Thursday, January 11, 2018

January Things

 Christmas break is over and we are back to whatever passes for normal.  Mostly, we are just busy smothering our little brothers with affection to the point of suffocation...but that's another story.

 We enjoyed extra days with Daddy home from work around the holidays, and John made sure to take them on lots of adventures.

 I'm not much of a homebody, but it turns out that compared to Weekend John, I am the homebody of the family.  I slept in and then went for neighborhood walks on a few occasions while the rest of the family was out running around at dog parks and the like.

My parents were here for the week after Christmas, and Bennett enjoyed many, many trucks books read by Grandpa on the couch, and Orelia enjoyed spending time as a sous chef with Grandpa.

 And since life is short and the waffle cookies are always eaten too quickly, Orelia and I had to make another batch of waffle cookies to finish out the season.

 My parents stayed home to watch Bennett while Orelia and I trotted off to Portland to visit our best friends again (and also eat more Portland doughnuts).

 Orelia and I both get so much out of our short trips to Portland.  It always makes us appreciate our close friends who mean so much to us.  It's amazing how much impact a friendship can have on a person even when the friend lives far away.

 After the Portland trip we had ANOTHER week off of school, but we are finally back at school and activities as of Monday.

 Both kids are beyond excited to be back at school this week, and it's so wonderful to see them thriving at school. 

It may also be wonderful for them to just be at school for my sanity in general, but that's another story.

Friday, January 5, 2018

That Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania

We spent a lovely Thanksgiving week visiting family in Pennsylvania, and somehow I never got a chance to blog about it.

 The kids had all kinds of fun adventures like visiting the Crayola Experience,

And riding on old fashioned steam trains (while eating gigantic cookies, apparently).

 The most important part of the trip was spending time with family.

Uncle Bobby hosted us in his beautiful home, and the kids loved spending time there.

 Orelia also loved spending time in Bobby's salon.

 She was very much at home in a salon chair getting a princess hairdo.  (No one is surprised by this.)

 Bobby also arranged for us to go on a horse-drawn carriage ride.

 Orelia felt quite regal and did her best princess waves to everyone as we rode past.  (I'm not kidding.)

 Bennett tolerated this excursion fine, but mostly enjoyed stories about "Snoopy and Flower" from Grandma and visiting Target to buy trucks as rewards for going potty.

There are few things Bennett likes more than a trip to Target (a boy after my own heart). 

 We loved all our family time out East and plan to go back this summer to see everyone again!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Look What You Made Me Do

Some years Orelia likes her dance recital songs.  And some years she LOVES her dance recital songs.

This year she and her crew performed a hip hop dance to Look What You Made Me Do (by Taylor Swfit) mashed up with Circus (by Britney Spears).

It's the stuff of five year-old girls' dreams.

Orelia loves being on stage and giving it her all.

And this year was no exception.

Her hip hop dance can be found here (she's middle/left).

And her ballet dance can be found here (she's middle left).

She practiced her dances at home many times, and by practice I mean she performed her dances for audiences of her family and friends.  She loves dancing if it means having fun and having eyes on her.

During the finale she slowly but surely made her way to the front and center to perform the finale dance.  Ha!  She doesn't have stage fright - yet, at least.

And just like in years past, she loved wearing lipstick and hairspray for the recital, and apparently backstage kept asking whether her lipstick rubbed off if she ate or drank anything.  Woman problems.

We are so proud of this fun performer for giving it her all and having fun on stage yet again!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Magic Moments

Everyone with older kids kept telling us Christmas would be so fun this year (based on the ages of our kids), and they were right.  There was plenty of sweetness and fun and anticipation without too high of expectations or lofty wish lists based on what their friends at school asked Santa for.  Orelia and Bennett firmly believe in the magic of Christmas and all that comes with it.  And with that belief, the magic follows.

We spent Christmas Eve in decorating mode this year.

Bennett was old enough this year to really get into it, and it was fun to have the whole family involved.  Not surprisingly, he was especially interested in the car cookie cutter, but it was the hardest one to use so we didn't make quite enough of those.  Sorry, buddy!

Orelia was an equal opportunity decorator, and almost hand placed every single sprinkle.  She had a vision.

Eating the cookies was, of course, half the fun.

Orelia understood some of the cookies would be given to Santa, so she worked extra hard on those.

Noni and I decorated the leftover cookies when the kids lost interest, but to be honest it's hard to really tell the difference between the kid-decorated cookies and the adult cookies.

Orelia and John plated our cookies for Santa and radishes (and one carrot) for the reindeer.  She also very diligently worked on a snowflake drawing for Santa and one of the first things she asked Christmas morning was whether he had taken the drawing.  (That's her personality to a T, she always wants to make sure her gifts are well received.)

Simply decorating cookies wasn't enough sugar for us, so we also decorated gingerbread houses.

This was Bennett's first year of not napping through this activity, and he was very particular about how he wanted the candies placed.  Sure thing, boss.

Orelia and Daddy worked hard on this house together, and she was so proud of the results.

Truth be told, I think Daddy was quite proud too.

On the night of Christmas Eve our family donned our matching pajamas (including Harper), and we snuggled in Mommy and Daddy's bed to read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  After many reminders that Santa can't come until the whole house is sleeping, the kids finally fell asleep until the big day.

Just like in John's house growing up, Daddy had the duty of checking to see if Santa had come and starting the fire before anyone could come downstairs. 

Luckily, Santa came!  Bennett was thrilled to find the exact Bruder excavator he had asked Santa for (one he owned two years ago that had broken).

Orelia was downright shocked Santa brought two Pom Pom Wows instead of one (since she asked for one).  She also wondered whether he meant to leave the tiara for another child, and I explained that perhaps when a child requests something small Santa will bring a little extra.

Immediately after assessing her Santa gifts, Orelia very sweetly wanted to give out the presents SHE had placed under the tree for family members.  She just loves giving gifts and was so thrilled that it was finally the day everyone could open what she got them.

After opening two gifts under the tree, Bennett asked if it was time to eat breakfast yet.  John and I assured him that breakfast could wait, because he had quite a few more presents left to open.  I didn't label any gifts, so the kids had no idea how many presents they had and which ones were theirs (the key is to use a secret wrapping paper code). 

Bennett couldn't believe his luck when he got to keep opening presents that morning.  He literally opened one package and said with complete joy, "Oh, a brown box!!"  Of course there was a toy inside the brown box, but we were laughing so hard at how happy a "brown box" made Bennett.

Santa filled Bennett's stocking with die-cast construction vehicles, just like last year (Bennett had very specific memories of this from last year, so it's a good thing Santa didn't disappoint).  These vehicles are some of his favorite gifts.

Orelia's favorite gift was perhaps her Hatchimal twins.  She treats them like her babies and loves them as if they are real.  (Side note: when one of these "babies" lost a wing in a parking lot, never to be retrieved, this caused an entire day of tears that was only remedied by spending the entire contents of her piggy bank to buy a new set of &%!$# Hatchimals.)

Sweet Harper wore her pajamas all day, and quite a few people got a laugh over it when I took her for her walks Christmas day.

My aunt has a great recipe for candy cane ice cream, but it's very complicated.  Pay close attention.

First you let kids smash candy canes with a rolling pin.

Then you mix the broken candy canes into vanilla ice cream.  And then you're done!  Very complicated.

The kids loved helping with this even as much as they liked eating it.

I promise she did not eat this spoonful (but she ate plenty later).

Orelia got two ribbon wands for Christmas (she was very inspired by the ribbon wand dance at the Nutcracker and used a tape measure to reenact that dance the week leading up to Christmas) and danced with them all day.

She was also inspired by all her new dance costumes that she got under to tree to put on a fashion show with all her new outfits.

She would come down the stairs and wait for me to describe her "ensemble" in great detail and then show it off to the whole family.

Bennett didn't want to be left out of the fashion show, and every time Orelia put on a new dress he would put on a new pair of pajamas.

Pajamas are the height of fashion for him since they are generally covered with trucks.  He was very specific as to which pajamas he would want to wear each time and would pick out trucks to go with each pajama choice.

This was Orelia's first Christmas in a few years where she didn't change clothes every time she opened a dress or costume from under the tree.  So, I guess she had to make up for her lack of outfit changes during gift-opening time by changing outfits four times in fifteen minutes.

Complete with other Christmas accessories like a bathrobe, scarf, and Belle scepter. 

I got the biggest kick over Bennett walking around the house to show off his latest pajama set after his sister paraded around.  Christmas with 3 and 5 year olds can be truly hilarious.

John had to spend quite a bit of time assembling Bennett's new LEGOs on Christmas morning.  He complained, but I think he secretly loved it.  And I know that Bennett openly loved his new LEGOs.

After Christmas nap Orelia wanted to put on a dance performance in her new costume on the "stage" that is our front porch.

We all gathered outside in our bare feet to watch her twirl and jump with the ribbon twirling alongside her.

Noni and Grandpa were in the front row cheering her on.

I was in charge of Christmas dinner, which meant Orelia was also in charge, because she loves to diligently help in the kitchen.  She buttered every roll herself and ate quite a few come dinner time.  It was one of our most successful holiday dinners to date with kids - meaning they each sat in their chair for a full TEN minutes eating the dinner food everyone else was eating.  The bar is low, but luckily we met the bar for a change. 

It was a magical Christmas this year filled with lots of sprinkles, dancing, and the latest in pajama fashions.  We hope yours was magical too!