Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Atlanta for Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving, we went to Atlanta, to see Gamma and Pa J, Uncle Kyle, Aunt Danielle, Aunt Stacey, Uncle Jae, and cousins Hadleigh, Camden, and Braeden (all from Jeremy's side). Jeremy had to go to Atlanta a week or so before us for some smarty pants conferences related to his PhD stuff, so the kids and I drove down on our own.  We made it just fine until we hit Atlanta traffic and I may have lost my mind a little bit.  We noted places we want to explore the next time we drive there: Louisville, KY, Nashville of course, and Raccoon Cave.
The cousins reacquainted quickly, even though it had been four-and-a-half years since they had seen each other last.  

Annie was happy to see her favorite doggies again.

Annie and Hadleigh did A LOT of gymnastics.  Together.  A LOT.  It was fun except for the part with Uncle Jeremy broke Hadleigh's beam doing a jump tuck (yes, try to imagine that).  But in his defense, Hadleigh made him do it.

The girls had an official gymnastics show--they designed and printed flyers, "sold" tickets, and choreographed some routines.  I think Hadleigh had as much fun dressing up her little Mini Me as much as she enjoyed being her coach.

The door prize at the gymnastics show was a photo with the gymnasts.  Here are the lucky winners!  Yay!

All the girls :)

Oh yes, and there was also an abundance of medals (Hadleigh is actually a very talented gymnast is real life).
There were quite a few sleep fun and a little crazy.  Aunt Danielle was a good sport.

There was also the middle-aged kids' night out without the little kids.

Jeremy is also a good sport.  Not.

There was the attempt at nice photos because we're all together photos.  Some were more successful than others.

Emotions depicted in this photograph: Verge of tears, dorkiness, silliness, sassiness, and skin-crawling-desire-for-escape/teenage-contempt-of-forced-family-photos.

After Thanksgiving, we decorated Gamma and Pa J's house for Christmas. Here's Evan with a flying Georgia pinecone, the state pinecone of Georgia (you had to be there).   
Ah, Christmas, that time of year when we celebrate Leon, or at least that's one way of looking at it.

It was a great time to hang out, connect, and over-eat, of course! A true American holiday.

After our trip, we realized that in the last year, our family had driven to Yosemite, San Diego, Nevada, Utah, Phoenix, Flagstaff, New Mexico, all over Colorado, across Kansas, into Missouri, all the way through Illinois, up to Wisconsin, down through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and back to Chicago (and Jeremy had also been to Texas and had flown to Chicago to look at houses while we still lived in CA).  That's quite a year!

Other Kinds of Dressing Up

We really do love to dress up around here are some other fall-related dress up pictures:
Sam, dressed up (for real) as an ER patient, ready to get his appendix out.

Annie and another one of her new friends.

Annie, wearing the lovely dress Mohammed from Iraq bought for her, standing in front of the high school where our church meets.  Yay for fall colors!

Annie and her friend wearing similar thrift store Justice sweatshirts.  In Annie's room.

Annie on her way to gymnastics, looking like a teenager from the 80's.

Sam dressed as a Cub scout (he is one).

Annie on the 50th day of school (dressed in 50's clothes and her school shirt)

Dress like a hero day at school
Annie dressed as her favorite hero, Aunt Kendra.

We went to a live stage performance of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"
Annie wanted to dress in something fancy, and as her outfit grew, she looked more and more like the White Witch who makes it always winter and never Christmas in Narnia.  She started to get upset when everyone was calling her a witch, because she thought she was just a princess.  

But by the end, she got over it and enjoyed meeting the White Witch herself.

The kids with Aslan, and Ginarrbrik photo bombing.

Evan, Annie, and Sam with the Pevensies.

Sam's evil wolf impersonation.  Be very afraid.

Mr. and Mrs. Beaver.

The silly unicorn, added for comic relief, I suppose.  The kids really liked her.

Evan was his cute, quirky self, dutifully collecting every autograph.

A History of Halloween

In honor of this Halloween post that is 3 months late, I decided to do a little review of Halloween through the kids' years so far.  Somehow, I don't have any photos of Sam's first 2 Halloweens...I think I was still under the impression that I had to pretend like I didn't like Halloween at all in order to look like a good mom.  But the reality is, I love the dressing up and the candy and the community spirit of it (even though I've never enjoyed the gory parts or found the humor of celebrating death).  So Sam's first couple Halloween costumes were pretty low-key, and then you can see, well...we kind of get into it unabashedly now!
Year one, Sam was a frog, and year 2, I don't have any memory of or photo to show.  Here he is as an almost-three-year-old monkey (this hat has come in handy as so many other costumes for plays and skits since then!).  Evan is an orange kangaroo (a souvenir sweatshirt from one of Aunt Kendra's trips around the world).

Despite my careful separation of the "fun" parts of Halloween and the gory ones, moments like this always seem to happen anyway.  Here is our sweet little neighbor vampire girl holding my innocent little baby.

2008: Bob the builder jammies and me dressed as my mom when she was my age...

Sam's in a batman sweatshirt and homemade cape.  

2009: Hand-me-down frog costume, nothing for Evan, and Spiderman

2010:  Homemade darth vader (well, except for the mask), Evan's beloved Batman costume that he basically wore almost every day for 3 years, and a monkey (again).

Again, after all my separation of fun and gory, my kid comes home with a skeleton face-paint.  I just can't win.

2011:  Pirate (in a definitive "Arr!" stance), Superman, and a very excited cowgirl with her constant sippy-cup companion

2012:  We finally decided to claim Halloween for the "fun" side and had a cardboard carnival in the cul-de-sac in CA.  Sam was a buck-teethed Thor, I am wearing my old prom dress as some sort of princess (it's for the kids!), Evan is a ninja-power-ranger, and Annie is Rapunzel, complete with frying pan and chameleon.

2013:  Annie was Alice until she didn't make it to the bathroom in time... then we had Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey, a cheerleader, and a raccoon.

We always hit the after-Halloween costume sales and Annie wore this $2 batgirl costume a lot throughout the year...

(as did the boys with their $2 costumes)

But 2014 had Little Orphan Annie, an old man, and a skeleton

And for 2015, can you figure out who they were?

Here's a close-up of Annie--she's not just a cowgirl, she's a very specific character.

Done guessing?  We were: Dale, Annie Oakley, Uncle Sam, and Rosie the Riveter

People get really into Halloween here...yes, the gory stuff.

Sam and his teacher, who is a big Nascar fan.
The kids had a pumpkin decorating contest for school.  I didn't realize the adults were actually competing using their kids' names, so we didn't have a chance.  But they were cute, anyway.

Here's some proof that the kids are making friends at their new school!

For the evening of Halloween, Annie changed to a rocker girl.  The cities, I mean villages, around here have set Trick-or-Treat hours, and they start in the afternoon and end in the early evening.  We spent the evening with our friends, going in and out into the rain, trick-or-treating in groups with neighborhood kids, exchanging candy, eating soup, and going back out to find fun houses (that weren't too scary) and tasty candy again.  

Except for the dismembered doll parts impaled on fence posts in people's front yards, I liked Halloween in Chicago!