1. Leo's dancing: for many, many months Leo's only form of entertainment was watching the Wii dance routine to "Jump On It" on youtube. Over and over and over. He was actually pretty good, and his stamina was impressive (often besting adults). His dancing moves are unique. And they make all of us happy. Here are a few dance videos.
I think this compares favorably with Max and Aviva dancing on stage from a while ago:
2. Halloween photos. These are actually from 2011. I'll have to see if Kristin can send me Halloween photos from 2012. But I love these pictures. Good work, Kris, on costuming the children:
3. We went to DisneyWorld earlier this year. Great vacation. I haven't been that tired since I was a missionary. It was absolutely exhausting. Lots of walking, lots of carrying Leo (even though we had a stroller), lots of crappy, unhealthy food. But still, it was awesome. A few things I loved about it: (a) Leo spontaneously chanting "Disneyworld, Disneyworld, Disneyworld" whenever we were driving or on the bus to the parks; (b) Max in perfect glee going on the water rides (splash mountain, or the many wet rides at Universal Studios); (c) Aviva loving the different characters and telling Kristin about one of the princesses who showed extra attention "I love her"; (d) Leo being spooked on almost every ride, except for the Winnie the Pooh ride, where he simply said "Again" at the very end [that was the only ride to get the Leo seal of approval!]; (e) Grandma being upset about being so wet after splash mountain; (f) Aviva never wanting to go on splash mountain again, and perhaps never trusting dad again; (g) feelling like Disneyworld represents the best and worst about capitalism; (h) Max never once sitting in the stroller until Thursday (we got there on Monday), and doing a whole day at Universal Studios without stopping; (i) riding the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios and having all of the good memories of Harry Potter crystalized in that one good ride [seeing the castle, seeing Max and Aviva talk about the castle, hearing Leo say over and over again "Harry Potter"]; and (j) thinking, I'm really glad we won't have to do this again at least for five more years.
I didn't get as many pictures, but here are a few:
5. Birthdays. We area all a little bit older. Max turned 7, Aviva 5, Leo 3, me 36 and Kris will turn 35 in December. I only have one picture of a birthday in my files, and it's mine. Not sure how that happened. But we had some good birthday parties this year. Max really wanted a chuck-e-cheese party, which was disappointing. But we did it anyway. And Kris was so disappointed that he didn't want the pirate birthday she had planned for him, that we did the pirate adventure anyway. For that, we went up to Annapolis, rode around on a boat doing a legit pirate adventure (the kids did all the work, no involvement from the adults), and had lots of fun. Max had fun for his chuck-e-cheese birthday, but he agreed that the pirate adventure was better. Leo got the shaft for his party. We celebrated it just after Thanksgiving and it mostly consisted of that 1 hour out in the cold on his new scooter. But he loved it, and the cake. Aviva's birthday was also very cool. Kristin arranged for Aviva and Max to go have a horse-riding lesson. Aviva was a natural (althoug a little timid). She did excellent, and really seemed in her element. Max had a good time, too, but fell off a couple times (I blame this on the instructor, who purposefully seemed to keep instructing Max to lean over in a way that would make him topple off the horse. I don't think Max liked her, and I don't blame him.). Here's the picture on my birthday, which was awesome because it was a Saturday and people celebrated me the whole day. (Thanks, Delsa, for the cake.)
6. Playing together. Our kids do a really great job playing together. Some of their favorite games: (a) "smacking booty" (I don't know where they learned this game, but -- as the name would suggest -- you run around and smack each other's booty; Leo loves to play this game naked.); (b) "pretend" (where Max and Aviva go around saying things like, "Now pretend that you say ..." and "Now pretend that I do ...."), which usually turns into a fight about what one is and is not allowed to pretend; (c) the Wii princess game (although Aviva is getting more tolerant of playing Max's games), even though I've tried to make DDR and Just Dance part of the rotation, Ellises just aren't good dancers; (d) bike riding (see above); (e) fort building (Kristin realy makes the best forts, and I'm sure this is why they love the game); and (f) blockus. Sadly, I don't have pictures of any "smacking booty" in action, but here's a picture of them all being happy together.
7. Shauri and James. I don't have any pictures to document it, but our kids love having Shauri and James around. Max will often say things like, "here's a rock I just know Uncle James would love" or "I wish James was here to go adventuring with us. He'd love it here." Aviva loves it when Shauri picks her up from pre-K because it often means ice cream, nail polish, and crafts (even though Aviva will deny that she ever gets treats with Aunt Shauri). And Shauri is the one who taught Leo how to sleep in a bed. They just love them so much.