December 21, 2010

Christmas has landed

The kids asked for weeks when it would be time to put up the Christmas tree. It's James' favorite time of the year. He looks forward to the day he can drag that heavy thing up the steps and spend an hour putting it together. Last year he left the top half assembled and left it in the basement with a sheet over it. He's thinking maybe this year we can just take the ornaments off of it and leave it up in the corner. A big old pine tree goes great with rustic decor. Maybe we can hang a couple of bird houses in it or something.

The elves that live here would probably want to decorate it every day, though.

We're excellent decorators. Got a tree we can decorate? We'll do it for free!

Not quite enough ornaments hanging on this branch...

There, perfect. Eight ornaments on one branch, all with rears facing out.

Mom would never go behind the elves after they're in bed to move cluttered ornaments.

Dad wouldn't either.

Nutcracker earrings. Hey wait....

You didn't say you were going to take my picture. You know how I hate to look silly in front of people. It's not funny.

Okay, maybe it is!

Shannon decorated his Land Rover for Christmas. By the way, if you gave Shannon money for his birthday this is what he got with it. A remote controlled Land Rover, which probably already has 3,000 miles on it.

Holiday frivolity.

Avery wanted to throw a snowball at the camera.

A little reading before bed time. I'm surprised Elizabeth didn't plop herself in Amelia's lap.

We spent the week doing the usual things, including school of course. Lately Avery has been asking to do some school work too, so I usually get out a preschool workbook I bought for him.

He's learning to hold a pencil correctly. It's not a skill that comes real naturally for him, but that may be because he can't decide which hand to hold it in. He gets a little better at it each time.

He's told me a few times he wants to learn to read, so if I'm feeling it after Christmas I might drag out the Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons book. We'll see. He won't even be officially pre-k age until next school year, when I definitely plan to work on it with  him. It's been kind of nice that the way our kids' birthdays fall spaces each of them out two years in school. That gives me a year in between to figure out how to add another kid to the school schedule!

Amelia works on some math. She's up to adding numbers in the 10,000's, column addition of four big numbers, and borrowing and carrying.  She'll tell you math isn't her favorite, but she does pretty well with it.


As a teacher of many, er, all subjects, I've been attempting to branch out into the field of art. I always enjoyed art of all kinds as a kid, but am afraid I can't claim any kind of talent in it. Our latest medium has been air dry clay, which is quite fun to play in. The kids have made coil pots and Christmas ornaments.

Painting them after they dry is fun.

Shannon has been working on his drawing skills. He loves to draw all kinds of four wheel drive vehicles. I wish this was an area in which I could help but my forte tends to be more in tracing. Or drawing horses. I invested so many hours as a kid drawing horses I can still produce a reasonable looking one. 

Half the fun of drawing a vehicle is the adding the mud that sprays up from the big tires.

While the older kids worked on painting and drawing, Avery worked on being weird.

At least he wasn't cold.

Trio blocks are cool, and if you have a little person who likes to build you should go get some. Lately Avery prefers a Trio block rifle as his weapon of choice.

Our Thursday night dinner group has officially moved to Friday. Now that kids are getting older some play soccer or have a variety of other Thursday evening pursuits that keep families away. We call it TDOF (pronounced "teed off," just for kicks), Thursday Dinner On Friday. It also means we can stay to play later and keep our kids up way past their bedtimes. The last time we got together we decorated gingerbread houses at Rebecca's house like we did last year. 

It took awhile to get to this point. Last year the one I bought was already assembled, all we had to do was decorate it. This one had to be assembled with non-cooperative icing first. A few of us had this kind, and as we started reading the directions we rewrote what they should really say: Step 1- Knead icing. Step 2- Place icing along edges and press together. Step 3- Place more icing on edges. Step 4- Cuss. Step 5- Place more icing along edges. Step 6- Throw pieces across room. Step 7- Open a bottle of your favorite liquor and partake. Step 8- Turn on the TV and eat the candy.

I did eventually get the house together and the girls had fun decorating. Amelia did anyway, Elizabeth mostly ate candy.

Rebecca had bought a cute little village made up of several small houses. She quickly regretted the decision.

This is the bird poop house. Every village needs one.

Rebecca's on the "cuss" step right now.

It didn't help that we laughed at her out house.

Alison's was pre-assembled, the kind which I will search high and low for next year. (And to think at one time I actually entertained the thought of baking one from scratch. Ha!) A.J. and Ruth were nearly done with it before we got the first tasty shingle on ours.

Eating the building materials again. I have no idea how much sugar this kid consumed that night.

Ruth has a future as a pastry chef or something. She loves to be in the kitchen. After helping Alison with theirs she moved on to helping Amanda, who has a freaky hidden gingerbread house decorating talent.

Lydia's house.
Amelia makes progress on the Himstedt Home. Meanwhile...

...Mommy suddenly realizes that Elizabeth has probably had 14 pounds too many of candy. Elizabeth doesn't like when Mommy starts paying attention.

Amanda's glorious house of candy. I told her she could do our kids' next birthday cake.

Shannon and Bennett enjoyed a spark of sugar high creativity.

Amelia's mostly finished product.

The boys' completed project. A nativity scene complete with "Jesus is Born." Speaking of which, it nearly took a miracle to clean up Rebecca's kitchen when we were all done. What a mess!

The boys also did the out house. Naturally.

They saved a banana runt for the moon on top.

Maggie's creativity.

A little gingerbread neighborhood. Amanda wins the prize for best dressed house. Ours looks like it came from the Candy  Land projects compared to hers, though I think Amelia did a fantastic job.

We ended up exchanging a few kids for the night, Maggie came home with us and Shannon went home with Bennett. I also ended up taking the out house home, so our cottage has an outdoor throne room.

These are a few cute ones I took of Elizabeth the next morning. She loves her rocking horse, "Sally." She was Amelia's but has been outgrown by all but the littlest person.

Complete with Amelia's boots, and using the stirrups. Hopefully another future horse back rider!

Riding double with Maggie. Poor Sally.

And now for the photo that has made my Christmas. Proof that boys live at the Himstedt house.

It was hard to decide which guy should protect Baby Jesus front and center, but they finally got their strategery figured out. I asked them if they were sure he needed such heavy artillery since he was JESUS after all, and Shannon said, "He's a BABY," Of course.

I'm going to attempt to get another blog post finished before the week ends. I don't know if I can even begin to remember everything my crazy weeks leading up to Christmas entailed. In a nutshell we hosted two Christmas parties, did three tons of laundry, packed for a trip to Texas, lost and buried a favorite horse, did school, and made the long haul to Texas, where I currently sit on my in-laws sofa working on this post. The clock is an hour behind here, but my body doesn't know it, so I'm going to bed now. Good night!