Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Season 2016

I've been in pretty good control of things this holiday season...did all of my shopping, wrapping, baking, activities, etc. with enough planning and time so that I never felt rushed or stressed out.  BUT, it's amazing what happens when there are now two children in the house who are excited to open gifts.  We've always been a family to take turns opening gifts, but not yesterday morning...we let both Ava and G open their gifts at the same time, and there was paper flying, ribbon everywhere, and cries for assistance on putting toys together RIGHT NOW.  It was a little more chaos than I'm used to on Christmas morning!  Ava was very patient and waited if we asked her to, but G would look right at us while we were saying "take turns"...and his little fingers would be working that paper open, and it was clear that there was no stopping him.  So, we didn't.  And it was fine!  No, it was better than was wonderful!

I had Friday the 23rd off, and Scott was done early (did I mention it was his last day at his job??) so we met for lunch. It was nice to be out with my hubby, enjoying a lunch, with just adults.  Then, that night, as a family, we drove around the nearby neighborhoods and enjoyed the Christmas lights/displays that everyone had put up. 

Christmas Eve day was a busy one, as we were hosting Scott's side of the family for dinner.  It was great food, good times, and a nice way to kick off 24 hours of celebrating.  After dinner, we opened some gifts, and once everyone went home, the kids got into their jammies.  We left treats for Santa and a reindeer (just one, I guess), watched "Rudolph" and even managed a reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas".  They said their final farewells to George (the elf) and scurried off to bed.  Ava was pretty sure she saw Santa's sleigh in the sky, but then determined it was some trees.  (I was hoping for it to be the sleigh!)

Scott and I stayed up way too late watching "The Man in the High Castle" and then made sure that Santa was prepped to deliver his gifts while we were all sleeping. 

Christmas morning was awesome!  We opened the stockings, enjoyed a yummy breakfast, and then let chaos reign with the rest of the gifts.  Since this was G's first Christmas where he fully grasped the concept of Santa, gifts, etc., it was really fun to watch him discover the joys of Christmas morning.

Ava gettin' crafty with the LB

G was unsure of proper ribbon removal

Ava was thrilled that Santa brought something for Bloop - he now has a leaf bed for his tank!

G couldn't quite get the "thumbs up" working...

After we cleaned up the family room, we all took it easy (I read a book!) until it was time to go to my parents place for Christmas dinner.  It was another wonderful evening, full of good food (loved the butterballs!), conversation, and time well spent.  G and Ava didn't break anything at their place (my biggest concern) and we somehow managed to come home with more food than what we brought over.  We are going to officially drown in Christmas sweets...we have SO many treats and goodies!

On a serious note...on the ride home, Ava asked what "Merry X-mas" means, and I gave her the same lecture that my grandma (Mom's mom) gave me when I was her age.  I explained that we do not use that abbreviation in this house, as it takes Christ out of Christmas.  And without Christ, there is no Christmas.  I will never forget how I felt after my grandma explained that to me...and I've never used that phrase since.  I hope Ava takes this to heart, as well.

I'm pretty sure that last night, we just digested our food and watched TV.  Everyone was tired and didn't fight going to bed.  It was raining, with thunder and lightning, which was an odd experience to have on Christmas.  It's very windy right now, so I'm not sure what type of weather the day holds for us.

We're taking G and Ava to see the movie "Sing" today.  Should be fun!  This will be G's first experience in a movie theater, so I hope he enjoys it. I know Ava will!  Tomorrow, the kids go back to daycare/release day care, and Scott and I have the rest of the week off.  He and I will be heading back to the movies tomorrow afternoon for a day date.  FUN!

Random pic of the week...we pulled out all of my Barbies last Sunday, and had fun playing with them!

As Ava declared yesterday, "This was the BEST.CHRISTMAS.EVER!"

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Nutcracker and the Moon

Last Sunday I took Ava to see The Nutcracker at a nearby performing arts center.  This show was billed as having a bit of a Minnesota twist, which I thought sounded interesting, yet...I hoped they wouldn't stray too much from the original ballet.  Turns out that the story is the same, it's just the background settings that changed - and honestly, unless you read the playbill, you wouldn't have even known that it was set in Minnesota, as opposed to Germany (Austria? I'm not 100% sure where it is supposed to be!)

It was a lovely afternoon spent with Ava, where we both enjoyed the ballet...the dancing, the costumes, and the music (my favorite part!)  It reminded me of all of the times my parents took me to see it when I was a little girl.  I hope to continue that tradition with Ava.  Afterwards, as an additional treat, I took Ava to a Caribou and treated us both to some hot chocolate. She was pretty excited to discover what coffee shops were like, and also taste the sheer yumminess that is produced there!

She insisted on taking a selfie!

Enjoying her hot chocolate with a caramel shot

The holiday fun didn't stop there!  On Monday night, the whole family, including both sets of grandparents, watched G's daycare perform a variety of holiday songs at the local community center.  It was adorable, heartwarming, and filled with moments of utter chaos.  Props to the teachers who tried their very best to teach the kids (even the two-year-olds) a few traditional songs.  I'm certain it was a ton of work, and their efforts paid off.  (G is STILL randomly singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"...)  The teachers clearly knew their kids limit, and made the wise decision to have them all onstage at once, and limited it to just a handful of songs.  The highlight of the show came when one little boy dropped his pants and mooned the crowd.  I didn't see it happen, but the crowd reacted...and then all control was lost.  The program quickly wrapped up, which was a good thing, because...Santa had come to visit all of the kids! 

See the kid in green in the front row?  Now, see the little face sticking out over his right shoulder?  That's G!

G and I waited in the Santa line, and we got to meet his girlfriend (who was right in front of us.) I'm pretty sure that G has no idea what a "girlfriend" is, but when asked if he had one, he didn't hesitate to say Ellie!  Also, I have no idea what G told Santa he wanted, but it was a nice ending to a very long day.  Ava and Grandma Karen came up to keep me company while waiting in line, which was a nice reprieve...G wasn't the only one who had a long day, and I was running on E trying to keep little G entertained for 20 minutes while waiting in line!

This captures reality...Ava is such a good, well-behaved kid.  G is a little bit more wild (but sweet, too!)


Long list for Santa! 
Side note: is that a dinosaur on the floor by Santa's right boot??

The rest of the week was full of work, errands, and wrapping Christmas presents in the morning (I really, really dislike wrapping presents, so last year I figured out that if I wrap 4-5 gifts each workday morning, while I still have energy and no one is up yet, it becomes an easier task to manage.  Right now I only have 5 left to wrap and it feels GREAT!)

Due to an incoming snowstorm, I worked from home on Friday afternoon...I was able to get so much work done, and even enjoyed watching the snow come down (instead of lamenting about how it would impact the evening commute.)  After the kids were in bed on Friday night, Scott and I rented a movie...we both managed to stay awake for the entire thing!  Amazing!

Yesterday it was snowy and cold, so we kept ourselves entertained inside. (Scott was busy clearing out several driveways, plus he was able to get his Christmas shopping done, too...and when I say "his" Christmas shopping, I mean the gifts for me. Since I do all of the shopping for ALL of the other gifts, I insist that he buy and wrap mine...I like to have a few surprises under the tree, too!) 

Ava and I worked on decorating a gingerbread house, but this time, it was a pre-built one.  It was a great kit, but Ava's interest level waned after 20 minutes or so.  I'm pretty sure that this would not win a realtor's showcase award for amazing homes.  But, it was time spent together, and that's what matters.

Last night we had a super early dinner and then watched "The Secret Life of Pets" as a family...we had taken Ava to see it this summer, but G was too little to go at that time.  He was pretty excited to see the animals doing all sorts of crazy things (plus he has a few stuffed animals from the movie, so he got to see them in live action!)  We were supposed to go to a Christmas party last night, but due to the snow and freezing temps, we opted to stay warm and at home. 

I just checked the temp and it's -18 right now.  BRRRRRR!  We're not going anywhere today, that's for sure!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Cookies and Compassion

We've had a family-filled fun weekend, so far.  On Friday night, I had dinner with my little family and then spent several hours with Scott's cousin and his wife.  Initially I was there to make some essential oil sprays, and then I ended up staying until past midnight...we were catching up on family things, and chatting about life, in general.  It was a great way to spend a Friday evening!

Me, Nick and Melissa

Yesterday was a baking day!  My mom came over for a big chunk of time yesterday and we did some holiday treat-making.  Ava and Mom cut out, baked and decorated the traditional sugar cookies. I spearheaded the fudge-making (although, something was different this year, as the fudge didn't turn out like it has the last several years...I'm still not sure what caused the's a mystery.)  And it took all three of us to make the sticky holiday wreaths.  All around a fun time!  G was running around during most of it, pretending to be a race car, and he only really became interested once the cookie decorating began.

Today Ava and I are headed out to watch the Nutcracker ballet...the last time we went, it was a snowy mess, and it looks like it'll be the same today!  If she behaves well (which, of course she will) I'm going to surprise her with a Caribou hot chocolate on the way home...she loves that!

With all of the excitement yesterday, G didn't take a nap.  He was a bit ornery and crabby as a result.  After dinner, he wanted to get down from his chair, and I told him he needed to wait a little bit so I could finish rinsing off some dishes.  Out of nowhere, he said, "I hate you."  Both Ava and I had the same reaction, but she actually voiced hers.  She told G that was a very mean thing to say and that he needed to apologize.  And then she proceeded to give me lots of hugs and insisted on sitting next to me during our family movie night last night.  I had to remind myself that he's only three, but hearing him say that really, really hurt.  I was proud of Ava for responding as she did, since she could see how much it hurt me. 

Those aren't words that we use in our house, so Scott was asking him this morning where he heard that phrase...we think it must be at daycare.  G clearly knew that what he said was wrong as he apologized later last night, and told me that he didn't hate me at all.  And then he said, "We don't talk like that."  So, he knows, but OUCH.  All because I wouldn't stop what I was doing to clean him up... 

We'll take this as a learning opportunity and make sure he understands that his words hurt.  It's interesting, as we never went through this with Ava, and we never really struggled with her repeating naughty words.  G is the opposite, and he DOES repeat words back.  Two very different kids...
Last Sunday we went to the city library for the "Artist's Reception" of Ava's paintings was chosen to be on display for the month of December.  I LOVE this picture and will definitely have it framed when we get it back home!

Santa sent each kid their very own letters for!

This girl loves to read...

Happy snowy Sunday!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Three Santas

'Tis the season to visit with our favorite jolly man in red!  We've had a busy weekend with holiday festivities, and with the snow fall from last night, it finally seems like winter is here (I was just saying yesterday how odd it was to have no snow on the ground in early December.  Not that I'm complaining...I don't want it to stick around until May!)

Friday night we met up with Grandma Karen and Grandpa Doug and visited with Santa (#1.)  Ava asked for a trampoline and G asked for a puppy (a real one, not a stuffed one.)  The answer to both of those requests is NO and NO.  I know, I'm no fun.  I'm sure Santa will come up with some other fun things that they'll both like, though.

After we were done with the Santa chat, we headed out to a family dinner and had a good chance to sit down and catch up for a bit.  I think we've officially moved out of the high chair/booster phase...G is sitting on regular chairs at restaurants now (he sits on his knees.)  EXCEPT, when he tried to get off of the chair he was crying that his legs weren't there...I think he experienced his legs falling asleep!!

Saturday morning, we packed up and went to the community center and had breakfast with Santa (#2.)  We mostly focused on the breakfast, coloring, crafts, and games, and didn't really chat with Santa.  And that's ok - it was great family time!

This doesn't even look like G with his funny little expression

Hard at work coloring - both pics are hanging on the fridge now!

This was G's craft...I might have helped him a little bit...!

Saturday night, we decided to do an early dinner and stumbled upon a new restaurant that had just opened up in Farmington.  It was a great atmosphere, good food and service, and they had an amazing patio with fun fire features.  We will definitely head back there to try other items on the menu! 

My chair faced this wall of was so pretty!

We don't often make it to Farmington (it's south of where we live) but we had wanted to check out the Dakota City village since it was all decked out for the holidays.  Ava has been there a few times already, and it was time that the rest of us walked through there.  It was a gorgeous night to do a tour of the historical village...we visited so many different types of stores...carpentry, blacksmith, printing shop, general store, library, etc.  We were also able to take a trolley ride, pulled by two beautiful horses.  The weather was perfect to be wasn't windy or wet, and even though it was chilly, it wasn't unbearable.

A nativity scene outside the little church 

The little church - it's tiny!

They were not a fan of the bright flash on the trolley ride...

The naughty kids went to the jail!

There was an outdoor seating area with the tree...I thought it was so pretty

Did I mention that we saw Santa (#3) at the depot?  G asked me if we were going to talk to Santa again, and when I said no, neither kid was too put out.  So, I think we've filled our Santa quota for this year!

Santa has been a big topic this weekend - on Friday, Ava asked me if Santa was real. I told her that the moment she stops believing in him, he ceases to exist.  She looked a little panicked and said that she does still believe in him, but was curious as to what happens if you stop believing in him and then start believing again.  I simply repeated what I had already said.  It was a tough topic to face.  But, she's decided that Santa #1 is definitely the real Santa because his beard is real.  I agree, he does appear to be the real Santa!

On a non-Santa note, we were informed last week that one of Ava's art pieces was selected to be on display at the city library for the month of December.  Awesome!  We're going to the "Artist's Reception" this afternoon - I can't wait!  Out of the blue, she told me she doesn't want to take gymnastics (we had been talking about it for the last year) and when I asked if there was any other sport she wanted to do, she said, "No, I'm not a sports person."  And, she's right.  So, I asked her if she'd like to take an art class, and she lit up!  She also said she'd like to take a cooking class, and she's in luck, as I had already scheduled a cooking class for her and me in January.  Actually, it's a cooking and painting class, so it should be a blast!

I need to work on assembling our Christmas cards today, and then determining what Christmas cookies we're going to make this year.  I've finally figured out that I need to keep things more than 2 or 3 different things.  That might be a good philosophy to apply towards many things in life...