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Monday, December 31, 2012

Merry & Bright!

 We had a great Christmas this year.  I took very little pictures though...I guess I was distracted by all things Merry & Bright.  The girls were excited to get new jammies...
And several other fun toys!
 

Then we got a little bit of SNOW! 
 
 
 
 It's been a great year, I'm looking forward to see what 2013 holds!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

December

After our trip to Disney, we came back to Missouri...  After about 2 weeks we were joined by Papa, my brother Steven and his wife Jenna.  Yes, we CAN all fit in the minivan...NICE!  We had a great time hanging out, so fun to see everyone and be all together.


 Steven, Grandpa and Dad...  3 Generations right there.

Steven was persuaded to help Kayley build a fort with the Toydle Kit... 


Hanging out with Papa on a cold morning... 

Examining the Artesian Well near Forcythe.
 Watercress!

We celebrated Dad's birthday while he was here and I was able to surprise him with a chocolate cake with Peanut Butter frosting.  Just like Grandma-Grandma used to make!  I can thank my Gr-Aunt Wanda for the recipe...  Which involved a "blob" of this and a "glop" of that.  ;)  I figured it out...it's in my blood after all....  LOL.

Friday, December 28, 2012

My Grandma and "The Horsey Tree"

It has already been several years since my Grandma-Grandma's passing.  It's a shame that I lived so far away and that she died before getting a chance to meet my girls.  (Kayley was a baby at her funeral...still very small).  Growing up, visiting her house was always quite a treat and I can recall that as soon as we turned down the gravel road my eyes were PEELED for the "Horsey Tree." When you could see it from the road, my Dad always slowed down and drove by slowly so I could smash my face up to the window and see.  Of course, once we arrived I had to, HAD TO, go visit the Horsey Tree and take a ride...it was required.
The Horsey Tree is just a funny old crooked tree...but a very special one.  Grandpa-Grandpa says that the Indians used to tie down the tree and make it grow funny like that because it pointed to water.  I don't know if that is true or not?  It is a strange tree though and I've never really seen one like it anywhere else.  Grandpa's property is covered all over with old Indian Mounds and I have a couple of awesome arrow heads that have been picked right up off the ground in the woods.

Me, age 3 - riding the Horsey Tree.
 
Me and My Grandma at the Horsey Tree.  I'm 4.

I miss my Grandma quite a bit.  She was a funny lady with a contagious laugh.  I remember her best with curlers in her hair...and white Keds on her feet.  LOL.   I hadn't been to the Horsey Tree in 20 years or more but when Kayley asked some questions about my Grandma I just knew that we had to go.  And so we did.

It's still there.  I think it's grown.  It was definitely grown up all around it.  Thanks to Papa and Uncle Steven for putting in the effort to clean it up so I could take my girls out there....  I don't know if or when we will be given an opportunity to visit again but I am so grateful I had a chance to help my girls connect to my memories.  I sure miss that special lady.  Go, hug your Grandma for me.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

DisneyWorld 2012 (x2)

We are so lucky in that we had an opportunity to tag along with my parents to DisneyWorld for a 2nd trip this year!  Sadly, James had to work and had to be left behind but the girls and I (with the help of Gramma) loaded up in the car and drove a gazillion miles to Orlando.  We met up with Papa and spent a week in Florida!  We spent 4 days at DisneyWorld which I must admit is one of my favoritest things to do EVER!  I'm training the girls up right and getting them hooked on Disney as well and we are already thinking about our next visit.  (Fingers Crossed for the Cruise!  Yes Please!!).
 

I took pictures on my camera and several on my phone...and honestly didn't take nearly as many pics as I could've or should've.  It was nice though to not worry about getting pictures and just enjoying the magic with my girls and my parents. Anyway, the pictures are just thrown on here randomly...

Carousel.

That looks like it hurts.  LOL.

Maggie driving the Autopia car!

We found this cute shirt at a truck-stop...we couldn't resist.  
We love our Papa!

Epcot...


Tired feet...

Tired Princess.

Magic Kingdom at night...

Candid.

Journey into the Imagination...

zZZzzzZZZzzz.... (Those are her headphones that fell over her face)

 Riding The Land...
 
 

 Pouting.

 It's hard to sleep and eat a cookie at the same time.
 
 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann - Book Review


Many of us are familiar with the Christmas story of the Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffmann.  A beautiful ballet that follows a little girl, Clara and her adventures when her Christmas present from her uncle comes alive, a handsome Nutcracker.  Clara and her Nutcracker visit a world where animals come to life, candy dances and the Sugar Plum fairy enchants. 

In this edition of the Nutcracker artist Maurice Sendak (you may recognize his style from other famous books such as Where The Wild Things Are or Little Bear) teams up with translator Ralph Manheim to produce this fabulous illustrated edition of The Nutcracker.  An introduction by Maurice Sendak gives reader insight into the artists life and work.

I liked this edition very much because it is broken down into manageable chapters, perfect for reading aloud with young children and is dotted throughout with colorful illustrations.  It takes a ballet (which, of course has no words or narrations) and makes the story easy to follow and understand.  After reading the Nutcracker I was so bummed to find out that our local ballet companies have already finished their performances for the year!  My 6 yr old would have loved to go!  So would I!

With 14 Chapters (102 pages), this lovely hardback book would make a great addition to any ballet lovers library!  Nutcracker retails for $24.95 on RandomHouse.com.


Disclaimer:  I received Nutcracker free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Universal Studios - Orlando


Homeschooling is such a blessing...I'll admit that one thing that I love most about it is the fact that we can pick up and go on vacation whenever we want!  Last month we had an opportunity to pack up our suitcases and run off to Orlando with my parents.  James had to stay behind, which was a bummer, but we did manage to have a wonderful time anyway!  For the first time we went to Universal Studios.  I wasn't sure what to expect but I knew that we were all super excited to check it out!
 

A large portion of the park is Dr. Seuss...  We had fun riding the Caro-Seuss-al Carousel.   Playing the the Lorax's House and riding the Red-Fish-Blue-Fish!

 

Careful thought, you may get sick and barf over the side of a boat.








 We also met the Cat in the Hat!

Maggie impressed me this trip with some of the things she would ride...  She rode this Pterodactyl ride with  me in the Jurrassic park...  It was 80 secs of downhill sliding hanging in a little swing.  One of the coolest rides ever...but the wait was SUPER long...  
 

 I also discoverd that Maggie is getting too big for the stroller....darn.  Her feet would drag if we weren't careful!







The best part of the park was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Kayley was unfamiliar with Harry Potter so we quickly read the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcorers Stone before going and watching the movie so a few things would be more meaningful.  I'm glad we did.  It was really, really cool...and looked like we were walking on the movie set!   We have no plans to read the rest of the Harry Potter books but it was really neat.

Here is Kayley in front of Hagrids house.  It was part of the queue line for the Hypogriff's Flight mini-roller coaster...
 
 
Both girls rode this little roller coaster over and over again.
Again, I was so surprised by what Maggie was willing to do!

As you walk through Diagon Alley you can look in all the shops windows and see some pretty interesting things...  The Quidditch balls were trying to escape and were bouncing around...  You could buy "Mandrakes" and they were squealing in the windows...the book store had pictures of the authors and they would move in the pictures...oHHH...and Moaning Myrtle talked your ear off in the bathroom!

 You could buy robes of course (they are 100 bucks!!!), and wands (cheap plastic trinkets) at Ollivanders.  My Dad makes WAY better wands that you will find in the Harry Potter park so we skipped trying to get in to Ollivanders.

 Couldn't resist an opportunity to try Butter Beer though...it was yummy.  It is pretty much a butterscotch type Cream Soda with crumbled up sugar cookies on top...  You can buy them regular (like a soda) or frozen (like a slushie)....


It was really neat and the girls really wanted to go back.  Alas, only 1 day at Universal...but 4 days at Disney!  I'll post about that later!

The Hogwarts train is there for you to take photos with, but you totally cannot get on, nor can you get up on the platform!  Kind of a bummer....


 Not that I needed to....I visited the REAL Platform 9 and 3/4 in England several years ago...and it didn't let me in....  I've got too much Muggle in me I guess....

So, we had a great day at Universal....  I would LOVE to go back!

Thanks Mom n' Dad for letting us tag along!



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