Monday, December 8, 2014

More Christmas Fun of an "Eclectic" Sort

Our game of delivering "gifts" to the North
Pole was just the beginning of our Christmas fun.

Hunter and Brianna took a box of special 
ornaments and decorated a crape myrtle
tree in the front yard.

The next day Claire and Evan similarly
adorned a little redbud tree at our back gate.
As Judy observed, when people notice that
all your ornaments are within 48 inches of
the ground, they know you have grandchildren!

Moving on, Hunter had a great desire to be
 in a book.  And here is a Christmas book
that he literally got inside. It's actually an
advent calendar with pop-out windows 
throughout its folded pages.

Next, carrying on an old family tradition
(Former students, do you remember this?)
we decorated "gum drop trees." These multi-
stickered bushes are actually called hogapples,
and are native to the Sandhills.  But they're
not as common as they once were.

Later, while Bri and Grandma stayed in and
did some Christmas art, Hunter and I went
exploring.  The stream was still up from a 
recent rain, and we saw deer tracks and other
interesting sights.  We even found a large
gum drop tree for another year! YES!

It doesn't show up very well, but in Hunter's
hand is a mountain-crafted gingerbread man.
By alternately pulling his two cords, Hunter
raised him to the top of the door.  That's what
we call a physics lesson.

The next day, Evan also wanted to be
in a book.  He had a slightly different
interpretation of that concept. To each his own.

And now for the second gum drop tree.
All four children have learned by experience
how to carefully place the gum drops without
getting pricked in the process.  In the interest
of conservation, I harvested both gum drop trees
from the same bush, and the bush is still living.
Trying to do my part to preserve the species.
We'll see if the "pruning" helps.

As with anything she undertakes, Claire
applies the artist's eye and a delicate touch.
If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well, right?

And here's yet another way to enjoy that book.
As well as cookies and fruit.

My friend Andrew at church gifted me with
this musical tie.  Don't be surprised when you
see me with it.  I can already play Do-Re-Mi!

For some reason, I can't get my
camera to focus on our Christmas
tree, but this fuzzy picture will 
give you a general idea of it.
Our typical cedar, cut right beside
our driveway, it was already the
perfect height and was a few inches
shy of our nine-foot ceiling.

This P-47 Thunderbolt ornament, a tribute
to my Dad, is one of my favorites, and
well-loved by the grandkids, too.

Grandma and Hunter have Ninja Santa
battling the dinosaurs.  Or something like
that.  Don't miss the video later.

Meanwhile, in the other room, Bri was
creating digital ornaments on the computer.

Hunter had a great time with Grandma's
nesting Santas. 

Bri and Hunter recently went to see "The
Nutcracker," and the Nutcracker was very
much on Hunter's mind today.
He can really make that thing dance!

This is another Christmas game I devised,
but Hunter is the only one who has played it.
We each choose two characters from Santa,
Frosty, and a pair of elves.

You roll the die and move your 
character up the ladder the appropriate
number of rungs.  When one makes it to
 the top he gets to go "down the chimney."
Grandpa is usually the slowpoke in this game.

Bri now gets into the Santa and dinosaur
mode, but she even adds Mary, Joseph, and
Baby Jesus into the scenario.  Please don't 
give Hollywood any ideas!

And of course, the sequel is "The Nutcracker
to the Rescue."

We have some over-sized Tinker Toys
called Fiddle Stix and this was the first
time any of the kids showed much interest
in constructing something.  A year ago
the pieces proved too frustrating to connect.

How do you like Brianna's three crosses?
I love them.

I also like Hunter's colorful "wheel and axle."
I'm not sure where a passenger would sit,
but Hunter sent it rolling back and forth across
the living room's pine floor many times.

Hunter uses Roly Poly Santa to spin and
knock dinosaurs off their pedestals.

And Hunter has learned a magic trick.
He can put these six spheres together, but
not attached, and turn them into six
connected spheres.  The video is #1 below.

Video # 1:

Video # 2: Following directions on the 
Sit 'n' Spins.  Silly directions, like fall off
and cry like a baby.

Video # 3: The Trailer from Hunter's
"Santa Visits Jurassic Park." Or something
like that.

Wow.  Three weeks till Christmas.
Lets hurry up and play some more!

A New Christmas Game: Elves Delivering Gifts to the North Pole

When I taught school I delighted in creating 
Christmas-themed games to break the monotony
of academia.  Now that I'm retired, I still seek out
ways to add spice to holiday babysitting days.
VOILA!   A new game, tentatively called
"Elves Delivering Gifts to the North Pole."
A shorter name is inevitable, but I haven't
started working on it yet.

Here's how the game is played.  I load two 
sleds with Christmas balls (found in a dumpster
last year).  Any unbreakable ornament or small
toy could be substituted, but these are ideal.
Then the children (2 in this case) take turns
following a path of orange cones all over the
property until they come to the "North Pole."

At the "North Pole" destination the children
stand behind a marker and attempt to toss
all of their "gifts" into Santa's toy box.
We didn't make this competitive, but you
certainly could by seeing which child "delivers"
all his or her toys first.

The following two videos trace the path of
our route to the North Pole.  We'll play the
game again each week until Christmas, but
I'll design a new route with a different 
destination each time.


Doesn't look much like the North Pole, does it?
We just need a child-like imagination.

On a chilly afternoon Bri and Hunter embark
on their important journey.  They followed
directions perfectly and had a blast.

Let's see how their aim is.
Good thing these gifts are unbreakable, as I said.

Bri wondered if this was the North Pole.
Nope, false alarm.  This is one of our
property cornerstones!  But there is  a pole!
Good thinking, Bri.

The next day, Evan and Claire took on the
role of elves and tackled the same task.
Can you tell it was 10 degrees warmer?  

The children enjoyed imagining that we were
in the land of ice and snow, and it was exciting
when we unexpectedly came upon the next cone.

I think you'll be quite impressed with the
marksmanship of Elf Claire and Elf Evan.
They might do better than Fed Ex, UPS or USPS.

Evan wondered if the canoe might give us
an easier way home.

But alas, we had to retrace our steps
and collect the cones.  Grandpa will
spend some time creating a new path
and polar adventure for this week.
You'll know where to direct the search
party if we're not back for dinner!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas at Weymouth 2014

Thursday, I was privileged for the second time
to kick off the annual celebration of Christmas
at Weymouth with an hour of Christmas tunes,
both old and new.

The Boyd House, historic home of author
James Boyd and his wife Katharine, houses the
 Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities.

Here is the lineup of local musicians who will
lend their talents to the wonderful Christmas
atmosphere at the center this year.

Thursday, Dec. 4

10:00   Ken Loyd, piano
11:00   David Wall, flute
12:00   Laurie Muirhead, harp
1:00     Sondra Nelson, piano
2:00     Court Stewart, piano
3:00     Zoopendous Chorus

Friday, Dec. 5

10:00  Missy Brown and Mary Margaret McNeill, duo-piano
11:00  Brian Harbour, piano
12:00  Susan Bartz Herrick, soprano
1:00   Sue Aceves and Carol Tilton, duo-piano
2:00   Aaron Priest, piano
3:00   Livera Hussey and piano students

Saturday, Dec. 6

10:00  Mary Rush, piano
11:00 John and Carolyn Hatcher: saxophone, flute, and more!
12:00  Chris Stewart, piano
1:00   Ruth Sinclair and piano students
2:00   David McDonald and Friends: guitar, fiddle, vocals, etc.
3:00   Peggy Calhoun, piano

Sunday, Dec. 7

1:00  Marylee Schulte, piano
2:00  Nancy Arnold, soprano, and Larry Arnold, piano
3:00  Lydia Gill, piano

Here are several pictures for your enjoyment
from my self-guided tour of the house .

Of course that's Chipper seated with me on the piano.

Dear friend Elaine Sills, who invited me to play,
insisted on this shot with Katharine Boyd in the background.

I love this vintage post office, still with some of
Mrs. Boyd's personal labels.

This room was stocked with vintage toys.

This year Santa wasn't in the tub.  

Weymouth was the fourth different venue
where I've shared Christmas music this week,
with more coming up the next two weeks.
There's nothing I enjoy more.