Sunday, December 9, 2012

Let the Parties Begin

The first week of December was a festive one in the Mahlke household. It started out rocky and a bit stressful, as I felt the weight of Christmas on my scrawny shoulders and the attitude of my three-year-old tested my limits. After some prioritizing and deep breathing in a "Mommy time-out" in my garage, I realized we didn't have to do everything this holiday season, things could be imperfect, and, most importantly, three-year-olds are hard work. We skipped a party here, a playgroup there, and took shortcuts wherever possible to make certain holiday traditions possible. In the wake of our manic Monday where I learned all these valuable life and holiday lessons, we were able to enjoy the rest of the first week of December. Hopefully the remaining weeks follow suit.

One of the shortcuts was to use pre-made cookie dough for our Christmas cookies. Less time, less hassle, less mess; and the kids didn't have a clue. Both boys loved making cookies, but Spencer especially got into it this year. He hand-picked all the cookie cutters, opting for non-traditional ones, like bears and horses and men, instead of Christmas trees and bells and stars. I rolled out the dough and the boys cut out the cookies. Then they frosted and sprinkled them. Ashton definitely enjoyed the frosting!

We did a few projects as well: one homework assignment, a few gifts, an impromptu holiday train and our traditional tree skirt hand prints.
Homework assignment: each kid decorates a sled and they will hang in the preschool hallway. We painted using a branch off the Christmas tree and then sprinkled some of the needles on like glitter. (I put a little Elmer's glue in the paint to help the needles stick to the paper.)
Spencer wanted to keep painting and asked me to make a train so he could paint on the wheels and connect the cars.
2012 tree skirt hand prints. This was right before Spencer smudged it.

Santa stopped by to drop off gifts for the boys again this week since they upheld their end of the bargain and gave a few gifts of their own. Spencer inserted money into the Salvation Army bucket rather excitedly, then announced the bell was very loud. Indeed, it was. We participated in our church's giving tree, where we bought a resident of a facilitated living center a gift. And Spencer gave Grandpa Dave and Barb a handmade present--a painting he called Choo Choo Hands.
Grandpa Dave and Barb's picture--Choo Choo Hands. He did all of his own hand prints in several different colors all over the paper.
We also had a few parties this week. Ashton and I had a little holiday get together with our Baby and Me playgroup, where we ate goodies and exchanged gifts. Grandpa Dave and Barb babysit the boys while David and I attended his work party. Then this weekend we traveled a few hours to celebrate early with my immediate family. I love scattering all this festivity throughout the entire month of December!

Playing in the snow at Aunt Hopey's.
Ashton's first time playing in(or eating) the snow.
Making a snowman with Aunt Hopey.
Crawling all over cousin Kaylie.
Playing a game with Aunt She-She.
Watching TV with cousin Kurtis.
My sisters and I posing right before I kicked some Phase 10 butt! Picture compliments of my whacky brother-in-law, Brian.
Dave modeling Brian's infamous leg lamp.
Watching cousin Olivia play a game.
Grandma Keeha attack!
Amongst all this holiday cheer, my baby took his first steps! Unlike Spencer, who betrayed us and performed this particular milestone behind our backs at daycare, Ashton waited for the whole family to be present and watching. He took a few wobbly steps from Daddy's arms into Mommy's outstretched arms. We erupted into loud cheers while Ashton smiled his big-teeth smile. He's been very uncooperative in letting me document this on video, though, but I'll diligently keep at it until I successfully capture my baby on wobbly legs.

Some randomness:
These boys will not leave the tree alone!
I leave them unsupervised for a short time and this is what I find: utter chaos.

Playing with some Christmas presents in their new jammies.
Spencer refused to take his paint shirt off once he was done painting.

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