Santa stuck to his plan of bringing the Funny Nose kids something they want (GeoTrax airport for Jake, castle for Jadyn), something they need (new bikes), something they wear (sleeping bags) and something they read (Jedi Reading and Disney princess Leapster games) as well as various goodies in their stockings.
This photo is priceless in showing where Jake's heart truly lies; with his new NASCAR diecasts:
Even Jazz got in on the action, hopping into Jadyn's castle:
Checking out their new bikes:
Flying his new plane:
Giving their new bikes a test drive:
And an idea I got from Laura's Mommy Journal, although I seriously doubt she ever handed her boys real hammers - the kids smashed up and destroyed the gingerbread house they decorated earlier in the month. They had a blast and this will definitely become a yearly tradition.
Oh and what Christmas Day would be complete without a picture of Jake with his Fun Dip stained blue teeth wearing his underwear on his head???????
PJ photo op:
A rare photo of me without my full face of make-up:
And in addition to our lovely and low-key Christmas Day at home, the medication seems to be helping Utah, although it would now appear that as soon as we stop giving it to him, the diarrhea returns. Not a good sign. So right now his quality of life remains our top priority as we spend lots of extra time petting and snuggling with him. We feel so blessed to have had him as part of our family and that we were able to enjoy our Christmas at home with him.
We really did have a very nice Christmas week, even though it was not without its snags.
Last Saturday we attended the local light parade and although very small, the kids got a kick out of the festively decorated "floats" and free candy canes from Santa.
It was a nice prelude to our annual trek to the Wild Lights at the Living Desert where they deck the entire zoo out in over 350,000 Christmas lights, have the miniature train running, carolers, hot coco and bonfires - a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. Tuesday the whole family got in the spirit as Joe and the kids baked chocolate chip, oatmeal and sugar cookies to share while the kids helped me make soup in a jar gifts and decorated ceramic tiles, which we made into coaster sets for the grandparents.
On Wednesday we journeyed to Joe's parents to celebrate Christmas with the extended Funny Noses and enjoyed good food, good company and the kids gift exchange. However, it was during that evening that the memory card in my new camera malfunctioned and I lost all my pictures from the Wild Lights and that night, including the family photos we had taken by the tree and a photo shoot with all 8 great-grandchildren. I was very disappointed and frustrated. Here are the few pictures I was able to get with my old camera.
Here is Jake excited after receiving his color shifter color blaster track:
And Jadyn with her baby panda (which was really cute, as she was wearing her panda outfit to match). She also received an easy bake oven and when she opened it she exclaimed, "It's just what a wanted. A maker!"
The kids and I cuddling at the end of the night. Opening gifts and playing with their cousins makes them very tired:
It was during this time that Utah developed some diarrhea (sorry for the TMI) and even worse, he was too weak or in too much pain to get up and take care of business outside. Not a good sign. So Thursday I took him to the vet and after a quick exam and x-rays it would appear he may have a mass in his abdominal region. He was put on a trial of medication to see if we could stop the diarrhea but we have been warned that it may become a quality of life issue, which is what we feared.
Back at home, our family prepared to do something a little different for Christmas Eve as we welcomed company into our home instead of traveling to family. Scottie and Ali along with my Mom and her husband George came over for yet another wonderful evening of food, company and gift exchanging. We attempted to take more family pictures, but this was the best we got:
Along with this one of the kids:
And this one of Jadyn and I:
We ended the evening with the tradition of watching the Polar Express, opening up new PJs from Mom and Dad, sprinkling reindeer food in the yard, setting out sugar cookies and chocolate milk for Santa and quickly checking for the big guy's whereabouts on Norad's Santa tracker before heading to bed. Once the kids were finally asleep, Santa paid his visit and this is what was waiting for them in the morning:
But I can see this post is already ridiculously long so our Christmas Day tale will have to wait for another post..........
Although I took many pictures over the last two days before winter break, first at Jadyn's winter holiday party at preschool and then Jake's Awards/performance and picnic/party at kindergarten, there is not a single picture that could hold a candle to the snapshot in my head that I want to remember about this holiday season.
At the end of a very long and busy day, at the end of a very long and busy week, Jake sat nestled on the rug in his classroom between his best friend Sam and playing host to his visiting sister Jadyn and they sat quietly together holding hands as his teacher read "Twas the Night before Christmas". Jake and Jadyn then helped pass out magic reindeer food to each of his classmates, as they exclaimed "Merry Christmas", which was received with equally enthusiastic thank yous and Merry Christmases in return. No picture could have captured those moments like they are now in my head. It was simply priceless and a perfect way to start winter vacation.
Having said that however, I did take quite a few photos too. Jadyn's class party consisted of making gingerbread houses, a gift exchange and a small but sweet performance where the preschoolers doned their freshly made elf hats and sang "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish you a Merry Christmas". Here is Jadyn with one of her teachers Ms. Malerie and her friend Stephanie:
And here she is during the performance:
And with her pal Hayden:
At home posing by the tree (and me still working on that off-center thing):
Jake's festivities included another short award ceremony where he received 3 more awards for knowing all his basic colors, shapes and being able to identify, describe and create AB, AABB and ABC patterns. His class then sang two Christmas songs before we enjoyed a picnic lunch and the aforementioned holiday story. Here is Jake singing up on stage. As you can see, his class had also made very similar elf hats:
And later receiving one of his awards:
And I love this picture of Jake surrounded by his two besties at school, Sam and Evan:
So we are now officially on Winter break and I think I needed a break from playing Mommy Taxi more than the kids needed a break from school. But of course, tis the season so even without school, we have still been busy, busy busy! But not to busy to stop and have some quality time at home as a family and a chance to count our blessings and reflect on what the holiday spirit means to us.
My submissions for this week's photography class assignment.
Portrait mode utilizing the two composition principles of lines/directions and rule of thirds:
Sports mode utilizing the two composition principles of tone/color and rule of thirds:
Trying to break my habit of always centering my subject is going to take some work, but I am trying. This upcoming week we venture away from basic modes and tackle aperture and shutter speed - my kryptonite. I have tried to teach myself this subject time and time again but when I go to take pictures, I just freeze as to how to set the camera controls so we will see how it goes!
So now that the holiday cards have all been sent out, I can share with you the pictures that we got on our holiday photo shoot at Ryan's Ranch in Joshua Tree National Park. A huge thanks to Rose for taking all the time and effort to get such great shots.