December 29, 2009

Early Christmas

We saved lots of money on our ski trip because we checked out on Christmas Day. We celebrated our "Christmas morning" with both families, a big breakfast, and presents on Christmas Eve. Before we even left for the trip, I explained to Claire that we'd be doing Christmas and Santa presents in Snowshoe and early on Christmas Eve. She thought for a minute then said seriously, "Well, Jesus could have been born on Christmas Eve, right, Gray?"

Claire's big present from Santa (or us as she always likes to remind) was a digital camera. I thought she'd enjoy one of her own; however, I never realized how much. She didn't put it down for the rest of the trip.Eventually we had to restrict her use of flash photography around the little one. We figured several hundred, up-close flashes in the course of one day couldn't be helpful for developing eyes.

Good Snow

Since the snow and skiing were so good, Dale and Deb couldn't resist getting out on the slopes. They proved to themselves and to everyone that they've still got it--at least for one day.Dad skied in his signature, leather, wide-brimmed hat and jeans. He said he didn't need ski bibs this time because he wouldn't fall down. He was close to being right.On the final afternoon of skiing, Claire and I found these cute, snow creatures near one of the chairlifts.

More Snow

We bundled up on a pretty afternoon for some family pictures out in the snow. It's an ordeal to get Hamilton in his snowsuit, and he doesn't enjoy the getting in. Once he's in, he likes it; and I'm sure he likes being warm. Mimi and Pops pose with the grandkids. And, Pops enjoys an opportunity to wear his "mother-Russia" hat, which is actually from Romania.Here's part of the clan in front of our townhouse.Little Hamilton is a sweet snow bunny, and we loved snapping lots of photos of him in the snow.
Our whole group met near the slopes after a full day of skiing. Joe was taking most of the pictures, but everyone else is pictured (from left): Travis, Hamilton, Dale, me with Claire in front, Mr. Morgan, Deb, Spencer, and Judy.

Newest Trick

Hamilton's newest trick is rolling over from his tummy to his back. I first saw him do this trick while we were on vacation at Snowshoe. Since he can so easily remedy his situation, "tummy time" isn't nearly so awful--or so lengthy.I caught Hamilton's rolling over on video, which wasn't hard to do. Since he prefers his back, he predictably rolls over now every time he's placed on his tummy.

It's a Boy!

Congratulations to the Kochs!


The huge snowstorm that hit the Northeast was music to our ears, since we were headed to West Virginia to enjoy some snowskiing before Christmas. Claire was mesmerized by all the snow that started showing in small patches once we crossed into North Carolina. With every mile closer, the snow got deeper; however, the snow had actually fallen several days prior, so the roads were clear. We arrived in Snowshoe, W. Va., just after 6 pm. Claire was so excited to see and touch the snow. As soon as we located our townhouse, she bundled up and headed outside to play in the 25-degree, foggy weather.The next day brought clearer skies, so we were able to enjoy skiing. Claire was a quick learner, and Travis and I felt right at home in our skis, though it had been several years since we'd skied.Mr. Morgan had never skied before, but he picked it up quickly. While you may think his rainbow hat was the last of the remaining headgear in Deb's trunk of ski clothes, it was his first choice. Deb purchased the hat nearly 40 years ago out in Colorado on another ski trip. Travis and I as kids made fun of the hat, but Mr. Morgan wears it well.We enrolled Claire in ski school on the afternoon of our first day. She doesn't take instruction well from either of us--I'm hoping it's her age, so we thought a cool ski instructor might make some headway during the three-hour lesson. She loved ski school, especially skiing with other kids, and she learned a lot. Her "report card" gave her high marks in nearly all the categories, and the instructor included "loves to ski" in his hand-written comments. We found the ski schoolers at one of the chairlifts, and I was able to get Claire's picture in her red, ski-school jersey.

December 28, 2009

Away in a Manger

The children's choir also performed at the church Christmas dinner, and Claire was super excited to be singing. She's the girl in red closest to the camera. They sweetly sang Away in a Manger, and because I was close to Abby Koch during their performance, my video also picked up Abby's contribution.

Jingle Bells

Claire practiced for weeks on the piano, perfecting her rendition of Jingle Bells. She performed at the church Christmas dinner along with many other talented musicians from our church. She didn't seem nervous one bit. When I told her the order of performers for the evening, with shock and incredulity that she wasn't up first, she replied, "Second?!"

Once I assured her that she'd be the first kid performing, she was satisfied. She played beautifully, and everyone loved her song choice, giving her a raucous round of applause afterward.

Christmas Partying

The Johnsons threw a fun Christmas party the other week, inviting folks in our small group plus other friends. The womenfolk congregated in the kitchen at first, especially since Christie was making everyone candy-cane cocktails. Enjoying the delicious holiday-themed drinks, here are a few of the women (from left): me, Jenny, Morgan, Hardee, Christie, and Christy.Hamilton and Arthur Johnson are great friends, despite what may look like Arthur's biting Hamilton's fingers or Hamilton's clawing at Arthur's mouth.Under the tree for picture time, both boys get a little payback.Posed under the tree, here are the boys from small group (from left): Grady, Hamilton, Arthur, and West. Hamilton is wearing his cutest Christmas outfit that his Mimi gave him. Mr. Morgan was not a huge fan of the sweet collar and delicate smocking, but I assured him that even boys wear these sorts of outfits when they're little.

December 27, 2009

So Much to Tell

The last three weeks have been packed with going to parties, baking food, Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, vacationing, visiting family and friends, and driving hundreds of miles. The worst has been my inability to blog: I have so many posts in my head and hundreds of pictures to comb through. I've finally finished unpacking and settling back into the house today, so tomorrow will be a BIG blog day. I've got Hamilton updates, Claire-isms, and snowy pictures galore!

December 8, 2009

On a Drum Roll

Yesterday after I picked up Claire from school--all my "Claire-isms" start like this, for she is always so talkative then--she told me she likes that I'm one of the last parents to come for pick-up. She and I have discussed many times how I don't like to sit in the traffic cluster at the school, so I come toward the end of the pick-up time to avoid the jam.

Well, yesterday I didn't think I had come as late as I sometimes do, so I asked Claire why so few kids were left at that earlier time. She replied quickly, "The fifth-graders were on a drum roll--"

"A what?" I interjected.

"A drum roll--they were picked up so fast today!"

December 6, 2009

Christmas Decorating

We finally brought our Christmas tree into the house and decorated it. It's sat for over a week in the backyard in a bucket of water, and Claire's been asking to decorate the tree for days. She declared decorating the tree is the favorite part of her holiday.

After my requisite, Sunday-afternoon nap, Mr. Morgan put the tree in the stand, and I turned on the Christmas tunes. Quickly Celine Dion wore on Mr. Morgan's ears, but Andrew Peterson revived him along with the homemade hot cocoa and goodies.Since I like natural-looking Christmas trees, our tree tends to look wild and crazy--yes, it's supposed to look like that.
Our stockings are hung by the fireplace with care; I still need to get one for little Hamilton.

December 5, 2009

The Hearty Whites

Yesterday as Claire and I were coming home from school I told her about our busy upcoming afternoon. We had a few precious minutes once we got home to get dressed in nice clothes and head to our family portrait appointment. Since I wasn't sure how late we'd be getting home, I told Claire she could have a hearty snack. (Usually she gets a small snack, so she's more likely to be really hungry for dinner--no matter what it is.) She then asked if she could have two bagel halves (instead of her usual one), since dinner would be later than normal. "Yes, Claire, that's what 'hearty' means--bigger, more substantial," I said.

After a moment of thinking, she said, "So why do you call them the Hardee-Whites?"

Stifling a small laugh, I replied, "Miss Amanda's last name before she got married was 'Hardee.' So she and Mr. Alex together are the Hardee-Whites. It'd be like people calling us the Taylor-Morgans."

Claire interjected seriously, "But no one would do that because it doesn't sound good."

"Yeah," I agreed, "but we just started calling them the Hardee-Whites as a joke and it kinda stuck."

"Well, I don't get the joke," Claire said, "I mean, Miss Amanda and Mr. Alex aren't big or anything."

Five Months Old

Today is Hamilton's five-month birthday. I just gave him a bath, so he doesn't have any duds on yet. The last month has really flown by, and we've hit some major milestones. He's enjoying solid foods now; he's liked everything I've given him including bananas, prunes, rice cereal, apples, sweet potatoes, and peas. So far I've got him trained not to put his hands in his food or mouth while he's eating, so meal time is not nearly as messy as I'd imagined. We'll see how long that lasts. His neck muscles are getting stronger, so tummy time is not nearly so frightful. He's still making lots of noise, and he always smiles without fail when I sing to him--even silly songs.

Ernie Irvan

Former NASCAR driver Ernie Irvan and his wife live in the Charleston area. I guess this news might be exciting to racing fans, but this latest debacle will not make his wife and him popular with most folks. And, the Irvans won't fare well going against the popular CSA program.

December 4, 2009

Wake Up Baby!

Claire is part of a gifted-and-talented program at her school called SAIL. Her big project this semester for SAIL is an invention; they're learning about problem-solving and other inventors. She's still working to determine a good idea for an invention, but her imagination came up with this crazy invention that involves having a bucket fall on my head so my scream wakes up the baby.A. Mother walks in room
B. steps on wheel and axle skateboard which has stick on it
C. stick knoks over bucket with bowling ball in it
D. Bowling ball falls on ballon
E. balloon pops
F. causing grape under ballon to hit target
G. Bird on boot flies over to grape
H. string on bird attached to boot, boot kicks egg
I. egg falls on cat
J. cat screams
K. scream scares mouse
L. Mouse bumps into conveyor belt button
M. conveyor belt with golf ball goes really fast
N. Golf ball flies over to bucket
O. Bucket falls on Mother's head
P. Mom screams
Q. baby wakes up ready to be fed.

Picking Our Tree

Our last activity at the farm was picking our Christmas tree. It's a little bittersweet that Dale no longer sells Christmas trees, but a relaxing Thanksgiving is worth it. And, we still get our pick of the farm.This fun, wild tree is still in a bucket of water in our backyard. Claire is hopeful we'll have time for decorating this weekend.

The Wedding

The bride requested we be at the church for pictures by 2 pm sharp. I was not surprised when two of the honorary bridesmaids (and cousins of the bride) sounded like they'd be late when I talked with them at 1:15. I was surprised to find everyone in the large family and extra-large extended family ready for pictures when he was supposed to be. Since I arrived a few minutes early, I was able to capture two-year-old Livie with her hair still in rags.
Mollie Brooke was a beautiful and laid-back bride.The big house was decorated beautifully in a fall theme. With all the old and cold people stuffed inside, we were thankful for the toasty fires in the yard.Hamilton was prepared for the cold, outdoor reception with his ski hat.My longtime friend Vanessa Stumbo, a fellow honorary bridesmaid and nursing mother, retreated with me to a deserted upstairs bedroom to feed our hungry babies during the reception. Mr. Morgan enjoyed the red wine with Tyler, a fellow honorary-bridesmaid's-husband.Mollie Brooke and Matt, the happy couple, enjoyed an after-party at Sports Break (where Matt manages and tends bar), since they weren't headed off to the honeymoon until the following day.

Four Generations

After several occasions of having four Taylor generations together, we finally got a picture.And folks are still saying Hamilton looks like Grandma--which makes her so proud and happy!Here's the Taylor clan (minus Claire). Our Thanksgiving was really more fun and satisfying than the sullen, sour expressions indicate.

Thanksgiving Bliss

Thanksgiving week spent on the farm was wonderfully low-key. I had tons of help with Hamilton, and I didn't have to cook and plan all the meals or clean (or think about cleaning) the house. My list of things I'm thankful for is long, and near the top was my "free" week when I was able to blog as much as I usually want to blog.

Thanksgiving at the farm was smaller than some years--and quieter for sure without Claire. Mr. Morgan fried our Thanksgiving turkey. He and the Taylor men had an elaborate setup.
Deb also put Travis to work in the kitchen making dinner rolls. I think kneading the dough is his favorite part. The rolls turned out to be delicious.
Though it was Hamilton's first Thanksgiving, he didn't have any turkey or dressing. Mashed bananas and apples were his dinner.