Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our Christmas List

This year we started a new tradition at our house. We made a list the first of December of all the fun things we wanted to do during the Christmas season. My friend AJ had told me that her kids had done this at Halloween and I knew that it was something we had to try! We made our list & I wrote it on pretty Christmas paper & we posted it on the fridge where we could see it every day!

Our list was made up of things like:
*Watch the Grinch
*Make Christmas cookies
*Write a letter to Santa
*Make Christmas ornaments/crafts
and on and on.

We had a pretty long list by the end of the season since we kept adding to it as we thought of fun stuff. Here are a few of our favorite Christmas activities...
Sit on Santa's lap
(This wasn't our "good" Santa pic!)
Riding the Christmas train at the Promenade

Christmas Lights and Ice Cream (this is a loooong tradition at our house!)
Seeing a movie
Actually we saw Tangled, not too Christmas-y, but still fun! It was H's first movie and I'm not sure he was too impressed, but Madeleine LOVED it.

Making Magic Reindeer Food
The kids decorated their bags with stickers. Then we mixed up the oats & glitter and filled the bags, tied with pretty ribbon and waited for Chritmas Eve.

Lights of the Ozarks.
The kids just HAD to ride the camel this year and they thought it was so fun! I'm sure we'll be doing this again next year. It's such a fun experience to see all the lights and all the Christmas excitement there.

I loved this tradition this year! It made the kids look forward to doing even the little things on the list & it kept them involved in planning our Christmas activities. This is something we'll be doing each year from now on, I'm sure!

Fabulous FOUR!

My sweet Harrison turned 4 last week and I still can't believe just how big he's getting! He's been so excited about this birthday and we've been counting the days until the big event. Unfortunately, he & Charlotte got a bit sick during the middle of the night leading into his birthday so we ended up scratching all the big plans for a lazy day at home. It ended up being the most perfect day! We stayed in our jammies for most of the day, played with his new toys and loved on mimi & grandad who came up for the big day.

First things first: opening gifts! This birthday was the "thomas birthday." Pretty much everything Harrison got was Thomas -- with a little toy story thrown in for variety. :)

He got a new Thomas Sodor Shipping Company, Gordon, Thomas Puzzles, Thomas Books, More Thomas Take n'Play and a Toy Story Shaving Kit. :) Here he is shaving for the first time. The "shaving cream" was blue & it turned his face a lovely shade of light blue for a few days. :)

The rest of the day we just relaxed and let him play with his toys. He was more than happy to do just that! Harrison's one request was to go to Red Robin for dinner, so we headed out there for an early dinner. By this time he was getting so sleepy from the rough night he'd had. I was hoping he'd make it through dinner.
But, no luck! He was fast asleep by the time our food arrived.
Thankfully this little nap did him A LOT of good! I was afraid he'd be upset he missed his dinner, but he seemed more than happy to head home & have some cake. When I asked Harrison what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, he immediately knew that he wanted the same Thomas cake he'd had last year. OK. That was easy. :)

It ended up being the perfect birthday for this boy! I'm glad we'd had a party the week before since he ended up being a bit under the weather on his real birthday. I do think we have a Red Robin re-do coming our way though.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Charlotte at 11 months

First let me back up a little bit & post Charlotte's 10 month picture which I never got around to posting.
And, now her 11th month. She's changed so much in the past 2 months that they've run together in some ways. First of all, in she got 5 1/2 (one is almost in) in just 6 weeks. At her 9 month appointment, she was completely toothless. Now, she has almost 6! Wow! And, she's been a dream teether. Just a couple of fussy moments from it & no interrupted sleep. :)

This was the best picture I could get this month. She refused to keep the 11th month sign out of her mouth!
These days Miss C is one pretty busy gal! Every morning after breakfast she makes her "rounds" as I call them. She crawls around the house, looking for anything that's been left within her reach that she can get into. Then she usually heads back to the breakfast area to her "poop spot" to take care of business. ;)
She's into everything these days. She loves cords, wires, etc. She wants to be right where Madeleine & Harrison are playing and if she can't get into the playroom with them, I'll find her looking in the door (it's glass). Sometime I put her big garden in the doorway & she'll play there happily since she can see what's going on.
She also spends a good bit of her time at my feet, right where I am. I have to double check before closing a door/fridge/drawer to make sure she's not right there. She's found the tupperware drawer and loves to play in the fridge door too! These will keep her entertained for quite awhile most days.
She's still a great eater. I think she's going to wean herself off of babyfood in the next few weeks. It's become a lot of work to get her to eat it -- she'd much rather feed herself. She looooves the Gerber meat sticks (ick!) and apples and most of the veggies I've given her. She tried spagetti for the first time this month and seemed to like it. Although it made the biggest mess!

Charlotte has started to snuggle with us this month. When I go in to pick her up in the mornings or from her nap, she turns into me and tucks her arms under her and just curls into me. I love this! She also will lay her head on my shoulder when we're around strangers or she's shy. At bedtime when we're rocking her she'll lay her head on our shoulder and make these soft little sighs that are so sweet. I'll never forget that sound. Ever.
She's still very very chatty. She babbles all day long. She babble in the car, which drives Harrison nuts since he can't hear the TV. :) She can say mama, dada, bye bye and hi. She's trying to say "bath" too. She can wave and loves to clap. Her new favorite thing to do is dance! She dances to the TV, in church and to the music on the radio. It's so cute. She'll be crawling along and as soon as the music comes on she stops in her tracks and dances! She's also discovered the windows and loves to look outside. I love seeing those little handprints on the panes too.
She's started to play a game with matt. When he'll ask her to say "dada" she looks at him with the biggest grin and says "mama." She'll say dada when she wants him for something, but this is her game!
She's still not standing on her own which doesn't surprise me. She's been the most content baby and I think she's not going to stand until she actually needs to do it.
Charlotte still loves for us to read to her. Her favorite song is God Made the Big Round Sun and she can do the motions. I probably sing this 25 times a day!! She still loves her paci and chews it on one side of her mouth a lot of the time (like a cigar! Ha!)
As we celebrated Christmas this year, it's been hard for me to imagine that this time last year we didn't even know if we were going to be adding a boy or girl to our family. Charlotte has filled our lives with such joy and happiness. She is such a sweet baby and has made my already wonderful life even better!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First Christmas

Grammy and Pops came into town this past weekend to celebrate Christmas a bit early with us. As I often do, I got so into making memories that I forgot to document the memories!

They got here Saturday night and help us out so so much by watching Madeleine & Harrison while Matt and I hosted our class Christmas party at our house. We had a great time having everyone in our home & are already planning another event!

Sunday, Madeleine, Charlotte and I stayed home since Madeleine had a bad cold. With Matt teaching our class & needing to get there so early to prep the room each week, it was just easier to keep Charlotte home as well. So the girls stayed home & got the house ready and lunch prepared for our early Christmas feast, while the boys went on to church. (on a side note -- when Matt picked Harrison up from class his teacher told Matt that Harrison led 2 songs in class that day. How great is that?!?!)

After church, everyone came back to our house for Sunday lunch. I made pork loin, sweet potato casserole (my first attempt & Matt said it was wonderful! Yay!), green bean bundles, baked fruit and rolls...and cheesecake for dessert! Yum! After lunch the we all exchanged Christmas gift. As usual, Grammy & Pops went above & beyond on the gifts! Matt and I got some awesome gifts, including new pillows that we love! :) The kids loved everything they received! This was Charlotte's first Christmas and she was such a mess. She was into everything. I know Christmas morning is going to be CRAZY!!!

Charlotte got some great new bath toys. She's already loving them in her bath each night!

Silly Madeleine. They brought the big kids these funny headbands. Here's Madeleine checking our her new set of fairy books -- the Jewel Fairies!
Charlotte had to get lots of lovin' from Grammy and Pops!
And, Harrison with his favorite gift of all! He got a big Woody doll and he loves him so much! He's been by his side since the moment he opened the box and he even sleeps with him!
We were so glad that Grammy & Pops were able to come for a visit! We loved every moment of having them here & the kids are already asking when they're coming back! Hopefully SOON!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Madeleine's Christmas Party

Friday was Madeleine's winter party at school. She was pretty excited about it, but mostly because she knew it was the beginning of Christmas vacation. That means 2 whole weeks of no school! She was ready for a break -- we all were -- and we've been counting the days remaining in school until vacation time!

Harrison, Charlotte and I got there right on time. In fact, we pulled into the parking lot just as her class was coming in from recess & had plenty of help getting all of our gear inside. While we waited for Matt to join us (he had an early dismissal that day) the kids all made rudolph ornaments and munched on some yummies. The kid that sits next to Madeleine was absent, so Harrison happily took that spot and became a 1st grader for the afternoon!

Charlotte just crawled around near us and was pretty happy as long as she was playing iwth my keys! She was amazingly well behaved, especially considering that the party fell during her naptime and she didn't get a nap.

After goodies it was time for some Christmas bingo. Harrison didn't play, but instead was fascinated with the coyote skin behind them.
We had a great time as always hanging out at M's school. She does such a wonderful job at school and I love being up there with her!

Harrison's Gingerbread Party

I'm way behind on blogging, but hopefully with Matt off this week I can get caught up! This Christmas season has been so very busy for us and with Harrison's birthday right in the middle of it all, there were some crazy days!

I decided this year that I wanted to do something special, but low-stress for his birthday. It seems like everyone has something going on each weekend, so I decided to do a little party for his last Tuesday morning. We invited his best buds over to make gingerbread houses. I made little houses for everyone and set out candy and icing. I know that their attention span is pretty short, so I made the houses little and just let them decorate away!
Harrison woke up that morning telling me that he only wanted Brooklyn to sing to him at his party. He loves this girl!
Bennett was mostly interested in spreading the icing. His mom got to do most of the decorating. :)
And, this is our newest friend Cooper. We were so thankful that he was able to join us!
I didn't get a good picture of Mallory Kate and her adorable candy cane face. :) She was too cute! And, we were so sad that Harrison's best bud Drew wasn't able to join us. :( Harrison kept telling me all day long "Drew is so so so so late." He just kept waiting for Drew to come!
After decorating their houses, the kids had some snacks and cupcakes. Then we opened presents and they played in our playroom for the rest of the morning. It was the perfect laid-back party! The kids had fun playing together and we moms got a chance to gab as well!

Wednesday we'll be celebrating Harrison's real birthday with a Thomas party with our family! But, I'm so thankful that his friends were able to come celebrate with us a bit early!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Story of Our Christmas Tree

The week before Thanksgiving we put up our Christmas tree. For me, the Christmas season cannot start too early (as long as it's cold outside) and I was anxious to get our tree up. Once again, this year the kids were excited to help out with hanging the ornaments. I loved telling them about the ornaments they were hanging up and seeing their excitement as they found their ornaments.

This year, I wanted to take the time to share some of my favorite ornaments. They aren't expensive or priceless as far as cost goes. But, they are priceless to me because they are so full of meaning and memories and since this blog is like a scrapbook, I want to document them.
The Pickle...This ornament was given to Matt & I the first year we were married by some good friends of my family. I love the history behind it, which if you're interested you can find here. Every tree should have a pickle ornament.
The Little Church...This was given to Matt & I when we were engaged. It was the first ornament we put on our first Christmas tree....where it sat along with the other 10 ornaments we had that year! It's become our tradition that we hang it first each year.
The Angel...This is the oldest ornament on our tree. It was the only ornament that came with me from my childhood. One of the oldest memories I have is of going to a Christmas open house at a little gift shop in LR with my mom and her letting me pick out an ornament. This is what I chose. It hung on the little tree in the room that I shared with my sister growing up. Somehow I can't believe it survived all those years of being constantly "repositioned" and never broke. Each time I look at it, I remember how special my mom tried to make Christmas for us. And, I'm so thankful for all the little extra things she always did.
The Pinecones...The first Christmas Matt & I were married we got up so so so so early and drove to Memphis to do some Christmas shopping (oh to be so adventurous & carefree again!). We had such a tiny budget with me still in school & him just a few months into his first year of teaching. But, that day was oh so fun! We had the best time and we were so excited to shop for each other for our first Christmas. I bought a set of 2 pinecone ornaments that day. Every time I see them I'm thankful for the memory of that first Christmas; and even more thankful for where we are in our life now and how much we've grown together as the years have passed.
The School Bus...When we moved to Cabot, our life went through some big changes. While moving there was amazing for Matt's career, it was a bit hard on our finances. So, Matt got certified and drove a but for the school. He hated every minute of it, but he did it was such an amazing attitude. It allowed me to continue to stay at home with the kids and not have to work. It was a tough schedule for him, but he was so committed to me being at home & providing for us, that he did whatever it took. I'm still so proud of him for that today. And, every time I see that schoolbus, I'm reminded of his committment to our family & to me being able to be at home with the kids. I'm also so very, very thankful that he no longer needs to do this and I'm reminded of how much God has give to us here.
I know that our tree will never grace the cover of a magazine. It will never consist of perfectly coordinating colors or have a "theme." But, just like our life, it is filled with handmade, slightly imperfect memories that are worth more to me than anything money could ever buy. Because, during this holiday season, every time I glance over at our tree my heart utters a quiet prayer of thankfullness for the life I've been given -- the messy, fun-filled, always slightly sticky life. So, you see, our tree is more than just another one of our decorations, it's a constant reminder for me to be thankful. Think I can get away with leaving it up all year???