Friday, January 21, 2011

hello, 2011!

We started out the new year by celebrating with friends... Steve, Karen, David, Jason, Tracy, and Rosalie (as well as some other friends of Steve and Karen's). It was our first time meeting 2-month-old Rosalie ~ what a little cutie!! Here she is with her daddy: Ben and the other kids made some art projects:
Emmalie and Nick show Rosalie (with Tracy) how to ring in the new year:

Celebrating with sparkling white grape juice:
On the 13th, Nick turned 12! (Not sure how that's possible, really.) We made these snowman cookies the day before, for him to take to school. It was bittersweet for me ~ next year he'll be in middle school and won't be taking treats for his birthday anymore....
That night we took Nick to The Rainforest Cafe for his birthday supper. We always have fun there!

When we got back home, it was time for Nick to open his gifts. Ben couldn't wait for him to open the cactus he'd picked out, to go in Gilbert the gecko's cage!

Nick with the glass dolphin sculpture from Emmalie:
Here Nick reads one of the cards I made, explaining his gifts from George and me. He doesn't look particularly excited in the picture, but he was thrilled by his gifts! We bought a one-year membership to Brookfield Zoo for the whole family, and we are going to let Nick pick out one of the "cheaper" Wild Encounters at the zoo, where he'll get to go behind the scenes, one on one with a zookeeper, and learn about taking care of the animals. :) He can't wait to do that!!
Nick and Ben (and Finn the Webkinz snake, LOL):
Nick and Emm:
Then it was time for cake and ice cream! Nick decided several months ago that he wanted an apple walnut cake for his birthday, even though he'd never had one before. I found a good recipe, and wow ~ we all LOVED it!!

Also on his birthday, I took Nick over to PetSmart so that he could pick out a new betta. Meet Prism, the rainbow-colored fish (hard to see how pretty he is in the photos, though):

And here are 2 more creatures currently living in our house. For Christmas, Emmalie gave Nick a packet of triops eggs and a little tank. What are triops, you may ask? Also called dinosaur shrimp, they are small crustaceans. They start out VERY tiny, but then double in size almost daily until they are 1-3 inches long. They only live 20 to 90 days, and, as we discovered when Emm had some several years ago, triops can be cannibalistic. (Yikes.) They are funny little guys to watch, though, and they are usually in motion all day long, it seems!

Nick has named the larger one Leviathan and the smaller one Silver Bell (a nod to Emmalie, who named her 3 triops Three Eyes, Blue Bell, and Silver Bell). Every day when I go in the boys' room to check on the triops, I remind Silver Bell to watch his back, LOL.

Nick does have quite the menagerie in his room! While I was photographing the aquatic creatures, Ickie kept chirping to get my attention. I guess she wanted her photo taken, too. :) (Gilbert, however, was asleep inside his dark little gecko house.)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

at the closing of the year...

Well, the end of December was every bit as busy as the beginning, and I never did get a chance to post photos before 2010 was over.

On the 14th, we went to Nick's first band concert, held at the high school. This is his band director:

Nick and "his" clarinet (which really belongs to our friend Karen):
I believe it was the 16th when our silly bird Ickie escaped from her cage (Nick was filling her water dish and left the little door open ~ Ickie fit right through it!) We were able to contain her in the boys' room, but she had fun checking everything out before we got her back in her cage, LOL:

On the 17th, Ben's preschool class gave their Winter Concert. It was so cute!

After the kids sang, Santa came out and talked with each of them...
then handed them a present to bring home. Ben received a monster truck and boat set:
The kids started Winter Break after school on the 17th. The following week, the boys dipped holiday-shaped pretzels in chocolate to give as gifts (Emmalie knitted potholders, but I forgot to take a picture of her working on them):

On the 22nd, I took the kids to North School Park to see the lights:

On the 23rd, we made eggnog cookies, yum:

That night, we set out cookies and eggnog for Santa, who came to our house a day early:
The next morning, the kids hurried into the living room to see their presents!
A Pillow Pet!

Ben with his gifts... stuffed animals, plastic animals, cars, and games:
Nick with his gifts... stuffed animals, plastic animals, a cookbook, wildlife food:
Emm with her gifts... Harry Potter items, a game, and a camera:
George with his gifts... Pirates of Penzance DVD and a drawing from Ben:
Me with my gifts... an ornament made by Emm, a drawing made by Nick, a Glee CD, and cardstock from my friend Cheryl:
Later that afternoon, we went to the Christmas Eve service at church, and listened to Ben's choir sing "Go Tell it on the Mountain". Again, very cute! :o) This is Ben after the service, by the church's Christmas tree:
On Christmas Day, we drove to my grandma's, to spend a couple of hours there:
I was happy to get this shot of the kids with their great-grandma:
History was made at Grandma's this year... because my parents and Aunt Bernice were not there, there was some extra room at the "grown-ups table", and so my oldest cousin Steve and his wife got to sit upstairs with Grandma, my aunts, and my uncles:

All the rest of us ate in the basement, at the kids' tables, as usual. LOL!
The kids had fun playing with my cousin's little boy, Ayden. He is such a cutie!
Around 2:30 or so, we got back in the car and headed to Ames, finally arriving around 8pm.

The next day, we opened gifts with Mom, Dad, Christine, and C's friend Leah. Emm tried out her new camera:

Ben was a little shy at first, but quickly got over that and made himself comfortable on Leah's lap, LOL:
After presents, we played some games, like Bingo:

Leah, Christine, Emm, and me, huddling around the portable heater... we were c-c-c-cold!:
George and Ben playing with Ben's new Legos:
On the 27th, we went to my mother-in-law's, and opened gifts with her:

That night we all went out to eat at the Mongolian Buffet, and met up with my brother-in-laws, Nathan and James, there:
We returned to Fran's for awhile and played with her cat, Sasha:
Nick, imitating Sasha's every move:
On the 29th, the boys played in the snow with George and their Grandpa Rick:

while us girls did some shopping. On the 30th, we drove home, stopping in Dubuque for a few hours to spend time with friends. After leaving their house, we ran into some very thick fog, and it was a tense ride home! We didn't even get back here till 11pm....