Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad


May the holiday season bring only happiness and joy to you and your loved ones.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tinker Bell Returns

Lulu and Daddy Warbucks watch movies all of the time. However, I don't have as much time to watch movies with Lulu as I would like. She has been wanting to watch Tinker Bell and has purposely NOT watched it with her dad so that we can watch it together. Oh sweet!

Nonetheless, Saturday night we put Bro to bed and settled down to watch Tinker Bell. She came busting down the stairs with her Tinker Bell ears

which were signed by Tinker Bell herself.

For some reason, we could not get the movie to come up on Comcast and a call to Comcast rang forever. Dear Husband, being so wonderful, told Lulu that he would drive her up to Blockbuster. So they went to Blockbuster, like this.

Tinker Bell was a very fun movie. It reminded me of a cross between Little Mermaid and a Bug's Life. Lulu is hoping that Santa brings her a copy of the movie for Christmas. Don't you know that it just killed Dear Husband to rent a movie that may be sitting in front of our fireplace in just a few more days.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas with the McFamily

Each year we celebrate Christmas with Dear Husband's family on a weekend surrounding Christmas, but not on Christmas. A major change this year was this year we scaled back our gift-giving tradition and asked each niece/nephew to draw a name and buy a gift for that cousin only. The adults stopped buying gifts for each other years ago, but some of us were not so ready to scale back the gifts for the children.

In defense of the lots-o-gifts tradition, my family buys gifts for all of the children as well, despite requests for a name draw. Can I just say... and I know that some of my readers will NOT like this... drawing names is the way to go! There. I said it!. I'll say it again. "Drawing names is the best way to exchange gifts."

Drawing names is best for several reasons:

Gosh - there are so many so I'll consolidate them into categories...

1. Buying the gift is more fun. No longer am I scrambling to buy loads of kid gifts that I am hoping will not sit at the bottom of the toy box. It was so fun to pick out my gifts for E: Operation game and Captain Underpants books. If you haven't shopped beginner chapter books for little boys then you are missing a world of fun with the Capt. Underpants series. Dear Husband Ebeneezer bought one gift this season and it was the Capt Underpants books for E. DH was loving the titles so much that I think that he wanted a set for himself. In the end, he bought E two of the Underpants books... something about a wedgie woman and also a bionic booger boy. Hah!

2. Giving gifts is more fun. This year I was not staring at a sea of children opening gifts with paper flying everywhere. Seriously, we do not let our children get THAT out of control, but six kids in a room with a dozen presents each is a bit much for anyone's tastes. I was wide-eyed with excitement when E opened his Operation game and ran to his mother just shaking with excitement about his game. His was soooooo sincerely excited about his gift which was really fun for me to watch.

3. Playing with the gifts is manageable. Inevitably, the kids want to play with the gifts, not just stare at the boxes. So, we played with E's Operation game. Then, we played with L's train set. Then, we got out P's Tonka truck. And so on. This was just much more laid back and enjoyable for all - including the kids (probably) even though they won't admit it.

Other highlights from the McFamily Christmas:

Dear Husband tried to determine which ball is the fastest ball?

Lulu opened this great shirt from her Brother.

Bro did his best to let us know that he wants a race car set too!

I ate too much and broke the couch. Seriously!

On another note: I can't get the camera to work well inside. My pictures turn out blurry. Sometimes I use the "inside" function (which activates the flash) and other times I use the "action" function which has a fast shutter speed to capture fast moving children. Neither seems to work well. Any suggestions!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gingerbread Houses

Ah - the annual tradition of decorating gingerbread houses. Ever since the girls were very young, they have been decorating gingerbread houses with Fairy Grandmother. Some years the girls decorate during a large-ish gathering of friends and other years it is just Fairy Grandmother and her girls. Last year we had about 6-8 children decorating houses; this year was a small get-together with just the girls.

How great is this? Fairy Grandmother provides the houses (which she pre-assembles), candy, and icing (and a great breakfast this year). The girls provide the creativity.

Top house = Gator.
Bottom left = Fairy Grandmother.
Bottom Right = Lulu.

Rumor is that the girls were so excited about decorating that they decided to delay present opening so that they could keep working on their houses? Hmmmm....

Of course, no tween gathering is complete without showing off some mad texting skills. Note to self: I don't want to hear any comlpaints when it comes time to type out that next report. Those typing skills are just fine - as we now see!

Gator's brother, Jay Bird, stopped by to share in the excitement. What a cutie! Fairy Grandmother promises that next year Jay Bird and Bro are going to decorate houses too. OK - maybe in 2010.

We all have holiday traditions, but this is a special one for the girls and Fairy Grandmother. When I was young, I swear that Grand Matriarch used to let me open my gifts Christmas Eve, saving Christmas Day for the Santa presents, but she doesn't remember it that way. Do you have any special traditions that you shared/share with your grandparents?

Friday, December 19, 2008

10 Things

Top 10 Things That Have Happened to Me Since I Last Blogged.

Disclaimer: This list works kinda like the Time Magazine cover. Some of this news is good news and some not-so-good news, but all of it is newsworthy.

1. Napmom got a sinus infection. It IS a sinus infection – I don’t care what the doc says otherwise. I did not fall off the face of the earth. I have been very ill for days now. Yikes - here is what else we have been up to lately.

2. Bro dressed up and went to see his sister’s chorus concert. The theme was “Holiday Around the World.” Lulu’s school staff is really trying to celebrate the diversity of their students. I didn’t know that there are 16 languages spoken among the faculty, staff, and students at her school. Cool huh?

3. Napmom attended a cookie baking class in the kitchen seen here (got this one pic and then my camera battery died – argh).
It was a fabulous class offered through the local community college. Sixteen of us baked 32 different kinds of cookies. At the end of the day the cookies were set out and we (the bakers) grabbed as many cookies to take home as our containers would hold. Here is how my cookies were distributed: 1/3 to my family, 1/3 to neighbors and friends, and 1/3 are in my freezer waiting for us to devour them.

4. The teacher gifts came in. Just look at these cute note cards for Lulu’s teachers. I purchased them on from peaseblossomstudio. This transaction could not have been better. Peaseblossom answered all of my questions via etsy conversation and was so kind to put the note cards in the mail quickly so that I would have them for Lulu’s teachers before the holiday break. Then, the note cards arrived and they were wrapped and packaged so carefully. Peaseblossom went so far as to place bits of packing material in the bow so that they wouldn’t get squished during shipping. How wonderful!!!!! I would definitely purchase from peaseblossom again.

At the time of the writing of this blog, the teachers have been given their note cards and they were a big hit. It did not go unnoticed that the cards were in the school colors with the school mascot (not pictured - but the starfish was in there)! Yeah!

5. We put up our Christmas tree. Typically, I do this the day after Thanksgiving, but Lulu was at her dad’s house that day and I wouldn’t dare set up the tree without her. In a stroke of luck, Bro will NOT touch the tree. It is quite hilarious actually. He practically ignores that fact that this lifesize glowing structure has moved into our living room. Well, when he first saw the tree he went to touch the tree and one of the other branches bumped/scratched his forehead. He immediately backed away from the tree and has not attempted to touch it since. Awesome!!!!!

Lulu and I decorated the tree when Bro went to bed. Meanwhile, Dear Husband made himself a special drink and plopped himself on the recliner while he announced that his favorite part of Christmas is “sitting back watching Lulu and me decorate the tree.” I almost fell over when he said this. Seriously, he grabbed a drink and helped himself to a recliner while Lulu and I decorated the tree and much of the rest of the house too. Too much!

6. Napmom found out that she works with someone from her hometown. This is only so remarkable because my hometown is so small and simple and NOBODY has ever heard of it much less claimed to be “from this town.” For all intents and purposes, we will now refer to this town as Mayberry. Mayberry is most famous for the annual Pig Cookin’. Now that’s Good Eats! Nonetheless, I was sitting at work talkin’ ‘bout the Pig Pickin’ and this guy came out of his office and said, “Mayberry? I’m from Mayberry!” At which time I gave my typical clarification which is, “Mayberry, North Carolina – NOT the one in Rhode Island (home of a very famous town of similar name).” “Yeah – I’m from Mayberry, North Carolina,” he said. BOWL ME OVER WITH A FEATHER – NO WAY! He knows about Atlantic Beach and Highway 70 and the old skate rink and how built up it is now and the Marine base, and the pig cookin’, and the beach, and on and on and on. Can you believe it? I mean we’re practically family now! I don’t know about YOU, but I can honestly say that since I moved from Mayberry, I have never met someone from Mayberry. Shocking!

To put it in perspective here are some stats on my hometown and my current town of residence.
2000 Census Data

Mayberry/hometown: 831 families/456 people/7.4 square miles
Current Town: 5,478 families/3,998 people/5 square miles

6. Napmom was invited to do her part to help the State to save $34 million. Yep – that’s right. There isn’t enough money in the State coffers to pay the State employees their full salary so we were all furloughed (got a pay cut). I’m NOT complaining – I am more than happy to do my share to help the State in this economic crisis. The good news is that I don’t have to work for free. I will get a 4-day pay cut along with 4 days at home with my family!!!!!

7. The UPS guy keeps dropping off packages at the house. Lulu got these great light-up socks from the Grand Matriarch! ;-) They go great with the camo pants and pink shirt. Wink, wink!

And this great package came for the family, although Bro was more interested in the shipping material than the actual gifts.

8. Napmom had to cancel her Visa check card because someone stole my card number, created a new card of their own, and charged $500 worth of drugs on the card at a semi-local CVS. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I won’t be spending any money for the next few days.

9. Bro discovered our under-the-tree manger (and tried to eat it????).

10. Napmom took some great pics of my children Lulu in front of the Christmas tree.

11 and 12. A few more things... my camera came in (which means that Fairy Grandmother can have HER camera back) and I haven't mailed out even one Christmas card (which breaks my heart actually).

What's new and exciting in your home?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Disney World. Day 3. Coming Home.

7:00 a.m. awake and out of the room in 15 minutes.

We were headed to Hollywood again to see if we could grab an early seat on the Toy Story Mania ride before the crowd got there. Speed walking to get to the Toy Story Mania ride was similar to the running of the bulls. I was appalled that these folks were racing to get to an amusement park ride – then, I realized that I was racing to get to… an amusement park ride. Yikes! We (Napmom and Lulu) got to the ride and were numbers 8 and 9 in line.

Lulu and I spent some time at the Imagination Stage where we were given a demonstration on how the animators bring the Disney cartoon movie characters to life. After leaving the demonstration, we were second in line to meet this guy. I say this because I would have liked to have taken more pictures of Lulu and the mouse, but she refused to wait in line to meet the characters. I think that this was part of her not wanting to be bothered with celebrities thing.

Lulu practiced a voiceover and took a quiz to see which Disney character she is most like. Look in the background – we practically had the whole place to ourselves.

Then, we went in to the studio to try our hand at drawing a famous Disney character.

Note to Disney: Yes, the animator explained that there are no erasers on these pencils. Yes, he also explained that these drawings do not need to be perfect. Yes, he was very kind. However, there was more than one child who was crying because he ‘messed up’ on his drawing and wanted to fix it. I mean, we had sobbing kids in here folks. They wanted erasers and they wanted to fix their pictures. They wanted to opportunity to make it look better. For crying out loud – can’t you give us some pencils with erasers? Who gives kids pencils without erasers? Pencils without erasers – bad idea, very bad idea. Parents – this is a very fun experience and will be well worth it, but save yourself the tears and bring your own eraser.

We saw some more shows, ate lunch, and headed back to the resort so that we could catch the Magical Express to the airport.

This was my state of mind at the end of the day on Sunday. One Napmom can only handle but so much fun!

Coming Home

On the flight home, Lulu completed her class assignment. She was tasked to come up with a food item that she likes and is important to her culture. Unfortunately for us, her ancestral food does NOT include chicken nuggets or pizza. Her culture/heritage choices are limited to: Native American, Greek, and Irish. I almost had to make Greek Baklava with no nuts (nuts being the signature ingredient) because we are not permitted to bring nut items to school. However, Lulu settled for the Native American cornbread casserole instead. Whew!

Other tidbits and memories from our trip:

Our Top 3 Disney Experiences
1. Waking up Tinker Bell
2. Seeing Lulu cheer at Downtown Disney
3. Seeing the Osborne lights at Hollywood
Honorable Mention. The Buzz Lightyear and Toy Story Mania rides

Question that Lulu said we asked most during our trip:
“Where are you from?”

Where are we going on our next girls’ trip?
“Wherever life takes us” -Lulu

Lulu’s honest response to learning that there were Disney celebrities performing at MK while we were there: “I can’t be bothered with celebrities while I am at Disney – I just can’t be bothered.”

The End.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Disney World. Saturday. Day 2. Performance Day.

Finally, we/I got to sleep in. We hung out at the resort during the day. Then, the girls stopped for a photo shoot and quick rehearsal before boarding the bus for Downtown Disney.

When we arrived to Downtown Disney we were greeted by wonderful weather, loads of visitors, and this sign.

Here are some Downtown Disney visitors awaiting the cheer performance.

Did I tell you that Daddy Warbucks came to see Lulu cheer?

And… here is Lulu’s Disney performance. There were more girls on the left of the stage, but my eyes were on Lulu. I apologize that the video is so grainy. I had to upload to YouTube and then upload to blogger because blogger wouldn't let me upload directly. Nonetheless, Lulu is in the front and just to the right of the high schooler that you see on the left of the screen.

We couldn’t leave Downtown before visiting the Bibbiti Bobbiti Boutique for a Pop Princess makeover. Here are the results:

After the makeover we headed to Hollywood. I don't want to forget to mention the bus ride to the park. Lulu, Fairy Grandmother, I were on the bus with... these guys.

That's right - a bus load of 9, 10, and 11 year old football players. Halfway through the ride, Lulu looked over at one of the dads and said, "This is a train wreck waiting to happen!" She really said that; I am NOT kidding. He took it in stride and told her that he thought that her comment was funny and that she could read his mind. Ha! Ha! Ha!

We didn’t have much time to spend in Hollywood before it closed. We managed to view the Narnia experience and ride the Toy Story Mania ride. Apparently Toy Story Mania is one of their newest attractions and normally has a very long wait (up to 2 hours long in fact). We jumped into line 5 minutes before the park closed and waited 25 minutes to get to the ride. It was as great as I had expected and a highlight of the trip (but I wouldn't wait 2 hours to ride - no way).

We were advised not to leave the park before seeing the Osborne lights. Oh – they were magnificent!

Here is a picture...

and a video!

To be continued.

Who do you get YOUR dating advice from?

Alec Greven, a 9-year-old, wrote a book on dating. It is hilarious and surprisingly accurate and insighful for a 9-year-old. Here is an excerpt:

The right thing to do when you have a crush is:

Never show off too much

Don't be silly and goofy

Control your hyperness (cut down on sugar if you need to)

Make sure you have good friends who won't try to take the girl you like.
Finally, you have to be able to get over a crush if it doesn't work out. A crush is like a love disease. It can drive you mad.

Try not to let it get you down.

You can readl more about Alec here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Disney World. Day 1. Continued.

After waking up Tinker Bell, we went on a few Fantasyland rides and left to have breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. It was a fabulous breakfast and much needed break. We ran into some friends while we were there.

Lulu and I played at MK for a few hours while Fairy Grandmother went back to the resort.

One of the highlights of the trip was the birth of Lulu's new penny collection. The idea is that you drop a penny (and 50 cents) into a machine and crank the handle of the machine. The machine presses a design onto the penny which you get to keep. Here she is... cranking out a Buzz Lightyear penny. We were constantly looking for penny machines around the park. Some machines were quarter press machines and they were very hard to crank.

Note to self: This is a fabulous idea. I spend 50 cents to get a penny... and it isn't even a penny that I can spend? Wonderful!?!?!

Then, Lulu and I made it back to the resort so that she could practice her cheer with the rest of the girls from around the country, most of whom were high schoolers.

Here is the video from practice. Lulu is in the front and wearing the pink shorts and white top. Whoa! This was very cool!

Finally, we were off to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. We had to pay extra for the party tickets but I would do it again in a heartbeat because: we got to see all of the characters dressed in their holiday attire, Cinderella’s castle was decorated with icicles, it was snowing on Main Street, there was hot chocolate and cookies to keep us warm and energized until midnightall night long, and there was a very short line to meet Tinkerbell in person.

Midnight: Caught a bus back to the resort. Very tired napmom.