Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Canadian Pacific Holiday Train 2010

The Canadian Pacific Train came to Oneonta again this year. It's a fun event that really gets you in the spirit of giving. The train pulls into town all decked out in Christmas lights for a special concert right on the tracks. They encourage attendees to bring a donation for the local foodbank and Canadian Pacific also makes a monetary donation at each stop along their trip.

Graham enjoyed the music this year (last year was just too loud). But the highlight was getting to say hello to the big man in the red suit.

Santa gave candy canes to all the kids and made quite an impression on Graham. Here he's too busy enjoying his treat to pose with the adorable Harter trio...

After the show, we rushed home to watch the train pass by from our back yard. Here you'll see a glum little boy say goodbye to Santa as he pulls out of town.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Decorating

It's that time of year again when 58 Hudson gets ready for it's annual Christmas display! My Nemesis down the street had his decorations up the day after Halloween, but we like to take a bit more time to plan, especially because this year Melissa consented to let me break the tradition of having a classy Martha Stewart style display and go for something a bit more kid friendly:
Retro 1950's blow molds! Behold the Santa train!

That's a great picture of Graham. It kind of looks like he's suddenly hi-jacked the train and a startled Santa's ready to swat him off to protect the toyload.

Graham had a ball playing with it in the living room, and I cannot tell you how mad he was when he came home from preschool and saw I had put it on the roof. ("Daddy, WHAT DID YOU DOOOO?!")

Here's a daytime shot of the finished set up. (Big shout-out Thank you to Jason for his help with the garland!)

The 2 lamp posts by the porch are also blow molds that came from the old Bresee's department store displays that people are still talking about. (They were a gift to us from Melissa's sister who scored them at auction. Thanks Amanda!) I kept the lighting the same red and white configuration we usually have, (no need to go overboard all at once, I figure I'll add a bit more each year to keep under Mel's radar!)

I also need to thank Abby who was this years winner of the "Who gets shoved up the tiny hatchway into the dark, dirty attic crawlspace to pull the wreath up" contest. Although Amanda currently holds the record for this event, Graham was very excited to see the debacle unfold and may be a threat to her title in the coming years. ("Abs! What did you find up there? Are there toys? Did you find a Thomas train? Can I see? What are you doo-ing?")

Here's a night shot-

We're also planning on multicolored lights for this year's tree (Melissa liked the pure white look, but Graham has something different in mind!)

Arctic Explorers

Abby and Jason came to town the weekend after Thanksgiving, so we headed to the Farm to join them for dinner. During dessert Graham suddenly asked if we could take the 4 wheeler out... at night... in the cold. Sure. Why not.

After much effort bundling up and getting our act together Jason, Graham and I made a quick run to the top of the hill to look at the stars. The view truly was amazing, and as I showed Graham all the beauty of the night sky, he simply replied "That's good, can we go back to the house and get some hot toe-toe (cocoa)? I'm cold." Sure. Why not.

Back at the house Graham enjoyed all the attention Abby and Jason were sharing with him.

In fact the fun Jason and he were having was still going strong when we had to extract him to go home to bed!

The Perfect Greeting

So it's that time of year -- the time I stress about having the perfect photo for the holiday card. We got lucky last year (see above) --a stranger snapped a cute shot in October which we pulled out for our card project a couple months later. Unfortunately there's been a lot less cooperation in the "Say Cheese!" Department this fall, so we have enlisted our friend Diana to take a few pics for us in early December...

In the meantime I have been perusing Shutterfly for "the card" that will hold the yet to be taken perfect holiday photo. We've used Shutterfly for about 5 years now-- we upload all our photos there (they store them for free and you can order archive dvds really affordably). Plus you can even keep a blog with them (also free!) -- we used this special feature when we collected family photos from my aunts and uncles for Grandma Shirley's 90th birthday. We then easily imported them to make an awesome photo book for her (and some relatives ordered their own copies and even specific photos. Being able to get copies of JUST the old photos each person wanted was an added bonus and Grandma loved her present).

I love to think I will pull together another huge project like that before the holidays, but time isn't on my side, I guess. I may fit in a photo calendar. Fingers crossed we get a great shot this weekend. But if we don't we can always use one of their non-photo card to send our holiday cheer!


If you love Shutterfly and you have a blog you can earn 50 free cards for helping spread the word, just like me. Click for more details!

Friday, November 26, 2010


Aunt June and Jaci stopped by on Friday so we could play with Hannah. She's so cute-- I definitely think she and Graham look related.

One lesson learned: photographing 2 kids smiling at the same time is basically impossible. I decided to post this picture where neither of them is crying or making a ridiculous expression. It's the best I could get :).

Turkey Day

Graham was very interested in the Macy's parade this year. We hooked him up with some tasty pancakes, bacon and coffee (and dippy sirr-rup). I thought it would be Dora or the balloons that would get the biggest cheer; the funniest comment was, "I like the Kicking Girls!" So let's hear it for the Rockettes!

Here's father and son practicing their best turkey calls in what I expect will become an annual fight for the lime light...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oneonta Parade

The holiday season began with the annual Christmas parade along Main Street. All the important people were there, like the Elves

the Penguins

the Alpacas (?)

and of course a few good friends:
Left to right are Sadie, her mom Sara, her brother Paul, Melissa and Graham, Joseph and his mom Nicole, and Killian and his mom Erika and strapped to her chest is little baby Declan (a.k.a. Duckling).

Santa also made his big debut, and Mrs. Claus took particular notice of Graham (thanks to his beloved "chi-chen" hat):

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Farm Friday Holiday Edition

Aunt Amanda came down for a visit, so this "Farm Friday" was an exceptionally special one.
Grandma Jean took the day off and while Grandpa Paul and I did wood, Graham and the girls were busy making pies (and having a lot of fun!)

Quality control is a very important job!
All in all 2 large, and 2 small apple pies were made, as well as a small blueberry roll. (Graham loves his blueberries!)

Mr. Jones

Jonesey hits a milestone- 100 thousand miles and still going strong!

Mr Jones, (my fathers old 1996 Chevy pickup) has been the setting for some of my most fondest memories of both my father and my son.

Even though they've never met, (Pop died several years before Graham was born) this old truck has become a sort of connection between the two of them for me.
There really is something special about the quality time spent together in the cab of a truck. (Even if the adventure is only a trip to the store!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harvest Lunch

Bugbee (Graham's preschool) hosted a Thanksgiving luncheon for all the parents and kids in the big gymnasium and it was quite a treat to see all the kids having fun. Each class helped make one of the side dishes. When Graham reported back his ingredients were corn and sour cream, we weren't quite sure what to expect, but the meal was delicious and we learned that Graham probably eats more different foods than we know about... like stuffing and he even had some turkey!

Graham's biggest disappointment was the way they roped of the indoor play sets and slides!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Camp Bristow

Abby might have missed out on the fun at the zoo, but she made up for it quickly with a baking and crafting combo session Friday night. There was cake to be made...

and a model train to be built (from recycled items no less).

Watch for the foreshadowing in this video clip... in fact there was plenty of laundry to be done later that evening, but the cake batter was the least of our worries.

It was a good thing we got all our projects in so quickly, because the plague that took out Jim on Friday night hit Graham and wiped him out on the couch all day Saturday. Sad, sad, sad.

Ever the hostess, Abby made sure we had plenty of fluids, lots of rest and a bowl at the ready. (Most people don't know this, but she has super fast reflexes that come in handy when reacting to vomitous preschoolers.)

The National Zoo

During our time in VA we took a trip to the National Zoo. Abby had to work so Uncle Jason took over the role as tour guide. Our day started off with a highly anticipated trip on the Metro train. Here Uncle Jason and Graham wait patiently for the train. (notice their cleverly crossed ankles)

Graham loved the ride, utilizing some of his time to review the morning news.

The Zoo itself is full of wonderful exhibits, and Graham was all smiles.

We even saw the new baby gorilla!

And a very sleepy tiger.

Here a concerned Graham checks out the dinosaur skull. (Who's that kid photobombing my son??)

Nice pic, even if he is trying to escape my grasp to go look at the pandas!

Stepping on shadows became a great way to help him keep up with us!

Outside the Zoo.
Here we stopped for a break on the way back to the Metro to do a little yelling.

Thanks Uncle Jason!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Team work

Graham is really excited to help out with snow removal this year. We're taking bets on how long before he realizes that it isn't a treat to get to shovel.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Guess who's coming for tea?

It started innocent enough.... Graham began talking about a girl he saw on television. Her name is Stephanie, and she's the star of Lazytown.

He began talking about how he wanted her to come over to play in the tea house Grandma and I built for him last Christmas.

Alas, his love for Stephanie didn't last long when he discovered the Scooby-Doo mysteries and more importantly- the older and more sophisticated Daphne.

His desire for Daphne's company was so great he began creating clever ways to meet her. He came up with the idea that if Plex, the robot from Yo Gabba Gabba shrunk him down, he could crawl into a little hole in the side of the TV. (He assured us he would take some camping gear so he could sleep with the girls in their tent (!?), and bring a sandwich so we didn't have to worry about him.)

He even suggested calling Team Umi-Zoomi to use their mighty math skills to help him, because helping people is what they do best.

(Funny side story- while in CT we let the maid clean the hotel room after a few days and when we got back Graham was alarmed that someone had taken the crackers he had left on the table. He went to the room phone (that I had disconnected the first day we were there) and shouted, "Help! Help me Team Umi Zoomi! My crackers and milk are gone!" Melissa and I were all smiles at this imaginative play until he said, "Mommy can't help me". It was then I noticed the phone was back by the bedside and I quickly took it from him and heard the woman at the front desk asking him, "Are you alone in the room?" Apparently the maid reconnected the phone, and after explaining the situation the woman laughed and said his snacks were probably in the fridge. I told him this, and after running over to see it was indeed true, he shouted, "Thank you team Umi-Zoomi. I knew you could help!" So now whenever there's a problem, they're the first people he calls.)

The fixation on Daphne and the gang got so bad one morning he even told me he couldn't go on a play date at his friend's house because, "Daphne is coming over- she'll be here ANY MINUTE." I told him we could leave a note for her telling her where we'd be. "That's a great idea!" he said excitedly, and composed his first love letter-

Translated (exactly as it was read to me by Graham) :
Dear Daphne, I'm going over to Killian's house, you can play with his toys there, or you can have a snack. You are my friend- Graham

But sadly she never came (probably too busy with that Fred guy) and soon his attention drifted to another. Can you guess which one?

That saucy redhead on the right is Marina, from the Fresh Beat Band. She plays drums, and sings, and dances, and has some really cool friends, and suddenly Graham decided wanted to join the band and enjoy making music and sipping frosty smoothies at the "Groovy Smoothie" Snack Shack. These adventures with the Band filled his dreams. (Every morning he'd tell us about them.) It seemed that Marina had everything a boy could ask for.

Except a cupcake theme.

Enter Strawberry Shortcake. (Not the original, but the new one on the right)
Graham saw her on a bottle of bubble bath at the store and new right away she was the one for him, and seeing her in the New Adventures of Strawberry Shortcake on TV clinched the deal.
Not only was she everything he liked in a woman, but she had friends like "Lemon-Cake what's her name," "Blueberry something or other,", and "the Plum Girl".

Truly this was a romance that would last forever, right?


Oh, for the love! He's not even a girl, or a redhead. (Or even human for that matter.)
I thought it would be a passing fancy but it's gone on for a few days now. He's even talking about asking Santa Claus to "Go to the Dino store where he can get me a Barney toy that would go POP and then Barney would come to life and have a party at my house."

We gotta cut back on the TV time.

The White Stuff

Looks like Jim's going to have help with the sidewalk this year!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Graham has become quite skilled in resisting bedtime. Tactics include: request for snack (2 animal crackers and an inch of milk); request to use the potty (he knows we won't refuse); and adorable antics like singing and kicking to keep himself awake as long as possible. On this particular night he was a one man show:

Happy Birthday to Me

On the morning of my birthday, I woke Graham up with a kiss and asked him if he would sing me Happy Birthday. He responded, Not now Sweetheart-- in five minutes. And promptly rolled back over to go back to sleep! Luckily Jim came home shortly there after and was willing to hand out the birthday wishes...

Once we got the sleepy head up and dressed, we headed out to vote. It was our first time to try the new scanning machines. I miss the old lever; but I tried not to let it get me down. There's just something satisfying about that noise. But I digress.

Jim had to work that night, but Grandma and Grandpa joined Graham and me for pizza and a homemade Grandma's Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (which Graham helped to mix before we sat down to eat). When it was time to bring the cake to the table, it took all three of them to steady the platter and make sure the house (or a kid) didn't catch on fire. It was pretty adorable.

As you can see here, Graham was more than happy to help serve as well (although he likely just wanted more of that frosting for himself!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en!

After much practice and anticipation, Hallowe'en was finally here!

It was a rough start to our evening when the first trick or treaters arrived (very early) at our house. Graham got very upset, tears flowed, and he began yelling that it was his candy, and he didn't want to share it. I hurried the startled kids down the steps ("Quick- take it! Go! Go! Go!") while Mommy took him inside and explained that although we are giving some candy away, we would go out soon and get some back. He accepted this for the moment, but I don't think he really believed it until we actually started going door to door, then it was all smiles! (Trust me it's there!)

Graham has become a bit camera shy (he prefers taking the pictures these days) so we told him to look at the birds so we could get at least one full body shot of his costume with his ears propped up.

After hitting a few houses along our street we headed over to the Harter's for their annual Hallowe'en party. This year's delicacy was the ever tasty ghoulish meat hand! (The onion finger nails and cheddar cheese skin made it extra creepy and delicious!)

While the rest of the kids finished their trick or treating, Graham joined me back at our house to pass out candy. This time he eagerly awaited the kids stating, "Here comes another customer," every time one approached. He was very strict about how candy would be distributed. Candy could not be served from a bowl-- only from the original bag -- and only he was allowed hand it out. ("It's my job!") Luckily he was generous, giving very big hand fulls of candy to each visitor.

Then- it snowed!

The kids didn't let that dampen the fun.

By 7, it was time to head out to the parade. Graham had become tired of changing in and out of the bunny costume, and was just happy to wear his new warm chicken hat. (Hey, it worked!)

He also brought his new french horn to play along with the bands!

The costumes never cease to amaze. We didn't get any great pics along the parade route, but Mel's favorite was a kid dressed up like a Lego person. And our neighbors actually one a prize for Cruella DeVille (mom), Henchman (dad), and three (kid) dalmations. We LOVE Hallowe'en!