Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Right Now: January Edition

This is the last day to get a January Right Now post done, so I figured I better get on it. Also, I think it's worth noting that this is my third post in just four days! Say whaaaaaat?

Reading: I took the kids to the library yesterday to find some new books to borrow. We came home with three dinosaur books, two ballerina books, and one about Pinkalicious's lemonade stand. I'll let you figure out who picked what books.

Watching: This Is Us. I can't believe we have to wait till after the Super Bowl to watch the next episode! Ugh. I'm also still watching corny Hallmark movies. They have a whole winter theme going that they've moved onto after all the Christmas movies.

Listening: Currently listening to the washing machine since I just put a load of laundry in. I haven't been running, so I haven't been listening to any music or podcasts. I got a new set of wireless earphones for Christmas that I'm looking forward to trying out though.

Drinking: Water, but not even remotely near enough!

Eating: I just finished a bowl of Special K cereal with blueberries and lemon clusters. I'm making Cheeseburger Pasta for dinner tonight. I used to make it all the time because it's a food the kids were guaranteed to eat, but this will only be the second time I've made it in the last year. I'm hoping they will still chow down on it, because I'm tired of fighting with them to eat dinner (and I refuse to make a second dinner just for them).

Wearing: Grey capri running pants, the t-shirt I got when I ran the 5k in December, and my black Central softball sweatshirt from my coaching days. Okay, I lied. It's actually Tony's sweatshirt that I stole from him and made it mine, because my own doesn't actually fit me anymore. That's what happens when you are 60 lbs heavier than before having kids.

Loving: Rock hunting with the kids! I don't know about everywhere else, but in our small corner of the world, rock painting and hunting has become a big hobby. The kids have found a few rocks over the past few months (actually, I found them and then steered the kids in the right direction) and they always get such a kick out of their new treasures. When Tony and I had our weekend away at the coast to celebrate our anniversary, I collected a bag full of rocks from the beach to bring home and paint. I finally started last week while the kids were at school one day, but I've only gotten as far as putting a base coat on so far.

She found this rock outside the dance studio after ballet a few weekends ago.

We found three painted rocks when we went to the park over the weekend.

Rylee found this rock outside the library yesterday. It's like it was made just for her, as it has a ballerina on it!

Anticipating: Our one-on-one dates we have planned for the first weekend in March! Tony will be taking Ayden to a Dinosaur Quest event, and I am taking Rylee to a Princess for a Day event. We were all gonna to go to the dinosaur thing as a family outing, but then I noticed that the Princess for a Day event is the same day. The cost turns out to be almost the same, so we decided it would be a good opportunity for us to have one-on-one dates with the kids.

Hoping: I hope every single day that I'm not screwing up my kids. Rylee has been very difficult lately. She is so fun when she is excited and happy about something, but my goodness, she's been a negative Nelly lately. She frequently says things like, "I'm mad at you," "I woke up grumpy," "I'm tiiiiiirred," "I'm REALLY mad at you," and "this is so frustrating!" And she doesn't just say it once. She repeats it over, and over, and over, and over, and over........ She's also the slowest eater of all time.  We've been having a lot of battles recently, trying to get her to eat her food. It really escalated yesterday morning. I yelled, and we both cried. After talking with Tony last night, we agreed that we both need to back off. If she doesn't eat, she doesn't eat. We'll put it up and she just won't get anything else to eat until she finally does finish her meal. Oh, because this is only about actual meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The girl would eat snack foods the entire day if we'd let her. I should add that we don't expect her to eat foods she doesn't like. She does this with all food, even the ones she does like! Yesterday the thought crossed my mind that we're raising her to someday have an eating disorder because it seems like it's becoming such a control issue lately. So, I'm hoping we aren't screwing her up. No more fighting over food.

Following: The trial and sentencing of Larry Nassar. It's appalling to me that he was allowed to sexually abuse so many young girls over the course of about 30 years. I used to love watching the gymnasts in the Olympics, but to now know that almost all of them (if not all) were abused by this man... It's so disgusting that he was able to get away with it for so long.

Wondering: When I'll ever get the Christmas decorations all put away! haha! Yep, I still haven't done it, but I do plan on finally getting it done by the end of the week. I haaaaate this chore.

Trying: To have more patience. It's not working very well. See above ↑

Worrying: About putting together a resume. I know this is silly, but the thought of it seriously gives me anxiety. If I was applying for a softball job, I'd have no problem, but trying to come up with the dates for jobs I worked 15-20 years ago is another story altogether! Also, I am not the most computer savvy person when it comes to stuff like that. I don't have to start looking for a job for another 1.5 years, but I am considering trying to get into the school system part time next year, in hopes that it will lead to a full time position the following year.

Planning: To start running again next week. I need to find another 5k to sign up for to give me a little push out the door. It helps to know that I will be doing the Hood to Coast relay, but it's not until August. I need something to work toward in the meantime.

Contemplating: What fun activities I will do with the kids over spring break. I think I want to take them to the Gilbert House Children's Museum one of the days. I need to come up with a few other fun things to do as well. As long as it's nice weather, I am hoping to have a busy week playing outside!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Microblog Monday: Motivation

I found out over the weekend that I got onto a Hood to Coast team! I have ran Hood to Coast a total of 8 times, but I haven't done it the last 3 years now. The last time I ran it, Ayden and Rylee were just 8 months old! (I wrote a blog post about it. Click here if you are interested in reading it)

All my Hood to Coast medals from over the years.

This is a 199 mile (depending on the exact route, it can vary a few miles either way, year to year) relay race, starting at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and finishing in Seaside, OR. There are 1050 teams that participate each year, with hundreds of more teams that don't get turned away and don't get into the race. It is such an amazing event to be a part of, and I am so excited to be on a team again!

I have really slacked on running for the past 6 weeks or so, since I did that 5k in early December. Getting sick and then having this lingering cough for so long hasn't helped. I've decided that this week, I'm going to focus on stretching and doing self myofascial release by foam rolling. My muscles are so out of shape and tight, it definitely won't hurt to spend a week stretching for a good 30-60 minutes every day. That will also give my cough more time to disappear.

I know I already said this, but I AM SO EXCITED to have the opportunity to be a part of this race again! This is just the motivation I needed to stop being lazy and start taking care of myself again. I have 7 months to prepare. Wish me luck!

If you'd like to read more #MicroblogMonday posts from other bloggers, or learn more about what it's all about, please click here.

4th Birthday!

This is (over) a month late now, but I still want to document the kids' birthday. December is always such a crazy month. Since Ayden and Rylee have been born, I have a new appreciation for December birthdays. We actually have a lot of December birthdays in my family, but I never thought anything of it before having my own kids! And I'm finding it even more challenging as they get older for some reason. Maybe it's because this year their birthday was literally spread out over the entire month!

We always celebrate Thanksgiving with Tony's family the weekend before Thanksgiving. Well, this year, mil decided that they would also celebrate Ayden and Rylee's birthday that weekend as well, since they would be gone for the birthday party. Not only did they open their birthday gifts from grandma and grandpa, but we also had cake and had to sing happy birthday.

Then when my extended family got together for the Candy Cane Express train ride and an early Christmas party, we also had a little birthday celebration for all the December birthdays. More presents, cake, and another birthday song.

Then the following weekend we had their birthday party. We debated for what felt like forever over what to do for their birthday party this year. We finally settled on renting the local community center, which ended up working out perfectly! It only cost $45 to rent for 5 hours, which is a steal compared to if we did it anywhere else!

Not only did we debate over where to have the party, but we also debated over the theme. Someone gave me the grand idea of doing a "Christmas" theme and decorating Christmas cookies as an activity. Tony thought that was a terrible idea, mixing Christmas and their birthday. He really thought we needed to keep their birthday completely separate from Christmas. I agree with that mostly, but we weren't having a CHRISTMAS party. It was a BIRTHDAY party with Christmas themed activities. I didn't think it was such a horrible idea.  Besides that, I am most definitely not a party planner type person. I can do a brilliant job once I have something to roll with, but coming up with ideas/themes is not easy for me and I had no other ideas!

The party turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself! Although it was not without a few hiccups along the way...

The birthday twins!

A friend made these birthday shirts for the kids.

When I told my aunt about my cookie decorating idea, she told me she had "tree" cupcake tins that I could borrow. Brilliant! Instead of decorating cookies, the kids could all decorate their own individual cakes! She also had a larger tree shaped cake tin. My plan was to use that to make a cake for the adults to eat from. However, when I tried to make the cake, it turned into a disaster. I could not get the cake from the pan, despite the fact that I had greased it. The entire cake fell apart. It tasted delicious, but didn't do me any good when the cake was a crumbled up mess. The little tree cupcakes were also not the easiest to work with. In the end, it all worked out, but I was up almost the entire night before their party. I don't think I went to bed until about 4:00am!!!! I think I'll be sticking to Costco cakes in the future. haha!

I ended up making a cupcake tree instead.

The cake table.

I had a crafting table set up for the kids to make cute little snowman ornaments. Two weeks before the party, I got all the popsicle sticks painted white, hot glued the strings on, drew the snowman eyes and mouths on, and cut out all the little pieces so the kids could assemble their own ornaments. I also made a few example ornaments so everyone could see what they were suppose to look like.

Naked snowmen, ready to be decorated!

I printed off some coloring pages, and we had a coloring station. This was also kind of a pain in the behind! There were several really cute "free" coloring pages I would have liked to use, but every time I tried printing them, I kept being told I needed to download certain software to do it. I tried, but could never get it to work. I managed to find a few that I could actually print out, but was really limited in my choices. I don't think it should be that hard, but I managed to make it difficult anyway.

Party guests coloring their masterpieces.

We played Pin the Nose on the Snowman, which turned out to be a much bigger hit than I ever anticipated! I thought it would be just a silly little game, but all the kids got a HUGE kick out of it.  Several even wanted to take multiple turns!

There was lots of balloon "fighting." It's amazing how much entertainment a dozen balloons can provide!

You can't have a birthday party without singing Happy Birthday! Ayden and Rylee got to pick out which tree cupcakes they wanted, and they got to blow out their birthday candles after the birthday song. Then all the kids got a cupcake and they had a blast decorating them. This was even a hit with the parents. I was told several times what a great idea it was!

Decorating their tree cakes.

Ayden was off playing and too busy to have his picture taken, so it was just the three of us for a family picture.

I gave my phone to my brother-in-law and asked him to take pictures for me. He took about a million (okay, I'm exaggerating, but he did take close to a hundred) pictures, including a lot of silly selfies! I love having all the pictures, but it's the number one reason it's taken me so long to do this post. It took me a long time to go through and decide which pictures to keep and edit!

BIL taking a selfie and showing off the party room.

See, I told you. Silly Selfies! My mom, oldest niece, and BIL.

My sister helped me write down what gifts came from who as the kids opened their presents. We try to send thank you cards to everyone, although I know that there are a few that still need to be sent out. I should probably get on that... Sis also helped out at the party by putting temporary tattoos on all the kids. Ayden was funny about this. He didn't want a tattoo put on, but he hoarded a dozen or two tattoos in his pockets. I'm not sure what he was wanting to save them for, lol. He would have collected more, had I not stepped in and told him he had enough already!

Opening presents.

Overall, the party was a success. Almost all of Ayden and Rylee's cousins were in attendance, as well as a few friends from preschool, and their Playgroup friends. I wasn't sure how well the activities would go over, but every one of them turned out to be a big hit. The cakes were kind of a nightmare for me to make, but the end result made it all very worthwhile. I'm not sure I'll ever attempt something like that again, buuuutttttttt who knows.

The day after their party, we had a family day and took the kids to see the movie Ferdinand. They loved it. Tony and I thought it was a cute movie, but agreed that there was a scene in the movie that was a little too much for four year olds! Not that the kids seemed to mind, but I almost covered my own eyes when the bulls went to the butcher shop! Kind of similar to Toy Story 3, when the toys were about to be incinerated. That movie never fails to make me cry, by the way.

After the movie, we went to Red Robin for an early birthday dinner. We thought it would be fun to go somewhere that the waitstaff would sing Happy Birthday to them, and they'd get a birthday treat. Both Ayden and Rylee love ice cream (they take after their momma), but Rylee almost didn't eat hers because of the whipped cream on top! I have never known a kid to not like whipped cream, but my two are not huge fans. Once we realized the issue, Tony scooped the whipped cream off for her so she could enjoy her treat.

Down to the last drop!

Then for their actual birthday, we spent a night at the coast at a great hotel that is super kid friendly. Tony took that Friday off work. We woke up, ate breakfast, loaded up the car and took off for the coast. We wanted to make a full day of it. We didn't anticipate actually being able to check into our room that early, so had planned on playing on the beach once we arrived. However, our room was ready and we were able to check in right away! It turned out to be a good thing, because once the kids saw the play center, they could NOT WAIT to go check it out!

Indoor playground.

And then once we went to the indoor playground, the kids got a good look at the pool and couldn't wait to go swimming! We ended up spending most of our time at the pool. The kids love swimming so much! We spent several hours at the pool, then went back to our room to relax a bit before heading to the beach. We decided to give the kids their birthday gifts during this down time, instead of waiting for the next day, which was their actual birthday. We got them each a tablet this year. Oh boy, has that been a big hit!

Not only was there a pool, but there was a splash pad as well!

I think we all enjoyed the hot tub the most.

Opening their gifts.

They suddenly look so grown up playing on their tablets!

After relaxing in our room for awhile, we made our way down to the beach. We had hoped the kids would have their first sunset experience, but it ended up being too cloudy and we didn't get to see it. We still had fun playing in the sand though.

Drawing in the sand.

Digging a "big, big, BIG" hole.

She decided to climb into the hole.

After playing on the beach, we all went swimming for another couple hours. We ate dinner in our hotel room, and had breakfast the next day in our room as well. While I packed everything up the next day, Tony took the kids swimming one last time. After we checked out of our room, we let the kids play at the indoor playground for a bit before heading home. This was the perfect hotel to stay at in December. While we had fun playing on the beach, it was also very cold, so we didn't end up staying out there very long. This worked out perfectly for the kids, because all they really wanted to do was swim anyway!

It was a busy month, but it was full of fun. And now, we have four year olds!!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Growing Up So Fast

I had every intention of putting together a video compilation of the last four years for the twins' birthday, but that came and went, and I didn't get it done. So I told myself I'd get it done for the New Year instead. Nope, didn't get it done by then either. Turns out that it takes a LOT of time to sort through four years of videos and pictures!

While I was stuck home sick by myself a few weekends ago, I took advantage of the opportunity to finally get this project done. 

Once upon a time, Tony and I believed we wouldn't ever become parents. After 14+ years of waiting for our miracles though, we were finally blessed beyond our wildest dreams. It feels like forever ago that Ayden and Rylee were in the NICU, but at the same time, I can't believe that four years have gone by already. It's mind boggling how much and how quickly newborn babies grow and change right before your eyes, and before you know it, they are four years old already! I don't even want to think about how quickly they will turn into teenagers and then be off to college.

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you've probably already seen this, but I thought it was worthy of posting on my blog, too. These past four years have been quite the journey, and I can't wait for the adventures we still have ahead of us.

If you'd like to read more #MicroblogMonday posts from other amazing bloggers, please click here. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday Bullets

I've been feeling pretty unmotivated to do much in the past two weeks. I'm still coughing. I don't feel quite like the death I did last weekend, but I can't wait to kick this cough to the curb. My energy level is super low, and it's about all I can do to keep up with the laundry, the kids, and keeping our house somewhat clean. So about all I can muster up for a post is a few bullet points.

  • Rylee started ballet at the first of the year. The girl was always showing everyone her "ballet" moves. Any Mary Jane type shoes, she calls her ballet shoes. We were at the park one day, and she overheard some older girls talking about their ballet class. Rylee proudly told them that she knows ballet, too! After that, Tony and I figured we really, really needed to get her into a ballet class.
Cutest ballerina ever.

This was BEFORE ever taking a ballet class. She could already impressively stand on her toes, on both feet.

  • I ended up staying home sick last weekend while Tony took the kids to do all the fun stuff. He took Rylee to her ballet class, then took both kids to a monster truck show. The plan had been for the monster trucks to be a fun one-on-one date with Ayden, but with me being sick, we bought another ticket last minute so he could take Rylee too. After the show, they went to our last Christmas gathering of the season and stayed the night at Tony's parents. I did nothing but lay in bed the entire time. It sucked being sick, but it was so nice not having to be needed 99.9% of the time!

  • I still need to take down our Christmas decorations. The tree was taken down the week following Christmas, and all the ornaments put away, but everything else is still out. I haaaate putting away decorations. Add in my lack of motivation.... Sigh....

  • The kids had a dentist appointment yesterday and they both did so good! It was no surprise that Rylee did great, but this was Ayden's first dentist appointment that he didn't scream his head off the whole time. They were even able to get x-rays from both kids. In fact, they did so good that the staff even thought they must be in kindergarten. They commented several times on how well behaved they both were, for being only four years old! Last time, Ayden refused to even sit in the chair! Proud mom moment for sure. We celebrated how brave they were by going to get ice cream afterward.

Whelp, that's it. Not a lot going on around here. Hopefully I'll kick this cough soon, and I'll feel more motivated to actually do more than sit around the house. I typically have no problem hitting 10,000 steps every day, but I've been lucky to hit even 7,000 lately. What a slug I've been!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

House of Sickies

It's been a hell of a new year so far. The kids started back at school last Wednesday, but by that evening Ayden came down with a fever. Thursday morning, I took Rylee to school. As soon as we pulled back into our driveway at home, Ayden threw up in his car seat. Yeah, that was fun. Cleaning puke out of car seats is the worst! Thankfully it was a one time puke and done. He battled a fever the rest of the day, and woke up that night at 2:30am with a 102° temperature. By the time we all woke up the next morning, his fever was gone, but he had no energy. We dropped Rylee off at school and came home for a lazy morning. We had another day of rest, fever free.

Ayden and Mommy snuggle time while he was home sick.

Ayden was very full of energy Saturday morning and raring to go. Tony took the kids to his parents for a visit that afternoon, while I stayed home and worked around the house. So nice to have uninterrupted time to get stuff done! I had 5.5 hours to myself at home!! On Sunday, I returned the favor for Tony, and he got some time at home by himself. Funny how I worked my tail off to get a bunch of stuff done cleaning around the house, and Tony spent his time watching football and playing a video game. But, I digress.... Not to say he doesn't deserve to have a lazy afternoon, because he does work really hard to support our family.

I took the kids for a picnic at the park, and then we went grocery shopping. Even though I generally prefer to do the grocery shopping by myself (it's waaaayyyy easier), they really are great little shopping partners. About halfway through our shopping trip, Ayden started to fade though. He got super tired and I could tell he wasn't feeling the greatest.

His fever was back. Two and a half days fever free, and his fever came back. Sigh. It was short-lived though, as he woke up Monday fever free again, just really tired. He got to stay home with me again, while Rylee went to school. They both went to school on Tuesday.

Then, Wednesday morning rolls around. Within minutes of waking up, Ayden started dry-heaving. Well, crap (which turns out to be a literal statement). I got Rylee dressed for school and we had breakfast. While I'm brushing Ayden's teeth, she lays down in her bed and says she doesn't feel good. She had just been acting fine, so I didn't believe her, thinking she was just wanting to stay home since Ayden didn't have to go to school again. I continue getting us all ready to head out the door, to drop Rylee off at school. As I'm putting Rylee's jacket on, I realize she feels warm. Take her temperature, and she has a 102° fever.

Within minutes after that, Ayden gets diarrhea. Now I have two sick kids, one who has dry-heaved and has a sick butt, but no fever, and the other with a fever. I should also mention that I was not feeling great at this point either, with a sore throat, cough, and fatigue.

To further tell you about our shitty morning, Ayden doesn't quite make it to the toilet once. He ended up pooping on the floor and in his pants, literally right in front of the toilet because he couldn't get his pants down fast enough. The poor little guy felt so bad. He had several sick butt episodes within the next few hours, but nothing after that. By that evening, last night, he was FULL of energy and practically bouncing off the walls. Rylee and I on the other hand, not so much.

After their much needed nap, they both were hungry. They'd barely eaten anything all day, so I gave them each half a Kid's Clif bar to see how their tummy's would handle it. Rylee wanted more, but I told her to wait a few minutes to let the bar settle. We snuggled onto the couch and watched the Disney channel. Not long after that, Rylee vomited alllllll over her and me. I was able to catch most of it in the blankets we were snuggled under, one of which was her beloved little lovey blanket. During this time, while Rylee's puking all over us, Ayden decided he needed to be as close as possible, hugging my leg and standing directly in front of the puke fest. Ugh! I was TRYING to contain all the vomit, not have to clean him up too!

I got Rylee upstairs, stripped us both, and got her ready for a quick bath. Before her bath, thought, I had her sit on the bathroom stool while I went down and put the blankets in a safe spot. Because, God forbid, what if Ayden decided he needed to do something with them while I was upstairs dealing with Rylee and I ended up having to clean puke off even more surfaces!

Turns out I didn't need to worry about that, because Ayden decided he needed to be practically on top of me while I was bathing Rylee. He had NO sense of personal space during this time! I got Rylee washed up and tucked her into her bed, and went back downstairs to rinse out the blankets (blech!!!!). The ENTIRE TIME I was doing this horrendous mom job, Ayden would not leave me alone. "Mom.
Mom! Mom! Look how high I can jump. Mom!" I ended up losing it and yelling at him to just give me a few minutes already! Also insert a few curse words. Now insert mom guilt. Thankfully, he takes my yelling in stride. I'm also eternally grateful he's feeling so much better, but holy hell, I needed a break from this kid! Don't forget, I'm also sick at this point.

I got the blankets rinsed out and into the washer. I then spot cleaned the rug in front of the couch that was unfortunately involved in our puke fest. Tony finally got home and I breathed a sigh of relief. Hallelujah, now some of the pressure would be off of me. But nope! Not for lack of effort, but when I brought Rylee into my bedroom with me, Ayden HAD to be there by my side too. I convinced him to go downstairs to eat with Daddy, but as soon as he was done, he had a meltdown about needing his mommy! Soooo, the three of us cuddled in bed and watched some Netflix while Tony ate dinner and cleaned the kitchen.

During this time, Rylee ended up vomiting again, but thankfully she put the bucket to good use that I had on the bed with us. Tony came to the rescue to clean up the bucket and bring a wet washrag to wipe Rylee's face. We got Ayden ready for bed and read him a book, while Rylee stayed in our bed. After getting Ayden tucked into bed, I read Rylee a book and we both went to sleep (eventually). Tony slept on the couch, in an attempt to stay away from us sickies, and so that Rylee could sleep in bed with me. With her vomiting and her fever getting as high as 103.6°, I wasn't comfortable having her sleep in her own room by herself. Reason number one being... Well, Rylee says it best. Instead of saying puking, or vomiting, she calls it "choking." And with good reason. When she vomits, she does seem to choke on it (even though she was sitting up both times), and it's a little scary.

Rylee woke up with a fever again this morning, and I woke up feeling even worse. Ayden was just fine. He probably could have gone to school, because he hadn't had any symptoms since the previous shitty morning, but there was no way I was dragging Rylee and myself out of the house. Besides, it was probably a good thing not to potentially expose anyone else. We had a VERY lazy day today! I feel bad with how much tv I've let the kids watch the last few days. At one point this morning, while we were all snuggled in my bed, Rylee told me her eyes were bleeding. I responded by telling saying her eyes weren't bleeding, and she said, "but they hurt, mommy." I really just thought it was because she was tired, from being sick and not sleeping well the night before. However, by mid afternoon, her eyes were bloodshot. So weird. I do remember that happening to Ayden once after a fever though.

Rylee went to bed tonight (in her own bed) with a fever still, but her tummy has been better all day. In fact, the poor thing was starving! She was able to eat and keep it down all day. She told me numerous times today that she was done "choking," and "sorry for choking on the blankets yesterday." Of course I reassured her that it wasn't her fault. Ayden has had no fever, no sick butt, no other symptoms at all since yesterday.

Rylee will have to stay home again, but I think Ayden is good to go to school. As long as he wakes up fine in the morning, he will have been symptom free for close to 48 hours. Meanwhile, I sit here with a crazy sore throat, and have been working on coughing up a lung. And guess what happens every time I cough? I pee a little. Every Single Time.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Christmas 2017 Recap

I'm so far behind in my blogging, that it's made me procrastinate actually putting together a post! Before we get too far away from Christmas, I decided I better sit down and write about it before a ridiculous amount of time passes and it would be dumb to write a Christmas post. Maybe it already is a ridiculous amount of time to be writing a Christmas post...

Any hoo...

Our first event of the season was the local tree lighting ceremony. Santa arrived on a fire truck, and the kids got to sit on his lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. I am so glad my kids have never gone through the stage of being afraid of Santa. They love him! Rylee talked his ear off, and Ayden petted his beard, lol.

The kids' preschool does a dress up Friday every month. In December, the theme was Red/Green.

Red and Green Day at school!

I know there's kind of a love/hate relationship out there for Elf on the Shelf, but we love it! This year we tied in our advent calendar with our elf. My Aunt D made this advent calendar for me and my sister years ago, and I've hung it every Christmas. This was our first year actually using it as an advent calendar for the kids. Ayden named our elf Macaroni Cheese this year. Not Macaroni AND Cheese; just Macaroni Cheese. And we couldn't shorten it to Mac either. We were required to use his full name. No nicknames allowed! haha.

Our Advent Calendar: Day 1

Each day, something was left in that day's pocket on the advent calendar. Some days, Macaroni Cheese brought gifts for Ayden and Rylee (such as a few coins for their piggy banks or a piece of candy), and other days all he did was leave a note. Ayden was beyond excited to hurry downstairs every single day to see what Mac (don't tell him I used a nickname!) brought for them. They were just as excited to find a note as they were to find a gift. Well, not really, but they did enjoy the notes, too. Sometimes Mac was easy to find, as shown in the pictures below, and other days he played he played Hide and Seek and the kids had to go in search of him.

New coloring books and crayons! Rylee didn't appreciate that Macaroni Cheese borrowed one of her old coloring books, despite the fact that he brought her a new one. Oh well. She got over it. lol

The kids did a fantastic job of purging their toys and filling the bags. Ayden surprisingly did it with gusto. Rylee needed a little encouragement, but did manage to fill the bag with a little prompting from me to find the right toys to get rid of.

On December 9th, we celebrated Christmas with my extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, mom, brother, sister, nieces, and nephews) with a Candy Cane Express train ride. The train ride was fun, but a bit overcrowded and claustrophobic for me. It was difficult to walk around from car to car because of all the people, and also difficult to sit down all in one place and enjoy visiting with family. We got to see Santa and Mrs. Claus on the train though, so that was a hit with the kids. They also enjoyed their candy canes, popcorn, and hot chocolate.

After the train ride, we all went out for pizza and had a little Christmas party. All the youngest kids (second cousins) did a gift exchange. We also have a lot of December birthdays in the family, so we did birthday cake and sang happy birthday as well.

It was a gorgeous day, but it was cold!

The next day, Tony, Ayden, Rylee and I all went on a hunt for our perfect Christmas tree! I love the family tradition of going out and getting a real tree, and I love having the smell of a real tree in our house. However, we've been considering getting a fake tree. It's a real fear for both of us to have such a fire hazard in the house, especially now that we have kids. I've seen a few houses that have gone up in flames because of Christmas trees. It's scary. Also, the mess. The MESS! All those damn pine needles that NEVER stop falling off the tree! Anyway, I digress... We do have a lot of fun searching for just the right tree. I will miss that if/when we ever convert to a fake one.

It was a very cold morning, but we had a perfect blue sky.
Look closely. Can you spy Rylee?

This is Rylee's "cheese" smile. Haha!

Our tree got redecorated several times while it was up. They wanted to play with the ornaments All. The. Time. We didn't even come close to putting all our ornaments on the tree, for this very reason. I keep two tubs of ornaments: one tub has ornaments that are safe for the kids to put on the tree and/or I don't mind if they get broken, and another tub of breakables/keepsakes. We still managed to end up with several broken ornaments this year! Macaroni Cheese brought the kids each a new ornament one day. One was Spider-Man and the other was Minnie Mouse. Yeah, they lasted only a few days because the kids wouldn't leave them alone and they got dropped a few too many times. Spider-Man got chucked because he lost all his limbs. Minnie was able to be salvaged, but she's missing her nose and her ears.


One of the best things from this year was the kids' first Christmas program with their preschool. Oh my gosh, were they adorable! I don't think theres a whole lot cuter than a bunch of 3-5 year olds putting on a performance. They did not want to cooperate for me to get a good picture of them in their "fancy" clothes, despite the fact that they were so proud of being all dressed up! Rylee would wear a "fancy" dress every day if I'd let her, and Ayden was SO proud of his tie!!

We had a Christmas party with our Community Playgroup.

The kids also had a Christmas party at Preschool.

On Christmas Eve, we hosted my mom, sister, brother, and their families at our house. I love when we all get to spend time together. It's one of my favorite things to watch all our kids playing together. I fondly remember Christmases with my cousins growing up, and I'm so glad that my kids get to make those memories as well. Maybe someday our Baby Sis and her family will be able to join us for Christmas too.


All the cousins, minus the youngest because she refused to be in the picture.

That night, we set out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.

Santa came!

We spent Christmas morning at home. Rylee had asked Santa multiple times for a unicorn pillow. She talked about that a lot, so we made sure Santa got the message. Ayden mentioned offhandedly once that he wanted a monster pillow. Ironically, when Rylee opened up her unicorn pillow, she really didn't give it much more than a passing thought and moved onto other things. However, Ayden was completely stoked about his monster pillow! That's all he talked about all day! Once the excitement of Christmas died down, Rylee did end up being very happy with her Santa gift and she sleeps with her unicorn pillow every night.

The best picture I could get from them on Christmas morning. Who has time for pictures, when there's stockings left to open?!

After we had our own little Christmas morning fun at home, we went to Tony's parents for the afternoon. It was just a small gathering this year, as a few family members were stuck home sick. Tony and I were able to later go see a movie in the theater (Star Wars) while the kids stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's playing. When we went back after the movie to pick them up, both kids wanted to stay the night, so we ended up going home by ourselves. Tony had to work the next day, and I enjoyed the opportunity to do some day after Christmas shopping sans kids.

The following weekend, we traveled to Washington to spend the weekend with Tony's family up there, his parents and his brother and his family. Again, watching Ayden and Rylee play with their cousins was my favorite part. BIL and his family weren't with us on Christmas Day, so we didn't exchange gifts until this weekend trip.

The cousins with their grandparents.

It was a busy, busy, busy December. There are even a few more things that filled up the month that I didn't even mention in this post yet...

  • a cookie decorating party with another group of friends 
  • the kids' 4th birthday party
  • the kids's birthday trip to the coast (I'll write about their birthday in a separate post)
  • having my nephews spend the night
  • taking the kids Christmas shopping for each other, and then out for a movie date
  • attending two birthday parties for other kids in their preschool class

Every weekend was go, go, go, and so were a few weekdays in between. We were busy making memories!