Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thankful Day

Over the years we've become accustomed no two holidays being the same.  When I was growing up we hardly ever got to Ohio for Thanksgiving, because Daddy always had Thanksgiving Eve services and most likely, had to be back for Sunday services.  So my memories of Thanksgiving are centered around the Soules, the extremely long trip to Charlotte (in a child's mind) and Mom holding yeast rolls on her lap (the only contribution that would travel well).  

Big Brantley grew up differently, with everyone always coming to his house.  When I questioned him, he said, "It was always the same people and same food."  Not in a boring way, but in a safe, comfortable repetition of family tradition. Theirs was the driveway full of cars, the ones we look at now with a glance of longing.

So, this year developed differently, as usual.  Being a manager short at work, Brant wasn't able to get his usual time off, so we couldn't make the trip to Delaware (where we also celebrate Christmas because Mom Mom and Pop Pop leave for FL at the beginning of December).   So we were forced to figure out how to cook all of our favorites, but for only four people!

This morning dawned fairly early, as the turkey went on the rotisserie at 8:00.  We did some prep work the night before, so most of the rest of the day was spent outside, in front of the fire, playing in the yard, raking leaves, and whatever else we felt like doing.  The neighborhood was deserted, we had it all to ourselves.  We were on our own time, and it was refreshing.
Working on the place cards for Thanksgiving dinner

Chef Daddy, making pretzel salad Thanksgiving Eve
Grandma and Brant doing a little raking
Look at Brant's half row of carrots!  And that's not all of them.  Good thing  we didn't plant a whole row!
The rest of the carrots
Is it done yet Daddy??
Sure is!  Thanksgiving turkey with a Peruvian rub
Brady was happy for the sunny day.  We were thankful to be in shirt sleeves still
The little adventurer, wearing a Camelbak to stay hydrated!
Sitting down to a delicious meal, surrounded by the love of our family near and far, we were thankful for all of our blessings.  When we asked Brant what he was thankful for he said, "USA!"  

Our table, set with the dishes from Dunny's house.   
And nothing like Brant's artwork on the table
After the requisite nap for Daddy, and play time for Brant, Grandma and Mommy, we got busy getting fall put away and some Christmas up.

Whenever we gather with family we are thankful, and know that when we can't be with all our loved ones, we are thankful for the time we can be.  Our blessing abound!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pilgrim Day 2011

Monday was Pilgrim Day in the Kindergarten, and as usual, the hats and collars were just adorable! The teachers and parent volunteers set up stations in four classrooms, making butter, stories and songs about Pilgrims on the SmartBoard, making a cornucopia filled with popcorn and sewing.  Last year they did different activities, like dipping candles, so it was fun for there to be a change.  

I was only able to slip down for the butter making, but the word from Brantley was it was a great day!

Took this one by surprise

This made me think about what Pilgrim children did for fun!

This wasn't the best snap, but got it quick before they when on to their groups

Some Pilgrim silliness before getting down to business making butter!

Mrs. Richardson telling the students about how they churned butter and what life was like in "Pilgrim Days"

Shaking the cream

Can you hear the butter yet?

Yep, it's thickened up to creamy butter!

Yummy!  Crackers and butter!
One day, we hope to take a trip up to Plymouth Plantation, where the Soule house is.  We love that Brant's had an introduction to Pilgrim life, and life for the Native Americans.  It means so much for the kids to do these hands-on activities!

A belated birthday picture

Happy Birthday Grandma!!  I found this photo in the midst of all the fall activities photos and realized I'd not posted it!  We had just finished a yummy dinner (made specially by Daddy) and were now getting ready to enjoy a pecan cheesecake with caramel sauce and Oreo crust!!  And of course, little B had to help blow out the candles!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

'Tis the season

We are so blessed with Daddy's work schedule. While sometimes it stinks (when he works during evening functions) he's really fairly flexible.  We've not had to do any childcare and Daddy is around to deliver left lunches and show and tell and all other manner of items. Not to mention, going to the grocery store when the rest of the world is at work, and starting supper for us before he leaves for work.   Although his weekend hours area bit stinky, it makes the days off during weekends all the more special.  We had one of those this weekend.

A few weeks ago, one of my friends, who is a Stampin' Up demonstrator, announced her annual Stamp a Stack Christmas card workshop.  I love doing this workshop each year, as its a couple of hours of craft time, and I get a lot of ideas of how to use a lot of my craft supplies as well.  It just so happened to coincide with Mom's trip to NYC with her sisters, for my cousin Karen's baby shower.  So Brantley arranged to have the day off, and we filled it to the brim.

The boys started the day off with a trip to Lowe's for Build to Grow.  Brant came home quite excited as he'd made a Santa in a sleigh, and the next project starts a Christmas train!!  The boys met me at Kohl's to do a little small boy shopping, as his arms and legs have outgrown pants and sleeves!  A lunch at our local pizza joint, Reno's and we headed home to start the leaves.  The leaves, oh, the leaves.  We have a garden flag with a rake that says, "So many leaves, so little time."  True that.  The boys got out the John Deere, hitched up the leaf vacuum and got busy.  And I went to make cards!

We all finished up around the same time, and that meant, it was time.  For what you ask?  For....yes, putting up the Christmas tree.  Now, the front porch still has pumpkins and mums, and so does the Hoosier, but we decided to get a jump on the tree (really, only a few days earlier than the usual Thanksgiving put up).  It was such a great idea, as we've enjoyed it so much already.  And Daddy and Mommy had a surprise for Brant, a G-scale Polar Express train to go around the bottom of the tree!
A little silliness

Hiding his eyes for the surprise

Getting busy getting the train out

Don't need tell this boy ow to couple up a train

And getting the track ready to go

And of course, we had to watch the Polar Express too! 

Odds and Ends from a busy week

 It's amazing how quickly the pace of life picks up when your child enters school, and it just keeps on going.  This week has been bookended with skating parties, we are heading to the second this afternoon!  Daddy was around to help out a bit at the last one, before work, and before the staff told all the parents they had to have skates on!  Needless to say, I wasn't out there on skates! But Brantley did a great job, actually I think he did better without us.  And of course, the hilariously fun part of hanging onto a friend and falling!
A death grip on Daddy's hand getting started

There we go!  

Doing the Hokey Pokey on skates!  And pretty good at it too!

So, these were iPhone photos, so zoom got a bit blurry, but Brant and Natalie had a great time skating together

And when they did the "All girls skate" the boys hung out on the side lines.   Here's Brant,  John and Christopher, buddies from class.
 After the skating party we had a bit of shopping to do, before heading out to Mr. Jeremy's brother's house for a pig pickin'.  I don't think Brant had ever been to one, but of course, it's something I grew up with.  Daddy had to work, but we enjoyed the chilly weather, great BBQ and exploring the animals on the farm.
Checking out the goats, before Mr. Jeremy's  nephew showed us why fainting goats are called fainting goats!

Brant was moving so fast it was hard to get a picture, but checking out the chicken coop

And bunnies are always a draw
 Brant had a great time running through the farm, and thankfully, all the electric fences were off.  I had a bit of a nervous breakdown, as it got dark and the kids were still playing hide and seek.  And Brant had a olive green coat on.  And I had no idea where they were.  But, as Mr.Jeremy said, "What's he going to do, fall out of a tree?"  Yes, I felt much better then.

This week at school has been Thanksgiving in full force, with Native American Day last Monday, and Pilgrim Day tomorrow.  They've made the cutest turkeys, Indians in canoes and of course, their Pilgrim wear for tomorrow.

Brant goes to afterschool for a bit, as he gets out of school about 30 minutes earlier than I do.  He loves having a bit of playtime, snacks and occasionally a craft.  Mrs. Bridgett (yes, her last name is Jones, which I think is funny!) had a yummy craft ready for Friday.

Anything made out of candy and icing is a great project

Ta Da!  A cookie Turkey!  Made out of two oreos, a Reese cup, malted milk ball, candy  corn and Twizzlers.
Friday fun continued with our town's Lighting of the Green.  All week we've been watching the workers put up the decorations, and the excitement has been growing in the O'Day family.   The trains haven't run a lot in the past months, so we knew they'd be running, as well as a hay ride, Santa and munchies in all the stores.  Groups singing in the Depot stage and the lights coming on make for a fun evening.  We walked down to enjoy the festivities.
Brant made up a song, and insisted on singing it from the top of the WWII  artillery that's  in the  Green.  Think Jingle Bells with Choo Choo as lyrics.

Once again, we love the small town life.  The Amtrak came through while we were downtown and I can't help but think how we looked like "It's a Wonderful Life" or some other classic, with all the lights, the people mulling about and the general holiday cheer.

A chilly walk home, some hot chocolate and a little snuggle time on the couch and our holiday season is officially kicked off!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The first field trip of the year!

Brant's kindergarten class had their first field trip of the year last week, to a Bison farm, located in Hillsborough.  It fit in perfectly with their Native American preparations, and any trip involving a hay ride is sure to be a crowd pleaser!  Daddy got to go along, so it was an extra special day.  And the kids got some up-close and personal time with America's first red meat!

Brant informed me that the "big mouth part" was used as a weapon by the "Indians!"
The students got to touch a pelt and the farm owners told them all the ways they were used in the "old days".

Nothing like sitting on top of a hay bale

or climbing on rocks with your buddy Natalie

And lounging around after a picnic lunch!

All in all, some happy kids.

As for the photos on the hay ride, I'm not sure what happened. But I do know that the Brantleys got to ride on the driver's seat where, "you know Mommy, they used to hit the horses!!"  One of the moms bought some bison meat to cook for the kids to try the next day. I asked Brant how it tasted, like hamburger or something.  Looking at me he shrugged and said, "I don't know!"  Guess we'll have to get some to try ourselves!

Native American Day 2011 and Happy Birthday Grandma!

Can you believe Thanksgiving is a week away?  And you know what that means, Native American day, with Pilgrim Day right around the corner!  Today, Native American day coincided with Grandma's birthday, so it was an all around fun day.  All week long the students have been preparing their Native American items, from covering oatmeal (or in our case the biggest can of peanuts from BJs that you've ever seen!) containers and making them into drums.  Complete with beaded bells and headdresses, there was quite the tribe of Native Americans at school!

Can we say Daddy much?  Goodness, even down to the "Can you please take the picture and get it over with" smile!
Here he is showing off his vest we worked on. He chose the designs, drew some of them, and then colored in the ones I drew for him.  He chose all the "good" symbols from his paper.

More of his great art!

Gathering around the tee-pee

By the campfire (can you see it, right beside the boy to his right)
 After a bit of drum playing....

Natalie keeping time to the music

Caught this one. No, he wasn't smiling at the camera.  That would be out of character! was time for Native American games!
Patiently waiting for his group number to be called.

The teachers do a great job utilizing the materials they have and making it a fun learning day for the students.

Their "Fifth Grade Friends" helped out at the games

Camera acting funny, it wouldn't focus right. But fishing in the pond.

Climbing Eagle Mountain to get his feather

Spearing a deer 

Playing the cup game with Grandma, who volunteered again this year

 There's just something about trying beef jerky and sitting around a tee-pee.  Paper bag vests and macaroni necklaces are a right of passage for childhood.  Check out last year's Native American Day  here.  I can't believe he was one of the "big" kids this year!!