Monday, December 28, 2009

More Christmas tree portraits, and a few more from the day

(I have to admit... this one is my favourite!)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Do you think Mallory was surprised?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas tree portraits

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O Tannenbaum

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas cookies

It wouldn't be Christmas without sugar cookies. I am going to try to limit us to just this one batch this week... but since we made them yesterday and they are already nearly half gone... that may prove difficult.
Liam helped make cookies too, but he kept himself pretty neat and clean. Nothing photo-worthy from him!
Moderation is a skill the kids have yet to learn. Especially when it comes to the sprinkles.The aftermath. If it weren't for the need to deal with this kind of mess, I could handle making these more than once a year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


The pre-Christmas insanity continues this week. On Sunday we had our Roberts family get-together, where these photos were all taken. The kids both received board games and they have gone over well. The later photos show some fierce rounds of Pictureka going on. On Monday night we were invited to "Festival at the Creek" which is an open house that the Home and School group puts on at Liam's school each year. There was not a ton to it; there were some choir performances, a cheerleading routine, a Gingerbread Walk (musical chairs where the winners came away with gingerbread houses), a book sale, cookies and cider, and a dance. When we got the invitation in Liam's school bag, we kind of scoffed at it. A family dance... riiiiiiiight. Well, as it turned out, we couldn't drag the kids away from it, and that's where we spent most of the night. It didn't help that when we first went in the DJ was playing "I Like to Move It" which is Mallory's all time favourite song (though if you say anything to her about it now, she will tell you that Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is her favourite song, and indeed she knows most of the words and was up past 10 p.m. last night, warbling from her bedroom. But I digress.) When we first went into the gym for the dance it was mostly empty, and the kids amused themselves by running laps through the flashing strobe lights. Then one of Liam's classmates spotted him and started chasing him, and for the next half hour at least, the two of them ran. We couldn't figure out whether Liam was enjoying the chase or whether he was trying to shake the other guy off his trail. Whatever the case, it kept him busy. Mallory saw Liam and assumed that the proper thing to do was to run around the gym in the dark, and there were a few times when we lost her, particularly when the DJ started to play Miley Cyrus and all the older kids started flooding in. She was not fazed by them in the least and in fact seemed to have a sense of entitlement being there.I'm pretty sure that none of the grade eight kids threw a kicking, screaming fit when they had to leave, or that they arched their back every time their mom tried to get their coat on so that they wound up being hustled out the door, still coatless and still screaming, in an effort to minimize the amount of disturbance they were causing.
Today is Liam's last day of school for the year, and although his class party followed the concert on Tuesday, they are having some sort of special day to wrap up the Polar Express unit they just finished. The kids were invited to come to school in their pajamas or 'comfy clothes' (track suits etc.) and I am sad to report that despite having a killer pair of Christmas pajamas... Liam chose the comfy clothes. But hey... he's old enough to make these decisions on his own. The Polar Express was on TV last weekend and we DVR'd it, and he took great pride in being able to tell us what was going to happen next, having already read the book in class.His after-school program is having a party today and tonight is Chad's departmental Christmas dinner, and then tomorrow the kids have their party at Cindy's. Two parties on Saturday and then we take a much-deserved break for a bit. Good thing because as Mallory proves in the picture above... she needs her rest.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Next stop: Wembley Stadium

On Tuesday afternoon, Chad and I ducked out of work for a bit because Liam's class put on a Christmas concert at school. This was a topic of much discussion in our house for weeks beforehand: would Liam actually sing in front of a crowd, or would he stand up there and feign ignorance about the whole thing? (I'd been pestering him to sing a few lines to me at home, and he absolutely refused.)

To my surprise, he sang. He even did the hand actions. And at one point, he got to hold one of the props (though perhaps the props were allocated to the kids who were performing the hand actions less than enthusiastically?)There are two split JK/SK classes at Liam's school - his class is the one in Santa hats and the other kids were dressed as elves. Between the two classes and all the parents and grandparents - it was a full house, and trying to get a shot or some video footage was like being part of the paparazzi. Sometimes I feel like a dolt whipping my camera out when nobody else is doing it. But at times like these, I wish that fewer people were so like-minded. It was crazy! For much of the show, I had a better view through the viewfinder of the guy in front of me than I did watching the show directly.It could have been worse... Liam could have been performing the same act as his little friend here(there were plenty of cameras on hand to catch it!):Edited to add: it figures that the shot with the nose picker is the one shot that you can't embiggen by clicking on it. Oh well!

If you have nerves of steel, here's some footage to watch. I love how Liam decides that the dance sequence half way through the song is beneath him, and instead starts fidgeting with the buttons on his shirt. (PS - we jointly picked out the red shirt for him to wear, but the rest of his outfit is entirely his own doing!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

There will be red and green jimmies in the crevices of our dining room chairs until Kingdom Come

On Saturday we held our Second Annual Christmas Cookie Decorating Party. Putting it together was a bit of a last-minute effort this year, but we scaled things back a bit too, so in the end it was still manageable. We did away with the crafts, for one thing. After Liam spent the entire month of December 2008 assembling 36 foam puppets because we had no interest in them at last year's party yet the supplies had already been purchased... I decided the cookie decorating was the only activity needed.It also helped that this year, we have a floor down in the basement, and the beginnings of a toy room down there. (I thought I would manage to get the basement painted before the party, as well as the shelving we inherited from Gramma and Grampa when they sold their house. Not so! Oh well... it's not going anywhere.)This one cracks me up. Liam said he wanted to have pizza at his party, which made our time in the kitchen pretty minimal. Chad had the pizza hot and ready to go before our first guest walked in the door, but it took some time for everyone to arrive and for us to finally sit down to lunch. Mallory was in tears because we wouldn't let her get into the pizza right away. On the bright side, she ate an absolute ton of veggies and dip while she waited. We should delay dinner more often if that's going to be the result.Whatchoo lookin' at? I haven't been dipping into the candy bar... honest. (Says she with the green sugar-encrusted lips!)The end result: some beautifully decorated... err... sugar-laden cookies. It was a lot of fun and we will do it again next year. I am curious to see how this event evolves. Even though we have lots of space for entertaining now, we set our guest limit based on the number of seats we have around the dining room table. (Since the moms all stuck around, that really did fill the house up quickly!) The guest list varied a bit from last year to this based on some new daycare friends. We did not invite any of Liam's school friends this time around, but I'm hoping that by this time next year, he has a name or two to add to the list. I suppose that means someone else will drop off though. Or maybe we'll scrounge up a few more chairs before next December, and try to squeeze a few more bodies in.

Monday, December 14, 2009


On the weekend we received a mysterious email to Liam from Santa. He said he's been watching Liam this year, is happy with how he's doing in school, and hopes he'll enjoy a construction set. I have a feeling we'll learn more about the mystery message this weekend.

The almost-weres

This year, as usual, I dragged the kids out to take holiday photos for our Christmas cards. This was back in early October. I had holiday clothing selected and coordinated, props I'd purchased at this time last year in the event that the stores weren't yet carrying them, great weather to work with and a very cool backdrop (this red-painted trailer) that serendipitously showed up just a few blocks from where we live... the stars were all in alignment.
Except that the shots I got... well, they were OK. I could work with them. They just weren't anything that made my heart sing.
Then I took Mallory out on her own for a few different shots - after having designed a card around the photos I had from our first session - and the results did make me catch my breath. I had to use a photo from the new session for our card. I just had to get one of Liam that kinda-sorta went with it. You know, equal representation, and all of that.
I had picked this one, and then Chad talked me out of it, saying he wanted more of Liam's hair to show. So I went with my second choice. Then this week I had this shot printed for a different purpose, and when Chad saw it side by side with the image of Mallory that went onto the card he said - "That would have been a really great shot to use for the card this year." Methinks he's getting old and forgetful.

More to come regarding the crazy month that is December. It's been a crazy morning and I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bedhead, and other good things

Last night, this stinker woke up crying for me at 3 a.m. I went into her room, expecting to hear her complain about the wind (my goodness, was it ever howling) or tell me she had a bad dream. Nope. "Mommy, I want you to carry me when we go downstairs," she said. Good grief. I said I would indeed carry her down if she wanted me to - but not til morning! (If I recall, she made it down the stairs on her own this morning, no assistance from me required.)

The Glee fall finale last night was perfect. Am I the only one watching this show? I adore it. Jane Lynch is definitely one of my all-time favourites. ("Get ready for the ride of your life, Will Schuester. You're about to board the Sue Sylvester Express. Destination: horror!") I can't embed this clip directly here, but I can link you to it:

Meet Sue Sylvester

Today is Liam's first day taking snowpants to school. We'll see how long they last. His backpack is not big enough to fit the snowpants on top of his lunch bag and mail bag, so I'm sure they will be left behind sooner or later!

At the Santa Claus Parade we discovered that Mallory's old snowpants are way too small for her this year. I spent some time looking for a new pair of snowpants and finally just bought her a whole new snowsuit that I had been eyeing for a while. She didn't really need the coat... but it's so cute!

We have entered our period of holiday chaos. Lots of parties, dinners, events, etc. This weekend we have two parties, next week Liam has a concert and a festival at the school, my work party was this week, Chad's work party is next week (these are departmental parties on top of the company-wide parties for kids and adults we already attended), Liam has a party at his after care program next week, today I had to bring in baking... it goes on and on. I have two presents left to get, a few stocking stuffers to buy (come on - if I buy the candy now, there is no way it won't be gone by Christmas!), three gifts that are in the mail and will hopefully be arriving any day now so I don't have to come up with a Plan B... eeek! One more week of work and then a lovely calm in the week leading up to Christmas. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Because they are on the 'Nice' list

Christmas is fast approaching and I have it on good authority that Santa has nearly finished assembly of Liam and Mallory's presents in his workshop.

Our kids had thankfully simple and small wish lists this year. I told them they could each pick three things to ask for and that Santa would do his best but there were no promises. Liam came up with the McDonald's playset, the Diego videogame and golf balls. Mallory asked Santa for a princess puzzle, a new doll and a new movie. (Very easy to please - she didn't specify which doll or which movie - makes Santa's job a lot easier!)

Liam's McDonald's set should be arriving this weekend, and the Diego game was also secured this week:
(This should be interesting, because Liam has never played a video game before, at least not that I am aware of!) The golf balls will also make an appearance. Santa has chosen a few other things that he thinks Liam will like (running it past his parents of course!), including this: A set of Toy Story action figures (the kids have not seen the Toy Story movie - we really need to remedy that in order to get the full potential out of this playset!) There is also a set of Jungle Book figures. Might keep one tucked away until a later date... we'll see how full the stocking is before deciding on that.

As for Mallory, she is getting a new movie. She's already seen the sequel to this and loved it. I haven't heard reviews as good for the original, but I think she'll enjoy it anyway:
And she gets a set of action figures, too, only hers are from Beauty and the Beast:
Her doll request is being fulfilled via the Snap n Style dolls that I have heard great things about - I think she will love these (there are 2 coming her way): Liam got her the puzzle she wanted. And to stuff her stocking - Santa thought she would love these Strawberry Shortcake figures as much as her mom loved hers, which smelled the exact same even though they looked slightly different, many many years ago: Next up, something for the kids to share: the Melissa and Doug ice cream parlour set. Which reminds me... we still need to get the Cookie Set packed up and returned to the store, now that it's been recalled. Sheesh!And the big Santa gifts this year are Playmobil sets from Costco (thanks Megan for telling me about them and then picking them up for us!) Liam's is a rescue set complete with a fire truck, burning building, helicopter and motorcycle. It's an amazing set for the price ($50). And Mallory's set is the pony farm... similar to this, if not exactly the same:That is mostly it. There are a few small things to be tucked into stockings (a wind-up penguin for her, a Spiderman that grows in water for him) but we keep things pretty simple around here.

I can't get into Chad's gifts here because, well, he's computer literate. Can I post my wish list though?
This one, I think I am actually going to buy with a gift card I already have. Just trying to decide whether I should jump now to take advantage of the free shipping offer, or wait til Boxing Day to see if I can do better.

These things are all wonderful but I am not expecting them this year. I feel very treated to have a lovely backyard vista to gaze out at all winter, and with a new hard drive to organize my files (it's been tough these past few weeks without having one!) I will feel very lucky indeed. Seeing the kids be happy is all I really want. (That... and my hard drive!)

PS - If you're a fan of the NieNie Dialogues... check out this story about Stephanie Nielson.

The Stephanie Nielson Story