Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Bucky Badgers

Whenever we visit Grandma Brenda and Grandpa Paul during the winter months we do our best to watch The Bucky Badgers - as Hallie calls them - play basketball at the Kohl Center. This Christmas we were in Wisconsin for two full weeks, and during that time Will went to three games, Tom went to two games, and Hallie and I went to one game, all with Grandpa Paul.

Will loves going to the games. I THINK he enjoys the basketball, and I know he enjoys hanging out with Grandpa. (The opportunity to either skip rest time or stay up late and fill up on hotdogs, popcorn, and Skittles is just an added bonus.) Hallie loves going to the games, but has made it very clear that it's only because of the candy and Bucky Badger.
The Bucky Badgers are still #3 or #4 on Will's list of schools he'd like to attend (he talks about college more often than I think is normal for a six-year-old), but both he and his little sis look pretty good in red, don't they?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

For Pete's Sake

Many (more than 20?) attempts to capture the perfect family photo were made, but in the end, not a single attempt resulted in exactly what I (as the photographer) was hoping for. The best six pictures are below, and I'm sure you'll notice that in every single one at least one person's eyes are closed or at least one of the children isn't looking at the camera. I could never be a professional photographer - I'm not nearly patient enough and the pressure to produce a perfect result is far too great.
At least our outfits are nicely coordinated.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Festivities Continue

My parents hadn't thrown a large-scale Christmas party in six years, so they decided that 2012 - when all of their children, children's spouses, and grandchildren were in town - was the year to go for it again.

The funny thing about entertaining, for me at least, is that it causes me a great deal of stress and anxiety in the days prior. I like party planning, but as the day of the event approaches, I ALWAYS consider calling it off so that I don't actually have to follow through on everything I planned. But for some reason, as soon as the doorbell rings for the first time, I can turn "it" (whatever "it" is) on and I end up having a great time. (Tom is exactly the same way, interestingly enough.)

I thought my parents' plan to have a party was a great one, and I thoroughly enjoyed coming up with the menu and pulling together the guest list. But once we started shopping for the food, selecting the beer and wine options, putting together the playlist, and cleaning the house, I turned into a bear. (And it wasn't because I had to clean the house - I don't mind cleaning the house at all.) My mom had to give me a serious attitude adjustment, just like she often did when I was a teenager.

But once the house was ready and I was dressed in my party attire, I felt like a million bucks. Bring on the partying, I said to no one in particular, and our friends and family did.

It was a fantastic evening. I was able to catch up with aunts, uncles, and cousins; camping family aunts, uncles, cousins, and 3rd generation cousins; friends and their families; and neighbors and their families. Even Tom's parents were able to come, which was a lovely treat. (Tom and I are tremendously lucky that our families get along so well.)
Sneaking crackers before the party started.
Yes, we dress them in matching outfits most of the time.
Bartender Jeff - he rocked it, seriously.
(Tom took this picture on his phone, and then walked around the
party using the photo as a drink menu.  Very clever, those boys.)
The table, just moments before the party began.
(But after Hallie'd started in on the crackers.)
Colin, Dan, and Lauren
Connie, Jane, Marsha, Grandma Brenda, and Emily
Chuck, Jim, and John
The little girls: Sophia, Sydney, Taya, Lily, and Hallie
Hallie and Will, hiding in the basement.
Megan and Hallie
Cousin cuddles at the end of the night.
Sara, Chris, Jessica, Thomas, me, and Katy
Grandpa Mike and Grandma Susie spent the night after the party at Grandma Brenda and Grandpa Paul's house, so the next morning the kids were in 7th heaven with all four of their grandparents doting on them.
Playing games on Grandma's iPad.
Perhaps we won't wait another six years before we throw the next Mueller/Ferris/Ekena Christmas bash - watch for us again in 2014!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Christmas 2012 Recap

Better three weeks later than never, right?

Christmas was wonderful this year. All three kids were old enough to understand at least some of the craziness going on around them and the four parents, two grandparents, and partridge in a pear tree loved watching Christmas through the innocent and not-yet-in-any-way suspicious eyes of Will, Hallie, and Lily.

As always, Christmas Eve was spent attending the children's service at church (which Will loved, Hallie ignored, and Lily chattered excitedly through), enjoying delicious soups and chili for dinner, and opening one gift from under the tree in matching/coordinating pajamas. You have no idea how hard it is to find matching/coordinating pajamas (that are also age and gender appropriate) for a six-year-old boy, a three-year-old girl, and a two-year-old girl. It's going to be even tougher next year, when Sara and I are shopping for an eight-year-old boy, a four-year-old girl, a three-year-old girl, and a one-year-old boy.
Try not to look TOO excited, Will.  
That's better.  Or it would be, if either little girl was looking at the camera.
"Awwww, a new Knuffle Bunny!"
Hallie lost her first Knuffle Bunny, and mean mom that I am,
I wouldn't buy her a new one.  When I told her this, she looked
me right in the eye and said, "FINE.  GRANDMA will buy me
a new one."  And sure enough, Grandma delivered.
Will, opening his new bank.
"Angelina Ballerina!  Who's Angelina Ballerina?"
When Sara and I were younger, my aunt used to make all of the cousins line up - in order by age - on the stairs on Christmas morning.  The youngest cousin present, who would be sitting in the front of the line, had to hold a sign with the year printed on it and then we all had to smile for pictures and cheerfully say, "Merry Christmas!" for the video camera.  The "rules" (which I'd like to get my hands on someday) stated that once you were married, your spouse sat with you on your step, so when Tom and then Jeff joined the family they had to share our steps with us.  We all wished that once - just once - my aunt would forget about this tradition.

The same rules also stated that once you produced a replacement for yourself - as in created a child - the  replacement could take your spot on the step.  My absolute favorite year of this tradition was the year Will took mine and Tom's place but Sara and Jeff still had to join in the fun.

The funniest thing about this tradition is that as much as Sara and I hated it, we now make our kids participate in it as well.  This is honestly the best picture of the three kids on the stairs - it's blurry, not one of the three kids is looking at the camera, and one kid is screaming.  I'm not sure how much longer we'll force this tradition on them...

After the lovely stairs photo, we let them loose to discover their gifts from Santa, what Santa had left them in their stockings, and what their parents and grandparents had given them.
Coming down the stairs.
Santa brought Will a skateboard.
Santa brought Hallie roller-skates.  (Santa brought Lily a dollhouse, but she wasn't all that
interested in it so I don't have a picture of the moment she "discovered" her Santa gift.)
I don't really know what to say about this one...
These glasses are still popular three weeks after
Christmas - Hallie wears them while she brushes her teeth.
Hallie was a big fan of Lily's dollhouse.
And Lily was a big fan of Hallie's roller-skates.
Lily was also a big fan of Hallie's karaoke machine.
To be fair, so was I - my mom even bought me my own microphone so
that Hallie and I can sing duets.  If Hallie will LET me sing duets with her, that is.
Tom was super excited about his new Detroit Tigers baseball cap and Lego Mindstorms.  
And Grandpa Paul was super excited about dressing like a reindeer.
Lily - wearing her jammies and new pink tutu
and Cinderella shirt - and Aunt Sara.
The girls at breakfast - both were wearing their new pink tutus and Cinderella shirts over their jammies.
Getting ready to skateboard in the basement.
From that point on we just repeated the cycle of eat, relax, watch a Twilight movie, and play over and over again. It was truly a very merry Christmas.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gingerbread House

Just before (or after - my Christmas break timeline is a little fuzzy) we celebrated Lily's birthday, Will, Hallie, and Lily worked together to create the most gaudy beautiful gingerbread in the world.

Will worked with great intensity, paying careful attention to how his candies were arranged.

Hallie worked quickly, plastering her sides with as many candies as were necessary to completely cover every single square inch of gingerbread.

Lily discovered that, rather than decorating the gingerbread house, she'd prefer to use her candies to transfer royal icing from the side and roof pieces to her mouth.

Lily was VERY upset when it was time to assemble the house and we had to take her side.

The finished product! (Hallie was the only one who stuck around until the house was fully assembled, and the only one who would pose with their creation.)