Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Visiting Santa

There was no way I was taking the boys to the mall to see Santa--the crowds, the line--no thank you! So when I heard that the local outdoor sporting goods store less than a mile from our house had a Santa, I was thrilled! The only drawback was that the hours were in the late afternoon, so Ed couldn't come. We waited in line behind 3 people. Five minutes max. Perfect! I knew Thomas was excited, since he says Santa is his best friend and all, but I wasn't sure how Jojo would react. He's been pretty all-about-momma lately, and sitting on the lap of a random guy with a big white beard seemed like a stretch. However, as you can see, he did great. I can't remember the last time I had a picture of both boys smiling huge and looking at the camera!

Thomas got to pet a real reindeer!

 The boys got to sit on a snowmobile in the store.

The tree is up, Santa has been visited, the cookies made...we're ready for Christmas!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gingerbread houses

As I told more friends, family and neighbors about our gingerbread house plans, I realized that most people thought I was making gingerbread and assembling houses. Ha! No. Not even close.

What we made is more accurately called "making candy houses." We use empty cardboard milk cartons as "houses" taped down onto a cardboard base. Perfect for 3-year-olds and pretty darn fun for any age!

We made these last year as well--a tradition I'm enjoying sharing with the kids, as I have such fond memories of making gingerbread candy houses with my family growing up. (Sidenote: It was fun to back to last year's post and see the difference from this year. I don't think TJ ate nearly as much candy this year!)

Without further ado, our night of candy house making!

The raw ingredients...A LOT of sugar.

The group hard at work. Kathy came again (part of our second generation tradition is doing this together!) and brought her "little sister" and her "little sister"'s brother. We also had TJ's buddy Rowan over. Ed was at a brewery function.

Jojo thought the whole thing was pretty cool. Especially the candy. His favorites were Mike & Ike's. 

Rowan working hard.

TJ frosting his house. And sampling the frosting.

Jojo really had a ball. And here you can see evidence of the handfuls of Mike & Ike's he ate on his tongue.

TJ dipping into the green frosting. Maybe he ate less candy this year because he was too busy eating frosting?!

TJ's finished house. He and Rowan really did a nice job. They did most of the frosting themselves, and then loaded up with candy. Similar to last year, notice the huge pile of loose candy dumped in the yard.

I gave Jojo a little house, just to keep him occupied. I did help him decorate it a bit, but he mostly just ate.

Jojo's finished house, complete with a green sugar yard, courtesy of TJ.

I felt a little bad dropping Rowan off at 9 that night with a belly full of sugar. Not sure how he slept, but my boys slept just fine. Must have been the crash after the sugar high...

Here are all five houses, complete!
Considering we had two adults and three kids 4 and under, the whole night went really smoothly! Can't wait for next year...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pre-Christmas sweet tooth & more

A little bit more of December...

Since I had two willing helpers (Momma, can I lick the bowl? Momma, can me and Jojo have some chocolate chips? Cookie! Cookie), I pulled out a few cookie recipes--old favorites and new ones to try--and we got to work one Saturday. Kathy joined us for the majority of the cookie baking, which made everything go much more smoothly!
 An old favorite: red and green meltaways--they really do melt in your mouth. TJ loved these.

 Licking a spatula!

 Helping lay out the 3-color cookies for baking.

 A sampling of our day of baking: meltaways, peppermint fudge, 3-color cookies, cookie bark, and mexican chocolate cookies.

TJ's preschool had a Christmas party. As part of the festivities, the kids got to make a reindeer to later eat as a snack. Here's what they are intended to look like--a really cute idea.

TJ is allergic to peanut butter, so his teacher thoughtfully brought in jelly for him to use. She couldn't have known that he doesn't like jelly, so here's what his looked like. He got to eat plain bread. :)

 Jojo got his first haircut. As you can see, it was a positive, enjoyable experience. He started crying the minute we sat in the chair, as if he just knew it wasn't going to be fun. Not pleasant!

Ed put up a mantel over one side of our fireplace. I was thrilled that he got it done in time for stockings. (The boys' stockings didn't quite get finished for Christmas, but they're now ready for next year!) The wooden mantel is attached by these two dowels.

 Close-up of the dowel:

Finished mantel, decorated for Christmas (minus two stockings). We love it! It makes the whole fireplace cozier.

Monday, January 7, 2013

And the decorating...

Clearly it was a Sunday when we decorated our tree. :)
Thomas was very interested in all the ornaments and especially loved the couple bells we have. We let him have the little 3-foot tree for his room, and he kept spiriting ornaments off the big tree to put on it. 
 TJ was a diligent helper and kept asking for more ornaments to put on the tree. He definitely favored the "cluster method."

 When TJ was (near-ish) Jojo's age at Christmas, we chose a smaller tree and set it on a table to keep it out of reach. Apparently we've relaxed, because we didn't even consider that this year. We did keep the breakable ornaments out of Jojo's (and TJ's) reach, but beyond that it really wasn't an issue.
 Who needs ornaments when you've got easy access to a step stool?!?!

Ed handled the star and hanging ornaments at the very top, as I couldn't reach it from the step stool. I did the lights, with "help" from TJ, because I like them to be more dense and more woven into the entire tree than Ed does. It only took us a couple years of me complaining about how he did the lights to figure that out, and now we're both happy. :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

O Christmas Tree...

Last year in our temporary apartment we used a 3-ft fake tree and skipped the ornaments. So it felt great this year to be outdoors at a Christmas tree farm, cutting down our own tree, and being able to pick a tall one thanks to a vaulted ceiling!

Ed shows TJ how tall of a tree we're looking for.

 I love Jojo's dinosaur hat! He stumbled a lot over the rough ground at the tree farm. We are very lucky he didn't poke an eye out any of the times he fell.

 TJ loved playing hide and seek among the trees, and tried to see how far away from us he could get! He also made friends with another little girl and they ran around together, in and out of the trees. He was not interested in standing still long enough to get his picture taken.
 Daddy and his boys in front of our tree. It is less scraggly than it looks in this picture!

Me with the boys after Ed cut our tree down. 

TJ helped Ed load it in the truck. We love having a truck for times like this!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

James' Baptism

I was honored that Jenn and Pat asked me to be James' godmother. 
(Pat's older brother Eric is the godfather. Well, not THE godfather. James' godfather.)

 James wore our great-grandpa's baptismal gown, the same one Thomas wore, which is over 100 years old. It is so neat to have this to share with our growing families.

 Pastor Bill, who married both me and Jenn and baptized my two boys, performed James' baptism as well.

 What a cute little family!

Eric and me with our godson, sweet little James Patrick

Friday, January 4, 2013

Holiday Card Bloopers

No explanation needed....

...except that every year I am impressed that my sister-in-law Mary Beth can get 5 kids to hold still, look at the camera, and maybe even smile...and all in the same picture. 


Mom really wanted a picture of her three grandsons to use on her Christmas card as well. Since we'd had so much fun taking our family photo and we're suckers for punishment, we agreed. :) 
Again, few words necessary, beyond the obvious explanation that James was too little to not cooperate, TJ was old enough to mostly cooperate, and Jojo was, well, unhelpful to say the least.

 Yes, those are my hands trying to hold Jojo down. 

This one was pretty much as good as it got. 

But this one below is the one that Mom (wisely) chose to use. 
When you can't get sweet, might as well go with funny!