After waking up at 3am to power-shop at Kohl's on Black Friday, I went back to bed for a few hours. We woke up a second time and went to downtown Fort Wayne to The History Center to the Festival of Gingerbread. There are many age groups ranging from K-1st-2nd thru adult and professionals that make gingerbread houses for the display throughout the holiday season. This year was the 25th anniversary of the event. Interesting point: 25 years ago, for the first annual Festival of Gingerbread, my mom and I made a gingerbread house to enter into the festival. 25 years later, we took the kids to see the same display.
My favorite "Teen Category" house a blue Victorian house
My favorite "Professional Category" house Candyland
Norah and Papaw
The History Center houses many interesting displays of historical Fort Wayne The old jailhouse was in the basement of the building and is now part of the exhibit Nathan behind bars
Every year the extended Elser family get together for a big Thanksgiving Feast. Everyone brings food to share. It is an opportunity for the family to reconnect at least once a year. This year the estimated count was 80 people in the Greene Center (an old school building converted into an event hall). We started with the feast:
While the adults socialized, the kids (and many adults) made foam-sticker crafts
It was just too much excitement for Norah She passed out in Stan's arms
For the second year, we went underground to see the Lights Under Louisville at the Mega Cavern. I had a Groupon that got us in for half price. The lights display was even better than last year and the kids really enjoyed the lights and the Christmas music.
Nathan is into Veggie Tales right now so we had a Veggie Tales Birthday Party to celebrate his 4th birthday. We invited a few of Nathan's closest friends from church. There is a lot of information online about theme birthday parties, but not a lot of Veggie Tales specific party things without paying a lot at the Big Idea website. I tried to be creative and made a lot of things using printouts from online sites. It turned out very cute and the kids loved the theme.
I printed small characters on sticker paper and made flags with toothpicks to put on cupcakes and label Veggies on a vegetable tray.
From "The Jonah Movie": Mr. Twisty's Twisted Cheese Curls (i.e. Cheetoes)
I found Veggie character cut-outs and the kids made puppets
My baby boy is turning into an awesome young man right before my eyes. I can't say enough about how I love this little boy. Who would have thought 4 years ago tonight would change my life so much. I can't imagine my life without him. Everyday he is learning and doing more and more. Nathan loves to play outside one the swings and ride his tricycle around the neighborhood. His favorite indoor activity is watching Disney Channel on TV or watching movies on the Wii (we have Netflix). He knows all his letters and can write his name very well. He can count to 29 with very little help. He has a super memory and can memorize scripture for weekly Cubbies homework at church with no problem, and can even remember verses days and weeks later. His current obsession is Veggie Tales, but that could change any day because he is into so many things. He loves to read and play with stickers. He has such a creative imagination and can make up stories about his surroundings, especially while in the car. Stats: 30 pounds (5%), 36 inches (20%)
Nathan and Norah adore each other - despite the fact that they annoy each other and pick on each other. Norah has to be where ever Nathan is, doing whatever Nathan is doing. The other night, Nathan was watching a Veggie Tales viedo before bed on his iPod/radio and Norah had to join him on the floor (even though she doesn't like to watch TV or video) just because her big brother was doing it.
We took the kids around the neighborhood trick or treating. They had a great time. Nathan (Super Why) was running from house to house (a far cry from last year when he through a fit and wouldn't participate). He was so polite, saying "Trick or Treat" and "Thank You" at every house. Norah was dressed as a ladybug and was so excited to be outside and running around the neighborhood. She had her little goodie bag and went to a few houses. Even Norah learned how to say "Trick or Treat" and Thank You".
On Halloween day, our neighborhood (Holly Springs) has a Halloween parade for the kids. Kids and adults can dress up in their costumes and parade around the main loop behind a Lyndon Fire Engine. Nathan dressed in his Super Why costume and paraded with his tricycle (Norah was still napping). It was very cute to see all the little kids in their costumes.
After the parade, we all met back at the neighborhood entrance for Halloween donuts and apple cider.
I think carving pumpkins and painting pumpkins are quite messy and I just didn't want to get into all of that this year. We took a day trip to Brown County, IN and saw these cute pumpkins that looked like Mr. Potato Head. What a great idea, we could do this. After church we stopped and picked up 2 medium-sized pumpkins. Jeff used a small screwdriver to poke holes in the pumpkin and Nathan used Mr. Potato Head pieces we already had to decorate faces. They turned out great and the best things were no mess and super easy.
Nathan is very proud of his pumpkins (He also painted a pumpkin at the neighborhood party) He picked out a baby pumpkin for Norah (not decorated)
There are so many Halloween activities going on all throughout Louisville. We live near a new shopping center called Westport Village and on the Friday evening before Halloween they had a trick or treating event. Kids can dress up and trick or treat to the different shops in the village. This was our second event in one day (see previous post: trick or treating at the hospital). Nathan wanted to wear his fireman costume from last year instead of Super Why.
Nathan gets treats from Kermit the Frog
Nathan (Fireman) and Norah (Ladybug) at Westport Village
Free samples of Happy Cow ice cream Nathan shared his ice cream with his baby sister
Nathan and Norah's daycare have all the kids dress in costume and trick or treat through the first floor of the hospital. Many departments come down and hand out candy to the little goblins, witches and superheroes. Parents are invited to join the classes for trick or treating and also for the class Halloween parties afterward. Norah didn't want to be separated for either of us so we kept her with us and we went with Nathan's class.
Nathan (Super Why) lining up with his class
Me and my Halloween baby Norah didn't wear her costume, but had a Halloween shirt instead
Daddy and his Halloween girl
Jeff walking the halls of the hospital with Nathan (Super Why) and Norah - she had her own treat bag and it took no time for her to figure out how to work the crowd and fill her bag with goodies
Our church has an awesome Fall Festival every year. The kids dress up in non-scary costumes, play fun games, bouncies, hay rides and lots of candy. Nathan had a great time, especially on the bouncies (his favorite).
Nathan (Super Why) running/bouncing through the obstacle course
Norah is getting so big. What happened to my baby girl? She is so independent and has just recently decided she wants to use a spoon and fork to feed herself and is doing quite well with this new skill. As you can tell from the picture below, she is using her left hand quite a bit. I know it is too soon to determine handedness, but she may end up being left handed.
Southeast Christian Church had a week-long event called "Momentum" with nightly guest speakers and entertainment. One the last night, we took Nathan to see Veggies Tales Live, a touring show with the popular Veggie Tales vegetable characters and silly songs with positive lessons. Nathan really loves Veggie Tales right now and was very excited to see his favorite characters singing his favorite silly songs
Me and my boy at the show
Nathan got a new Veggie Tales CD It's his new favorite CD and asks to listen to it all the time now
Our seats weren't the best. We had a slightly obstructed view of the stage and had to look straight up to see the big screens, but Nathan loved every minute and he didn't seem to care where we were sitting.