Thursday, December 29, 2011

Preschool Program

Kennedy had her first preschool program in mid-December.  It was on their last day of school before Christmas break, and she was so excited to perform.  I love preschool and seeing little ones up on stage performing at all different levels is always a good hour of entertainment.  Kennedy had been practicing her songs for a couple of weeks, but I wasn't overly confident that she'd actually make it up on stage.  You just never know with this girl...
A quick photo shoot before we headed off to school.

 My little fashionista
Please pardon the disarray in the background - I believe those are some remnants of our holiday decorating!

I love how this picture captures so many of Kennedy's traits.  When she is nervous, she tends to pick at her fingers.  No smiles, just wide eyes taking in her surroundings.  It must be overwhelming for a three year old to walk down the main aisle of the sanctuary and see a sea of faces that she doesn't know. 

Song time
The Gumball class sang "There was a Little Baby" and "Christmas Morning", then the whole school got together and sang "Away in a Manger" (which we've now heard at least a hundred times since :)
Kennedy sang quietly through most of the songs but did do the hand motions and dancing.  Overall, I was very proud of my little one.

To cap off the fun afternoon, we had cookies in the Fellowship hall.  Yummy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Crafting

Another one of the fun things about the holiday season is all of the opportunities to craft...whether it be preschool snacks, gifts for friends or our gingerbread house, I am always on the look out for creative things to do with (or for) the kids.  I've recently discovered pinterest and it is a fabulous resource for all things crafty!  I found several cute, and mostly simple, ideas there this year.
Snowman snacks for Kennedy's preschool class 

My first attempt at homemade play dough - FAIL!  I had found a great idea for candy cane play dough and wanted to make it for Kennedy's preschool friends.  My first batch was horrible, but I learned from my mistakes and ended up making two more decent batches.  The end result wasn't quite what I had hoped, but I think the kids probably enjoyed them, which is what's important. 

I give myself an "A" for effort.   Kennedy helped me choose the fabric and cut out the circles, so I felt like she contributed to the making of her gifts, as well.

We put off making our gingerbread house for a couple of weeks, so that we could make it as a family.  It's always a fun activity for the kids and this year they got very creative and the finished product was quite lovely.

Constructing our house 

 Phelan Gingerbread House 2011

Another fun little craft kit that I picked up was this Nativity set which the kids got to put together.  Carter constructed most of it, but we all helped.  It sat on a side table and provided lots of entertainment for Kennedy throughout the month.  She loved telling the story of Jesus' birth and moving the people around as she did.  Very sweet.

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's like looking in the mirror...

It's always up for debate - who do the kids look like?  Some say Carter takes after me, although I've never been able to see it.  In fact, I don't think that either one of my children look much like me at all.  BUT, in personality I often see traits that so obviously come from me that it's a little scary.  And I see it most often in this little man...
He loves to read and learn, if you ask him he's always right and he loves to be in charge and dictate the flow of activities.  He's sensitive and dramatic, irrational at times of stress and cannot make a decision to save his life!  It's funny how the similarities in people often cause us the most distress. 
Case in point - at the end of October, Kyle was travelling and Carter had received green dots every day that month at school (it's a way of tracking behavior and green is good!), so I said that we could go out to dinner and he could choose any restaurant that he wanted.  I thought he'd choose Red Robin, Chuck E Cheese or some equally kid friendly establishment.  Not so much, he toyed with the idea of McDonalds (blech!) or Burger King, because those are places that Mom won't normally take him.  He proceeded to throw out just about every restaurant in our local area and STILL could not make up his mind.  FOUR hours later and I'm circling around as he waffles back and forth.  It was maddening to say the least (although I struggle with simple decisions like these on a near daily basis).  After making our way to an area of town that has a multitude of choices, I laid down the law and insisted he make a choice.  By this point, we were all quite hungry.  Choice made, Stardust Diner, a 50's style diner where he could get a hamburger and milk shake.  We order (after waffling over the menu for a time - both him and me - Kennedy on the other hand, always knows just what she wants!) and the waitress goes to make the kids' shake...chocolate was ordered and after delivery Carter says, "I should have chosen strawberry!"  Really, it was like looking at a miniature version of myself from across the table.  I second guess decisions too, and now I realize how frustrating that must be for the people around me.  All in all it was a fine evening, and we left with full bellies and pride for a month of good behavior.  It was just another example of how very alike a child can be to his/her parent. 
Carter is his own little person and I can only pray that he learns to use the good qualities he has inherited from his parents and overcome the bad ones :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Zoo Lights

We were fortunate enough to have a fun night at the zoo with Auntie Val, Uncle Mark and Brady - it was cold but dry and we all enjoyed the festive lights.  Poor Kennedy was fighting a stomach bug (worse than we knew), but I think she managed to have a little fun too.

The train ride is always a highlight of the night.  We went on a Wednesday night and got their rather early, so we didn't have to contend with lines or crowds.  It was great! 

 Mommy and Carter

Daddy and Kennedy 

Our sweet nephew, Brady.  He was all bundled up (a la The Christmas Story) and could barely move, but he was a trooper.  Such a mellow and happy boy.  Sweetness.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

North Pole Breakfast

I found this fun idea for a North Pole Breakfast on a blog that I've recently discovered and knew that I had to attempt one for the kids this year. Check out the blog here. I thought it would be a special way to welcome our elf, Frisbee, back for December.  It was put together quite quickly, so there were several details that I wasn't able to perfect, but overall I was pleased with how it turned out.
The kids had a wonderful time and seemed to enjoy the novelty of donuts, candy covered pretzels and hot chocolate for breakfast.
Frisbee is back...he's watching and reporting back to Santa.  Trust me, he's already come in handy a few times.  A great way to curb bad behavior! 

I set the table the night before, so I didn't have much to do in the morning.  Since our kids get up so early, I knew I didn't want to be preparing things then. 

My mom gave me these beautiful ornaments this year, so I hung them from the light above the table for decoration.   

 I found little place settings for each of them and used those to spruce up the table.

 Before they could dig in or open their gifts (much to Carter's dismay), we read the letter that Frisbee had written them.

 They each got their annual ornament and a new Christmas book.  The Polar Express for Carter and Fancy Nancy for Kennedy.
Oh, and if you're wondering why Kennedy is wearing a hat indoors, it's because she had slept with it that night.  She discovered it in the back of a drawer while choosing pajamas and insisted that it be worn to sleep.  Ok then.

An Oregon Duck ornament - Carter was in heaven! 

 Finally, let's eat!

 Kennedy was excited to see a place card with her name on it!

A true breakfast of champions
Snowballs (mini powdered donuts), snowflakes (covered pretzels with sprinkles) and Christmas shaped pancakes.  Oh and a banana so that I didn't feel completely hypocritical!
Overall, I think the morning was a success.  I had a lot of fun putting everything together and I think the kids really enjoyed it, as well.  Definitely will need to do this again next year.

And this is my 200th post!  Wow.
I started this blog almost 4 years ago and love to go back and read old posts.  My hope is to turn it into a book so that Carter and Kennedy will have it when they are older.  I think it's a great way to document our life as a family and wish that I had written memories like this from my childhood. (Especially since I have a terrible time remembering things!)  I know that I cherish these times and am thankful for the opportunity to share them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A visit with Santa

Santaland 2011

As most people know, I love traditions and am not a huge fan of change.  I find comfort in knowing what is coming and what to expect.  With that being said, it may be easier to understand why I was disappointed in this years trip to Santaland.  Since Carter was an infant, we have gone to visit Santa at the downtown Macy's.  I was always impressed by the quality of the props and the authenticity of the Jolly one himself.  (We had seen the same Santa for the past three years)  This  year, Macy's switched everything and the result was definitely not as good.  Thankfully the kids didn't seem to mind, but we may head back downtown later this week to visit Santa Ted at Pioneer Square (our Santa has moved!)

One thing that was definitely an improvement from last year...Kennedy wasn't screaming.  Hooray for progress! 

I was trying to get pictures before we got in line, but they were just too excited! 

Carter went right up, without hesitation.  He knows what he needs to do.  It was quite the process to decide what he wanted this year.  We had to veto a few requests (an Ipod Touch, really?!?  You are 5!) but he finally settled on a Nerf gun.  I have mixed feelings and serious reservations, but his desire ran deep.  We'll just have to establish some ground rules with that particular gift. 

Kennedy and Ethan on the old monorail train

Carrie & Ethan and Kirstin, Tim & Lillian joined us for our visit.  I count the day as a huge success, because all four kids posed without tears.  It was a fun way to spend the morning together. 

 After our visit, the kids wrote Santa their wishes...

And then sent them off to the North Pole
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

o' Christmas tree, o' Christmas tree

Leave it to us to choose the one rainy Sunday of the month to pick out our Christmas tree.  We've had a lovely string of sunny, cold, crisp days so far this holiday season but we had a plan and we stuck to it.  When we left for church that morning, telling the kids that we would head out to the tree farm after, the weather was fine.  By the time we left church, the rains had started!  By the end of it, it was torrential!  It was miserable...mainly for Kyle, as he was the one on the ground sawing through the mammoth trunk of the tree we had chosen.  We managed to snap a few pictures and then the kids and I jumped back into the truck.  Yet another example of the love that my sweet husband has for his family - I'm not so sure I would have laid down in the mud to cut down the perfect tree!  Thanks, honey!
 Quick - get a picture!

 When we first arrived, it wasn't pouring yet, so the kids and I helped hunt for the perfect tree.  And we found it!  It is huge and big that Kyle needed to take off over two feet so that it would fit in the living room.

Kennedy didn't seem to mind the rain 

 Poor Kyle.  He wasn't prepared for the rain, so he didn't even have a hood.  He was soaked!  And covered in pine needles.  What a trooper.
We had dinner plans the night we got our tree, so we left it outside to dry off a bit and then decorated it on Monday evening.  Kennedy has gymnastics on Mondays, hence the tutu.  We were playing Josh Grobin Christmas songs (doesn't he have the most amazing voice?  I could listen to him all day!) and she was performing for us.   

Not one to be left out
Our good dog, Jake.  Getting older but still an active participant! 


The bottom of the tree was a little ornament heavy, but we were able to guide the kids a bit and encouraged them to spread them out a little.  Overall, I think we have a great looking tree! 

The kids loved helping!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Advent Season

All too frequently the real meaning of Christmas gets lost in the business of the holiday season.  We have really tried to put the focus on the coming of Christ, celebrating Advent.  It's so easy for children (and some adults too) to be consumed with thoughts of gifts and their wants.  Kyle and I hope to instill in the kids that they are fortunate and blessed and that it is an honor to help those less fortunate.
Our church has a great event on the first Sunday of Advent each year.  We gather together, make Advent wreaths for home and then get a chance to dress up and recreate the manger scene.  Last year, Kennedy refused to be a part of things, so I was pleased that she wanted to dress up.  I was hoping for an angel, but I do believe she makes a very darling little cow!  Carter chose a Wiseman costume, and Kyle and I were Mary and Joseph. 

 Merry Christmas!

 Before church, I had to snap a quick picture of the kids.  I felt okay putting them in some of their holiday clothes, since it was technically the start of the Christmas season. 

Carter loved clipping branches and greenery for our wreath.  Once he was finished with cutting, though, he was pretty disengaged from the rest of the activity. 

Finished product
I was proud of Kyle and the kids for making a beautiful wreath for our table.  I was upstairs and didn't get to help this year, but they did a wonderful job. 

And what would an event be without a little silliness?
Enjoying some yummy snacks and fellowship