Sunday, December 30, 2012

Foxy Fox: Crafty Aunt Laura's present to Hannah

Check out the super cute fox pillow that Aunt Laura made for Hannah for Christmas! Hannah opened it when it arrived a few days before Christmas and spent a good 20 minutes squeezing it in a full body hug repeatedly exclaiming about its super cuteness. I have a record of my two favorite lines since I was texting them to Laura while it was happening:

1. In response to me telling her that it's time for a bath: "This fox is so cute I cannot stop hugging it and that's why I can't take a bath."

2. And my personal favorite: "I'm about to cry because it's so cute. Sometimes when you cry it's because something is so cute."

I took some video of her loving up on her fox, but since the video is longer than 6 seconds, I have no easy way of getting it off my phone, and anyway, she is not wearing pants and ends up flashing the camera in the last scene, sooooo....that's not really for public viewing unless I can figure out how to crop the end.

She has been sleeping with the fox since then, and every night she asks "why" questions: "Why does it have buttons for eyes?" "Why does it have this white on its ears?" "What is this nose?" "Why does it have these circles?" She's not critical; just very curious.

My reply is that that that's the way Aunt Laura designed it according to her own artistic vision. We've been talking a lot lately about how everything in life had to be designed by someone....Artists are everywhere!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas day in the 'hood

This is the first year that Hannah anticipated Christmas and spent the entire month asking when she could open presents. In spite of that, I wasn't sure she'd wake up that morning and remember, but she did. The night before we set up her new easel in the dining room and wrapped it loosely in holiday paper so it'd be the first thing she saw when she came downstairs. Of course, this was the one morning that she came down the stairs and turned toward the living room instead of the dining room...She beelined for the basement stairs and just as she was getting ready to sprint down to wake up Joel, Amy, and Justin, she caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of her eye, turned her head, froze, and said, "hey! What's that?"

We let her unwrap that one before breakfast.

We opened the rest of the presents after Granpah and Grannah arrived. Hannah donned a hand-me-down Santa sweater and happily handed out the gifts.

Present opening does not always yield the best shots, but I love how serious she is in this one, with her tongue pushed forward and everything. The kid has always had a tongue thing. Of course, when she was little, it was just always hanging out of her mouth like a member of Kiss. These days it just pushes to the front when she's concentrating on something, like unwrapping a travel size Hungry, Hungry Hippo from Aunt Amy and Uncle Joel.

Grammy took Hannah shopping earlier this month to pick out presents for me and Eric. While they were out and about, they found the below lovey for baby brother.

While I was in jury duty last week, Eric and Hannah putzed around The Avenue and picked out funny presents for everyone including these rock star sunglasses for Uncle Justin.

I love this one of Hannah modeling her new tool belt and safety goggles and I also love the one after it...I tried, but I couldn't pick just one.

Remember in my last post how I said Hannah got everyone a present from the Original Works fundraiser her school did? Well, Joel got the t-shirt that he is modeling in the pic below. (Amy and Uncle Justin got an iPhone cover; Grannah got a mouse pad; and Granpah got a travel mug.) He is also modeling one of the fake mustaches from the pack that Hannah and Eric picked out for Granpah while putzing around the 'hood.

Hannah briefly tried on the Lorax-looking mustache.

Yay! Wooden cabin building logs from Uncle Justin! 

Group mustache shot! (Hannah pulled off hers pretty quick, but we put her in the pic anyway.)

Shortly before 5:00, we bundled up and walked down to 34th Street to see the lights. Hannah rode her balance bike and posed like quite the biker chic.

This was Amy's first visit to the lights so I hopped on the other side of the camera to commemorate it.

I swear that the last time we had both the brothers around for the holiday, we all walked down to the lights, and I took a pic of the Kellogg boys with Hannah. I can't remember if it was for her first Christmas in 2009 or her second in 2010, but neither made it here in 2011 so it wasn't then. Because she was so little in that pic, and because neither of the brothers made it here last year, I wanted another pic and I wanted to link to the old pic so we could compare, but I can't find it in my archives anywhere. I don't get it--I know it exists...but where??? I have a mental image; sorry I can't share it! Anyway, here's the one from this year.

Happy holidays from Hampden!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy birthday to Eric and the first of three Christmas celebrations

Eric opted to share his birthday with Christmas number one (of three total) at my brother's house because he liked the option of being able to play outside at Chip's house (though it turned out to be brutally cold and windy) and also because he loves everything about Christmas and is always happy to share his birthday with anything holiday-related. Hannah and I wanted to make sure he had some special birthday-only time though so we made him breakfast (maple sausage and egg breakfast burritos) and double coconut muffins for dessert. We sang happy birthday, and then, after licking the last of the coconut from our fingers, we presented him with presents.

Hannah bought him The Avett Brothers newest CD which both Eric and I have been coveting since it came out a few months ago. We also got him a new front pocket wallet and the zip-up hooded sweatshirt that I picked up at the Charm City Craft Mafia Holiday Heap.

After a proper celebration, we packed up the car and drove to Chip's. Mason woke up shortly after we got there, and Eric immediately went in for a little baby time. I think he's getting excited about the idea of having a baby around again.

Hannah's school had an awesome fundraiser this year through a company called Original Works. The kids draw a picture using markers, and then they're sent home with the picture they drew plus a catalog. Eric and I went through the catalog and picked out a present for Hannah to give to everyone. Grammy got an apron. Judging by her face, I'd say she liked it.

In addition to the second Otis book, we ordered a real leather kid-size tool belt, a real miniature hammer, and real miniature safety goggles for Clay from For Small Hands, a catalog of Montessori child-size tools, learning toys, and games. We also got him the train and truck kit to build. (We got Hannah all of that stuff too, but she opened her stuff today, not Saturday, so that's a different post.) Clay loved his tool belt. He put it on immediately and wore it around for quite a while.

We got Mason a miniature trampoline which Hannah and Clay helped him open it.

Clay helped Uncle Eric build his little brother's trampoline.

The trampoline was a hit, though getting them to jump one at a time was no easy task.

Grammy got the grandkids ViewMasters and a ton of reels. I didn't realize they even made those anymore! She found a blue one for Hannah and red for Clay. We haven't made it through all the reels yet, but we've gotten through quite a few. Chip got Hannah Brave, the movie, which she was obviously thrilled with. It kept her entertained on the car ride home later that day.

After all the presents were opened, we settled in on the couch to read Otis....twice. It's a hit. I love those books. I wouldn't mind having them for Hannah. The stories are great and so are the illustrations.

The biggest highlight of the day was the itty bitty kitty. A cat moved into Chip's house over the summer, and he took it in, semi reluctantly. Then a couple of weeks ago, that cat had two babies, one of which did not make it. Hannah LOVED the kitty, and so did Eric, though he was less verbal about it.

Both spent a ton of time with the kitty on their lap, and yesterday as we were getting out of the car at the grocery store, Eric said "Where do you think we can find a baby kitty on Christmas Eve?"  I just laughed. Babies are fun, and I would LOVE to have a little kitty, but let's just get through the next human baby first before taking in other baby animals....

Later that night Hannah kicked Kaya out of her bed, saying she only wanted a baby kitty to sleep with her. Poor Yaya!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hannah's first dance recital

I didn't bother bringing my camera to Hannah's dance recital last weekend because of the no-flash rule. I figured that in a dark setting like that, no flash would yield blurry, un-postable pics. It wasn't as dark as I'd anticipated though, and fortunately, Sondra brought her iPad, which, even without a flash, managed to take some halfway decent shots. I'm not a big fan of Apple ever since owning one of their laptops in the years after college and fighting with it the entire time, but one thing I covet about those products is their cameras....

The Holiday Diversion program included dances to The Nutcracker, Christmas songs like Rudolph and Frosty, and some other random songs with ballet, tap, and modern dance routines. Hannah's class played the part of the mice in The Nutcracker and had a tap dance-off with another class who played soldiers. The kids were beyond adorable. Most of them had no clue what they were doing, and it was the cutest thing ever. Hannah came out and spent more time trying to pick us out of the audience than dancing. I felt bad because in spite of the fact that we were front and center, she didn't see us until she came out at the end for her bow. I spent the rest of the performance wrought with anxiety over the possibility of her thinking that we weren't there watching.

As far as I could tell, she didn't have any stage fright. Below is a pic of when they first came out and found their tape. They stared at each other for a while until their teacher stood up and helped guide them through their tap moves.

Hannah is front and center in this one so you should be able to pick her out. I think they were supposed to scurry through the soldiers...

She was in a better position for photographing when she came out for her bow. Look how cute they are in their little mouse costumes! Their teacher is a one-woman show. She makes all the costumes, runs the studio, teaches all the classes, choreographs all the dance moves, organizes the whole performance, etc.....

This next pic was taken shortly after she spotted us in the audience. She's mouthing the words "mom," "dad," and "grammy" and waving. (She hadn't yet discovered my dad and Sondra sitting on the other side of me.)

Shannon made this perfect little bouquet for me to give to Hannah after the show. She added blue thistle both for texture and because it's Hannah's favorite color.

After the performance the whole audience hovered around waiting for the dancers to get out of their costumes and come out. I'm not thrilled with how that whole scene went down. Fortunately my mom was standing up near the backstage door and caught Hannah as she came out. I was standing back a bit, trying not to crowd the door. I figured I'd see her backstage mom and would beeline to the front then, but her and a few other girls came out without their backstage mom, and they're so short that they just stood there all bewildered by the crowd of strange faces. I felt guilty about not being closer for days and vow to handle that differently should there be a next time. In the meantime, grammy saved the day and scooped her up.

I gave her a big hug and her bouquet, and Sondra snapped some more pictures.

Then we walked back to the house (the recital was right around the corner), and Hannah hung out with pappy and grandma Sondra for a few minutes while I whipped up some dinner and then hurried her off to bed.

We ordered a DVD so if anyone is interested in seeing her brief little mouse dance, stop by in about 6 weeks.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two Belles: Amy and Hannah play dress-up

I wanted to post pics from Hannah's dance recital tonight, but I'm wiped out after an entire day of jury duty (in spite of the fact that I spent the whole time sitting/laying on a couch and even took two naps). Then I remembered that I have these cute pics of Amy and Hannah that I still haven't posted, and voila: a blog post that doesn't require much energy is born!

Joel flew in from New Zealand late on Wednesday night of last week, and after resting up in a hotel room for the night with Amy, the two headed for us in Baltimore. The second they walked in Hannah took Amy up to her room and both found Belle costumes. Hannah's was an impulse buy at a consignment shop when we bought her tap shoes. Amy's is my junior year prom dress that I keep around only because it seems like a fun thing for Hannah to play with.

The two Belle's paraded downstairs--Amy with a red boa that Laura brought back from New Orleans wrapped around her head as a crown of roses--and posed for pictures.

And then they read a book because Belle loves to read, and because Hannah had had library time at school that day so she had a new book.

There was also a parade that involved them marching around playing musical instruments, but I'd put the camera down at this point.

After dress-up, Hannah and Joel built a bear fort in the basement and stayed there for a couple of hours while Amy and I worked. That was a little harder to get pictures of so you'll have to use your imagination. Rest assured that it was beyond cute and that Hannah loved having two of her favorite playmates around for the day.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bunnies for your tree!

Hannah picked out a cookie cutter for this year's holiday ornament when we visited Amish country this summer. She opted for a bunny. So far, her choice cookie cutters have been very Easter-ish (last year was a duck).

On the first weekend in December, while I was making pancakes, Hannah and Eric mixed up some salt dough using this recipe. Those two were pretty eager to set up the Christmas tree so after stamping out a few bunnies, I took over the assembly line and filled two cookie sheets with bunnies.

We baked them at our oven's lowest temperature for a LONG time which kept them from bubbling up like last year's ornaments (awesome tip from the mama at The Imagination Tree).

That evening, while I made dinner, Hannah started painting. We used acrylic paint this year so we covered the table and Hannah in plastic in an attempt to control the potential damage.

Her painting this year was much more thorough than last year, and rather than using a variety of colors on each bunny (like she did with the ducks), she covered each bunny in just one color.

The painting process went pretty quickly, probably because she's had a lot of practice at this point. I should take a picture of the wall that runs from our dining room to our kitchen to illustrate just how much practice she's had....we call it Hannah's gallery because it's covered in her art. She comes home from school with a new painting almost every day, and every day, we tape it to the wall. Some people think this is crazy, but I think it's fun. I don't plan on keeping all this stuff forever, and I don't hang it there because I'm overtly proud of my kid and think she's the next Picasso or anything; I really just think it's fun. The wall was boring and empty before because I never got around to decorating (beyond painting the walls), and I love the insanity and kitchiness of wall full of preschooler paintings. I like a house that's lived in. So the bunny painting happened pretty quickly....

The decorating, however, has taken weeks. Hannah tired of glittering them pretty quickly. We still have about 15 un-fancy bunnies patiently awaiting their turn to be fancified. I gave up on having a picture of them all "finished" and took a picture of what we had on Saturday morning so I could start passing these suckers out. Last year I didn't get most of them out until after the holidays and by then everyone had put away their Christmas stuff so this year, nobody knows where their ducks are. Anyway, our dining room table has been bunny central for long enough, and I'm ready to take it back.

I picked out my favorite bunny for our tree, and, lucky for me, Hannah was okay with letting me pick. She happily found a place for our bunny and then offered to pose with it while giving me her latest weirdo "smile" face.

It'll be fun to see how many salt dough ornaments cover our tree 20 years from now....maybe when she's older she'll opt for a non-salt dough ornament to mix things up a bit...Either way, a decade or two down the line, I should have a tree full of original ornaments (and so should a number of you if you keep them), and that is something awesome to look forward to.