Saturday, December 31, 2011

Georgia Aquarium

With the hustle and bustle of Christmas, the kids have been getting a little stir crazy. Steve has another busy month ahead of him at work, so he's been taking it easy this week at work, and even took a couple of days off. Thursday, we decided it would be a fun to take the kids to Atlanta to visit the much acclaimed Georgia Aquarium. Since our whole family enjoyed the Chattanooga one so much last spring, why not?

We knew the place would be crowded with school out, but we underestimated how bad it would be. There had to be over 20,000 people in that place, and it is not laid out as nicely as the Chattanooga aquarium. Rather than having everyone flowing in one direction (like Chattanooga), this place has five different wings that you go in to see the various fish (dolphin tales, cold water quest, Georgia explorer, ocean voyager and river scout). By far, the ocean voyager was my favorite. I could have spent more time there reading about the various fish and just watching them swim around. The whale sharks were fun to see there, as were the manta rays. The tanks were huge and they had you walking through them, under them and around them.

With the large crowds, it made it somewhat difficult to get right up against the tanks, so the kids got frustrated. Overall, I think they had a good time, but I know it would have been more enjoyable for all of us if it weren't so crowded. I was constantly holding onto one of the kids in fear they would get lost or separated from us. We even rehearsed our phone numbers and what to do in case we got separated rules. Here are a few photos of some of our favorite fish and mammals, as well as the kids having fun going down the "whale slide."

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011

This year was another wonderful Christmas! We were blessed to have all of our family over to our home and the kids were at perfect ages to enjoy the gift opening. We kicked off the holiday season purging old toys, making room for all of the new loot! Then we adopted a couple of kids that were the same age and gender as our kids. Though the shopping for those kids didn't go as we planned, we still talked about it a lot and tried to remind the children over and over again how fortunate they are. I think Bennett started to grasp it, and even debated over and over again what she would ask Santa to bring (since he only brings her one item). She wanted so much initially, but eventually crossed some items off her list, and decided that she could ask for others for her 5th birthday (in May). As it turned out, she got everything she wanted between both grandparents, us and Santa....she's a lucky girl indeed.

Christmas Eve we went to children's Christmas service at church where the kids dress up as characters from the nativity scene. Bennett wanted to be Mary, so she brought a baby from home and had it all wrapped up in a blanket like Jesus was. She convinced Preston to be Joseph. All of our friends and their children were there, so we had fun wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. After the short service, we took communion and headed to Steve's parents for all of the festivities.

As we typically do, we ate some meat and spinach pies and kibbee. Once everyone got there, my kids were ready to start opening presents. Since Mimi and Papa didn't heed my advice about buying only one nice gift per kid, they opened up a ridiculous amount of presents and got more than they could possibly want or need. With that said, they did have a fun time and got some lovely items. Each time it was Preston's turn to open a gift he would say "what is it, what is it?" in his funny little way. Then he would be so excited with whatever was under the wrapping paper! Bennett helped play "Santa" by handing out gifts to the others, and opening up some of her own in between. Everyone certainly had a Merry Christmas at the Mizeranys.

When we got home, we put the reindeer food outside (oatmeal with glitter to attract them to our yard), along with the cookies and milk for Santa. Then we put the kids down.

Christmas morning, my parents, Steve and I woke up before the kids (don't ask me why). We enjoyed our coffee and around 7:30 the kids came downstairs with the anticipation of what Santa left for them. Bob the elf was gone, as were Santa's cookies and he must have left them something good, right? Bennett carefully chose various gifts from her stocking, while Pres chose Santa's gift first. He was shocked when he realized he got his own "phone"...really it was an itouch. Bennett received the same thing, and they were both genuinely excited that they had their own device to play games and take photos.

After they opened those items, we let them open the few gifts we gave them (mainly clothes and art supplies). Since we had some time to kill before Brian's family arrived, the kids went out in the rain to play. They broke in their new umbrellas, and Pres wore his new Alabama hat and raincoat from Uncle Dan.

Brian and Shannon arrived mid morning, and as soon as they arrived... the kids were ready! We tried to get a group photo, and this was the best of about 6...oh well, they're still cute.

Everyone had another lovely Christmas, and got more terrific items! Seeing four young children get so excited was fun for all of us adults. We tried to take turns, but it didn't always go as planned.

As another Christmas comes to a close, I am thankful for how blessed we really are. We have each other, our health and much love from all of our family members. Thank you everyone for making our 2011 Christmas so memorable. We love you all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

More Christmas Fun

Since the kids have been out of school, we have enjoyed not being on a schedule. However, no schedule quickly causes my children to become bored, so we have been trying to keep them busy. They decorated a gingerbread house with my parents, baked more Christmas cookies with Steve's parents and their cousins, and saw a movie with us! Here are some photos of their creations.

As you can see, the gingerbread house turned out very cute (a vast improvement from last year). My mother did the icing, but the kids applied all of the candy (while sampling a few pieces).

Thanks Mom & Dad for an hour of entertainment!

Thursday, I dropped the kids off at Mimi and Papa's so they could make Christmas cookies. They had some practice with me, but the cookies didn't turn out so well. Since Mimi is a master baker, I had more confidence in the success of these cookies. Sara and John Michael also came over to assist in the process, and from what I hear...they all had a ball!

Preston loved playing in the flour, and made quite a mess!! He had it EVERYWHERE!

Sorry Mimi....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mary, II

Wednesday morning we said good-bye to Mary, one of the kid's fish. For those who have been reading the blog for awhile, do you recall last November (that would be Nov 2010), when Steve bought two feeder fish for the kids? Well for everyone who thought they wouldn't last more than a few were wrong.

Jesus and Mary (the names of the two fish) have lasted 13 months!! In fact, Jesus is still alive and doing very well...he has even tripled in size. However, a few days ago Mary stopped swimming and started lying at the bottom of our bowl. Even after we dropped food in there, she would hardly move. I thought maybe I hurt one of her fins after returning her to the bowl after cleaning it, but the pet store thought she had a bacteria infection. Regardless, she lasted much longer than we thought she would, but wouldn't even move yesterday.

We had been preparing the children for the inevitable, but that didn't stop Bennett from crying yesterday morning when we put Mary in the toilet, and asked God to take care of her. I held her for awhile, and then she came around and asked when she can get a new fish.

In the afternoon, I surprised the kids with a new white fish. Bennett knew immediately that she wanted it to be a "girl fish," but couldn't come up with a name. After multiple suggestions from me, she decided on Mary (again). So welcome Mary (the second)!

Monday, December 19, 2011

School Christmas Parties

This week the kids finished their last days of school for the semester with Christmas parties. First was Preston's on Monday...and boy was he genuinely happy to see me! They had just returned from playing in the gym and all of the moms were there waiting for them. He ran over to me and gave me a big hug and kiss (which NEVER gets old). Then his teachers made each one wash their hands and sit down for lunch. However, they had to do their blessing first...and how sweet it was hearing those little voices bless their food.

All of the mothers signed up to bring different things, but since my little boy still doesn't eat much, I packed some stand-bys for him to nibble on. After lunch they made reindeer food and decorated a gingerbread house (or should I say they ate the candy that was supposed to go on the house?) Either way, fun was had by all, especially after their book exchange!

While all of the fun was going on at Preston's school, Bennett was comfy in her PJs watching a Christmas movie with her fellow classmates. Tuesday, she had her Christmas party, which Pres and I attended. They ordered pizza, had story time, did a craft and exchanged another fun time!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Yesterday morning, the kids and I attempted to make Christmas cookies. I thought it would be fun since they enjoy playing with their playdough so much. We rolled out the dough and the kids chose which cookie cutters to use. They both were doing such a good job so I was confident that we would have some cute ones to decorate. However, the baking process didn't quite work out the way I thought...

We must have used too much dough inside the cookie cutters because the cookies expanded so much during the baking process that they were indistinguishable afterward.

We put icing on a few and the kids poured sprinkles all over them, but they hated the way they tasted with the icing, so we stopped. Don't know why I keep trying to become a really isn't my thing. Thank goodness my kids don't know the difference (or don't care). They had fun regardless of the end result!

Last night, Steve and I attended a couple Christmas parties and had fun catching up with all of our friends. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives!