Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Fake New Year's Eve!

To celebrate New Year's, we took all our guests to Hoban for a Korean feast! It was extremely delicious, and everyone got a kick out of Alex's familiarity with the varied dishes. "Pass the Kim Bap, please....oh-- and can I have another piece of Pa Jun?" Yep...we've been there a few times.

Around about 5:30pm, it was time for "Fake New Year's". Alex has been looking forward to "staying up till midnight like the big kids" for a long time now, and we told her that on New Year's she could. I really meant it-- I thought I'd let her stay up as long as she could, and then declare New Years at around 8:30-9pm. I overestimated my leniency by a long shot. Luckily it gets dark around 4:45-5pm, so we put Justin to bed around 5 (it had been a long day for him already). Then the "waiting till midnight" began. Dave found last year's New Year's Fireworks in London on YouTube and had it all cued up to play on the big tv....I know.... screen time!!
Uncle Willy, GranMama, GranPapa and Alex had fun playing with their noisemakers while we were waiting for the countdown (which happened at approx. 5:30pm). We watched the fireworks, took the old calendar down and replaced it with our new calendar, had a 'midnight snack' and went to bed at the late hour of 6:00pm. Nice! Apparently our neighbors were 'in' on the deal, because they shot off fireworks at 6pm-- which Alex got to watch from her bedroom window before snuggling in for bed.


GranMama and GranPapa gave Alex a beeswax candle-making kit for Christmas. This is one of the best craft kits ever, because you can actually USE the product! Alex got right to work rolling and decorating two candles for our kitchen table. I love them!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Paul Bunyan Stories

Sitting and listening at Uncle Willy's 'Story Time'

Uncle Willy has come into his own as a storyteller. He not only reads storybooks with "the best voices", but he can also tell stories that charm and entrance Alex. This weekend he told her the story of Paul Bunyan-- specifically the stories about his gigantic flapjacks and a story about his logging prowess. I think she requested them about 10 times each, and he never tired of telling her about the vast forests that used to be in our own backyard, and the huge (and tricky) blue ox, Babe, who stole Paul's flapjack. As an added bonus, Auntie Rorie and Justin played the drums as musical interpretation along with the stories. Let's hope drum circles aren't in the near future.

Home Again!

Back home, after an utterly exhausting plane flight with a perfectly behaved four year old and a one year old who has two molars poking through his cranky, tired-but-won't-sleep-just-wants-to-throw-things-in-the-plane-aisle gums. Back to winter gear!

We're excited to receive our visitors later today. GranMama, GranPapa, Uncle Willy and Auntie Rorie are coming up to celebrate New Years with us in Minnesota. Grandma Mary was very accomodating and let me do all my laundry in Phoenix before we left, so at least I don't have any of that piling up! Bring on the celebration!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Visit with Rufus

We stopped by the Bennett's home today to visit, and ended up collecting a bagful of oranges and grapefruits from their mini citrus grove in the backyard. Wow! Alex was so excited to get back to Papa Bob with her prizes, so they could juice them. Admittedly, the adults enjoyed the grapefruit juice a lot more than she did, but she was determined to drink it-- so with the addition of a little Sprite, drink it she did.

Alex and Justin lounging on Rufus-- a giant stuffed dog who lives in the Bennett's living room. Rufus was an instant hit with the 4 and under crowd. The other exciting portion of the visit was when Alexandra got to examine Mrs. Bennett's Christmas Village-- what a display!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Step!

This kid is notoriously hard to catch on camera. Here's a little bit of what Justin was up to today:

Another Hike in the Sun

We can't get ENOUGH of hiking in the warm Arizona sun! Alex and Grandma Mary headed out one way, and Dave, Auntie Carrie and I headed the other with Kelly Bennett and Jeff (Alex's Godfather) and John Loehr. Papa Bob and Justin stayed back at the house to hold down the fort. Here are some photos from our separate, but equally rewarding adventures: (Yep, that's right, the adult hike ended at The Burrito Co. Don't judge-- we'd burned a lot of calories!)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Time for a Dip?!?!

Alex was INSISTENT that she get in the pool. It was quite chilly outside (by AZ standards), and the water had not been heated, but she was adamant that she have the opportunity to try. She hung out poolside for about an hour, and was in the water for a minute at the longest. Enjoy the photos. And Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dec 24: Family Christmas Eve

We very much enjoyed our Christmas Eve celebration with the family. Great-Aunt Marjie, Great-Uncle Richard, Kristen and Alan all came to play with the kiddos, eat, chat and spend time together. All attendees were required to perform a tune with the whistles in our Christmas Crackers before presents were exchanged. Alex took the job very seriously. Soon after, it was time for bed, for Santa was on his way. Alex took a few moments to put together a treat plate for Santa and Rudolph. Dave had the NORAD Santa Tracker app on his iPhone, which he used to show Alex how 'close' Santa was to Phoenix. Once she understood, she insisted on picking a SHORT story to read, so that she could get to bed QUICKLY!

Dec 24: Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!

Mountain View Lutheran Church (the church where Alex was baptized) had a "Birthday Party" service for kids this afternoon. Papa Bob, Auntie Carrie, Daddy, Alex and I decided to attend. It was quite a big deal-- there was a children's bell choir performance, a puppet play and birthday cupcakes for all! (The adults could have done without having to make animal noises during the 'interactive' Gospel reading, but hey-- it's for the kids!)A sweet reminder of The Gift that God gave us.

Dec 24: Cookie Decorating

The other tradition that Auntie Carrie and Mama insist on is painting the sugar cookies. Alex was finally old enough to help this year (I mean "for real" helping, not just sticking icing-encrusted paintbrushes in her sweet little mouth like she's done for the past two years). She got right to work and made it about forty-five minutes into the three hour process! Justin supervised.

Dec 24: Holiday Tea

Even though we were far from home, Alex's Holiday Tea tradition carried on. Grandma Mary helped her spread a picnic blanket in the front room, and she worked all morning "making it lovely". We were all invited to choose some Christmas wear and find our (clearly marked) spots. Justin was conveniently napping. :-) Alex took great pride in serving us our teacakes and pouring our drinks.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dec 23: Zoo Lights!

One holiday tradition in Arizona is taking in the Zoo Lights! The temperature is PERFECT for us Minnesotans (locals were quite chilly), we got to downgrade to our 300 weight fleeces!

Auntie Carrie joined us in Phoenix today, albeit it a bit disabled. She twisted and sprained her ankle before leaving MN yesterday, so she got to do Zoo Lights with a little help (doctor's orders). Alex was very grateful for a nice set of wheels by the end of the evening, though.

Justin was asleep before we even arrived at the zoo. He woke up during the 'thunderstorm' sound and light show, and seemed a bit disoriented (who wouldn't be?). Checking out the light-version of our Roadrunner friend.

(You may remember that we tailgated Zoo Lights with Reynoso's Mexican food last year.... due to our youngest, we decided to forgoe that tradition and eat at the restaurant for the 2011 season. Hopefully we'll be back to tailgating next winter!)

Dec 23: Hiking in Phoenix

After an extremely long and painful (or so it seemed with a wiggly, teething one year old on our laps) flight, we arrived in Phoenix. First order of business: go for a hike! Alex, our budding naturalist, collected rocks, flowers, sticks and ALMOST stuck her finger down an interesting hole until we frantically stopped her..... scorpions do NOT make good souvenirs. Upon our return home, we discovered that Grandma Mary's good friend (the Roadrunner) was visiting! (he's in the very middle of the photo......)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dec 22: Winter Nature Table

If everything is going according to plan, then we are en route to Phoenix. We planned ahead, though, and did TWO activities yesterday-- so we could hit the 23rd tomorrow without missing a step!Here's a glance at the Winter Nature Table we 'tweaked' yesterday. Sans snow. Because there is none.