Saturday, January 29, 2011

What to do when the snow is up to your neck

We took the kids out for the first time on snow shoes this season and they did very well. It got dark very quickly so we had to beat it out of there in a rush to get back to the car. Next time we'll leave more time for enjoying the scenery (and some hot chocolate. The boys really only seem to care about the hot chocolate at the end of every wintery escapade.)

Liam watching darkness fall, very quickly.

Sadie still walks like a slightly drunken sailor. Although she has started to pick up speed lately, she's still not ready for her own snow shoes. She got to ride on my back, but boy, is she getting hefty! I took one header into the snow and with her pulling me head first into a drift, I was glad Chris was with us to pull her off me so I could dig myself out!

Eamon did GREAT! The snow is probably at least neck high on him now so after a few missteps initially, he was a happy little trekker.

Colin taking a wee rest before we packed it in for the return trip.

Fur: the long and the short of it.

Eamon, so happy that he got his own scissors for Christmas came to me one night with a fist full of hair while I was making dinner, saying: "Mommy, do you think this hair is from the cat??" Assuming he'd found a dust bunny or actually cut hair off the cat, I said, distracted: "Um, yeah, I do, Eamon." "Nope, it's mine!" Little Bugger.

Good thing he didn't give Clara a trim too because she apparently doesn't even have enough fur to stay warm and comfy without three pillows and a blanket to help out.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ten minutes in the life of Eamon

Eamon snagged my camera and secretly took it over for about 10 minutes before I caught the little bugger. This is just a smattering of the nearly 50 photos he took in that time!

Star Wars cartoon on the TV.

Still life with art stuff.

Feet, a self-portrait.

Liam. Obviously for blackmail in high school when he wants to borrow the car.

Headless brothers in their natural habitat (aka Watching Aforementioned Star Wars cartoon)

Sleepy-messy-faced sister. (Hopefully for purposes of embarrassment later in life when her first suitor comes a-calling.)

(A nice composition and one of the few that didn't have the photographer's pudgy fingers over the lens)

Old Sturbridge Village

Just a few of the beautiful views of Old Sturbridge Village in Winter.

And some of the fun we had. Liam showing off his prized giant icicle that he used as a sword. (No blood was shed, miraculously). Colin loved the old arms shed the best and posed as a militiaman. Liam's interpretation of what a young boy might feel like with that tight lace collar on. Colin and Eamon took Rudolph for a ride. Sadie and I explored some old homes. She missed the cheese room in the basement since she was trapped in the stroller but she loved meeting the cows outside and learned to say "moo!". We all took a sleigh trek around the commons. Eamon climbed the 3 year old version of Mt. Everest. We can't wait to go back for old fashioned sledding and maybe a hot toddy in the tavern next time!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Baby curls

I want to remember these golden angelic curls (on a decidedly no-longer-angelic baby). The big brown eyes will stay but I keep hearing the curls will be gone when she gets her first hair cut. I don't know how she is my genetic offspring, but I'll keep her nonetheless.

New Year's dozen.

Cousins, cousins, everywhere. They just get bigger every year. And louder, at least in my estimation. When I was young, one of my favorite books was called Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. This is the updated version: more adventures, more trouble, more fun, more kids!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Over the fields we go, laughing all the way!

We were thrilled to have a White Christmas (it would just be wrong not to) and more thrilled with the extra foot of fluffy stuff we got right afterward! Miss Sadie got introduced to snow for the very first time! She loved it and stayed out for over an hour even though it was very cold and windy. She was less thrilled about sledding down alone, but happy to go with a big brother or two.

Liam and Eamon got new Mini Luge sleds for Christmas which are fast and fun (and good for me because they carry them up by themselves). Colin practiced his sled surfing in preparation for using the new skateboard HE got for Christmas. (Of course, now that the snow is already mostly melted, he has been yammering at me to take him out skateboarding while the dry roads last!) Liam refuses to believe that it will, in all probability, snow A LOT MORE this winter and thinks all of his best sledding is already behind him. I'll wish for (just a little) more snow just for him!

Christmas Giftapalooza 2010

I have to say, the boys were pretty good this year and we didn't start opening gifts until about 7am! Colin got his MUCH coveted keyboard, definitely his favorite gift! He's just one step closer now to his ultimate goal: turning into Cousin David! Liam also got his "tetherball" that he asked Santa for, although he confided in me that he wanted the "real baseball one like Ryan's". I told him Santa was worried they would all end up with a concussion and got him the one for smaller kids instead. He also got some Mighty Beanz, the only other thing on his list, even though I have no idea why these things are so cool. All I see when I look at them is a wireless endoscopy camera. Which is pretty much what I think the outcome will be (minus the cool photo op) after his baby sister swallows one. But I digress... Eamon was THRILLED that he got not only the big yellow school bus he asked for, but also a whole fleet of diggers in his stocking!

Little Miss missed the entire of Christmas morning and slept until 10:45am when I finally woke her up to attend Round Two of opening at Grammy and Grampy's. The boys swooped her into the playroom long enough for THEM to open all of her gifts while she climbed up on Colin's keyboard and maniacally beat on the keys. She was the only kid who actually got DRESSED on Christmas, the others chose to stay in their elfin jammies. (Okay, I FORCED her to get dressed so she could wear those impossibly cute red-ruffle-bottomed snowflake tights with her Mrs. Claus dress). And then I promptly forgot to get any good pictures of her in that get up anyway!

A small collection of the most-used gifts of vacation week. Many MANY forts were built and rebuilt with the sticks and balls from CrazyForts which were AWESOME. Sadie's favorite gift was her grocery cart which she pushes around everywhere (usually loaded up with her brothers' trucks because vehicles are about all she cares to play with otherwise). It also provided enough of a bribe for us to GET HER TO WALK FINALLY! She has been taking a step here and there for a month but lacks the daredevil attitude her brothers had so she kept it at just one or two steps until we kept her grocery cart JUST out of reach and she walked halfway across the kitchen in her first attempt to get back to it!

I got a new griddle which we proceeded to use for EVERY meal for a week. I THOUGHT the Star Wars pancake molds would be enough to entice Colin to try a pancake (I know, a kid who hates pancakes? What's up with that?) but no... no go on that one (the rest of us liked them however!) Eamon got a new Leapster Explorer which EVERYONE loved (especially me because you can download most of the games and not have to carry/lose/break a bunch of cartridges for it. And most importantly, you can tailor the games to each of the kids and the skill level they are currently at which is WONDERFUL.) The big boys spent HOURS doing science projects from a set of cards Liam got... there they are with their toothpick/marshmallow towers. Eamon got a "build and break down" digger with its own drill which he found some creative uses for and we ALL were enthused about the BEST WOODEN BLOCKS I HAVE EVER SEEN. They come with all kinds of shapes and sizes we've never encountered before and produce some of the most creative architectural designs EVER. Plus, Sadie loves to spend hours taking them out of and returning them to the box they live in. All in all, a HUGE haul of great stuff we spent the week off playing with nonstop. (It wasn't until Sunday that the boys seemed to notice we still owned a TV and THAT sums it up better than anything I could come up with!)

Christmas Eve 2010

Although the grown ups usually care more about the multitude of food at Christmas Eve, make no mistake, the kids are there solely for the multitude of cousins (and throwing Santa in to boot doesn't hurt either). My favorite part of Christmas Eve is when Santa pulls out his Black Book of Naughties and expounds on one thing each kid did during the year that they better work on if they want to stay on the NICE LIST! Liam looked sheepish as usual when Santa told him he needs to smile more for photos in 2011. Liam seems to have learned his lesson already because we got a grin out of him! Colin was nervous and hoping that a giggle would make up for the fact that Santa knew JUST how much he beats on his brother Liam all year. Let's hope the Big Red Guy makes an impression on him as well. Eamon got a lesson in the proper use of scissors (as in NOT on your brother's sweater or cutting off the top of your sister's sippy cup). And Little Miss Sadie got called out on her rascally ability to scamper up the stairs ALONE at every opportunity. She, of course, didn't listen to a lick of it. She also wasn't so thrilled with Santa touching her, although once he showed her a gift, she was much happier to stay put!

Emme and Finn look like they NEVER could do any wrong so Santa must not have had much to say about their escapades this past year! Unfortunately, I missed Harry's encounter with Santa because I had to go chase Sadie off the stairs for the billionth time. We've taken to calling her "Naughty Diva" because she is constantly scuttling around, looking over her shoulder to make sure you are watching and then cackling as she takes off for anything she is not supposed to have. LIKE THE STAIRS.

Somehow, the big kids don't look as thrilled to be sitting on Santa's knee as the little ones. Ryan looks like he's sizing Big Red up to see if he can take him (my bets are on Ryan) and Erin looks like she is already ignoring any advice to be good in 2011!

I've never seen a little kid LOVE Santa the way Jake did this year. He was just thrilled with everything Santa! And Colin was thrilled to take a pic of their cute little mugs together!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

First Snow, First Snowman

We had our first good snow of the year last Monday. Twelve inches or so of that powdery stuff. And with the first snow comes the first snowball fight and first snowman of the year!

The boys did a great job and cooperated! Me, I'd forgotten that snow is actually heavy.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Complete and utter miscellany.

This is nothing but a mishmash of random photos I have found from the last month with nary a theme at all.

Casper has not only grown in size, but grown in curiosity about staring off into the wintry backyard. You know what they say about curiosity and cats though... hopefully he'll be smarter than the last cat and stay indoors.

Who knew beagle mutts and stuffed wookies were natural enemies? Clara loves to wiggle Chewy around until he makes strange wookie noises and then she drops him like a hot potato and runs away with her tail between her legs.

I shouldn't even garner this with a mention, but Colin INSISTED I take this photo and tried to use it in some crafty project or other until I utterly refused. This kind of stuff just never ceases to crack the boys up.

Liam actually ASKED me to take a photo of him and SMILED of his own accord. I couldn't pass that opportunity up. (Also used for some crafty project, I think something he made for Daddy.) There were many days of secret elving projects that we weren't allowed to see going on in the playroom with all the craft supplies. Strangely, there were no magic elves popping in to clean it all up.

We surprised the big boys with tickets to Cirque du Soleil Dralion just before Christmas and had a very lovely day out with Grammy and Grampy. This just spurred on the ridiculous acrobatics that Liam carries out on a daily basis anyway. Here he is yet again showing off his balancing prowess (yes, that's a cat scratching post, you saw correctly). He actually has gotten even better and can now do it on one foot and pivot, the whole shebang. We expect Cirque du Soleil to be calling for him any day now.

For some reason, Eamon became enthralled with the first frost of the season and insisted we walk back to the bus stop in the afternoon and take "really really close" photos. It is pretty cool, I have to admit. I stupidly bought him his own pair of scissors and now all he does all day is cut paper into tiny tiny "snowflakes", otherwise known as annoying little snippets that the vacuum cleaner just spits around.

I can't remember why I took these initially, but I think it was to show two miracles in action simultaneously. One was that Sadie kept a bow in her hair for more than 12 seconds. And the other was that, of ALL the toys we have had (and that is pretty much every one ever made), this toy has stood the test of time. I bought it for Colin as a little baby and EVERYONE has loved it. It plays all sorts of orchestral music, you and add and subtract different instruments and, if I'm not mistaken, it is still on its FIRST SET OF BATTERIES after seven years.

Lots and lots of game playing this month. Chris taught the boys how to play checkers and Liam was soooo kind and patient trying to teach Eamon how to play too. They played for HOURS over a couple weeks before they lost all the pieces (yet again). Liam made this Trio construct on top and begged me to photograph it and, of course, I did. And the real kicker of the holiday season is on the bottom... at Thanksgiving, the boys spent HOURS with their cousins building plastic cup pyramids, higher and higher and higher. They took the idea home with them and spent countless more hours perfecting their creations. Which really just made me think: why are we bringing more toys into this already over-stuffed house when I can just give them the recyclables and call it good?

Making a list and checking it twice

Eamon spent a lot of time practicing JUST IN CASE he was needed at the very last second to fill in for the Drummer Boy in the manger scene.

I heard it all year long that teachers REALLY don't want baked goods as Christmas gifts. But, seriously, who doesn't want cake balls dipped in chocolate and decorated like Santa and his reindeer? I mean, I can't even imagine a world like that. (Plus, I got them gift cards, okay? Everyone told me all the teachers actually want is GIFT CARDS, but that is so boring by itself, I had to make something to go along with them.)

Santa Claus did INDEED come to town and we visited him! If you expand the collage above, you'll see that Liam REFUSED to smile because he was at a complete loss about what to ask Santa for at this juncture of December and was SO DISTRAUGHT that he could barely handle himself. Thankfully Daddy solved all of these problems (as he is wont to do with Liam since they are basically the same person plus or minus some beard hairs) by finding Santa's phone number later in the month and letting the boys call to leave him a voice mail with the ONE sought-after item they wanted for Christmas. Sadie was not too enthused about Santa and Santa wasn't rough and tumble enough to handle Little Miss so she wiggled out of his grasp almost immediately. She liked the wooden Santa outside much better though! Eamon ran right up to Santa and told him he wanted "a yellow school bus" and then proceeded to go outside and commandeer Santa's sleigh and reindeer like he owned the place.

Lots of crafting occurred all month long and despite my Dyson (my most prized possession by far), it will be months and months until all of the glitter and pine needles are removed from between the floorboards here. We had a ton of pine cones we saved from last year. Liam made a Christmas tree with his (second from the left on top) and Colin and I made penguins from ours (Yes, it IS actually a Martha Stewart craft, since everyone always accuses me of that anyway. But that's the ONLY one from her, I swear.) Popsicle sticks seemed to be the preferred medium of the year and Liam decided to make a Santa with his while Colin made a Christmas tree (top right). Eamon painted the entire craft table white and then glued a lot of buttons and such all over it before sprinkling it with glitter, but I forgot to photograph it because I was counting to a million in my head so I wouldn't kill him.

As usual, the most fun activity of the month is always the gingerbread construction. And as usual, the boys did a fantastic job this year. I think this is definitely their best one yet. We went all out and made a shed, many Christmas trees and a snowman to grace the yard around our compound. Next year I imagine they'll add a hot tub, labyrinth and moat, but I'll leave that up to them. I helped almost not at all so all that you see is their work, minus the architecture which I was responsible for and which actually withstood the test of time this year and didn't crash down accidentally. (It did crumble purposefully a day later, of course)