Friday, December 30, 2011

Good friends from Texas...

On the 18th, we were fortunate enough to have some good friends from our time in Texas come downtown to see Clara in the Nutcracker! Clara and "L" were in the same class at Sunday School and in the same preschool class. They happened to move to Connecticut the very same week we moved back up here. They stayed in CT a few years and are now back in Texas. They have good friends from CT who live here in the 'burbs, so they came up to stay with them and while here, wanted to come see Clara!

Before Clara's call time, we met them at the Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes.

The girls acted like they had never been apart...

They started goofing around with taking pictures...And really got themselves cracked up!
It was so fun to see them walk down the sidewalk to the theater together... side by side, chattering away. You would have had a hard time believing that they hadn't seen each other since Clara was (newly) 5 and "L" was 4 (almost 5)!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas with...

... Grandpa and Grandma Missouri!

My parents came in on the 22nd so we could celebrate Christmas together (and so they could see Clara in the Nutcracker). Thursday was a crazy day... mainly due to the fact that the orthodontist had forgotten to order Clara's new retainer and that wasn't discovered until she was sitting in the chair waiting to have her new retainer fitted (and did I mention that this was 1 hour before her call time at the theater AND we still needed to pick up her friend to take her with us?). We managed to make it to the theater on time (5 minutes early even!), but had to stop back by the orthodontist after the matinee in order to pick up her new temp retainer. Whew!

Friday, my parents went to see Clara in the matinee and came to our place afterward to have our Christmas!

Look at all of those presents under the tree....

See... Alex really did dress like Santa that day for school...:-)

Opening presents...
My dad had gotten a new camera, so he was busy taking lots of photos!

We had a great visit and got lots of great gifts! The kids can't wait to try out their new sleds when (if?) we ever get snow this winter!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the Christmas skateboards...

Not very exciting footage... but it's what the kids did all Christmas day...

video
... when they weren't playing Just Dance :-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Day...

We have a rule about Christmas morning.... they can go to each others' rooms but not before 7:00 and they can't come and get us until 7:30. Well... they followed the rules, but they were up and in and out of the bathroom starting at 5:45. They were just a little excited!

I didn't take many photos of the gift opening frenzy, but here's one of them opening their stocking stuffers...

The one thing Clara asked Santa for this year was a skateboard. And she got her wish...
She was soooo excited about it! And to make it more fun, we also got Alex one as well...
They spent a large chunk of the day yesterday skateboarding in the alley!

I was surprised, but Clara wasn't quite as fearless with it as I had thought she would be...
Alex caught on right away....But several of his school friends have skateboards and he's played around with them after school a little.

Clara was pretty dependent on Jeff for a while...


But then we made the decision to go in for a while and leave her out there to figure it out on her own. And, guess what... she did! She was even doing "jumps" by the end of the night (to be honest, they're not what you could call jumps in the least, but she was pretty proud of them!) :-)

Besides skateboarding, they spent a lot of the day playing with their new games for the wii and the kinect. They got quite the workout from Just Dance!!

Oh... Alex's big Santa gift was a Kindle Fire. Clara had bought one with her birthday money and loved it... so Alex wanted one too. I really think they're neat! I like that they can play their games, but I also like being able to download books from the public library. Since getting hers Clara has been reading even more! She really enjoys being able to pick up a new book from the library whenever she feels like it. And with Alex being such a voracious reader... it will be great for him too!

The skateboards are such a big hit that they've already been out skateboarding with the neighbors today... but now they're all over to play Kinect. Yesterday was a good day for the kids with family and today is a good day with friends!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve...

The photos over the next few days are going to be a mess as far as chronological order is concerned! I got behind as Christmas was approaching, so I'll post Christmas Eve and Day stuff first and then go back and try to catch up on the rest.

Christmas Eve was a big day! First of all, it was the last day of my parents' visit (those photos to come later.. out of order, of course). We started the day with breakfast out with them before saying our good-byes. Then we went home to get Clara ready for the Nutcracker matinee.

Here she is waiting for her friend's dad to pick her up...
We were all going to see the performance that day, so the dad took the girls down early and we picked up everyone else to get there closer to performance time.

After the performance, we came home to our traditional Christmas Eve routine. First up, our usual dinner of Slow Cooker Taco Soup. Then since we were behind on baking this year, the kids baked. They had decided that Santa would like some banana bread this year. So, while they worked on that, Jeff and I wrapped presents.

After the baking, showering and getting ready for bed, it was time to open and read the last book... 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
The kids then got their letters, milk and plates of cookies ready for Santa...
And I got the Land of Nod cinnamon "rolls" ready so they would be ready to go into the oven first thing in the morning...
And that was pretty much it! The kids were hyped up, but were asleep relatively early (10ish). Jeff and I had all of our wrapping to do, but I think we had it done by around 9:00. So, not too bad!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

(I normally post our Christmas card on Christmas day... but given that I haven't gotten them mailed yet, I thought I would post one of the photos I took while trying to get our card photos instead... hopefully they'll go out tomorrow) :-}

Friday, December 23, 2011

random blurry photos

:-)

This week has just completely gotten away from me!! I have photos to share from my camera but I've not managed to get them transferred to the computer yet. I did transfer some photos from Clara's friend's camera so I could upload them to our cast share site... so I thought I would share a couple here, even if they are really blurry!

Wednesday, after the matinee, they had the Nutcracker Children's Cast Party at the restaurant next door to the theater. The kids always look forward to this night! It's a whole restaurant full of kids! Clara had a great time with her friends.

Several of the professional dancers came, signed autographs and took photos with the kids...

Clara forgot her camera at their table so her friend took these for her.

I can't believe that tomorrow is Christmas Eve!! We have so much wrapping to do! It's been a busy week with Clara having matinees and both kids having school all week. At Alex's school the kids earned the privilege of having a dress down day today. Alex emailed his teacher last night to confirm the dress down down and this is the response he got...

We sure do buddy. You have my permission to dress as Santa Claus if you would like to. =b

Mr. Hoover


So, guess what Alex dressed up as today! You got it... Santa Claus! Not entirely though... he just wore his stuff from the Santa Hustle race on the 3rd. I wonder if his teacher was amused? :-)

Well... I need to get moving! Tonight we have our "Christmas" with my mom and dad! The kids can hardly wait for presents!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 16th... Angel in the evening

Friday evening, we had to get the last traces of zombie make-up off, so she could transform into an angel for the evening Nutcracker performance :-)

It was picture night backstage, so Clara took her camera. She had great moms backstage that night and they took a ton of great photos with the girls' cameras. One mom took this great series of Clara getting her wig...
(that's why I've stopped worrying about her braids so much! they just have to be secure enough to attach her wig pins to, but they don't have to be pretty!)

Time for the wig...
And now her crown...
Almost done...
And there's my smiley angel girl...Her grandpa and grandma were in from Michigan to see the performance that night and our upstairs neighbor was there to see her as well!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 16th... Zombie in the morning...

Yesterday started out with Clara's school dance program. She was SOOOOOO excited about it! She's been talking about it for months now. Her class was dancing to Thriller and dressed like zombies...
Notice the pants? We found a use for Alex's ripped uniform pants! LOL!



The kids did a really great job and had a lot of fun!

Check back later to see what she transformed into next!

Friday, December 16, 2011

December 15th...

Yesterday was the student matinee for the Nutcracker. With the early call time, Clara wasn't able to go to school, so we decided to make a day of it!

After the performance, we headed over to eat at the Walnut Room at Marshall Field's (still not keen on calling it Macy's)....
Thankfully my friend and I had walked over to pick up a pager before the performance, so we could get seated fairly quickly after they were done. It worked perfectly and we were immediately escorted to a table right by the Christmas trees...

For dessert, the girls ordered ice cream snowmen...
They were pretty cute! My friend and I split a piece of Frango Mint chocolate ice cream pie... YUM!

After lunch, we parted ways and Clara and I went off to find a present for her Nutcracker Secret Santa. Clara picked out something really neat! She can't wait to give it to her on Sunday.

Since Alex and I had already been there, Clara decided that she would like to visit the Christkindlmarket as well...
We made a quick run through and then were off 1) because it was getting pretty chilly and 2) it was time we picked Alex up from school.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 13th and 14th...

Not terribly holiday related photos these days, but they do reflect what was going on in our house.

December 13th...

Alex obsessing over his fantasy football line up...
He made it through the first game of the playoffs after beating his uncle! He was pretty excited about it. Jeff lost his game in the championship playoffs and I lost mine in the Toilet Bowl playoffs (not a good year for Mommy Dearest).

December 14th....

Wednesdays are my errand days and, most importantly, library day! I love library day! Even when I do have fines to pay at every visit... sigh.
The top two are Clara's (she reads mostly ebooks she checks out from the library on her Kindle). The bottom one is mine (the last book in the Chaos Walking series). And the rest are random books I picked out for Alex. I may end up reading some of his as well once I finish Monsters of Men.

I promise you, the photos I have from today are much more Christmas-y!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 11th and 12th...

December 11th...

We FINALLY put the tree up! I was beginning to think that we were never going to get around to it. Our weekends have just been so crazy lately.

Jeff put the garland on...
with some help from Alex...
He wasn't feeling all that great. The kids were supposed to sing in a program at church that night, but with Alex not feeling well and Clara being run down with Nutcracker opening weekend stuff, we decided to take it easy and stay home.

Clara was extremely excited about decorating the tree...
(she's looking a little "Flash Dance" here because she had just came home from doing a make-up class in Broadway Jazz... the end of semester is going to be here before we know it and need to get those make-ups done - keeping caught up on make-ups has been the bane of my existence lately!)

Clara's little angel found a home...
Jeff and I were rather uninvolved this year. The kids did most (if not all) of the decorating.

Oh... and Mango isn't spoiled at all...
... is she? :-)

December 12th...

A semi normal day, except taking Clara to ballet early so she could fit in another make-up before her class began.

We did get some exciting news though! Clara's preschool friend from Texas will be visiting Chicago this weekend and will be at Clara's Sunday night performance! They had looked up the cast list online, bought tickets and surprised us with the news yesterday! They're staying out in the 'burbs with friends, but we're going to try to get the girls together before the show!

After dropping Clara off at ballet and while Alex was at his young ensemble group, I had time at home, alone, to sit in the dark by the tree....
... it's my favorite thing ... quiet and the soft glow of the lights!