is slowly being tortured and Emma is hunting for squirrel...

Ryan has learned it is just better to smile and try to get through it as quickly as possible.

I did, however, get these adorable pictures of the two girls together. And I must say this was not even a forced staged moment!

Luckily nobody fell off of the bench as usually happens in these sort of moments...

I took a couple of Eden once I got home. She hasn't learned about the many tortuous photography sessions she will have to endure quite yet, so she is still willing to smile!