Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ben is 6!

Ben turned 6 the day after Christmas and his grandma joined us for lunch at his favorite buffet, then back to the house for cake and presents. The kids helped me frost the cake and decorate the sides with chocolate chips earlier in the day. The cake turned out well - always a relief when you're trying a new recipe! Thankfully, Ben was flexible when we realized we were one birthday candle short (a situation since rectified) and needed to substitute in a votive!

He got a bunch of Royals stuff for Christmas, including the shirt he's wearing from the Royals Kids' Club, and his birthday included a Chiefs jersey and a bunch of stuff from the Chiefs Kids' Club, including this hat.

We watched the latest season of MasterChef Junior and Ben is now really interested in cooking. His godmother Heather & her family sent this fruit & vegetable set and a cookbook. He asked for apples for snack several times this weekend so he could use his apple slicer! He also got a set of kids' knives from Uncle Jeff and another cookbook from Opa & Grandma, so he's all ready to start cooking us dinner, right?

Ben showing off his Lego Skyflyer set from Great-Grandma. We built a hangar for it last night on the Lego table.

We had a relatively quiet weekend after all the hubbub. Today the kids begged to break out one of the intro to science kits from Uncle Jeff. Both were fascinated by the color mixing experiments and using the test tubes and pipette.

Elizabeth being a cuddle bug.


Elizabeth modeling her new, already beloved sparkly necklaces & bracelets from Opa & Grandma. She wore 6 necklaces out to dinner tonight!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

 Merry Christmas!!

It's been a busy few days for us. On Christmas Eve, we went to Mass, then had dinner and opened presents over at Dave's parents' house. The kids also got to light the menorah with Opa and play dreidel. Elizabeth still needed a little encouragement to put in one of her gelt pieces as her ante to start a new round, but was placated by the periodic chance to eat one of the pieces.

We spent a lovely, lazy Christmas morning at our house opening presents and having a special breakfast. Afterward, the kids played with their toys while Dave and I finished making dessert to bring to the family dinner tonight. We had a good evening with the extended family. Despite coaching ahead of time, Elizabeth did start to cry when someone "stole" her ornament in the ornament exchange game (following in a long line of similar meltdowns from cousins in previous years), at least until Dave stole it back on his turn, at which point she decided she didn't really want it anymore.

The kids' big gift from us was a Lego table, inspired by some extensive Pinterest searching and the opening of an IKEA a few miles from my office.  It gives both of the kids a lot of building space. While we're not naive enough to think the blocks will stay as organized as they are now, the hope is that at least we won't step on them as often!

Opening up the gifts from Santa- Ben got Connect Four and Elizabeth got a stuffed Santa & glittery reindeer (but Santa forgot the vegetable she requested).

A few weeks ago, Ben got to shop at the Christmas Market at his school, where his 8th grade buddy helped him pick out garage sale-type gifts for us. Elizabeth got a teddy bear, Dave got golf balls, and I got a mug that said, "I'm retired- I'll take my coffee breaks when I feel like it!" He did a much better job keeping secrets this year- he didn't tell any of us which gifts he picked out and he didn't tell Dave about a book I let him help wrap.

I was apparently squeezing her too tightly, based on her expression!

Excited about a new book series with each book set in a different MLB ballpark.

Ben was thrilled to get a couple KC Royals mini-figs (Billy Butler & Alex Gordon) from Uncle Tony & Aunt Jen to go with the Royals field set from his grandparents. We played with them this afternoon and it seems suspiciously like the umpire (Ben) bias that is usually present toward the Royals (Ben) in our backyard or living room baseball games has carried over into Lego baseball as well! His Royals were successful in stealing home yet again...

Playing with the Lego table

I found Dave an Abraham Lincoln minifig, so he decided that Abe and the Royals needed to get together and celebrate too.

Tomorrow is Ben's 6th birthday, so I've got a birthday cake to bake tonight. He's picked out his favorite buffet for lunch and Elizabeth is excited to try out her new chopsticks (Christmas present from Opa & Grandma) there.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

We decorated our Christmas tree and the kids had a great time helping. Ben wanted to clump 15 ornaments in the same square foot, but with a little encouragement, spaced them out so the tree didn't tip over!

We do an Advent calendar with a special thing for every night from December 1-25. Most of the time it's an activity like reading a Christmas story together or having hot cocoa, but occasionally it's a little gift. One of those was a Lego Christmas tree. Ben and Dave had a blast putting the tree together and Elizabeth and I worked on the little presents.

Both kids had Christmas programs recently. The kindergarteners through 2nd graders at Ben's school did a nativity-themed musical. He was a donkey and was a very enthusiastic dancer & singer.

Elizabeth had been singing her Christmas program (don't try to call it a concert or a performance- she is very particular about it being her "program"!) music over and over for at least a week before the program. But when she and her class of two- and three-year-olds got up on the stage, she caught sight of Dave and spent the whole time smiling and waving at him instead of singing.

Another Advent calendar activity was to write (or dictate) a letter to Santa. This is what Elizabeth told me she wanted. Ben asked her, "You want a stuffed reindeer?" and she got miffed and said, "NO, a Santa reindeer!" Luckily, Dave later talked her down from one of Santa's actual reindeer to a stuffed reindeer. She is also maintaining that she doesn't want to talk to Santa, but might be okay with standing back and watching Ben talk to Santa. She wants him to come drop off presents, but she does not want him to stay at our house. Today she also thought maybe Santa could bring her a fruit as well as the previously requested vegetable. (Don't ask us, we don't have any idea why she wanted Santa to bring her vegetables either!)

Here is Ben's letter. We pointed out he already has a bike that is still a perfectly fine size for him, so he has since changed his request to a couple of board games. Note that he felt it necessary to remind Santa that he is on the good list!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ben's Kickball Report Card

Ben's first report card came home last week and he's doing very well. He apparently thought it was an incomplete representation of his full accomplishments at school, so he took it upon himself to write himself a separate report card for his kickball games. They play a lot at recess and in the after-school program. It's usually the first thing he tells us about when we ask about his day!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lego Time!

Both kids love Legos. When our friends Neilam and Jen came to visit, they joined in the fun. Ben was revising and rebuilding his American Ninja Warrior course. He had a lot of specific ideas for the obstacles he wanted to include, but had a hard time figuring out how to create them with Legos. Neilam came up with some great innovations, including using a series of wheels for the Door Knob Arch.

Door Knob Arch

Elizabeth usually tries to use the regular-sized Legos, but somehow Neilam convinced her that the Duplos, which are easier for her to manipulate right now, were cool, something neither Ben nor I had been able to do.

Elizabeth shows off her train
Our annual photo