Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ringing in the New Year in downtown Louisville, KY

Downtown Louisville Waterfront

For New Year's Eve this year we had a wonderful time playing with our good friends the Holt's and Allen's. 
The kids had a great time together, and it was fun having Brittney back home for the holidays.

Kentucky Science Center

Merinda is posing in front of one of the fun attractions at the Kentucky Science Center.
We watched an IMAX moved called The Arctic, about Polar Bears, which was visually beautiful, but I think the kids had more fun just visiting, and well, being kids.

Lazer Blaze

Our next adventure was "Lazer Blaze", a miniature-golf, laser-tag play center. Some of us girls played a quick game of miniature-golf while Brittney and the guys did laser-tag. The rest of us joined in on laser-tag for a final game.
Don't let this picture of Christina Holt's good form fool you, this was the only time she actually held her club correctly (Christina and I tied for last place).
Since Aubrey missed miniature golfing with us in the summer, we just had to give her the experience (this was her first time miniature-golfing). She was a natural (she came in first), but not a fun team-player--she kept rushing us, and wouldn't let me take thousands of pictures (the whole glow-in-the-dark space theme was too cool!). 

Beautiful "girls" Bridgette and Lauren. Bridgette came in second place and we all decided that I should stick to laser-tag and Bridgette with miniature-golf!

Ichiban - Japanese Teppanjaki

After all the play, we were starving and decided to eat dinner at a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant downtown called "Ichiban". Here is a picture of the girls.
And a picture of the guys.
The kids were very entertained, even if Japanese cuisine was not their favorite food.
Why are they all giving each other messages you ask?
I really don't know, but over the years I have learned not to question many of the things they do, especially since they all get along so well, and have such a good time together. 
Here, are the adults sitting at our own table.
We too were entertained by fire...

but not quite as impressed (Bridgette doesn't care to watch at all, and Mark finds a practical use for the fire - warming his hands). This is an example of why it is good to stay a kid as long as possible.

Marriott Residence Inn

Our last and final stop was the "Marriott Residence Inn" in downtown, Louisville.
After a huge dinner the kids chose to play water games and swim in the hotel pool (yes, Mark was the biggest kid in the pool!).
The rest of New Year's Eve consisted of girl-talk and games,
boy-talk and games (this is how boys communicate isn't it?), 
and pinata breaking. Random, I know, but that really seems to be a central theme in Brittney's life (it was Brittney's pinata given to her by her good friend Kate, again, I try not to ask too many questions).
I do have to say that there is something very therapeutic about punching a pinata as hard as you can (especially for Christina, who packed the hardest punch),
and something as equally therapeutic about eating it's contents! 
We then all watched the ball drop in NYC (one great thing about living in Kentucky is that we are in the same time zone as New York),
  kissed our loved-ones (Brittney didn't want Aubrey to feel left-out),
and toasted in the New Year with sparkling cider, grape, and cranberry juice delicately poured into plastic cups. I think we finally collapsed into our beds around 3:00 a.m., except for the boys who had to talk for another hour or so (at least we know they too enjoy a little boy-talk).  
Every New Years Eve celebration deserves a day-after photo, and this one does not dissapoint: Brittney is still eating, Lauren is painfully attempting to smile, and Merinda's expression says it all. We did have a wonderful New Years Eve celebration though, and want to thank our friends who made it all possible--you guys are the best!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Christmas Day

We had a wonderful Christmas this year, and feel very blessed for the things we received and were able to give one another. Here, the kid's are sporting their individualized, hand-made blankets from Grandma Virginia--Thank you Virginia, the kids love their blankies!
 We felt it fitting that Brittney, our Ultimate Frisbee champ, model our flashlight frisbee from the Holts. We can't wait to try-out our new gift (now if it would just get above freezing).
Brittney and her Christmas gifts.
 Can you guess which gift was her favorite?
 Yep, you guessed it, a new Harmonica from Aubrey. Who knew! It must be that sister telepathy thing again.
Aubrey and her Christmas treasures. 
This is the typical look I get from Aubrey when I take her picture unaware, but I just had to take a picture of Aubrey's favorite Christmas gift (at least it better be!), a new laptop computer for college.
Merinda sporting her goods, and her favorite gift this year came from her brother Breck: a slightly-used, hopefully legally re-vamped, i-pod!
Funny story (o.k. maybe not so funny to Breck) but his favorite gift actually has not arrived yet (Brad could not justify spending a mint to have Breck's electronic gadget arrive in time for Christmas) but at this point we're just hoping it does arrive!
 And of course no Christmas would be complete without Brad's delicious omelets and sausage gravy for breakfast, mmmmm! 

December Happenings

 Also in December, the kids were busy with their various club activities. Above, Aubrey and her group found a green scarf, one of the many scavenger hunt items the Senior class had to find for their Christmas fund-raiser. 
 Breck and Aubrey posing in their very tacky, thrown-together, super-hero costumes. The event was a super-hero birthday party. Aubrey is "super Aubz" and I think Breck said he was an "over-the-hill ghetto batman" or something like that.
 And of course Brad's birthday always falls in the middle of December. Some years it is tough to celebrate it properly, and unfortunately this was one of those years.
 All the kids had fun making our annual Christmas goody plate that we take to friends and neighbors each year.
 It was a little messy and maybe a bit tedious as times, but a good family bonding activity none-the-less.

 Please tilt your head slightly to the right to view these two pictures (they transferred this way and there is no way to turn them around - sorry).
 This year our goody inspiration came from the American Girl magazine, compliments of Merinda Manwaring.
 It is so fun having Brittney home for the holidays because you never quite know what's up her sleeve. One day she thought it would be fun to go shopping at Goodwill and buy festive (code word for tacky) turtle-necks and vests to wear to church for Christmas. We took this picture after church because Brad and I thought the kid's looked legitimately nice, anyway, it's just a matter of time before turtle-necks and vest come back in!
Close-up of Breck's and Brittney's vests. Brittney's primary kids thought the chains on her vest were pretty cool, and I have to say that I found Breck's vest quite epic with the whole Egyptian hieroglyphic motif going on.   

Christmas Concerts

High School Jazz Band 

 One of our favorite things to do in December is go to all of the kid's Christmas concerts.
This year Breck is playing the Alto and Baritone Saxophones in the top Jazz Band.  

High School Chorus 

The next concert we attended was Aubrey's Chorus concert which was held at the Singletary Concert Hall on the UK Campus.
The Chorus Christmas concert is always a treat with beautiful decorations, fun songs, unique choreography, and even a sing-along. 
 Above is a picture of Ladies Ensemble, an all-girls choir that meets after school. 
 Close-up of Ladies Ensemble.

Middle School Band

This year we added another Christmas concert to our repertoire. Merinda is following in her big sister Aubrey's footsteps and began playing the flute.  Merinda is really enjoying the flute, and especially likes the fact that she shares a stand with her good friend Nikara. 
The Middle School Band concert took place in the Middle School cafeteria. The little stage almost could not hold all of the Sixth Grade band members. The Seventh and Eighth grade bands are not quite as large.

High School Concert Band

  The final concert we attended this Christmas Season was the High School Concert Band. The kid's looked very festive in their Marching Band uniforms, but all we noticed was Aubrey's short black socks that hardly covered her ankles. We told her the next time she borrows her brother's socks for a concert they need to be his black church socks, not his "no show" Nike's!
Another picture of 4th hour band (the top band). Breck is also in the band and sitting somewhere in the back. There are two other High School bands this same size which perform at different times.