Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Pictures

Surprised when he finally fell all the way through the drift.
All the way past my boots, mom!
Silly Santa and her elf...who looks like she belongs in Arkansas!
In front of Gram's tree.
Claire with her "head". It's real hair she can "do".
Jumping on the trampoline.
All the cousins waiting patiently to open presents.

What's in here...maybe Legos?

Christmas in Kansas

Our family loaded up and headed to Kansas to spend the Christmas holiday with our families. First stop was Nana and Papa's house. Papa had a surprise for the kids before they even opened their presents: A big jump house in the garage! The kids jumped and played until they were exhausted Tuesday and Wednesday. We also visited Ling and Hoopy's house, for a change of scenery to play. Christmas Eve morning everyone gathered in Nana and Papa's basement to open presents. The kids were all in their PJ's and seemed to enjoy handing out the presents before tearing into their piles! After everything was opened, the kids all went upstairs for a break while the adults reloaded for the BIG stuff...trampolines, a train table and a head (check out the pic!). The kids played all day long with their new loot, and made lots of memories. Two other memories for that day: Ling and myself had a stomach bug and, on a happier snowed! It would be a white Christmas in Kansas!

Christmas morning we went to Gram and Poppy's house. Uncle Frank was already there when we arrived, and Unkie and Staci (with soon-to-be baby boy cousin) followed close behind us. We opened presents that afternoon and immediately started charging the RC cars all the boys got in their stockings. The traditional "Silly Santa" appeared soon after the wrapping paper was cleared and we all enjoyed funny stories about things that happened in the past year and opened another round of gifts related to our "story". Once again, the kids played the rest of the day with new goodies and raced cars in the garage. One last memory for Christmas: Geoff got the stomach bug that night. We stayed and played the next day too, and actually went out and enjoyed the drifted snow in the backyard. Although it was just too darn cold to stay out too long! Gram then got the bug too, and with that we decided it was time to cut the trip short and head back to Arkansas. Although we had a wonderful time, we hated that the holiday was tinged with illness. Hopefully the new year will bring healthy days for all!

SHHH...It's a secret!

PARENTS: This could be a spoiler so don't let your children read this!!!!

Don't tell our secret...but Santa came early to our house this year! Our good buddy, the Hokie Elf, told Santa of our travel plans and Santa decided that he would make a special trip to our house so the children could open their presents in the comfort of their own home. This worked out well and the kids thought it was wonderful there would be no confusion come Christmas morning. The only rule from Santa was to not tell ANYONE! And our kiddos didn't! Both kiddos got what they wanted: Zhu Zhu pets, a karoake machine, and Legos, among other things! We don't actually have any pictures of our Christmas morning; only video. But you can be sure it was priceless!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Showin' Off

Several times during the year, Claire's dance studio has "observation week". The parents are invited to sit in the classes and watch their kiddos show off the new skills they are acquiring at dance class. This year, sitting through 2 1/2 hours of class was rough on Mommy's bum, and Landon's patience, but it's worth it when I get to really see Claire perform. She has made obvious progress this year. I think it's because she's in a room with mostly older girls for her first class. She listens and does what she is told. And to brag just a a good tapper, which is Mommy's favorite! We have to sit in the back of the class, so I didn't get any pictures of Claire's face...but this is a good one of her technique!

Party Time

Landon in the reindeer shirt he made from his hands and feet at school.
Landon's preschool class, minus one (she was sick).

The school Christmas parties were yesterday for both Landon and Claire. Landon's party started off with a little singing program for the parents. The kids sang "Jingle Bells", "Happy Birthday Jesus", and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas". It was very cute and Landon sang every word. Afterwards we all had lunch together. Claire's party was a bit more involved (for lack of a better word). Being a room mom, I had to be there early to set up, which took an hour. Why? Because the kiddos did two crafts, ate, played snowman bingo, snowman bowling, had a book exchange and gave their gifts to their teacher. It was a whirlwind, and made more so because of the "cottage" ie: trailer, that her classroom is in this year. I have no pictures because I was too busy! Both kids had fun and enjoyed their party time with classmates. Today is the last day of school for Claire before break, and she is ready for some time off!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Spirit of Christmas

I wish this could be a beautiful, sob story about some wonderful thing someone did for me, or that I did for someone else during this holiday season. It is not. It is only a silly from kiddos, who help me remember what the spirit of this time of year should be. I have needed to remind both of my kiddos several times what the spirit of Christmas truly is...that it's not presents, Santa or who is asking for what. It's been explained, and sometimes I wonder if it ever actually gets embedded in their little minds. I wonder no more...Claire and Landon were having a tiff the other day. Over what, I forget. But Claire told Landon something rude like "You don't get to play with me anymore". This was hurtful, and before I could say anything Landon stated "Sissy, that is not the spirit of Christmas!". Can't beat that!!! But then I also got a lecture, I guess because I was the innocent bystander. "Mommy, Christmas is about understanding what other people need and not always worrying about yourself. Claire's just not doing that!" Before he could stomp away I gave him a huge hug and a kiss, and told him to remind Mommy of that sometimes. He said "Mommy, you always do what I want, and what everyone else wants, so you already know that! Will you play Legos with me?" I said yes, of course!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Little Man

Isn't it funny how the words "Momma's Boy" have a way of sounding harsh and cruel? "Daddy's Little Girl" doesn't sound nearly as bad. Why do I start my blog off this way? Because a Momma's boy is exactly what my little man is. And yes, he is MY little man. But he is also Daddy's big boy, and Poppy's little stinker and Papa's tank. And beyond the nicknames he is loving, kind and sweet. He can be frustrated and angry one minute, and telling you "I love you" with a huge hug attached the next. He does have a temper, that seems to be hanging on more and more as he gets older, but even when it gets the best of him, he is sure to be sweet soon enough. He loves to pretend play...with others and by himself. And unfortunately, anything can become a gun (ingenious, maybe, disturbing, yes!). He can be crazy silly, and quite the actor if the feeling catches him just right. He has lots of friends, and people who want to call him friend. And although he is sometimes shy, to the point of being rude, he will often warm up after a few minutes and become the cheerful, silly boy that everyone seems to love. He's my little boy, and growing up so fast.

Children's Christmas Service

Don't you love how Landon looks like he's reading the words?

Last weekend was the Children's service at our church. The children all dressed as someone or something that would have been at the nativity when Jesus was born. Claire chose to be an angel and Landon a sheep. They looked very cute and were actually quite ready to go do their part. Generally, the children led the congregation in songs during the service. Some children also read readings. It was heartwarming to watch all the kiddos singing Christmas carols and smiling at their parents in front of the church, and actually staying in one place during the whole thing...which I think was our Christmas miracle!!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Landon's 4th Birthday

Landon turned 4 on Wednesday. Yes, 4!!!! Hard to imagine. I will do a sappy, mothers-love blog soon, but right now I have been told by my 4-year-old to "put those party pictures on the blog so everyone can see how much fun it was!" (That is no joke; exact words!)
Landon on his bike. Are you surprised he's naked? You shouldn't be!!!! Tasting his cookie at school; it had a monster truck on it!
The whole gang at JumpZone!
Blowing out the candles on the Transformers cake!
Best buddies sharing some cake. All the kids' faces were blue...I'm sure the parents loved me for that one!

Wednesday morning Landon got his present from Mommy and Daddy: A new bike. It was so
frigidly cold outside that we broke the rules and let him ride it around the house. He also got a Transformers learning laptop from Sissy. At preschool that day, they had a little party for him. Mommy brought in a cookie cake and everyone sang. It was sweet. This, however, caused some confusion for my little man. "That was my party? I thought my birthday was tomorrow at JumpZone? Why am I 4 today but my party is tomorrow?" Try explaining party day logistics to a distraught 4-year-old!!! Anyway, Thursday evening we had his "real" party at JumpZone. 15 of his closest buddies came and partied with us, most of them being neighborhood playdate friends. And although one little kiddo ended up in the ER with a hurt arm (nothing was broken, thank goodness!) everyone had a super fun time. There was a Transformers cake, a special chair to open presents in, and Mommy didn't have to clean up afterwards! Landon stated "This was awesome fun, Mom!", so I guess that means we did good! After the party our family went to Red Robin for one last hurrah, ie: the waiters could sing to him. It was fun and memorable.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Parade

Saturday morning we woke up, made monkey bread, and then put lots of clothes on to go watch Claire be in the Bentonville Christmas parade with her fellow dancers. Friday evening, Claire and I went to the dance studio for a party where she exchanged gifts with teachers and helped decorate the float. The float theme was "Let It Snow" and so it was covered in snowflakes and the girls were all supposed to wear white. A lovely picture, but hard to do in the winter!!! No white pants to be found meant layers under the one pair of white leggings I could find. Claire was frozen solid by the end of the morning, but had a good time waving and singing. Landon enjoyed watching most of the parade too, although as you can see, he was also frozen! Today we wrote letters to Santa and included the wish lists. I make them chose 4 things they REALLY want with the preface that they won't get it all...I know, harsh. But gratitude is the name of the game in this house right now, and this is one more way to teach that lesson!!! (Will they get everything on their list? Absolutely, because nothing was outrageous this year!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Old and New Traditions

It is a holiday tradition in our house to have an advent calendar...we are still using a Dora one Nana and Papa gave Claire several years ago. It has the perfect sized pockets for a small piece of candy each day. This year, however, in addition to the candy I added little pieces of paper with something written on them. It may be a craft, or some special family time activity, but they are all Christmas-themed. This has gone over well with both kiddos and we are having fun spending time together. Today's paper said "Christmas craft", and the kids picked the annual Gingerbread House. Beautiful, isn't it? I let the kids take the reigns this year and only helped keep icing distributed evenly. Our new tradition this year is a version of elf on the shelf. If you are unfamiliar with this, here is a short overview: Santa sends an elf to your house (think babydoll size to sit on a shelf) that watches you all day. Then at night it reports back to Santa about your behavior. He returns the next day somewhere new in your house. We have a "Hokie Elf"...seems right for our house, huh? The kids thought this was awesome since it was different than what they were expecting. You can only guess how this elf came to be, and I won't tell since my child may read this! Anyway, it has made my children sweet as pie, and if they are on the verge of becoming naughty, I just have to remind them of the elf, and all is well. Magical...

Monday, November 30, 2009

What a Week!

Just tell me when to blow! (That's peanut butter frosting BTW!)

Rides on the 4-wheeler.

The cousins reading together, and crushing Papa!
Personality!!!!! (Laney Hooper)
You got me what for my birthday? (This after Papa told him he accidently got him Barbie Legos)

Really, it was quite a week! The kids and I left last Friday as soon as Claire was out of school for Gram and Poppy's. We celebrated Thanksgiving with Unkie and Staci, and Uncle Frank that weekend. Uncle Frank fried a turkey for our culinary pleasure, and all the fixings were set out. The kiddos were excited about this whole tradition, until they had to sit down and eat. Anyway, we also celebrated Landon's birthday with presents, "angel cake" (angel food) and ice cream. He hit the jackpot and was really excited about his "Big City Slider Maker" (as seen on TV!). We of course had those for dinner one night. We also made a trip to Abilene to the candy factory and played on the four wheeler while we were their house. Wednesday evening we went to Wichita to Nana and Papa's house. They had been in Missouri and brought Geoff back with them. We celebrated Thanksgiving with Ling, Hoopy, Lucy and Laney. Turkey hash was the main menu item, with mashed potatoes to boot! The kids played with their cousins the majority of the weekend, and enjoyed time at the Hooper house as well. Landon got to celebrate his birthday again, and had sliders...again! He was in heaven! We came home Sunday to face the daily grind again. At least until Christmas...
Thanks to everyone for the hospitality, food, gifts and cheer!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just some funnies...

*Claire sold over 18 items during her school fundraiser and therefore earned herself a limo ride and pizza lunch, which was today. They rode in a big black hummer limo to a local pizza joint. She did not stop talking about it all afternoon...they got to ride with the big kids, they sang Michael Jackson songs on the way, and it was the best cheese pizza ever! So funny...the small things that are amusing to a 6-year-old.
*Landon had his Thanksgiving feast at school today. They made placemats beforehand, which they then ate on. They shared what they were thankful for, which Landon chose his family (how sweet). What was Landon's favorite part you ask? "I like pepperoni, mom! Can you believe it?!?"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Christmas is in the Air

At the end of last week, Geoff decided it was time to put up Christmas lights. No, he did not do this by himself...he had the guys who did our roof last year do all of them this year, plus a wreath! It looks beautiful, even if it isn't Thanksgiving yet. Anyway, this put everyone in the mood and instead of listening to my children ask me for the up-teenth time "When are we putting up the Christmas tree?", we decided to make that our weekend project. I had to buy a new tree for the downstairs; our tree from before had made too many trips in and out of storage. This was a project all it's own...however, it turned out lovely. That is the tree the kids are helping me decorate in the picture. And I have to admit, even after the life-changing events that have happened over the course of the last couple weeks, I am still anal about this tree being perfect. I'd like to think that generally I'm not an uptight mom...but when it comes to the "pretty" tree, I can't help it!!! Everything is almost done now. We still have to put the tree upstairs, and the trees in the kid's rooms aren't done (they've been told the room must be clean before a tree can go up!), but generally Christmas is in the air at the Daniel house! And it's a wonderful feeling!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

One last thing

For those of you playing catch up with me, and wanting the whole story, please start with the post "Things in between" which was posted on November 9th. You'll have to hit the "older posts" button at the bottom of the screen. I have one last story to share about my kids...don't worry, it's hilarious!

Tonight's bath time included bubbles. While I was prepping PJ's and toothbrush's, I listen to this conversation:
Claire: "Would you like a beer? Please come to my beer shop."
Landon: "I don't want a beer. Why are you selling those?"
Claire: "Why not? I can put one on your chin."
Landon: "Only big guys have those."
Claire: "Well, you can have one tonight, it's no big deal at my beer shop. Or maybe you want one on your back...guys have hair on their back too."
Landon: "Well, I guess that would be okay. Why don't you put a beer on your chin and one on my back!"
Now...replace "beer" with "beard" in the story and you'll know what they were really saying, not what Mommy thought was being said!!!!!

Role Playing

"I have a broken leg"
"When will those pills be ready?"

My little man has dealt with life the past couple of weeks in various ways: hiding, running away or across the street without asking, ignoring things he is being told...the list goes on. The other way he has coped is by role playing. Now although you may be thinking this is something his psychologist mother pushed on him, this was his own doing! (By the way, I don't talk to the pharmacy in my underwear, that's just his daily clothing choice!)

Toyland on the Square

By Friday afternoon, it was time to spend some time with my kiddos. We went to a event in downtown Bentonville called Toyland on the Square. Sponsored by Walmart, this gathering of every cool toy was a thrill for my children! They played with Legos, Hot Wheels, Cabbage Patch Kids, Liv Girl dolls, Zhu Zhu pets and lots of others. Transformers and Barbies were also on hand, including a real Bumblebee Camaro and real-live Barbie (ask me about his one when you see me next hahaha). They also had bands, trick bikers, and crafts. The kids had fun picking out and painting Christmas ornaments and playing marbles in an area created specifically for "old-fashioned" games. It was fun, not only because of the toys and activities, but because finally, after a stress couple of weeks, I got to play with my kids.

It's November?

The title is what Claire said to me after all the family was gone Sunday night. It was hard for me to believe that too! That first week was a whirlwind of taking care of Geoff, the kids activities and Dr. and PT appts. Friday morning we ended up back in the ER. Geoff was having such severe leg pain (not just his knee) that the PT was concerned it may be a blood clot. There was not one, and it was determined that his blood had thinned to the point it made his knee bleed internally. Once that was taken care of, all was good. New drugs made things better. That weekend was spent at Toyland (see above post), on playdates, hanging out with our best friend's and neighbors, the Symons', Sunday school and duet practice.

Halloween Weekend

Claire helping Lucy get some "reading minutes" for Lucy's preschool fundraiser.

Trick or treating and the silly pumpkin.

Claire's "hog" pumpkin and the cousins ready for some candy!!!
Friday night Geoff came home, finally. It was a full house: His dad, Papa, had stayed all week, along with my parents, who had been here since Wednesday. But Nana, Ling, Hoopy, Lucy and Laney all joined us shortly after dinnertime. We enjoyed some time all together, which was the perfect medicine for the mending Geoff. Saturday morning the kiddos all played until it was time for the "pumpkin party"!!!! We painted and carved pumpkins for a good chunk of the afternoon. As the evening drew near, everyone changed into their costumes and were ready for some trick or treating! The cousins all walked around the neighborhood for a long time, and after dumping the loot once, took a Ranger ride for a few more stops. Sunday was a spent with a little more family time before everyone headed out. Geoff was disappointed he didn't get to go out and about, but I think everyone was more happy to just have him home than anything.

Fall Festivals and Halloween Parties

The kiddos were busy the week of Halloween. Wednesday evening there was a fall festival at the church. The activities included a hayrack ride, crafts, roasting marshmallows and the all important trunk or treat. Landon's fall festival for preschool was also that day...which also included a hayrack ride, yummy treats and leaf crafts. Thursday was Landon's class Halloween party. The morning started off with a costume parade of all the students, then after the costumes were stripped, pumpkin carving and chaotic snacking occurred. Gram stayed and helped in the classroom while I went and sat with Geoff. Pretty sure Gram will not be so open with her helpful offers next time! Friday was Claire's Fall party at school. They also had a costume parade and then games, snacks and crafts. I did get to help with this party, since Geoff was then in the clear. It was cozy in the little cottage (trailer) but lots of fun!

50's Day

Thursday October 29th was the 50th day Claire attended 1st grade. The grade celebrated this occasion with 50's day. Claire was decked out in a poodle skirt and scarfs for school. Throughout the day, the kiddo's learned 1950's trivia, drank root beer floats and attempted hulahooping. The class was also given an assignment to interview someone who was alive in the 1950's. Claire chose Papa, who was readily available because of Geoff. I think she learned some interesting things, not only about the era, but about her Papa too! I think the best statement of the interview was not about the 50's, but "Papa, do you think you can write this...I don't know 50's words!". The grade also did a music program full of 50's music. It was TOO cute, and impressive...the kids knew the words and dance moves to go with them! Hopefully we will get the video posted soon.

That Fateful Day...

Monday came and went, and Tuesday seemed to be starting as Monday had...with pain, but not enough to keep things from happening. Geoff had been up most of the night before, not with knee pain but with what he thought was indigestion. Finally Tuesday afternoon he called me to take him to the ER. The pain was bad enough he couldn't take a breath and he was all clammy and pale. When you walk into an ER and say "my husband is having chest pain" there is no signing paperwork or being asked to have a seat. The nurse was out in the waiting room putting Geoff in a wheelchair before I turned around from talking to the intake person. I had to leave him to get Landon and let me say, I don't remember much about that 25 minutes in my life. I just kept thinking "please let it be gas, please let it be gas". Unfortunately, I had overheard the triage nurse mention blood clot in the lung and therefore knew my wishing was in vain. And although I will not go into the details of that day, it's safe to say we are lucky to have Geoff here with us. He stayed in the hospital until Friday evening, when they suddenly decided it was time for him to go home. No complaints from anyone...and he came home to relieved family and friends!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Things in between...

Ok, so my goal for this week is to get this blog caught up on everything that has happened to the Daniel family since the middle of October. I've started this project several times, but each time I have to walk away, for facing the inevitable story of my husband's fight for life is still a little too new. It's time for me to do this, and start moving into some normalcy. So, here it goes!!!!

Geoff's birthday was the weekend before his surgery (17th). We didn't do anything real spectacular or even a little crazy. We went to Doe's to have a steak...Geoff's last outing for a little while, and the kids made him some cards. Geoff had decided in September that he wanted a tattoo for his birthday, which is what he got. Because the kiddos were not real thrilled with this idea, he also got a VT desk lamp for work. Our neighborhood fall festival was that Sunday. Claire had a birthday party that same day, but we made it work so the whole family enjoyed the festival and Claire still got to party. I guess I didn't get any pictures of this event, but it was a good time.

That Monday Nana and Papa came over to help prep for Geoff's surgery. Tuesday morning was a very early morning, not only because Geoff had to be at the surgery center, but because Claire woke up with a temperature and cough. Needless to say, she stayed home from school and rested while the rest of us took turns at the surgery center and hauling Landon around. The knee surgery went off without a hitch, and although he was in a lot of pain, the Dr. and Geoff were pleased to have it finished. The rest of the week continued without incident. Claire's school does a "pumpkin patch"...which is more fun than educational; and Landon and I helped out with that. Claire had duet practice. Gram and Poppy arrived Friday to help out and play for the weekend. Saturday afternoon the kids and the grandparents left right after lunch and didn't return until almost 7:30 that evening. They went for a walk around a lake, played at a park, ate and played at Chickfila and finally came home to make kettle corn before passing out! I guess I didn't get any pictures of these events either...I was obviously not thinking straight!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Playing Catch Up

I fully intend to update this soon as I get enough sleep to create a comprehensive sentence! Geoff turned 33 and had knee surgery, which went well. Claire got sick like her twin down the street. And Landon...well Landon is being his throw-a-tantrum-til-I-can't-anymore self. I have a couple pics to blog and will give a full run down of Geoff's surgery soon. Until then...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More Branson Pictures

Geoff with a butterfly on his head. Landon hunting for butterflies.
He spotted one!

Gram and Claire enjoying a milk shake. The kids with Gram and Poppy at SDC.

Claire showing off her butterfly searching skills.