Friday, December 26, 2014

Family Pictures

I must say, this year's pictures have been the easiest by far without a toddler to chase around.  Just a McDonald's frozen sprite bribe and we got smiles for days. And after last year's fiasco without a tripod Jason was so sweet and surprised me with one for Christmas last year. It was so much easier than stacking up a picnic basket, purse and shoes. I really do miss exchanging Christmas cards, I'm excited to get back into it next year. But until then, here's our virtual family Christmas card. Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

(don't mind the totally awkard hand holding with Jayden, apparently that's what happens when you set the timer and dash in at the last second)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Summer, Happy Christmas!

It truly is the best time of the year. Summer vacation and Christmas break together as one. I had a hard time last year because it just didn't feel like Christmas, or summer for that matter. This year we've alternated between cold wet days that keep us inside baking and singing along to a Chipmunk Christmas, and hot summer days spent running in the sprinklers and eating popsicles. We've had the best of both worlds. Laying in bed with the sun peaking through the drapes, the sound of distant lawnmowers and a warm heaviness in the summer air while I recount the story of baby Jesus' birth to Ryder. The stable smelling like poop was his favorite part. I still do miss the coziness of Christmas and it's hard finding my loyalites, like I feel like I'm cheating on Christmas if I'm excited for summer and vice versa. They really do both deserve their time to shine, but we're finding the good in what we have. So here's our last day of school recap, starting with your typical 7th grade class selfies. Kylie really has had such a fun year and made some really great friends.

She received an award at the end of year assembly for her sense of humor and fun that she brings to the class. She really does have some enviable comedic timing. I've loved watching her personality develop from this shy little kindergartener who sat in the corner digging holes in the dirt to this girl who shines as the center of attention.

The next day we were heading to the boy's end of year assembly when I had to stop at the pharmacy. While we were at the register checking out we heard the loudest crash and ran outside to see an elderly woman behind the wheel still pushing on the gas after plowing into this car, flipping it over then crashing into the store. Thankfully the woman was okay and no one else was hurt, but it was kind of an intense moment. What shook me up the most was that not only was I planning on parking there and flipped around when I saw a spot in front of the school instead, but that a minute later we would have been standing right there as we walked next door to get some tomatoes. Kylie and Ryder were with me and the thought of them being in that spot made me physically ill. Just so grateful.

We made it to the assembly and I loved hearing them sing Christmas songs, especially religious ones like, "Away in a Manger". So different from the politically correct schools in the states.

Just like last year, it was cold and rainy on their last day of school before summer break.  We walked to the dairy next door for ice cream cones to celebrate, but they were too cold for ice cream so we settled on whistle pops and gummies instead.

We celebrated summer and Christmas break that evening with all our favorite holiday finger foods. The homemade crock pot hot chocolate sounded so good when it was cold and rainy earlier, but then the sun came out. It was beautiful outside and we loved it, but we also had sweat dripping down as we sipped our cocoa. There I go again talking about the weather...

I usually get a little nervous before the start of summer or school holidays. It seems like there is always so much bickering that goes on in the few hours that they're together after school and I worry what will happen when they're together all day long. For some reason they seem to get along so much better when they're out of school. They really are fun kids to hang out with. I used to always want to be on the go, get up, get dressed and get out of the house. Lately I'm finding the appeal in staying in pajamas until noon. I'd like to say I'm learning to find joy in the simple pleasures, but mostly I think I'm just growing lazy. After slow lazy mornings we've tried to get out and enjoy the sun when it's out.

Our pre-Christmas eve was spent having a picnic in the park, climbing trees, running through sprinklers and a Santa scavenger hunt in the museum. Best of both worlds, I tell ya.

For part of our Christmas present Judy bought us a day pass to the Willowbank Wildlife Preserve, so that's where we spent Christmas eve. Not too traditional, but definitely enjoyable. It was just a pleasant and relaxing day. Pleasant sounds like such an old person word, but it really does describe it perfectly. I think the highlight for the kids was eating lunch at the cafe. And also when I used the men's bathroom. They really should label their doors more clearly. So far this summer and Christmas are shaping up to be pretty good.

Of all the animals we saw, this little monkey was the cutest. Cheesy much? Come on, you know I can't help it.

Friday, December 12, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

And it's not just the vinyl Rudolph flag hanging above the produce section of Pak n' Save. Or the Santa surrounded by mechanical kiwi birds at the mall. Or the Christmas displays set up next to the swim wear. No, it's the fact that the wind is howling and the rain is pouring outside while we're cozy inside by the fire, baking sugar cookies with Christmas songs on repeat. The good news is that it feels like Christmas. The bad news is that this is our summer. Ever since December 1 it's been 50 shades of gray outside. Jayden's class beach trip was cancelled. They stayed inside and played monopoly instead. Kylie's end of the year class swim party was more like a polar bear plunge. Maddox's class beach trip was still on, despite the rain washing away their sandcastle contest. We'll enjoy it for the sake of Christmas, but come December 25 I'm fully expecting beach weather (and setting myself up for disappointment). We kicked off the holiday season with the tree farm and baking gingerbread men cookies. A tradition we've grown to love and will look fondly back on while cursing artificial tree limbs we just can't seem to assemble in the correct order.

The thing I love about decorating the tree here is that I'm not so uptight. I can be a bit of a control freak sometimes. I just let the kids have free reign with the few decorations that Judy has passed along and they absolutely love it. They take great pride in "their" tree, which is so much more rewarding than a perfectly color coordinated, evenly distributed ornament tree.

I've never been a big fan of gingerbread houses. They take so long that the kids usually lose interest half way through then I'm left with gingerbread houses sitting on my cupboard for a month that have half the candy picked off. Baking gingerbread men cookies is so much easier, the kids love them and the good news is that they are absolutely delicious.We started this tradition last year and will definitely be keeping it up for years to come! Get the recipe here.

Annual Christmas work party. Annual "small talk with people I don't know and show off how white my legs are" party. But it is nice to have an excuse to dress up and sit at place settings with 8 different utensils and eat fancy foods that I can't even pronounce.

Ryder's first school field trip set the bar high. From here on out, anything short of a double decker bus ride to the Christmas grotto will be a disappointment (sorry if you follow me on instagram, all these captions are repeats. I have no more creative juices in my brain. I was up way too late watching Defenders of the Galaxy and the boys are up way too early running around with blankets tied around their necks like super hero capes).

It was so fun spending the morning with Ryder, watching him be silly with his friends and watching his eyes get wide looking at all the Christmas displays. There was only one problem. I thought I had heard that Santa would be at the Christmas grotto, or maybe that was my own assumption. I spent the few days leading up to his big field trip prepping him to meet the man in red. We were both disappointed when the only santa there was a mechanical one that shook his hips to "Jingle Bell Rock". We were in need of a major Santa intervention, so I took him to visit the mall Santa afterwards. He told him he wanted legos, he asked where his reindeer were and what his favorite cookie is.

Jason took Maddox to the Christmas Grotto (which is really just a fancy word for a Christmas village) for his daddy date. I can't say enough how much we all love having Jason around more since living here.

We spent an afternoon helping Maddox's class decorate cookies. Maddox is always so excited to show off Ryder and Ryder is thrilled to be one of the big kids. He also likes to touch everything on the teacher's desk and smuggle home counting bears in his pocket.

Ryder had been carrying around and sleeping with the invitation to his kindy Christmas party for the past week. He felt so important to have an actual real live invitation. The morning was filled with a captivating magician, a nativity play featuring Ryder as a shepherd who couldn't be bothered with a head dress and a robe that kept falling off so he settled on a shawl instead. Setting trends and rewriting history, that one. There was a visit from one of the least convincing looking Santas I've ever seen, but he handed out candy canes so the kids could care less that his elastic beard was crooked and the pillow tucked in his shirt was poking out. They ended with the cutest round of Christmas carols where Ryder and another boy broke into a fight and they had to stop the music. I have it on film. Ryder's stink eye is legendary.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year. I hope you and yours are enjoying the holiday season as well!