Monday, December 22, 2008

"Titney" is in town!

Had to pose for a picture together since we had Courtney here to take one for us... Usually we always have to have someone out... Thanks Court.

Pretty big news for the McDowell house. Reid and I picked up Courtney from the airport on Saturday night. Her plane was delayed by 15 minutes as they had to de-ice in Chicago. I bought Reid an orange juice and myself a hot chocolate at Starbucks and we grabbed a table.

Reid said "Hey mom, let's pretend we are on a date."
I said "ok, sure"
Reid says - "Like a real date, ok"...
Me - "uh huh"
Reid: "So, how's your drink"
Me - "very good, nice and warm"
Reid "and how was your day"
Me - "Pretty good"
Reid "I love you mom"

He's so sweet :) Ryan was at home with dad but was just as excited to see Courtney when we got there. Her name has transitioned over the last year and it now sounds like "Titney"

Sunday was EXTREMELY cold. The wind just cut right through you. We got out to go to the gym and it was miserable. Our plan was to go ice skating at the rink by our house but all of us lost the desire to even be outside again that day. Courtney and I decided we'd brave the cold and go get stuff to make the popcorn string. When we got back Courtney volunteered to watch the boys while Russ and I went to dinner as Ryan had fallen asleep at 6 pm (not a good nap time but oh well). Russ and I enjoyed dinner and realized when we got home at 8 pm that we still needed to do the advent calendar. Fabulous Aunt Courtney had already given the boys a bath and put on their pajamas (see why we just love her!!!). Reid was playing computer games on my laptop and they were pretty content so we decided to go with something simple:

Day 21 - Read EXTRA books before bed.

Cheesy I know... but they are 2 and 5 and still fall for all of it :) Courtney read to Reid while I read to Ryan (dad photographed) and then we switched. As I went in to read to Reid he says "hey mom, this is pretty fun"... I said, "yeah, I thought you'd like it." He says "Yeah, it's just like staying up late"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Tough One for Ryan

I know it's kind of mean to torture our son. Make him buy his one true love and then give it away, but we did...
Day 20 - Buy food and take it to Harvester's
We went shopping together at Aldi's and then took the donations over to the Harvester's box at the gym. The boys had a good time throwing the food in the box and "cheesing" it up for a few photos. Once we were done shopping and donating we were ready to get home - that wind just cuts right through you today!

Thursday... Kids Choice

After a great dinner of corn dogs and yogurt (which Ryan enjoyed in an "interesting" way), we opened the advent calendar.

Day 18 - Kids Choice

The boys were really excited when we opened the door and proceeded to do their own version of break dancing or something on the kitchen floor. Reid said that he chose to play his DS which mom and dad vetoed. We offered many different options when they came up blank - go eat ice cream, go watch Christmas lights, have game night, etc. In the end they decided that they wanted to watch tv. Easy enough at least. We went through our On Demand channels and watched several different cartoons and called it a night.

Wow, where did the week go

Ok, so I'm going to do ONE blog for three days this week!

Day 15 - Visit a Senior in Assisted Living
We adopted Eileen Johnson from the assisted living facility across from our house. She's in the Reminiscence wing which is saved for individuals with memory issues. We found Eileen to have a great memory. She was very nice and shared a lot of information with us. She was born in 1921 and has 4 children and at least 8 grandchildren. She's only had one visitor since moving into the facility and really enjoyed visiting with us. Russ asked her about her family's history, the depression, and World War II.

I was asking her where she was born and lived her life etc. I was shocked to find out that she was born in HOLTON, KS (my hometown). Now that's a small world! She lived in Holton until she was 3 or 4 and then her father died and they moved. Her maiden name was Flynn.

We gave her some hard candy in a candy dish and she told us it would last her a day. She shared it with the boys and they didn't seem to bother her at all - even when we followed her back to her room and they climbed up on her bed. We didn't get many pictures but we did have a really good time and she said she'd love it if we could come back and visit.

Day 16 - Watch Christmas movie
(guest authored by dad)

After dinner we did the calendar and were going to make snowmen snacks and watch Charlie Brown Christmas. Snowmen snacks went downhill rapidly as Ryan only wanted to eat the marshmallows. Reid did put together a marshmallow snowman but the toothpicks we used to hold the pieces together had dad worried about leaving pieces in the marshmallows. We popped popcorn and set up some pillows to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas but Reid had trouble sharing the popcorn with anyone named Ryan so he got sent to the other room to contemplate his place in society. Ryan busied himself with arranging and rearranging and re-rearranging and re-re-rearranging....the pillows, blankets and popcorn bowl. When Reid returned from exile he was agreeably more social and willing to share and was enganged in watching the TV show. Forty minutes into the hour long show Jake came home and any semblence of order collapsed as Reid played his DS and wanted Jake to watch. Ryan joined them as we were out of popcorn. Dad picked up all that had been gotten out and put the boys in bed upon the conclusion of the show.

Day 17 - Make Christmas cards for our daycare provider, bus driver, and teachers

I went to Wal-Mart and got a "kit" of foam things that worked perfectly for Reid to be able to make cards to go with the gift cards for his teachers and bus drivers. He had a lot of fun doing them. Ryan wasn't really into the foam kit so he had another kit that came in the mail from Grandma Cella and he worked on that one pretty well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I know, I know

I know - I owe you a whole week worth of updates. Here's a cute Christmas video to fill space as I catch up. This is REID, not Ryan... from two or three (I need to find the date) Christmas' ago.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I scream, you scream...

Russ and I have done a few orienteering events over the last several months. The boys know that we go "run a race" and that we've used maps and our camelbaks. They got a bit more of an idea of what we do on Sunday:

Day 14- Orienteering Event

Russ made maps of the house and hid 8 clues for each boy and then marked them on the map. They ran around the house like mad men finding their clues. Both were very excited. Reid did most of his buy himself. We would tell Ryan the approximate area to go to and then he would find it and yell "Yeah... I found it" and then take it back to Russ. When the boys had found all of their clues Reid laid them out and read the words by himself... ICE CREAM. Reid then enjoyed a scoop of chocolate ice cream while Ryan chose to stick with fruit snacks.

The boys (including Russ) had so much fun that Russ actually made another one up before and during dinner that was "Amazing Race" style. They had to perform something at each marker - i.e. cleaned their rooms, picked up the basement, ate a good dinner, took a bath, etc. (Yes, we know that won't work for long - but it's fun for now). At the end of that game their clues read "SURVIVOR POPCORN." We popped popcorn and went downstairs and watched Survivor.

An existing tradition

Two or three years ago my mom took Reid to Wal-Mart so he could pick out a gift for Russ and I. Last year we took on the tradition and let each of the boys pick out a gift for each of us as well as each other. This year we did the same thing.
Day 13 - Buy Christmas presents for your parents and brother.

The boys had a ton of fun with this. We didn't really drive their decisions at all. I did help Ryan get what Reid was telling him he wanted when we walked into the store but that was about it. Russ took Reid to buy Ryan's and mine and he said he didn't help him at all. Reid got Ryan a fire truck and Ryan got Reid a Star Wars Lego set. We'll have to wait until Christmas to see what they picked out for Russ and I. Reid is just dying to give Russ his gift. He's asked me like 5 times if we can just tell dad what it is.

Wal-Mart was quite busy and hectic so not a ton of pics but we did get a couple of really good ones.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Not quite as planned...

Day 12 - Go look at Christmas lights

The plan was: mom comes home and preps dinner for in the car, Russ picks up the boys. We meet at home and head out to Longview Lake for Christmas in the Park. It's about a 20 minute drive and we were told to get there early or else the line of cars really backs up. I had made hot dogs and cut them up in bite size pieces and gave each of the boys a colored toothpick to eat with. We also had a bag full of snacks and drinks. The eating hot dogs with a stick went over rather well - especially with Ryan who had to have an extra hot dog cooked before we even got out of the house.

The drive wasn't bad and we found the place without problems. As we pulled into the park I realized that Reid was fading into sleep. We tried to wake him up multiple times throughout the drive. He woke up once and he said something about "the workers" but we could never get him awake enough to see lights. Ryan enjoyed them as did Russ and I.

Here was our conversation as we pulled into our subdivision coming home:

Reid: "Mom, I didn't get to see any Xmas lights"
Mom: "Honey, you fell asleep and we couldn't get you awake"
Reid: "I didn't fall asleep I was just playing my DS"
Mom: "OK, sorry honey. I got a lot of pictures for you to see at home"
Reid: "OK"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yes ladies... he even does the dishes!

The excitement continues...

Day 11 - Have breakfast for dinner and eat in our pajamas!

Tonight was pretty self-explanatory and simple. We had a lot of fun with it. Both of the boys asked for seconds. They had their first plates done before mom even sat down. I got their seconds on their plates and sat down for my dinner. This could be where I complain that a mom never gets a warm meal... instead... I'll look at the positive spin of it. I sat down to eat and everyone else was already done. I ate REALLY slowly as Russ did the dishes, put the food away, cleaned the counters and then proceeded to sweep the kitchen (and no - he's not for sale)! I think I might be on to something ladies :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One of our family passions...

For those of you that "know" Russ you know that he has a really, really big heart. (Don't let him know I told you). He just has a true passion for helping people. Russ helped with the Toys for Tots when he was in the Marines and it is one of his favorite programs to assist with. The two below pictures are from when he was assisting them in November of 2000, shortly after we met (I did some digging this morning and found them - we'll have to show the boys tonight)

Dan Holiday from KFKF (a local radio station) teamed up with the 24th Marines (24th Marines is the reserve infantry regiment headquartered here in KC - the unit that Russ was in when I met him) and did Toys for Tots at the Wal-Mart by our house. Dan Holiday is staying on the roof of the Wal-Mart until 9400 toys are collected. So, we'd been planning this day:

Day 10 - Toys for Tots donation

Reid had fallen asleep on the way home from daycare and his reaction to buying toys for other kids was less than desirable for mom and dad. I'm ashamed to say he did pout a bit and then we sat on the kitchen floor and talked about how sad it would be to wake up on Christmas morning and not have a single toy. He got the lecture, perked up and was really excited to go buy "lots and lots and lots" of toys for other kids. Ryan seemed to understand as well.

We went to Wal-Mart, saw the marines on the way in and then proceeded to pick out some toys. We let Reid do the choosing and then mom did some convincing to switch to some that I thought were more value for the money, etc. We chose to make this purchase just for the toys for tots (although we needed bread and milk) hoping that it helped the boys visualize that none of it was for us. We didn't take sacks (our green contribution) and walked the toys right out to the marines. What a surprise when we walked outside and SANTA was there too! Both boys got a candy cane from Santa. Ryan said hi but hung back a bit. Reid gave each toy to the marine. We stuck around and watched our 5 presents on the total board bringing it to 3650 (they are pretty slow this year).

Despite Reid's rough start it ended up well and we walked to our car telling him that he just helped make 5 kids Christmas day a bit brighter.