Sunday, January 19, 2014

Happy Holidays, New Year and More!

We survived the holidays and the new year!  It has been a fun-filled (but hectic) time, and as always, while I love the festivities and visiting family -- I am always glad to see all the holiday hoopla behind us.  Our last post finished up with our decorating the house!  So there's been a lot going on since then, let's see if I can get us caught up.

First Kyle had his 5th grade DARE graduation, Tuesday during school on December 17th.  His school did something new this time around, combining the DARE ceremony with Grandparent's Day.  The songs were simply adorable, and the kids put on a great program.

Then, the moment the kids and I had been waiting for... Winter Break!  Saturday, December 21st to January 5th - blissfully free of homework and school activities.  (* happy dance *)  The kids and I chilled out a bit, did a little bit of last-minute Christmas shopping, and before we knew it -- the holiday events were here!

Everything started out on Christmas Eve.  PaPa and Dinah Grandma came over to eat a lasagna simply pulled out of the freezer and play games.  We must have wore the kids out, because on Christmas morning Kenny had to get the kids up and going so we'd have time to celebrate before our family party later.

The kids were definitely ready to finally start opening their gifts, one of their favorites being a Kindle Fire from Santa.


They also got some t-shirts which were a perfect fit for their personalities:


Kyle was also super excited for Delaney to open his gift for her, a death star soccer ball:

Then he was just as excited to get his gift from Dee, some X-Box credit (he had his eye on several downloads).

And new this year, we had an extra family member celebrating Christmas morning with us: Loki!  He got his very own gift, and he was vigilant in helping make sure that all the wrapping paper was secure.


It was an exhausting effort, afterwards he needed to take a nap -- but the living room was safe and secure.

Merry Christmas from the Benich's!

After all our gifts were opened, we got ready and headed out to celebrate Christmas with the Benich Family.  The kids are so much fun to watch as they open all their gifts, and we got a great picture of the grandkids with Grandpa Babe and Grandma Kathe:

Delaney also got a big surprise.  Grandpa and Grandma gave her her letterman's jacket.  She had no idea she was getting it so early, so she was psyched!

We had a couple of days to relax and recover, then we headed out to another family celebration on the Ossanna side, Friday the 27th.  Michael got to be the 'Christmas Elf' and did a great job passing out the gifts.

The following day we had another family celebration on the Thorndyke side.   At each holiday celebration, Kyle played some Christmas songs on his guitar to get everyone in a festive mood.  He did such a good job, learning a lot of Christmas songs in a very short period of time.

As always, while everyone is together we use the time to get some family pictures taken together.

Dan & John with Elizabeth and Kristine

The boys: Connor, Kyle & Parker

Danah and her boys

All the great-grandkids with Grandma

Everyone: Christmas 2014

All the Christmas celebrations were so much fun and getting together with family is always great.  So while it was a bit melancholy to see it all come to an end, I think we were all a bit relieved to have all the festivities behind us and just enjoy the rest of the winter break. 

The next day, we had some friends brave the winter weather and come visit for a bit: RuthAnn, Sara and Gracie.  We just played a lot of games and relaxed.  Can't beat that!

Even though it seemed impossible, it was time to say good-bye to 2013.  We had our annual New Year's Eve Family Game night!  Woo-hoo!  It was time to bring the previous champ down; Kenny was going to lose his title.  Let the games begin, the contestants are ready and geared up to win:

The previous champ got to select the first game, and he went with Rummikub.  I was happy to take him down.  Then Delaney won Doodle Dice, and somehow we slipped up and let Kenny win Phase 10 Twist and Scooby-Doo Clue.  So now the score stood at: Kenny-2, Danielle-1, Delaney-1, and Kyle-0. 

As the only one who hadn't won yet, we let Kyle select the next game.  He chose Dune, to a collective groan from everyone else.  The game can be a bit lengthy, but the rest of us had a strategy -- fight, fight, and fight some more.  Let the dice determine who lives and dies!  Kyle had a bit less of a suicidal strategy (he was playing to win), and it worked.  He got his first win.  Then Kenny won at PayDay, and I won at Bananagrams, and Dee with Yahtzee.  So now the score stood at: Kenny-3, Danielle-2, Delaney-2, and Kyle-1.

The New Year had come and gone at this point, but we were still fighting for the championship title.  Next up was Scrabble Flash, which Kenny won.  Delaney took Pictureka, Kenny won UNO, and I won Perquackey.  (I was getting desperate to knock Kenny off his throne, picking all the word games I could.)  Now the score stood at: Kenny-5, Danielle-3, Delaney-3, and Kyle-1.

Believe it or not, the kids were starting to poop out!  Seriously!  We had a pact to bring Kenny down, so I talked them into a few more quick card games.  Sadly, we let Kenny win one again with Yahtzee Hands Down.  Then Dee won with Swap, and I won with Sorry Revenge.  Then that was it; the kids conceded.  I was so disappointed in their stamina.  Final standings: Kenny-6, Danielle-4, Delaney-4, and Kyle-1.  I felt that Delaney and I still had a chance, but I was overruled.  It was after 4 in the morning, and game night was officially over.

Loki helped a little while we were playing, but I think shortly after Yahtzee he decided we were crazy and went to bed.


Once again, I have to reluctantly announce the New Year's Eve game champion: Ken Benich.  (* sigh *)  There's always next year...

We watched some movies during break, Delaney and I tackled a 1000 piece puzzle, I made some curtains for the laundry, and we enjoyed our down time.



Delaney was given the green light to play soccer again.  The specialist can't find anything physically wrong, is assuming it is just a muscle strain, and she can continue to play.  So winter training is starting up with Three Lions, and she is more than ready to play again after her 'rest time'.  She's even been working with Loki, so he can improve his skills too:


As far as I'm concerned, after Christmas -- there is absolutely no need for snow.  But what do I know, as we got a big blast of winter with a genuine blizzard!  We got it all: cold, snow and pretty much everything shutting down for a while.  The kids had an extended winter break by 3 days, and Kenny even got a couple of days off work.



We managed to sneak out to Olive Garden though, snowy weather couldn't stop celebrating Delaney's 15th birthday.

Wow, seriously, she can't be 15 years old already, can she?  If that wasn't bad enough, she also recently had her first high school dance.  YIKES!  Everyone had a great time.



And last, but certainly not least, yesterday we celebrated Grandma Imogene's 92nd birthday!  Danah made a beautiful cake, and it was so nice to spend some time together with her.


Whew!!!  I did it, we are officially all caught up now.  If you made it through this entire blog post, I salute you.  Maybe now that a lot of the festivities are behind us, I can keep up a bit better.  Hope everyone is enjoying the brand new year.

Ken, Dani, Dee & Kyle