Monday, December 07, 2015

Thanksgiving Day the Wheeler Way

The problem with staying up too late is that after a certain point, it's easy to justify procrastinating bedtime even longer. After all, you're already going to be tired in the morning. What's the difference between tired and more tired?

Since my holiday "to do" list keeps lengthening, I'll go ahead and post some pictures from Thanksgiving, just so I can tick something thing off. I'll keep the text brief as a concession to the late hour. Forget the fact that it probably wouldn't be coherent anyway.

We spent this Thanksgiving in Cincinnati with the Wheeler family--not just the Justin, Brianna, and Ruby Wheeler family, but with Grandma and Grandpa and all the other siblings.  That's pretty impressive when you consider the fact that Christy and Ben are in California, Lance is in DC, and the rest of us fall somewhere in between.  I guess we all had so much fun seeing each other at our reunion in October that we just couldn't stay apart!

Here's Brianna with Baby Ruby.  She gets cuter and cuter every day!  (I was mainly talking about Ruby, but the same can be said for Brianna as well.)

Grandpa Charles seems pretty happy to have everyone gathered round.
Another picture of the pretty gal.  By the way, photo credits for many of these beautiful pictures go to Uncle Lance and his fancy schmancy new camera.
Mmmm, new toys.  Delicious!
A special day like Thanksgiving deserves some fancy nails.  Eli's toes are being painted in very manly blue and red stripes to match his sweater.
Here's Christy snuggling with our Annika.  Annie got so comfy that she fell right asleep in Christy's arms.
This Thanksgiving was extra special because Lance's DC BFF Kate joined us for the celebration.  (I'm really great at textspeak, LOL.)  Even though our family first met Kate this summer, it already feels like she's been a lifetime friend.
Here's Brianna working her delicious popover magic in the kitchen.

We took the kids outside for a bit to keep them out of the kitchen while dinner was being prepared.  The weather was so warm that Annika took her shoes off to explore Uncle Justin's new firepit.
Up, up, and away!  Uncles are the best.

The table is beautifully set and the house smells amazing...
Must be time to eat!  In addition to the traditional turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, we had sweet potatoes a la Andrus, green bean casserole, cranberry jello, delicious brussel sprouts, and the tastiest kale salad with pears and roasted squash.  I'm drooling at the memory.

After dinner we headed outside for some truly original Thanksgiving entertainment.  Kate helped all the kids make some pretty phenomenal Thanksgiving hats, after which Brooklyn, Talia, and Eli went to town creating an original Thanksgiving pageant.
Here's Eli sailing the Mayflower across the ocean.

Of course, the pageant cast some less familiar characters as well.  Here's Kate holding "Turkita," the little turkey whose primary role was chewing her paper feathers.

Grandma Susie sure seems to be enjoying the show.

Looks like our Pilgrim Brianna has captured the Little Turkita.

Pilgrim Christy gives a massage.
Oh look, Christy's changed identity!

Brooklyn helps Turkita with the script.
The show must go on.
Hard to know what to say with such cuteness about.
As part of the production, Brooklyn sang "Colors of the Wind" quite beautifully.

This little guy's sure handsome.  Check out that missing tooth!
In this very original interpretation of the First Thanksgiving, two Pilgrim brothers were attempting to design an airplane.
The climax, however, was when the turkey meal (aka Uncle Lance) got chased all around the yard before finally being stuffed and perched on the Thanksgiving table.

Nice work with the show, ladies.

The cast.
You'd think that after so much fun, we wouldn't be able to handle anything else, but there was still the traditional Thanksgiving pinata. 

Here's Eli getting ready to swing.
Oh look, Eli, it's an Ohio State Buckeye!  Use those Jedi powers and take it out.

Needless to say, before the pies, our Thanksgiving was delightful.  I have lots of other fun pictures from our trip, but they will have to wait.  It's bedtime.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Talia's Ninth Birthday

Three weeks ago, our sweet Talia Lily turned nine.  I figured I'd best hurry up and write about her special day before her older sister has a birthday and steals the thunder. 

Ever wonder why she's so sweet?

Unlike last year's mega-Harry Potter party, this year we had small celebration with just our family.  Even so, it was special to reserve time together just for celebrating our Talia.  On her Birthday-Eve, we all went out to dinner at Noodles, and then Jason took the big kids ice skating.  I think Talia was a bit nervous because Brooklyn broke her arm while ice skating on her ninth birthday.  Luckily everyone survived the evening in tact.

Such fun!  She's a good little skater.

Talia's actual birthday fell on a Sunday this year, so we went to church, then came home to open presents and spend the rest of the afternoon playing games and doing crafts together.

First on Talia's wishlist this year was an art kit.  Better be careful--Mom loves it enough to steal it for herself!

From a spirograph to beads, the presents were all perfect for our artsy gal.  An avid reader, she also received the entire Percy Jackson series.

For dinner, Talia requested tacos, with pineapple, of course.  And instead of cake, she asked her Daddy to bake one of his stellar apple pies.  He was only too happy to oblige.  We were all too busy tucking in to take a photo ahead of time, but here are the leftovers.

Talia, we hope you enjoyed your special day because you are one special gal.  We are  inspired by your determination as you give your very best in all that you do, whether in school, at church, in gymnastics, or with running.  Even more, we are inspired by your kindness and thoughtfulness as you interact with your family and friends.  Thanks for being such a bright light for us to follow.  We love you!

Monday, November 30, 2015

One Sweet Thanksgiving

A pecan pie, a pumpkin pie, cherry, lemon, and apple pies, two banana cream, a peanut butter pie, a chocolate pie (but not Miss Hilly's), and three meat pies.

Anybody able to guess with whom we shared Thanksgiving?

Chez les Wheelers Thanksgiving begins with pie for breakfast!
Christy's gorgeous cherry.
Banana cream is Grandma Susie's specialty.  Jason made the apple and I got lucky with the pumpkin.

Chef Christy gets inspired once more with pecan...
...and lemon meringue.  Oh happy day!
Hope everyone's holiday was as sweet as ours.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Never a Dull Moment

It's mid-November folks, and I'm ready to dump the rest of my October pics so that I can move on with the rest of life: like birthdays and Thanksgiving and birthdays and Christmas.  Here's what I've got, in no particular order.

Fontanelle Forest.  We purchased a membership so that this little sprout can participate in their Mudpies program, which they make available Monday through Thursday year-round.  She feels positively ecstatic anytime she has the chance to wear a backpack.

Of course, she occasionally wears out mid-trail.  Nice place to rest, though.

Lauritzen Gardens.  Third grade took a field trip there, so we met up with the wild ones at our favorite Big Boy train.

After the school group had gone home, Papa K met us at the gardens for a peaceful tram ride.

The Chrysanthemum display was beautiful...

Both indoors and out.

Annika liked the elephants.

As for me, I found this carniverous pitcher plant to be particularly intriguing.

Hummel Nature Center:  One Saturday afternoon, we headed over to Hummel Nature Center for their Harvest Festival: a hay rack ride, fall crafts, and apples roasted over the campfire.  Our favorite part, though, was the hike marked by corny jokes: what do you get when you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?

Pumpkin Pi!  At the end of our hike, we even found some cool places to play frisbee golf.  You can bet that we'll be back!

Girl Scout Journey:  Brooklyn spent a day exploring her artistic side as her troop earned their aMuse Girl Scout Journey, culminating in a short play they performed on the stage at Aksarben.  The theme?  No stereotypes.

Shopping.  Meanwhile, Talia and Eli headed to Target to go shopping with some birthday/Mileage Club prize money.  Pretty amazing loot!

The super-sad thing is that Annika took a scissor and cut some of the hair from Talia's doll.  :(  She also cut her own hair.

Fortunately she's still got plenty left.  Even so, I'm not quite sure what to do with this naughty monkey.

The Zoo.  The best solution I've been able to come up with for the Annie-Problem is to get out of the house as often as possible.  Here we are checking out the giraffes in their new enclosure.  The zoo is currently undergoing some major renovations, but I think the addition is going to be pretty spectacular.

Central High.  One advantage of having NomiAnn work at Central High is that we get invited to all sorts of cool events, such as this pancake breakfast hosted by the theater department.  Have you ever seen such a nifty pancake machine?

I must tell you, we were all extremely impressed by the pancake man.

The big kids also got to do a fascinating backstage tour highlighting an upcoming production.  The IB student who built this chair happened to be guiding our tour, so our munchkins got to hop right on.

There's no business like snow business!

Isaac's Birthday.  Meanwhile, Jason took Annika to a birthday party for this little one year-old tike.

A couple weeks earlier, I'd designed this contraption to keep this busy guy from climbing the stairs while I babysat.

Here he is with his parents Isaiah (a Creighton law student) and Jana, along with big brother McKay.

Getting ready for the pinata!

Annika found the perfect place for all her loot.

Eva Hale prefers two cups.

What a fun party!  I especially love the photo banner.

The Joslyn.  Moving right along, we went to a Saturday KickstArt at the Joslyn where Eli transformed into a dinosaur as a storyteller enacted "Time Flies."

Annika preferred playing in the fountain.

West Papio Trail.  Lest our life seem too nauseatingly perfect by this point (trust me, it's not), misfortune can strike while doing something as seemingly innocuous as going for a Sunday afternoon walk.  About a month ago, Eli got hit by a bike along the West Papio Trail.  A small photo will suffice to capture this sad memory--we're just so grateful it wasn't worse.

APMA.  Fortunately, the sun rises bringing hope for each new day.  This next series of photos was taken from the rooftop at Jason's work.

Vala's.  Time for another field trip!  This time we accompanied Eli and the kindergartners to Vala's pumpkin patch.  Too busy playing to take many photos, but rumor has it some kindergartners stowed away with these pirates.

Never one for subtlety, Annika preferred to become the figurehead.

King Science Competition at the Zoo.  Last but not least, I accompanied Crestridge's 4th and 5th grade teams to a science competition at the Henry Doorly Zoo.

Our fifth grade team took first place.  Way to go guys!  Here's Brooklyn with her friends Fede, Jaden, and Isaac.

As fun as the competition was, it was even more fun to learn about the zoo program at King Science and Technology Magnet.  They have 8th graders who spend half of their "B" days at the zoo, taking awesome classes like zoology and zoological architecture.  This picture was taken right outside one of their classrooms in the aquarium.  Wish I could go to zoo school!

Another photo of the fifth grade team.

And a whole bunch of Crestridge gorillas.

Great job, everyone!  And now, onto November.