Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Return from Christmas...

The tree is down.

That alone can signal the end of Christmas. In years past, I have always had a bit of melancholy come over me at this annual happening. Not this year!

With Libby testing boundaries on a near-constant basis, the Christmas tree, with its array of glittery ornaments, proved to be too much of a temptation to our little terror tot. (Add in the fact that for the first few days of my vacation she was also on a decongestant that so hyped her up I would not have been at all surprised to see her head spin while vomiting pea green soup and you can imagine my frustration.)

The ornaments (at least the ones that survived the season) breathed a sigh of relief as they were nestled back into their storage bed for another 11 months. The toys, with a few exceptions, have all been opened, played with, and assimilated into the ever-growing pile of stuff in our house. The Christmas cookies on which I have been living off of the past week are now tasting a bit on the stale side. The radio stations playing non-stop Christmas music have switched back to their regular broadcasts. Walmart and Target are advertising 75% off on all Christmas decor sales...

Yes, Christmas is over for another year.

And I am not too sad about it.

Yes, it was fun picking out gifts for the girls (although I was also conflicted about feeling the need to buy them more toys when it seems like they have more than enough already). I enjoyed receiving cards from all our family and friends. I love the excuse to bake up dozens of goodies. I really love my present - my new camera. However, I am anxious to bring in the new year, this new decade.

Now is the time to make those new year resolutions (exercise, anyone? I got on the scale to survery the cookie damage and could have sworn I heard the elliptical laugh at me...), get a fresh start. So as I reflect on the past year, I also look forward to the future. I have a good feeling about 2010.

But for now I will make the most out of the last six days of my break. =)

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Reason #937 why I love my new camera....

My parents were visiting over the weekend with their dog, Buddy who is a very high energy English Springer Spaniel. We decided to get him out of house and hit the neighborhood trail along McCracken...Creek...Run? Not sure what the official title is. Anyway, it's a great trail along the water, part of it a path through the woods and part following an old train bed.

Of course, I brought my camera along to snap photos. I was fiddling with the settings (since I haven't really sat down and read the instruction manual, I'm not 100% sure what I'm doing) and happily clicking away.

When we uploaded (downloaded?) the pictures to the computer later, I was disappointed to realize I had inadvertantly left the white balance scale to Tungsten lighting. Bummer. All the pictures had a washed out, bluish cast.

I figured I'd just have to sacrifice the lot and chalk it up to inexperience, but then I read (in my new, colorful, and very informative book I got from Joseph Beth's last night) that RAW files (fortunately for me, in my changing camera settings I had set the file to RAW) capture all the information the sensor reads and with some editing I might be able to salvage them. YAY!

After some trial and error, I was able to correct all the pictures. Woohoo!

As for the hike, It was wonderful. A beautiful sunny day.

Libby was strapped into her Beco (which I highly recommend!)...

and was so comfy she even dozed off.

Anna played with her "cousint" Brynne.

Earl pointed out fossils to the girls, who then proceeded to haul an armload back to the house.

We even had time to pose for a few portraits.

And we all enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

What a great afternoon!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

Christmas began at the very tame time of about 7:30 this morning. Gotta love that gift! Anna was up first and patiently waited until Libby woke up. I suspect she had snuck down the stairs sometime throughout the night as her first look at the presents did not inspire much emotion.

In no time, however, she was excited and raring to rip into the mountain of goodies.

Libby immediately spotted her new chair and wasn't about to take her eyes off of it - even for a quick picture.

It was a big hit!

But we finally convinced her to try her hand at tearing up some wrapping paper...

Elmo! We wondered why she was prying the poor puppet's mouth open...

Until we saw she was going in for a big kiss!

It was love at first sight for Libby.

Anna, meanwhile, was going through presents like she was on a race against the clock. In the time it took Libby to open Elmo, she was almost through her stash!

In the few short hours since the present unwrapping frenzy she was already opened and explored most of her gifts. Everything except the Easy Bake Oven, which I have managed to delay with the (VERY TRUE)excuse that we are already up to our eyeballs in sugar.

My parents are coming tomorrow, no doubt with a trunk load of more presents and we get to repeat the whole event tomorrow. YAY!! I love Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you are all enjoying some time with loved ones and remember that, although great fun, gifts are not the real reason we celebrate today.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Move In Condition...

A couple of weeks ago as I was shopping for groceries, a merry looking display caught my eye. Piled high on a pallet were dozens of boxes of gingerbread house kits. Immediately I thought of my artistic family members and tossed (gently) a box into the cart.

Anna has been begging to get her hands on it all week, but we held her off until Christmas Eve. It seemed appropriate - and there was no way I wanted to start mess without Earl around!

So yesterday, after a nice long walk around the park and lunch at McDonald's, we came back home and put Libby to bed then got to work.

Anna was quite excited and eager to demonstrate her mad pattern making skills on the roof trim.

Earl dilligently added details....

Then it hit Anna that we were doing more building with the candy than eating...
This could be in part that Earl and I were really getting into decorating the cookie construction and Anna wasn't buying the jobs we were giving her to "help". (It started out as a great fun project for Anna, but hey, once we put in over an hour it became ours...)

But soon we finished our gingerbread masterpiece! All we are missing is the gingerbread family. We always go to the Christmas Eve service at church, but this year our church only offered a very family unfriendly 10pm service, so instead we went to our friends' house and chowed on pizza and wings and had a blast! The kids decorated (and ate) christmas cookies, played the Wii, and generally got the Christmas crazies out.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Eve Eve

Libby is SUCH a terror tot! She is seriously into everything. I've had to get creative to keep her out of trouble because, realisticly, I can't keep my eyes, hands, and attention on her 24 hours a day. (Technically it's more like 10 since she's a good sleeper *THANK GOD* but you get the drift....)

I rigged up a baby cage. Kind of like how you'd crate an energetic puppy, you know? Place some baby gates in strategic positions and - voila! - a baby jail!

As you can see, Libby isn't too fond of the confinement. I, on the other hand, think it is fabulous. I actually got my dishes loaded into the dishwasher without having to clean up a mess on scale with a natural disastor.

Libby has also decided that our Christmas tree is simply irresistable. As a result, the ornaments keep migrating north, out of her reach. This wasn't a good tree year to begin with, but it's definitely looking a bit top heavy now. I'm almost looking forward to taking the tree down. No, scratch that. I'm totally looking forward to taking the tree down this year. I pull Libby away from it 589 times an hour.

To save my sanity and get the kids some socializing, I took them to a friend's house. She babysits during the day and with the addition of my two there was a grand total of eight kidlets between 4 months and 5 years. Fun times! You couldn't pay me enough..... =) We stayed for lunch and all involved had a jolly good time.
Notice Libby trying to steal Alexis' sippy. hehehe.

Once home, I tossed Libby into her crib for a much-needed nap. Then I set Anna up with a Santa bath - an idea I stole from Lesley (because all the good ideas are the ones you snag from someone else). I filled the tub with lots of hot water and an abundance of bubbles. Anna was served a festive plate of milk and cookies to enjoy while she splashed. She loved it! Thank you, Lesley!

We finished the day by dining on some scrumptious homemade calzones for dinner and watching How the Grinch Stole Christms. All in all it was a great Christmas Eve Eve. Can't wait for Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


With yesterday being the first officially official (because weekends don't really count, right?) day of winter vacation, I decided that I'd get some much needed cleaning done. It's amazing just how dirty the house can get considering we spend few waking hours in it. But anyway, so the plan of the day was to clean. The girls were nice enough to sleep in until 7:30, which was just wonderful. (And yes, I realize that's not sleeping in by many people's standards, but around the Smith abode, 7am is late)

First on the to-do list is finding my kicthen counters after baking over 25 dozen cookies Sunday. I flip on some cartoons to keep the rowdies happy and start swiping countertops and sweeping the floor. A quick peek into the living room shows that Libby has taken advantage of my 10 minute absence by dumping every toy into the middle of the floor where she can then wade through the pile and kick them to the four corners. Great. From the middle of her sea of plastic, Libby spots me and starts the "crine" that ultra-annoying half cry, half whine that she can keep up for extended periods of time. She hangs on the gate to make sure I understand that her tolerance for playing solo is now over. I guess the kitchen is clean enough.

With Libby clinging to one leg I pick my way carefully through Fisher Price Land. Those things are wicked to step on! I then spend the next 15 minutes sorting through all the toys and putting them back into their proper places.

It was around then that a brilliant idea came to me. Art time! Yes. Libby has never explored the gooey messiness of finger paints. Both girls will love it! Off I go to find enough paper to completely cover the table. Libby gets stripped and strapped in *BONUS!* and I liberally squirt some finger paint in front of her. She gingerly sticks one finger into the yellow, then promptly pops it in her mouth. Judging by the look on her face it must have tasted pretty bad, but it didn't stop her from taste testing the other colors as well. Meanwhile, I get Anna set up on the opposite side of the table, mentally plotting my next chore to tackle - the bathroom.

Unfortunately, just as I step foot out of the room, Libby decides that the finger painting thing is highly overrated. Hmmm.....maybe she'd prefer another medium. I get her cleaned up, tape down some new paper, and hand her a crayon. Oh wait....she eats crayons. Colored pencil? Nope...too pointy. Hmmm.....a marker? Messy, but what the heck? It's drying out anyway, it can't be too bad. Give Anna a paint refill and off I go in pursuit of the clean house.

About ten minutes later, sinks, mirror, and toilet scrubbed, I check on the kidlets and see this.....

Oh my.

Even after a bath she was still blue! At least it's nontoxic!

After that I gave up. The destruction that results from cleaning just isn't worth it.

On an unrelated note, I took Libby to the doctors today since she's been whiney and feverish and not eating for the past few days. Yup. Ear infection. Got her set up with some heavy antibiotics since the doctor didn't want a repeat of the February ear infection fiasco of several rounds of meds. Also put her on a strong decongestant that makes her - you guessed it - even more energetic!

It never ends!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Santa Video


This is a great idea for all you people out there with small children. I can't wait to show Anna her personalized Santa video!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Anna.... :-)

Anna says....

"Stick'em up!"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Have I mentioned....

how very much...

I love...

my new camera??

Because I do!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dickens Downtown

Tonight I bundled up the kids and met Earl downtown for a Dickens Christmas. It was cold! Brrrrr!! But definitely worth the shivering. Earl is the President of Historic Georgetown Inc. and they put on a really nice Christmas celebration this year! Tonight was carriage rides and a candlelight tour of historic homes on Main Street. The thought of lugging the girls in and out of stranger's houses filled with breakable, irreplaceable antiques, frankly, scared the snot out of me. I opted out of that. But carriage rides? That sounded fun! So off we went!

First I made them look happy and pose for some pictures. The intrigue of a new camera has worn off for Anna. I have snapped many an eyeroll in the past week!

Anna did some window shopping - she has all her future jewelery all picked out now!

Then I made them pose some more. Notice Libby pointing to the real reason we were there....

The horses! The first carriage was pulled by Lincoln, behind him is Amadeus.

Anna chose to ride in Lincoln's carriage. I must say, clip-clopping along, taking in the sights of all the beautiful old houses decorated for Christmas, sitting across from my husband (who I thought looked quite dapper in his Dickens' clothes and posterboard-and-felt top hat), I could almost imagine what it would have been like to be in Georgetown 150 years ago. The word "slow" comes to mind. =) Those horses do plod along!

It was a really great time! Libby even impressed me by staying (mostly) still for a whoppin' 25 minutes! She entertained herself by waving cheerfully to all the passing motorists.

I just love good 'ol Georgetown!

Show and Tell

Anna was Star Student this week in her kindergarten class. Basically, it means she had show and tell status. Every day she got to bring something that is special. Friday she decided to bring something really special. Can you see it in this picture?
Did you see it? She brought.....Libby! I guess the other kids brought in their pets - Libby is the next best thing!

Anna's classmates were quite happy to entertain Libby. They read her books.....

Showed her their neat kindergarten toys....

Explained the contents of the all-important pencil box...

And, of course, were very willing to help keep her in line.

One even tried to pet her like a dog!

Libby had a blast. She thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by a roomful of "big brothers and sisters". She waved and blew kisses on the way out the door!