Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter Break is Fun!

My new haircut
I was a little worried about school ending for winter break. I was sure I was going to miss my teachers and friends. And what would I do all day? Well, I shouldn't have worried. We have had an amazing break so far!

As school was ending, I was having a little trouble focusing and listening. So, Mom and Dad decided to help provide me with some positive incentives. They made star charts for Hazel and me, where we can earn stars for good things that we do, like being nice to each other and Mom and Dad, cleaning our toys, putting on our seat belts in the car without being asked, and even bonus categories. When we get enough stars, we get prizes. Hazel and I are really excited about the stars, and it has definitely encouraged us to behave better. 

Hazel said she has duck feet
Winter break started off with Mom taking me to get a hair cut. I look pretty sharp with my new 'do. More importantly, I was really good while I was getting my haircut (I earned a star for that). One funny thing that happened while I was getting my hair cut was the barber wished me a Merry Christmas. I said Happy Chanukah to him right back. Mom and Dad thought it was sweet and very funny.

We've had lots of time during winter break to play with all of our toys that we got during Chanukah. We've been playing the new board games we got a lot. Hello Kitty, Feed the Woozle, Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel, and Bunny Hop are pretty popular with us right now.

 On Christmas Eve, we went to our synagogue for a Chinese food and game night. Hazel, Turner, and I weren't crazy about the Chinese food, but Mom brought along all of our games, so we got to play them all night. That, plus delicious rice krispie treats, made it a really fun night.

Yup - 300 pieces
When I'm not playing games, I've been continuing to work on puzzles. I finished a 300 piece puzzle with Mom and Dad's help.

Dad and Hazel dress up for
the warm weather.  That's
a little ridiculous Dad!
We've also been enjoying Christmas lights. Last weekend, we went to 37th Street, which is the best street in Austin for Christmas lights. They even had a stuffed animal petting zoo. We loved looking at all of the pretty lights, but our favorite part was the house with the trampoline that we could jump on. Turner liked that a lot. Dad was pretty surprised that the neighbors were so nice to have a trampoline and light show at their house. Later, on Christmas night, we walked around our neighborhood to look at lights. A cold front had just come in, so we had to dress really warm. Mom thought Dad dressed a little too warmly!

One of the things I've been very helpful with is cleaning. That's nothing new - I've always been really into cleaning. But lately I've had a renewed interest in cooking. Hazel and I made lemon cookies with Mom the other day. It was really fun. Mom was impressed at how good I did at rolling out the dough and making cookies of different shapes. We had dinosaurs, bunnies, and sharks.

I also helped Mom make creme brulee french toast casserole and chicken black bean tacos.

Since I've been so into cooking, Mom gave me a kids cookbook for one of my star prizes. When she gave it to me, I grabbed it and immediately ran up to my room to read it. Mom thought that was pretty funny. Last night we made "hidden hotdogs" from one of the recipes. Mom called them cows in a blanket. They came out great and we all had them for dinner. I can't wait to cook more things from my new cook-book.

Raise your hand if you like ice cream!
Dad's been home a lot from work over winter break, and it's been really nice having him around. He's taken us to the park a bunch of times, where we've pretending to cook using our beach toys and the park's gravel. We are very good at pretending.

Yesterday, Dad had the day off work so we drove to Brenham, TX, to go on a tour of the Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory. Dad has been wanting to do this with us for a while, but they only do tours Monday through Friday, which is when Dad usually works. So, winter break gave us the chance to all go see how they make ice cream. We were pretty good on the hour and a half drive down there. I helped Dad with directions and the speed limit, while Hazel played games on her iPod. It was a rainy, drizzly day, so it was a great day for a road trip. Hazel said it was soggy.

We got to Brenham just around lunch time, but we were too excited to eat lunch, so we went straight into the Blue Bell factory for the tour. The tour was pretty fun. We got to see how they move all of the ingredients from boxes into the big mixing machines. The Blue Bell factory uses milk from 60,000 cows every single day! Then we got to watch them actually making the ice cream. It came out of big tubes into containers, and there were people loading up the containers so they could be sent on to grocery stores. We even got to see them adding the Oreos for cookies and cream ice cream.

Let's see if Hazel can figure out what
I want here...
We were all very patient through the tour, and were rewarding at the end with tons and tons of ice cream. They had 32 different flavors for us to try. Hazel and I started off with strawberry, finished that and got mint chocolate chip. We shared with each other, Turner, and Mom and Dad too.

Too full for more ice cream?
No way -   Pretty soon we were
ready for more.
After we finished, I felt pretty full. I told Mom I was all "ice creamed out." But before too long, Hazel and I were going back up to get more ice cream - samples this time. We ate way too much ice cream, but it sure was fun. Hazel said we should go on a tour of the ice cream factory every day.

Winter break has been awesome so far, and it should be even better next week. We can't wait to see what we're doing for New Years!

Here are pictures from our winter break so far.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Happy Chanukah from Bubbe

This weekend marked the start of Chanukah. To celebrate Bubbe came to town for the weekend to help us celebrate.

Bubbe got into town on Thursday. Dad took the day off from work and took Turner to swim class. It was the first time Dad has gone to Turner's swim class, and he was pretty impressed. Besides seeing how much Turner enjoys being in the pool, Dad thought that the warm water at the rehab pool was his kind of water temperature!

After Turner and Dad got back from swim class, Dad and I drove to the airport to pick up Bubbe. When we pulled up to the curb, Dad let me get out of the car and I ran full-speed to Bubbe and gave her a HUGE hug.  She was excited to see how happy I was to see her. I was also excited to see Bubbe's suitcase full of presents. We brought Bubbe back home where she got to see Mom, Hazel, and Turner.

Since Dad had the day off, we decided to show Bubbe how good we've gotten at riding our bikes, so we all went to the park.  Hazel and I rode our bikes and Turner rode in his little car.  At the park, Hazel and I pretended the playscape was a boat.  Turner went up and down the slides and rode on the swings.  Dad showed Bubbe how to make Turner laugh on the swings by pretending to get knocked over by Turner.  Bubbe took some fun videos.

Thursday night we went to one of my favorite restaurants - Bamboo Bistro.  It was Dad and Bubbe's first time there.  Turner really loved his noodles and had a lot of fun eating them.

Friday Dad had to go to work, so we got to spend some quality time with Bubbe. We showed Bubbe my classroom at school and after school we got to show her Hazel and my swim class.  Bubbe was impressed at how good we did swimming, even though we were trying to show off by not listening to our teacher as much as usual.

Bubbe realized she had forgotten her phone charger so we took her to the Apple Store Friday night. I was happy to show her all of the fun things they have to do there. Dad met us there after work and we all went to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner. When we got back, we celebrated our first night of Chanukah, a night early so we'd have an extra holiday night with Bubbe.  Mom had gotten us a super fun new menorah last year - it has fun animals on it riding in an ark.  Hazel picked out some candles for it and we said all of the prayers.  And then we got to open presents from Bubbe!

I opened mine first - it was a race track and some cars.  Hazel and I took it to the top of the stairs and let the cars race down the stairs on it.  It was super fun.  Hazel got a Hello Kitty alarm clock, a giant Hazel-sized Hello Kitty, and a Hello Kitty bed set.  She's pretty into Hello Kitty, so she was very excited.  I also got a stand for all of my cleaning supplies, which is awesome. I'm still really into cleaning - like mopping, sweeping, and vacuuming.
Turner opening presents
Hazel in Hello Kitty heaven

Hazel got an ambulance!
Hazel and Turner show off their presents

Cleaning up at Tot Shabbat
Saturday morning, Bubbe and Dad too all us kids to Tot Shabbat.  It was very crowded - there about three times the number of kids there that there normally are.  We sang all of our favorite songs, including some special Chanukah songs.  Bubbe helped us make our very own menorahs as part of the craft.  Then we all played on the playground for a while. Bubbe took some videos of Turner crawling around. Hazel and I swept the place up, played on the playscape, rode around on a tricycle, and generally just played.

We made these!
When we came home we had a quick lunch and then Bubbe and Mom helped us make cookies!  We made cookies shaped like dreidles, menorahs, chickens, dinosaurs, and even gingerbread men.  It reminded me of when we made gingerbread men at school last week, and the gingerbread men all ran away!  This time, they stayed put. We decorated our cookies with toppings and icing.  It was very fun and very delicious.

So many toys!
After filling up on cookies, we had nap/quiet time and then celebrated an early Chanukah.  This time it was my turn to pick out the candle colors.  After lighting the candles, we got more presents from Aunt Laurie and Uncle Jonathan.  I got a crane that I can put together and take apart myself.  I LOVE it!  Hazel and Turner love playing with it too, so its giving us lots of practice sharing.  Sometimes we do better than other times at sharing.

Mom making Latkes.  Yum!
Saturday night Mom made some really yummy and healthy latkes.  We ate them all in one meal, and then Bubbe, Dad, Hazel, and I played dreidle with Reese's Pieces.  Both Hazel and I declared that our favorite dreidle letter was gimel since that's the one that let us eat all of the Reese's Pieces.

Hazel and I painting
Usually in the mornings when I wake up I go play quietly by myself.  But Sunday morning I marched straight into Mom and Dad's room at 6 a.m., turned on the light, and started playing with my new crane.  I did it because I wanted Dad's help taking apart and putting together the crane.  Mom and Dad thought it was funny.  Fortunately, Bubbe was awake, so she played with me, Hazel, and Turner so Mom and Dad could sleep in a little bit. While they were sleeping, Bubbe helped us make sand sculptures.

After Mom and Dad finally got up, we all went to the running track at the nearby middle school so I could run with Mom.  I was only able to do a few laps, then Dad took Hazel and me up into the bleachers where we could cheer for Mom.  Turner found a ball to play with.  Hazel and I also did some short races on the track, and even did a full lap with Mom helping.  It was good to get some exercise, especially after all those cookies and latkes.

Hazel with her Hello Kitty car
When we got home, we did another early Chanukah while Bubbe was still in town. This time we opened our presents from Aunt Susan and Uncle Stuart, Aunt Pat and Uncle Neal.

Hazel got a remote control Hello Kitty scooter (we had to practice sharing again), and a Bunny Hop game that we all agreed was really fun.  I got a giant box of cars that I can race on my new racetrack.  Turner got a Thomas the Train that goes all by itself. We played with our toys for a little bit, then it was time for Bubbe to go back to Atlanta.

Turner, Dad, and I drove her to the airport, where I gave her another big hug and we said goodbye. We were sad to see Bubbe go, but at least she left behind so many fun presents for us to remember her by.

Sunday night we went to a Chanukah party at our synagogue. We got to eat latkes, play dreidle, sing songs. light the menorah, and run around a lot. It has been a really fun Chanukah so far and there are still five more nights to go!

Here are pictures from our fun weekend.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December in Austin

Hazel's motorcycle - it was fun while it lasted.
We had a really fun weekend! We got back from Pennsylvania, where it was cold. Mom had packed away all of our summer clothes and we were getting used to wearing coats and gloves.  Surprise! It was in the eighties this weekend.  What a great excuse to spend a bunch of time outside!

Saturday we had a really neat day.  Saturday morning, Dad took us to the park.  I rode my bike there, Hazel rode her tricycle, and Dad walked.  We played at the park for about an hour before coming home for lunch and then we all napped, which was really nice.

After nap time, we went to the store and bought Hazel her very own bicycle!  She picked out one that looked just like a motorcycle.  It was pretty cool.  She even rode it out of the store.  When we got home, Dad took Hazel and I out on our bikes.  We rode around the neighborhood, showing off Hazel's new bike to all of our neighbors.

Saturday night, we drove to Marble Falls to see the Walkway of Lights.  Mom packed us a delicious and healthy dinner, which we ate right after our one hour drive.  The lights were very pretty.  We all loved it, but I think Turner loved it most of all.  Dad kept saying that there were two million lights there.  We all thought that was very impressive.  Before we left, Mom put us in our pajamas, thinking we'd be fast asleep by the time we got home.  But we were so excited that we stayed up singing the Star Spangled Banner and talking the whole way home.

Sunday, all of us kids got up and climbed into Mom and Dad's bed and just hung out for a relaxing morning.  Chanukah is coming up next week, so Mom pulled out our Chanukah box and we all went through it.  There were some toys, menorahs and driedels.  It was exciting to see all of it.  Then we realized we needed candles for our menorah.  So after breakfast we went to synagogue to pick up some Chanukah candles.  I don't think we had ever been there on a Sunday before.  We got to watch the kids in Sunday school, singing songs and playing.  It looked like fun.

Since the weather was so nice, and we were all ready to play, we went down the street to Central Market and played on the playground.  Hazel and I climbed all of the ladders and went down the slides.  Turner went with Mom to watch the ducks.  Hazel and I eventually joined them.

Soon, our cousins Chuck and Kim met us there for brunch.  It was great to see them again, and Hazel and I were both in a very chatty mood for brunch.  We told them all about the stuff going on in our lives and I sang them my theme song, the Star Spangled Banner.

After brunch, Chuck and Kim stuck around to watch us play on the playground a bit more until Turner and Hazel started getting tired.  There were a lot of birds in the area and as we were leaving we noticed that one of them pooped on poor Chuck's jacket.  We said goodbye to Chuck and Kim and headed for home.  All Hazel and I could talk about on the way home was the bird that pooped on Chuck's jacket.

After napping, Dad made us an orange sno-cone.  There's nothing Mom and Dad can't do with their Vitamix.  Refreshed from my delicious sno-cone, Mom and I headed out for a run.  We warmed up with a walk, then Mom said we could walk when I wanted, run when I wanted and stop when I wanted.  Mom was super impressed with how well I did. We stopped once I caught sight of the playground at the park.  We went almost a mile and a half.

Meanwhile, Dad took Hazel and Turner to the park; Hazel rode her new bike there.  We met up with them there and played for a while.  Mostly, we pretended we were on a farm.  Turner went up the stairs and down the little slide over and over again all by himself.

While we were at the park, Dad realized that Hazel's new bike was too small.  He and Mom were worried that Hazel was going to be really sad when they told her that they were going to need to swap it for a bigger bike, but she handled it like a champ.  Mom went to the store to exchange it Sunday night.

It was a fun weekend.  We'll update you on Hazel's new bike in a later post.