Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Different Every Year

The year I graduated college I moved to California.  The year after my parents moved to Florida and my brother stayed in CT.  We were totally spread out.  It was the first of my 'different' Christmas celebrations.  I celebrated in Florida with my parents and Grampa and a friend who was working in FL and couldn't get home for Christmas.  It felt SO weird.  So weird to celebrate Christmas in a home different than the one you grew up in.  So different to wake up and jump in the pool (it was a drunken declaration!)  So different to not be sharing it with my brother who couldn't fly down.

Flash forward a five years to the first year I HOSTED Christmas.  This was weird too!  It was in my apartment.  My parents bought an air mattress and slept in my living room!  I had a shrub instead of a Christmas tree.  A SHRUB from a friend's yard.  It was hysterical.  It was funny.  It was so weird.  I didn't know what to serve.  I didn't know how to do anything.  I didn't know how stockings were 'done'.  I didn't even OWN stockings!  I had to buy them!  I forced traditions which are very funny memories like when I forced my parents and Grampa to decorate a gingerbread house.  The living room was a mess.  My parents and Grampa TOTALLY got into it.  They were eating the candy and licking the frosting and laughing about how silly and fun it was.  And then the whole roof slid right off!  Then my Grampa just started eating it!  So funny.

Flash forward 5 more years.  My parents are getting older and travel for them is more difficult.  I'm married.  We try hard to balance the family obligations- family of parents, siblings, travel, etc.   The 'traditions' I forced at my parents are now softened to where we decorate chocolate or sugar cookies cut out into people (we like sugar cookies so much more) on Christmas eve.  I've adopted some of my in-laws traditions - like their stocking tradition and Christmas eve meal.  I've tried to make something different for Christmas food but it just feels like so much work.  I've adopted my family's Christmas night meal.  I'm trying to figure out how to balance everything.  I continue to struggle at finding the 'right' balance.

Flash forward some more years to this year.  This year is another kind of different.  This year we have two children. One of them really 'gets' Christmas and it's so very exciting. We will have no overnight guests.  We have Christmas eve and some of Christmas morning on our own.  On Christmas eve we will decorate cookies to leave for Santa.  We might make a craft.  The children will open a single gift that we have selected (a book).  Only yesterday we decided what we'll eat on Christmas eve (tomorrow) and tinkered with possibly ordering Chinese food (shock!) but decided that does not go with Prosecco.  We have guests graciously driving in on Christmas day.  We will not see my parents at Christmas time (actually it's been two years since I've seen my Dad and last year my mom arrived on New Years Eve).  We are scaling back our 'festivities' and focusing on relaxing and having fun.  We are not trying to exercise our culinary skills this holiday.  We are buying, not making cinnamon buns.  We are buying snacks, not hand making them.  We are cooking a ham (which was a gift), not making homemade meatball-lasagna (with homemade sauce, homemade meatballs and homemade noodles).  We are taking it easy.  We are trying to balance all of our wants and obligations.  

I often think about traditions.  It never occurred to me that many 'traditions' are the result of trials and errors.  For example, my family's tradition of lasagna on Christmas is brilliant in that it involves almost zero 'work' that day.  It can all be prepared weeks ahead of time. While I have the biggest desires to be someone who makes a well prepared and 'fancy' meal for Christmas, this year and the upcoming ones will not be the years that happens.  We're in survival mode, people.  We are just getting through these young years.  My goal is to enjoy them as much as I can.  We can order pizza or Chinese food for all I care.  I want to relax with family and enjoy these days.  Culinary feats may perhaps be in my future.  Or not.  But this year we're focusing on enjoying it.  I hope you are too!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ride on the Polar Express

If you don't know this story, get the book and prepare to cry.  It's an adorably story and the movie is truly lovely.  Last year we rode on the local Polar Express and loved it.  We took a second ride this year and it's just special.  The kids wear their pjs
And the train is so beautiful.  There are elves, silly stories, games and caroling which I really enjoyed a lot.   
 Emily's favorite part was when Mrs. Claus handed out cookies.  This girl LOVES her cookies, just like her Mama.
 Not surprisingly Nolan opted to not eat his cookie...
 And my favorite photos- when Santa arrives on the train!  So exciting!
 Even Emily took attention away from her cookie for a moment to get a glimpse of the big guy.
 And our attempt at a photo with Santa!
What a fun trip!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Video Wednesday- WHAT?

Nolan had a pageant this morning where many children had speaking parts.  Nolan did beautifully!  Very clear and strong voice and didn't get flustered when he misspoke.  Proud Mama

Sunday, December 14, 2014


After 20 minutes of trying to convince Nolan to go to see Santa on Thursday and some serious negotiations (he was not going to sit on his lap) we got there and realized Santa called in sick.  So this afternoon I again tried to convince Nolan to go to see Santa and he refused.  He did not want to go.  I told him it was fine for him not to go but Santa might be sad to not see Nolan.  Then Nolan started with negotiations again- can I get a candy cane if I won't sit on Santa's lap?  Then I asked this question: Are you worried Santa will tell you that you're on the naughty list?  And Nolan nodded and mumbled something.  A-HA, I figured it out!  So the boy does have a conscience?  So after some discussions and more negotiations we went to see Santa.  
 And Santa was amazing.  I told Santa that Nolan was concerned that he was on the naughty list and Santa discussed with Nolan that he was on the nice list but he needs to 'turn his listening ears on' and 'listen to Mom' if he wants to stay on the nice list.  (Seriously, we did not have a side discussion about this.)  Santa talked about how he used to be on the naughty list but he has seen improvements like playing nice with his sister and listening to Mom but he needs to keep it up.  (I stared in awe at this miracle taking place in front of me.)  It was amazing.  Until Santa looked up at Emily...
 Santa thought he'd help out by putting Emily back in the shopping cart, not realizing of course that Emily doesn't like people touching her especially men with big white beards and bellies that shake when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly.
 Needless to say she was not excited to see Santa.  She did however LOVE the candy cane.  She calmed down once we started walking away and even said 'bye-bye' to Santa.  And Nolan seems very excited about his change in status.
I love Santa's expression at Emily screaming at him
 Once we got back to the car Nolan said 'Oh no, I forgot to ask Santa something, I want to go back!' so back we go (there was no line) and Nolan then asked Santa is Mom was on the nice list too.  Yes, Nolan showed concern for me or was about to plead unfairness since he and I tend to have similar naughty behavior.  Santa asked why I might be on the naughty list and I told him that I yell sometimes.  Then Santa turned to Nolan and said 'Nolan if you turn your listening ears on all the time Mom will yell less often but Mom is doing a great job and yes she is on the nice list this year too'.  I am not making this up.  This is Santa.  
Also a favorite- the sheer terror on her face says it all

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bedhead and Making Snow

 check out THAT bedhead!  Awesome
I tried to make snow.  It ALMOST worked.  It took me about 10 minutes to make it and Nolan played with it for 10 minutes.  Emily refused to touch it and cried when I tried to make her touch the shaving cream.  Pintrest Fail

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What Else?

What else can Dave fit in his hands?  Nolan, Emily, puppy dog and a book and drawing pad.  What a Dad!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Oh Christmas Tree

Can you tell that Emily wants to be the one putting the Santa on the top?
 I predict next year to be a big compromise but this year Nolan got to do it and he was THRILLED at the important job.
We got our tree at a new place this year.  It felt so strange.  I'm new at 'getting' a tree.  We used to get ours from the attic and put it together so I never realized how much I liked the place we went- firepit, hot cocoa, christmas carols etc.  Next year we'll go back to the usual place but regardless I do love the small tree.  It fits perfectly.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Counting Her Pennies

Emily loves to put money into her piggy bank!
So we've been keeping a jar of money in her room for her to fill it up.  She loves it!  
 It's so cute to watch her do this!  But sometimes when you're not looking she puts them in her mouth.
(Sidenote, poor Emily has a jar of pennies.  Nolan's bank has all quarters and dimes in it... who carries money any more?)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Occasional Peace

Very rarely we see Nolan kind to Emily.  Here is a moment where he is being really sweet and kind
And here is a moment of me peeking in on him when he should be 'cleaning' his room.  note his crossed leg and water in hand.  yeah, he's my clone 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

KooKoo Nut

Mommy take my picture!  What a nut!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

First Snowfall

Love these little snow bunnies!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

New Clothes!

We got Nolan some new clothes.  His favorite are these pjs.  How funny are these?
Oh, and his slippers.  The boy loves his slippers too! 
 Emily got a new hat (is it a cat?  A polar bear?  who knows?)
 It came with matching mittens.  
 She's a fan.
Mama did a good job!