Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Breakfast with Santa

I signed us up for a fantastic Breakfast with Santa at WMU this year. Red velvet chocolate chip pancakes for the boys, a lovely room, friendly wait staff, and most importantly, an understanding Santa. The day started with me having to talk TJ out of wearing sweat pants--we compromised on jeans (though with a hole in the knee, I'm not sure those are much better than sweat pants!)--and I'm once again left surprised that I'm having clothing battles with a 5 year old boy. Thought I'd be skipping those clothing battles by having only boys!

Jojo looks hesitant here because he had to be talked into eating the red pancakes.

You're right, Momma, they ARE good.

The big boys did NOT want to sit on Santa's lap. Or go anywhere near him. Santa gave us some suggestions on how to make them more comfortable with the idea, and we also used Ben as Santa bait. He had no problem sitting with Santa!

After finishing breakfast and watching other kids survive their interaction with the big guy in red, the boys got brave and posed for a picture. When Santa asked what they wanted for Christmas, Thomas assured him that they'd write a letter with details. :)
You'd never guess from these smiles that they had been nervous!

Ben really wants some of TJ's candy cane.

Candy canes might have been the highlight of the morning.

Family picture in front of the huge tree. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Candy houses

Kathy and I continued our annual tradition of making candy houses. This year the three neighbor girls came over to make houses as well--the more, the merrier! As usual, there was plenty of candy eating during the process, but less eating of the candy off the houses over the ensuing weeks.

Hanging out, watching the action

Kathy helping Jojo. None of the kids felt that it was necessary to have frosting cover every surface, which drove me a little nuts. Who wants a candy house with cardboard milk container showing through?!?! :)

The girls finished quickly so they could hang out with Ben

Kathy tried to construct a house just using graham crackers (rather than covering a cardboard milke container). Sadly, it fell.

Jojo's finished house and yard. He did a great job this year!

Thomas and Kathy with their finished houses/yards.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Christmas tree hunting

On a non-snowy morning in early December we headed to Warmhoff Farm to pick our our Christmas tree. This was Ben's first cold-weather adventure. The boys brought their Santa hats along to get in the Christmas mood. :)

All bundled up and enjoying facing the world

The tree we didn't pick

Another tree we didn't pick--the big boys wanted to bring this home for Ben. :)

Cutie close-up

Our tree!

The boys hold it while Ed saws


In the truck bed with the tree

The boys served as chief light testers. Somehow every year, it seems like about half the lights don't work and need to be replaced. :(

Adding the star. I do the lights on the tree, but since Ed's taller, he places the star on top.

Ben hung out here while we decorated the tree.

Jojo did much better putting ornaments on this year.

So many ornaments to choose from!

Everyone wants a turn on the ladder

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Thanksgiving started for us on Tuesday, when Jojo had a Thanksgiving feast at preschool. Here's the table, set for 17 preschoolers. Each child had to bring in 17 of something (a cracker, a marshmallow, a grape, etc.) and each kid then had 17 different things on their plate. Honestly, most ate about 4 things off their plate, and they pretty much all started with the brownie.

Jojo in his pilgrim hat

The kids all had personalized placemats they'd helped make. On it, the teacher had helped them write what they were thankful for. Many kids said "family" or "my parents" or something similarly poignant. Jojo? He said "marshmallows." I think this was the day after we'd first had hot chocolate for the winter season, so marshmallows were top of mind, but still...

My parents and Karen, Corey and Niki all came to Kalamazoo for Thanksgiving. Niki had just turned 21, so we went to Eccentric Cafe on Wednesday night to buy her a beer. I babysat both these two and changed their diapers--now they can drink! Yikes!

Our Thanksgiving table:

My birthday flowers again, this time artfully displayed with a drying raw turkey.

Last-minute food prep--turkey carving and gray making!

Ed and the turkey

We had way too much food. But it was all delicious!

The boys in their nice clothes

Our family photo

Niki getting some quality time with Ben

Buppa helping TJ tie his tie.

The boys, hanging out, waiting for the food to be ready

A post-meal nap. I have this same photo from last year on a different couch. Hope it's just the turkey and not the company...

Our snow from the previous week had melted, but we got a few fresh inches on Thursday, so a group went out to sled.

Sledding train

Karen heading down the hill

Brothers sledding together

A good game of Disney I Spy

The Rhyans left early on Friday, but Mom and Dad stayed for the weekend. On Friday, we made applesauce. Jojo helped.

Grammy and Buppa with the boys