Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Celebrations

At the last minute we decided we wanted to get out of town during the holiday season, afterall.  We headed down to the Outer Banks, North Carolina for a quick weekend trip to visit Marc's Aunt Joyce and Uncle Dave. We realized it has been almost two years since Marc and Joseph visited (on the fateful trip when Joseph broke his leg) and almost three years since I was there on the last leg of our big southern trip when we moved to Arlington after Marc graduated from Virginia Tech. And little Miss A. hasn't ever been there! How time flies!

It was a wonderful trip--amazingly warm temperatures, gorgeous views, and the peaceful feeling of the Outer Banks (during the off season).  We enjoyed visiting with Aunt Joyce and Uncle Dave. Joseph listened with rapt attention to Aunt Joyce's stories about teaching kindergarten.  Abigail mastered climbing up a flight of steps on the carpeted stairs at their house.  We went to the indoor swimming pool, soaked in the hot tub on the deck outside our bedroom, took bike rides, walked on the beach, and had a relaxing, worlds-away-from-D.C. weekend.

For New Year's Eve, we did a countdown and banged pots and pans with the kids at about 6:30 after dinner with Aunt Joyce and Uncle Dave, and then put the kids to bed.  Marc and I looked at the moon and stars from the hot tub and then rang in the New Year fast asleep. 

Our bike ride led us to the nature center where Joseph was excited to see a whale jaw bone.

Joseph enjoyed taking a nature class in which he learned about animal tracks and scat (poop).  I'm sure you can imagine what a kick he got out of that.

 During Joseph's nature center class, Marc and Abigail explored around outside. Isn't it so beautiful?

 On New Year's Day, went to the tallest natural sand dune on the east coast at Jockey's Ridge State Park.
 Abigail enjoyed playing in the sand (and luckily has stopped eating it)

 Joseph and Marc climbed, jumped, and slid on the dunes.  As Joseph climbed to the top, he said he was climbing "Mt. Vernon." It was kind of hilarious--I guess that is the "mount" that first pops into his head. 

Most of the time we spent on the "sound side" or at the sand dunes, but we did make it over to the ocean just before the sun set on New Year's Day..

I think it has been a long time since our last visit to the Outer Banks partly because we dread the long drive.  It wasn't too bad, but Abigail did cry for a pretty big chunk of the trip home.  Joseph tried to entertain us all on the drive with his antics. 

Happy New Year!

December 31, 2011-January 1, 2012

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Zoo Lights

We went to the Zoo Lights, which turned out to be quite impressive and fun.  Rachel and Elizabeth drove down with the kids and me. Marc took the metro from work and met us.  We didn't actually look at any of the animals, but there was ice skating, a train ride, a gingerbread contest display, and most importantly a dancing panda bear.  After the zoo, John and Gwen joined us all at our house, and we ordered Chinese food and chatted while the kiddos slept.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Millennium Stage

Joseph and I were joined by Aunties Rachel and Elizabeth for a fun performance at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage.

Joseph loves bluegrass music--maybe because of our time in Blacksburg. Anyhow, he says he wants to take banjo lessons and loves to listen to banjos play.  When I saw that Bob Perilla's Big Hillbilly Bluegrass band was performing, I figured this was the show for us. Luckily, the performances are archived so you can watch it here.  Joseph was a little exhausted from all the Christmas week excitement, but he still enjoyed the show. I confess, I just love to watch his face and see his little foot start tapping. 


The week after Christmas was filled with fun family events. First up: bowling. 

This was Joseph's first time bowling, and he was full of hilarious poses and faces--as usual.  If you live in the area, Fort Myer's Bowling Alley is a great spot--and open to the public even though it is located on the base.

"Poor Abigail and her little head," is all I can think when I see these pictures!

Grandma Donna and  cheesy Joseph

Abigail, looking resigned to being trapped in the stroller to watch, with Aunt Elizabeth

Sweet friend Scarlett

Sweet Scarlett's mom, Kim, holding Cousin Lucy (whose parents are not as mean as me and don't keep their child trapped in a stroller)

Joseph and Aunt Rachel, who organized the bowling fun.  In the background you can see Mark (of Mark & Meg fame), Grandpa Lincoln, and Annie.

Grandpa Lincolln in his classic sport observing pose.  Happy Birthday Grandpa Lincoln!

Marc decided to opt out of bowling and instead "crap around" (his words) the house and yard. Joseph joined him when we were home. They created this bike trailer made from an old fertilizer spreader.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Morning

Our house usually is up and {reluctanctly} going at about 5:30 am.  We used to think it was bad that Joseph woke up religiously at 6:30 am. Abigail has upped the ante.  Marc wanted to make sure that we  didn't have an extra early morning on Christmas so on Christmas Eve he gave Joseph a digital clock to keep by his bed, with the firm instruction, "Stay in your room until the clock says 6:00."  At 12:36 I was awoken by a frantically whispering Joseph by my bedside. "Mom, mom. It is past 12.  12 comes after 6!"  He thought he'd slept right through Christmas!

We all ended up surviving the night, though, I think waking up every hour to check the clock! 

 Joseph had a LEGO Christmas! 

 All week before Christmas, Joseph has been slipping his artwork into our stockings so we had lots of treasures on Christmas morning.

 Abigail was having so much fun trying to dive into all of the presents, we pulled up her high chair so she could breakfast through some of the gift opening.

 Grandma Charlotte sent a book that has her voice recorded reading to the children.  I confess I love getting to hear my mom's voice everytime I push the button as much as the kids do!

Joseph got right to work building legos!

Abigail climbed onto her favorite perch to play with her new little music box.

Joseph also took some photos of his completed legos. Pretty neat shot, I thought.

After gifts and playing and breakfast, and a phone call to family in Missouri, we headed off to church and then to Grandma Donna and Grandpa Lincoln's to spend the afternoon with Grandma, Grandpa, Rachel, Elizabeth, John, Gwen, and Lucy eating and chatting and playing even more. There was even a little voluntary napping from my children who had been up most of the night!

A very merry Christmas!

December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

This was our first year to stay home for Christmas. 
What did we do?

We played.
At the Oliphant Family Christmas party on the 23rd, Aunt Joyce and Uncle Dave gave Joseph a race track, so the morning of Christmas Eve was like a Christmas morning preview with "some assembly required" and lots of playing. We also took a brisk walk to the library and stopped at the elementary school playground. Joseph put me through the recess obstacle course; I didn't do too badly!

We relaxed.


We cooked.
This summer in our garden, Marc planted pie pumpkins.  During the day on Christmas Eve, Joseph and Marc cooked a couple pumpkins from our garden that we've been saving.  Then I turned the pumpkin puree into pies!

We enjoyed our neighbors.
  • We invited Bob over for our big meal at lunchtime--burritos with homemade beans, fresh salsa and guacamole.
  • Our Philippino neighbors invited us to their celebration that begins after midnight mass. We passed because of the kiddos, but they brought us a big bowl of the delicious soup they traditionally eat at midnight.
  • We had a playdate at the park with our Egyptian neighbors (one of Joseph's classmates and her family). They later stopped by with a traditional Egyptian dessert, kanafeh, fresh from the oven.  
  • On our walk home from the park, one of our neighbors was setting up his observatory (apparently this size is too big to be called a telescope). He invited us back when it was dark for a viewing. Joseph (in his jammies) and Marc took him up on it while the sugar plums were already dancing in Abigail's head.

We celebrated the meaning of Christmas.
We sang Christmas songs, Joseph read us the Christmas story from the children's scripture reader, and we drank egg nog by candlelight.  Marc's family also stopped by to carol to us and bring us a heaping plate of Grandma Donna's homemade goodies.

December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We have tried to simplify. Marc and I are not exchanging gifts. We spent less than $5 between the two children.  How is it possible that our tree can look like this? Joseph says thank you to all those extended family members who are not buying into the simplify hype!

Merry Christmas! 

December 23, 2011

Oliphant Family Christmas Party

Marc's entire family was here for Christmas this year. His parents hosted an Oliphant Family Christmas Party--complete with a delicious dinner, acting out the nativity, singing carols, and opening presents-- which kicked off our Christmas weekend.  Gwen already blogged about the party, and since her pictures are far superior to mine,  I intended to send you to her blog until I realized it is a private blog. So instead, I'll "borrow" her pictures.
About an hour before the party started, Abigail took her first big tumble and got an ugly goose egg on her head.  Everyone was very sad about it (I had both Joseph and Abigail crying in my arms), but our little girl is tougher than she looks.  She cheered up and had a wonderful time at the party (she begins kicking her legs in excitement the minute she sees Grandma Donna and Grandpa Lincoln's house), even if we ended up being a little later than we expected.

Uncle John, Joseph and Lucy

Joseph the Shepherd

John and Gwen as Joseph and Mary with Lucy as Baby Jesus

Aunt Joyce makes a dramatic angel!

And Missy and even more dramatic star.

December 23, 2011

Christmas Break

For eleven whole days, this guy is all mine!  Can't wait!

December 17, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The highlight of my Christmas season this year was the Kigin's caroling party we went to last night.  The weather was warm, the food was delicious, and the Christmas spirit was abundant. I had a couple favorite moments:  when Joseph wanted to sing a solo and then proceeded to belt out a Kwanzaa song he learned in kindergarten. Makes a mama proud--and gives her some great laughs!  My other favorite moment was watching Colleen Kigin join an elderly lady up on the porch as we sang to her. Colleen hugged her and sang with her--brought tears to my eyes. That Colleen sure knows how to show love to all around her! I feel lucky we got to be in her path of love last  night. 

**All photos in this post are courtesy of Colleen Kigin
The Oliphants have been friends with the Kigins forever! Apparently the caroling party is a long standing tradition, but this was my first year. The Kigins take this very seriously: booklets with words to all the music and flashlights to see by, and antlers or Santa hats for all (they even had Abigail's size, but she wasn't interested). 
Joseph popped a Reeses peanut butter cup into his mouth right before this picture.  Love that boy!

I love this candid shot that caught us all adoring little Abigail.

We caroled throughout the neighborhood--to people the Kigins knew and people they didn't. Sometimes people came out of their houses and waited on their porches for us to make it to their house.  And one mother and her three-year-old joined us after we stopped at their house. Joseph got to ring the doorbell at the houses, ring the jingle bells, and give out candy canes.

And, of course, Joseph made friends everywhere we went.

December 20, 2011