Thursday, December 30, 2010

Poor Chloe

My sister, Emily posted these pictures a few weeks ago but for memories I just had to have my own copy. Chloe's cousin, Sage seems to have little interest in personally being potty-trained but is all over helping out her poor cousins. Twice at Christmas she was caught offering to wipe one of her cousin's bums. So motherly!

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kzM78EHcZ54/TQ2UqzFEn4I/AAAAAAAAFTs/lYuH4LQlEjA/s1600/IMG_2401.jpg
What a proud cousin!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Festivities

Christmas Eve at our house was about as good as it gets. For the first time in many years Birch had the whole day off so all the kids were sure ask a dozen times each "Daddy, will you play with me?" I decided to not be Martha Stewart this year and took the easy route on many things so I actually enjoyed the day much more too.

This year we extended an invitation to good friends of ours that were going to be on their own without daddy Christmas Eve and also a woman that we recently had met at church that was also going to be alone for Christmas. It turned out to be really fun to share our traditions with their families and have more people to celebrate with.
Keeping with the Ditto family tradition everyone in the family picked one (or two) of their favorite dishes to have at our smorgasbord. Oh my, our table was overflowing with food: fried chicken, corn on the cob, shrimp cocktail, coconut shrimp, artichoke dip, mango salsa, blueberries, pot-stickers, four plates of goodies, cheese bread, two pizzas, sweet n' sour meatballs, orange chicken, and veggie plate (mostly just for looks). No one went to bed hungry at our house!
Alex was in charge of typing up our program for the night. After we gorged ourselves with food we worked on our gingerbread house.
Pretty intense time decorating! The girls worked on the gingerbread tree. Next it was time for caroling and the talent show. Alysee and Chloe kicked the night off with a dance that Alysee had choreographed. Nate shared a super cool drawing that he had done earlier in the day of a kid mountain biking. Then Alex serenaded us with a few trumpet pieces. Tyler shared his talent of running and how he earned this cool sweatshirt by running 100 miles last year. Coop, our resident dance star, showed off some of his signature moves to the song "I've Got a Feeling." Wish you could have been there...have to fear you can watch it all here.
After the talent show we tried to eat some more food but most of us couldn't stuff another thing in our mouth. All the kids drew their part for the Nativity production. They were given strict orders that they could not trade parts unless they were a boy and drew Mary. This year we had three little girls that all wanted to be Mary so it was a bit coveted. Somehow Alysee got lucky and got the part of Mary.
Here are our three wiseman -- Nate, Chloe, and Coop.
Tyler was our very boisterous shepherd.
All the wiseman gathering around Mary (Alysee) and Joseph (Alex) - plus token Zach Seiler as the wondering sheep.
Here's the whole cast: Olivia Seiler (Angel) and the rest of the Ditto gang.

Again, I'm sure you are wishing that you could have been there. I wouldn't say that this was the most reverent production of the Nativity. Chloe really struggled with needing to have her OWN Jesus and so she was a little disruptive. Check it out:

After another song or two it was off to bed.

Christmas Morning

Sometime late at night Santa and his elves came. We had told the kids that they had to stay in their rooms until 7 am. Birch and I were off in la la sleeping land when I heard a stampede of feet running up the stairs. I kicked (very kindly) Birch out of the bed so we could get the girls up so they didn't miss out on all the fun. Birch said it was like herding a bunch of wild animals back down the stairs. After we released them they ran into the living room and we heard all sorts of shouts and happy voices. Santa had really pulled through and the kids were all delighted - Alex got some snow pants and money for a lift ticket to go skiing for the first time, Tyler got new basketball shoes and a bball outfit, Alysee got a pink scooter, Nate and Coop got an awesome Teck Deck Skateboarding ramp set and new boards, and Chloe got new pink sparkly tennis shoes and an outfit.

With all the madness and opening stockings and presents we didn't even get one picture taken. The first presents opened were the siblings gifts to each other -- keeping with tradition they each picked a name of a sibling and made a gift for that person, did a service, and purchased a gift. It seemed like this year several of the kids spent extra thought on their gifts. Then we went around the circle opening the rest of the presents.

The highlight of the morning was Alex's present to Birch. Back in September he got an idea that he really wanted to give a signed football by some of the OSU players. He called my dad and through a couple of miracles was able to get a personalized Beaver's football signed by Mike Riley and the Rodgers brothers. The ball says, "2010-Merry Christmas Birch." Alex was DYING to give Birch the gift and it really was a special moment.

Check it out:


Christmas Afternoon

About 1 pm we all loaded in the car and headed to Oregon. It really was a crazy morning. Before leaving we had our traditional Christmas lunch -- full on breakfast (this year we tried something new -Cinnamon Raisin French Toast, sausage, scrambled eggs, and hash browns). The kids were all mad at me when I said that we needed to take the tree down before we left for Oregon because it was so dry and I didn't want any safety issues, plus we threw the final stuff in the car. I think we officially decided that we are done traveling on Christmas day. It was just too much, too rushed, and so much of the day spent in the car. Don't get me wrong, the kids had it pretty deluxe in the car eating all the stocking treats and watching the beloved series that I had gotten them for Christmas, Flight 29 Down. Still it was just too much and certainly did not provide a relaxed Christmas day. This is a hard realization because we love being with our extended family and really desire to be in both places at once. We'll just have to make sure that the party doesn't stop on Christmas day at either of our families houses.

Our time in Oregon was filled LOTS of rain, hanging out with a few cousins, aunts, and uncles, and Ami and Poppi. The kids enjoyed several dips in the hot tub at my parent's house.
My mom had organized several fun games for the kids. Here they are playing that fun candy bar game.
Chloe is still a potty champ and keeping with Sherry tradition had to have her picture taken by her big Uncle Seth.
The highlight of the trip for everyone was the gift that my parent's had arranged for all of us. Birch and I had given the family several new rock climbing harnesses and other gear for Christmas. My parent's arranged for everyone to go to the OSU Indoor Rock Climbing Wall. The adults went early and went through a little training class on belaying. I really enjoyed learning what I was supposed to be doing. As you can see Chloe loved "hanging" around.
Chloe is sporting the "monkey harness" which allows a young child to climb safely.
Alex ate up every minute climbing. Seth and Caroline gave our family a pair of climbing shoes that fit him so he thought it was pretty neat stuff and loved the extra grip the new shoes provided.
Alysee and Coop went up and down this wall probably ten times.
Birch, Seth, and me (chatting with our trainer) belaying the kids.
Nate was like a monkey on steroids--up and down and up and down -- he couldn't get enough of it.
Chloe has decided that she really loves to climb.
Love this shot of Tyler, cousin Tommy, and Alysee scaling their way up the wall.
The three monkeys on reach the top.
Tyler LOVED the whole evening too. Here Uncle Luke is belaying him.
The three of us (Birch, Sara, Seth) plus my parent's, not pictured, spent two hours belaying all the kids. My neck was throbbing by the end from looking up for so long. It was also a lot of work physically belaying since many of the younger kids needed cheater boosts every so often. I felt confident belaying, though.
Uncle Seth teaching Coop and Tyler how to "boulder."
One of Alysee's highlights for the time in Oregon were the very wet and rainy walks that she went on. Ami and Poppi have this cool rain cover for the jogger stroller so the little tikes enjoyed the walks too.
Coop is such a cheery kid.
I was a woose and stayed home in the dry house but everyone else loved the fresh outdoors.

It was such a wonderful Christmas full of wonderful memories, food, and good times together!

Merry Christmas from the Dittos!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Magical

Some very kind friends of ours were not able to use their weekend get-a-way and play tickets to Leavenworth, WA; somehow we were the lucky recipients. The whole weekend would not have been possible without the Cox family (Alex and Tyler stayed there) and my sister Emi and Ryan (Coop and Chloe stayed there) watching the four kids that did not get to come with us. It was a little tricky picking just two kids to come with us since we knew that all of the kids would think whatever we picked wasn't fair. In the end I think we all ended up winning -- each of the kids had a really special weekend.
Nate and Alysee were the lucky two that were chosen to come with us. We decided that both of them could use a little extra one-on-one time. They were very well behaved and said several times that they felt like they were in heaven.

The four of us on the outside of the beautiful condo we stayed at Friday night.
Inside we were snuggled up all cozy and warm and enjoyed watching the Jim Carry version of "The Grinch."
Nate and Alysee played game after game of checkers.
Birch doesn't get too many opportunities to sleep-in at home. I've always been jealous of how cute he is when he sleeps--where is the drewel, the mouth hanging open, and the snoring?
The next morning we got bundled up and ready to wander the town.
I enjoyed a morning cup of delicious hot chocolate--I think I could get used to this.

Outside the whole town gleamed white with snow.
On the main streets there are even little fire pits to warm yourself.
What can I say? It all made me so happy and filled with the magical spirit of Christmas.
The kids spent about two hours sledding in the town center.Birch and Nate on a wild ride!
My first sled ride of the year (and probably my last...so bumpy).
Nate basked in all the attention. The two of us went and found a little shop that made homemade mini donuts on the spot. What a tasty treat!
Alysee and Nate had the time of their life!
The only thing missing in this picture is MY MAN!

The matinee play we went to was called "Amahl and the Night Visitors." It was just the right length and entertaining to the kids. After the play we got Subway sandwiches and headed home to pick up the rest of the chillins. All the kids had so much fun sharing what they each did all weekend while they were apart. I sure wouldn't mind making this a tradition!