Friday, December 27, 2013

The remainder of Advent and Christmas Festivities

On Monday when I picked Bennett up from school they proudly showed me that he had written his name.  For the lower one, the teacher wrote his name first and then had him trace it in multiple colors.  And then he wrote his name on top.  Yay!

When we got home I didn't have anything special for Advent because I goofed and let him watch the planned movie over the weekend.  (A Curious George Christmas movie.)  For dinner I made pancakes including one that looked like Frosty the No-man pancake, as Bennett calls them since he doesn't pronounce the S.

Tuesday was Christmas Eve.  Bennett went to school in the morning so that we could have time for wrapping presents, last minute shopping, and scrambling to finish his big gift.  More on that later.  I picked him up after lunch and we came home for nap.  Of course it took him a while to fall asleep.

After nap (which we had to wake him from) we put on spiffy clothes and then headed off to pick up Nana and Auntie Hanna before heading to church.  After church we went back to their house for dinner and presents. 

Bennett started to play with bowls, measuring cups, etc and Nana gave him an apron to wear while he "cooked".
Lighting a candle with Nana.
Opening presents.

When we got home Bennett put out milk and cookies for Santa and then got changed into his new Christmas PJs.  While visions of sugarplums danced in his head, the elves were hard at work scrambling to get Bennett's big present (a recreation OSV barnyard) finished presentable.  Last week Chris knew that everything wasn't going to get done in time so he decided to just focus on the walls and fences.  We lucked out and one of his co-workers offered to paint the walls for us.  Woo hoo!  So Tuesday morning/afternoon Chris worked to get the fences finished and painted.  Around lunch time he asked me, what do you think about having buildings temporarily made out of cardboard?  At last, a step in the process that I could work on!  So I spent Bennett's naptime working on barns and after he went to sleep we were up to about 1am working on gluing fences into place and crafting cardboard buildings.  It actually helped the process a bit because we could think through some of the construction process, decide which beams could be eliminated from the design, what needs to be changed for the final product, etc.

Monday night progress

And the end result?  Bennett loved it!  He'd received a few animals for his birthday so we had those set up at the farm-- pigs in their pen, the oxen in their pen, Summer (the calf) in her pen, and the horses out in the yard since they technically don't even go with the farm. 
The farm on Christmas morning

MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Bennett woke around his normal time, 7:00.  He let us lounge in bed for a little while and then we went downstairs.  Here's what he saw when he came down the stairs:

His reaction as he saw Doc and Blue.

And even better, here's his reaction in video format!

Shortly after we came downstairs Grandpa came over to join us for breakfast and watching Bennett open presents.  We started with stockings. Bennett got a couple of cows (dubbed them Lance/Henry) and a sheep and immediately went and put them in the farm.

Next we connected with Grandma and Grandpa Tedford via Skype so that they could watch Bennett open all of his presents.  There were LOTS of presents!  When wrapping we realized that tags on Bennett's presents were pointless as almost all of them were for him.  Plus they were the ones in the Cars wrapping paper. 

One of Bennett's presents was a bin with more animals, all of which had to immediately be put on the farm.  He now has:
  • A team of oxen (He got these for his birthday.  We intended them to be Lance and Henry but he named them Doc and Blue.
  • A pair of horses, Jim and Pete (birthday gift)
  • 2 pigs (birthday gift)
  • Summer, the calf (birthday gift)
  • 4 cows.  These were intended to be Bonnie, Button, Betsy, and Rainy.  He named two of them Lance and Henry (the oxen).  The other two he named Bonnie and Button.
  • 2 chickens, a rooster, a group of chicks
  • 1 ram, 2 sheep, 4 assorted lambs
Currently 3 of the cows at OSV are pregnant.  I'm not sure what happens when they give birth.  Do we need to get more calves?  Does Summer graduate to being a full-size cow?  Also, one of the pigs is going to be butchered in a few weeks and the other pig will be going to another farm.  Will Bennett want to remove his pigs until they get new ones?

One thing that was interesting to see was how he immediately put the cows into the milking stalls in the barn even though he's never seen the milking stalls in use (we always left for nap before milking time).  How did he know that's where they were supposed to go.
Cows in the milking stalls. 
Chickens sleeping in their coop. 
Horses in the storage area. 
Mater driving down the middle.

All of the animals in their appropriate pens

Other gifts included PJs, books, puzzles, baking items for his play kitchen, a hand knit sandwich (bread, lettuce, Swiss cheese, tomatoes, egg slices), toy cars (Lightning McQueen and Mater), pattern blocks, a Curious George ornament, Duplos....  They boy definitely had a good Christmas!
The animals are "sleeping" so he covered them with "blankets".

Modeling his new dinosaur hat.  (It's a red present.)

After presents it was almost time for lunch and nap.  Shortly after he woke up, Mimi, Uncle Andrew, and Aunt Gentry came over for more celebrating.
After not wanting to wear his crown, he finally put it on and then wore two more as bracelets.
And that pretty much wrapped up the day.  Shortly after everyone left it was time for Bennett to go to bed.  Chris and I did some dishes and then relaxed for a little while.  One more celebration to go on Saturday!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Advent, week 3

 Quite a busy week for us!  I'll be happy when things quiet down a bit.  Wish I had some time to just sit at home and relax.  I did take Christmas Eve off, but I think the morning will be willed with last minute errands and wrapping presents and then Bennett will be home in the afternoon.

Monday's Advent activity was to watch Frosty the Snowman.  I don't think Bennett was very intersted.

On Tuesday we opened this magic growing Christmas Tree that was supposed to grow to 6x its size.  (May take up to 72 hours.)  It's now been over 6 days and it has barely grown at all.

Tuesday night we got lots of snow, so when we got home from work/school on Wednesday Bennett got to help shovel the snow.  I stayed inside where it was nice and warm and took horrible photos through the window.  :)

On Wednesday Bennett also got to make Santa's beard out of cotton balls.

Thursday we brought Brit to the vet.  She's been loosing a lot of weight and isn't eating.  (She now weighs only 5 lbs.)  The vet took some x-rays.  She's constipated and likely either has irritable bowel or a tumor, but without further testing he can't say which.  We switched her to some different food which she hungrily ate the first day and has now grown less interested in, and also gave us a laxative to give to her twice a day.

As a somewhat related question, how do you decide how much testing to do for a pet who is 13 years old?  We can't spend too much more on testing and treatment.   I don't think she's in pain, but we also know she isn't healthy. 

When we got home Bennett watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

On Friday Bennett got to color one of those $1 craft packs that comes with a little coloring book, some crayons, and stickers.  I think after about one minute he had lost interest in it.

Saturday was a busy day.

 And not the best video, but it does show Bennett standing up and marching on his own.  He had been doing a lot more marching just before this, but of course I was late getting the camera ready.

After skating we went to the mall for the official photo with Santa.  It was definitely a popular day for visiting Santa and we ended up having to wait in line for about an hour.  Luckily everyone seemed to be in good spirits about it.

And here's a collage of the past years.  I love that it's the same Santa/backdrop in all of the pictures.

And as if our Saturday wasn't busy enough, we had friends over in the afternoon for the annual graham cracker house decorating.  It was a smaller group than usual this year as a few friends couldn't make it and others got sick en route and had to cancel.

Sunday morning we ran some errands doing some grocery shopping, etc.  The afternoon was full of baking.  I made 3 batches of fudge and Bennett made some cookies with Daddy.  Then later I made some Chewy Noels.  Another batch of Chewy Noels and another batch of cookies are still planned.

And that wraps up our week!  I hope this week will be a bit more quiet, but we will see.  The elves are busy in our house trying to get some gifts finished up.

Happy Holidays!

In case we ran out of cards before getting to you (sorry, more than 75 cards was out of the budget) here's our card from this year.

Here's the note that we included with the cards:

You may be wondering why we chose to feature oxen on our holiday card this year. The reason is simple. Doc and Blue (Doc’s horns go down, Blue’s horns go up) are one of the two teams of oxen at Old Sturbridge Village, an 1830s recreation village. OSV was an important part of our lives in 2013 as, to date, we visited 39 times this year (there may be another visit post-Christmas). 25 of those times were consecutive weekly visits. On our many visits we’ve watched the animals grow (plus we’ve learned the names of all of the animals that have names), helped plow a field, swept out a bake oven, made tin biscuit (cookie) cutters, pet chickens, sheep, and the calf, been photographed for the local paper, harvested ice on the mill pond (Mr. Chris even has a cameo in one of OSV’s promotional videos), eaten lots of cookies, watched musical performances (and particularly enjoyed fifes), took many wagon, stagecoach, and river boat rides, learned the names of many of the interpreters, learned why the animals on this card are technically steers and not oxen (they aren’t called oxen until they are fully trained and these are still learning), helped cut and stack wood, picked and sorted potatoes, toured the root cellar, watched a Naturalization Ceremony, learned how to command a team of oxen to turn slightly left vs. a sharp left (“haw to me” vs. just saying “haw”), watched demonstrations at the sawmill, gristmill, and carding mill, watched a Revolutionary War reenactment, toured the costume storage building, cooked a period meal using period methods, watched blacksmith, shoemaker, tinsmith and print shop demonstrations, threshed grain, watched animals be harvested, dressed up as Doc for Halloween, and so much more. Needless to say, OSV was a big part of our year!

What else did we do? Bennett and Mr. Chris went sledding for the first time, we continued with ice skating lessons, had our 10th Annual Pinewood Derby, went swimming, potty trained in 4 days, had a great cardiology visit (Bennett’s heart continues to do well), celebrated 10 years of marriage, Bennett had his first haircut, we raised money for Boston Children’s Hospital, and Bennett turned three and had a Curious George birthday party.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent activities

Dinners for the past couple of weeks have felt very rushed.  We try to think of what we can make quickly so that we have time for whatever our Advent activity is.

Monday wasn't too bad.  Bennett got to watch Rudolph.  I tried watching with him, but he was really fidgeting and asking too many questions so I had to get off the couch.

On Tuesday we made birdseed ornaments to give as gifts. Some of them turned out better than others.  Later in the week I made some more since we didn't have enough from the first batch.  I've read some negative reports about these, so hopefully they don't crumble too much or grow mold.

Wednesday's Advent item was some winter pencils.  Kind of lame, but Bennett liked them.  We asked him to draw a picture for Santa of what he wants for Christmas.  He drew "a red present with a bow".

On Thursday we made a cotton ball snowman.  I made the face but Bennett did the rest.

On Friday I had my work holiday party so we enlisted Grandpa to babysit.  At 3:30 I got a call from school that Bennett had a fever.  Grandpa still watched Bennett but since Bennett was under the weather I don't think they were able to have much fun- pretty much dinner and bed.  

On Saturday we had planned to go take the "official" photos with Santa but Bennett was still not feeling well so we ended up watching lots of movies/tv-- Cars, Toy Story, and multiple episodes of Curious George.

Saturday night it snowed.  On Sunday Bennett went to Nana's house.  He helped shovel the driveway and then they went for a walk in the snow.  Later on Auntie Hanna came over and they all went to pick out a Christmas Tree.  They came home in time for nap and then later we ran some errands.

That wraps up the 2nd week of Advent!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thanksgiving, pies, and Advent activities

Well the traditional weekly post has now been delayed long enough that this one will have to cover two weeks.

We start off with Thanksgiving, or as Bennett would call it, "Thanks-for-giving".  Wondering what one eats on Thanks-for-giving?  "Thanks-for-giving food", of course!

As we usually do, we went to New Jersey for Thanksgiving.  We drive down and back in one day, so it makes for a pretty long day.  It was a small-ish crowd this year, 19 adults and 2 kids. 

We didn't even bother trying to get Bennett to take a nap.  We knew the odds for actually getting him to sleep would be pretty slim.  Instead many of us went on walk.  Unfortunately he ended up wanting to be carried much of the way.  But here he is with Michael checking out an old tractor.

Back at the house there were lots of people to play Zingo Bingo with Bennett.

After supper he fell asleep in my lap.  This is absolutely not normal for him at all.  I think he was just over a year old the last time he fell asleep in my lap.  Soon after this picture was taken we did wake him up to use the potty and change into PJs and he ended up waking up a bit too much.  We left soon afterwards and he quickly fell asleep in the car.

Overall it was a nice Thanksgiving but it went by very quickly and we left feeling like we had barely talked to anyone.

The week was full of lots of baking of pies.  Tuesday night I baked a Marlborough Pudding for Liz.  On Wednesday I made a pear pie and a pecan pie.  And then on Friday/Saturday I made another Marlborough Pudding, a carrot pie, and Chris made chicken pot pies.

Why all this pie?  Saturday we hosted "Piesgiving".  Andrew and Gentry brought lamb pasties and a pork and apple pie and Dad brought over spinach pie.
Spinach Pie
Pork and Apple Pie
Marlborough Pudding
Lamb Pasties
Individual Chicken Pot Pies
Carrot Pie

After Bennett woke up from his nap we went to visit Mimi.  We brought her some Thanksgiving leftover, including a few of her favorites that hadn't been provided by the nursing home.

Beaumont had already decorated for Winter
We also painted some ornaments.  These were from kits which only came with red, green, and yellow paints.  Kind of hard to do much with limited colors!

On Sunday we had our weekly OSV visit.  It was very quiet at the village.  Most people were likely busy traveling home from Thanksgiving.  Plus the weather was a bit yucky so I'm sure that kept many people away as well.

One of the things on the schedule was to help the farmer with seasonal work.  I think the original plan had been to cut wood, but since Bennett was the only one around to help, the farmer decided to sharpen some tools instead.  Bennett got the job of turning the sharpening wheel.

Back at home, we made an Advent wreath.

During Advent I'm trying to come up with some sort of activity every day.  One day we made a paper chain out of construction paper.  The next day we painted wrapping paper.

He'll probably hate me later in life when he sees pictures of himself just in undies, but we knew how messy this would be, so stripping down to the undies was a necessity.

We also decorated our tree.  Although the ornaments that Bennett put on were all on the lower branches, they were mostly spaced out.  Well, not these.  Luckily they weren't too bad so I didn't need to rearrange much.

Last Friday was the holiday party at Bennett's school.  He was very excited that he was wearing party clothes and he even told everyone he saw that these were his party clothes.

After eating all of the kids got to decorate cookies.  Bennett seemed to think that making sandwich cookies was the way to go.  It certainly was less messy than having to deal with all the frosting and sprinkles that he used.

Last Saturday we went to Sturbridge for their Christmas by Candlelight program.  This officially ended our streak with 25 weeks in a row-- from June 22nd through December 7th.  We also learned that we aren't the only regular visitors.  There's one family who also comes pretty much every week, but they have a child who's a Junior Intern.  Not sure that is quite the same as us since the parents have to come to provide transportation.  Then there's another family who comes 2-3 days in a row and then comes back again a few weeks later for another 2-3 days in a row.

Anyway, while we were at Christmas by Candlelight we started off watching part of a performance by Full Gael.  We've seen them perform before at OSV and really like them.  Bennett wasn't quite as mesmerized this time as he's been before, but he did enjoy the music.

Next we walked through a couple of buildings, making mulling spice sachets, learning about Saint Nicholas, etc.  Then we made our way to the bonfire on the common where we ran into Dave and Victoria.  Victoria let us know that she would be reading Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and invited us to listen.  So after dinner that's where we headed.

We then headed to a few more buildings where we sampled fruitcake, gingerbread, and viewed a miniature village (complete with a few miniature OSV buildings).  At the tinsmith we made twisted tin ornaments.

As we were leaving we passed back through the visitor center and noticed that the line for Santa was much shorter than when we arrived so Bennett got to see Santa.

I'm not quite sure that Bennett understands that Santa brings gifts and that you are supposed to ask Santa for what you want for Christmas.  When we saw Santa at the mall on Saturday (we were there for something else so figured we would see how he did with Santa) he asked for "a truck".  Or at least I think that's what he said.  He was pretty quiet.  At OSV, while standing in line we prepped Bennett that Santa might ask what he wanted.  He said "a hat".  What color?  "Red."  Ok, sounds good.  Santa can do that!  But then when Santa asked him his response was, "a present".  What kind of present?  "A red one."

Since then I've tried getting more info both asking, and having Bennett draw a picture for Santa of what he wants.  He drew "a red present.  With a bow on it."

On Sunday we were going to go to the Enchanted Village at Jordan's Furniture.  We arrived there about an hour after they opened and the line was at least two hours long.  We turned around and left.  He was a bit sad at first but instead we went to Ikea and he forgot all about it.

Back at home Bennett helped wrap presents to mail to Georgia.

And that wraps up Nov. 25th through Dec. 8th!