How's that for a broad category?
Each holiday season, our family walks in a posada that begins at the (primarily Hispanic) Methodist church at the outer edge of our neighborhood and that ends at Arlington Heights UMC on the opposite side. This year, Connor insisted that he and I keep pace with Mary and Joseph. (Cute story: As in years past, the role of Baby Jesus went to the youngest baby in AHUMC's congregation. Evidently, that baby had a sibling - a boy who appeared to be about four. Four year-old big brother did not take kindly to the idea of being shut out of the nativity pageant. Thus, this year's Mary and Joseph were accompanied by a "young shepherd." You remember the part in the Bible about Mary and Joseph rolling into Bethlehem accompanied by a four year-old shepherd, right?)
This was our view walking in the posada. You can see the four year-old shepherd's feet in front of and slightly to the left of the donkey:
After the nativity play, the kids spent some time in the petting zoo. You remember the petting zoo from the Christmas story, right? And the part about Baby Jesus enjoying his visit from Santa Pig?
Connor enjoyed his time with Santa Pig. Parker, on the other hand, looks rather ambivalent. Perhaps he is a strict Biblical textualist.
Just as animals played a part in that first Christmas, they also play a part in the festivities at Casa McG. Pictured below: Parker and Ace the Batdog shrouded in the sheet that was wrapped around the Christmas tree.
Not pictured: Mom ordering Parker to take a bath. That sheet was filthy, having been wrapped around a tree in our dusty carriage house for eleven months.
You know, if this photo had been taken outside, and if the weather conditions had been right, then Parker and Ace would have been Tree Sheets to the Wind. Sorry. Couldn't resist.
Here are both dogs posing with both boys on the last day of school prior to the winter break ("Polar Express Day," hence, the pajamas). This picture requires extra explanation, given the recent dog-bites-child incident: Ruby is not snapping at Ace in this picture. Both dogs were very excited about having their pictures taken, and both of them were panting. I just happened to catch Ruby with her mouth open. Biting incident aside, I find this photo incredibly funny, as it looks like Ruby is yelling at Ace and really pinning his ears back in the process.
Here is a photo of Ruby being highly socially useful. Connor wanted her to play his Paper Jamz guitar, so she did:
This picture was not posed. We found Max, the "baby" of the family (I put baby in quotes, because he is almost as big as the small dog - certainly taller), curled up with one of Parker's Uglydolls. The Uglydoll's name? Pointy Max. I'm not making that up.
Here is a photo of my older child being adorable with his cat Max:
And here is a gratuitous shot of my younger child being adorable with a stuffed animal (hey, it's still an animal) - specifically, a dinosaur wearing a superhero suit.
After the biting incident, we took Parker to the zoo, thinking that it would cheer him up. (As it turns out, he didn't need any cheering up, and Mom spent the entire day following him around and admonishing him not to "touch that dirty thing and then touch your face near your stitches.") Here is the patient communing with the otters:
The otter habitat is Mom's favorite. If I were to come back as any zoo animal, I would want to be an otter at the Fort Worth Zoo: swim, tease the alligator in the adjacent habitat knowing that he can't get you through the glass, then climb out of the water for a little sunbathing. Repeat a thousand times a day. In all of the years that I have been visiting the otter habitat, I never noticed the sponsor sign until this time:
Yup - the otters are sponsored by Neiman Marcus. No wonder I identify with them.
My temperamental camera fought me on this visit - bad natural light due to cloudy weather. However, the birds were particularly cooperative subjects. Cooperative bird #1: this penguin.
The penguins were particularly frisky and followed the boys back and forth from one end of the enclosure to the other. The boys also had fun squawking at the parrots at the Museum of Living Art:
The one pictured above was just plain noisy. The one below was a mimic. He said "hello" to us when we approached, and he also nodded his head at us (a la Will Smith in the "Men in Black" video) when we nodded our heads at him. The boys informed us that his name is Paul, his trainer's name is Laura, and if you ask him, "What's your name?" he will tell you that his name is Laura, if he's feeling cheeky and/or cooperative. (Apparently this is the type of useful information that our Zoo School tuition buys us.) For the record, Paul (if that is his real name; consider the sources) was not feeling THAT cheeky or cooperative. We never got a "Laura" out of him. But we did get the "hello," and the head nods. Here is "Paul" being coy:
And here is "Paul" mid-head nod:
NOD YOUR HEADS, THE BLACK SUITS COMIN' . . . .