Sunday, December 29, 2013

NYC Christmas 2013

We spent several days in New York City before Christmas again this year.  Scott's parent's and my mom were there and we actually had a very relaxing time.  Well, as relaxing as New York at Christmas can be when there are 10 million people around you trying to get their Christmas shopping done.  Here are a few of the highlights.
We spent the first night walking from our apartment to Times Square.  We especially enjoyed the Helmsley Building and the Empire State building. Both were totally decked out with red and green lights. At Times Square the kids were on a mission to get to Toys R Us, ride the Ferris Wheel and spend their money as quickly as possible.  Harley was ecstatic when she got the My Little Pony Cart.  The boys settled for a Mega Bloks Taxi. Boy, were they relieved.
 We saw the fabulous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. I loved how the spectacular show ended with a live nativity with real camels and sheep. It was beautiful. Of course, Nash wouldn't admit that he enjoyed it. He is way too macho for that.
 One morning I caught the kids sitting in the window of their bedroom playing I-Spy while they looked over the Manhattan skyline.  They love the city so very much.
 The weather was remarkable for New York in December.  One evening we took the Staten Island Ferry just to look back on the skyline.  It was gorgeous.
 After tons of walking my mom, mother-in-law and I were complaining about our sore feet. The kids decided to make us a spa.  They massaged our tired feet, wrapped them in hot towels, covered them in lotion and then painted our toe-nails. Isn't it lovely?
No trip is complete without risking your life or at the very least the chance of incarceration in China Town and Little Italy.  At one point on my search for the perfect Tory Burch handbag, as Atley and I were being led by a particularly shady character into a dark dungeon complete with one dingy swinging light bulb and a dirty cot in one corner, well beyond the possibility that anyone could hear our screams for help, I thought to myself, "Self, maybe this isn't worth it!"  But, then I realized dying for a new purse will always be worth it. So, we proceeded and succeeded in our quest. However, perhaps next time I will risk only my own life and not the life of my son.  He doesn't have as great a love for fashion as myself. And yes, I am thankful for that.
 We strolled down Fifth Avenue enjoying the lights, stopping at the Plaza Hotel in hopes of seeing Eloise. I insisted we buy chestnuts from a street vendor.  That was a truly disgusting experience.  With the exception of Nash we all found them utterly inedible.  Go figure! My pickiest eater is a fan of Chestnuts and Vietnamese food. Finally, we took a moonlit carriage ride through Central Park. 
One of my favorite things about visiting New York at Christmas is seeing all of the window displays. Here are a few of my favorites from Macy's, Tiffany's & Saks 5th Avenue.
Before heading home we visited Macy's Santaland.  We only had to wait about an hour and half but as we were leaving, the line to see the big guy was more than four hours long.  We also saw the most adorable puppet show at Macy's, depicting the true story of Virginia O'Hanlon.  You might have seen the Christmas special, "Yes, Virginia."

Christmas 2013

Sorry if it sounds a bit cliche' but I felt absolutely, positively overcome with gratitude this Christmas. I felt so blessed to be with family and friends, to watch my healthy and vibrant children tear open their Christmas presents and get up before the sun to see what Santa brought for them.  I felt so fortunate to have my mom here with us and to be able to spend all of Christmas day in my pajamas watching the boys and Scott build Lego's while I tried to figure out how the stupid Rainbow Loom worked.  I felt so lucky to be able to spend Christmas Eve with our dear friends the Johnson family singing Karaoke and eating way past the point of fullness. I felt so grateful to be able to cuddle up on the couch with my babies and read Christmas stories and to look over at my mom asleep on the couch completely unaware that the cat was using her as a bed. I felt so blessed that the cat survived a week with granny without mysteriously disappearing. 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Baby Boy is 7

Nash turned seven on Sunday.  Months ago, we decided that we were not going to have a party this year, rather a family activity of some sort.  But, of course, about 2 weeks before his big day he fell to pieces when he found out I wasn't planning a Nashtravaganza. So, being the sucker that I am I succumbed to his will and we threw together a very last minute party on Saturday night.  He invited 27 of his closest school friends-all boys.  Nash is Mr. Popularity wherever he goes.  About 23 kids showed up and the level of noise was truly indescribable. I wanted to keep things as low-key as one can with 23 little boys in the house.  First, I covered the tables in paper in hopes that the kids could draw or write Nash a message while we waited for all of the guests to arrive.  That lasted about 10 seconds until they just decided to rip up the paper and turn into wild animals. They calmed down a tad when we served the pizza and cake.  Then we all headed to the basement to watch Despicable Me 2 on the big screen/king size sheet! They consumed more popcorn than I thought humanly possible and everyone seemed to have a fantastic time.  He was spoiled rotten, so much that I don't know how I can possibly justify giving him even more presents in 10 days on Christmas. 

As I am required to say and feel as his mother, I cannot imagine life without this little man.  He is a man of few words and lots of mischief.  He has a plethora of nicknames which include Jo-Jo Pet, Lumpy, Nashy and Nashty!  He is all boy from his gruff voice to his hatred for singing and arts and crafts.  He is tough and loves to wrestle, swim and play video games.  He is logical and has a very kind-heart. He cannot begin his day without his chocolate milk. He still drinks it from a sippy cup that he has hand since he was one.  He loves to hear about when he was born and how he fit perfectly inside his stocking that Christmas.  Nash was a very sick little baby. He had surgery when he was six weeks old.  At that time we weren't sure what the outcome might be. You would never guess that this solid, sweet little boy was sick a day in his life.  Nash has a very unique way of talking. As I already mentioned he has a deep, gruff voice with a very east coast accent.  He loves to ask Siri on the Iphone questions. His favorite thing to ask is, "What do you get when you mix a Bull Dog and a Shitzu?"  The funny thing about this is he never calls Siri by the right name, he always refers to her as CASSIE instead.  When he is building his LEGO's he refers to the instructions as CONSTRUCTIONS. He knows he was named after a basketball player (Steve Nash)  but he is convinced he was named after someone named JIMMER NASH. This person doesn't actually exsist but I am thinking he would have been an excellent ball player.  Despite years of effort he still has no clue what his phone number is and like most things if he doesn't care about it he will make no attempt to learn it.  His favorite color has switched from green to purple this year as has his allegiance to the Washington Redskins. He is now a Baltimore Ravens fan.  He still wants to own a junk yard when he grows up as long as he gets a junk yard dog with it.  We truly love him with all that we have and pray that he will continue to grow strong and wise with a desire to serve his Heavenly Father in the coming years.

**I have to give a shout out to my selfless husband. He had a birthday on Saturday as well. One that was barely recognized by anyone. He never complained. He worked tirelessly to help me with the kids and the party.  I can assure you if I had been in his place I probably would have pouted and spent part of the day crying in the bathroom feeling sorry for myself. Not him, he always puts us first and I love him for it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Into the Woods on a Snowy Morning

We had two snow days and a delayed start this week and it was fabulous.  Part of that time we didn't have power so we had to search in the ice and snow for things we could burn to keep warm. Atley felt pretty manly throughout the whole experience.  One morning we went into the woods.  It was so quiet and peaceful. You would never guess that we were just minutes away from the most powerful city in the world.
Atley made the cutest little snowman. Harley named him Frozen. It was hard to say goodbye when it was time to walk back home. 
We had power long enough to make cookies.  Nash is kind of like the friend of the Little Red Hen.  He is never too keen on helping but he sure enjoys the finished product.

Eventually we ran out of things to burn but this didn't dampen the kid's desire to roast something.  One of our favorite campfire treats are roasted Starbursts.  So, they settled in around one little candle and roasted to their hearts content.
Of course we managed to squeeze in a craft or two including these pretty little snow globes made from mason jars and bottle-brush trees.
I think my favorite thing about the whole snowy experience was when we put back on our pajamas and crawled into my bed around noon. I read to them for almost two hours and they were perfectly content.  We didn't have any commitments. There was no place to rush off to or anything that absolutely had to be finished. There was no TV or Computer to distract us or video games to fight about. Those are rare days indeed and I think we all relished in the simplicity of the fleeting moment. Soon the power came back on and I had e-mails and phone calls that needed to be answered. Atley's teacher even felt the need to give him homework to do while he was snow bound.  After all, his text books are accessible online, he might as well be working.  I was slightly frustrated with that mentality but he got his work done and trudged off to school this morning with his snow-work snugly zipped in his binder.

Scott and I got a very rare few hours away from the kids last night to attend his work Christmas party.  Scott reserved a suite to watch the Washington Capitols play. I think everyone had a great time and I know Scott was relieved when it was over. It was a fantastic game that went into overtime and eventually into a shoot-out.  Our best player Alex Ovechkin even broke a few records. Since I have only been to 4 games in my entire life it was easy for me to call it the best hockey game ever.  We even got to eat Shake Shack for dinner-a little piece of burger heaven right there!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Colonial Days & a Christmasy Weekend

This year Atley's class is studying Virginia History. On Friday the school hosted a Colonial day.  It was really an amazing event for the kids. With the help of a lot of parents the kids had the option to attend 5 out of 12 classes in which they learned all about colonial life. The classes ranged from quilting, to colonial herbs & medicines, to calligraphy. I had the wonderful privilege of teaching tin-smithing.  That's right! I taught one hundred 4th graders who were all wielding potentially deadly weapons and sharp pieces of tin how to punch intricate designs with a nail and a hammer.  My ears are still a little sore.  The truth is it actually made me a little nostalgic for teaching.  We really had so much fun.  The kids performed Colonial dances like the Virginia Reel and ate a fantastic colonial lunch.  Of course we were all in costume.

Saturday night was our church Christmas Party. This gave the kids a chance to reiterate just exactly what they hope to find under the tree Christmas morning.
We also had a few minutes Saturday morning to craft, which is definitely one of my favorite Christmas activities.  We made these cute little snowman ornaments from battery-powered tea lights (Target $ Section).

 Today (Sunday) the snow and ice came. Church was let out early and Scott built a cozy fire. The kids sledded for awhile only to come in and warm themselves by the fire.  Then we roasted marshmallows and ate s'mores.  It was perfect. I felt so Norman Rockwell-ish. To top off our beautiful little piece of perfect Americana, we discovered that school was cancelled. You have no idea how much I needed a snow day! A day where I wasn't needed or expected to go anywhere. I cannot wait.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mt. Vernon With Nash & His Sister

Today was Nash's field trip to George Washington's plantation Mt. Vernon.  Three years ago I attended the same trip with Atley.  However, unlike Atley who wanted to spend the whole day holding his loving mother's hand, Nash was all about his buddies, being cool and learning as little as possible.  Sometimes I wonder how the two of them could possibly be brothers.  Harley had to tag along which totally cramped Nash's style.  Before we toured the mansion the tour guide asked how many of them would like to be president one day.  Of course all of the 1st graders raised their hands.  The guide then asked what they thought it required to be a good president. One kid said, "Being respectful!"  Another said, "Exercising!"  One more said, "Showing kindness!"  Then Nash raised his hand and said, "Someone who knows how to lower taxes for the middle class."  After everyone stopped laughing the guide asked everyone who their favorite president was. Of course everyone said George Washington.  Leave it to Nash to say, "My favorite president was Abraham Lincoln because at least he freed the slaves instead of owned them." I must admit it was slightly comical watching the tour guide squirm and jump to poor General Washington's defense.  He is really a trip sometimes.
Here are some highlights of our day.
Apparently, Washington had a penchant for exotic animals.  One Christmas he bought a camel for his grandkids and Mt. Vernon has kept a camel ever since.
The two cutest bums I know. 

 Learning how to make chocolate from cacao beans.

It was fun to be there are Christmas time. The decorations were lovely. I love all the live plants they used to decorate in colonial times.
By the way Ispy the elf returned via snail-mail on Monday. 

In the package from the North Pole was a nice reminder letter from Chris Kringle about how the children are expected to behave.
First night Ispy created a swing from a candy cane and left a little message with post-it notes. Let the fun begin.