Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Alexandra Skates at the Galleria

Earlier this month, we went out to the Galleria to see Alexandra skate as part of their Christmas ice skating spectacular. Going to a mall in December is not my idea of a good time, so you know this was a labor of love to go see her! The crowds were crazy, and we did not have a great vantage point, but we had fun watching her anyway, and I snapped a few photos:

There is part of the tree in the center of the rink, and a glimpse of all the people on all levels!

What was between us and the rink's edge...

The show was made up of some professional skaters
and students from the ice skating school.

Dancing Santas

Elves of all sizes, and reindeer too!

And ornaments!
There's Alexandra!

A cast of hundreds!

This was part of the action - they did not all fall down.

This particular skater seemed very talented.

At the end, Santa appeared, and there were pyrotechnics!

It was a nice show.

See you soon!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Symphony Christmas Program

We once again took the boy to the symphony's annual family Christmas concert. This year, though, he was really ready for it. He enjoyed it, watched the whole thing (about an hour) and afterwards talked about it positively. Imagine! Here are a few photos we snapped with our camera phones:

First, we enjoyed some lobby activities before the concert.

Is that camera on?
Then, we made it to our seats.

Family selfie. Hee hee.

Transfixed on the music.

Watching the princess.

When the soloist, Ava Pine, came out the first time, LM leaned over to me and said, "I didn't know there was going to be a princess at this concert!" Then, as she was wearing a beautiful strapless gown, he asked me, "Where is her shirt?" Ha. 

He also wanted to know why the organist was "playing backwards" - the organ is on the back wall of the concert hall, so she was facing the keyboards - and how she got up to her seat, which appears to be just randomly in the middle of the back wall...I explained there were stairs and a door you could not see from where we were that allowed her access to the console. 

Then, during the sing along, he "played" the trumpet.

LM was engaged in the performance, but any time the children's choir came on stage, he was completely motionless and enthralled. Little people like watching other little people, don't they? He also really liked it when the brass section stood up and played one feature piece. The brass instruments are definitely his favorite. 

And, at the end, it snowed!

Then, afterward, we had pizza at the 
"spicy pizza place with the pig" 
as LM calls it.

And he took a great nap.
So sweet.

See you soon!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Preschool Holiday Program

LM participated in a multicultural holiday program at his school. It was supposed to happen in an auditorium, but because of the weather, it ended up happening in this smallish room onsite. It was very hard to see, and the parents were all vying to see their precious little one. Here are some horrible photos. We actually have a video of the whole thing, but it's so large, we can't upload it. So, I need to parse it down into digestible chunks. Perhaps if I ever get that done, I'll share it with you:

Look carefully - you can see him walking in.
His good buddy Max is in front of him.
And his wonderful teacher Ms. Shaye is behind him.

And this was all I could sort of see once they were in place. 
With my camera in the air.

This was the side of the room...

Max's parents were just in front of us, trying to get a photo.

When all the rows of people moved the right way at once, we could see him.

This is how we got a video - S stood in the back.

The program covered all the holidays in this part of the calendar - Hanukkah, Christmas - both religious, Hispanic, secular and otherwise - and Kwanzaa. The kids had little things to say for each holiday, as well as a song to sing. They practiced the songs every day for several weeks, and LM really knew the words to these songs. He liked to sing them all the time, especially when we were driving in the car. And still, actually.

Another one of his teacher, Ms. Shaye, singing along.

LM was seated away from the rest of his class, in the front row, because he had volunteered for a speaking part. I guess none of the other kids wanted to talk into the microphone...and apparently my child has no qualms about that. Ha. He spoke about Kwanzaa, saying, "We celebrate the holiday by lighting candles every night." He did it just perfectly. I was so proud! And, still, when speaking into the little play microphone on our little play keyboard, he says this line. Because, of course, this is what you say into a microphone!

OK, so his buddy Harrison spoke about Kwanzaa too - right before LM.

Then LM got up there and belted out his line like a champ.

With such concentration. I was proud of him.
Maybe I already covered that part. Ahem.

It was fun to watch our boy participate in his first "program" of this kind. He is growing so fast, and I am trying to enjoy every fleeting minute.

See you soon!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Some Cousin Holiday Photos

We met in the arts district one day to take some photos of the Dallas cousins in their holiday outfits. Here are my favorites:

Let me stop to say, yes, my photos are loading differently this week. Flickr has changed their sharing options, and I've gone on record with them to say I hate it...it's not blog friendly, and I hope they allow us to go back to the "old" way. I could manually do this for each photo, but it would take a LOT longer for me to do this, and with the volume of photos I post, this is not ideal. If Flickr doesn't fix it, I'll move my photos to another site...but I'm going to give them a bit to see if they will fix this issue.  OK, onward...

There we go. Love it.

I really like these "artsy" shots...but not as cute of their little faces.

Then we tried this slightly different version.
Just too deep to get them all in focus.
At least by this amateur. Still cute, though!

Slightly different angle - but I forgot to straighten the horizon. Details.

They were getting a little tired of these photos by here.

Tried a "Christmas Tree" look here.
By the time I got to this photo, I was tired of photos too.
Or, I would have fixed the background.
Again, details.

See you soon.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

And Happy 40th Birthday to my S, my love and my best friend. We are looking forward to a day full of family here in Dallas, and to making memories as a little growing family of our own. We will be missing our Indiana family today - so hard to have so many people we love in two different places! But we are hoping their holiday is also wonderful. 

Much love to each of you on this holiday. 

See you soon.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ice Storm

A couple of weekends ago, the entire city was shut down for several days. We were at our house for the better part of three days, where we were very productive, cleaning out and up through. It was awesome to have that time. We did leave on Friday and slept at Cheryl and Sam's, when we lost power for about 24 hours. The temps outside were in the teens, and our old house is drafty. But, the electricity came back on mid-day Saturday and we were able to come back home. It was great to have a place to go, though! And, thankful the electricity didn't stay off for longer - we had friends without electricity for the better part of three days. No bueno! Here are a few photos I shot of our surroundings while the ice lasted:

Let's see - there was this - LM used an oven mitt to make is helmet fit better.

We lost several small limbs from our big red oak trees.
We were lucky - many people lost entire trees from the weight of the ice.

That's all ice, folks. Slick, slick slick!

For some reason, S wore his "bank robber" hat for almost this entire weekend.
I have no idea where it came from - but he found it and put it to good use!

The shrubs, falling down under the weight of the ice.

Not much outdoor play time this particular weekend...

The ice was much worse further north and west. 
We had a small dose compared to those areas.

We had a fire almost the entire weekend, which was wonderful.

 Glad it melted, finally! We loved having the time together, but it was time to get outta the house by Monday! 

Today is Christmas Eve - we are going to go ice skating this morning, and then to church this afternoon for the family service, and then by S's aunt's house later on. Then, time to get to bed to rest for the big day tomorrow.

See you soon.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Making an Ornament

LM was sent home with a clear ornament ball and asked to decorate it, then bring it back to school to hang on their tree. We talked quite a bit about what we might want to do with it - then we decided to just go up to JoAnn's and walk around, and let LM decide what he wanted to do.

While at JoAnn's, we talked about painting it, filling it with all different sorts of things like beads, ribbons, buttons, and the like, putting stickers on it, etc. Finally, LM decided he wanted to fill it with these little pom poms - and they just so happened to be selling packages of "Christmas color" poms that seemed perfect for the job. So, we purchased a few bags of them and headed home to make the ornament. 

LM and S filled the inside, and I wrote on the outside - his name and the year. And, of course, while we did all of this, I took some photos, and so did S. Here they are:

Done filling!

Then discussion ensued as to what we should write.

Then I started writing - his name, a greeting, and the year.

Such concentration...

...such a cutie pie.

SO related to his father. ;-)


A family effort.

See you soon.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The 2013 Visit to Santa

So, as I mentioned yesterday, we took the boy to see Santa. We have taken him to see the NorthPark Santa the last two years, and wanted to do this again. Since my schedule involves a lot of evenings this time of year, we decided to take him one morning. The drill at NorthPark is you have to get a number, which gets you a place in line. They start handing out numbers at 9am. Santa doesn't start seeing children until 11am. 

We wanted to get an early number, so we arrived at 9am. We were handed number 17. Then, we went and took our family photos, went to have breakfast in the mall, went to visit the train exhibit, and then ended up back at Santa's house at 10:30 for his storytime. Then we lined up to see him. Two things further delayed this visit - first, a news crew was there and took up about 15 minutes interviewing Santa at 11am. Then, they have added a Santa video this year, which meant Santa was deliberately stringing out the visits to capture a "moment" with each child, so you will buy the video. This meant we didn't see Santa until about 11:45. I'll tell you more about that later. For now, on to the photos:

Let's pick it up from the trains.
LM was pretty excited to go in.






There are interactive buttons along the way that activate action in the exhibit.
Once LM found these, we had to go around and try all of them. At least twice.



Then, on to story time!


I sat down with LM - better than standing for this growing belly.



Then it was time to line up.

So, here is where the story takes a turn from previous years. When LM was 18 months old, and again when he was 2 and 1/2 years old, he could not WAIT to see Santa - I was holding him back - he was in awe of the guy and wanted to get at him as quickly as possible. This year - once we started lining up, LM wanted to back out. He started saying he was "scared" of Santa, and didn't want to see him. We told him there was no going back, and he was going to sit on Santa's lap. He seemed resigned to this fact. Then, when we got to the front of the line and Santa's helper asked us for our numbered sheet of paper, LM looked up and told him, "We are canceling." Um, no sir, we are not. We are going forward...so he was very hesitant when it was time to approach the man in red. Santa took care of that right away, putting him at ease and winning him over.




And there's the money shot.

Love this one too.

This is one of my photos. The more "blue" ones are the "official" photos.


Also new this year - each child received a book from Santa.
More time to record video...

And, like you had to ask - of course, I bought the video.
They saw this sucker coming from a mile off.

Actually, because I always buy the the digital files - because that's how I store my photos and the best way for me to find them later - it's worth the money to me to have the professional photo memories - since I spent that money, the video became very cheap. So, cough cough. I said sure, let me spend some more. He's only three once, right?

As it turns out, later that day, the cousins ended up going back to see Santa together for a group photo. Here is the official one of that, and a fun one Kim took outside that I just love:

all five
LM looks so grown up here.

all five outside
So sums up their sweet personalities right now!

So, there you have it. Our visit(s) to Santa for 2013.

See you soon.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

For the Christmas Card

We took the boy to see Santa a few days ago, and decided to also try to get in a little family photo session for our Christmas cards. So, we tried to choose some coordinating outfits, and I took my tripod to the mall. Here are the results of our time there:

Checking the light and framing...

The first set - a little bit wonky!

The final choice.

This was the second set of "group" shots. I like it alright - I mean, I printed it on a Christmas card. But, since you asked. (You asked, right?) If I were to do it again, I would have done it slightly off to the side - as in, put the camera to the left of us, and had us angle/look over to it. The straight on styling is not the most flattering...but I didn't think of that until afterward - and who knows what would have crept up into the background in this space, had I done that - it might not have worked. Also, I need to start getting used to using reflectors - we could use a little more catchlight on those dark brown eyes.

Then a few with the boy!




I ended up using this one for the back of the card.

But, since you asked, it is not, actually, the best quality photo of the bunch - if you will look carefully, the thing that is most in focus in that photo is NOT the boy's face. It is, instead, his right hand, closest to us. This is a common mistake of the amateur photographer (me, ahem) - not paying attention to where the focus points have collected. And, given the lens I was using, I should have been paying closer attention to the depth of field - it focused on the thing closest to the camera. Of course. Anyway - I still chose it, because his face is not terribly out of focus, and it showed off his stunning (at least, I think it's stunning) personality at this age of his. A snapshot in time, shall we say. Ok, moving on...


He was actually sort of "in" to me taking his photos, so I continued...







Oh, how I love this boy. 

See you soon.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SMU's Celebration of Lights


Back in the day, way back in the day, when S and I and all our little college friends were, say, actually in college, we would wander out and attend the annual Celebration of Lights on campus, where they would light up the columns of Dallas Hall and a few trees nearby, and those collected would sing a few Christmas carols together. The trees looked like someone had thrown a few strands of lights, literally, straight up into the tree, to just land in the limbs sort of haphazardly. But, it was always at the start of the holiday season, and an on-campus event to attend.  


Since that time, the celebration has gone all Hollywood on us - local groups perform, the trees are actually wrapped in lights, a huge evergreen in the center of it all, hot cocoa for anyone who would like it, and a crowd about fifteen times bigger than any crowd that gathered when we were there. We have not attended in a few years, but this year it was on a Monday night, it was mild, we were done with dinner at home in time to run over there, so we decided to skedaddle and take part. 


There are always candles - for the singing of Silent Night - LM didn't take to holding fire too well. I guess I should be thankful for that. It is fun to be standing in the dark and see all those little candles lit all around you though! 




This is about as long as he held it. Split second.


Lots of students were back where we were - we arrived too late to be up front.

And then the lights came on!




I was REALLY excited to have a photograph taken.



Yeah, nothing like when we were in school.
Cough cough.




We've got a tree hugger!

A couple of shots as we walked away.


Fun times.

See you soon.