Monday, December 29, 2014

Sledding at with the Cousins

If you are a kid, or a kid at heart,

when new snow falls,

there is no better place to be than the hill at Papa's house.

It's just right for wee riders.

I know, I speak from personal experience.

Better still is sharing the hill with cousins,

 moms, dads,

aunts, uncles,

 brothers and sisters.

As long as Papa is at the bottom, you can be assured a good ride
(unless, of course, you slip off getting off your sled).

On Papa's hill, everyone has a good time, especially the parents who would be towing the sleds up a larger hill.  Here, it's every kid for themselves.

Believe me, they wouldn't have it any other way.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas snapshots, 2014

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

All I want for Christmas is my front tooth!

Twas two nights before Christmas, 
and since Christmas day looms,
preparations were ready,
all through the rooms.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
and four kids were all hoping cousins soon would be here.

The Momma was making a dinner ho-hum
while Daddy worked late to avoid Christmas doldrums.  

When what to my wondering eyes should appear, 
but sweet G-Bear declaring,
"Look what's missing in here!"

Her front loosed tooth alas was no more.
And soon came discussion of Toothfairy lore.
Are quarters delivered at Christmastime too?
Worry not, sweet G-Bear, for this special tooth
deserves two shiny quarters at least!
Surprise, the next morning they were there, a relief.

So, may this toothy smile help your spirits be bright,
Merry Christmas, y'all!  To all, a good night.

 Happily Ever,
Queen B

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Cookies with Miss Sara

What better way is there to spend the first day of Christmas break than making Christmas cookies?

This year, we continued our tradition of cookie baking, but we began what I hope will be a new tradition: cooking with our neighbor, Miss S.

Miss S invited us over for the afternoon.  We needed all the help (and space!) we could get.  This year, we made four types of cookies!  The kids were great helpers.  As with years past, one of the keys to our success was the fact that I made my dough the night before.  With the dough prepped and ready, we could set right into rolling, cutting, baking and decorating, which are all jobs that the children enjoy.

 This year, we had to introduce Buddy Bear to my rules of Christmas cookie baking.  
The rules haven't changed over the years, but I find that each year I have a new child to indoctrinate.

Rule #1:
Only Mom does the frosting.

Rule #2:
Only the kids do the decorating 
(unless they give Mom permission or ask for help).

Rule #3:
Have fun making the cookies.
(you would be surprised how difficult this can be at times!
Sometimes the decorations don't turn out they way one might want.  Sometimes one might lick fingers and have to wash hands AGAIN.  Sometimes one might have to be patient while Mom helps someone else.  This is a rule for good reason.)

With rules in place and after hours of hard work, we had a lot of bounty to show for our efforts.  The hardest part of the afternoon was just eating one cookie each!  We put the rest away for Christmas, just two days away.  The Advent wait will be worth it!

 Happily Ever,
Queen B

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Great Job, G-Bear!

G-Bear's second grade Christmas music concert wowed us tonight.  E-Bear got to see the show twice, once during school and once with us in the evening.  The second grade Christmas concert is not for the faint of heart.   The gym was so full we had to stand in the back against the wall for the whole performance.  As it turned out, we couldn't have been more fortunate to have a standing-room seat, because we could see the stage and the performers so well.  E-Bear and Buddy Bear were troopers to stand or sit on the floor through the whole concert.

G-Bear was so nervous, but once up on the stage, she was enthusiastic and animated.  One of the evening highlights was watching her play the xylophone as accompaniment for one of the songs!

There's G-Bear, in her Christmas dress from MoMo, playing away on the xylophone.

Well done, G-Bear.  You hard work has made our Advent that much sweeter!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Happy 6th Birthday, E-Bear!

Dearest E-Bear,

This year, our Gaudate Sunday is especially joyful.  Today, we get to celebrate six years with you!  As always, it is a joy to look back over the year and reminisce about your milestones and our favorite memories with you.

January: Highlights from Christmas break included your amazing arts and crafting to finish your space picture and many days of dress-up with your cousins.  You missed many days of pre-K due to the freezing temps, but I loved every wintery day at home with you and your siblings, watching you play make-believe.  We made your first trip to the dentist, and you LOVED it, especially "Mr. Thirsty."  Your favorite quiet time activity is playing with your Legos in "Nana's room."  You are becoming more independent during quiet play time now that G-Bear isn't home in the afternoons.

February:  Time for basketball practices with G-Bear, where you are a very enthusiastic participant, eagerly cheering on your teammates.  You have found a great way to handle your hunger pangs as dinnertime approaches: "Mommy, is there anything I can help you with?"  When we head to Disney as a family, you love the pineapple floats, the Polynesian water slide and meeting Peter Pan.  You get to ride Everest for the first time, handing in your "tall enough" ride pass and jumping for joy.  We went to the front of the line, and you loved every moment of the ride.   Back at home, many days are still cold, so we pass the time by playing with play dough, drawing in the playroom with chalk and painting together in smocks.  You write your name beautifully these days.

March:  You made two resolutions this year for Lent: trying to let others go first (especially Buddy Bear when getting in the car) and trying to help Buddy Bear as a friend.  Each day, I see your progress.  You enjoy our daily Lent Pocket, and you are often the one to remind me to read our activity for the day during breakfast.  At Lutsen, you ski for the first time!  You handle your first lesson alone, but you love riding between Dad's legs the most.  You look awesome in your goggles!  Dad takes you snowshoeing for the first time up at the cabin (just the two of you!), you can now recognize words like 'mom' and 'dad', and you declare, "Mom, I think I am ready for Kindergarten."  I agree.

April:  You are so eager to celebrate G-Bear's birthday and welcome her piano surprise with great enthusiasm.  Holy Week is a special time, when we make Lamb of God cards and wash each others feet.  You are so excited to find our jellybeans in the basket, after working so hard during Lent.  

May: One of the things I love most about you, E-Bear, is the way you celebrate with others so genuinely without feeling envious.  When G-Bear looses her first tooth, you are so excited to celebrate with her.  For J-Bear's first birthday, you are so joyful, and no one can make her smile like you.  I offer to pay you 10 cents for occupying J-Bear while I make dinner, and you do a great job, filling her tray with toys and playing with her.  You are storming the road on your bike with training wheels, and I know it won't be long before you are on two wheels.

June:  You take your first ride with Dad on the Mundo, riding home from the bike store.  You love it, and we now have a new favorite way to get to school in the morning and for pick-up.  Sometimes, we still take your small bike, and you are a trooper, although I often frustrate you by hustling us along.  The hill up to school is tough, and you have to be very resilient to make it!  Finally, after a week of using Buddy Bear's strider, you ride your own bike with only two wheels!  That is it for the rest of the summer -- you are officially a great bike rider!  After saying a sad good-bye to Mrs. Rogers and pre-K, we head to Chicago with Dad for Pentecost, where you LOVE the Lego Discovery Center and we have a great Pentecost morning at the hotel, complete with Lego surprises.  

July:  More biking, time at the cabin with cousins and a new playset for Fourth of July, and our favorite evening walks on the quad, where we often meet the Sisters.  You are a great help to me in the garden, always willing to water the flowers.  You did a great job in swim lessons this year, nearly swimming on your own, and then one night at Interlachen you take off your life jacket and swim by yourself for the first time.  It was so fitting that MoMo and Papa could see your big accomplishment!  

August:  You and Buddy Bear are becoming better buds everyday.  You two now love to play Playmobil together, look at books, shoot bows and arrows, and build with Duplos.  You find that you have more in common everyday, the fruit of many play days full of hard work. It is wonderful to watch your friendship blossom over the summer.  At Hilton Head, you love the taste of root beer with Dad, swimming in the pool with cousins, biking by yourself (although, next year you need a bigger bike so you can keep up more easily -- your legs were flying to keep up with your sister!), digging at the beach and horseback riding.  After our HH trip, we are home together most days.  Roman ruins and castles rule our days in the sand box.  We usually bike at least once a day, and you all love to play tee ball and soccer in the yard.  We have a great time at the Fair to round out the summer, where you and your sibs are best buds.  Your favorites were the Kidway rides and the rootbeer!  Before back to school, you LOVE spending a night in Papa's tent at GG's cabin, a real highlight.

September: You are overjoyed and only a little nervous to start Kindergarten.  After two years with Mrs. Rogers, this feels like a very big change, but you are determined to dive into school with you very best.   You are intense and focused, and you are concerned and frustrated when you do things wrong, but you are successful in so many ways.  Even when you make mistakes, you are willing to try again.  The much-anticipated County Fair delights you in every way, and we even take home red chairs for all the kids.  You are doing great with sight words and write the most beautiful sentence, perfectly backwards:  "Ilovemymomandmydad,loveE-bear."  You make a Me Bag for school, go with Dad to the football sidelines, and bike the whole way on our city Bike Tour.  Whoa!  You are full of joy and persistence!

October:  You are my helper in the harvest garden, pulling out potatoes and choosing small tomatoes.    You are always so observant, and you have the most impressive memory.  We've looked forward to our California trip together for months, and when it finally arrives you take Disneyland by storm and are equally impressed by the sights of the big trees at Sequoia.  When you get sick, very sick, on the ride to Yosemite, you are a Super Trooper, and announce, "this is my least favorite part of the trip."  Even so, you bounce back as always.  At the wedding, you are a leader and a gentleman, looking so handsome in your suit and being such a helper with the younger cousins.  The trip with you is truly a joy.  For Halloween, you are a shining knight, and you count your candy up to 92 pieces!  Whoa!  

November:  You love to do Math during learning time these day.  Early in the month, we do candy math, which you really enjoy.  Mrs. M is very complementary at your fall conference, and you are clearly making many friends and learning a lot in Kindergarten.  While G-Bear does her homework in the afternoon, you are always asking to do your optional homework calendar.  You are an eager worker.  During quiet time, more and more days I yield to your request that Buddy Bear be allowed to stay up and play Legos with you.  The two of you play so nicely together these days.  He looks up to you, and you share so many interests in common, you are more of an eager leader for him everyday.  Right before Thanksgiving, you bring tears to my eyes with your enthusiastic singing and kind words at your Paraliturgy.  You make me thankful, indeed.

December: When Advent arrives, you decorate our tree with J-Bear, count down the day to Christmas with a Lego calendar from MoMo, and love playing in the snow after school with Buddy Bear and G-Bear.  We make gingerbread houses together for Saint Nicholas day and Christmas cookies with Miss Sara, both of which you tackle with a lot of attention to detail.  Before break, you get another full day at school, a treat you look forward to every month.

On Friday night, when we took you to Snuffy's to celebrate your family birthday dinner, it was a joy to look across the table at my growing-up boy.  You are charming and thoughtful.  Your deep friendship with G-Bear continues.  We are tremendously grateful for the good friendship that you and Buddy Bear continue to develop.  We are thankful for the way you love on your little sister.  Daddy and I are honored to watch you grow in virtues like self-control and patience, and our hearts swell with joy to watch you put together the building blocks of faith.  Dearest E-Bear, we are so thankful for another year with you.  Happy birthday, dear E-Bear, happy birthday!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

A Posh Police Birthday Party

Can you believe we have a six-year-old in our midst?

Our Gaudate Sunday was very special this year, as it included a very joyful birthday celebration for E-Bear.  After much deliberation, E-Bear choose a police officer theme for his family birthday party.  His choice turned out to be so much fun!  MoMo, Papa, GG, Aunty Cindy, Uncle Scott and even Cousin Brett came for the party.  By the time the guests arrived, our dining room had already been transformed into "Station 6."

Everyone's place had a police badge to decorate and a few lego brick candies for fun.  
All the kids had police officer hats at their seats.  

The older kids thought the hats were great.

J-Bear wasn't so sure about hers.

Blue and yellow streamers, along with blue, red and yellow party ware made up the rest of the decor.
The party room got a big thumbs up from the birthday boy.

E-Bear choose macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers for his birthday lunch.  The meal got rave reviews from his siblings.  I made sure to include fruit and a nice salad for the adults in attendance.

After the meal, we played our customary party game, this time themed appropriately as:
"Pin your bandit in the jail!"

We had quite a few bandits in jail by the end of the game.  We concluded our officers were worthy of graduating our party academy.

After party gaming, it was time for presents!

E-Bear was so excited to get the police Lego set for which he had been wishing.  He also received a Lego set from MoMo, Magnatiles from Nana, a few Lego books and some Playmobil police officers.

E-Bear also loved the Locomotive book from GG.  Our E-Bear loves machines and building.

 The finale of the party was most certainly the cake.  Thanks to our local bakery, I didn't have to make this one.  The cake got rave reviews.

Birthday parties continue to be the celebration par excellence for our kids.  The smiles on E-Bear's face and the grins from his siblings make all the late-night preparations worth it.

 Happy birthday, dear E-Bear, happy birthday to you!

Happily Ever,
Queen B