Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Best Part of Thanksgiving

We were somewhere in the middle of the Montana mountains when I asked the children, "What was the best part of Thanksgiving?" Spending time with cousins was the immediate consensus. But then Caleb quickly corrected himself. "No, not just cousins. It was aunts and uncles, Grandma and Grandpa, too.  The best part of Thanksgiving was spending time with all our family."

The cousins really did have a spectacular time.  Using croquet mallets and a baseball, the iced-over back patio was turned into a hockey rink.  They even made some tickets for spectators to attend their NHL hockey game.  I didn't get any pictures of it, darn it.

They also did a lot of wrestling and playing football day and night.

While the kids made their presence known out front, Carl instigated one of his thought-provoking conversations based on some gospel question that none of us really know the answer to.

When it came time for bed, the Childers kids headed off to a hotel and the rest of the kids found a spot in the basement family room.  Brendan and Caleb decided to share the couch.  It didn't look at all comfortable but they insisted that it worked for them.

The other kids alternated nights in the recliners and on the floor.

One thing's for sure, every night was a party.

I missed capturing our Thanksgiving feast.  (Or the Turkey Trot that many of us ran before we ate.) But the feasting really went on for days.  Pies, sweets and made-to-order breakfasts, too.  And Grandpa made turkey soup with the leftovers.  The kids seemed to like it.  We didn't tell them that he'd added all the gizzards to the pot as well.

The carousel is a must.  It's always fun to try for that brass ring.

Staggering Ox is also a must.  Here are the kids devouring their "guts"--which are not at all like gizzards.

And the whole gang:

Whenever the cousins get together, we compare heights and marvel at how much they've grown.  Some grow more than others.  Brendan and Caleb used to always be the same size until one hit his growth spurt.  He has a really low voice now, too. :)

Some of us strolled the walking mall and stopped for a picture in front of the historic fire tower.

We shopped, ate, went swimming and to the movies.  We slept in and relaxed, too.  It was wonderful in every way but the kids are absolutely right: the best part of Thanksgiving was spending time with family.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Alyssa!

Alyssa had a wonderful birthday.  She wanted to share her celebration with all of her friends--24 girls from school, church and gym.    It was too big a number to accomodate at our house so she decided to hold her party at the gym.  She picked the colors and the games and if you ask her, it all turned out great!

 I made personalized tumblers for the girls' favors.  Tumblers--get it?  Perfect for a gymnastics party, right? 

They all played around and seemed to have a lot of fun.

 Pizza for lunch.

Alyssa wanted to do an obstacle course game.  We divided the girls into two teams and each had a list of items to find in the gym.  Then they used those items to build an obstacle course for the other team.  When they were done building, each girl had to get with a partner and complete the course blindfolded.

 Time for cupcakes and birthday wishes.

 She was spoiled rotten by her friends.  She got so many wonderful gifts including over $100 in cash and gift cards!  Wow.

Grandma and Grandpa's gift to Alyssa was to make a trip to the American Girl store to buy Alyssa the doll she's been wanting for years.  She absolutely loves it!

While we were at the mall, she spent a few of her gift card dollars on a new pair of boots from Justice.  She can't wait to wear them with some of her new duds to school tomorrow.

We stopped at BJ's for dinner on the way home.  They have the best gluten-free pizza and gluten-free pizookies, too!

This morning I surprised her with a new church dress--she looked just darling but she changed out of it before I could get a picture of it.

Tonight we had her favorite dinner--noodles with clam sauce.  We had scotcheroos, too.  Then we sent her through the traditional spanking machine before bed.

Happy Birthday, Alyssa!  We pretty much think you are amazing in every way!