What a beautiful day to get outside! Ella loved riding her bike up and down the street. Jack tried his Big Wheels, then his scooter, and then resorted to just running up and down the street to try to keep up with Ella. This is something you don't see too often--Jack running! We usually get from him, "I tired from [fill in the blank...running, walking, waiting]." Not that we think Jack's lazy, but he definitely isn't a constant mover like Ella. She literally runs circles around him. Today, though, he just kept running and running telling me he was "getting [his] exercise". Good for you, Jack!
Although it was unseasonably warm, it was still pretty cool today. That didn't bother the kids a bit--I guess running and riding bikes works up a sweat, making popsicles hit the spot. Popsicles in December?!
All it took was his own dry erase board, marker, and eraser and Jack was hooked on practicing writing his letters. Ella practiced writing lower-case letters on a similar board. Luckily these weren't considered lame Christmas presents (I'm picturing the unwrapping of socks in The Christmas Story).
Tonight we decided to take in one last Christmas-y adventure--a drive through McAdenville, North Carolina, a.k.a. "Christmastown". The town is filled with Christmas lights a-glowing and Christmas carols a-blaring. We had a nice time taking in one last tribute to the season. Ella, of course, documented it with a few photos from her new camera.
We gave Ella a camera for Christmas and she has loved being the one behind the camera instead of in front of it. We've all been very obliging, posing for her several times throughout the day. She's still figuring out how to frame pictures (and not cut off heads!), but most of her pictures are pretty good (within the camera's 1.3 megapixel capabilities, of course).
It's fun to look through the camera's memory and try to figure out what the heck is in each picture. Can you guess?
Christmas Eve is a day full of traditions, some old, some new. We try to fit in as many holiday activities as possible to build up the excitement of Christmas morning. We decorated a gingerbread house (complete with a blonde girl head and a brunette boy head to put in the "windows").
Ella and Jack painted some festive pictures with Nonni.
We spread "Reindeer Food" on the lawn. This is a new tradition. Ella came home from school with two bags of this oats, bird seed, and glitter mix, each with a little rhyme. Apparently the glitter shines in the night to show the reindeer how to get to your house. The kids enjoyed it and Jonathan didn't seem too concerned about the effects on the lawn, so this might become a true tradition.Finally, the kids donned their new pajamas and opened up one present, a Christmas book. So, after A Pirate's Night Before Christmas and Christmas Eve (a fairy story), the kids were in bed before 7:30pm....I wish I could pull that off every night! I guess it just takes an action-packed day.
I love this tradition. Last year we made and decorated sugar cookies with Grandmom and Nana and this year we got to do it with Nonni. We made a huge mess, the kids probably ate more sprinkles and candy than actually made it on to cookies, and we have more cookies than we could ever manage to eat, but heck, we had a great time and made a nice memory. Now we're all set to fill a plate of cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve.
Courtesy of Great Grandma June's Christmas presents to Ella and Jack, we took the kids to Build-A-Bear today to build their own stuffed animals. This was a new experience for Jack so it took him a bit to figure out what was going on, but after careful deliberation he chose a tiger to "build". Ella selected a pink leopard. Jack put his tiger in Batman pajamas ("so he could sleep with me") and calls him Batcat. His tiger also has Moose slippers on to complete the ensemble. Ella's leopard is in a pink party dress and her name of choice is Satsie. They love their cuddly cats. Thank you, Great Grandma June!
Please say a prayer for Great Grandma June who had a stroke yesterday and will be spending Christmas in the hospital. Thankfully she was with a nurse when it happened and they caught it early. We love you, Great Grandma June!
We had an awesome day in uptown Charlotte with Aunt Tracy, Uncle Ken, Jake, Zane, and Drew. The cousins were thick as thieves and all enjoyed the 45-minute long Leonard Bearstein's Christmas Orchestra show. After a walk through the city taking in all of the skyscrapers and lunch at Brixx, we checked out our science museum, Discovery Place. We all loved the Circus exhibit, although it felt more like we brought the circus to them!
True-to-form, Ella was the ring leader.
Thanks for coming to visit, Crosson clan! We had a great time and can't wait to see you all again!
After a nice time in uptown to catch The Velveteen Rabbit at The Children's Theatre, we stopped for lunch on the way home at Qdoba (Jonathan's favorite burrito joint). Apparently Qdoba is in cahoots with Santa because they had their very own face-painting, balloon-sword-making, pink-haired Christmas elf. She went above and beyond on the face painting with the kids. Ella was decked out with a snowflake, snowman, Christmas tree, and ribbons.
Jack's was hilarious. This picture was taken after he had managed to wipe off half of the beard. I love the dark eyebrow. I guess he's the Christmas Pirate.
It has unfortunately been way too long since we last hung out with the Brown clan. Luckily, the stars aligned tonight (and so did our schedules) and we were able to schedule a get-together. All of the kids didn't skip a beat and were cozy-comfy best buds, as always. Jack and Noah were up to their usual laughs and mischief, Ella and Miles happily invented games and stories together, Griffin played with all of us (not to mention packed away more food than anyone), and Brooke and I actually got to talk. Of course, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. You guessed it--Ella did a dare-devil jump off the top of a bunkbed and hurt her leg. Nothing A Charlie Brown Christmas (I love DVR!!) and a snuggle with a great friend couldn't fix. At the end of the night Ella and Miles gave each other three hugs to say goodbye (plus two kisses on the cheek from Ella!). Jack, Noah, and Miles said goodbye with a bear hug wrestle. Thank you, Brooke, Miles, Noah, and Griffin for a fun night! It was a great way to kick off our holiday vacation.
We're so proud of Ella! She's doing a great job writing her letters, sounding out words, and beginning to phonetically spell words. I find little notes now that Ella has left me to tell me something--like she loves flowers for example--with misspelled words, of course, but I'm so glad she's trying. This little "Merry Christmas" note was written with the help of her teachers. It definitely shows she can write each letter she's told to write. Best of all, Ella's proud of herself. We've started working on lowercase letters and she's got a lot of those under her belt. It's so exciting as parents to watch her learn how to read--and even more exciting for us is that the push to learn all of this is coming from her.
Today Ella, Jack, and I were back at the Mint Museum for some more fun. The museum had a special holiday party for the children which featured a performance by Banana Claus. Banana Claus put on quite a show and the kids thought it was hilarious. I think Ella was laughing the loudest out of all of the kids. I wish I'd gotten a recording of her laugh--it was so pure and jubilant. I noticed other parents looking back at her and smiling. Kathryn and Austin Haenni got a big kick out of the show, too (you can see Kathryn, in the zig-zag dress, assisting Banana Clause during a round of Jingle Bells).
We also got to see the kids' holiday art contest entries on display in the museum. Jack's is the ornament one he's standing right in front of and Ella's is the wreath picture above the big bow.
Over the weekend, I took advantage of my parents’ birthday gift and rented a 2008 Harley Davidson VROD. Our old neighbor, Dave, and I explored all around western North Carolina on our motorcycles during a 200+ mile excursion. During the trip, the kids and Trish met up with Dave’s family at the mall to check out a Polar Express exhibit. Unfortunately, the exhibit wasn’t so good – thus the lack of blog entry on it.
It was a very fun time, although I didn’t take off my coat and gloves for an unusually long time after getting home (it was below 40 degrees for most of the day).
I’m already thinking about the next ride, although I swear I’m not going until spring is in the air. It might take me just that long to thaw out!
And yes, Mom and Dad….I did wear a helmet. Thanks again for the gift!
We had breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus this morning, bright and early. In addition to having a great breakfast and getting to meet the big guy, there were tons of fun activities for the kids. Elves were doing face painting and putting tattoos on the kids. There were holiday art projects and coloring sheets. We wrote a letter to Santa. (The kids feel like they were good this year because they listen to their mommy and daddy, "sometimes" clean up their rooms and the playroom, and they use their good manners. Ella asked for a Sleeping Beauty doll and Jack asked for Transformers--no big surprises here.) And, Radio Disney was onsite playing music, giving away prizes, and leading dances. The highlight of my morning was watching Ella do a pretty good job at trying to figure out how to dance the Macarena and the slip slide. Each kid also came away with a special gift from Santa. Ella picked out an art set and Jack chose a jester teddy bear.
It was a fun morning and I was very impressed with how the kids handled meeting Santa. They were polite and never volunteered what they want for Christmas. Maybe they will end up on the "Nice" list this year...