Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fall Fun and Christmas Prep

With only the occasional chilly rainfall or foggy morning to remind us that Christmas is almost here, we have been busy creating a Christmasy feel inside our house. At the same time, we've been enjoying the beautiful fall weather outside. In November, we went to the Harvest Festival at our favorite bayou, where the boys were delighted to learn how to turn wool into yarn on a real spinning wheel, make their own candles by dipping a wick into wax, and try out some traditional games like walking on stilts. We even got to see a close-up alligator, who was hanging out in the pond observing us. 

More bayou critters: a spider and a puss moth caterpillar.

We had our own cozy little Thanksgiving dinner with homemade fresh pumpkin pie and a 17 pound turkey! Somehow, that turkey looked a lot smaller in the store than when I brought it home. We ended up freezing a few bags of turkey, but we have already eaten it all.

17 pounds of deliciousness

This is the first time I have ever tried making pumpkin pie from freshly baked pumpkins instead of cans.

The boys love to build elaborate forts with big boxes, blankets, chairs, and furniture. They then set up decoys and hide somewhere in the room, leaving Josh and me to shout "gotcha!" only to turn over an empty box or lift up a blanket that was only covering a pillow. They have become expert hiders!

We also play lots of games, as usual. Bughouse is a lively game that uses two chess sets and involves teams working together. It works well with Sebby.

Sebby made himself a butterfly costume.

Card players

A chess lesson from big brother

A chilly morning

Experimenting with salt water to complete a circuit

Indoor acrobatics. In addition to standing on his head, he tends to somersault from place to place instead of walking. Perhaps we should enroll him in a gymnastics class!

A recent papier mache project: creating a dinosaur landscape.

Misha has recently learned to make pancakes, and he fries them up for the whole family. Both of the boys help with dishes on occasion.

We made our own Ploy game using clay for the pieces.

Beautiful pomegranates!

Rainy day splashing

Misha is such a reader. He usually reads far more than the required 30 minutes of reading per day. At the beginning of the year, his teacher told Misha's class about prizes they receive when they reach certain milestones, such as 250 minutes of total reading, or 500, or 1000 by the end of the year. At the end of the first quarter, she said she has never had a student before Misha who hit 1000 minutes so quickly! He also writes for the school magazine. In the first issue, he wrote an article about what it was like to go to school in Kyrgyzstan:

He also participated in his first Reading Fair, for which he had to make a huge tri-fold board describing the key parts of the book he chose, Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth. We decorated it with his drawings, photos of himself with statues of Poseidon in Rome, Internet pictures of Greek gods, and a giant maze in the background leading to Daedalus in the center. It turned out great!

Sebby's little bike and Misha's unicycle are perfect for enjoying the sidewalks and basketball court around our apartments. They often play with other children outside, many of whom go to Misha's school.

Riding around Bud and Ashley's neighborhood:

Sebby is also becoming a great reader, especially when it comes to Dr. Seuss. All those poems are turning him into a real rhymer, and now he often adds nonsense words and syllables to complete something that he has just said, for the purpose of creating those beautiful rhymes.

For school, he had to draw his 'family tree.' Since Misha had just gotten glasses, Sebby decided to draw everyone with glasses. When drawing the ears to fit around the glasses resulted in very large ears, I suggested that we turn ourselves into monkeys. (I helped him with the bodies.) It's a masterpiece!

One day we discovered Sebby in the bathroom, styling his hair with his fruity blue toothpaste:

A warm day at the park

Fun on our whiteboard

Building with Zoob pieces! Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!

Cavemen meet Zoob robots. Perfectly plausible.

We have now come to the photo collage of our Christmas crafts and activities, in no particular order:

Fudge platters for the kids' schools

Origami and Tree painting

This is the present that Sebby made at school to give to Mommy and Daddy. He was so incredibly excited to bring it home and put it under the tree. Immediately, he said, "I can't tell you what it is! It's a secret!" Then he said, "But you can guess..." I guessed a few things, then decided I should stop lest he give it away. However, he couldn't contain himself, continuing: "OK, it starts with a Sssssss. Ok, I'll just tell you - it's a snow globe!" Luckily, I convinced him not to tell Daddy what it was so that it could be a surprise for at least one person in the house on Christmas. He had of course already told Misha what it was. :)

Rather than buy a tree this year, we decided to create our own from cardboard boxes, which we had in excess. We covered it in green paper, added some green paint for pine needles, and decorated it with ornaments and lights.

Sugar cookies and cocoa with Bud and Ashley!


Painted trees decorated with yarn

Making lots of homemade gifts from clay:

Misha worked diligently on a bead bracelet for Nara

Sebby made many gingerbread men ornaments and ladybug magnets.

Our favorite 3D snowflakes

And the traditional Christmas countdown calendar. Time sneaked up on us this year, so these calendars are a simple 10-day countdown instead of the full month.

Misha's countdown

We inherited a couch from Ashley's dad just in time for Christmas, making the house nice and cozy for the big day. 

This year for Christmas, we are joined by Grandma Kate. Stay tuned!