Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

One last post about the SNOW

I thought I was done after I published my last post. But as we were leaving the pizza joint, the heavens opened and it started to snow. For all of the fun we've had in the snow this week, it never really snowed...we were just dealing with the snow that was already here.

I asked Henry if he wanted to play outside when we got home. It took several attempts for me to convince him that I wasn't joking and that he really could play outside. At first, the bigger kids didn't seem too interested, but once they got their gear on, they really enjoyed themselves as well. I figured the late romp in the snow would assist in a good night's sleep before hitting the road.

Here are a couple of pictures of the kids enjoying the downpour of snowflakes:

Photobucket

Photobucket

Family Time in Podunk

We have been enjoying our time here in North Dakota. Coming here is as good as going to a cabin in the middle of the woods. But it's even better in that we get to visit extended family.

During the days, we have little outside influences to entertain us. Therefore, our week has been consumed by playing games, doing art projects, baking and decorating cookies, watching movies, putting together puzzles, and playing video games. Oh, and how can I forget...cooking and EATING.

We have spent our evenings visiting with my grandmother. She is 88 years old and currently in pretty good health. She's had some scares over the last few years and there is more family strife than an 88 year old woman should have to deal with. But we found her alert and chatty and enjoyed our evenings with her. Here is a picture of her with the kids:
Photobucket

And here is a picture of 4 generations: Grandma, my dad, me and Henry.

Photobucket

There is a theater here in town, but it is only open Friday - Sunday. We all got extremely excited when we found out that the bowling alley would be open from 3 - 6 p.m. on Christmas Day. We arrived promptly at 3 and set up in two of the 8 lanes available. My aunt and her family arrived and took two more of the lanes...so our family hogged half the bowling alley for 2 of the three hours they were open. Here is a shot of most of the gang at the bowling alley:

Photobucket

The weather has improved and it actually reached up into the mid-20's today. The kids are outside now building a fort and a hill to slide down. I'm glad that Henry got to have the "winter experience". He has a great memory and thoughts of our time here this winter should carry us for a long time before we need to repeat the experience.

One of the movies that we watched this week was Star Wars. Henry had never seen it but Trevor had shared bits and pieces with him. So before the movie even started, the kids grabbed sections of the newspaper, and with a little help from some scotch tape and markers, fashioned their own light sabres. They then ran around the house pretending to cut off each others limbs. Nice, huh?

We are planning a mini-family get-together at the bar uptown tonight, our last night here. Apparently, the bar is the only place you can get a decent pizza. We've been assured that there is a room in the back that we can hang out in so that we aren't actually in the "bar". We've been packing all day...amazing how much stuff gets so strung out all over the place in such a short period of time. The goal is to head out in the morning. We're keeping a close eye on the weather and may wait until a bit later to actually leave, depending on what we find when we wake up.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Adventures into the SNOW

This is Henry's first real experience with snow. Each day, the kids have gotten all bundled up and trekked out to play in the snow. Here is a few pictures of them:

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Of course, with the sub-zero weather, they can't spend very long out there. So many long hours have been spent over the last couple of days on indoor activities. Football was on the TV on Sunday and the boys rooted against Minnesota (because of their impact on allowing the Bears to make it into the playoffs).

Henry has mastered the iPhone and pretty much hogs whoever's he can get ahold of to play the various games that are loaded. He's also enjoying playing "buzz" on the playstation that is here. We searched and found the directions for a dice game that we used to play. We decided it was straight-forward enough that Henry could play on his own merits. He won, of course.

There have been board games, art projects, dice games, and several other activities that have kept the kids from going totally stir crazy. And the biggest hit has been the car track Uncle Lester brought that has some kind of "evil" ice trap in the middle.

Somehow, Henry seems to insert himself in the middle of everything that is happening. Here are some of the pictures from the indoor activities.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

And the whole clan will be glued to the TV tonight watching Monday Night Football. Why? Cuz Da Bears are playing.

Stay tuned for additional updates throughout the week.

Podunk

Podunk: A small isolated town, region, or place that is regarded as unimportant.
Other than the connotation of "unimportant", that pretty much describes where we are spending the week.

We left at 5:30 a.m. on Friday morning, with the goal of reaching Kansas City, MO to meet Dwight and Belkis for dinner. The temperature gauge in the van read 63 degrees as we pulled away, but would reach a high of 68 by the time we reached Dallas. We made a pit stop there for some Starbucks. Henry had fallen back asleep after our departure and was now awake.

Soon, we reached the Oklahoma welcome center. This is a new state for Henry, so we stopped and snapped this picture:

Photobucket

We had determined that we would try to push through as much as possible, so we had packed a nice little booty of snacks to munch on for lunch. After a tasty lunch/snack of cheese, sausage, crackers and apples, Henry took an afternoon snooze:

Photobucket

We arrived in KC right on time and pulled into the parking lot just as Dwight and Belkis were walking in. They were walking hand in hand and giggling to themselves...the perfect picture of newlyweds (remember the posts from just a few months ago when we attended their wedding). Here is a picture I snapped of them after we enjoyed a lovely dinner at a local Mexican restaurant:

Photobucket

The next morning, we got going at 6:45 a.m. after enjoying a little breakfast at the hotel. We anticipated that the weather wasn't going to be as amicable as it had been on Friday, and it's a good thing.

Here is a picture I took with my phone as we drove down I-29 through either Northern Iowa or at some point in South Dakota. I don't really recall exactly when it was, but it looked pretty much the same all day long. It was not snowing on us, the but the wind was blowing hard and the snow drifted across the road, sometimes reducing the visibility to almost nothing.

Photobucket

Henry's favorite past time during the trip was to watch the thermometer display. He kept a very watchful eye on it and made regular announcements of changes. We watched it fall from the 68 degree high we had in Dallas down to -14 as we arrived at our final destination. Talk about culture shock!

We finally arrived around 8:30 p.m. (after stopping for dinner) and we were all very relieved to have arrived safe and sound. We were also extremely grateful that Uncle Donny had come to the house earlier in the day and turned on the heat and plowed/shoveled the driveway and walkways.

Now, all that was left was to wait for the cousins to arrive. They were on their own adventure driving for the Chicago area under blizzard conditions. Happily, they arrived about 90 minutes later, also safe and sound and grateful for the warm refuge awaiting them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Now Taking Orders

It's a little late in coming, but I finally have the electronic copies of Henry's 5 year pictures. They were taken again by the wonderful Ivan at Bella Vista. I feel like he really has a knack for catching Henry's personality. I'm absolutely thrilled with the package I get from him, especially because it includes a CD with all of the images.

I am including several of my favorite shots. I would be more than happy to print and distribute for anyone who wants one. Either post a comment with the information of the shot(s) and size(s) you want, or drop me an email with the information. If interested, I can even send the you the digital file.

Photobucket Album

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

5 Little Monkeys and Chinese food

Henry woke this morning in a tizzy because he couldn't remember Aunt Leslie coming into his room to say goodbye to him before she left for work. So we solved that problem by giving her a quick call while she was still in the car. After that, he was a happy, little boy.

So much so, that when he was in the bathroom brushing his hair and teeth, I was serenaded (whoops, I almost used the word marinated instead...hmmm) with the following tune:

Five little monkeys swinging in a tree, teasing Mr. Alligator "You can't catch me". Along came Mr. Alligator very quietly and SNAPPED that monkey right out of the tree.
This goes on for 5 verses, until there is only 1 little monkey that gets snapped at. It is concluded with that final monkey chanting "missed me, missed me, now you have to kiss me". I was so tickled listening to him sing this cute little ditty.

Today, we also had a mini-field trip that I was able to participate in. All of the kindergartens (about 12 in all) got taken to the local Chinese restaurant for lunch. When the school officials first approached the restaurant with the idea, management was less than eager to accommodate them. They felt that kindergartners were too "little" to come and sit nicely. They were also concerned because they do a robust lunch business without a group of 22 (including adults) descending upon them at once. After much reassurance, they finally relented and agreed under certain terms. We were allowed to come if they served a set menu to all, and if we arrived at 11 a.m., before their actual open time.

Well, I must say, this group of young men and women sure knew how to handle themselves. This field trip was the culmination of the grace and etiquette lessons they had received. Ms. Connie had a nice chat with them before we headed over about expected behavior and ran through what all would happen. The children were the picture of "good behavior". There were no complaints about the food presented to the participants (wonton soup, egg roll, chicken and vegetables, fried rice, and a cookie). There was no spillage. There were no children jumping out of their seats and wandering or running around. There was no screaming or even loud talking.

I think the restaurant owner was so surprised and so impressed by the group, at the end, he distributed special wafer cookies to the children. I do not think there will be any reservations about repeating this field trip with future kindergarten classes.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pot Luck....what's been going on

Yeah, yeah...I'm way behind and it does seem like a lot has happened since the last "real" blog entry.

SNOW

First of all, it snowed last week. That's a big deal here in the Houston area. That just doesn't happen that often. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos, but it was real snow. Huge, chunky flakes. I have a snowball in my freezer to prove it.

MEGAN

We were invited to dinner at Allison's on Friday. Megan was cooking. We saw this as an opportunity to help Henry appreciate the nuances of being invited to someone's home for dinner. So we allowed him to select the flowers that we would take as a hostess gift for Megan. He was quite picky and looked everything over quite carefully before selecting a small glass vase bowl/vase, with just roses and a few carnations "floating" on top.

Henry had so much fun playing with the other kiddos, even though they were all much older than him. Fortunately, he is quite used to playing with his older cousins, so just fell right in step with whatever the older kids were doing. He jumped on a trampoline in the backyard...a first for him. Towards the end of the evening, the kids all ended up in front of the TV and Henry was right there among them. Here are a couple of pics:

Photobucket
Photobucket

Oooooh, and I don't even know where to start on dinner. Megan had prepared one of the most yummiest of Chicken Picata's that I've ever been privileged to get to eat, complete with the lemon butter, capers and artichoke hearts. It was served with a side of angel hair pasta, steamed veggies, and a lovely garden salad. (There was supposed to be garlic bread, but we forgot it in the oven, so we ate it as a pre-cursor to dessert). Oh, and speaking of dessert, it was my most favorite...creme brulee. Megan had made it from scratch, complete with torching the sugar on top. Here she is in action:

Photobucket

MISCELLANEOUS

Here are a few pictures of the boy that I've taken over the past couple of weeks:

Here he is at bookstudy with Nana and Papa. This will probably be the last official "bookstudy" since we will be out of town for the next two weekends. When we return, it'll be the first of the year and we'll be under the new program. The end of an era...

Photobucket

Here he is dressed for the meeting one night. I think he looks so cute with his t-neck and sports coat:

Photobucket

And here he is dressed for the children's symphony. Not that I'm biased or anything, but I think he was one of the best dressed young men in attendance. Especially when he was wearing his coat:

Photobucket
Photobucket

JOKERS AND PEGS

For those of you that have never heard of Jokers and Pegs, you are missing out on one of the best games. You can check out more about it here. Anyway, after another yummy dinner at the house of one of the families in our congregation, we decided to finish off our Sunday evening with a round of J & P. Now, we've been playing this for the last two winters while my parents are in town (and other times, too). Henry is always relegated to "helping" someone, or playing on his own terms, with his own cards, board, and pieces separate and apart from the adult game.

Since he is such a game-playing little boy, I had decided to see if he was up to playing on his own. He was so excited when he realized that he was going to have a spot at the adult table, get to play on the "real" board with his own pieces and his own cards.

Before we started, I wanted to see how much of the game he understood just from observing all of the adults playing for the last few years. I started in with my questioning:

  • Me: How do you get one of your guys out of start?
  • H: With a face card!
  • Me: What do you do with an 8?
  • H: Move backward.
  • Me: What do you do with a 9?
  • H: Move one guy forward and one guy backward.
  • Me: What do you do with a 7?
  • H: Move a guy 7, or split it between two guys.
  • Me: What do you do with a Joker?
  • H: Knock somone off.
Okay, wow, he seemed to have it down. This is the first time I've played without having my trusty little cheatsheet to help me remember what all of the rules were. He actually played fantastically on his own. I did kind of keep an eye on his cards, but there was only 2 times that I needed to intervene with any kind of guidance in what he should or shouldn't do. Unfortunately, he didn't win his first solo game of J & P, but he (and all of the rest of us) sure were proud of how well he did on his own. Of course, he had us all in stitches through most of the game with his take on things. Here are a few of his gems:

  • Papa, guess what? I might knock you off!
  • Mama, I'm gonna play this joker. Sorry, Mama! (as he knocks me off)
  • 1, 2 ~ I'm gonna get you (as he played a 2 and came close to knocking Papa off)
  • 1, 2, 3 ~ Sing with me (gotta love the exuberance of youth)
  • If I could, I would double-wham you (to Aunt Leslie and Nana when he landed between them)
Well folks, that's all I can think of right now. We're heading to North Dakota at the end of the week to see my Grandmother. I'm hoping that we have enough warm clothes to survive the sub-zero weather that is going on there.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Henry-isms...the funny things he says (Part II)

  • Mom, your fire is looking pathetic! (I had called it pathetic first. He demanded a definition of the word, and managed to work it into his vocabulary within the hour.)
  • Mom, we are playing acred secret. Is that okay? (Acred Secret = Secret Agent)
  • Mom, I'm a kitty. No, wait, I'm a baby beluga. No, wait, I'm a baby sea lion. No, wait, I'm a puppy. No, wait, I'm a baby squirrel. No, wait, I'm a chipmunk (Theodore). No, wait, I'm a.....(The boy changes identities so often I can't keep up with what animal he is currently pretending to be.)
  • Mommy, this picture wasn't for Monica. (What he meant was that the picture wasn't related to Hannukah.)
  • Mommy, are there little people inside the radio singing to us?
  • Mommy, why do our top teeth not move, but our bottom teeth do? (I had no idea how to answer this, so I made some comment about the need to have a skeleton to answer that question for him. So he followed up his already funny question with another: Can we have a meeting with a scientist so I can ask him?)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Foto Friday - Adult Style

This is what happens after the munchkin goes to bed.

Photobucket

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I am the UPS

On Wednesday, I had an unusually early conference call that I had to take while Henry was still home. I had prepped him for the fact that he needed to stay quiet and occupy himself while I was on this 30 minute call, and left him eating his breakfast.

When he was finished, he followed me upstairs and did a great job of occupying himself. When he was done, he presented me with this note:

Now, this may look like a lot of scribble scrabble to you (as it first did to me). But I asked Henry to read me his note. He knew exactly what it said. Here is a video of him reading the note to me.

video

And for those that may have difficulty understanding what he says, here is a transcript: "I am UPS and I deliver packages only on the earth. Thank you for the bubble gum. Henry, the UPS."

If you look at the note quite carefully, you can almost see where it does attempt to say exactly what Henry says it does.

After going through all of this, he brought me a sheriff's badge he had dug out of his dress up play stuff. He held it to his chest and declared "There is a new UPS in town, and that's ME!" I'm not sure where he comes up with this stuff, but he totally cracks me up.

He has long held a fascination with UPS and even has a few toy UPS trucks. And this reminded me that it wasn't too long ago that instead of calling it UPS, he liked to call it the PUS.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The end of an era


We have been season ticket holders of the Houston Comets since their inaugural season...where they clinched the first ever WNBA Championship. They followed suit for the next three years as well. We mourn the loss of our favorite summertime activity.

Calling Austin...do you remember?

Henry has the memory of an elephant. He remembers everything. He remembers what outfit he wore for specific events. He remembers what someone said to him in a passing conversation. But he has run across something he can't remember, and we are hoping our friends from Austin can help...

When you last visited, the kids all watched a movie in bed. He remembers there was a puppy dog and a guy driving a car that got stuck. Anyway, he doesn't think he ever got to finish watching the movie and wants me to rent it so he can watch it. But I need a little more than a puppy dog and a stuck car to figure it out. Any ideas??

Also, after letting him know that you called on Sunday, Henry's response was "What did they say about coming back and spending the night? Will they be able to?" We're all hoping for a reunion to come sooner rather than later.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

If it's Thanksgiving, we must be at Sea World

We made our annual visit to Sea World during our days off this week. We love this little ritual of ours. It was only marred by the fact that Sea World chose to drag out all of the Christmas decorations early, and even changed some of the shows to have a Christmas theme. I'm not sure why they decided to mess with something that was already perfect the way it was, but we didn't allow it to dampen our enjoyment.

We had perfect weather...in the 70's and slightly overcast. It did rain briefly, but were enjoying the dolphin/beluga whale show at the time and didn't even realize it had rained until we returned to our wagon and found it was wet.

Henry continues to favor the dolphin/beluga whale show (called Viva), and I am pretty sure this is because the pre-show has what he calls a "silly guy" that does a funny and silly routine. He also loves the performers that fall from the top of the stadium into the tank, and when they swing and fly into the water.

This year, he was tall enough to ride two new rides. We had ridden the Texas Splashdown last year, which is similar to a log ride. We got a little wet, but not too bad last year. The same held true this year. But this year, we also rode the Rio Loco, another water ride. This one drenched me as our round boat navigated the rapids and the water splashed over the side with me as it's target. We rode it three times in a row due to the fact that there was no one in line behind us.

From there, we went on to Journey to Atlantis (which Henry decided to call Journey to the Mist, and of course, we all followed suit). This ride involved a boat, but there was no water until the end. You board the boat...5 rows of seats, 4 seats across...and head up a hill. At the top of the hill, the boat spins until you are facing the next part of the ride backwards. You go down a dip and up a hill (backwards) and then spin again until you are facing forward for the final part of the ride. For the final part of the ride, it is a drop straight down into a lake of water. For this ride, the water targeted Leslie. After riding this ride three times in a row, she was totally drenched.

After changing into dry clothes, we went down to the River Walk in San Antonio to see what might be open on Thanksgiving night so that we could grab some dinner. Fortunately, many places were open and the River Walk was humming with activity. We decided to eat at The Republic of Texas (Tex-Mex, of course).

Friday, we returned to Sea World, where we finished off the things we hadn't done the day before, and revisited some of our favorite activities. It was nice having Nana and Papa along this year (even if we did totally wear them out!!). Below are some pictures of the highlights.