Friday, November 30, 2007

Advent beginnings

We're not going home for Christmas this year. I'm really looking forward to Creed's first Christmas, but I know their will be times I will be a little bit blue thinking about the rest of my family together for Christmas without us (except Eli, of course who is still on his mission in Brazil). So even though Creed's not really old enough to appreciate it, I put together an activity advent calendar to count down to Christmas, mostly to assure myself a little bit of holiday cheer every day. Every day our family will open the advent calendar to discover a Christmas activity for the day. In no particular order, here are some things I think would be fun to include:

25: Attend Holiday Hop in the Short North
24: Pick out a Christmas Tree
23: Go shopping for an ornament for Creed
22: Bake Christmas cookies
21: Dance around to music from The Nutcracker
20: Watch The Santa Clause
19: Visit Wildlights at the Zoo
18: Wrap Christmas presents
17: Drive around to see Christmas lights, and deliver a prize to our favorite house
16: Buy a toy for Salvation Army’s Cheer Toy Drive
15: Collect toys for the toy drive at the ward Christmas party
14: Deliver toys to Salvation Army
13: Go to the children’s literature Christmas book club and book exchange
12: Light the fire in the fireplace and drink hot chocolate (I just picked up some peppermint syrup to add to our hot chocolate)
11: Address Christmas cards
10: Trim the tree
9: Design my own Christmas card
8: Have a snowflake cutting party
7: Select one present to open early
6: Practice playing Christmas hymns on the guitar
5: Make a handmade gift (I have some really fun plans, too bad I can't share them here)
4: Make a snowangel
3: Deliver small gifts to friends and neighbors
2: Get Creed’s picture taken with Santa
1: Read the Christmas story from the scriptures

You could also make a snowperson, try Jeni's holiday flavors, check out some of the other ideas I listed last year here.
If you don't have an advent calendar, there are so many cool ones out there this year. Here are a few that I like:
This one from Garnet Hill

This Mirrored one from Target could be used to count down to any special day.

Ali Edwards made a really simple one with paper mache boxes that you can find at any craft store.
And speaking of advent calendars, if you want one that just counts the days to Christmas I have one that I'm getting rid of. I'm trying to edit down my Christmas decorations since we're moving this year so if you're one of my friends in town and you want this

or this (this one is not an advent)be the first to comment here, and I'll contact you to work out the details to pick them up.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Deck the Halls

We pulled out the Christmas decorations at the beginning of the week and Creed is having a hay day. Here he is checking out a reindeer ornament that I'm hanging up.
Here he is trying to grab a wreath I just put up.
Picking out Creed's first Christmas tree (this is not the tree we chose). If you haven't bought a tree yet and you want to, go to the tree lot on Frantz Road. It's the best!
Creed checking out a box of ornaments.
He fell in love with these beads and has been dragging them all over the house on his adventures.
Now we're trying to figure out how to protect him from the tree. He hasn't really gone for it yet, but I'm sure that he eventually will. Any suggestions?
Decoration pictures to come soon!

I am thankful for . . .

New Traditions!

Every year during the month of November, I try to keep a list of things that I am thankful for and I try to add something to the list every day of the month. This year, I got a late start so instead the week of Thanksgiving, I decided to write a thank you note every day that week. It got me thinking of all that I have to be thankful for, but I also got to take actions and express my appreciate to some of my friends (although I have yet to deliver some of them).

I think next year I may even try to write a thank you note every day of the month of November because it was such a good experience.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

There are many benefits to having a blog: I don't have to pester my family with large emails full of pictures of Creed, they can check in when they want to; I have a record of our life; if a catastrophe strikes I'll be able recover some pictures from our blog; I'm awful at keeping in touch but it's so easy to catch up through blogs; and the best benefit of all, I'm making new friends and getting back in touch with old friends.

A few months ago Tenay, one of my college roommates found me and then through Tenay's blog, our other rommate Sarah found me. I was so happy to hear from both of them and I love seeing what they are up to on their blogs.

I went to junior high and the beginning of high school in Hawaii, and last month my friend Malia found my blog. She knows one of my little sister's friends and followed links to my blog. What are the chances of that?

I've also made a few new blogging friends. It makes me wonder who is out there that I might be missing. How many of my old friends have blogs that I don't even know about? And are there any lurkers on my blog out there that I could be friends with?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

National Museum of the United States Air Force

Today we decided to cross another item off of our list of things that we want to do before we move away from Ohio; we visited the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton.

Our tour begins with yet another example of how I do not know how to use my new camera! Here are Larry and Creed looking cute And here they are all blurry, but you can see the planes in the background. I figured if I post both pictures, at least you kind of get the picture.
The museum had some pretty amazing things, but Larry is a reader of all signs containing anything remotely historical and there are A LOT of signs around this museum. It took us several hours to make it through the museum and Creed and I were pretty tired of it in the end. Here are the boys in front of a stealth bomber

And here I am with Creed in front of a . . . cargo plane maybe? Hey, I already told you that I got bored of the signs! I don't need to know what year it was designed and who designed the engines, etc. (Ok, maybe I should have paid a bit more attention in the end)
After the tour, Creed is considering a career as an astronaut. Here he is imagining the face he would make if he was the first man to land on Mars.

Happy Thanksgiving!

After a few changes in plans, we were lucky enough to have Marissa, Mike and Their baby, Logan, up for Thanksgiving, and I didn't even have to make a turkey because Reba and Chris made the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and cranberry salsa. We were in charge of rolls, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, pies, and ice cream. Everything turned out so well, especially the Turkey Chris brined, and it was to fun to spend the day with friends and family.

We watched Ellie and Moira for Reba and Chris in the morning so they could run the Turkey Trot (of course we were not doing something so healthy on Thanksgiving). It was fun to watch the parade with Ellie who was very excited when she heard that Santa comes to the end of the Thanksgiving parade. After the race the Ortons went home to finish Thanksgiving preparations and we got to work too.

The table seemed a little plain so Marissa helped me make some Mayflower placecards that I saw on Martha Stewart. Of course we dived right in as soon as all of the food was ready and I forgot to take any pictures until afterward. Here are Reba and Chris.

And the other end of the table.
I think Moira really liked the pie!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Just playing around

Creed and I have been enjoying Larry's free time this month. We're still busy experiencing a lot of first with Creed. His first slide (which he didn't care about at all)
And here he is at the zoo. He's starting to love animals so even though it was freezing, he loved the zoo last week.

This is his favorite spot at home. I love sitting on the couch and watching the top of his little head pop over the edge of the couch.
He also got to watch OSU beat Michigan for the first time. We watched the game with our friends the Rices (note Tony's arm is in a cast because he broke his hand last week punching the florr as OSU was losing to Illinois. Yikes!)
Saturday night he had a playdate with Audrey and it's so fun watching them crawl all over each other. At one point they both had their binkies in while they tried to steal each other's binkies.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Congratulations Candice

You all know I am uber proud of my sister Candice and now we can add one more thing to the list of things Candice has achieved. She has been writing articles freelance for Creating Keepsakes for a couple of years now and teaching across the country at Creating Keepsakes University; now she has an official monthly column called "Picture Perfect" which you can check out here. You can also see a lot of video clips of Candice giving pointers on Creating Keepsakes site so if you have a chance, check them out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Spectacular Spelunking

Sunday night we left Tennessee and drove up to Louisville to visit my brother-in-law Mark. He's there because he's in Actor's Theater's A Christmas Carol so he has Mondays off (theaters are always closed on Mondays). He decided to join us on our trek to Mammoth Caves. We visited Mammoth Caves a few years ago and fingured this might be our last chance to see them before we move back west so even though we had Creed with us and it is their winter season so they don't offer as many tours, we took full advantage and went on two tours. We started out with the 2 hour New Entrance Tour. As you can see, Creed was happy to be there. I can't even begin to explain the entrance to this tour. It was metal staircases about 18" wide that wound all over the place and crossed back over itself. I have no idea how they constructed it. I wish I could have captured a picture that could really explain it, but this was the best that I could do.
This is a picture of the Frozen Niagara formation toward the end of the tour.
And I just included this picture to highlight the fact that my husband is HOT! (except, can you read his shirt here? It says, "To Each his Gnome" and I hate gnomes and I swear he wears this shirt just to taunt me!)
I'm so glad that Mark was there to help us lug Creed around, especially since Creed was asleep for a good portion of this tour.
My least favorite part of the tour? There were a couple of spots that I saw these creatures huddled together and I thought they were spider and it totally freaked me out! (I'd like to point out that this is not an irrational fear like my fear of ducks, I've actually ended up in the hospital more than once from an allergic reaction to a spider bite). It turns out that they are cave crickets. CREEPY!
We had an hour break beofre our next tour so we lunched and Mark modelled.
Then we went on the Historic Tour, which starts at the original entrance of the cave
as pictured here (expect the stairs are obviously not original) We went from some enormous caverns, to this, to . . .
Fat Man's Misery!

It's actually not too scary because it's only tight up to your chest or waist and then there's some open space. And after Fat Man's Misery was Tall Man's Misery
Towards the end of this tour you have to go up these rickety old stairs, which shake a little bit. They are replacing these this winter so we were among the last groups to go up them. Lucky us . . .
While we were there we picked up a National Parks Passport and got it stamped at Mammoth Caves for Creed. I think it will be fun to track all of the National Parks he sees during his life.
After that it was on to Cave City, the nearest town to Mammoth Caves. I'm not really sure how to explain this town. It think most of it was built in the 50's and nothing has changed since then so it's a little rundown and full of all things kitschy, which makes it highly entertaining. Here's a typical shop.
I'm not sure how Mark resisted buying this hat when he looked so good!
And the Wigwams are another good example of the spirit of Cave City (yes, I know they are not wigwams, they are concrete teepees, but they call them Wigwams). Even though they are as far from PC as you can get, I would have been tempted to spend the night if they weren't closed for the season , just so we could say sthat we did.

We had a great time. Thanks Mark for keeping us company and letting us crash with you for a few nights!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

We're Baaaa-aaack!

Larry had a surprise few days off so we drove to Tennessee because we hadn't met this little guy, Marissa's baby Logan! We drove down on Friday and then spent Saturday at the Lost Seas (A mystery that I'll have to describe later because I forgot my camera and I don't have pictures from the Garners yet)(edited to add: Marissa just posted her lost seas pictures so you can see them on her blog here). Then Lucky for us, we happen to be there the night the rodeo was in town so Logan, Creed, and I got to experience our first rodeo (big time stuff in this part of TN).

Larry and Mike even sported Rodeo sweatshirts

And my face is frozen in an awkward expression in this picture because this cowboy's hand was getting a little too low! Ahhhhhhhh!
Creed had a ball and Marissa and Mike's. I think Creed and Logan will be chums. They look at each other and smile a lot, but we had to give Creed the remote in this picture so he wouldn't maul poor Logan.All weekend Marissa and Mike called Creed "Giant Baby" and looking at these pictures I guess I can see why. What a difference five months can make!