Friday, December 20, 2013

Thankfully, You Carol in the Dark

Issa goes to the absolute best school. In the spirit of the holidays, they sent a letter home last week announcing that they would be caroling through various neighborhoods last night, and our neighborhood was one of them. Issa could hardly contain herself.

So...after dinner the kids and I set off to the first stop in the neighborhood. Thankfully, it was dark because I tripped over a rock or something and went down like a ton of bricks. My dear, sweet children didn't laugh. They helped me up and we continued on our way. I knew my knee was killing me, but my pants were not ripped or soaked in blood so I thought I was probably okay.

We got to the first location, and both kids jumped and clapped as the bus pulled up and the principal, teachers, and other staff poured off the bus. Ironically, we were the only people who had come to the first location, so after two songs they invited us to ride with them on the bus to the second location. Both kids were ecstatic. Issa got to sit on the bus with her teacher, who is the most fabulous human being on earth, and Evan got to ride a real school bus. I love how it's the simplest things that absolutely thrill my kiddos.

We arrived at the next corner, sang and laughed for about fifteen minutes with a big group from the neighborhood, exchanged Christmas hugs all around, and then set back off for home.

By this point, I knew I was in trouble. I told the kiddos that when we got home mission one was checking my knee, and when we walked through the door Issa kindly pointed out there was blood on my sock when I popped my shoe off. Awesome.

Issa ran for bandaids; Evan ran for a washcloth and towel. I crumpled on the kitchen floor. Yep, I had a scrape that rivals that of any elementary kid in the summer. By the time I got myself all cleaned up and bandaged up, the kids were patting me on the back and Evan was explaining he knew just how I felt since he fell at Thanksgiving. Issa announced I just needed to think about happy  things, so they started reliving the highlights of the evening. It was so sweet.

I love that we live in a community where the school comes into the neighborhoods to sing with families. I love that the evening ended with hugs all around. And I love that I have such empathetic children. I do not love that I still have not out grown my klutzy nature.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Daddy Hugs

Daddy is on his way back home from Asia! He has been in both India and China, and we have been so grateful for Skype. We have been spoiled by having Daddy home more, and this long stretch was a little rough.

Before he left, though, Daddy put one of his shirts in each kiddo's room with a note explaining that it was more than a shirt--it was a Daddy Hug. All they had to do was slip it on when they needed a Daddy Hug:
Every night, Evan has slept in his. Issa slips hers on at various points in the day. They are magic shirts, but we are so excited for the real thing!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Almost Recovered

Well...the kitchen and I have almost recovered from yesterday's festivities. I love that the kiddos love Christmas, and I love that they want to celebrate, but holy cow last night was a bit much.

We bake a lot around here, but we have never made Christmas cookies to distribute. Last week, though, we were reading If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, and Mouse makes cookies. And the author kindly includes the recipe in the back of the book. Clearly, this meant we had to make cookies to take to all of the neighbors. We didn't have any plans last night, so it seemed like a perfect night for baking. In case you are wondering, a quadruple batch pushes the KitchenAid right to the edge. 

I have no pictures of the cookie baking process. The kids are getting to be really good bakers. Issa did all of the reading and measuring. Evan did all of the mixing and scraping. They took turns scooping. The cookies taste great, but the mess is something. They had a blast delivering the cookies, though, and I have a feeling this just became an annual tradition.

Since the kitchen was already a mess, it seemed like the perfect time to decorate the gingerbread house. Evan had a plan:
 Issa thought these little candies were especially cute:
 Usually, the kids draw very firm territory boundaries. For the first time, they collaborated:
 Issa made that snowman on her roof (you're welcome; I know you were wondering what it was), and Evan wanted one on his side.

Issa went with clean lines:
 Evan was a bit more free-form:
 Do you see that orneriness?

I think we are all de-sugared, and the kitchen has been returned to rights. I can still hear the giggles, though, and that makes the mess worth it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Puppy Snuggles

When the temperatures start to dip, everyone gets just a little bit more prone to snuggles around our house. I was just getting ready to snuggle in with my kiddos last night when I was displaced:
 Frosty the Snowman was on TV, and apparently everyone was enjoying it, especially Viv who planted herself between her kids.

Issa has always loved using Viv as a pillow, and Viv is more than happy to oblige. Evan is more of an ear rubber:
 And Viv is just fine with that, too. And who taught Evan to do bunny ears?
Even Viv hasn't been spared.

I eventually weaseled my way onto the end of the couch, and Viv reached out to put her paw on my leg. We missed bedtime by a bit because we were just enjoying the puppy snuggles. I was never a dog person until Viv came into our lives, and now I can't imagine life without her.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Highlights

I've been sitting here searching for an adjective to describe my weekend, and I just can't find it. It was busy, but not frenetic, fun but not holly jolly, and productive but not manic. It was lovely in a very ordinary sort of way, but there were also moments of magic. I think it was a list sort of weekend...

1. Friday afternoon, the kids and I headed to a friend's for a play date since Brad was out of town. The kids played while the moms talked, and a play date turned into dinner. The kids had a wonderful time, and I had real, honest conversation. I guess I didn't realize how much I needed the adult time until I was in it, but it was a perfect start to a weekend.

2. Saturday, Issa had her first Company dress rehearsal. I was braced for drama and chaos, but we really had none. Her costumes passed inspection, and in a moment of pure maternal pride her bun was pointed out as an exemplar. We went out to lunch with some of her friends on our break, and we ended the day happy.

3. While we were rehearsing, Evan went on a date with Miss Steph. He had much fun and was just as tired as Issa by the end of the day.

4. Sunday, the kids and I went to see Frozen. Go. Just trust me. Go. I might go again. We are still talking about it around here. Evan is insisting on being called Olaf, and Issa only answers to Elsa. Magic. Go.

5. After the movie, the kids and I took a turn to do the PORCH pick-up. Once a month, our neighborhood puts donations for the local food pantry on our porches, and someone picks it up and drops it off. The couple that normally does it was out of town, so we took a turn. The kids had a blast running up to porches and loading the car, and it was wonderful to watch the van fill up with generosity. It was a great opportunity to have some real conversation with the kids, and they are hoping we can take another turn again soon.

6. Over the course of the weekend, the kids and I made all of the teacher gifts. Issa chose peppermint trees, and Evan chose cookies in a jar. They are finished, and the kids can't wait to share the love.

There you have it: our perfectly ordinary fabulous weekend.

Friday, December 13, 2013

If You Give a Dance Mom E6000...

...she will stone anything that doesn't move. 

We have our first Company dress rehearsal this weekend, which means I have spent much of this week stitching names into costumes, tacking sashes, and entering into the wild world of stoning. Thankfully, I had great teachers to explain exactly what I was doing with a magical glue called E600, a straight pin, and stones.

So far, only one of Issa's costumes is ready to stone (the rest are still being decided tomorrow):
 Her hip-hop vest was a gentle foray into stoning. Once I finished stoning and stitching, I packed our Dream Duffel for rehearsal:
 Yep...we now own a Dream Duffel, complete with stool and garment rack. All of her costumes hang inside, and the pockets were designed for shoes, snacks, and accessories. It makes my type-A heart happy.

With that finished on Tuesday, I thought I could coast until rehearsal. Then I discovered that most girls stone their bags and jackets. So, last night I started with the Dream Duffel patch:

 The stone floating above her name is for her first year in company. We will add a stone each year.

I put one stone on the front of her jacket for the same reason, and then, as Issa says, I "ba-blinged" the back:
 Finally, I repeated the jacket pattern on her regular duffel:
All of this stoning was really fun, and I'm sure it is the beginning of many date nights with my E6000 and a straight pin.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Close of a Season

Evan's first basketball season has ended. He is still in love with the game, and I can't believe how much better he has gotten. The kid can dribble! He can't run and dribble, but he can walk and dribble! You have to start somewhere!

In case you are wondering, the only thing more amusing than watching a bunch of three and four year olds scrimmage is watching a bunch of three and four year olds receive medals one at a time. Poor Coach Lyons was just trying to get them to walk up, turn around, receive their medal, and take a picture. Evan was not looking away from that medal--no way no how:
He also decided he like the spotlight once he had it:
I was beginning to think I was going to have to go get him.

My favorite part of every practice was the huddle at the end:
How many coaches have to start their huddle with, "No pushing, and no one lick your hand or pick your nose on the way in"?

Evan was a little bit proud of his medal:
And I'm more than a little bit proud of him.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Decorations Old and New

The end of the Holly Jolly Weekend: the decorating.

We started Friday night after the Santa Train, and we scattered all manner of Christmas hoopla throughout the house. I declared this the year of letting go. I really tried not to move things the kiddos placed--unless it was in imminent peril. I loved listening to them remember the stories as we unpacked treasures, and I loved when Issa remember where something went every year and nestled it in to its special spot. 

Saturday, we turned our attention to the tree. The better part of the day was spent stringing popcorn and cranberries. Evan did half a strand by himself, and Issa did two ten footers herself. The rest I did. I loved chatting while we worked, though, and it just felt like Christmas should.

Sunday, we finally finished stringing and placed all of the ornaments. The kids did the lion's share of placement:
 I love our little tree this year. If you look closely, you can see Evan's two little straight lines of ornaments along the bottom. You will also see every handmade ornament Issa ever made is on the front of the tree. It makes me smile every time I look at it.

Sunday evening, Issa and I decided Daddy's desk needed a little holly jollying. We had been forbidden from putting a single anything on top, but he said nothing about the window. Ta-da!
Permanent snow. A fifty cent bag of cotton balls, a 97 cent tension rod, some fishing line I already had and presto--instant holly jolly. Even Brad had to admit he likes it, and I love the way it looks from the road! And now, we get to soak it all in and enjoy the rest of the season. Ahhh...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Heart Is Still Full

We are now up to Saturday, and I am still brimming with holly jolly from the weekend on this cold, rainy Tuesday.

Saturday morning was the town Christmas parade. Just like the past three years, Issa and I rode with her dance studio. This year, we were joined by some Tiny friends:
I cannot tell you how much I love these girls--cold little noses and all. And I love this selfie:
Daddy managed to snap a couple of pictures of us in the actual parade:
I look like a goober here:
I honestly thought I had somehow missed our boys. When I finally spotted them, I apparently made that face.

This year, it was fun to listen to Issa call to her friends watching the parade or hear little voices calling her name. It was also very nice to go to a warm lunch with Mr. Ryan when the parade was over. He had come to watch the parade, which was super fun and a nice distraction for Evan.

Saturday afternoon was spent decorating and thawing, but Saturday night was pure magic. We took the kids to see The Grinch in a "fancy" theater.

We girls:
(Issa is sporting Who-hair in case you are wondering.)

The boys:
The show. I cannot say enough incredible things about this show. They really captured the book without going over the top. At one point, they raised the house lights so the audience could join in and sing "Your a Mean One," and towards the end the Grinch addressed the children directly about what he was supposed to say. They were all happy to oblige with the "Merry Christmas." snowed in the theater. Magic.

As fabulous as the show was, I often found myself watching the kids. Both kids literally sat on the edge of their seats almost the entire time, eyes shining. They would occasionally snuggle in or grab a hand, but they were transfixed. Ten minutes in, Issa leaned over and whispered, "This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen." Evan leaned over and thanked Daddy for bringing him halfway through. They saw the magic of the theater first hand.

Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, we walked out to find that they were "making it snow" just outside the theater. Magic. And they had a pathway of decorated trees to explore...and then as a capstone rocks to climb:
Spiderman himself:
We went out to a nice dinner afterwards, and the kids are still talking about the play. It was everything and more that we had hoped for from a first experience in a theater, and I have no doubt we will be returning.

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Holiday Cup Overfloweth

We had the most holly of jolly weekends around here. Truly--anything else this Christmas is gravy. It's just too much to contain in one post, so we will go day by day.

Friday night, we headed out to the Santa Train. To be honest, it was a bit of a rocky start. After a full day, the kids were a little edgy on the way there, and Daddy and I were about to lose our minds. It all turned around, though, when we got there, saw the lights, and Daddy made me laugh with this selfie:
This year, each department at the museum decorated a tree, and the kids loved exploring the themes:
I desperately wanted a cute picture with the kids on the way in--just like last year--and I settled for this one:
Although here is a pretty hilarious fail:
There were many new additions this year, including a train photo backdrop:
Although Issa was still in love with the face paint. Our little snow princess:
We of course made reindeer food:
This year I even put it in a safe place I see everyday so I won't have to try to remember where it is!

They also had some cool Christmas-inspired experiments this year! The kids loved completing the circuit to light the lights:
They also added some fun photo props:
The highlight, though, was the train ride itself and seeing Santa:
If that face doesn't say excited I don't know what does! He was a little thrilled:
Issa was over having her picture taken:
We did get one quick family pic before we headed North:
This year, the elf distributed Rudolph noses instead of candy canes:
Please ignore Daddy's photo bomb on this one:
Issa asked Santa for Saige, the American Girl doll not the herb:
Santa was amused at her clarification on that one.

Evan asked for a skateboard and helmet:
I caught Santa mid ho ho ho, but Brad insists it looks like Santa is about to eat Evan.

After we sent Rudolph home and arrived back at the station, we grabbed some dinner and laughed until we cried. Somehow, the term "Ah Christmas nuts," was born as our "bummer" of the Christmas season. So far, it has stuck. Oh how I love this little family!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Too Cute

Issa's tap teacher just sent this out to all of the Tiny Moms:
How cute is this Tiny Company. They didn't plan it, but all of them wore pink last night, and Miss Morgan thought they were so cute she snapped this picture.

We had our Tiny Mom meeting last night, and we talked about costumes and conventions and competitions. We also talked about how tight our girls are becoming and how grateful we are for each other. We are the Tiny Moms, and we take care of whichever Tiny needs taking care of--and we take care of whichever mom needs taking care of. I think both of we girls are very happy campers.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The First Gifts of Christmas

Our first gifts of Christmas are being delivered today!

Every year, Issa's school creates an Angel Tree filled with the wishes of families in the school who need a little help this Christmas. The school social worker organizes the whole event, placing a toy wish and clothing wishes on the tree for each child in the families. Yesterday morning, the kids were so excited to choose their angels. The kids each chose a toy wish, and I chose clothing wishes for Daddy and me.

After school, Issa and I went shopping. She was so careful to pick just the right gifts, thinking about ages, what's popular, and favorite colors (which are listed on the angel). After dinner, the kids and I wrapped each gift. This morning, Daddy and Issa dropped them off at the school.

At this time of year, I am especially grateful for how richly we have been blessed, and I am so very, very grateful for a school that helps us share that love.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tree Confessions

So...I have a small confession, and if anyone tells my children until they are adults I will deny it. I am only confessing because it is very relevant to our Christmas tree selection this year...

Every year, we go to the fire department and choose a tree. Last year, the kids chose a very skinny tree that was not at all to my liking--at all. So, when they went in to see the trucks I sort of did a tree switcheroo. Like...I told the firemen to put a different tree on the top of our van. When we got home, the kids thought it looked bigger, but I announced that it just looked bigger because it was in our living room instead of the tree lot. Everyone was happy.

Fast forward a year. Monday morning, we were discussing what kind of tree we would choose this year, and we all agreed we wanted a big fat one. And then Issa, the one with the memory of a whole herd of elephants, announces, "Remember, we have to choose one that looks skinny, though, because it will be bigger when we get it home."


Mothering dilemma: to confess or not. I opted for not. I just said we could pick a bigger tree because the new furniture arrangement gave us more space. And so...we set off to the tree lot.

(As a side note, let the record show that Daddy was finding this all hilarious and was absolutely no help.)

We looked at all of the trees:
 And the kids fell in love with this one:
 It's a little skinny for me, but I did not pull a switcheroo this year. I learned my lesson. The kids will notice.

The fire department was out of twine, so we put the tree in the van:
 And Daddy got it up in the stand with very little trouble (because it is skinny):
Please notice Miss Sassy Pants. Daddy did not want to be pictured, and Issa was backing him up. Please pray for me in the teen years.