Saturday, December 29, 2007

How Christmas Was

Christmas was great.

I'll backtrack and say that Advent was great too. I've always got this voice in the back of my Episcopalian mind (nagging) that we aren't supposed to celebrate Christmas when it is really Advent. Advent is the time to wait for the Christ Child and prepare. This year, I came to the full realization that every mom I know celebrates Advent correctly. We are all preparing and waiting.... right up until the last moments of the night on Christmas Eve. That preparing and waiting turns into quiet celebration for me at church. When we sing songs about a young mother blessing God with a kiss, and we all sing a lullaby to a baby.

I also had a sublime Advent moment in my car, in the parking lot of Randall's listening to Prairie Home Companion. After a lot of searching afterwards, I found the song online that had captivated me. It was called "A Child is Born in Bethlehem. Since we are now truly celebrating Christmas, you should take an hour and listen to GK tell his stories and end the first segment of the show with this wonderful song.

Then, of course, there was Christmas morning. We try not to instill materialistic urges in the kids, but this was the year we made dreams come true. Lots of video games, players, etc. Robes, toys, bow and arrow that shoots marshmallows, gift cards, ugly dolls and so forth. I felt content to make the kids happy this year. I felt a sense that we were very fortunate to be able to have such a wonderful holiday. David and I are home from work. We lounge as a family in our PJs many days, we have friends come over, we read Christmas cards, what a holiday!

Hope you all had a great holiday as well-- whatever you celebrate, and if it's Christmas, I hope it was a spiritual success as well. Here's to a wonderful 2008!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Early Christmas

This isn't a Christmas gift, but it is something Joey really loves, a bazooka! Made especially by Grandad to fulfill a request. Joey had wondered if Grandad would give him a real bazooka (without ammo) but this is a little better.

Cousins can't wait to open the presents!

My aunts!

David and a couple of my cousins

Wow, I've been busy!

We had a trip to Fort Worth with photos to share. Celebrated Christmas with my growing up family, and my extended Kennemer family. Both were so much fun. My main thought there was how much my grandparents would have enjoyed seeing how everyone grew up and all the beautiful babies and kids running around. Nannie and Poppa would have been very proud.

Then, last night, I got to go celebrate a birthday with my circle of girlfriends from the kids' school. Margaritas and laughing and funny stories. Then, when we walked to our cars, drunk college boys tried to hit on us! One of our group told them they were too drunk since they didn't realize how old we were!

I feel like I'm so satisfied now, after seeing so many people, that I don't need any other Christmas gift. Really. I can't think of anything I really need this year. (other than the 30 Rock DVD, thank you very much Julie..... and the copy of Robbin's painting, thank you very much Mom and Dad). I'm content and happy to buy stuff for the kids and I wrapped that work up today about thirty minutes before school let out. I'm all bought, and wrapped, and hidden and mailed. Yippee!

So it's been a great week. Lots of hugs and laughs and contentment.

That's all.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Trail of Lights Night

Tonight was Emma's big night, the opening of the Trail of Lights! She brought along a friend, and at every step of the way, we were pleasantly surprised that the guest limitations had been lifted. We thought only Emma and two guests would get to attend the VIP party... nope, all 8 of us got in! Our family of five, Emma's friend, David's mom and our favorite sitter, Elisa.

They had promised "light food" but we got fajitas from Taco Cabana... yum and no late dinner to cook!

Then, for the sleigh ride we had been told would have Emma plus guest, was changed. Now all six art winners, plus siblings, plus a family adult got to ride in the JUMBO 25-person sleigh. We let David's mom be the one adult, and Elisa, David and I walked alongside the sleigh.

Joey uses our new kiddie digital camera to take a photo of a very special couple....

And Emma gets a seat of honor on the sleigh... everyone else is seated above and behind her.

Sleigh-full of kids... our boys were on the top row, where we couldn't quite control them verbally.

We found the sleigh good at blocking the surprisingly cold wind! Zilker Tree in the background... only a week ago, it was the main attraction.

Getting ready to cut the ribbon.....

Emma got to be the person wielding the oversize pair of scissors.... and she got to countdown from ten before cutting the ribbon. After it was cut, the lights came on, and Emma was hustled back onto the sleigh. Those of us "VIPs" walking alongside the sleigh got to follow it into the trail of lights, while all the villagers huddling behind their barricades had to wait a bit longer.

Once we were about half way through the one mile trail, they got to start their walk.
It's nice to get the VIP treatment!
Hard to get photos with the flash on, and blurry without the flash, but I like this better. This is the mayor in the tan pants to the right, next to the sleigh, which is entering the big tunnel of light at the entrance to the trail.

Lots of beauty.
These are very blurry, but it was so pretty there and this is the best I could do... my old friend with vertigo (Par-tay) just needs to scroll on down.

The kids in Santa's house. By the time we got here, M/M Claus greeted Emma by name. Mrs. Claus called out, "Santa! Emma's here!"

Joey and his beloved Elisa.
He is 6 and she is 16 so they posed by the Six Swans a Swimmin' display.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Big Night Number 1

OK. The first of a two part series on: What it's like to win an Art Contest!

Emma was one of the guests of honor at the lighting of the Zilker Park Christmas Tree. The night truly belonged to a friend's daughter, Jane Addison. She is the little sister of one of Max's classmates. She won the Junior division of the Zilker Christmas Tree Contest and got to flip the switch to turn on the lights. Very cool honor!

We got there about an hour early for our front row seats, so got to watch the sun set on a beautiful, unseasonably warm December night. There was an orchestra and a huge elementary school choir providing music while we waited.

Sue Flores, Bryker Woods Art Teacher, with four of the six winners in the contest. (She is really a great art teacher!)

Emma with Judy Maggio, our longtime local newscaster
and master of ceremonies for the evening.

The crowd awaits! And Jane is being interviewed by a reporter...

Emma chats with the Mayor, Will Wynn.

Max, with classmates Noah and Ellie--
Ellie is big sister to Junior Art winner, Jane.

Where else, but our cool city, does the Mayor show up for a big event in his shorts and flip flops?

Jane and the Mayor flip the switch!

Happy Joey!

Zilker Tree Lighting

Until I have a chance to unload my camera with photos from last night's Zilker Park Tree lighting ceremony, you'll just have to do with this....

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More Christmassy

Joey just couldn't wait.

He is in love with his Kindergarten teacher and he couldn't wait until closer to Christmas to get her the perfect gift.... a snow globe. Right now, he is mesmerized by snow globes. He even told the teacher last week that would be her present, and each day he wanted to go shopping (around 8pm) to find the right one.

Yesterday, the rare opportunity arose, Max had chess club, Emma had a playdate, and Joey and I had an hour to ourselves. I told him THAT was the right time to shop. So we drove over to Breede, the most wonderful Hardware/Housewares store I know, because that would be just the place for snow globe shopping.

I was right. As we walked in the front door, there was a beautiful one. It had Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in it. I said, "Oh Joey, they do have snow globes! Look at that one." He took a look and said... "No Mom, it's got to be more Christmassy." Ouch. We'll be working on that during Advent.

Anyway, just like I'd imagined, Breede had about twenty to choose from on a shelf towards the back of the store. We settled in and started listening to the music boxes for the top choices. Joey was very careful to put his ear right next to them and sing the words if he knew them. As I was watching him, being so careful, I could hear the garden center right outside the door. There was a little fountain running, and that kept mixing with the music box twinkles and Joey singing some of the right words and making up the rest. And I had such a nice moment.

He did eenie meenie and inky binky bonky to choose between the final two. He kept going until he got the one that I knew he liked the best. It had a penguin inside, played "We wish you a Merry Christmas", and had a bright green glitter covered base. Joey kept singing, "I wish you a Happy Christmas and a Go-od New Year".

Joey and I used to have lots of time together when he was in preschool, and now I hardly ever get him alone. (and not begging for a "date" to eat Happy Meals) It was really lovely.

When he got home, he must have played the music for two hours, staring at the snow and the little penguin inside.

He told us he wanted to take it to her this morning. So we wrapped it up after breakfast. He walked right up to her first thing and gave her the present, and she opened it and he was just beaming. It was really great. It sort of lurched me right into the holiday spirit-- now I feel More Christmassy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happy Surprise!!

We are so Excited!!!!

Emma entered the Zilker Park Christmas Tree Coloring Contest
and she won the Senior Division!

This means that we (the whole family) get to attend the tree lighting ceremony this Sunday to see another girl from our school-- a little sister of Max's friend--- light the big Zilker Park Christmas tree. Emma gets to stand on the podium with her.

Emma's big night comes on December 9, when they open the Trail of Lights. Emma got us tickets to the VIP party before the official opening. We got VIP parking passes allowing us to bypass the police barricade (my favorite part of this by far!) And then Emma and the Mayor will cut the ceremonial ribbon opening the Trail of Lights. THEN... if that wasn't enough.... Emma and her parents have the opportunity to ride in the sleigh with Santa and Mrs. Claus through the Trail all the way to Santa's house where they will disembark and have photos taken.


Free Parking!!!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

On the last day of the Thanksgiving Weekend, I never even got out of my pajamas.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pretty Food

This was the prettiest thing I cooked yesterday.
Cranberries with Clementines.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!
Gobble Gobble

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Season of Shows

The way they get you to come to PTA meetings at Bryker Woods is to have your kid do some sort of performance that you don't want to miss. Therefore, I predict I will go to three evening PTA meetings this school year. Max's was this month, when the third grade classes sang patriotic songs for us. It was actually very cute, and the program had improved from the year Emma's third grade did patriotic songs consisting of the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine songs. Max's group did "This Land is Your Land", and "Fifty! Nifty! United States" which were much more catchy.

Joey's class held the pilgrim/indian show. They got to choose which they wanted to be and the class only ended up with two little settlers and a dozen native Americans. Joey is on the back row, but his "girlfriend", Jillian is on the front row. She is the teeny blonde in front of Zach who is just to the right of Joey.

Emma and I talked with Jillian and she told us, about Joey.... "I like him and he likes me".

Joey says...."She chases me, and I like it."

The Kindergarten Room

Mrs. Black, Carlotta the doggie, and Joey

Joey asked to have his picture taken with Mrs. Black's visiting daughter, and later wondered if she could be his babysitter.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Monday's Adventure.... Enchanted Rock

He really is a ham.

About half way up.. looking over to Little Rock

Lunch at the top.

Exploring a cave passage.
(I stayed out!)

We left Joey clinging to the side of the rock so we could get this photo!
(actually, no, don't call CPS, it is a trick shot!)

I first heard about Enchanted Rock when I was in High School. I remember Mrs. Carroll, Geometry teacher and German Club Advisor, took the German club to Fredericksburg and Enchanted Rock on a field trip. When I was at UT I heard about it, but never took the trip to see it. I have thought about a visit all these years.

Finally, with November here, the weather is cool and beautiful, the kids had a teacher's in-service day, and David had a work holiday. So we decided to make the trip down. We thought it might be crowded due to Veteran's Day, but it seems only Austin schools had a day off, so we had the park almost to ourselves. The weather couldn't have been better. The clouds were beautiful and kept the sun from being too intense. There was a great breeze on the rock and all the kids are like little billy goats with lots of energy for climbing. Just a perfectly fun day.

A big bowl feature at the summit.

We all laid down on the rock and it was really comfortable because
the slight curve stretched out your back just right.

It's been dry, but there were little pools here and there. Some were just puddles and some had the start of little ecosystems in them. Later, when we got down, the Ranger's station mentioned that they are used to learn about how little ecosystems develop.
If you click and enlarge this photo (taken from Little Rock looking back at Enchanted Rock) you will see tiny people to give you a sense of scale. We walked up Enchanted rock first, then over to Little Rock, then "off road".
Little Rock

More amazing life taking root

Just one of the big old rocks scattered about. This is where we started to blaze our own trail, and just beyond we got to ....

I was the most nervous about our "off the beaten path route". The kids and David didn't seem to mind the 10' drops between the boulders they leapt among, or the possibility of SNAKES that I was so acutely aware of!!!