Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Fa La La La La

'Tis the season for.......

Getting sick.
This week that pesky flu bug that's going around visited my house. And then got comfy, settled in and hung around for a while. In fact, it still hasn't packed its bags and left yet. I guess we're hospitable hosts.

School programs.
Spencer sang with his preschool class at this year's Supper with Santa that the local elementary school hosts every year. We ate a yummy school lunch, (reluctantly, tearfully and quickly) visited with Santa, and then huddled in a chaotic gym to watch the three and four year old students sing a handful of songs. Spencer did not want to join his classmates on stage. I had to forcefully coax him up there. Then I battled with myself on whether to rescue him as I watched him wipe tears away with his shirt sleeve. Luckily he braved his fears and somewhat participated in the program.
My handsome fellas in their Christmas outfits.

Not too pleased to be on stage.

But he perked up a bit.

His friend, Briella, really wanted to join them on stage.
Celebrating friendships.
We have a core group of friends that I warmly consider an extension of our family. Every Christmas we come together to eat yummy food, exchange gifts and be thankful for one another. Over the years our families have grown and I love capturing the growth of our group and the individual child with a traditional photograph by the fireplace.
A new member joined the kid table. Welcome, Bryson! We might need a bigger kid table soon.
Some might not share in my love of this particular group shot.

Loved ones.
This weekend we celebrated the holiday with both sets of paternal grandparents. First, Grandpa Dave and Barb came over for dinner, presents and playing. Then, we headed across the river to Grandma Amy and Marmer's for an overnight stay, where we enjoyed some outside fun in the snow, more yummy food, presents and cuddling.

Thanks, Great Grandma Smith!

Family time.
Christmas Eve was all about our family of four. We opened our presents from each other, went to a Candlelight church service, set out cookies for Santa, and made food for the reindeer.

Note the brown paper. We ran out of wrapping paper halfway through the wrapping process. We improvised with paper grocery bags.

Trying on their new slippers.

Taste testing Santa's cookies. Wouldn't want to give him bad ones, after all.

Concocting some food for the reindeer. Some of this, some of that, and then a sprinkle of some "pixie dust" (aka glitter) to help them fly.
Dumping it outside.
Christmas day our pesky, uninvited flu house guest made another appearance, which made it impossible for us to make the trip back to my Grandma Faye's for Christmas. Instead we hunkered down at home and enjoyed our traditional homemade breakfast of egg bake and cinnamon rolls. The boys were excited to find that Santa left a few cookie crumbs and a lot of gifts. Then later in the afternoon we attended a party at Dave's aunts with the big extended family.
Investigating Santa's secret visit.

Large Santa bags filled with gifts.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Homemade gifts.
Sock snowmen.

Dress for Sally.
Grandparents gift.

Spencer's traveling pillowcase all ready to go to Grandma's house.


Also this week, Ashton hit the fourteenth month mark. Here are his latest growth pictures.

And we did a final holiday project: a Christmas tree. We punched holes in the tree, cut tissue paper, glued it to one side of the tree so it'd show through the holes on the other side and act as ornaments, then sprinkled with glitter.

More randomness from the week.
I'm not quite sure what the obsession with the dryer is, but both boys love it.
Big brothers have all the fun.
Waiting for Daddy to come home.
Homemade playdoh.

Modeling Daddy's vintage elementary school shirt.
Playing with Christmas gifts.
Love my new chair, Grandma Amy!
We love the new (extra fluffy) pillow, Great Grandma Smith!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Wrinkle in the Holiday Cheer

This week the country stopped and, collectively, we mourned a time of innocence, when we didn't think twice about dropping our children off at school. I must admit I'm pretty shaken up about the recent school shooting as it hits closer to home now with Spencer in school two mornings a week.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.
-Deuteronomy 31:6

Grandpa Johnny and Grandma Ethelyn as a young couple.
On another sad note, my grandpa passed away last weekend. He was six days shy of his 101st birthday. He lived a long, fulfilling life; and he will definitely be missed. I left the boys home with David while I attended the visitation and funeral back home alone. It was the first time I was away from Ashton overnight. We both survived.

And now on to more holiday cheer....

We got our first big snowfall of the season, so I bundled up the boys and we headed outside to enjoy some outdoor fun. It was Ashton's first real time playing in the snow and he wasn't a huge fan. All the layers of clothing made it nearly impossible for him to move; and his mittens kept falling off, exposing his little fingers to the cold snow. Spencer, on the other hand, loved every single second of it. I brought out beach buckets and shovels and he plopped down and began digging.

It was hard for Ash to balance on the sled and kept falling over. He wasn't too happy.

He was far more content off the snow, but it was quite hard getting him OUT of the swing.

Since Ashton didn't particularly love playing outside in the snow, I decided to bring some inside instead. After I put some mittens on Ashton's hands, he decided it wasn't so bad after all, not to mention a tasty treat.

Can't let the snow on his toes go to waste!

We did a few projects this week, of course--our traditional picture ornaments and a keepsake hand print project. Spencer also brought home a present he made at preschool.
Coloring the paper for the ornaments.

The ornament on the bottom right is Ashton's from last year. Look how he's grown!
Keepsake hand print project. I display them every year at Christmas. Last year we made reindeer.

Present Spenc brought home from preschool.
One of Spencer's friends turns three this week, so we celebrated with a monster truck party. I made Jackson one of my blankets as a gift.
Snuggling with his birthday blanket.

Spencer participated in his very first Christmas program at church, and it probably was the most precious thing I have ever seen. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much.
Christmas outfits. They match, of course.

"This Little Light of Mine."

Cheering big brother on.
Look how small they are in the pew!
"Angels We Have Heard on High."
My little lamb.

Our third annual Rotary Lights trip with the Zeisels was a hit. Sadly, this year there wasn't much snow on the ground, but thankfully the temperature was much warmer. The older kids--Spencer and Briella--very much enjoyed the lights display, but Ashton and Bryson hunkered down in their strollers, a dazed expression on their faces.
Our traditional family pose in the sleigh.

I love how Spenc is looking up at Penguin Briella!

Dancing under the flashing lights.

Note how Spenc is licking the candy cane. I didn't notice this at picture taking time. Delicious!

Snuggled under a blanket--an improvement from last year hidden under a car seat cocoon.

Also this week, we continued our gift giving, as instructed by Santa Claus. Spencer made an extra special picture for his friend, Jackson; we shopped for a toy to donate to Toys for Tots; Grandma Amy received a matching set of our picture ornaments; and we donated canned goods at the Rotary Lights. Santa delivered another set of Christmas books and movies, as promised.
Spencer instructed me what to write on the picture for his buddy. He was extremely excited to give it to him.

More random things from our week:
Spencer is practicing songs for his mini preschool concert (with a cameo from an unhappy brother).

Test driving some toys at Barnes and Noble.
Spencer's recent obsession: cutting. Since starting preschool, he has learned how to cut one-handed, and he loves practicing. I learned a valuable lesson to keep anything of value out of reach, because he will cut it!

Helping Daddy shovel the driveway.
Snuggling with Daddy.

I checked out these snazzy princess rollerblades from the ECFE library for Spencer to practice. It's not looking promising that he'll join us this year on our annual rollerskating trip.
Shaving like Daddy.