Friday, January 26, 2007

Our friends visit for New Years

We were lucky to come home to our dear friends Neema and Tim visiting from Vancouver. They kindly picked us up from the airport, though our luggage took an well over 1/2 to arrive. Poor friends had to spend their vacation with the days beginning around 4:30 am when E + E would wake for the day. Art and I did our best to keep them in the back rooms but they were wild with fewer hours sleep. Neema still recalls one of our rough mornings. Unbeknownst to me, N+T were lying in bed listening to a world-class temper tantrum from Eva. I can not remember all the details of the event all I remember is that Eva was banned to her room for a time out of sorts which had her screaming, "You hurt my feelings...." over and over. When we finally started our morning with our guests they were chuckling at the level of drama coming from the back of the house.

We had a great time with N + T, though we a bit tired and there was more tears than usual from our crew. We spent a lovely new years eve as adults, toasting with kir royals, eating delicious Indian takeout, and playing scrabble in teams (the only way I'll play!) I am such a party animal, I was asleep before the end of the game, though Art was able to eek out a win. N + T made a fabulous new years brunch. The photos do not do it justice, the subtle tasts of sweetened lemon juice over the french toast and a yummy citrus salad with yogurt sauce. I tried to recreate this to no avail on our last Tahoe trip.

Cousins Bender

We had a lovely time in Arlington at the beginning of our trip back east. There was never a dull moment. We went to playgrounds, played endlessly with Sam and Sarah's toys and read book after book. SF Benders got the luxurious third floor of the house, taking over both Sam and Sarah's rooms. The minute one child was up in the house, the others would follow, so excited to be with each other. All of us imagine fun times when they can all sleep together.

Staunton Mall Santa

This is the third year we made our voyage to the Staunton Mall to see Santa. Even Grandaddy came this year. We arrived just as he was about to take his 1 1/2 hour break. So we busied ourselved in the bookstore playing with the train set and climbing in the children's area.

This years Santa was lovely. The last two years let's just say he was a bit more of a redneck. Last year, I told him we'd made him gingerbread cookies and asked if he liked this kind of cookie and he responded, "yeah, I likat awright." This year he was lovely, gentle and too believable.

Grandaddy Branch

Grandaddy was a big hit this holiday. Last year he was in a pretty low place as he was in the middle of his chemo treatments. Not this year, he was on fire. The children loved eating Cheerio's, THE SWEET ONES, in the morning with him. I still get reminded of this as I feed them their Trader Joe's plain O's. There were lots of giggles when ever he was around.

Art and Dad also got some quality time sneaking off to the study to watch bowl games. The children would join them for illegal viewing of TV and I'd hear, "GO EAGLES" coming our of their mouths. The Eagles did not make it to the Super Bowl but it was a highlight of E + E's holiday.
Anna was home from her first year at Duke University. We were so happy to see her. On Christmas morning, I watched her. I remember when I was in college and I came home after she was born. The holidays were all about her. The focus was now on my children to add the magic in the holiday. Anna and Art had a chance to get into a few more intellectual discussions. I on the otherhand wanted to know the social aspect of college life. She did not divulge too much but I know enough to know she is happy.

Christmas in Waynesboro

What can I say, it was a fabulous Christmas in Virginia. The children were the perfect age. Magic was in the air. !344 Chatham Road was decorated so nicely, the tree was beautiful and we spent time relaxing in the living room. Unlike the last few years when we had worry about the children harming the old ornaments or fear of the tree coming down.
Pam and Mark always add a grand quality to any holiday. One evening, the children were already in the pj's ready for bed when in came Mark and Pam and kidnapped us for a vanride through Pelham Heights to see the "magical" aka christmas lights. By the end of the trip Eli was snuggled in my arms yawning. Eva, on the other hand, was ready to keep up the tour. We spent a fun afternoon at their house where Pam had a cake carrosell project all ready to go. The children iced and decorated all the pieces to make this hysterical cake. Then there was this amazing game of Anna's where you connet pieces together to make a structure for marbles to travel. When it was time to leave, Eva announced she wanted to stay for dinner there. She was such a big girl. She returned all happy from her time with Mark, Pam and Anna. Of course, we had our bi-annual exursion to Wal-Mart with Pam which is always fun.
Sey Sey is always fun at the holidays bringing fun gifts! Teh big winner this year was the game "Don't Break the Ice." Eva just two days ago said, "Sey Sey gave me chocolate cookies in the kitchen." What more fun than an Aunt that indulges...Grammy and Grandaddy were in great health and spririts. Grammy fixed endless meals for the troups. Grandaddy was his ornery self, playing tricks on the children, trapping them in his legs, chasing them through the house. On the second to the last day, Eva over heard me talking to Grammy and said, "why did you say airport?" I explained we were going home in 4 days. She got really upset and demanded she did not want to leave VA. I must say, the children really feel the love of family and are so content.
We love going to Virginia for the holidays. What was I thinking when we thought we were not going back????

Christmas in North Garden

The cousins were reunited in North Garden for our second Christmas celebration. Any time of year is beautiful at Shu Shu's. Her tree came from her property and is full of ornaments from around the world collected on her many travels. The children, especially Eli, spend a lot of time looking at all of the treasures.

One day we all spent time frolicking on the hillside and venturing in to the woods on the southern end of the property. Mizar gets a lot of exercise running after the ball (though it is not thrown that far to run.)

Our second Christmas morning was fun. We had the traditional Bender mincemeat rolls and many many cookies. The presents were opened with a flury. The energy carried the wee ones through the day. Penelope and I had many laughs thinking about Christmas three years ago with two new infants, Eli 5 weeks and Sarah not much older. We may still be a little sleep deprived but there is not comparision.

Eva, Sam and Bob were the star skaters on the ice while in Charlottesville. Eva was the most determined little skater. Soon after the photo on the right was taken, Eva insisted Bob not help her as she was determined to skate on her own. Eli loved running around the exterior of the rink, cheering on his big sister. Art and I were very proud.

This was a fun day indeed. What we were really doing was biding time for Susan to get a head start on the christmas dinner for the evening. It was wonderful. Mom and Dad, Sey Sey and Bill, The Arlington, SF and North Garden Benders all gathered for an amazing dinner of prime rib, yorkshire pudding, and all the favorites. The evening was not with out drama. Eva pitched a first-class fit before dinner that ended in a stare down in Shu Shu's room. This seemed to resettle her so she could enjoy the rest of the evening. That night Shu Shu joined us in her room for one big slumber party -- the more the merrier.

Penelope was kind enough to give us a ride to Dullas. We got to spend a bit more time with her on the ride which is a rare treat.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Eva and the Land of Sweets

I just finished reading E + E the story of the nutcracker. Towards the end of the book, Eva pointed at the book and said, " I wish I could go there, the Land of Sweets." Eli chimed in, "Me too." Eva continued, "and you could not control me, how many sweets I eat!."