Monday, January 19, 2015

December 2014

I must say it took a bit of time to recover from our very busy November, but our lives calmed significantly for the first two weeks of December.  Our only event during that time was Anthony's 7th birthday.  Fine dining for Anthony almost always means a cheese burger with fries, so we moved upscale from McDonalds and took him, Sarah and Deseree to BJ's where he got his burger with a slightly better than usual ambiance.  We did return to our house for the birthday cake and candles.  Fortunately Max had her phone handy, as I realized too late that my camera batteries were dead.

Having a birthday just before Christmas provides a double gifting season, but this year the young man seriously need some new snow boots, warm sweaters and a few other essential items that don't really deserve a photo shoot.

We did celebrate Christmas this year, although it did take us about 16 days to get through it all.  We started in Michigan with the Broadbents.  Mikayla's dance school was doing their own performance of The Nutcracker and Mikayla had two roles, bubblegum and peeps,  in this unique adaptation of the Christmas favorite.  We arrived on the 18th, attended the dress rehearsal on the 19th (the only performance in which photography was allowed) and I stayed home with Elise while the rest of the family attended the actual performance on the 20th.

Posing before the show started
In her role as bubblegum
Two Peeps in a box
Dancing Peeps

And then on Sunday, Max, Mikayla and Brandy went into Detroit to see the Moscow Ballet perform the traditional Nutcracker.  As you can see, it was a dress-up affair for the three generations of Nutcracker attendees.

Will, Elise and I were left at home, since I think one Nutcracker a year is enough for either Will or me.  Elise got some good daddy time as well as some time playing with Mikayla's stuff while she was away.

She does do some jumping on the trampoline, and will get good at it if she keeps watching her big sister.

Our Christmas did arrive in Michigan before we left and the girls opened their gifts from us.  Mikayla is into hair bands and got a "design your own" hairband which she quickly put to use.  Elise is still working on this unwrapping custom but nonetheless enjoyed her new toys too.

Our Christmas with the Broadbents was a huge success for this the first of our four Christmas Celebrations. We finished the celebration with a night out on the town of Rochester Hills.  We started by going to the Royal Park Hotel where they constructed a giant gingerbread house.

Brandy and Elise in front of the gingerbread house.
 And if you want to make  one of these yourself, they even provided the recipe.

And after dinner we did a walking tour of downtown Rochester Hills where they light up the streets every Christmas.

We did get back home to Cincinnati before the official Christmas Day and spent two quiet days enjoying our Christmas tree, music and good food.  Our Christmas tree is really two different trees in one.  We put it in our sun room and during the day it displays our collection of ornaments that we have been gathering over the past 21 years.

But at night it becomes a different tree with the LED strings of lights that project circles of light out from the bulbs to the walls and floor of the room.

This second Christmas Celebration was quiet, very quiet.

Matthew arrived in Cincinnati on the 26th for a short stay that began our third Christmas Celebration. Sarah (Matthew's Sarah) was in Lebanon for the holidays and Matthew stopped by Cincinnati on his way to Nashville to visit friends.  So on the 27th we celebrated our third Christmas with Matthew, Michael and Liz, as well as Sarah, Deseree and Anthony.  It was of course another day of cooking, this time a brisket with roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes.

I  use a recipe from our dear friend Kathy Milby who lives in Norman, Oklahoma and it is a favorite menu item for our festive meals.  Without a doubt it is our most popular request. And now that we have our new kitchen for this Christmas, everyone gathers around for the dinner preparation.

Deseree enjoying some appetizers before dinner

Sarah just enjoying our kitchen with the group

Matthew and Michael

Liz enjoying a glass of wine.
the group photo

Our fourth Christmas Celebration took place in Chicago with Amber, Evan and Marshall and as an extra bonus, it was also New Years, a double celebration for sure. That we ever celebrate New Years is a bit out of the ordinary for us.

 Marshall is growing fast and seems to be the smiliest baby we have ever been around.  You might think we only take pictures when he is smiling, but it's hard to find a time when he isn't giving you a big grin.

Practicing his backward scooting

Working on standing up

And giving Bo some love
And as you might be aware, Chicago can get cold in the winter, but Marshall is outfitted well with winter gear so that he bearly notices the weather.

And this being his first Christmas, he really wasn't sure what all the pretty boxes were doing in his living room.

But he caught on fairly quickly and what can be more fun than some rattling red paper?

It may take him a day or so to understand that the paper wasn't the real fun about this process, but what the paper covered up.  So now Marshall will begin his musical career from home, maybe.  But where did the pretty paper go?

And I do understand that I am not an easy person to shop for since I really don't need anything.  But Amber and Evan did find something that I didn't have and  really do like.  Some of you may need to review algebra to appreciate this, but Max is the one that needs to get to work so this plate can be valid.

Marshall did get his first bath in the big tub while we were there.  Yes that is actually a jacuzzi style tub, but I think Marshall was safe with all of the life guards we had stationed near by.

And finally we celebrated New Years with a dinner of beef short ribs, and we toasted out the old and in the new with a wonderful bottle of champagne that Michael and Liz brought us for Christmas.

Now we have what we expect will be two months without any travel and some time at home back in our "normal" routine.