Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

xmas card 2011

Our 2011 (and first) Christmas letter:

Austin is currently in first grade and loving it. He continues to pursue his dream of becoming the world’s greatest toy collector. His collection of Clone Troopers is unparalleled. He also continues to love anything to do with nature. If you ever get a chance be sure to ask him why you shouldn’t underestimate the American badger despite its unusual waddle.

Ellie started pre-school this year and is enjoying it. Of the three kids she is the most sure of herself and it definitely comes out during school. She has no problem answering questions, singing the loudest or trying to make new friends. She is also our resident comedian, at least in her own mind. She seems to think if you add the word “banana” to anything it makes it hilarious.

Then there is little Riley who is the most stubborn of the group. She has no problem staring me down. In her eyes I can see what she is thinking, “I am so cute you aren’t going to do anything”. She is also attending imaginary baby school in her head. The kids there aren’t always the nicest, the other day one of them called her puke.

Tracy continues to work for Cargill part time and also picked up teaching swimming lessons at the YMCA. She also somehow keeps our three kids moving in the right direction despite their attempts to stray.

I am in my second year with the Mosaic internal audit group and really enjoy it. In my spare time I try to figure out how my wife stays sane.

Merry Christmas Bananas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Just waiting….

Austin and Ellie were officially done with school starting Thursday.  They’re busy making a list of things they want to do on our winter break.

Austin’s List

  1. Lion’s Tap
  2. McDonald’s
  3. Together fun
  4. Play animals
  5. Play princesses being captured (his attempt to appease his sister’s with a princess game)

Ellie’s List

  1. Crafts

Riley was sleeping while the others were composing their lists (a trend I hope she continues for winter break).

In the meantime, this is a common sight in our house:


The corners of presents are starting to tear so they are trying very hard not to touch the presents which isn’t that fun….or easy.  Just a couple more days!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Shiny Nose

Yesterday when I came home from work I was welcomed by a newcomer to the family!


I’m not sure where Ellie was, but Rudolph was at my house! 

She remained in character almost all day and this morning she asked me to paint her nose red again because “it was so adorable, right?”.

I’m not much of a makeup girl….hopefully Crayola’s washable markers are as washable as they claim.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Visit with the Big Guy

We were able to check one more item off the “Christmas To-D0” list this weekend! 
We still hadn’t visited with Santa yet.  We made an attempt last weekend after church but when we got to the line, it looked ridiculously long.  I decided I would just take the kids the following week during the weekday in hopes of it being a shorter wait.  That week I checked online for various prices.  Some of the malls used to let the parents take just one picture with their own camera and then the visit was free.  I couldn’t find a mall this year that was allowing that and the cheapest package I could find was $23…..Bah Humbug!
Then I tossed around the idea of bringing the kids for their “free” visit but not buying a picture but I knew that someday when I go to line up all the pictures on the mantel, like my mom does, that I would kick myself for that year in 2011 when I was too cheap to purchase a picture.
My parents solved my whole dilemma for me!  In their development, some houses are still being built and one of the builders was having an open house that would include free pictures with Santa, reindeer rides, face painting, coloring, and snacks!  Sounded perfect.  Only, I made my dad run down the street ahead of time to make sure that the Santa was legit.  I didn’t want some scraggly construction worker with an uber-fake beard who was there because he drew the short straw.  I know beggars can’t be choosers, but Austin has started to ask questions and I figure the more realistic the less I have to explain.  So, my dad called back and confirmed he was a good Santa and we were on our way!
The kids had a blast.  They were delighted that Santa also brought Mrs. Claus with him!  They talked with him for quite awhile and he had a lot to say to them too….when he was able to get a word in edgewise.
Santa Picture
The kids were eager to get home and color pictures for him, and write some letters!  Hopefully some of the lots are still being developed next year so we can plan another visit!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ellie’s Preschool Christmas Concert

Ellie has had a very busy week in preschool this week.  On Monday they celebrated her half birthday, since she won’t be in school for her real birthday.  I was also able volunteer in her classroom this day.  What a treat!  As the birthday girl she was in charge of bringing a special treat (brownie bites!), she got to line up first when they left the classroom, she got to pick the prayer before snack time, and she also got to choose which type of friends they would say good-bye to at the end of the day (it’s a little song they sing…she picked “baby Jesus friends”).  She had a LOT of fun being the birthday girl in school.  And she is quick to remind everyone that she is now 4…and a HALF!


Today was her Preschool Christmas concert.  Riley has a habit of playing with the lens on my camera when I’m not watching so the pictures are getting worse and worse (fingerprints!), and lately, taking pictures indoors always turn out really dark (even though the flash is on).  The two things combined leave me with dark, mediocre pictures.

But, she filed in and saw me, Riley, and Grandma and Grandpa Smith right away and gave us lots of waves and her signature Ellie pose.


They sang about 10 songs but I’m sure every kids’ favorite was “Ring the Bell” (or click the sticks).


What kid doesn’t love pounding some sticks together loudly?  Ellie “whispered” to me in between songs “Mom!  Did you bring chocolate chip cookies?”.  Don’t worry.  I did.  One little boy in her class, George, asked “Is this the last song yet?” about 3 times towards the end of the show.  She has a young class of 4 year olds (meaning most are summer birthdays) and their attentions were waning towards the end!

She did a great job singing her heart out!  Here’s a couple video snippets:

Jingle Bells
A Christmas Secret

Monday, December 12, 2011

Better Late Than Never–Gobble Gobble!

It just dawned on me that with the chaos of the holidays, the Haefner’s moving, and me getting sick, I never touched on what a wonderful Thanksgiving we had!  I don’t have any pictures to reference but it was a great weekend!

Bob, Patti, and Jon joined us on Thursday morning and based on our kids’ excitement, they couldn’t have gotten here soon enough!  We had things underway as they arrived with intentions of eating at 1pm.  And by “we”, I really mean “Rob”.  He’s the head chef around here….I’m just a mere sous chef.  Rob had planned our menu and had a timetable drawn up as to what would be started when. 

Our meal was a fried turkey, crockpot stuffing (the best!), mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, corn, cranberries, bread, and pie.  I handled the sweet potatoes, corn, bread, and pie.  And the pie was purchased from Baker’s Square!  Rob had everything else taken care of.  And, he wasn’t too far off his goal of 1pm either!  It was absolutely delicious!

Patti and I did go to Michaels around 5pm on Thursday for a really quick shopping trip, and the guys headed out on Friday for a quick trip to Bill’s Toggery (for dress shirts for Bob’s birthday and Father’s Day), but other than that, we didn’t partake in any Black Friday craziness.  It was a really relaxing time.  Well, for me.  Patti was in high demand and perhaps it wasn’t quite as relaxing for her!

It was a quick trip and the crew left on Friday afternoon but we were very thankful they were able to join us for our feast!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gnomeo and Juliet


I sit here tonight, having a pizza party with the kids (Global Dominos Pizza Day – 50% off any pizza and Rob’s gone), watching “Gnomeo and Juliet” for the 50th time (probably not much of an exaggeration) and I have to say, this movie is pretty good.  It’s the type of movie that is funny for kids, but that also has a lot of jokes that only adults would get.  I guess the whole movie in itself is a parody of something that only adults would understand.  I  know I haven’t touched on Shakespearean classics with the kids yet, maybe I’m lagging behind. 

But, my favorite part of watching this movie is watching my kids watch it.  It revolves around two groups of garden gnomes.  The Red Hats vs. the Blue Hats.  There’s an ongoing battle over who keeps a better garden and that sort of thing.  Anyway, so at one point, one of the blue guys says “Let’s go kick some grass!” and Austin dies laughing every time.  This made me a little nervous until he said “Ha ha….that’s funny because usually people say ‘Let’s kick some butt!’.” 

In another scene, one of the gnomes wants to order a new lawn mower online.  They show the back of the computer and instead of an “apple” where it would be, there is a banana.  Ellie giggled at the sight of the banana (for some reason Ellie thinks bananas are hilarious?!), and then Austin said “No Ellie!  That’s funny because usually computers are sponsored by Applebee’s.  That one must be sponsored by Bananabee’s!”

So, I guess a lot of the jokes are lost on my kids, but that’s okay with me.  Makes it all the more entertaining for me when I sit down to watch it the 51st time.