Thursday, December 27, 2012

Skating, packing and getting yelled at by an old lady

You know that saying that goes, "when a 94-year-old grandfather says 'jump,' you ask, 'how high?'?" What do you mean, it doesn't go exactly like that? Well, that's how the saying goes in the Lafferty family.

Cory's grandfather is 94 and is quite content being the patriarch of the family. He decided he was having a party for his birthday/launch of his book on December 22nd. (Yes, you read that part about the book correctly.) Thus, the whole family trekked to Wichita the weekend before Christmas for a two-hour party in a retirement home. It's what he wanted, so we were happy to oblige.

But, seeing as we were down there for the whole day on Saturday AND we had two young children in tow, we needed to find something to do for the rest of the day. Enter Google. In a few short clicks, I found a "Skating with Santa" event on Saturday morning. Perfect.

Remember, I had been wanting to take the girls ice skating? Well, this was a perfect solution. Plus, Aunt Amber was going to be in Wichita, so she could help with the skating. That meant, I could get some good pictures and not put my camera's life at too big a risk. Double plus, I found out my friend Terah was going to be in Wichita the same weekend with her family, and they wanted to come, too. It was a great plan all around.

Until the actual trip came around. See, as anyone who knows me can attest: I need my sleep. Like bad. I mean, I am essentially useless unless I get a full night's sleep. So, when it came to packing up for Wichita after several nights and days of Christmas get-togethers ... well, let's just say my brain didn't work so well.

I forgot pretty much everything. Including hats, coats and gloves for every single one of us. Not such a great thing to forget when you're going ice skating. I felt like an idiot. Christmas came a tad early as the girls got new coats and hats and gloves. Heck, even I got new gloves! Thank goodness Target was a mere four minutes away from our hotel.

So, freshly dressed with new outerwear, we headed over to the ice rink to skate with Santa. Luckily, despite the shaky start, we ended up having a great time.

Cory and Amber grew up with a pond in their backyard, so they spent many a childhood winter skating. I grew up in North Carolina, so my skating experience was much less extensive. I think I recall a childhood skating party or two, then a couple times as a grown up. With experts like Cory and Amber in my midst, I was able to trust them with the girls while I took pictures.  My mission was to stay upright to save the camera.

Seeing Santa before getting on the ice. Molly later said, "I think that Santa is a girl!" Whoops. We had to explain about Santa's helpers ...

The whole fam ready to take on the ice. Check out the girls' new coats and gloves. Pretty snazzy for a last-minute Target run.

I love this picture!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A tale of two girls ... and Santa

Every year since Molly's been born, we've gone to have breakfast with Santa through my dad's Rotary. The visits haven't always been successful. There was one year Molly refused to sit on Santa's lap. But, we did get a picture of her next to Santa, and she discovered Fruit Loops, which she had never seen before. She now and forever calls them "Christmas Cheerios." So, it wasn't an utter failure.

This year, the breakfast was in a new location. The old restaurant where they used to meet no longer exists, so they had it in the town hall building in Shawnee. Unfortunately, that is even farther away from us in Olathe. And, it started at 7:00 AM.

Now, it's not that I'm not used to being up that early. Trust me, I am. I live with the built in 5:30-alarm clock that is Charlotte Lafferty. However, being up is one thing. Being up, out the door, dressed in Christmas clothes the morning after a snow was a different thing altogether. It was a rather chaotic morning, but we managed to only be about 15 minutes late. And, we still beat my dad, mom, brother and sister.

We all ate breakfast (Catered by Moe's. The burrito place. I had no idea they catered breakfast, but that's an entirely other topic.) Then the organizers brought out a magician. The girls really enjoyed this part, and Charlotte's eyes were bugging out of her head when she saw him pull balls out of his mouth. I am afraid that she will attempt that trick at home.

Then, the main event: SANTA!

For some reason, every single year, we end up being the last people in line. This year was no different. Here was the problem: the night before, Santa had called the girls. Yeah, I know. A personal phone call from Santa? Yes, it's true.

Amber's hospital does a fundraiser every year by offering calls from Santa. So, she filled out the forms, gave some personal info and then Santa called and asked Molly about her dance and running, and asked Charlotte about gymnastics and her friend Ella.

So, after that the night before, Molly didn't see the need to go talk to Santa. "I told him what I wanted last night," she explained. But, then I explained that I really wanted a picture of her with Santa, so she relented.

We waited and waited and waited and waited ... finally it was our turn.

Posing with Santa!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Great Santa Run

Last year, Cory and I ran in the Great Santa Run, a 5K around Johnson County Community College, not too far from our house. We ran it with my little brother and Anne while the girls spent the night at my parents' house. The race is a fun theme. C'mon, it's called the Great Santa Run.

Everyone gets Santa hats to run in, and it is fun to check out everyone's costumes. People ran in full Santa suits, Christmas tree outfits, and all sorts of other Christmas-themed regalia. Plus, they have an amazing breakfast after, with the culinary school of JCCC preparing and serving a huge breakfast of eggs, biscuits and gravy, pastries, lemon bars ... yum.

We had such a good time last year that I definitely wanted to do it again. So, this year, I was all gung-ho for everyone to do it. But, my little brother wasn't in town. My dad wouldn't commit. Anne got sick. Kelli was hurt. Basically, my big plans of having a big ol' Christmas-themed running party were crushed.

But, I had had so much fun last year, and I really thought the girls would get a kick out of it. I mean, there was a Little Elves Run! So, we convinced Cory's parents to come out to watch the girls while Cory and I ran the race. Luckily, the whole waiting area is inside a gym, so no one needed to wait out in the cold. And, even more luckily, the weather was absolutely amazing. It was over 50 degrees and sunny at race time.

How to entertain a cranky 2-year-old? Dora on the iPhone.

Now they're both entertained
Family picture before the race.

We hung out inside with the girls and Cory's parents for as long as possible, then made our way to the starting line. That is where our mistake began. We thought the starting line was where the big archway for the finish line was. Turns out, that was an incorrect assumption. The starting line was actually a good 60 feet ahead of that. So, while we started not very far back from what we thought was the start, we were actually probably 75 feet from the start. Seventy-five feet of people.

Problem was, we didn't realize our mistake until after the race started. We couldn't run fast at all, and we had to weave in and around and through. We were running on the grass, on the sidewalks, on the curbs. It was crazy. At one point, I had to pass a lady walking with two canes. Two canes! That is how far back we were.

(Not that there is anything wrong with walking in a race with two canes. I actually think that is quite awesome and to be commended. But, if I want to go fast, I just probably shouldn't be starting behind this person.)

So, my big plan of redemption and winning another medal was ruined. It took way too much time to weave around the people. And, remember how I said that the weather was gorgeous? Well, it was, but I was way overdressed. I was wearing capris, long socks and a long sleeved shirt, and I was dying. Now, I'm not making excuses. I also haven't been doing speedwork, and there were a lot more people in the race this year, so I probably wouldn't have repeated as last year's 3rd place age division winner no matter where we started.

But, the point of it all, was that we had a great time. I got 7th instead of 3rd. No medal for me. But, we did have a great time. Molly ran the kids race super fast. So fast, in fact, that I didn't even get a picture of it. We all got delicious breakfasts, and got some really fun pictures to boot.

Crossing the finish line. You can tell how far back we started when our official time is 1:30 faster than our clock time.

I didn't catch Molly on camera, but I did get Charlotte running with Cory.

Hanging out with the giant Santa.

Playing around after the race. Racing down the hill.

Yes, that is Buddy the Elf. Yes, I did ask to take a picture with him. No, Charlotte would not go anywhere close to him.
My new favorite family picture! I only wish I would've waited to make our Christmas card until after we took this one!
Happy Santa Run to all and to all a goodnight!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Nutcracker Sweet

Although I may not resemble one now, there was a time in my life when I was a ballerina. I know. Really and truly. And, though running has completely co-opted my physical activity allotment now (as well as any turn-out I once had), I do still hold a very dear spot in my heart for my dancing days. And, nothing brings those memories flooding back like Christmastime and The Nutcracker Ballet.

See, I performed in The Nutcracker Ballet for the Dance Theater of Fayetteville for something like five years straight. I cannot hear the opening strains of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite without pointing my toes or fighting the urge to whip out a couple tour jetes across the kitchen floor.

So, you can imagine how excited I have been to share my love for this ballet with Molly and Charlotte. The problem was, I wasn't sure how well they would be able to handle sitting through an entire 2-hour performance. I knew I would be entranced by the beauty and dancing, but a 2- and 5-year-old? No guarantees that would turn out well.

Then, I came across this ad for a Nutcracker Ballet Tea Party thrown by the Arts and Recreation Foundation of Overland Park and Friends of Overland Park Arts. It was a shortened version of the ballet, performed by ballet students, aimed at children, and complete with an actual tea party. Problem solved!

The girls love playing tea party, and I could test out how they would do with a shortened performance. I convinced a couple other moms of girls that they should do it too, so we filled up a table in no time.

I have never been so proud of how well-behaved my girls acted. I'm not going to pretend that they are angels, and regular readers know that isn't the case, but on this day, they were fabulous. We got all dressed up for the big event. It was an excuse to wear their holiday dresses another time. The ballroom was beautifully decorated, and the girls sat in their seats and couldn't get over the excitement of it all. I'm pretty sure both my girls ate about four cookies a piece, but since it was a special occasion, I didn't worry about it.

Melese, Avery and Molly checking out the spread.

Of course, Charlotte's mouth if full of cookie.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cheese + Penguins = Bad Mom?

On Saturday, Cory got tickets to the final K-State football game of the regular season in Manhattan. For some reason, he really enjoys going to these games, so he left us Lafferty Ladies to fend for ourselves. Yep, it was a Lively Lafferty Lady solo evening adventure.

The last couple days in KC have been absolutely beautiful, weather-wise. And, because as you all know, I very rarely cook, I decided to take the girls out of the house and to their favorite place to eat: Noodles. We are just sitting, minding our own business and enjoying dinner when a cute little old lady comes up to tell me how cute the girls are. I thank her, smile and continue eating.

Then, another woman comes up. "Your girls are so cute."
"Thanks," I said.
"Are you girls eating mac and cheese?" she asked, looking at Molly and Charlotte.
"Yes," I answered (the girls usually don't talk to people we don't know), "we love mac and cheese in our house."
"I'm a daycare provider, and my kids just don't like mac and cheese."
"Really?" I ask politely.
"Well, I think the problem is that I cook everything really healthy for them. I always make everything with really healthy whole grains and no additives, plus lots of vegetables and proteins. So, I just think they don't like the taste of something unhealthy like mac and cheese."

Um. Ok. As my children are gobbling down the cheese and butter ooey gooey goodness of Noodles mac and cheese. Talk about making this non-cooking mom feel like crap.

At that point, I kind of mumbled something like, "wow, huh, interesting," or something to that extent. And, then she finally walked away. I'm not sure if she was trying to say something about what my girls were eating, or if she was just making conversation, but either way, I was done. Thanks, lady.

Once we finished our delicious, but apparently completely unhealthy mac and cheese, I decided we needed to do something fun to make up for feeling like a bad mom. Plus, I wanted to take advantage of the 60 degree weather on December 1st. I had several ideas about what to do.

I have been really wanting to take the girls ice skating and thought it would be a great night to try it. But, I'd of course want to take pictures of the experience (I have a really cute scrapbook kit for skating!). And, I couldn't figure out a good way to help both Molly and Charlotte on their first times on skates and be able to take adorable pictures, too. I could just picture all three of us falling on our butts, and me dropping my really expensive, really nice new camera. I didn't see it ending well.

I also thought about driving around to look at Christmas lights, but that wasn't exactly taking advantage of the weather. We can ride in the car just as easily when it's 60 degrees as when it is 20 degrees.

Then, I came up with a plan: the Penguin House! For those of you not in the know, the Penguin House is actually "Paulie's Penguin House." It is a house completely decorated in inflatable penguins, polar bears, Santas and other polar animals. I mean, completely decorated. On the house, on the fence, in the yard, on the roof. Everywhere. You park your car and can actually walk through the yard to look at all the different inflatables. Plus, it's just a family that decorates their house. It's completely free, but they take donations for the Leukemia Society. It's just a really cute thing to do. Especially on a 60-degree night in December.

So, we headed over, and the girls were so excited. Cory had taken them last year on a day when I was sick, so I didn't go, but I know it wasn't as nice of weather as we were getting. I didn't even have coats on the girls, plus I was sweating in my sweater and vest. Crazy. Anyway, we got over and started exploring.

Charlotte is in LOVE with polar bears.

Posing with another polar bear.
Then, they found the snow. Ok, so it wasn't real snow. They have this bubble-soap-snow-machine that makes this snow-like bubble substance and sends it flying down through the air every couple minutes. It took everything I had to get Molly out of that after she discovered it.

Luckily, we were on our own for the evening, and it was beautiful out - I let them play pretty much as long as they wanted. I mean, I had already been called out for being a bad mom that night, I might as well just let my kids play to their hearts' content in weird bubble stuff at a strange house covered in inflatables, right?

I just can't stop laughing at Charlotte's face in this picture.

Posing with the snow in front of an igloo - with no coat!

Her shirt kind of says it all: "Snow much fun"

In front of just one of the many displays of penguins.

The kid was having a  ball.

"Mom, can I bring it home?"

In the snow storm!

It ended up being a great evening for us Lafferty Ladies, despite being abandoned for a football game and being called out for my kids' food choices. We ran into an old friend while we were playing in the snow at the penguin house, and then after it all, we came home and watched "Madagascar Christmas." Yep, nothing like rotting their brains with TV right after rotting their stomachs with mac and cheese.

Go ahead. You can nominate me now for Mother of the Year.

Lafferty Ladies

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Birthday cards through coercion

My birthday was this week. I turned the big 32. Ok, so that number doesn't exactly deserve a special "big" before it. In fact, there's really nothing special about 32 at all. When you're a kid, every birthday is exciting. And it seemed like FOREVER until the next one came along.

The cruel irony of adulthood is that your birthdays seem to get closer and closer, when really you'd prefer them to be spread further and further apart.  After 21, then 30, the years just blur together. Sometimes, it even takes a while to remember just how old you are when someone asks.

But, don't get me wrong. I love to celebrate my birthdays. I enjoy getting to do things I want and eat where I like. I've always been a bit sensitive about my birthday. As any person with a birthday near a holiday will attest, birthdays can get overlooked in favor of whatever national holiday is going on around the same time. For me, it is Thanksgiving. Because Thanksgiving moves, my birthday is sometimes on the actual day, and sometimes as much as six days later, as it was this year. The years it falls on Thanksgiving or the day after are the worst.

This year, however, I had a great birthday. Cory took the day off work. I went on a long morning run, then he brought me Starbucks. We went to Einstein's for breakfast, then he took Charlotte to her music class so I could go home and take a nap. In the afternoon, I got a pedicure, then we drove to Lawrence for dinner at McAlister's. We even topped off the night with a cupcake from Smallcakes. Yup, I did indeed eat my way through my birthday. (Thus the need for the long morning run.)

With Charlotte on my actual birthday.