Monday, December 23, 2013

An Eclectic Christmas Blog

This blog post will have a little bit of everything.
Even though it covers less than two weeks, it's
quite eclectic.  Cute, too, I think.

Claire is in the red ruffled dress near the center.
This is her pre-school Christmas program.

Evan is directly in the center.  Can any three-year
old look more angelic than this?

In fact, Evan is an angel!

In the same way that Claire is
literally a star!

The Beulah Hill Baptist Church altar for Christmas

Additions to my salt and pepper collection, courtesy
of John and Gloria Brock. Many, many thanks.

The sweethearts in a sleigh was particularly timely.

Dear friend Tena and her roommate enjoy holding
Chipper Claus and Froggy the Elf.  This was before
my Christmas singalong.

You may have seen my brief video of these deer.
Only five are in this picture, but there were seven in all.

It may be December, but Hunter is wise to wonder
if these ants are going to come out and try to bite us.
I hope we'll enjoy 3 or 4 months of less ant activity,
then renew our assault next spring.

Bri, like all of our grandkids, has a tremendous work
ethic.  Nowadays they are all more likely to turn down
offers of help, saying "I can do it, Grandpa." And it's
true, they can.

Bri puts a lot of thought into the hanging of outdoor
ornaments on this little redbud tree.

She places each one with the care of an artist.
The fun part is standing on a stool and hanging each
ornament as high as possible.

Hunter hung several ornaments, too, but here he
gives new meaning to four-wheel drive.  What a
worker!  He insisted on pushing them by himself.
Uphill, then down.

You may have seen on Facebook where Hunter
placed Baby Jesus for safe-keeping: in the secret
treasure hideaway of his pirate playset.

I was delighted to share in Farm Life's holiday
program.  Or programs.  3rd through 5th assembled
first, followed by K through 2nd.  I played a variety
of Christmas music as they entered, then accompanied
a singalong of their favorites.  Jingle Bells and Rudolph
never fail to top the list.  And the older kids were awesome
in helping me do the Twelve Days of Christmas with
motions.  I learned that version at the Cameron Boys
Camp some 30 years ago.

Some good-sported teachers shared Christmas
riddles with the students.  Such as:
Q.  "How much did Santa's sleigh cost?"
A.        "Nothing.  It was on the house."

I loved watching all the kids take the floor for a
lively holiday dance/workout.  It was amazing and
participation was impressive.  The two groups combined
are well over 500 students.
Evan decided this fold-out Christmas book was
just the place to settle down for "a long winter's nap."
But no nap for him-- this is strictly a demonstration.

Meanwhile Claire is delighted with a Christmas
pop-up book that has similarly affected children
all the way back to my early years of teaching
(and including Jennifer and Amanda as young
children).  We bought that book at the old
Country Store, which was located at Town &
Country Shopping Center in the mid-70's.  We
also got a wooden breadbox there, that we still use!
Anyone remember that place?

Not all of our action was Christmas related.  Evan and
I were entertained by this worker with a front-end loader.
The man got a kick out of putting on a show for Evan
and even waved at him.  Riding on two wheels (sometimes
the front two, sometimes the rear) was Evan's favorite.

These may look like shredded wood chips to you.
But as Evan can tell you, "It's Pixie Dust!"

This vacant parking lot with its gentle slope is a
fine place for some free-wheeling fun.  Very little
to run into.  Do let us know if you see the
Taylortown policeman approaching-- and we'll
slow things down a little.

Evan liked the same game Hunter did-- tossing
Frisbees into this tub.  But while Hunter did it
as a ninja, Evan is Captain America.
Well, to each his own.

More outdoor decorations.  If Christmas hadn't
arrived we would have run out of "extra" ornaments.
And that would mean-- cringe-- starting to use the
breakable ones!!

But actually, the kids are extremely careful, and I
don't think anything got broken.  But I'm sure I'll
step on one when I'm un-decorating later!

I showed Evan and Claire where I'm clearing more woods
for more shady play space.  Evan really liked my
wisteria snake.  The size of some of the vines I'm cutting
is mind-boggling: grapevines, catbrier, and wisteria.
Fortunately, NO kudzu.  That's a relief!

Sometimes we have to stop playing to see something
that demands our attention.   A deer, a bird, a plane,
or maybe even Superman.

Claire coolly demonstrates how to walk down a
car in boots.

Extra points awarded for not spilling her juice box.
What style!

At another Christmas celebration with friend Joy,
plastic fruit, a Teddy bear collection, and imagination
are the only requirements for fun.

With four grandchildren, the number of presents
under our tree is on the upswing again.  Yay!

Knowing there would be some rainy nights and some
other nights we wouldn't be home, Judy and I put
out luminaries Saturday night.  A few years ago we
did that and a teacher friend called to ask if we knew
our front lawn was on fire.  That was scary, but no
problem this time.

As we wrap things up, observe how Evan uses all
our Christmas icons to show how Santa delivers his
gifts.  You've got to have Santa, a sleigh, and reindeer.
And oh, yes, don't forget the Pixie Dust!

If I don't get any more pictures on before Christmas,
I wish all my dear readers a very Merry Christmas,
followed by a Happy New Year.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Thrills with the Grandkids: anything goes!

Let's start with November family night at
the Talberts'.  Claire has taken Matt's place
at the table and is chowing down on that cake.
We're debating: "Do you think the kids will 
want to do Christmas again this year?"


A good book draws all four kids at once-- a novelty.

Don't ask what Bri has in mind.  You don't want to know.

Evan is bitten by the reading bug, too.

And so is Hunter.  It's an epidemic, and Claire is
an attentive listener.
Thanks for the gloves, Grandpa, but somebody
stretched them a little.

Evan's task is to break up the frozen water from
the birdbaths.  The tool is a hubcap hammer.

Judy and I have been waiting for some of our own
cedar trees to reach the size for a Christmas tree.
Thanks to the birds who plant them.

Yep, another Charlie Brown tree for the Loyds.

The best Christmas decorations are those that
easily turn into toys.  And Grandma's hope chest
is where we keep them all, easily accessible.

Hunter and Bri are hanging ornaments on our little
crape myrtle tree.  Evan and Claire will have a chance
to add many more if weather permits this week.

Evan and Claire are proud of their tree.
Not everybody can have their Christmas tree
protected by superheroes. 

Evan's superheroes all want to see Santa Claus.

The BIG superheroes take the BABY superheroes
on a field trip in the Magic School Bus.  Destination:
The North Pole and Santa's Workshop.

Did you know Santa's sleigh is really a Mr. Potato-Head?

Claire, AKA Batwoman/ The Dark Ballerina,
cradles her Christmas snow globe.

Evan took this closeup of my shirt for Matt.
Nice job, Ev-man.

We are not reluctant to mingle characters.  Santa
arrives at Baby Jesus's manger in time to celebrate
with the shepherds, wise men, Mary, and Joseph.

In fact, Hunter has gathered all of the Santa's and
Frosty's to honor Baby Jesus.

This is one tired dude.  The big one on the left, that is.
Hunter still has some gas in the tank, but likes to snuggle.

Hunter and Bri still had plenty of energy for an icy
trek to the stream.  Our "hoop-fishing" is still popular.

The stream was way "up" today due to days of rain,
and Bri uses an extra long stick for rescues when the
stream threatens to wash the rings away.

We're always working on hand-eye coordination.

The kids love to help Santa and the elves climb this
ladder, a gift from a friend many years ago.  Some of
my students may remember the ladder from my classroom.
We even had a Christmas Math AHA based on it.  I would
give the students clues about which rungs of the ladder
Santa, Elf 1, Elf 2, and Frosty were on (ex. Santa is three
rungs above Elf 2.  Frosty is two steps below Elf 1.  The
steps the two elves are on add up to 15
.)

Maybe you're familiar with the old English carol
"I Saw Three Ships."  Well in Bri's version, Baby
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph take a pirate ship to England
to escape from a sea monster.

T-Rex tries to scare the sea monster away.

You're safe now, Baby Jesus.

For the second straight day, Bri and Hunter can't
wait to stick gumdrops on our old-fashioned gumdrop
tree.  No pricks, no blood, no ouches.  Amazing!

It's definitely an art form.  And the rewards are yummy.

Bri did this on-line coloring.  As she explains, that's
the way God made her skin.  The same website has
many fun children's activities.  I discovered it many years
 ago when someone sent me "Buddy's SnowballFight", a
holiday game.  The kids love the game and the "coloring."

When Hunter saw how Bri exited the computer
chair, he wanted to see if he can still squeeze under
the chair's arms.  Yes, but not for much longer.

When the temperature finally crept up to the upper
40's, we headed outside where we swung, hiked to the
 pear trees, played in the old car, and played toss the
  Frisbee.  Hunter makes it more like Kung-Fu Frisbee.
I'm closing with three 30 second videos I'm
sure you'll enjoy.

Video 1: In which Hunter goes all out
to try to get Grandpa's camera
video

Video 2:  After getting my camera, Hunter
earned the privilege of hauling my firewood
for me (psst . . . please don't tell him that's
not what you normally get for winning)
video

Video 3: Presenting Hunter, the Kung
Fu Frisbee master with his new game
video

Much December fun remains, so stay tuned.