Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas! What a wonderful week this was...the days just flew by! Darn it, we have to go back to work in two days. At least we’ll be refreshed and ready to go.

We spent a very nice Christmas Eve at my parents home...We all enjoyed the traditional butterball soup, except G (and Grandma) who decided he didn’t even want to give it a try. His loss, which turned into an extra butterball for Ava...lucky girl! We ate so much food...all good, but boy, I was ready to sleep it off when we got back home. Instead, we opened the traditional ONE gift on Christmas Eve...Ava has caught on and knows that it’s always new pajamas, but G thought he was going to get something cool, and he wanted a redo. Haha!

And of course we left a cookie, fudge, carrot, and eggnog out for Santa and Rudolph. G was very adamant that the carrot was only for Rudolph, and not any other reindeer. He insisted that Rudolph isn’t very big or strong, which is why he needs the carrot more than any of the other reindeer. I’m not really sure where he got the idea that Rudolph is weak, but I do like that he wants to take care of him...

Hi Lucky! (Lucky knows it's just pjs in G's gift...)

Matching jammies for families - "Naughty is the new Nice!" (Except Scott...he got something else)

All gone!

We hit the hay, and was Christmas! The kids were so patient, as we only opened the stockings before breakfast. G was so excited to get his toy train from Santa! I was excited to see that the Booze Fairy (that’s what the tag said!) left a few gifts for me in my stocking, too. Thanks Santa and the Booze Fairy!

After a lovely breakfast of quiche, we opened all of our gifts. It was pretty awesome to watch how excited the kids were to tear into things. It was a very generous year, and we are very grateful for all of the wonderful presents that were given to our family. Ava made the comment that she has too much stuff, and has no more room to put anything. I advised her that we’re going to go through all of the toys and will be doing some donations in the near future. She agreed, and started to clean stuff out on her own. WOW!

We received some wonderful food gifts for Christmas, which are a treat...peach/berry crisps, cinnamon rolls, egg benedict sets, etc. Items we will definitely use, but will not take up space in our house. Love it!

The train set is bigger than he is!

G was the lucky recipient of a game where it's all about doggie's actually easy and fun. Who knew?

And then it was back to normal, non-Christmas life...daycare for G, release days for Ava. While they were occupied during the day, I did a TON of stuff around the things, like cleaning the fridge, cleaning the cabinets, cleaning out the medicine cabinet, etc. It’s so nice to get that all tidied up. Scott ended up taking a few days off, too, so we grabbed some lunch together, and went to the jeweler to get his ring re-sized so he can finally wear it again (he smashed his finger a while ago, and the ring won’t fit over his knuckle.) So glad we are getting that taken care of!

Mommy and G - and puppy!

They both decided to take a nap in the booth after dinner out one night...Ava doesn't look thrilled, does she?

Thank you, Santa! My mom and I split this and it was yummy!

Scott also snuck in a fun afternoon/night out with friends, which is great. He doesn’t often have time to go out and have fun since he works so hard, so I’m glad he was able to do that.

Scott and my dad worked hard on our basement yesterday...we now have recessed lights installed in the main room! Plus, the shop room is ready to go, so I think I can start organizing next weekend. It’ll be fantastic to have a permanent home for all of our things that have just been lingering in our basement. I sense a massive purge coming on...hooray!

We’re heading out to celebrate New Years with our dear friends tonight...Ava has told me several times how excited she is to see Isabel and Evie. And G really loves their blue house, so we all win! Haha!

Be safe, and if you’re in MN, stay’s -12 below right now. Brrrrr!

Happy New Year! Bring on 2018!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

PJs: All Day, Every Day

Each of the kids had a school-suggested, holiday planned wardrobe, every day this past’s amazing how easy it was to get G dressed each morning. He had pre-approved all of his clothes, and was excited to be dressing with the theme that his daycare put forth. I think I need to pick out his clothes every week, in advance! Pajama and Polar Express Day was the absolute best day for him...he talked about it leading up to it, and then told me several times that it was his favorite. If only every Thursday could be so much fun...

Now that I think about it, though...Ava’s school also had a pj day recently, and she said it was the best day, too. I’m now wondering if I can get away with wearing my pjs to work?! It would be guaranteed to make it a great day!

Besides the five-days-of-clothing-fun, last week was pretty good, in other ways, too. I got through a big milestone at work, and wrapped up things so I could be out of the office from Dec 22-Jan 1 (woohoo!) We also had our holiday party at work, themed 1980’!

Yesterday, Ava and I met up with some cousins at a local coffee shop, and had a chance to catch up with them. It had been several months since we had seen them, so it was a wonderful way to spend a chilly Saturday morning. Lots of fun girl time!

Scott has made great progress on our basement finishing, and received a very generous bonus and gift from his employer this week. I am so happy that he switched jobs a year ago...he’s so much happier, and less cranky about going to work.

Ava made it to the all-school finals of the Geography Bee! I’m so proud of her. And she came home with a mountain of geography homework to study for the finals. I had no idea that this would be a strong point for her!

And little G pooped in the potty at both school and home. It’s a Christmas miracle! We’re about ready to tear our hair out with his absolute refusal to poop in the toilet. We have tried everything, and every once in a while, he’ll go, but otherwise, he’s quite content to sit right in front of us, and make small talk while he’s filling his pull-up. Ugh. He’s a super stubborn little boy!

G’s also been complaining about the length of his hair (“it’s getting in my eyes!”) so I’m taking him for a haircut this morning, and then it’s off to Grandma Karen and Grandpa Doug’s place for a Christmas Eve dinner. We’ll leave treats for Santa tonight, and say goodbye to our friend George (the elf) for the year.

Tomorrow, we’re keeping it small and celebrating with just the four of us. We’ll have a yummy quiche for breakfast, open all of the gifts, and top off the day with a prime rib dinner. Sounds pretty great to me!

My Secret Santa revealed herself on Monday...from one wonder woman to another!

George, our elf, decided to pick up a late night pizza one night on his way back to our house...

Here are the beginnings of a new appetizer that I'm making for today's Christmas Eve gathering...Cranberry Jalapeno Dip. Every review that I've read, as well as a friend who I passed this recipe along to, has said that this is absolutely amazing. I'm so excited to try it (and a little concerned that my expectations may be out of control!)

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Where did Santa park his sleigh?

It's amazing how much more I am enjoying the holidays now that those darn gifts are wrapped, and the Christmas cards are sent! I took this past Friday off and enjoyed a leisurely day, where I was still productive, but wasn’t crushed under holidays to-do lists. Amazing!

G had his Christmas concert on Tuesday. All of the kids, from the toddlers up to the pre-schoolers, gathered on stage, and sang four different songs. We could recognize the songs, for the most part, and the kids had a blast performing for us. Ava even had a friend to hang out with while we were there (Ava is in a class at school with a girl who has a little sister in G’s class. I get the feeling we’ll see that family at many events in the future!)

Walking down the aisle, heading up to the stage

Jingle Bells!

Proud Grandma

Looking good in G's reindeer hat! 

During “Here Comes Santa Claus”, guess who walked down the aisle and caused general disruption of the concert? If you guessed the big guy in red, you are right! We stood in line so G could chat with him for a bit. While we were waiting, he asked me if that was the real Santa Claus. I said, “Of course he’s real...he’s sitting right there.” He must not have been pleased with my half-answer, so he asked Grandma Karen where Santa had parked his sleigh. Excellent question, G! These little kids are just too darn smart.

Ava kicked off the weekend with pajama day at school on Friday...which means that when we went out for dinner and shopping on Friday night, she was wearing her pjs. Good thing I insisted on a two-piece set and not a nightgown, since it was snowing!

These Goers guys are hard to capture in pics!

One of the traditions that I love at this time of year is to drive around and look at Christmas lights. We were invited to a few Christmas parties for Saturday night, and we opted to stay local and hang out as a family instead. We took that opportunity, and the clear snow-free weather, to explore our local town. We found some HUGE houses that both G and Ava were thrilled with...G told us that one of the houses is the one he had been looking for all He said we could all live there, and when I asked who would pay for it, he quickly said, “Not me!” He decided that Daddy should pay for it...haha!

We also came upon a well-decorated neighborhood, and guess who we found?! Santa! We hopped out of the truck, and the kids absolutely loved chatting with him. There was no question in their minds about this being the real Santa...this was REALLY him. Santa’s helpers even gave each of them a bag of gifts when they, coloring books, was wonderful. This was Christmas magic at work.

In non-holiday news...Scott and I started watching “The Crown.” We both managed to stay awake for two hours/episodes, so I consider that a huge success. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to watch a series together...usually one of us is sleeping, ten minutes in!

It's a great time of year to snuggle up in fuzzy blankets!

It’s another Sunday, full of things to do around here...busy, as always, but I always look forward to ending the afternoon watching tv/movie, by the Christmas tree light. Happy Sunday!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas Cookies Galore

We’re making progress on our holiday to-do lists. This past Friday I mailed out all of our Christmas cards, and spent 4.5 hours wrapping gifts. Ugh! I had the day off of work, so it was best just to power through and get it all done while I was the only one at home. There has already been much rearranging of the presents under the tree as the kids are taking stock of all of the gifts. And I have just two gifts left to buy...easy peasy!

I braved the lines at the post office yesterday to mail out the gifts to our family member who aren’t local to us. No peeking until December 25! And yesterday afternoon, Grandma Karen came over to help us make all of our Christmas goodies for the season. We now have frosted sugar cookies, fudge, Kris Kringle red and green cookies to snack on, and today, we’ll be making more dipped pretzels.

 Ava, G, and Grandma Karen managed the sugar cookie portion, while I focused on making the fudge (I managed to drop the candy thermometer in the fudge mixture while it was boiling so that was a fun clean up...)

It's a reindeer!

We also squeaked in a visit with Santa this week, too. Ava was very sweet and asked Santa to bring treats for Lucky, a Barbie Dreamhouse (ha), a cell phone (haha!), and some Shopkins for her (that’s most likely to happen.) G has been asking for another train set, so we’ll see what ends up in the stockings on Christmas morning!

Waiting very patiently for our table at the restaurant, after we had seen Santa!

We have G’s holiday concert this Tuesday, and he shared that they will be singing a song from Frozen, Rudolph, some song I’ve never heard of, and the fourth one is a I ask him what the fourth song is and I get a blank stare. Sooooo, we’ll see how THAT goes on Tuesday! It should be super cute. He’s been looking forward to this concert for a while!

Next weekend, we have a few parties we were invited to, but we’ve narrowed it down to the less formal one. Should be fun to catch up with people we haven’t seen in a while! Plus, we can bring the kids, so it’ll be a fun night for us all.

My favorite holiday achievement, however, is finally getting a timer for those dang outdoor Christmas lights. I no longer have to go out in the cold to unplug them before bed. Thank the Lord for modern technology. It even has a remote I can use to turn them on or off, if I want to deviate from the timer function. Amazing! Not sure why I waited so long to get one of

We need to figure out a time to drive around and look at the light displays and then...we just need to wait for the big day to arrive! This is a fun year, as G is really engaged in the holiday activities. They are thoroughly enjoying looking for George (our elf) each morning. G’s squeal of laughter when he finds him everyday just bring joy to my heart. I love seeing Christmas through the eyes of a young child. It’s a magical time!

Scott built Ava a puppet theater, so we were all treated to a puppet show last Sunday. Love the lighting!

Scott had fun while he was giving G a bath. All I heard was, "Dad, you look like Santa!"

This is our future...eye rolls and sighs.

Happy Sunday Funday to all!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Bowling and Batons

We were busy this week with Ava’s performances (and work and daycare...but the shows were the most fun!)

The fourth grade class at Ava’s elementary school had their annual performance on Thursday night. The theme was “Get in the Game” and it was all about trying different sports and having fun being active. She had volunteered for a speaking part, so we had been practicing for a few weeks. No concerns, she nailed it! I wasn’t able to get the full video of her part, but during the bowling song, she went up to the mic and said, “Strikes, spares and turkeys just get me all confused!”

I've added an arrow so you find her on stage!

Grandma Karen and Grandpa Doug joined us so she had a nice cheering section. Now that G is older, it’s a little easier to have him at these shows. He was super flirty with the family behind us...and in fact the mom informed me that he has the best smile and she’d like to take him home! G also spotted one of his daycare friends in the audience, so when the show was over, we tracked down his friend Mia so he could say hi...and give her a hug. Lol.  Turns out Mia’s older sister is in Ava’s class, so there was a lot to talk about in the few minutes before we headed home.

Then, on Saturday, Ava had her mid-year baton recital. Scott had to work, and we didn’t think G would enjoy the dancing and twirling, so just Grandma Karen and I were in the audience. The theme was “Movin’ Out” and all of the music was Billy Joel songs. It was fun to see something different, and the little dancers were so adorable. Ava only dropped her baton once, and I think she had a great time!

Ava's the one with the baton over her shoulder

Since she was around all of the dancers, I thought I’d ask one more time if she wanted to do dance, and the answer was no...but she’d like to do gymnastics. I’ve asked her many times over the years about gymnastics and she waffled on trying it, but this time, she’s, we’ll give it a whirl. She took tumbling when she was little and always seemed to enjoy it. I guess we’ll see what happens!

In other news...Scott’s been working on the basement, and now we’re ready for cabinets in the shop room. We may need to have them built, as we don’t want the standard 24” deep cabinets. My goal is to work on getting the Christmas cards addresses so I can mail them out this week. And I need to get started on wrapping the mountain of gifts. Yikes!

We had G's conferences on Monday this past week, and turns out that he's a pretty smart little guy! He's doing very well at all of the tasks he was "tested" on, but needs a little bit of help getting up and speaking in front of people (um, who doesn't?!) He is officially left-handed and can cut a pretty nice straight line with his scissors (that came as a shock to me - he knows how to use scissors??) The other day, I was asking him subtraction questions, and he was getting them right, without needing to think about the answers...they are doing a pretty great job teaching him all sorts of things at his daycare. So glad we moved to The Clubhouse!

Ava and I made candy covered pretzels last weekend, and we’re going to get together with Grandma Karen next Saturday to make all of our Christmas cookies. Yum, yum, yum!

G and Lucky were getting cozy in front of the fireplace the other day...

This is amazing weather for winter! Not a drop of snow on the ground (but I do know that it's coming soon, so I tried to enjoy the sunshine as much as I could last was lovely!)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Bag vs. “Bayg”

Four-years olds can be hard to understand...their enunciation may be iffy, and sometimes they make up words, just for fun. Our little G speaks pretty clearly for his age, and I can usually decipher what he’s saying, but in the last few weeks, we’ve all struggled with the name of a new friend at daycare. We know the friend is a girl, and she really likes Skye from Paw Patrol. We also know that G wanted her to come over to spend the night. Hm. Not sure about that one...

G kept calling her ”Danie” (with a long a) but when I would repeat "Danie" back to him, he would get very frustrated and loudly say her name again. This went on for a few weeks until I remembered that we live in the north. And our children were born here, so they both have accents from this crazy place. One of the things that drives me bonkers is how people here say the word “bag”. The “a” becomes long and it sounds like “bayg”. So, finally, I asked G if his friend’s name was Dagney. Ding ding ding! My little G has picked up the very Minnesota way of pronouncing “ag” as “ayg”. I’m just so happy that I got the name right so he stops getting so frustrated when we don’t understand what he said!

Now that mystery had been solved, I could focus my energy on my vacation and holiday fun. :) I had a fantastic time off (haven't been to work since 11/16) and I'll be working from home tomorrow, so it's an easier re-entry to the work week.

Our Christmas shopping is almost completed, we got the tree/house decorated (thank you for the assist, Grandma Karen!), ordered Christmas cards, spent fun time with the kids, Scott and I had a mini day-date, I saw a movie with my mom, and we hosted a small Thanksgiving dinner with my parents. It's been a very good 10 days! I think we need to look at our investment strategies to see when we'll be able to retire so we can stop this working thing! Heehee.

Enjoying the glow from the Christmas lights at night

I made a yummy caramel apple appetizer for good!

Ava and I made some lip balm yesterday morning. It was easier (and messier) than I anticipated, but she really liked the end result.

I love our can have either colored lights or white lights. Scott and Ava prefer the colors, while G and I like the white lights. Good thing the tree has a feature that allows the lights to go back and forth between color and white automatically!

We're having some really fantastic weather was in the 60's earlier this weekend, and sunshine is in the forecast for the next 7 days. It's been a great time to finish up the winter prep and also get some work done on the basement (painting) that requires the windows to be open.

Scott's picking up donuts for breakfast (yum!) and we're going to be sure to enjoy this lovely winter/fall day before Monday appears!