Saturday, December 28, 2013

Peppermint Sticks

It is time to emerge from the Christmas cocoon that we have been wrapped up tight in for the past few days. The house is covered in remnants of new toys and chocolate wrappers.  I like to let the mess linger for a while.  Because when its all cleaned up and the new treasures have found a spot on the shelves then its really over.  And I like to squeeze every last drop of Christmas spirit out of the holidays.  

A look back at the last week...

We had our third annual pyjama party with our friends.  The kids mixed together the perfect combination of ingredients for their own gourmet reindeer food.  I love this night.  Everyone is wound up with excitement and anticipation.  

The girls kept busy on Christmas Eve building gingerbread houses.  They are getting pretty independant with these kits.  I basically get to drink coffee, take pictures, and add the finishing details after they lose interest and move on to other things.

Christmas Eve day had a quiet simmering of excitement at our house.  Jon was at work and our family of elves was graciously preparing for our annual Christmas Eve party. Us girls painted our nails and got our party dresses on.  Callie doesn't particularly like to wear dresses as you know so I'm not sure how many more times I am going to get my way in this department!  Eventually we got the pantyhose to feel right and an undershirt solved the dress seam problem and then we had a few minutes for a little photo session in front of the tree.

The girls are getting pretty good with the camera too... yes, that is a beard.  

When I asked Callie her favorite thing about Christmas she said in true kid fashion... the presents!  But her second favorite thing is the Christmas Eve party and playing with her cousins.  She remembered that Santa always stops by this party so this year she wrote a letter to give him.

We see a few different Santas at different places over the holidays but Callie says that this is the real one. She can tell because his beard comes right out of his skin!  This santa really is amazing.  He remembers the kids from last year and commented about how this was the first time my girls sat on his knee without mom or dad. He looks around the room, addressing people by name and commenting on hockey abilities and who's been naughty or nice this year.

Lexi told Santa that she wanted a skateboard.  Which really meant she wanted a new Barbie but just didn't know it!  Callie told her to say skateboard because she she didn't know what to say under pressure.

Callie didn't tell Santa what she wanted this year.  Instead she gave him the letter that she wrote.  When he handed her a gift, she was all smiles.  She came running to me saying she didn't even have to open it because she knew what it was.  It was EXACTLY what she wrote in the letter!

She did eventually open the present.  She looked at me and said, "Santa doesn't even have to come to our house now!  I got just what I wanted!  I guess he could still come to put stuff in our stockings!" What was that gift that Santa brought?  Was it an iPad, an Xbox, or a Wii?  Nope.  The answer is D, none of the above.  It was a Magic Jinn!  Remember on Little House on the Prairie when the kids were excited about getting peppermint sticks for Christmas?  This felt like that moment.  Anything after this was just icing on the gingerbread house.

When we got home from the Christmas Eve party we got busy with the final preparations for our visit from the big guy...because yes, there were still some stockings to fill. The reindeer food was placed on the step and sufficient milk and cookies were waiting by the tree.  A few last pictures of momma and her girls and then it was time for visions of sugar plums to dance in their heads.

When everything is in its place.  When the elves were done assembly.  When not a creature was stirring, except the momma.  I took one last look and headed off to bed.  I was going to need a couple hours of rest for what was to come.

Callie woke up first.  We snuggled in bed together waiting for little sister wake up.  Callie told me about how she thought she heard Santa going up and down the stairs.  Then we heard a noise.  "Is that Santa?" Callie asked.  "I don't know," I replied.  "We better stay in bed just in case." Lexi's eyes opened halfway and whispered, "I wonder if Santa came?"

It was time to follow that string and see what was to come...

Nothing but a little peppermint stick!

Merry, Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

First Day of Winter

Today was the first day of winter and day one of Christmas vacation.  And since we woke up to -41 degrees Celsius,  our at home days couldn't have started at a better time. What a dream to not have to get up and go out this morning.  You can be sure that I have candles flickering and heat pumping from the Yuletide fireplace on the TV tonight.

Our week in pictures...

The girls performed their skating skills in the ice show last weekend.  Little sister and big sister happen to be in the same skating group.  And it's not because little sister is so advanced that she skates with the big kids. No, it's because on the first day when the teacher tried to put Lexi in the group she belonged she held on tight to Callie's waist and started to cry.  I guess they decided to let her stay in her sister's group because she's been there ever since.  I will say that little sister tries her hardest to keep up to those big kids!

We put up the tree.  The best Christmas smell is when we bring in the frozen, cold, Douglas fir.  We buy our tree from a local service group and it comes all wrapped up so you never know what it's going to look like until you cut the strings and let the branches thaw out and unfold.  I took a look at our tree after it was all set up and said, "I'm disappointed".  The tree had some bare spots and I wished it was taller.  Callie asked, "Mom, why are you disappointed?  This is a perfect tree."  I bent down beside her and looked up at the tree from her perspective and said, "you're right sweetheart, it is perfect.  This tree needs us."  We can learn a lot from children.

Do parents ever tire of seeing their child on stage? I think not.  Callie's class sang about the Pere Noel and she practiced her line diligently in the days leading up to the concert...  Voici le verre de lait de Pere Noel. Yep, she was milk and the little guy next to her was cookies.  

Our cookies are made.  Presents are wrapped.  There are just four more doors on the advent calendar.  The weather outside is frightful but the yuletide fire on TV is so delightful...
Happy first official day of winter.
Let the holidays begin!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Prep

So I really don't have to tell you that this Christmas thing, no matter how you celebrate, involves a lot prep work.  There is constant internal dialogue in us telling us what we should be doing, mental lists waiting to be checked off, and reminders about what Christmas is all about.  It is pretty easy to get wrapped up with all that needs to be done and miss the moments that make it worth it.  

This morning Jon and I had an elaborate itinerary full of drop offs, pick ups, who's got the black party shoes, who's bringing the potluck food, who can get off work the earliest, where's the camera bag, snowsuits, change of clothes, no hat it will mess her hair, and of course don't forget all the regular stuff, back packs, recess snacks and home reading bag for big sister.  As Jon and I reviewed our itinerary the thought of "who has a preschool concert at ten in the morning on a weekday" crossed our minds for just a millisecond.  And I say for a millisecond because we both know better than to wish these tiny moments away.

I watched my little girl confidently walk up the stairs and take her place on stage for the first time without the security of her big sister or her best bud by her side.  I was the mom crouched down in front of the stage, taking pictures and videos beaming with love and pride for my girl.  She carefully watched her teacher's directions, singing and performing the actions to the songs that they had been learning.  It was her time to shine.  And it's those, "I couldn't possibly love you anymore than I do at this moment"  feelings that we hang onto and bottle up and then use as motivation the next time complex planning is required.

None of the things we do really need to be done.  Reminding myself of that keeps things in perspective. But if I didn't do the Christmas prep things, I wouldn't have artwork that makes me happy to look at.

And if we didn't make the effort to go to parties and celebrations, I never would have seen Callie sit on Santa's knee for the first time in her life!  Don't get me started on how much she's growing...intellectually, physically and emotionally.  

We will get through the prep work.  And scattered in between all the things we should get done, the things that have to get done, and the things we don't feel like getting done... are our memories.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Let The Games Begin

Well, we are six days deep into the chocolates in the advent calendar and the holiday cheer is gently simmering in all of us. In case I haven't told you, I love twinkling lights, flickering candles, cozy jammies and the spirit of Christmas that takes over our souls this time of year.  

We've been busy outside getting snow in our faces and wearing red, rosy cheeks.  And this new little sled that really works, for real life, has two girls grinning from ear to ear and going around and around and around some more!

The Christmas movies are out in full force.  Charlie Brown is one of our favorites.  It is so funny with humor that they just don't make for kids shows anymore.  Callie had to ask, "mom, what is sarcasm?" Nope, you just don't hear words like "get rid of that stupid blanket, you're an absolute mess- just look at yourself, You're hopeless Charlie Brouwn" on Treehouse these days.  But I figured since I watched it as a kid and turned out okay, I'm sure my children will survive too.

Decorations are out and new cozy jammies are on the little bodies.  Callie remembers everything this year...and is excited to get on with our traditions...maps in the advent calendar, cookies and gingerbread houses, Christmas Eve games, friends pyjama night, reindeer food making, yuletide fireplaces on the TV, Hark the Herald on repeat... she adds fuel to her mama's Christmas spirit.

I wanted to end this post full of holiday love with this picture of my two perfect little elves...

But we all know life isn't always picture perfect no matter how high we are on Christmas cheer and eggnog! So here are the outtakes...

Just keepin' it real this holiday season.  Getting done what I can.  Forgetting the rest. Loving my family. Making our memories.  "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."