Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas World!

For those who don't have the coveted benefit of being on our Christmas card list I'm posting our Christmas letter here. Enjoy the year's recap from our household to yours!


Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ and Blessings to your household in the Christmas Season!

It's been an exciting year for us (do we ever have a boring one?!) with lots of new adventures. This year we'd like to share with you the Top Twelve Exciting Things in 2006:

The Big Move After nearly a whole year in exile, we were able to move back into our completely made-over and renovated home! We moved in on Memorial Day weekend and Mairs hasn't been out of her newly expanded kitchen since. She needs to prepare lots of food to be served in the newly expanded dining room which now houses two 6-foot tables and enough chairs for a couple of guests in addition to the usual household occupants.

The Birth of Nathan Lee Nathan was born au natural (yay Mairs – first drug-free delivery for us!) on July 30th. He was also the only child to ever show up on his due date. He was baptized by his dad in September and has been growing like a trooper and spoiled rotten by all 8 of his bigger siblings.

We Lose Some, We Win Some You might remember last year we added a young lady from a local home for unwed pregnant girls to our household. Tiffany and her new-born Ava were with us for about a month, and they are now happily living in a mother-child home. While we were on vacation in the Outer Banks (see #4), another resident of the same maternity home, Adora, gave birth to her son Nehemiah. The two of them moved in with us upon our return home from vacation. Adora plans to attend Community College and work toward her A.A degree while living with us. Nathan and Nehemiah are just 6 weeks apart and have become the “twins”.

Seventeen to Five This was the kid to adult ratio on our Outer Banks vacation this year. We joined another Christian, homeschooling family with 8 children in a house right on the beach, and everyone had a fantastic time. The real adventure was getting to know their family while at the beach since our acquaintance with them began with Mairs and Terri on a Yahoo e-group several years ago. We made “In Real Life” friends out of cyberfriends in a hurry! God was truly gracious to work it all out for us.

Riding For Ribbons After 5 years of lessons, the kids finally entered in their very first riding competition. Everyone rode except Ben (who's decided riding isn't his “thing”) and Nathan – this includes 2 yo David and 3 yo John Michael – and everyone received ribbons. JT won a first prize in the jumping competition for his division, Betsy won 2 first place ribbons as well, and the rest brought home an array of colored ribbons now proudly displayed in their rooms. Miriam and Ruth and John Michael and David particularly enjoyed their ribbons and the whole experience.

Getting a Kick out of Soccer The big boys (JT, Philip and Ben) wound up on a winning soccer team this year. We were blessed with a Christian coach and many Christian families on the team as well as lots of boys with a real gift for the game. It was truly a joy to watch them play together on the field and off and it was fun to travel with them to the boys' first ever tournament. JT made an outstanding performance throughout the whole season as one of his team's high scorers, and his performance at the tournament was no different. Ben again proved to be a solid utility player, and Philip displayed an amazing grasp of the defensive end of the field. They ended up losing their tournament games but gained a lot in experience.

This Is My Body In February, Betsy celebrated her first Eucharist along with several other friends at church. It was a sweet time of fellowship with the Lord, and we are proud of Betsy's continuing walk with Him.

Sickle Cell Scare Ruth has been blessed with very few symptoms of her sickle cell disease, but in the Spring she had a series of tests which showed her as a high risk for stroke. After much prayer, God was faithful to bring her some healing, and the numbers came down to a comfortable level. She narrowly avoided having to receive blood transfusions every 6 weeks indefinitely! We are praising the Lord again for His faithfulness!

Reading, Writing and 'Rithmetic We've flooded the Nile, mummified a chicken, recreated statues of Alfred the Great, mapped out Africa's topography, begun to master Latin and burned 2 Viking chieftans at sea. It's been a great year of schooling and we're only halfway through this school year! We are officially schooling six children this year, as Betsy and Ruth have entered kindergarten and are whipping their way through K-1 work. The girls have all mastered reading as well (our first year since starting this adventure that we aren't teaching phonics – YAY!). John Michael is a schooling wanna-be, and he spends a lot of time soaking it all up while David finds new things to take apart daily. School also includes an array of activities such as the Homeschool Choir, weekly soccer skills class, art classes, Latin class and story-telling.

Play Ball! The Spring brought an interesting baseball season. JT got bumped up to the “big leagues” where for the first time he had to face down pitchers his size and was only allowed the official 3 outs. His struggle built....character...and...he'll be trying out lacrosse this Spring. Ben and Philip enjoyed being the oldest on their team where Ben made a strong standing. Baseball seems to be his game and he is a delight to watch on the field. Philip showed lots of strength in the outfield where his coach declared he has a “magnetic glove”.

Pet-astrophes While we were still waiting to move back home, somebody dumped two puppies on the farm property where the children ride. They quickly fell in love with one in particular, and we were promised ownership as soon as we moved home. Well, we moved back in, brought home “Strider” – and a turf war promptly ensued between said puppy and Pooka, the Geriatric Queen of Everything. Pooka won, the puppy was carted back to the farm where he is now making Robyn's husband a very happy man, and he was promptly replaced with Pippin the hamster and Pumpkin the guinea pig – the rodent consolation prizes. Don't tell the kids, but Sydney the cockatiel will also be joining the family on Christmas Day.

Miscellaneous Joys Then there are those things which won't make the headlines but which contributed to the life of our family none-the-less. Miriam began a dance class through the therapeutic Rec program and is making friends with other folks w/disabilities – and she is proving to be quite a cute little dancer! Philip had his braces removed, and he is now preparing for the next phase of the bone graft preparation which will repair the final hole left in his palate by his congenital cleft. Mairs has begun a support group for parents who homeschool children with special needs, and this is helping to provide important spiritual and moral support for folks in tough situations. Fr. Joel has been invited to help teach in the CEC's seminary program and also to take on a role on the liturgy committee which will set the liturgical vision for the CEC. He is now celebrating Mass every Thursday evening at 7:00 for anyone who wants to join him for a mid-week time with our Lord.

We hope you have been as blessed as we have with a year full of God's presence. May this season of Christmas bring the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit into your hearts, minds and spirits, and may you grow ever closer to our Lord, Jesus Christ – to whom we desire to give all the glory!

Many Blessings,
Fr. Joel, Mairs, Miriam, JT, Philip, Ben, Ruth, Betsy, John Michael, David, Nathan, Adora & Nehemiah

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Blackmail Material


Davey's rendition of Paul Revere.... He's just jumped off his horse in the back...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Couple O' Funnies

A couple of days ago I was working in the kitchen and John Michael was sitting on the stool watching me. I noticed him with his finger up his nose and then he thrust the same finger into my face, raised one eyebrow and said rather conspiratorially "Mom, do you know what this is?" "A bogey?" "No, " he said, "It's a tootsie roll" and with that he put his finger in his mouth and ate it.


While at Grammy's house for Thanksgiving, Grammy picked up a handful of toy catalogues, tossed them in the middle of the floor and told the cousins to look through them and let her know what they would enjoy. I walked out of the room for a few minutes and as soon as I returned, Ruth threw herself at me and announced, "Mommy I'll be having a baby for Christmas!"

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Feast of St. Nicholas

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Nicholas. It's really late and I've filled the children's shoes with gifts. We love this little tradition!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Three Alberts

JT and Ben finished up their Viking unit by studying the folks who were finally able to drive the Vikings out. They made statues of Albert the Great, the first English king to whoop their butts. Of course, JM had to get in on the action as well...Pictured here is Ben's Albert, then JT's and on the right is John Michael's.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Word of Advice

When you have one of those really crazy days and you change your baby in between activities and take a shortcut by not unsnapping the outfit all the way and just shoving the clean diaper up his pants and closing it really fast, make sure the baby's "equipment" is *not* aimed right out the leg-hole so that when you dump the baby on your friend because you need to run out to the car and get the third thing you forgot that day he doesn't pee all over himself, his clothes and your friend....

So sorry Nancy!!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Topography of a Continent

Today we did a fun topography project. We made topographical maps of the continent of Africa. I was working w/my 3 special needs kids and a kindergartener so I did some of the prep work for them. I also needed to help them spread the glue around effectively and for the mountains, I tore the clay into small pieces for them so they could just pick up a piece and mold it into the right shape. My older boys (9 yo's) could have done this fairly independently, though. I've decided to describe how we did the project here and highly recommend it.

Goals:
1. Be able to visualize the topography of a land mass.
2. Understand the relationship between a map and its key.

Supplies Needed:
Light-weight cardboard
Black marker
pencil
blue colored pencil or crayon
different colored sand
different colored clay (playdough or sculpy would work too)
white piece of paper
glue stick

Directions:
First, I gathered up pieces of cardboard and traced the African continent in black Sharpie on each piece. Then I wrote in the names of the oceans and seas surrounding the land mass.

Next, I had them color in all the oceans and seas with a blue crayon or colored pencil (the crayons worked better on the cardboard).

Next we did the rivers. I outlined in pencil the rivers for them and they followed the path of the rivers with glue sticks. Then they covered the glue with blue sand (I happened to have a bunch of colors left over from a craft project we did last year) and shook off the excess.

Next we did the deserts. I outlined in pencil where the deserts should go and they filled in my outlines w/glue and then a couple used yellow sand and a couple used orange sand. Then shake off the excess sand.

Next we did the rain forests. I outlined the boundaries of the rainforests and they covered in the outlined areas with green clay flattened onto the cardboard.

Next we did the mountains. I outlined the boundaries of the mountain ranges and they made little mountain peaks out of clay and covered the outlined areas w/them.

Last we did the plains (which we should have done before the mountains and rain forests). I outlined the plains in pencil and they filled in with glue and then colored sand.

Finally we cut out small white pieces of white paper and made a key for their maps. I wrote the words on the paper w/the marker and drew a little circle next to each word. It looked something like this:

Key:
Mountains
Plains
Rain Forests
Deserts
Rivers

They glued the paper to the cardboard somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean and then put a small clay mountain next to the mountains label, a small circle of colored sand next to each one which used sand and a small circle of flattened clay next to the rain forests.

It was loads of fun -they really enjoyed it. You could use all sand or all clay too. They clay looked neat b/c it really added a nice texture to it and I wanted them to understand the basic topography of a land mass. I also wanted them to understand how the key is connected to what they see on the map. They really got those two points and understood it. Realistically, all four of the maps turned out differently in terms of the colors they used but also there were some misplaced rivers, absent mountains and rambling deserts. That didn't matter to me so much as them understanding our two goals.

Here's the pics:

Miriam's AfricaBetsy's Africa
Ruth's Africa

Philip's Africa

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

There's a Shortage of Babies in the World...

That's the conclusion to which I came recently when I realized there are women - generally of the grandmotherly age - who just might be willing to come to blows for an opportunity to hold my baby. It's sad, really. Where are all the babies? They should be everywhere - in grocery stores, dangling their little legs from front-riding Snuglis, in church, at the movie theaters hiding under blankets nursing while their moms enjoy a night out.... But they just aren't there and so our babies get a lot more attention than is probably their due. While on vacation, Fr Joel and I had the opportunity to go out together with Nathan to one of our favorite restaurants. The couple at the next table shared proudly that they had parented six children and before long the baby was in the arms of a new surrogate grandma and being cuddled through the restaurant and shown off to fellow diners.

A baby is truly a wondrous creature. What better way to attest to God's amazing creation than to reflect upon the form and functions of a newborn. It's truly difficult to look at a critter so small and helpless, straight out of the womb and not recognize our own helplessness in God's sight. Who else can knit together a whole, perfectly formed human being out of an egg and a little wiggly torpedo? Out of THIS comes a PERSON?! Amazing! And then to consider the whole symbiosis of baby and mother while the child is in utero. The mother eats, the baby grows - first a head, then a body, hands, feet, skeleton, brain...slowly a person emerges with a heartbeat, soul, dreams, the ability to feel pain and move toward light, respond to a mother's voice. And this is all within the first 14 weeks of gestation - incredible!

Unfortunately, many do not see the connection between bearing and birthing babies and the hole in the soul of our culture. Even those who are pro-life (anti-abortion) still feel the need to get things "fixed", to teach us large familied parents how "it's" done, to control God's ways and means of expressing His love - CREATION. God lives to Love and He expresses that love by creating us and by continuing to create. I am so blessed to be a woman and be able to cooperate in this creation process with my Lord and Lover of my soul. My womb magnifies the miraculous womb that bore our Savior within it. When my womb is occupied by a little developing life it becomes a prophetic picture of the tabernacle, God's grace poured out within the depths of my being.

Sadly, though, even those who love these lives when they arrive are willing to cut themselves off from the grace that flows from them. How many babies are aborted in this country and never see the light of day, never live to have a hundred surrogate grandmas doting on them? And how much life has been cut off in the midst of the marital embrace by abortifacient birth control, or the manipulation of our bodies to cease to function the way God created them to function? We are more willing as a culture to see our men made sterile and our women's wombs stripped from their bodies then to open our eyes wider to God's greater plan. He put those parts there, it's tough to justify taking them out of the picture for our own comfort.

Yep, there's a shortage of babies around here and it makes me sad. Babies have the ability to minister to the souls of others at levels no adult could ever hope to match. Fresh from the plans of the Maker, they exude innocence, unconditional love, hope and joy. They are God's greatest ambassadors to a hurting world. Don't you think it's time we go back to co-operating with grace and allowing them to enter the world? Then maybe those granny wanna-bes wouldn't have to come to blows over mine.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Finally Nine!

There's nothing that bugs Ben more than those months between July and November when his brothers are officially an age ahead of him. Starting July 4th, he wants nothing more than for his birthday to roll around so he can join Philip and JT in their climb up the age maturation ladder. This year Ben decided to celebrate the big event with an over-nighter. He invited cousin Sam and neighbor-friend Dan over for a sleepover. Friday night they hit up the batting cages (a first for him and Sam) where he did swimmingly well, hitting about 18 out of 20 balls. The boys came home to their own private showing of Narnia, complete with hot buttered popcorn, and went to sleep strewn upon the basement couches.


The actual birthday was on the following Monday so Ben opted to save his dinner, cake and gifts for the real deal. He invited another neighbor-friend, Gabriel, on over for this event. Since Adora has been cooking for us on our super busy Wednesdays, he's become pleasantly acquainted with her fried chicken for which she obliged to a command performance for Ben's birthday dinner. Dinner was fun. We regaled Gabriel and Adora with stories of Ben's childhood, giving particular attention to the more embarrassing ones. Of course this meant we just *had* to tell them about the time he wanted to be in a play at his friend's house but didn't have a costume so one very enterprising mom found him a plastic grocery bag, stuck his hands through the handles, cut holes out the bottom for his legs and called it a tunic. Ben was so enthralled with his costume he wore it for two weeks straight. After we related that story to the masses (with JT taking particular glee in the embarrassment it may have been causing), we were afraid we had overstepped the boundaries of good clean fun when Ben stormed out of the dining room and stomped down to his bedroom. His dad followed closely behind to assure him we meant no harm and see if he could be convinced to return for tapioca and cake but Ben was not to be convinced. He did come back upstairs, stormed through the kitchen where he grabbed a plastic grocery bag and with great hilarity shoved it in JT's face and announced "Now it's *your* turn!" His little act worked and we were glad to see that he made the joke on us.

Now dessert was quite a story...Rarely the conformist, Benjamin requested Mamaw's sour milk coffee cake and tapioca pudding for dessert. Here you can see the coffee cake with the nine candles in the shape of a number nine sharing the counter w/his tapioca pudding. If you look closely, you might notice something peculiar about those candles...yes, they are melting. The cake was hot (it was coffee cake, afterall, which is meant to be served warm, yes?!) and it melted the candles faster than we could light them and sing the traditional song.








Here is the whole melty mess after our hurried rendition of Happy Birthday and an equally as hurried blowing out of the fiery mess.



I love Ben's expression in this picture - it does seem pretty incredible that these were birthday candles just moments before... It took some awfully creative carving of the cake to serve up pieces not tainted with variegated molten wax. I must say, the plate of birthday dessert dished up in Ben's honor seemed a little less than appetizing when viewed from this angle...


Dessert over, we moved to the living room for presents, the two key presents being a lego set from Grammy and Tata and the Lord of the Rings Mines of Moria starter set from Games Workshop. The lego set had arrived via the USPS a few days earlier but there was no suspense for Ben - afterall, he'd carefully informed his grandmother of the URL for his birthday gift...ah, birthdays in the 21st century...we didn't have that when I was kid! The girls outfitted him with a lion mask to match Betsy's mouse mask and John Michael gleefully announced "They're chips, Ben! They're chips!" before Ben could even rip the first piece of tape off the can of Pringles presented to Ben by him and David. All in all, I think Ben had a nice birthday. He certainly seemed to enjoy himself (and may have enjoyed himself more if he'd actually had the chance to *play* with his own presents!) and now he is officially NINE. He can relax and enjoy himself....until January 8th when JT turns 10 and the cycle of age angst turns another revolution....

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Death of a Viking Chieftan

JT and Ben spent their morning making paper models of Viking raiding ships. They turned out right cute but when I mentioned to them that their friends had made the same models last year *and* had put them out to sea in a flaming dearth they gained a new zeal for the project. Turns out that Viking chieftans were put in their boats after death, along with their weapons and possessions, and sent out to sea in a fiery tribute to their leadership. Upon gaining this little tidbit of knowledge, the boys quickly set to work making less detailed models, along with cardboard effigies of their own Viking chieftan - Chief Going to a Burning Death and Chief Barney (translated out of the ancient runes to mean Burning).

Here are the raiding ships awaiting the funeral procession. The little cardboard guys are inside.

The ships have been put out to the Tubby Sea (located somewhere around the coast of Norway I'm sure).


Let the burning begin!

Unfortunately, the boats got water-logged and sank before we could get a good fire going.
The end of our Viking Flames of Death experiment.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Eleven - Ay yi yi!

I'm not sure how we got an 11-year-old in the house but it's official now! Miriam began her birthday celebration with the Von Trapp great-grandchildren at a wonderful concert downtown. The tickets were a gift from Muffy and Granddad and her invited guests were Mom and her godmother, Miss. Sally. It was a delightful time! After a dinner of hot buttered noodles and creamed spinach (seems I remember ordering up something similar for my birtdays, met with equally as much skepticism from my own mom...) we broke out the cake and icecream: It took her four tries and lots of spit to get all those candles out!
Opening presents was fun since Miriam is really easy to please - lots of horses, princesses, candy and new shoes!
Miriam stacked up all her gifts in a nice neat little display as she opened them. Here she's showing off the little princess which we finally convinced her could indeed change her clothes without popping off her head (a misconception long ago cultivated by Brother Ben...).
Daddy and Davey watched in a tired little heap from the corner...
And Nehemiah got his nose picked (see, Mom, I told you Adora fits right in with our family!)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

So close to the Turquoise Star..

Well NOW I feel so accomplished as a human being!



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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ADORA! Good-bye to the teenager!! (Hey Nehemiah, that's Mommy's hat!)

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Twins


The boys got matching shirts. They both had a blowout in their Batteries Not Required shirts and so they later changed into their Cranky shirts. The resemblance is astounding, isn't it?!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I survived Chuck E Cheese...

and I want the t-shirt to prove it!! I never go to Chuck E Cheese. The kids know it, my husband knows it and so it has become unwritten law in our household. We need to post it on a sign:

Mom Shall Not Cross the Threshhold of Trashy Pizza Joints With Junky Games and Too Many People With Conflicted Souls

It's the law, it's not to be broken...UNLESS...your neighbor who you have been desperately sharing the love of Christ with for years in hopes that she will get her heathen little butt to church sometime and make herself right with her Maker asks you to go for her 3 yo's birthday party and your family makes up most of the guest list...well, I guess we can break the law for that...

Lucky JT somehow wheedled out of it by snatching up an offer from his neighbor friend to go play tennis for the afternoon. The rest of us loaded into the van, dropped Adora off at her friend's house (all the while singing, "It's beginning to look a lot like adolescence!") and urged the big red dog up the road toward THAT PLACE. I had warned the hostess that there was no way our children were going anywhere near that artificials-infested food and cited the case of the Terrible Hives from several years ago to punctuate my point. She obliged us by ordering just enough pizza to congeal on the table after the 3 people who ventured to eat it quickly gave it up for a non-food item.

I did my best. I threw my heart and soul into it for about the first hour. I especially enjoyed whacking the little moles over their shiny plastic heads with the mini punching bag. Now, THAT'S fun and when someone else is springing for the Chuck E Coins, why not play again?!...er, I mean, why not help David play it a couple of times? And then there was the 3 yo crowd favorite, the mini carousel - whoo whoo, could I ever stand and watch that for an eternity! Of course Philip was in Stim Heaven. On several occasions he checked in stammering something about motorcycles and squishy things and going boom boom boom to knock the other guy off (We discussed in the car on the way home the possibility of Philip one day inadvertently leading a life of crime simply because we pretended to know what in the world he was talking about when he asked us quite sincerely if he could go rob a bank...uh huh, sure honey, have fun with your friends...). The girls spent quite a bit of time stomping on spiders which closely resembled glowing red circles on a soda-sticky floor. That earned them a whopping 5 tickets for about 15 minutes of laborious foot-waggling. Oh the tickets, did I mention the tickets?! I have to say the most fun we had all day was feeding the tickets to the ticket chomper machine. Whoever invented that puppy is a sheer genius! After he ate all our tickets, he spit out receipts which net us a total of 491 points. The pain of it, the agonizingly difficult decision of *which* color plastic ring each girl wanted and how many spiders the boys got to take home. It seemed to be the toughest decisions any of them had made in their short little lifespans, all for the privilege of carrying a pile of stuff from the PLACE to the van, which would then immediately be lost and broken and buried in the bottom of the sofa.

Well, I may not have gotten the t-shirt but I can't say I didn't get anything out of the deal. I did agonize myself a bit and decided on the green ring...looks good on me, doncha think?!


Monday, September 25, 2006

The Big Boy Bed

We lost our big boy bed in the fire. From Kid One we'd been using the under the bed trundle as our transition bed. It was the perfect size for a toddler to climb up fearlessly and the top to floor measurement made Mom and Dad feel safe just in case of a learning-to-sleep-in-a-bed accident. When we replaced Miriam's bed we bought her a pretty little daybed with a trundle underneath, specifically with John Michael in mind. Now JM is very particular about his things. He likes order and he likes things to be just the way he knows them to be so I knew I would need to do some preparing to get him to transition from the crib to the big boy bed. The first night I presented the idea to him of giving Nathan his crib and gaining a big boy bed in the deal he got a panicked look on his face. "No!" he wailed. "This is MYYYYY bed!" He looked around the room and quickly formed an idea in his head - a great idea, "Nathan can have David's bed!" I left him in his crib, knowing that I had at least planted the seed of an idea. A few more times down Idea Alley and he should be a bit more receptive. A few nights later, I presented the idea again. "Soon Nathan can have your little crib and John Michael will get a big boy bed." I expected more of the same, another appeal perhaps to pawn the whole thing off on David or perhaps a cleverly devised stall tactic. Instead, he began to climb out of his crib and happily said, "Ok Nathan can have my bed. I'm going to sleep with Philip." I urged him back into his crib and explained to him that Nathan didn't need his bed for at least a couple more nights... sure wasn't prepared for that quick turnaround anyway! So the very next day we moved beds about the house and now John Michael has his big boy bed and Nathan can snuffle and snort his way through the night all he wants while we remain blessedly unaware of his nocturnal noises.

Friday, September 22, 2006

If You Give a Kid a Lego...

He's going to make something really cool. Here's what JT and Ben were up to in their spare time today:

Ben made this cart w/a battering ram that has a really neat mechanism to make it go out and in and another form of weaponry on top.

JT decided to combine his electronics kit with his legos to make this little lamp in the shape of a house so that the light shines through the front window:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Adora!

We now have two new "family" members living with us. On Sunday, Adora and Nehemiah moved in with us. Nehemiah was born last week while we were on vacation and celebrated his one week birthday yesterday. Adora hopes to stay with us for the next year or so. We are thrilled to have her and her beautiful baby with us! That's Nehemiah on the right and his buddy Nathan on the left. Nathan looks so big now that there's a real newborn around again!

A Birthday for Boo Boo

I can never remember if Betsy's birthday is the 20th or the 21st of September but it worked out better this year on the 21st so the 21st it was...

For her date night she chose to take her good buddy Emma to Chuck E. Cheese with her Dad. Apparently, they had a great time and the best part was, I didn't have to go! We had dinner before they went (Macaroni and Cheese) and cake when they got back. Betsy's latest horse craze is a passion for pintos so I fashioned her one out of chocolate cake and, at her request, iced it with lemon icing. She loved it until after she blew out the candles and tasted it. This here is her "That tastes disgusting, Mom" face. Hey, she picked it out!

After cake and icecream Ben had a special activity planned. He spent a lot of time fashioning this pin the rider on the horse game. He had a jockey and a princess and a few other specialized riders as well. The birthday girl pinned her rider closest to the saddle and won the big prize (I'm not sure what that was - candy, I think, from Ben's personal stash).



She brought in her idea of a good haul on the presents - a princess nightgown, a notebook and fun pen, some candy on the diet and a really cute hamster playset from Emma. She woke up to her new bike sitting in the dining room and spent a good part of the day trying that out.
She stopped opening presents long enough to have a birthday chat with Grammy and Tata. Nathan enjoyed the whole party from this angle...

WELCOME TO 5, BETSY BOO!