Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Legos It Is!

My third little guy turned 7 this past October. I had his physical a couple of weeks ago and verified why it seemed he had grown so much. In less than a year he had grown 2.5 inches and put on over 5 pounds. Looking at him you might have thought 5 inches and 2.5 pounds. He has become quite lanky and doesn't have a lot of heft to his frame.

But alas - the Big 7! Luke decided he wanted to have a home birthday party with a lego theme. I was dreading (big time) a home party but decided to go for it. I searched around the internet for some ideas on how to proceed with the party. Rather than purchase legos in bulk which the kids could build and then take home I opted to scatter our own legos out for the kids to build with. What also helped me with this decision was an unexpected connection at the Lego Corp that brought me tons of cool lego sets at a substantial discount to give as party favors.

So when the kids arrived I had the legos laying on our dining room table and they weren't shy about building away.

What I didn't get any pictures of were all of the neat creations made by the kids. A friend suggested little cards to display the names of the creations and the kids got really into that. They were proud of their creations and came up with some interesting names.

There weren't a whole lot of activities planned. I was hoping the kids would sit and build legos nonstop for 1.5 hours. But that wasn't going to happen. I sent the kids on a treasure hunt around the house. That proved to be a big hit for them and for me. I had typed up clues leading them to different spots around the house and they were challenged to work together as a group to read the clues and figure out where to go next. Their little feet kept running up and down the stairs and they were so excited to find the next clues. The treasure was colorful candy canes that were in the washing machine.

The kids took a break to have pizza and then we moved onto another game that I found on the internet. I knew the kids (boys especially) would love it. The kids broke into two teams and had a fixed amount of time to build a lego creation. When they were done they two teams were going to take turns trying to smash their opponents creations with balls. The kids worked well together in their groups....but the creations weren't very large.

As suspected, the kids had fun trying to destroy the lego creations (in the basement!). No one got hurt...and there were no tears....bonus.

We had cake and ice cream, did presents and then it was pretty much time to go! I made it through a home party and Luke had a great time with his buddies.

The only negative to the party was it happened to coincide with the older boy's first indoor soccer game so I had to beg one of my friends to stay and help. I didn't take a lot of pictures and none of my photographer mom/friends (ahem, Deb) wanted to stick around. But all in all......it was a fun party for my lego lover.

Mount Monadnock

To say this post is a little late is an understatement. I'm not even sure exactly when this trip occurred (I think in the beginning of August?), but I DO know that it needs to be documented! Plus, it's nice to think of warm-weather activities in the middle of this crazy winter.

Last year (2009) Chris took Jack on a hike and overnight camping trip to Mount Monadnock. They had an amazing time and really bonded together. This year (2010) Chris took all three of the boys. The three of them hiked to the top of the mountain. I would never question Jack or Ben being able to do this. But Luke was only 6 at the time and I wasn't sure he'd have the stamina to complete the long hike to the top and back down.

Boy was I wrong! He did an amazing job keeping up with the boys. I gave the boys (I think Jack was in charge) my pocket sized camera to document the trip and here are some of their pictures:

And they made it to the top! What a gorgeous day and what a view! Last year it was foggy at the top and you couldn't see anything.

Ben....the King of the World!!

The campers' snack at the summit...

Some silly tent shots....

So I wonder if the ladies will be ready to take the trip on this coming summer?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And so this was Christmas.....

Per usual, I did not take one picture this past Christmas Day. It's always so hectic and the pics don't come out good at all. But there were some classic pre-Christmas activities that I did not leave undocumented (not to mention all the the pictures I took in my Picture the Holidays class!!).

One very cold day we headed back to Connecticut to our favorite Christmas Tree farm. Nobody noticed when Chica left the car without a jacket so she and Chris went back to get her bundled up and then caught back up with us.

The farm had cleared out substantially all of the trees in the area we had found our last two trees, but we headed there anyway to see what we could find. We came up empty and headed back to a new spot.

A little fun...

It took forever for us to find a tree. We tend to be picky and have a hard time agreeing as a group. (Dad admitted he would switch to a fake tree but I say NO WAY - this is one of my favorite traditions). The kids were happy to pose despite the chilly temps....

Except Luke. He wanted to leave before we even got there. Too cold for him! But we finally found the tree - a big fat Balsam.

Chica really wanted a picture of herself by a little tree and Jack kept sneaking in the picture and ticking her off. I finally got her to stop pouting and pose....and he jumped backed in the picture. I thought she was going to pummel him to the ground.

And here is the picture she was going for...

I wish there had been snow for a prettier experience, but I still captured the beautiful, sprawling red barn.

We brought the tree home and decorated it that night. In the morning before school it came crashing down. That was probably the worst part of the holiday season for me. I salvaged some favorite ornaments and we lost a few. But that was the worst of it, so I cannot complain.

Then we had the annual preschool gingerbread houses! I went in to help Chica and her classmates. The last gingerbread house making.....sniff sniff.

She worked diligently to finish her creation....and couldn't wait to get it home so she could eat it!!

A week later was Chica's Christmas show, The Littlest Tree. What a difference from last year! The kids all sang loudly and were really into it.

I was so proud of my little girl.

The rest of the holiday went smoothly. The gifts that were a hit for the kids were: Ipod Touch for Jack, Guardians of Ga'hoole DS game and books for Ben, Nerf Gun and DS games for Luke and Furreal Pet for Chica. It was the best Christmas yet for me as a mom. Everyone was healthy and happy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gather Your Thoughts (12/31 prompt)

So this is my last post related to my Picture the Holidays class. I am happy to report that I completed 27 of the 31 prompts. But in some cases I submitted more than one picture...so maybe that gets me from a B+ to an A-.

So related to this prompt, I have gathered some thoughts on the holiday season, my class and my hopes for 2011. The picture I selected is one from a chair lift with my Chica. Rides on the lift are so peaceful...and they give you time to either reflect or to chat with your chair-mate. Here is our shadow....looking forward to the top of the mountain....looking forward to 2011.

It was probably the best Christmas for me so far since I've had kids. I organized and shopped on-line early to avoid last minute scrambles to stores. I had substantially all the gifts wrapped ahead of time thanks to a bonus day when Chris took the kids skiing for the day. I baked the cookies I wanted to bake. I hosted Christmas Eve for 40 people and that went great. And nobody was sick in our house - a true blessing. All the kids were happy with their gifts. Nothing had to be returned. It was just a great Christmas, and I am so thankful.

And during the hectic month of December, thanks to my Picture the Holidays class, I had my camera out and was looking at things differently than I ever would have. I played with manual mode, went off one night to photograph outside Christmas lights, achieved lots of cool Christmas light bokeh, and learned about textures and applied them to some of my photographs. I enjoyed 'getting to know' some of the other class participants and giving and receiving comments on photos. All and all, a great time.

For this year, I plan on further enhancing my photography skills. I am taking an online photoshop class beginning later this month. And from there I will apply what I learn and hopefully continue to achieve my own style.

So let's here it for 2011!

No Looking Back (12/30 prompt)

December 30th found me a little daring. Rather than watch my kids play video games, watch tv and be couch potatoes (and claim they were bored), I decided to brave a trip to our local ski mountain with all of them.....by myself. Chris has been taking all them skiing for several seasons now. Chica learned last winter, but is still obviously a beginner. The biggest challenges of going alone.....all the gear and the two person chairlift for the 5 of us.

But we made it up there and after I got my season pass and rented skis, off we went to ski. Luckily, we ran into friends so that we found another chairlift partner. So Chica and I went up the lift together. I was a little nervous on the way up because getting off with Chica means picking her up and carrying her down the ramp while balancing yourself...and your poles. But we did it and I was inspired!

It was a gorgeous day! We had a handful of runs before Chica was tired and ready to go. And I was too....my head was throbbing. It wasn't easy and it wasn't necessarily pretty. But I did it. I took my brood skiing by myself. And there's no looking back....

Through the Looking Glass (12/28 prompt)

On this beautiful day the kids and I went for a visit to our friends' house for some play time and skating. I was happy my camera was in tow, as their festively decorated window seemed perfect for this prompt. The back window looks out at the ice rink in their back yard and beyond the tree line is farm land. It is a beautiful view. And the bokeh was an unanticipated bonus!

And here is my oldest son, who would skate 24/7.

Wishing our yard was flat enough for a homemade rink. It would certainly get a lot of use!