Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Joy!

The week that we've been waiting for is finally here!  And before I get into it, I have to say that I am SO happy not to have to get up early any more to wrap gifts each morning...yeah! 

I took Wednesday, 12/23, off of work, and managed to get a few errands done, and things prepped for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  It's amazing how much better things can go when I have the time, the energy, and the foresight to plan ahead!

We spent Christmas Eve with Scott's family at his brother's apartment.  The food was wonderful, and the kids had a great time running around and being stinkin' cute.


G and his new G-sized Mickey Mouse from Papa Whitey!


Fun with her new Bratz doll!



Once we got home, we left out cookies, fudge and milk for Santa (no eggnog this year...I think that perhaps Santa overdid the eggnog in the coffee drinks leading up to Christmas, and needed an eggnog break...)  We also started a new tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve...new pjs for everyone!  Next year, I'll be sure to wash them BEFORE wrapping them so we can all wear them on Christmas Eve night.  Oh well, lessons learned for next time!


I'm pretty sure that G touched all of the pj gifts, in rapid succession...




Lo and behold, the kids were good this year, because Santa came!  



We had a nice Christmas breakfast, and then had a great time opening up the gifts.  This was the first year that G could actually open the gifts, so it was fun to see him running around trying to pass out the gifts, and then patiently wait his turn to open his.  Ava also did a fantastic job of being patient and letting G open his gifts, and not try to take all of the attention away from her little brother.


Sometimes it can be hard to work in the kitchen with two kids and two dogs always underfoot.



Patiently waiting for breakfast to bake...and for present time! G is doing some push-ups to kill some time, apparently.



Being super silly at breakfast! Moments after this, G grabbed my arm with his sticky hands. Yuck. :)




Our gift from Ava - a super cute snowman!


Our gift from G - I love getting gifts like this which have his hands or foot prints included!


Oh yes we did...his first drum set!


I disappeared for 10 minutes before we opened the gifts, and set up all of the new American Girl items in Ava's room.  After we were done opening the gifts, I asked Ava to go up to her room...she completely flipped out when she saw the set up, and immediately named her new doll "Michelle".  Not sure why, but whatever...Annie has a new best friend in Michelle!

This pic doesn't do justice for Ava's excitement - but, you can see that she's jumping for joy here!



Annie and Michelle, enjoying some pie...


We were so excited about Michelle and everything that she came with that we forgot we still had to stockings to open.  Santa was very good to all of us this year, and even managed to surprise Scott with a few things. 

This is a little CAT train set for G...even Lucky was interested in checking it out!




After all of the excitement died down, we had to focus on getting everything ready to go for Christmas dinner.  We hosted all of the grandparents, as well as Scott's uncle Dale, for a prime rib dinner.  As usual, we had more than enough food, and were all happily stuffed at the end of the dinner.  It was a perfect way to cap off a wonderful day.

So happy to be able to spend the holidays with my parents again...20 years is a long time to be in different time zones (or states.  Yes, Dad, I know that Kansas is also in the Central time zone.)



Ava had fun hanging out with Uncle Dale!



I won't lie...it was nice to get into my freshly washed, new pjs that night, and completely pass out on the couch after the kids were in bed.  We tried to watch tv for a bit, but I'm pretty sure that neither Scott nor I made it longer than 20 minutes before we were both snoozing.

Yesterday was a little more normal, although Ava and I spent an entire hour trying to make an eraser (one of her new gifts) in the shape of a doughnut.  The sculpting compound used to make erasers is nowhere as "user friendly" as play-doh, clay, etc.  It is a super PITA, and my fingers are still sore from trying to knead all of the compound together to mix the colors.  At least we have the "fun" memories of trying to make it!

Enjoying the K-cup hot chocolate that Santa brought to her!


This little boy has an amazing arm on him...he makes the basket more often than missing it!


G discovered a spray bottle full of water and had a blast squirting it all over his face...and pjs.


I took all of next week off...the kids will be at daycare/school release care, and I am SO excited to have the time to myself.  My list of projects that I didn't finish over Thanksgiving week has had babies, so I have even more things to go.  I'm sure I'll manage to fit in some fun things too (like going to the MOA with my mom for some quality mom-daughter time!)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

For the Love of Books

We've been raising quite the reader over the last several years. I have always loved to read, and it pleases me to see how much Ava enjoys spending time with her nose in books. She has a daily reading log for school, and the last few months, she has exceeded the number of minutes that have been set for her goal.  Awesome!

G also loves to have books read to him, and while we started off with two books a night, he's now insisting on me reading a gajillion books each night.  Some nights I have the time to read more, and other nights I don't.  Imagine how happy I was last week when Ava told me that SHE would read to G before bed! Of course, she first asked if the minutes would count towards her reading log...smart girl. It was awesome to settle them both into the glider, and extract myself so I could run to the grocery store for a few minutes. And because it was a novel (haha) experience for both of them, they were both happy to read 10+ books in one sitting.



I'm not going to take advantage of this too often, but it's so good to know that I have a backup reader on my hands (no, Scott doesn't enjoy reading, but will do it if he's the last option.) Last night, I cut G off at four books, which he wasn't thrilled with, but then I rocked him to sleep, so he still got some great mommy time before bed.  Love that boy so much!!

Ava and Grandma Karen had a blast making Christmas cookies yesterday. I mostly just supervised -yeah, right - and waited for my turn to make fudge.  It was a sweet, sweet afternoon at the Goers' house!




I can't believe Christmas is next week! All I have left to do is wrap a few remaining presents, and we will have done everything on the 2015 Christmas list! I know it's not as fun to work off of a list for the holidays, but in this house, that's how things get done...we've had the opposite come true in years past, and it's not a jolly experience!

Time to start the day with some coffee and fudge cutting. Yum!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Candy Cane Days

It's funny how time seems to speed up as the holidays come closer.  So much to do, yet not much time to squeeze it all in!  I have a running list of holiday to-dos on my desk, and I'm happy to see that we're down to just a few items left unchecked.

I've managed to finish up 99% of the Christmas shopping, and only have two more easy gifts to pick up.  Today I need to take care of the Christmas cards so I can mail them out tomorrow, and perhaps I'll even get a chance to start wrapping gifts.  This year I decided not to wait until the end when there is a mountain of gifts to wrap, and I am running low on patience for details.  I gave up on bows years ago.  Slap on some paper, and call 'er good!

Ava's school had Candy Cane Days this week which is one of the student council's fundraisers benefiting Toys for Tots. She was quite excited to pick out candy canes to munch on while in school. Last year she brought some home for us, but apparently, we didn't make the cut this year!

Yesterday, we had a wonderful day with my family.  My mom, Ava and I went to see the Disney on Ice show in St. Paul...it was all about the Disney princesses, and it was a full house! Ava's at the point where she's differentiating real life from make-believe, and she reassured me that even though the Evil Queen, and Mother Gothel are mean in the show, the girls who portray them are not. It was very important to her that I know that the actresses are not bad people.  It was an interesting side discussion that we had as there were sparkles and ice shavings flying around below us.

The show was fantastic...I'm glad we were able to squeeze this in before Ava gets too big to attend this type of event.  Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, and Donald were the MCs, and Ava thought G would've really liked that part. Such a good big sister!

Ava and Grandma Karen


A tight hug from Mom!


Tiana's song! (The Princess and the Frog)


The Evil Queen and the Mirror (Snow White)


Cinderella and her mice

 
Rapunzel's Tower (Tangled)

   
Flynn and Rapunzel flying through the air on her hair - very fun!


A gathering of all of the top princesses: Belle, Ariel, Aurora, Jasmine, Mulan, Tiana, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel...only Pocahontas was missing (or she was there and I just didn't see her!)


Fueling up after the show...


Just a few short hours after that, we headed to Burnsville Center to see Santa. We've generally had to wait in line for over an hour, but it was only about a 15 minute wait yesterday.  G wasn't thrilled about sitting on Santa's lap, but he got over it pretty quickly.  And then we all just stood there. Finally Santa asked, "Who's taking the pictures?"

Perhaps the reason the Santa line was so short was because their camera was broken!  Santa then informed the elves that they needed to be telling the people in line that info. Regardless, we were able to take a few quick, FREE pics with Santa and then we went on our merry way.

Grandma Karen and the kiddos, waiting patiently in line
 

The Big Guy!


Ava was a little panicked, not knowing what to tell Santa that she wanted for Christmas. Initially it was Shopkins, then it was a mannequin (she picked out a specific one at the mall...ummm), then it was bed sheets (not sure where that came from) and then it was "nothing."  She did end up going with Shopkins, which is good...not sure how a mannequin would fit in her stocking!

We headed over to Lucky's 13 for dinner and had a wonderful time eating, drinking, and feeding our youngest child lemons. He has eaten them before, without any issue, but he got one yesterday that must have been super sour because his reaction was priceless!  We even ran into our old neighbors as we were leaving, so we had a chance to wish them a Merry Christmas in person.  What a nice surprise!

G looks so tiny!



Grandpa Doug encouraging G after his lemon tasting


Today, Ava's heading over to Grandma Deb and Grandpa Whitey's house to help with Christmas-y type things. She's really looking forward to spending time with them today...hopefully there is baking involved! (Perhaps that would be the perfect time for me to wrap gifts, without the observant, older child lurking around the house...!)

The weather isn't very winter like right now...Scott just walked by and said "It should be snowing right now, not raining." And even Ava commented that we probably won't have snow for Christmas. I'm not holding my breath that it'll stay warm for much longer...winter is coming!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Disco!

Ava's school had a fundraiser this past fall, and by selling a certain number of items, she was able to choose a prize.  She (and me) had her heart set on a plug-in disco ball, so imagine our disappointment when they sent her a pair of blow-up shoes instead. The shoes were defective, so it gave me a great opportunity to contact their customer service. They were incredibly helpful, and within a week, Ava got the disco ball delivered to her!

I had no idea how much fun this disco light would be...it's a blast! There have been lots of spontaneous dance parties! Ava really wanted me to install it in her room, but I had to be a party pooper and say no...it can't be her permanent overhead light.  Can you imagine??



In addition to disco ball deliveries, we also got our new bed last Sunday, and our new living room furniture yesterday afternoon. We're loving everything so far.  My back hasn't been sore at all this week after I wake up, so I'm considering the bed a success!  The living room furniture is super comfy and the color looks great in the room...very cozy.


Last night, Emilie and I checked out the European Christmas Market in downtown St Paul. We had so much fun at the one in Vienna a few years ago, but we knew this was going to be a much smaller version. But, it was still fun! We made some purchases, drank some gl├╝hwein (warm, mulled red wine,) ate some food, and enjoyed a perfect winter night outside. The market was also right next to the North Pole train, so it added to the holiday experience.  After we spent a few hours there, we caught the light rail to Rice Park, and enjoyed all of the lit trees. And then it was time to get warm, and head home! We're hopeful that next year, they'll add more vendors, and grow the space at the market...it's a fun way to spend a beautiful winter night outside!

This was in St Paul last night...


And this was in Vienna in 2010...and on a much grander scale!





Lots of Christmas-y type things to do today...it's such a wonderful time of the year!