"When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to You."

Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Hoopla Round 2

"First we'll make snow angels for two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle."
-Buddy the Elf

I am on a mission to soak up as much of this Christmas season as we can. Whether it be reading our Christmas bedtime stories under the lights of the Christmas tree every single night, singing 'Silent Night' in bed with the boys at their request, enjoying the buy one - get one free hot chocolate packages at HyVee, or listening to nothing but my Pandora Christmas station for the entire month of December, I am determined to live this season out to its fullest - through quiet nights at home with my Peppermint Mocha candle... and through the smallest of events made big through the eyes of my children.

Tonight we returned to our downtown for a little more 'hoopla.' We weren't sure exactly how the night was going to go. It was a last minute decision on a somewhat 'warm' November night, and we had plans to just walk the pretty decorated street - while it was still comfortable enough to walk outside. We knew Santa would be there. We knew animals would be around. We knew there would be a Christmas trolly driven by horses. But we never know how our kids are going to respond to these things. If they will be patient enough to wait in lines. If they will be brave enough to try a new unknown. So we parked the car a block away from Santa's Workshop with no intentions other than to walk by it. And maybe head to Scratch Cupcake. :) But the light show synchronized to music grabbed the boys' attention immediately, and before I knew it we had subconsciously made the decision to join the end of the line with the hopes of seeing the jolly guy himself. (And Jaden wanted to earn a candycane that he saw the other littles holding.)


I was really surprised at how patiently the kids waited. It helped to have music and flashing lights and the Grinch walking around... even though neither Jaden or Brandon were brave enough to get their picture taken with him. ;) Brandon was in such awe of everything that he would cozy up to another daddy's legs standing in the line next to us before looking up and realizing the legs didn't belong to his own Daddy. He was kind of in a Christmas fog, and his reactions were priceless every time he realized he was cuddling up to the wrong guy.

Finally at the threshold...

While waiting in line, Cody explained to Brandon what he was supposed to be doing once we got inside. He told him he could ask Santa for what he wanted for Christmas, and Brandon even practiced what he was going to tell him. "Toys, Lego's and Lincoln Logs." But once we got inside, he quickly shied away while Jaden approached him with caution. He gave Santa a high-five, told him he wanted a drum for Christmas, and happily took a candycane as his reward. ;)

I don't know... do you think Jaden's impressed here? ;)

Eventually Brandon was brave enough to get close enough for a candycane, but that's as far as he took it - not even quite daring enough to follow Jaden down the tube slide that was created to usher kids out of the workshop.

From there, we walked a few blocks to get to the live nativity. At this point, Jaden just wanted to go eat something (what's new?), but as soon as the lights of the nativity were close enough to distinguish, both kids ran ahead excitedly.

I'm not sure what they think it is we were looking at. We tried explaining that this was a remake of what baby Jesus was born into. We described to them that this was what it was like on the night when baby Jesus was born, but they were more concerned with the live animals they got to feed hay and grass to!

After looking at one of the baby animals, Brandon looked up at my dad and very sweetly said, "I don't think he wants to be in there." He has such a soft spot in his heart for animals!

It was a fun night, and we might even return next week for the trolly ride! ;)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

I have always loved the holiday season. I give credit for that to my parents. In the old neighborhood my dad was often called Clark Griswold because we always had our tree up first, and our house was always the brightest and most colorful house on the block. But now that I have kids of my own, I feel so strongly about carrying on old traditions and bringing to life new ones. I know too well that the years will fly by. But I do hope that Christmas trees will always put a twinkle in the eyes of my boys just as they do now. I pray that they will grow to always appreciate a street decked out in colorful lights and that they will look back on holiday seasons spent in our home as some of their happiest memories. It was a good weekend around here. And though I am exhausted now and very much looking forward to a peaceful evening at home - we made a lot of new memories these last four days, and we're only getting started.

What I will remember most from Thanksgiving 2012...

*So much family time. We stuck with tradition - my family gathering on Thanksgiving day last year, Cody's family gathering on Thanksgiving day this year. It's an every-other-year deal that we've made, and we're sticking to it. It's too hard to eat and run!

*Grandma Grayce and all of her great-grandkids. Randy and Lisa and their family. Cassi, James and Ella. While at the Ubben Thanksgiving, Cassi told everyone that I was the one with the "soccer mom" camera so I was enlisted to take requested family photos on the front steps. I might want to take up a side job in photography with all that free time I have...

*Unseasonably warm temperatures on Turkey Day. Instead of sitting and letting all of that food settle at the bottom of our stomachs, we immediately walked to the nearest park. It was SO nice out.

*Thanksgiving night... the Panthers on TV... our boys in bed... my Mom and Dad came over to watch the game. To me, it doesn't get any better than ending a holiday by watching you favorite team on the NBC Sports channel.

*Black Friday... since my shopping is already done, we slept in a little. I woke up to the sounds and smells of Cody cooking eggs and bacon in the kitchen. When I got out of the shower, cartoons were on, and the boys were devouring their breakfast. Daddy even surprised them with chocolate milk. And we stayed in our pajamas until noon.

*Decorating. It has been tradition in my family that the Friday after Thanksgiving is always reserved for a date with the family Christmas tree. This year was especially special because it was the first time that both of our boys were really old enough to contribute to the tree trimming. They did SUCH a good job. And while our Pandora Christmas mustic station played, I sat there taking pictures and watching them organize the branches for Daddy in a pile on the floor. All of them worked so well together, and I got tears in my eyes and sniffles in my nose. Brandon kept shouting, "It's Merry Christmas time!" It was the perfect moment and one I know I will always hold on to.

*This was the first year that every single strand of our lights worked again after being pulled out of storage boxes. That in itself is a Christmas miracle!

*Placing our new 2012 ornament in a prime spot on the tree. A tradition I started when we got married. I buy one new special ornament for the tree each year. Just one.


*Looking through old Christmas cards. I've been saving most of them for two years now and put my Pinterest-browsing to good use this year by making a coffee table booklet out of them. I can't wait to add to these little books.

*Friday night pizza at Papa Bob and Nana Nancy's and the unveiling of their brand new Christmas tree and the popular Christmas train. The boys were giddy excited that Papa had set it up for them.

*Holiday Hoopla downtown Cedar Falls. It was SO cold... but this event is too beautiful to miss. Who can say no to Santa's Workshop, Chipmunks singing on stage (the boys' absolute favorite), an old-fashioned Main St. filled with lights, fireworks over the water and a visit from the jolly man himself? I adore our town and appreciate it even more this time of year.


*Friday night movies under the Christmas tree... and a Christmas bedtime story read by tree light. We snuggled up directly under the tree, turned off all the other lights and read The Christmas Story under the twinkling lights.

*Saturday... we put up the tree in the boys' room, put the finishing touches on the decor in the living room and met at Cassi's house for another family Thanksgiving. I made a Cool Whip Chocolate Pudding Pie and oreo crust that was heavenly, and Brandon found the perfect spot to sit himself right by the munchies. Oh yes... and there was Raspberry wine.

There was Brandon's first "shiner", the cousin's band, a "tip jar" and this picture:

I died when I found him sitting like this.

*A perfect Sunday morning church service. Christmas trees filled our church home, and we learned the true meaning of contentment in our souls without always feeling the need for "more."

*A trip to one of my favorite stores - coupons in hand. My house now smells like Peppermint Mocha, Marshmallow Fireside, Vanilla Bean Noel and Jolly Gingerbread... depending on which room you walk into.

*Brandon's excitement every time we drive by a house decked out in lights. "Ooooohhhhh those lights are PRETTY!"

*Sunday night. Finally nowhere to be. Toys in front of the tree and Home Alone on the TV. After three-hour naps!

Wrapping up a weekend of Thanksgiving with much to be grateful for. All is calm. All is bright.

Wishing you and yours the most Merriest of Seasons. :)