Wednesday, December 20, 2017

School Christmas Parties

Today the girls both had their class Christmas parties. Thankfully they only overlapped but about 20 minutes, so I was able to enjoy both of them with each girl fully! Olivia's party started at 11:50am and finished at 12:50pm. I actually arrived around 11:30am to help set up, but there were already so many moms there to help so there really wasn't a whole lot to do. The kids were all at lunch and specials, so they arrived right at 11:50am and were so excited to walk into their classroom that was decorated for a Christmas party! Plus, the kids were allowed to wear their pajamas to school for their party, which basically made Olivia's day! Olivia ran up to me and gave me a huge hug and was totally over-excited! All the kids made their way to their seat where a snack plate was set up with pretzels, cheese and grapes. After the kids were finished eating, they got to play Bingo with M&M pieces. Each of the Bingo sheets included Christmas words and we soon realized that each of the sheets were exactly the same! Poppy's mom, Brooke, realized her mistake as soon as the game started, so she told the class that the winner had to say "HO, HO, HO" as loud as possible! The kids all yelled it as loud as possible, which was fantastic! Then, they all ate their M&Ms and got to pick out a toy as a reward. Each kiddo then got to pick out a handmade sugar cookie and were able to decorate it and then eat it. They all turned out really cute and I was impressed with how organized Brooke is! Then the kids split up and played limbo and musical chairs. The kids were all overwhelmingly excited and Olivia and her classroom BFF, Hana, ran around together and acted pretty crazy! Riley A and Cora are the other two kids sitting at the table with Hana and Olivia and they all seem to be really good friends. It's really great to see such sweet girls get along so well and have so much fun. Of course, Olivia loves it and loves the girls at her table so much. Just before the end of the party, Brooke presented Ms. Feaster with a really great Christmas gift that included a fabric Christmas advent tree that included cards, drawings and gift cards from each of her kids. She was so touched and told everyone how much she loves our/her kiddos and how much she looked forward to the break but also how much she would miss her kids. She got emotional over having to say goodbye for over two weeks and thanked everyone for "lending" us her kids. She's such a great teacher and Olivia absolutely adores her. She's told me that Ms. Feaster is her absolutely favorite teacher. When I asked her why Mrs. Schultz isn't her favorite anymore, she explained that Ms. Feaster gives her hugs when she's done a great job or to give her encouragement while Mrs. Schultz generally gave hugs to console her when she was upset or hurt. I thought it was pretty interesting that she made that assessment!

Just as the party was wrapping up, I gave Olivia a big hug and told her I'd see her at pick-up! I headed to Sofia's class party, which was from 12:30 until 2:30. I really wondered how they planned to fill a full 2 hours for a Christmas party, but it soon became clear once I arrived. All of the 5th graders were in the cafeteria eating pizza. Sofia was actually wearing her pajamas to school, because I thought she was allowed to wear them to the Christmas Party, however, it was supposed to be the day after the party. Of course, Sofia didn't care that she was the only one wearing pajamas! Once they finished their pizza, they moved all of the tables and benches out of the way and got ready for the party games. All of the kids were split into groups of 15 kids and there were 7 or 8 stations of games. I worked on the game station where the kids divided into three groups of five and then were each given a gingerbread cookie which they put on their forehead and tried to move to their mouth using just their face muscles. It was so much fun to watch the kids try to get the cookie to their mouths! There were a few kids who could actually do it really easily, but most of them tried for the full minute they were given without success. It was really cute. The other games included picking up candy canes with a single candy cane in their mouth and moving the other candy canes to a bowl. They also included a station where they had to throw marshmallows from one side of a line into a bowl within the minute. There was a Dixie cup pyramid making table and a few other games. It was actually pretty clever and it seemed like the kids really had a great time. The only downside to helping out at the gingerbread station was that I wasn't able to watch Sofia at each station. She said it was fun, but after a few stations, she said she preferred the CES Christmas parties where she could just sit and read! Of course! The party was over and it really was well organized and fun! I followed Ms. Hayes back to her room so I could pick up the Leopard Geckos, which are the class pets. Isla and Luna are absolute favorites of Sofia's and she was so excited to have them over the Christmas break. Sofia was the "class veterinarian" for the first 9 weeks of the school year, so she is used to taking care of them.

The adorable hallway to Ms. Feaster's classroom

The hallway train decorations!

Silly Olivia

Olivia and her friends

Playing Bingo

Olivia and Riley

Ms. Feaster and her adorable Christmas advent gift

Decorating her Christmas cookie

Finished and ready to eat!

Christmas party selfie!

Olivia and Hana - best of buddies

Cora, Olivia and Hana

Olivia with her favorite - Ms. Feaster!!

Olivia's sweet gift to me. Inside was a Christmas ornament

Sofia after enjoying pizza and before the start of the party!

Christmas party selfie!

Moving candy canes from one bowl to another

Trying to move a gingerbread cookie to her mouth....

Sofia's friend Abby trying, and almost successful!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Celebrating Grandma and Grandpa's 50th Anniversary!

This weekend we celebrated Grandpa and Grandma's 50th wedding anniversary! Over the past few months, CK has done an amazing job pulling together this weekend that included a group of family and friends that numbered around 150, a fantastic catering job by Celebrations Catering out of Gainesville, and a great afternoon spent celebrating CK Sr. and Connie in the hanger, that certainly didn't look like the airplane hanger we know! CK also designed, addressed and sent out all of the party invitations, collected all of the RSVPs and followed up with those who hadn't responded yet. One of the crowning achievements though was the photo album he pulled together that spanned the past 50 years from their wedding, the arrival of CK Jr, Cynthia's birth and many many years of memories since then, especially with grandkids in the past ten years. It really was a fabulous photo album and it took a lot of work on his part scanning, uploading the photos and then creating a photo album through Shutterfly. It really turned out to be a great event and it seemed like CK and Connie had a great time.

CK flew out to Florida early Thursday morning to help set up and clean up the hanger and the girls and I flew commercially to Tampa on Friday morning and arrived around 3pm at Grandpa and Grandma's. Both girls were excited to see their grandparents and cousins and miss a day of school, although Sofia was really upset when she found out that she would need to wake up at the same time as a regular school day. On Friday morning, we dropped Buddy off at Stacy's house and Mitzi drove us to the airport at 7:30am. The flight to Tampa went smoothly and the 2.5 hours really went quickly. Olivia, who had a slight fever that morning and is really congested, read #5 of the Magic Tree House series in about 45 minutes and then wanted to curl up and sleep. She put her head in my lap, wrapped her blue blanket around herself and feel asleep for the rest of the flight. Meanwhile, Sofia read her library book about storming a kingdom and taking it over.

We grabbed our rental car and drove the 2 hours to the farm and the girls read the whole way. Jackson flew down with Cynthia, so he was there and the girls were so excited to get some one-on-one time with him. Sofia drove Olivia and Jackson around the farm on the gator for the rest of the afternoon, while we tried to decorate the hanger. Poor CK had to climb an ancient wood ladder that was super rickety and tape decorations to the main I-beam. It's a miracle he didn't fall and break his neck. Jay, Chandler and Jillian arrived around 10pm Friday night and Olivia was already asleep in the office with Jackson.

The day of the party started out cloudy and cooler than we expected. The catering company arrived at 9am and set up all the tables, chairs, laid out all the linens and got all the food and drinks ready. They did an amazing job and the hanger was soon looking amazing! They set out the hydrangea centerpieces on each of the tables and tied the 25 balloons on chairs. It just looked great. At 11am friends and family started to arrive for the party and soon the hanger area was full of family and friends! The food was served around noon and it was all delicious! CK ordered pulled pork, ribs, and grilled chicken with green beans, black eyed peas, corn bread, and fried okra. It was all so good. After lunch, it was time to cut the cake and CK gave a toast to his parents before they thanked everyone for coming and celebrating the day with them and then they cut the cake! It was such a sweet moment and it's so exciting to see them celebrate 50 years of marriage.

Other than the cake cutting, all the grandkids spent their time on the hay bales that are behind the other house. Apparently they made forts and made up some huge story line (of course). Sofia had a great time with Regan, a 2nd cousin who she's never met. Regan is 9 and she and Sofia had a fantastic time playing together. At 4pm, when most had said their goodbyes, CK Sr. cranked up the Cub and flew it over his neighbor's house to honor Leslie, who recently passed away. Her husband, Charlie, held a memorial service at their back pasture at 4pm and requested he fly over if he could. CK Sr. has a hard time getting in and out of the Cub due to his back, so it was awesome to see him fly over the memorial service for Charlie. Leslie was such a great woman and it's still so hard to believe she's gone. After everyone left, we headed to the house with Aunt Lyla, Ruel, Huel and 18-year old Haley. It was so great to see them and catch up. Such good people!

On Sunday, we had Meeting and then took a family photo before the kids ran off to play on the hay bales. We had lunch together and then it was time to head out for the airport. The girls and I said our goodbyes and headed out in our rental car at 1:30 for our 2 hour drive to the Tampa airport. Olivia slept the entire way, since she is still congested and has a slight fever. Poor thing. Sofia read and we returned our rental car with just over an hour until our flight left. We checked in and cleared security quickly and were ready to get "snacks." We actually found a grilled chicken, carrots and hard boiled egg container that looked really good, so we each got one. We loaded onto the plane and were happy to see that the plane had individual entertainment, so we each watched a movie on the flight home. It was a good way to pass the time. We landed, collected our bag and met Mitzi who drove us home. Both girls were completely exhausted and sore from their hours on the hay bales. I made pancakes and scrambled eggs for dinner and Buddy was soon home from Stacy's. He was so excited to see us and it was great to have him back. The girls were in bed and asleep by 8:30! It was a quick trip but so much fun and so special to celebrate CK Sr. and Connie's important milestone!

The beautiful cake

Cupcakes for the kids!

One of the photo albums CK made (he made 3 copies), the party favor mints and roses

The drinks table

The menu

These two! They are such good friends and spend every second together!

Happy 50th to CK Sr. and Connie

Cutting the cake!

CK Sr, Connie, CK Jr and Cynthia

The whole crew!

Hay rides around the farm

Girl cousins


The whole crew!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Gingerbread Houses!

This afternoon we went to Olivia's fellow 1st grader, Logan's house for his annual gingerbread decorating party. Logan's mom, Shannon, has thrown an over-the-top gingerbread house decorating party at their house every December since Logan was 3 years old. The party continues to get bigger each year, as she invites everyone from Logan's previous class and everyone in his current class! She said she and her husband used to stay up until 2am making and assembling the gingerbread houses from scratch, but in the past few years they have bought them pre-made from Central Market. She easily has enough gingerbread houses for 50 kids spread on low tables as well as on the dining room table and on tables set up in the living room. I see Shannon nearly every morning at drop-off and always enjoy standing around talking to her before she has to drive into Dallas for work. She is such a down-to-earth woman and just easy and fun to talk with. During one morning prior to the party, she told me that Sofia was welcome to join in the party as well since she always wants to invite siblings too. So thoughtful of her and Sofia was probably even more excited than Olivia to go! Olivia was mainly excited because her best friend Hannah, who lives across the street from Logan, would be going to the party too.

Somehow we convinced CK to join us, since I've been telling him how over-the-top the party is and how nice and fun Shannon is (and presumably her husband, who I don't think I've ever actually talked with). As soon as we arrived, the girls headed into Logan's entry living room and picked out a gingerbread house to decorate. Sofia, Hannah and Olivia were all in a line decorating - perfect for pictures! Antonio was also nearby but the girls didn't get much of a chance to play with him. The girls had a ball decorating their respective gingerbread houses, using the frosting and various candies offered in bowls around each house. I couldn't even imagine how much time it took Shannon to pull the party together and get organized! Besides the spread of candies, frosting and houses, there was a full spread of food for adults in the kitchen. There was fried chicken, meatballs in a spicy sauce, salad and lots of cheese and crackers. It was all delicious!

Sofia took the longest decorating her house and it was fun to watch her really focus on how it turned out. Meanwhile, Olivia and Hannah enjoyed decorating, eating candy and joking around. They really are the cutest friends and have so much fun together. The little ones ran off and played after they were finished, while Sofia spent at least another 30 minutes finishing up her house. We hung out at the party for a while before giving our thanks and heading home with the decorated gingerbread houses. They were both so cute and we put them on the kitchen island to decorate for Christmas. Of course, somehow pieces of candy would "disappear" over the coming weeks.

Winter, the girl's elf, likes to draw self-portraits

Sweet friends

One room of the finished gingerbread houses in Shannon's house

Olivia getting started

Sofia starting on her creation

Hannah and Olivia working away

Sofia decorating

Love this picture! The little girls are teasing and having fun and Sofia is working away!

Sweet (and silly) girls!

Sofia finishing up!

Sofia and her finished house! So cool!

Antonio and his house!

Sofia and Olivia with their houses!