Monday, December 26, 2011

I Heart Christmas! Part 1

Now that it's actually 2012, I better catch up on the rest of 2011!  Last Wednesday (a whole stinkin' week and a half ago!), we started our day at our ortho doc, hoping to get a clean bill of recovery from the doc.  Unfortunately it wasn't quite so.  The bone has grown in the wrong direction, due to it not quite being lined up correctly.  It is one of those "coulda woulda shoulda" situations where we couldn't have known, but in retrospect probably should have done the more invasive surgery.  There is still time for it to correct itself - at least enough to not be bothersome, but we have a possibility of another surgery in the next year or so.  Boo.
Luckily, the very next thing we did was welcome my brother and his two girls to town!  (Katie and my nephew Connor would arrive a couple days later).  It was so great to see them!  Morgan and Ethan picked right up where they left off this summer - and now Lucas was definitely feeling old enough to tag along.  Maddie (2) is in her own world, but was hilarious!  That first night she wanted nothing to do with being awake, but she was all ready to go the next morning!
Thursday afternoon, Ethan had a party to go to for quizzing, so Morgan and I headed out to shop for the ingredients and bake a cake for her mom for Christmas.  She had informed my brother that a cake would be perfect for her mom, so we jumped on it.  We decided on a Christmas tree cake - but she was not happy with merely cutting out a Christmas tree shape.  No, just like her Auntie Katie, she had bigger ideas.  She wanted to create the cake out of concentric circles, building to the top.  We had a blast running around to get cake mix, fondant, frosting, candy melts, etc (including coffee and hot chocolate to fuel us).  She was a chatterbox and I loved it!  My favorite part was watching her crack the eggs.  She was so proud of herself - and I was impressed!  We baked the cakes (3) and made the various decorations that would go on it.
We ran a few more errands and then went to pick up E from his party - he was exhausted but had a whole lot of fun bowling.  He had apparently gotten 2nd place (how on earth?) and was very excited about that.
The next day we spent the morning at the Y - basketball - The "Broncos" vs. the "Sonics".
We loved having time to spend not only with the cousins, but with Brian - he worked on his skills at dunking (on an 8 ft. hoop...).
We swam (and Ethan can now swim for a few feet by himself- yippee!) and then went over to the climbing wall.  Ethan had been once, the day before, and Morgan had gone up one with a friend somewhere else.....
It was amazing to me how much improvement Ethan showed in a day.  No fear at all - just jumping for hand holds and swingin' around.  Luckily he wasn't on the auto-belay, or he would have crashed.
Morgan's first time she only went up a little ways and then announced she was done.  The next time she kept climbing and got way up there!
By the end of the trip, both kids made it up to the top of the Easy wall.  So proud!
Back at the park (my parents' house), Katie and Connor had arrived, and we got to spend some more time with Maddie!  She is a hoot-  such a little personality.  She never stops moving - or squealing!  We made pizzas in the shape of Christmas trees and ornaments, and let the kids decorate their own.
Here was Brian's, decorated by yours truly.  It was more exciting with the different peppers and tomatoes, but you can only do what he'll eat, right?
We headed out that night to Zoolights - leaving baby Connor with my parents to babysit.  The kids had fun riding together - Ethan and Morgan in our car and Lucas and Maddie in Kev and Katie's.
The lights there are magical - just gorgeous!  So much to see!  Kev and I went to this a lot growing up and it was fun to be together for it again!
Morgan and Ethan rode the camel together - Lucas solo.  We waited in line forever, but their smiles were worth it.  Maddie was terrified of the camel - especially when it turned to look at us during pictures.  Luckily it didn't spit!
We made it back and to bed - and not a moment too soon as they were all exhausted!  The next day was that magical day - Christmas Eve!!!  Morgan and I assembled her cake - it actually turned out very cute! - to give to her mom that night.
Connor and I got lots of snuggle and play time! - he is such a cutie!
Connor also got in some good Nana time.  She has a way with babies!  They absolutely love her.
Upa and Lucas entertained Connor with the musical toys - though I think Upa got tired of the songs quickly. Lucas not so much.
We got a house to decorate from Sluy's Bakery - YUM.  And it turned out interesting....
It seems we are not quite at the age of making it look "nice", but we're still having fun!
Next up was happy hour - and suprise!  Uma and Upa had bought us all special "Happy" hour glasses!
Lucas immediately went and got his drink and poured it in.  He got it.
We tried to keep the kids calm by watching Claymation - but then Ethan and Maddie were acting out all the scenes - not so calm, but the ice skating walruses were hilarious.
Lucas was self-appointed in charge of clean=up, and also accusing everyone of eating too much.  "Don't eat it ALL Auntie Katie!"  In her defense, I might have helped some with the guac.  That stuff is good.
We all exchanged gifts with Nana and the kids could not handle just watching her open.  They kept trying to crawl up in her lap and help.  We finally had to push them back and make them sit on the floor.
After we said goodnight to Nana, it was off the driveway to spread out "reindeer food", to make sure Santa would find us.
Turns out reindeer food left behind gets kind of mushy and sticky after a good rain - sorry Upa!  But for the moment, it was magical.
We went on a lights hike in the backyard - Uma and Upa put lights up all over their gardens - truly magical!!!  And even visited the tree my Grandad built so long ago.  Not that I could get anyone to stand still for a picture.
Next stop was caroling at the front door.  Very loud.  Very silly.  Lots of doorbell ringing.
And Lucas had his own way of caroling.......
Morgan presented her gift to her mama - and was so proud.  Her face was just awesome!  It was delicious too, by the way!
We all opened jammies from the U's and attempted to take some pictures.  The boys' jammies were pretty darn snug - but they definitely looked cute.
Everyone was all smiles.  Lucas seems to love organized pictures.  Though I can't get him to keep his eyes open on the really big smiles.
Ethan, Morgan, and Lucas took turns taking pictures and managed to get some good ones - especially this one of the U's.  Love it.  Love them.
Next we let each kid open one present.  I had one picked out for the boys, that I knew would be useful in their slumber party with the girls that night.
Pillow pets for both - and check out Lucas' face!  "It's just what I always wanted!!  A pillow pet a pillow pet a pillow pet!"
Connor was happy, in true baby fashion, to just play with the wrapping paper.
Morgan opened some cool headphones and had fun playing on my ipod while Ethan watched on, snuggled on his dino pillow pet.  Super Cool Cousins!
We left out the cookies and such for Santa - in hopes that he'd show up!
The kids all headed to bed (in the same room, except for Connor), and miraculously went right to sleep!
And Santa DID happen to arrive that night!  All the stockings were filled and toys were placed out - how exciting!
The one big present you can't see is the Nook Tablet that Santa left me.  It didn't get put out in time for pictures and I haven't put it down since - well I suppose that's not true....  Ethan got a big kid trickster bike, and Lucas got a microphone with amp.
The boys woke up first and had a blast snuggling with Auntie Katie while the girls slept on.  I couldn't believe how calm they were!  I think they were just as happy to have all this time with their Auntie and Uncle as they were to have Christmas!
And finally it was time - all were up, had their sip of hot cocoa and were ready!  Sleepy eyes, but don't let it fool you!
They looked for their stockings to know which stash was theirs....
Ethan was excited about the big kid bike, though he wasn't too sure he was ready for it...... He pulled everything out of his stocking and announced each item to the group - too funny!
Lucas loved looking through it all and especially loved talking through his mic.
The present opening began - and this was my favorite - Ethan had wrapped up a picture/story for the U's - something about getting blown out of a volcano and then eaten by dinosaurs.
The piles grew and we were all spoiled rotten.  At some point Connor went to bed, but we persevered until we were done.
So much fun!  And then the kids went out to try out some new gifts outside.  Lucas spent the afternoon reciting prayers from daycare and ordering us into circle time.
Kevin, Brian, Morgan, and Ethan enjoyed the new Nerf guns - very much.
At some point Kev and I took Morgan and Ethan to see the new Chipmunk movie while the others napped. It was ridiculous, but we laughed and the kids loved it.
We had one final present to open that evening - hats and scarves made by Uma!  They loved them and did NOT want to take them off - even though the house was rather warm as the turkey cooked - especially Morgan!
We had a fabulous turkey dinner - just the way I remember it - and all sat around in a food-induced coma.  So great to be together and such a great Christmas!  The festivities would continue the next day, but in the meantime, we all went to bed early - stuffed and happy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Traditions Late at Night

 If you haven't figured me out by now, I love celebration and I love tradition.  Holidays must be done exponentially, and each part must have meaning and significance along the way.  Christmas is my favorite for all the traditions I remember from growing up and from having a family of my own these last 8 years....
Tonight was the night we decided to go tour the local lights.  Jammies were donned, hot cocoa was poured, and we headed down to the bus stop to pick up Daddy.  The boys were jazzed - they have definitely inherited my enthusiasm for all things holiday.  It probably helped that their "snowman soup" was pretty much gone by the time the bus got to us.
We saw the quaint, the elaborate, the impressively brilliant, and even the audio-synchronized.  We gasped in awe and shrieked in glee...  And even let out a few loud giggles at this house::
I hope you can see the boy with his tongue stuck to the flagpole.  And then I hope you can cite the movie reference being pictured here.  If you cannot, then you are not familiar with another one of my less favorite traditions of Christmas in our family....
Back to the lights - Ethan is quite the "Oooooooooh!" guy. And then all of a sudden Lucas says, "You better top saying dat.  You say dat, de aliens will come and take you!"  And he was dead serious.
My favorite of Ethan's exuberant exclamations of the night was "Wait till you see the amazing!"  as he looked ahead down the street.
I remember going around as a high-schooler with my friends, enforcing the same tradition.  Only, we enjoyed being critical and judging houses - our favorite adjective being "tacky".  We were very picky on how lights were to be done - which ones were to be used - how many should be used.
Not so now.  Once I had Ethan and saw his face absolutely light up at the gaudiest, craziest displays, all that judgement fell away.  Now I just see pure joy in people's decorations.  We sing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs and Ooooooh away, all the while watching out for the aliens.  It's a wonderful life.