Ok, so in this case it is actually 24 days, but you get the idea. For those of you that don't know my friend Vanessa or follow her blog, the other day she posted pictures of cute crafts she had seen for sale on Etsy. One of them was an advent calendar made with a muffin tin, and it was so cute that I just had to make my own. I don't know if the pictures do it justice, but it turned out pretty well.
In my family, the tradition is that after Thanksgiving dinner, which we eat at about 2 in the afternoon, we look through the Black Friday ads, and then we spend the evening playing games. It is a big deal because growing up we NEVER played games, and even now we only do it twice a year - Thanksgiving and Christmas. After everyone has had so much food, we are in a good mood and ready for fun. This year we played TV Scene It, Shout About Music, Outburst Remix, and Twister. Ok, so Twister was actually set up for the kids, but a few of us joined in a round or two as well. Nothing like playing that game to remind yourself that you are not as flexible as you once were!
All the grandkids (except Jonathan) plus Adam had a sheep in his hand who was also playing.
Ah, Thanksgiving. Day that we stuff ourselves so full that we can't get up from the table for an hour. Movies make it seem like we all sit around there after the meal to visit and be familial, but the truth is we simply can't move. This year, as per usual, we went to my dad's house in Alta for the big day. They rent tables and linens and put out a nice spread, and everyone dresses a little nicer and we all have excellent food and a great day. This year was no exception.
It is impossible to get everyone smiling/looking at the camera at the same time!
Putting our best faces forward, of course.
Me and my dad
This was after dinner - that is why he looks so sleepy.
As some of you may know, fourth grade is the first year that students start getting letter grades instead of numbers or combinations of S's and N's. So Anna has reached that precipice where she can no longer just do her work and expect to pass solely on the fact that she is ahead of the standards...now all of her work will get assigned a grade. Well, the first trimester recently ended, and it was time to see how she did, and I am proud to announce that she is now Anna Marie Joyner - Honor Roll student. That's right - Anna had higher than a 3.5 grade point average - as a matter of fact, she had a 4.0! That's my girl!
Anna with her friends McKenna and Marlo - also Honor Roll students
The school had an assembly to award the students on the honor roll with donuts, pennants, pins, and certificates, so the kids and I were all at the school at 7:45 a.m. to clap for Anna and wipe away a couple of proud tears. Oh, and to eat donuts, of course.
While I was not among the first to see it, or even the first 10,000, I did make it to see Twilight on Saturday - a day and a half after it opened and, honestly, much more quickly than I usually make it to the theater to see a movie. Vanessa, Sahara and I attended the 12:45 pm showing at the theater in Auburn (yay matinee price.) I thought that I would share my thoughts, feelings, and impressions about the movie, but without giving too many details away for those who haven't seen it yet.
Let me start by saying that overall I liked the movie just fine - I won't be rushing back to the theater again to see it, but it was entertaining and the actors were good. I really loved the book, and knew going into the movie that it wasn't going to be as good - I have yet to see a movie that I really think is as good as the book (although the Lord of the Rings movies were pretty good.) I tried to keep my expectations low going into the theater so that I could enjoy the movie for what it was and not be disappointed. But I was still excited to see some of those great scenes from the book translated to film. Sadly, I think this is an area where the movie really failed - three of the key, most pivotal scenes from the book where cut up, pared down, and really just left at bare bones. It was a let down to me to see that.
Something else that I felt could have been done better was the character development. The main characters all fell kind of flat - with the exception of Charlie, who was actually very well depicted and developed. It seemed like Bella was only a sketch of the character that Stephenie Meyer created, and her relationship with Edward seemed hurried and kind of cheesy because they cut out most of the parts where the two of them are talking and developing (there is that word again) their bond. All of a sudden they were at "I love you," and I have to think that anyone watching who hadn't read the book would feel like they had whiplash from the sudden change in emotion.
I think that the major complaint I have that encompasses the whole movie is that there wasn't enough of the good dialogue that Stephenie Meyer wrote in the book. What I don't understand (and it goes for all my complaints here) is that when you (meaning the screenwriter) already have so much of the work done for you, in the form of character development, stages scenes, and great dialogue, why wouldn't you use more of that? I know that there is no way to include everything from the book, but some of the most important things were definitely missing.
So now that it sounds like I am totally harping on the movie, I want to say again that I did like it. There was some good humor in it, and it was fun to see some of the places that had been living in my imagination put into reality. I wasn't sure how I would feel about Robert Pattinson playing Edward, but I thought he did a very good job. The acting wasn't so much the problem (at least not with the key characters - Jessica et al are another story, but I won't go into that.) It really was just that things fell kind of flat and incomplete. I hope that New Moon fills out a little since it will probably have a bigger budget than this one. I am glad I went though, and am happy there is another little piece of the Twilight universe out there.
Anna and Hailey went to spend the night with Pa (my dad) last week and each came home with a new pair of boots. When asked what spurred the expedition to the mall for new shoes, Anna replied "I'm not sure how we got on the subject, but I said something about wanting a pair of boots." Maybe I should say something to Pa about wanting a pair of boots...Somehow I don't think that it will have the same effect!
The presence of boots created so many dilemmas - do we roll the tops up or down? What should we wear them with? Should I play soccer in them or not?
Every year on November 11 the Joyner family celebrates a "family birthday" - the anniversary of my in-laws' marriage. This year, those of us who live in California went out to dinner at Red Robin. Enjoy these snapshots of our crazy family...
Brooklyn and Hailey - not sure why Hailey is making that face...
Aidan and Adam
Anna and Abbi
Sydney and Jamie - I think Jamie is the only one who took a decent picture this night
Jake and Jonathan - "oh Uncle Jake, I can't believe you!"
While I do not have a bad case of loving you, I am coming down with whatever is going around right now. But I will not go quietly into that dark night, oh no. I will fight it off until I am too weak to do so anymore. Why is it that when your husband is sick, he stays home from work, lays in bed and wants you to bring him juice and soup while also keeping the kids quiet, but when you are sick he goes off to school or work or whatever, leaving you to take care of the kids and the house without so much as a backward glance or even a sip of orange juice to be had? So it was that this evening I found myself dragging four children through the grocery store during the after-work rush hour, in search of a bottle of the good stuff to get me through the night. Then we made the soujourn home in time for me to cook dinner for the crowd between running to the bathroom to blow my nose and doing laundry so that there are clothes to wear tomorrow. Children fed, here I am, laying on my bed taking shots of the acquired o.j., waiting until bedtime when I can down some Nyquil and blissfully pass out until tomorrow.
A few weeks late, as per usual, I am finally posting our Halloween pictures. Tired of the princess scene, this year Jon and I mandated that the entire family was going to go with a theme, and the theme was the 50's. I made poodle skirts for the girls and myself and the boys all went as greasers (or "weesehs" as Adam kept saying - no g's or r's for that boy.) Adam wasn't thrilled with the idea - he asked for a hero, or even a bad guy - anything but a guy who only wears jeans and a white t-shirt. But the image of the two little boys with the rolled-up jeans and the curl of hair in the middle of their forehead was too cute for me to resist.
The kids' pumpkins - Anna's is the cat.
The morning of Halloween, I made the kids Jack-O'-Lantern pancakes and we put together some Halloween necklaces (all before school - amazing!)
Take bad food, awkward conversations, and a bunch of increasingly-drunken people and what do you have? A high school reunion. Or at least my high school reunion. Okay, so those are the cynical bulletpoints of the night. Overall, it really wasn't too bad, although I would have opted for a venue where you could actually be heard by the people you were talking to without shouting over the music. Only about a third of our graduating class showed up, but even from that small number I was surprised to see people that I had forgotten about and people who I couldn't remember ever having seen, let alone spent four years with. It was not my idea to go to the event, but a couple of my really good girlfriends were coming into town for it (we are all spread out over the state and the world, so we don't see each other very often) and so I took the opportunity to spend time with them. I also dragged Jon along with me (against his will) as a flesh-and-blood representation of my life for the last ten years, and was completely gratified when one of my former classmates asked "Who is that hot guy over there?" Oh, him? Yeah, that's my husband. Overall, I was happy I went, and am now good for at least another ten years before I see most of those people again.
Lori, Heather and me
Lori's husband Mike and Jon pretending to have a good time
me, Lori and Patricia (the original Colfax girls)
And oh yes, my hot husband (showing his true feelings of the night)
Ah yes, the annual trip to Bishop's Pumpkin Farm was once again upon us, and so we made the trek to Wheatland for farmy fun. As always there was plenty to do and plenty of fall treats to be eaten - my favorite being the pumpkin pie with a crushed walnut topping. We saw all the animals in the petting zoo and petted the goats (which Jonathan loved), then the kids played in the wooden train and on the slides.
Help! That pumpkin ate my son!
We were the last hayride of the evening, and went further out into the patch then we have ever been before - there was speculation that the driver was tired of truckloads of tourists and was taking us out to abandon us somewhere in the wilds of the farm. After picking out the perfect pumpkins (with minimal whining and only a few reminders that if you can't carry your pumpkin, then it is too big) our trusty driver returned for us (perhaps he had thought better of his maniacal plan) and we took the hayride back in the setting sun - it was really peaceful and pretty. Another successful trip to Bishop's.
Let me preface this post by saying that I have never been a camper. In fact, the last time that I went camping prior to this was honestly 10 years ago. Jon and I have never been camping together at all. Bad memories of cold scout trips without the proper camping gear had pretty much staved off his desire for camping for the first half of our marriage, and having a wife who doesn't pee in the wilderness kept it at bay for most of the second half. But recently we have begun to come around to the idea of giving it another go as adults who are in control of their own experience, and as gifts we have recieved a wonderful two-room tent, very warm sleeping bags, and a lantern. All a very good start to camping.
So a few weeks ago we went down to Santa Cruz to go camping for what ended up being about a day and a half (not quite worth all the work in my opinion.) So that this won't be a novel, I will just give you the highlights of the trip. We weren't able to have a campfire the entire time we camped due to high winds. Wait a minute, what? No fire? On a camping trip? On the coldest weekend this season? Yeah, that's right. Luckily for us, my dad, in his infinite wisdom, sent us with a small propane heater to keep his grandchildren warm (his daughter could freeze to death, but not those kids!) So with that in our tent and our lantern, we were pretty happy. We set up camp in the mostly-dark Friday night, having gotten to the campgrounds later than anticipated, so after eating we pretty much went straight to bed.
"Want me to smack you with this spatula?"
Saturday morning was cold cold cold, so we all ate breakfast and got ready to get out of there and find some warmth. We headed to the beach, all bundled up in jeans and sweatshirts, expecting a typical Northern California beach day with wind and clouds. Lo and behold, apparently October is prime beach time here, and the sky was perfectly clear and the sun was warm. It was gorgeous. Everyone rolled up their pantlegs and took off their sweatshirts and we had a really great day at the ocean. We then walked the boardwalk since neither Jon nor I had ever been, and got some good clam strips and chowder down on the pier. We stayed another night and then packed up early Sunday morning as Jon and I had a wedding to attend that afternoon. All in all, it was a good foray back into camping, not without its bumps but still fun. Turns out my kids LOVE camping - copious amounts of hot chocolate, permission to be filthy, and freedom to run - go figure!
Anna and Hailey have officially been back in school for five weeks now, and I am finally getting to posting the first day of school pictures. Hailey is in first grade this year, which means a full 6 1/2 hours a day that I have only two children - can you smell the freedom? Anna is in fourth grade - I don't know how they do things anymore, but when I was in school fourth grade was part of the "upper grades" - I can't believe Anna is that old! So far they are both loving school, except for the discrepancy over what time they should get there. Since we live across the street, they walk to school every morning, and Anna is of the opinion that they should leave here no later than 7:55 (school starts at 8:20) so that she will have time to play soccer, while Hailey feels that 8:10 leaves plenty of time to get over there before the bell rings and they can then go straight to class. Many a morning has been filled with the sounds of Anna urging Hailey to hurry up and Hailey replying that she isn't ready to leave yet and that it is too early. I finally started having them switch days so that they go early one day and on time the next. That makes everyone happy, right? Wrong. But at least they are unified in the belief that Mommy is unfair. And once they are off to school, I have 6 1/2 glorious hours before I have to hear any more about it. Yay school.