Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas - Part 4 (Day after Christmas)

On the day after Christmas, we went my Grandad's house. He lives about 1 1/2 hours away and we don't get to see him as often as we would like. My aunt moved in there during the last year or so of my Mammaw's life and she has been there with my Grandad, too. It is such a comfort to know that he has someone with him and that he isn't lonely.

The best part of or Christmas visits out here is the snow machine that my aunt has. It doesn't put out real snow - you put a soap solution into it and it puts out little soap suds that look like snow. It may seem a little hoaky to those of you that have a nice thick blanket of snow on your front lawn right now, but for those of us that may see a dusting of snow once or twice a year, it is pretty exciting.
Gavin REALLY liked the "snow" He kept going right up to where the snow came out and he was covered in soap suds. He was also VERY upset when we came inside.

We had such a wonderful Christmas this year. With everyone getting married and spreading out over the country, I was so happy to be able to see ALL of my family this year. It made for a busy couple of days, but I can't think of any other way to do it. I love spending time with the ones I love on Christmas.

Christmas - Part 3 (Christmas Day)

On Christmas Day, after all of the morning festivities, we went over to my in-law's house. My mother in law smocked these adorable outfits for the kids. They looked so cute in them and I was excited to be able to put them in them.
We had a wonderful lunch after we arrived to their house. My mother-in-law is a great cook and I always love what she fixes. I like how she breaks away from the traditional Christmas meal. We had a very yummy Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole. I definitely need to get that recipe! After dinner, the girls went back to the kitchen to make dessert. We had a cupcake Christmas Tree that Mikayla decorate with M&Ms.

It turned out cute didn't it!

After we prepared the dessert, we all gathered together and opened presents. My mother-in-law made some wonderful presents along with the ones that she purchased. She bought each of the kids a teddy bear and knitted sweaters for the bears to wear. She also knitted some sweaters for each of the kids. A special gift that she gave to me was an artist rendition of a favorite photo of mine (it's the top one). It turned out so nice - I have hung it in my bedroom so that I can see it every day. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by such thoughtful and loving family members.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas - Part 2 (Christmas morning)

The kids let us sleep in until 7:30am. Luckily, Mikayla isn't quite old enough to have the eagerness to wake up at the crack of dawn due to the pure excitement of what Santa brought her yet. She came in our room and could hardly stand for us to take the 5 minutes it took to step out of bed and get her little brother out of his bed.

Mikayla was so excited to get a little mouse at the bottom of her stocking. Yes a mouse. She had seen the mouse at our church bookstore about 3 months ago. I had told her she couldn't have it, because she was already getting some books. She cried about it the whole way home, so I reminded her that if she really wanted it, that she could ask Santa for it. Well, everytime she saw Santa or was asked what she wanted Santa to bring her - she talked about this little mouse. She was so excited to see that little mouse at the bottom of her stocking. (Unfortunately, the water filled mouse didn't have a long life. She popped him about three hours into the day. She was so heartbroken, I didn't have the heart to throw it away. She now plays with the deflated little mouse) She loved all of the things that Santa brought her.

Gavin on the other hand, was more interested in the packaging and trash that the presents themselves. After they were all open, however, he did have fun with the actual toys.

After the presents were all opened, we were able to have a nice breakfast together and relax the rest of the morning before the rest of the day's events started.

Christmas - Part 1 (Christmas Eve)

We have had a wonderful Christmas this year. My entire family was home this year. I have had such a nice time spending some time with them. My nephew Andrew is getting so big. I have really enjoyed cuddling with him.

On Christmas Eve, we went to my parent's home. We had a wonderful dinner. My mom is such a good cook. I love being in the kitchen with her and learning new things. After dinner, we gathered for a little Christmas Eve program. We dressed the kids up as Mary, Joseph and Jesus. This was more for a picture opportunity than anything. Mikayla is really understanding the true meaning of Christmas though. She wanted to stay in her Mary costume all night. I got the fun task of holding the "Living Nativity" participants. Gavin wasn't very excited about his costume. This was the only way that we could even attempt to get them all together for a picture.
After our family program, we all opened gifts. We all got lots of nice things from our family. One of Mikayla's favorite presents was the large dinosaur that my parents gave her and Gavin. The dinosaur can supposedly hold up to 140 pounds (I haven't tested it for fear of finding out that I am too big for it!)
As the evening was coming to a close, we dressed the kids in the coordinating Christmas jammies. Mikayla was so excited to be able to hold Andrew. She loves getting next to him and talking to him.
When we finally got home, we quickly put out some milk and cookies for Santa and then put out some reindeer food for Rudolph. After all, we had to make sure that Rudolph could find our house.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Family Photo Shoot

Today, my entire family had portraits done. With my youngest sister and husband leaving for his internship in China in about 18 months and our families starting to grow and spread out, it may be a couple of years before we are all together at the same time. Today was my mom's birthday, and she said that all she wanted was for everyone to happily gather to take some pictures (this can be a stretch for some of the husbands, namely mine).
Extended family photo

The "original" McKinney family

Granparents and Grandkids - I love how this one turned out
They haven't had a professional picture of the two of them in a while. I love it!
I was so pleased with how this photo turned out. Mikayla's smile was a little cheesy, but hey, that is my little girl. I also love Gavin's big laughing grin.
This is Emily, Morgan and Andrew's first family photo.
The newleyweds, Laura and Chris
The cousins!
Mikayla with a sweet smile (so she can do it!)
My sweet boy - look at all of those teeth!
My nephew Andrew - I love how sweet this picture turned out.

Friday, December 19, 2008

My tender-hearted little girl

Through all of her high energy and craziness, Mikayla is a sweet, thoughtful and very tender-hearted little girl.

Mikayla recieved this book as a gift last year. It is a book that has the lyrics from the popular songs along with some lovely drawings.
Mikayla enjoys the story. She likes hearing about Jackie Paper and his adventures with Puff. However, as we reach this part, we have a breakdown of emotions.

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, jackie paper came no more
And puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave,
So puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave.

Everytime, we reach this part of the story. Mikayla starts crying (sobbing really) and asking why Jackie Paper grew up. And then she goes on to say that she wants to stay her size and that she doesn't want to grow up. It had been a couple of months since we read the story, but she said she really wanted to read it tonight. She also insisted that she wouldn't get upset. Such was not the case. I love me sweet little girl - if I could keep her "her size" I would!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pre-school Christmas

Mikayla's preschool program was this past Wednesday. It is a pretty big affair and is always crowded with parents, grandparents and oodles of extended family. Jeremy unfortunately had to work, and had to miss it. Thankfully, my mom was able to come and she was able to man the video camera while I entertained Gavin.

We had to get there early, so Gavin ate his breakfast while we waited.
This is Mikayla as she walked down the aisle past us. This is the moment that she saw us - I love how excited she gets!
I apologize for the dark photo. I was pretty far in the back and my camera, while I love it, does have some limitations. The kids were wearing jingle bells on the wrist. Mikayla really got into the movement portion of the singing!
After the program, we went to the kids' classroom where they had their Christmas Party. She had so much fun with her friends.
Mikayla made some adorable Christmas presents this year. I love how they use her hands in many of these projects. She is growing so fast and I love that I can "capture" her size
in a something that I can keep forever. Last year, she made this using her feet.

Mikayla's Birthday Celebration: The Final Phase

Wouldn't you love to be able to celebrate you birthday over the course of a week? I think they should all be that way, especially when you are four and your birthday is a week and a half before Christmas.
Mikayla wanted requested cinnamon rolls for breakfast. She was excited because she got to eat off of the Special Red Plate.

For lunch, Mikayla, Gavin and I met my mom at Chuck E. Cheese. There was noone else there, so it made for a great afternoon. The kids had full reign of the entire place! Mikayla had fun riding all of the rides and playing the games. Gavin just walked around pushing buttons (his favorite pasttime). He even rode a couple of the rides.
For dinner that night, we took Mikayla to Red Robin. We lucked out because she was counting on seeing the Red Robin himself. Apparantly, he is only there on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Man, was I thankful that we were there on Tuesday!

Gavin was pretty enthralled with the Red Robin. He kept grabbing onto his wing and not letting go.

The wait staff sang "Happy Birthday" to Mikayla and gave her a parfait (it was just and ice cream sundae, but Mikayla loves reading Fancy Nancy, who insists that they are "parfaits")
After we returned home, Mikayla got to open her presents. She got Elefun, a game she has been asking for for months. The elephants trunk blows out little butterflies and you try to catch them in a net. She has played this at a friend's house - she was so excited that she gets to play it at hers now.

We also got Mikayla her very own camera for her birthday. It is a fully functional digital camera, but it is built pretty tough to withstand the abuse that a four year old could put on it.
She immediately started taking pictures of EVERYTHING. I was looking through her pictures today and she has taken over 200 pictures! Mind you, she has only had the camera for two days.
We had a wonderful time celebrating Mikayla's birthday over the past week. I hope that she had as much fun as us and that she will have good memories of her birthday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mikayla is FOUR!

Today is my little girl's fourth birthday. She is such a joy in our lives. She is an active and busy little girl. She is also a very sweet and thoughtful child. She is always asking her family if they are feeling okay (especially, if the had recently not felt well) and is always saying "I love you" for no reason other than that is what is in her heart. I can't believe how big she is getting. If you ask her though, she will tell you that she "wants to stay just this size" so that she can stay our little girl and live with us forever. How I wish that were true!

This is Mikayla at less than an hour old. She came by c-section after I had labored for about 17 hours and pushed for three hours. That big head just wouldn't fit through! Her daddy and I instantly felt in love with her.
This is Mikayla just after her first birthday riding one of her birthday presents. She has always had that cheesy smile!This is her opening her presents at her second birthday. I marvel at how little hair she still had at this age. I was just starting to be able to put rubber bands and bows in her hair.
This is Mikayla last year at the tree lighting in Alpharetta. There was such a big change in how she looked between her second and third birthday.
This is my big girl! This picture was taken at the temple when her Aunt Lollie and Uncle Chris were married. I love that my brother was able to capture her sweet smile and not her usual cheesy one. I love that cheesy smile, but sometimes it is nice to see her normal one, too.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mikayla's Birthday celebration:Phase 2

Mikayla's birthday party was this past Saturday. This was the first time that we had a party for her where we invited more than just one or two friends. Mikayla decided that she wanted to have a Wonder Pet themed birthday party. She loves the show and I thought it would be fun. I may have rethought that decision had I known how hard it would be to find Wonder Pet themed birthday things!

When the kids first arrived, they made some little puppet animals. We used kits made by Martha Stewart that required no cutting and no glue. This was a definite plus with eight 3-4 year olds.
After the kids finished their puppets, the kids participated in a scavenger hunt. The kids had to hunt around the room for items that would help them on their "rescue mission"
My mom made capes for the kids to wear. They turned out so cute!

I also made tin can phones for them, so that they could hear the "plea" of the animals in trouble. We did a beanbag toss in which the kids threw beanbags that had different animals on them, into boxes that represented their "homes" (land, sea and air)
After we compleded our mission, the "Wonder Pets" had their celery just as they always do after they have saved an animal.
Their are no Wonder Pet cakes to be found. I decided to to make cupcakes that looked liked the Wonder Pet badges. They were big hit.

After most everything was done, the kids had a pinata to open! We tried tying it to the ceiling, but the string kept breaking. I ended up just holding it while the kids pulled the strings and broke the pinata.
Mikayla got some fun gifts. She got Fancy Nancy dressup clothes and some....
"Wonder Pets!"
We had a great time celebrating Mikayla's birthday. I can't believe she is turning four!