Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Morning

The wrapping induced whirlwind that was christmas morning came and went in all its glory leaving Jennifer and I to ponder about the vast amount of work that went into something that is over so quickly. This year we prepped the kids on Christmas Eve, telling them that they couldn't come and wake us up until they saw at least a little bit of light outside before they come and wake us up. That plan worked for the most part leading to a 6:15 wake up call at our door- not too bad! Jennifer and I went downstairs to get the camera ready and turn lights on and down they came eyes popping. We laid some ground rules that we were going to actually look at each present after we open it before we open another one.
That went well for the first few presents. After that it seemed to spiral into a free-for-all.
About the time we were done opening presents, Jennifer had some hot cinnamon rolls ready. The rest of the day was spent opening boxes and helping the kids with new toys, surprisingly tiring in and of its self, and eating, lots of eating. IT WAS AWESOME.
It culminated with Christmas dinner, (with the Ward's this year) where the spread was immense. Everyone ate so much we really didn't get around to doing dessert.
Now only 363 days left to save up for the next one.

Jammie Eve

As tradition, the kids (mommy and daddy too) open new pajamas each christmas eve. Of course they are very excited about wearing their new pj's to bed. We always snap a few shots with all the cousins as well. This year Lizzie was very excited about her Tinkle Bell pj's

while Trev was sporting his army camo jammies,

and Logan in his pirates jammies
and of course Jackson as Jack-Jack Incredible (he refused to take a picture). Christmas excitement hit its peak about this time and the boys had to let it out with some wrestling, much to their mothers, who was newly clad in black leopard print jammies, (yowzer!), chagrin.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Last Christmas Concert

My sister, Mica, gave us a special treat for the Christmas season. She sang in her last High School Christmas concert on December 18th. She sang beautifully and performed so well. She and all her singing friends are so lovely to watch - they sway with the music and almost dance to the beat. You can really see how much they love what they are doing.

The night brought back so many good memories for all of us, her siblings, that have sung for the Clovis High Choirs. Her teacher, Mr. Lanford, also taught most of us Duran kids when we went to Clark Jr. High. He is such a good man with such an infectious passion for music and song. We all loved singing for him and were happy to see him again.

The Chamber Choir traditionally began this concert by singing Carol of the Bells from a unique spot in the church. This year they were up in the balcony. They were like angels singing above the crowd! (The pictures are not so great because we were down so far, but that is Mica above and her good friend Luz to the left.)

Here's the whole group - the Chamber Singers. Their Silent Night piece was my favorite! (If I can figure out how to post the video - you'll get one of their Latin pieces too.)
Here are all of Mica's adoring fans that came to watch that night!

When did Mr. Lanford grow a goatee?

It was a great concert. Thanks for the great show and all the fond memories!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sledding at the Tenaya

The hills were fast and furious at the Tenaya. Well not quite. The kids still had fun though.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Time at the Tenaya

For the past few years, we have gone with the other Ward family up to the Tenaya Lodge just outside of Yosemite to spend a night prior to Christmas. This year the Christophersons joined us as well. Being as there are 13 kids between the three families plus a couple of friends that always come along, we always leave our mark where ever we go.
The kids really look forward to the trip not only because they get to stay in a hotel, but because they get to play in the snow and go swimming at the same place. There wasn't much snow there when we arrived, but it started coming down the next day. As it turned out, there was just enough snow to go sledding and have a few snow ball fights. All the kids (with the exception of Jackson) went ice skating as well, their first time on a ice rink. Trevor and Logan roller blade periodically around the backyard, so they got around all right. Lizzie wasn't so into the ice skating thing, a couple of times around the rink and that was enough for her. Jennifer (aka Oksana Baiul) floated around the ice like graceful swan (or something like that). Logan was more into the crashing then the skating. It was fun to watch. After getting chilled on the rink we headed back into the lodge to hit the pool and spa. The boys discovered the steam room and camped out in there for as long as I would let them. Trevor said as he was basking with his towels draping his body, "Ahh, this is just what I needed". Cheesenut.
The part that Jennifer and I look forward to the most is just hanging out with the adults around the fireplace in the big lobby and talking and playing games. This year we had some added entertainment when the Tenaya was hosting the Chukchansi tribe and its casino employees for a christmas party. Hundreds of people were there all dressed up in formal attire. As the night wore on, it was apparent that some people had a little too much to drink. Two women got into a fight right next to the lobby where we were visiting and had to be handcuffed and taken off by the Fresno Sheriffs. Some visitors from Australia who also witnessed the event asked us if it was always like this around here. We commented that it wasn't, unfortunately, because that was exciting! I always did love a good cat fight.

Tenaya Slideshow

Monday, December 17, 2007

Not My Gum Drop Buttons!

Run run as fast as you can, before Jackson slimes you with his icing and saliva laced hand!

So Logan has been wanting to make ginger bread cookies for a week or so now since he read a story with his class about, you guessed it, the ginger bread man.

It took some coaxing but Jennifer agreed. Not because she couldn't, she did a heck of a job with the cookies, they were the best I have ever tasted. (Although admittedly we don't delve into foods involving ginger often)

Mostly because the process of making ginger bread cookies stinks...literally. I mean when was the last time you smelled molasses? Honestly, who ever decided that molasses, vinegar, ground cloves and ginger should be combined for a sweet treat? Probably the same person that after tasting their creation decided that the product was better suited for home siding (thus the ginger bread house) then actual food.

Lizzie would check the oven during the cooking process often to make sure no cookies were moving around, it was quite cute. Anyhow, the decorating of the ginger bread cookies was a messy hit. We had Emma, Maddy and Ben over to help us with the decorating as well. Emma, Maddy and Lizzie were quite meticulous with their icing and decorating of their cookies.

Trevor, Logan and Ben were more into "abstract" decorating, that is to say sprinkle and coat things all over the place and they take on a form of art in and of themselves. It was quite fun to watch.
The only one not enjoying himself was Jackson. This was mainly due to the fact that he kept trying to "jack" everyone else's cookies and was sternly told by the whole group, "No No Jackson!" (See the picture above of him feeling sorry for himself) He got over it though once he found the icing bowl and began to turn himself into a ginger bread man.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Clovis Christmas Electric Parade

(Sorry guys…I don’t know how to make a slide show yet, so you’re going to get a lot of pictures on one post.)

We did the Clovis Christmas Parade! We love this event because it’s at night and all the float and parade entrants are lit with thousands of twinkle lights. The kids get all bundled up and get to eat junk to their hearts’ content.

Here’s the play for the evening:

Jeremy and I went out before the parade for his brother’s birthday dinner. Jordan and Stephanie eagerly agreed to babysit before the parade. (I don’t know if they’ll want to do it again though, it was A LOT of work.) They were awesome! They cooked dinner, fed it to the kids, cleaned up the dinner mess, played with the kids, dressed them in warm clothes and changed Jackson’s diaper – ew! Stephanie even heated up enough water for our hot chocolate at the parade. Man she’s awesome!

We got home just in time to go to the parade. We threw all the kids in the car and headed on our way to Clovis and 5th Ave. Jordan and Stephanie followed behind in the truck to get a small break from our kids for a minute. Dad was on duty and he arranged our parking for the evening. We had to pass through one barricade and another police officer, but we had the magic password, “My dad is Louie Duran” and they whisked us right through. We pulled into the Shell Station parking lot and Dad said we could park right there. It was 20 feet from where we sat! Sooooo nice! It's nice to have connections - thanks Dad!

We had a nice time waving to all the floats, pretty cars and twinkle lights. The best float was a guy riding some generator powered homemade bike thing with Mickey and Minnie on a teeter totter with cool 70's speakers attached to the sides blasting music. It was definitely home spun, but also the best. My favorite is the grandma and grandpa that ride the ferris wheel looking swing that spins in the middle of the street. That one is pictured below.
We had hot chocolate, Almond Roca, popcorn, cookies and candy. Lizzie's hot chocolate mustache is too cute! How's that popcorn, Marcos?
We were only missing Samuel and Mica. Where were they? And Thomas is the only one I did not get a picture of. Sorry Toe-mas.

Merry Christmas Clovis - thanks for the parade!

Heart of the Bear

Trevor earned his first Cub Scout award! He is officially a Bobcat. He had to learn the scout oath, motto, handshake and law in order to receive this first merit badge.

The pack meeting ceremony was very cool. They’d been learning about Indians, Indian crafts and their symbol writing. So the pack meeting was decorated in an Indian theme. Sister Moon totally outdid herself. She made a “campfire” for the boys to sit around during the meeting. A real teepee was set up in the background. There were signs set up for each rank advancement. And the best was the costume Brother Moon wore. He looked like a real Indian chief with his leather shirt, pants, stick, hat and boots.
Trevor, as the youngest member of the troop, was the first to receive his award. He was first given his Indian name, “Heart of the Bear” and then got his markings on his cheeks. They presented him with his own leather headband and his Bobcat patch. His face does not show his pride or enthusiasm, but he was thrilled!

Pack 33. (From L to R) Trevor, Sister Fletcher, Jacob, Ethan, Cordell, Brother Moon, Grant, Alex and Seth.

The night ended with some “authentic Indian food” for the refreshments. They really served all these foods:
They also brought some rice krispy snacks for those of us that were too chicken to try the Indian food – whew!

Grandpa Louie, Grandma Elizabeth and Auntie Mica came to cheer him on. It was a good night. We are so proud of our good boy. He is so happy while he makes such good choices. What more could a parent ask for?